Kilimanjaro Expedition Jan/Feb 2004

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3 January – 8 February 2004

The long awaited day arrived when Norman, Joanne, Mark and I left Bulawayo on 3 January 2004 on the start of the Troop's first external expedition that was to Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. We stopped over in Harare for a day to await the arrival of Neville, Peggy and Christopher who were coming from America to join our expedition. On Monday 5 January our little party of seven, in two Land Rovers, headed north for our first night's stop at Kariba. On passing through immigration and customs early the next morning and entering Zambia it really felt our expedition had begun.

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On Safari - Joe and Mark relax in the back of Ingluvane
On Safari - Joe and Mark
relax in the back of Ingluvane.

Driving through Zambia was a pleasant experience, apart from the police whom we managed to receive a speeding ticket from and pay a few bribes to, all on the first day. Our journey through Zambia took us three days. Luckily for us the roads were quite good and the campsites were all right apart from one night when we had to sleep at a petrol station that was alongside the main road and had bright lights on all night.

Passing through the border post into Tanzania was quite as experience, but to make up for it the countryside was very beautiful. The buildings, however, were shabby as they were poorly maintained. The police roadblocks were not too bad but there were a lot of them all the way to Dar es Salaam (which took us five days of solid driving). At one of our campsites, Baobab Camp, we were Invaded by scorpions which were of a light golden colour and quite vicious. During the evening we killed many and put them in a heap and in the morning we counted our kill - over twenty of them!

In Dar es Salaam we camped at the Headquarters of the Tanzanian Scouts Association and were made very welcome. Being on the coast we found it very humid. Leaving the vehicles at Scout Headquarters we started out for the island of Zanzibar for a two-day sightseeing tour. The trip was fun, but not so for Norm, who got seasick on the ferry.
Barafu Camp : Kilimanjaro
Barafu Camp : Kilimanjaro.

Arriving in Stone town we were welcomed by the District Scout Commissioner who arranged a tour operator to take us to a guesthouse on the beach about ten kilometres from town. We spent the rest of the day swimming and then went out to a restaurant for dinner, Neville kindly paid for this treat. The meal was pretty good. The next day our tour guide picked us up and took us to a spice farm. On the way there he played us a recording of his that welcomed us on his tour. He had even composed the music and lyrics to his song. The spice tour was amazing. It was a beautiful forested place with all sorts of trees and plants everywhere. We were shown all the spices, how they were collected, dried and what foods they were added to. I recognized a number of them but I had no idea of the type of plant they came from, so it was really great to see them growing. As we walked around a little boy made things out of banana leaves - for me a tie, Mark a top hat, Neville a pair of glasses and Joanne a garland. At the end of our tour we were given various fruits to eat and then it was up a coconut palm – yes, a man demonstrated how to climb and as he climbed he sang a song that added to the pleasant atmosphere. It looked so easy, that Mark, Norm and I had a go. It was quite difficult but I managed to get almost half way up before being called to come down as our time had run out.

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Leaving the spice farm we went back to Stone town and bought a few things before we had to catch our ferry back to Dar es Salaam. The ferry trip back was much better because it was by a faster craft and the waves weren't so big. Arriving back on the mainland we walked from the harbor back to Scout Headquarters, a distance of three kilometres.

The following day we spent exploring the sea on Coco beach. This was great, apart from the sea urchins. Here I climbed a coconut palm and got myself two coconuts which were the best. Norm didn't come with us to the beach but instead went to Bagamoyo, an old town some 80 kilometres up the coast.

On Wednesday 14 January, we left Dar es Salaam for Mount Kilimajaro. As one of the Tanzanian Scout Commissioners was on his way to Nairobi, Kenya to attend a Scout meeting, we gave him a lift. The six hundred and sixty kilometre journey was pleasant and without incident. On arriving at the Kilmanjaro National Park, our Tanzanian Scout friend arranged for us to stay at the Outward-bound School for two days whilst we organized our Guides and porters for the climb of the mountain. It is obligatory to contract a tour company to climb the mountain. We could see the snow covered mountain top from our accommodation It looked really amazing and even more so, to think that in a few days I would be standing up there.

Two routes were offered to us. One was a five-day route, the Marangu route, "Cocola route" and the second one was the Umbwe that is a four-day route. We decided on the four-day route as it cut our expenses quite considerably.

At the start of our four day climb of Kilimanjaro
At the start of our four
day climb of Kilimanjaro.

