Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 6.2

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter six, part two

Sophie arrived back from Cyprus with Kanene. Kanene had wanted to go straight back to Dar, but there were no direct flights, and the best options, flying via Doha or Dubai, involved lengthy waits in the relevant airports. Much as she was becoming a well-travelled young woman, Kanene didn’t have the confidence to make extended transits through foreign airports. She told Sophie she was worried about the language; her own English, while near-fluent, did let her down occasionally, especially so in pressure situations. Sophie pointed out that English is always spoken in large international hub airports, but she was afraid that the airport workers wouldn’t understand her East African accent, or she would have trouble with their Middle Eastern or Asian accents. Sophie pointed out to her that she had managed on her way to London with a change of plane, but she said she hated it.

Once everyone had settled, we opened the discussion again.

“You do know that, if you fly from London, you will need to change planes somewhere: Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or somewhere like that?” I said

“Yes, Bwana Knight, I know that, but it frightens me,” she replied.

Sophie’s face lit up. “I have an idea,” she said, “When I was looking for flights a while ago, I found that KLM fly from Amsterdam to Dar-es-Salaam with only a technical stop at either Arusha or Kilimanjaro.”

“What is ‘technical stop’?” Kanene asked.

“It’s usually for refuelling or to pick up or drop off passengers. You don’t normally get off the plane, but if you do, all the passengers are taken to a hall, where they stay until they are led back to the aircraft.”

“That sounds better, Mama.”

We finally agreed with her that flying via Amsterdam would be a good option.

“Still means you’ll have to change planes in Amsterdam,” I said.

“Not necessarily,” Sophie responded. “To give Kanene a new experience, and the rest of us a bit of a change of scenery, why don’t we all, Mum and Dad included, go to Amsterdam by train? It means a change of train in Brussels, but we’ll be dealing with that. We can then put Kanene on her flight at Schiphol – a non-stopper.”

“That sounds very nice, Mama. And if I do have to speak to people in Arusha or Kilimanjaro, they all speak my language – Swahili.”

“Okay,” I said. “Check that Eddie and Martha are on board; although they could stop here if they preferred. Let me know and I’ll have the tickets organised.”

Eddie and Martha were most certainly on board. “We’ve never travelled so much,” Martha said, “Before our Sophie married you, the only time we’d been away from the south of England was a trip to the Isle of Wight one summer, and that doesn’t really count as going out of the country, does it? Here we are gadding about in Cyprus, then Holland. What’ll be next?”

“Don’t hold your breath, Mum,” Sophie said, “but a trip to Tanzania isn’t out of the question.”

“Tanzania?” Eddie exclaimed. “Isn’t that in East Africa – safaris, lions, elephants and all that?”

“Sure is, Dad. What do you think?”

“Where do I sign?” he asked.

Oh, how we laughed.

We set off for Amsterdam just a few days later. It was difficult to tell who was the more excited: the relatively well-travelled Kanene, or Eddie and Martha who, until recently, had never left their country of birth – in fact leaving their county was something of a rarity. If the conversation was any indicator, it was most certainly Sophie’s parents who were more moved by the changing scenery. Passing through the tunnel was a new experience for all of us, although it would take a massive stretch of the imagination to call it exciting. The standard of food and service on the train was higher than I had expected it to be, and the whole trip was most pleasant.

Changing trains in Brussels proved to be as painless as we had hoped. Kanene hadn’t brought too much luggage; she prefers to travel light, and in any event, we have a full wardrobe for her at Knight Towers, clothing suitable for our climate, ready for her visits. As for the rest of us, we simply had a few overnight things. We had planned to spend a couple of nights in Amsterdam, mostly so Eddie and Martha could explore the city and see the sights. Sophie and I were no strangers to this place, and our plans mostly involved relaxing (me), shopping (Sophie), and taking in new sights and sounds (David). Kanene’s flight was due to leave Schiphol at 10.15am, arriving at Dar at 10.45pm. The departure time meant we had to get her to the airport by about 8 am, which I thought was a sensible enough time – I have often had to report to the airport earlier; on my first departure from India, with Sophie, the flight took off at about half past four; our driver picked us up from the hotel at half past midnight! On that basis, leaving our hotel just after seven was easy. We used the hotel shuttle to get us to the airport. I went with Kanene, leaving everyone else asleep. Once I had held her hand through check-in and as many of the formalities as I could, I waved her farewell and returned to the hotel by taxi. I arrived back at half past nine, just in time to join the rest for a late breakfast. Before leaving, I had engaged a guide to give Eddie and Martha a tour of the city on our first day there, which, judging from their animation at dinner, they thoroughly enjoyed.

Rather than eat in the hotel restaurant, because David was tired and a little tetchy with it, we had dinner delivered to our suite.

The second day was shorter, as we had to get to Schiphol in time for our 6.50pm flight to Heathrow. After a leisurely breakfast, we lounged around in the hotel and took an easy stroll around the centre of Amsterdam, before returning to collect our bags and check out. Before we knew it, we were back on UK soil, and making our way home to Knight Towers.