After getting back to the lodge from the Brazil v Ivory Coast game, I set off for Port Elizabeth for Chile v Switzerland…
02.31am Tom Tom says 1064KM until I have reached my destination. I head south on the N1.
The two previous times I have been to Port Elizabeth I have flown. I have no idea on what is ahead of me.
Only a potential 12 hour drive.
Tom Tom says a 14.53pm arrival time.
That is a challenge in itself!
The road is very very clear.
I try listening to the radio. Jacaranda, Talk 207 and the other radio stations are shocking.
I get over joyed at seeing another vehicle on the road.
The road is fast and I make good time.
At 0455am I reach yet another toll booth.
Tom Tom says 746KM to go with an estimated arrival time of 13:40pm.
Already I am making headway.
Cruise control is making sure the car is motoring along nicely.
I hand over another 34 Rand.
This time it is only £3.40.
I head off.
It is pitch black.
I turn off the radio and put in the Sony earphones that keep out the Vuvuzelas in the stadiums.
Faith No More is not working.
I opt for some William Orbit.
I first got into William Orbit from a girl who worked in my old agency darkroom. I have all his Strange Cargo albums.
A new recent purchase is the new Odyssey album.
So far I have only listened to 3 tracks.
So far the trip is going great. Listening to an epic 11 minute version of Water from a Vineleaf on repeat, I can not hear the road surface.
I may as well be flying. All I can see is the 50m in front lit up by my car headlights on full beam.
I use Tom Tom to altert me when there is a bend in the road.
The night is so clear.
Other photographers have photographed the Milky Way whilst they have been here.
I see millions of stars above.
I reach Bloemfontein in good time. The car needs fuel.
It is -4. I am so cold. I notice on the petrol pumps a football art theme.
On comes Fascinating Rhythm. An Orbit classic.
I can just about see daylight behind me as I travel south.
For the World Cup in France, one of our theme tunes was Im Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage.
It worked well leaving sun soaked stadiums.
We haven’t got a South Africa World Cup theme so far.
Two minutes later and dawn breaks, just over my left shoulder.
An orange glow lights up the horizon.
I have only seen colours like this on NASA Space Shuttle TV programmes.
At the moment I have 529KM to go.
I send a quick text to Simon who is doing an airport run for the Japanese.
I thank him and assure him that I will drive him to Nottingham for a hockey match after we land at Heathrow next month.
After encountering only 2 lorries and one car, my luck comes to an end as I stop at the first set of roadworks.
I am the first in line.
As well as a red light, I have a row of cones blocking my path.
Simon texts back saying all is well at JNB Airport.
I need not worry about my Japanese colleagues.
I wait for 12 minutes. In that time it has got almost light.
A road worker kicks away the cones and as the red light changes to red, I am off again on the open road.
Instead of darkness, I begin to see the countryside.
It is yellow, brown and so baron.
With the sun peaking in and out of the mountains, it is still not properly light.
One moment it is still pitch black, the next it a beautiful dawn.
Every twist and turn results in a different landscape.
It is just me and the African hills.
I finally get bored of the selected track on repeat and decide to play the recent purchase from the start.
Literally only one minute later and the view from my car changes again.
The new tunes accompany the landscape which changes as I pass through each valley.
0720AM and the sun hits my face reflecting in one of my wing mirrors.
Even though first dawn was an hour ago, this is the first time I see the sun due to the mountain ranges that I pass through.
I encounter more road works.
It is still -2c.
Teenage girls wrapped up in hats and scarfs use red flags to warn motorists of the road works.
They all seem upbeat and jolly and wave as my single lone car passes through.
With 400KM to go, I see the first sign to Port Elizabeth.
I have made excellent progress but chances of finding another motorway see to be disappearing fast as wide open roads replace the highways I was motoring down only a few hours ago.
More roadworks hold me back.
I’m not tired at all.
There is so much to see.
I come across another new track.
It is aptly named Cruising.
This is my World Cup track. Well for this journey anyway.
I put it on repeat.
I keep hearing different things each time it is played.
At 0914AM I come to civilisation.
It seems a long time ago since I saw the girls waving the red flags.
It is nice to see humans again!
Cradock seems to be a busy place for 9 o’clock. Though this is the first settlement I have encountered in more then 600KM.
The buildings eventually disappear and all I see is another changing landscape again.
I am so happy to see another road sign.
Although Tom Tom shows that all is well, it is reassuring to know that I am on the right road!
138KM to go! Woo hoo!
The landscape continues to amaze me.
I want a helicopter and want to film a music video or a take for a Quentin Tarantino film.
Orbits music still provides the ideal soundtrack.
Every 5 minutes I seem to be in a different location.
Of course I am as I am driving, but the sudden change is so dramatic.
Two minutes later and it changes again!
I see green trees, grass.
The rustic nature of the land changes yet again into something different.
One moment I think I am driving in the desert to Dubai, the next I’m in the Highlands on my way to Inverness.
Another turn and I’m back in Shropshire.
The Sat Nav is clocking down the distance to go.
More welcoming signs for me as I still rarely see anyone else on the road.
The road works have disappeared.
I do however see wild monkeys!
I try to take pictures but they run off too quick.
with 78KM to go I encounter a truck load of passengers in the back of a blue van.
They wave and smile as I over take.
More monkeys are on the road, but run off when I get close.
I slow right down to 5 KMPH but they still want to avoid me.
Moments later I find myself in … Colchester.
I stop for a break.
I meet lots of Dutch fans who have driven from Holland.
I should really do pictures of them but head off.
William Orbit is still on repeat.
At 1115am I see the first motorbike of the day.
It thunders past.
The road turns back into a motorway.
It is 22c and I am very close now.
The Ocean appears on my left hand side.
It is a welcome sight.
The city is in the distance.
The familiar yellow World Cup signs appear.
My parking spot awaits!
It is now 1124am and I’m in the city of Port Elizabeth with 3KM to go.
Policemen stop me and ask to see my accreditation as I pass through roadblocks.
I am now on the home straight.
I remember this road from last year.
The impressive stadium is in front of me.
I’m going to make it in good time!
One last roadblock….
YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION!
The white VW is parked up safely outside the media center.
Great car park space this!
I have done it!