As the start of our climb was some 70 kilometres from where we were staying, it was not until after 1300 hours that we eventually started on our four-day climb. It was raining when we started off in the thick equatorial forest, so it was a bit of a miserable climb. However, our spirits were high, so it didn't really matter. The forest was really great but the paths were so slippery that most of the time you had to watch where you were walking and so you couldn't look around much. Norm and I went ahead and soon left the others behind. When we got to the first night's camp it was getting late so Norm and I had a rest in a shabby tent the porters had put up. We thought it was our tent until Norm got up and found that they had put our tent in another area, so we hurriedly moved. It was a much nicer tent. The others straggled in much later while Norm and I were drinking hot coffee, Mark was in high spirits but the others were not. Peggy was very ill and exhausted. The coffee did wonders and everyone felt a lot better for it. Later we had a really superb supper that was goulash and it tasted wonderful. There was even some left over. Then it was time for bed. Day two started in fashion with coffee and a fruity breakfast. Once again Norm and I were soon ahead of our party, even the porters and guide. The climb was notably steeper and the scenery was amazing. As the forest thinned out and changed to heather and then moorland, the walk to Barranco Camp, our destination for the second night, was tiring because the low oxygen level of the air, combined with the steepness of the trail, reminded us of our rapid accent. It did not rain the second day but beautiful cumulus clouds had built up by mid afternoon. Norm and I reached the second camp, Barranco, about three hours ahead of the rest. As we were waiting for the others, lying down on our raincoats trying to catch a nap, we heard the rumbling of an avalanche somewhere high up on the mountain, towering over us. Unfortunately the mountain was mostly covered in cloud, so we couldn't see the snow coming down. Although just before sunset we all saw a really fantastic avalanche that lasted for four minutes. Tonnes of snow must have fallen. The camp was 3950 metres up and the summit seemed very close when we could see it through gaps in the cloud cover, but we still had another 2000 metres of altitude to go. When the others arrived we had coffee and popcorn followed a little later by supper which was very good.

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The snow-covered top of Kilimanjaro soars above Joe and one of our porters
The snow-covered top of Kilimanjaro soars
above Joe and one of our porters.

Our climb on the third day got off to a challenging start for we had to climb the great Barranco wall which looked pretty much like a cliff face but it wasn't too bad once we were on it. By this stage Peggy was not at all well, so she decided to join another trail and head back down to Mweka gate where we would join her the following evening. The Barranco ridge, and from here on, was barren of vegetation being classed as alpine desert. We did have a good view of the snow-capped top. Once again Norm and I got to Barafu camp, the last campsite, long before anyone else. We went to sleep in the sun with our raincoats pulled over us to protect ourselves from the icy wind and ironically, the burning sun.

Tonight was going to be the final assault to the top, starting at 23.00 hours. We had a small supper and then went to bed but I don't think any body really slept, I certainly did not. After having a last cup of coffee we set off in our layers of warm clothing. In no time our little group of seven plus one guide and two assistant guides, had split into two groups. Our guide then suggested that we split into two groups with Norm, Chris and myself and Wilson our guide going in the faster group while Neville, Mark and Joanne and their two guides making up the second slower group. The walk/climb was hell and it was thoroughly exhausting. We had to stop frequently as our breathing was heavy. I thought I would never make it as I was feeling nauseous and had no energy what so ever. I cannot describe the feeling. It seemed as if the end was just not coming. In the end Chris and I were just collapsing at every stop. At last we got to Stella point, which is on the rim of the crater. The last kilometre or so was a nightmare. When we stopped just before the summit I think I went to sleep and when we moved on I was frozen. We finally submitted a little early, as the sun hadn't risen, so we had to wait some time for it to break over the horizon. It was an amazing sunrise and one I will never forget. I had made it along with Chris and Norm. I really felt great and besides being literally on "Top of the World", I was emotionally as well.

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Joe on the summit of Kilimanjaro 06:15 hours - 19 January 2004
Joe on the summit of Kilimanjaro
06:15 hours - 19 January 2004.

After taking our historical pictures – my camera had frozen - we then started down. We learned later that the temperature was - 4(C with a chill factor of -10(C. Feeling quite frozen myself, my hands were aching like mad but I seemed to have regained my energy. On our way down we met the others a Stella Point. Neville was determined to go on to the top, which he did. As Mark was quite sick and Joanne had no energy left they decided to head back down. I raced down ahead of the others and got back to Barafu Camp where I met the porters who congratulated me. I started packing and then Norm arrived followed much later by Chris, Mark and Joanne. I had gone to sleep before they arrived.

Our goal achieved, Norm and I, together with our guide Wilson, headed for Mweka gate, the end of our climb. We had about 25 kilometres to go and we had already climbed to the top and had no sleep that night. The walk down, although easy as it was a different route to what we had come up, took forever. We went from Artic conditions through alpine desert, alpine moorland and equatorial forest in one day dropping some 2800 metres in the process. It started raining when we got into the forest near the bottom, now I see why they call them "rain" forests.

Nearing the end of the walk I left Norm, and Wilson our guide, behind in my desperation to reach the end. I met Peggy at Mweka base camp where she excitedly showed me some white Columbus monkeys. They were quite amazing. I was so glad to have reached the bottom. When Norm arrived we radioed to the National Park's camps to find out the progress of the others. There was a lot of confusion as to where everyone was. In the end we found out that Neville and Chris had stayed a Barafu Camp, as they were too exhausted to move and that they would only come down the next day. Mark and Joanne were at Millennium camp about 10 kilometres from us but they too would only reach the end the next day as Mark was sick and had already been carried by a porter to the camp.

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Our mountain tour operator then took Norm, Peggy and myself back to the Park's Headquarters at Marangu Gate where we had left our vehicles and had spent our first few days on arriving at Kilimanjaro. The next day while Norm and Peggy returned to Mweka Gate in one of our vehicles to fetch the others, I stayed in camp to do my laundry and catch up on lost sleep. It was late in the evening when everyone was back together again and we celebrated with a fine supper and toasted our achievement using our specially engraved expedition glasses that Norm suddenly produced from the depths of his traveling trunk, Hip, Hip, Hooray!!

We spent Wednesday 21 January packing and generally sorting out our kit for the next segment of our expedition. As usual we had a late start and saying good-bye to our mountain – yes it was, now that we had stood on the top – we left for the city of Arusha. Here Neville emailed the world of our climb, obtained some money and then off we set for Ngorongoro Crater. On leaving Arusha the two vehicles got separated and it wasn't until one and half hours later and 80 kilometres down the road that we regrouped. That night we stayed at a campsite by Lake Manyara in the rift valley. It was really great. The following day we did not go very far as we found a campsite just outside the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area. The decision to stay here was a cost factor as it only cost US$5 per person as opposed to US$40 per person plus entry fees in the Ngorongoro campsite.

Friday 23 January was spent driving around in the Ngorongoro Crater. It was amazingly beautiful and we saw a lot of animals. Back to our campsite for the night.
Entrance gate to Serengeti National Park
Entrance gate to
Serengeti National Park.

The next day we had to go back through the Ngorongoro Conservation area - but not the crater - to reach the Serengeti National Park. On our way we saw many Masai Villages and people. We also made a detour to visit the Olduvai Gorge where the skull of the earliest humans, along with other artifacts had been found. Crossing the North Western plains of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area where it adjoined the Serengeti National Park proved exciting for it is very flat, and huge herds of Zebra and Wildebeest were congregating in readiness for the great migration to the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. That night we stayed in a special campsite, Hugo camp, overlooking a large pan on which there were flamingoes.

Leaving the Ngorongoro behind we went down the road to Gababe Gate in the Serengeti National Park, on the way passing within ten metres of three lionesses lying in the short grass. Again we saw many animals in the Park. We spent two nights in the Serengeti before leaving for the town of Mwanza on Lake Victoria. An overnight stop at Kesekete, just outside Mwanza, with a meal to end the day at the Mwanza Sailing Club. Heading due south taking the back roads to Mbeya near the Malawi/Tanzania border. The back roads were mere tracks passing through isolated settlements and virgin forests that are magnificent.

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Oops!! One of the many puddles that gave us problems
Oops!! One of the many puddles
that gave us problems.

We got stuck several times in the swampy areas and were feasted upon by tsetse flies. This was a magic experience, which will remain one of the many highlights of the trip, and we were truly in darkest Africa.

Nearing Mbeya, the road passed over a mountain range. At the highest point, a signpost indicated that we were at 2455 metres above sea level and that this was the highest point on any national road within Tanzania. Another record height, this time in a vehicle, to be added to our list in our diary. We spent our last night in Tanzania in the Great Rift Valley Hotel, the same hotel we spent our first night.

From Mbeya we decided to go back home through Malawi. This was great because I got to go sailing at Sandy Beach campsite whist the others went scuba diving. We also visited Livingstone, a mission station and small settlement, 1600 metres up on an escarpment over looking Lake Malawi. There were 21 hairpin bends on the narrow dirt road that zigzagged its way up the face of the escarpment. Malawi is a really beautiful country and I will definitely go back there, as our five-day stay was far too short.

Leaving Malawi through the Chipota border post, where we had to pay a bribe of US$100 as we had overstayed our transit visa by one day and the official wanted to have us declared prohibited immigrants. We journeyed through Zambia, staying overnight at a campsite on the Luangwa river. Our party re-entered Zimbabwe – Home - at Kariba. We stayed the last night there before saying good-bye to Neville, Peggy and Chris in Harare then the four of us headed for Bulawayo.

I'm very glad to be back at home with my family and friends. It was a great experience, one never to be forgotten. Thanks very much to Norman. Without him it would never have happened.

Joseph Rose Extracts from April 2004 1st Pioneer Troop Magazine

Date : Sat 10 Jan 2004
Subject : Mount Kilimanjaro expedition update
Hello everyone.
We are safely in Dar Es Sallam. We have been on the road now for 6 days, Umgulivani (Normans Land Rover), is operating fine although a little too heavy because of all the kit on the roofrack. My Land Rover - Umgulungundu (warthog) is now going much better. Chris Packenham sorted out the stering problem in Harare, previously very schitophrenic as to what lane it wanted to be in, I can now coral it to the left hand lane of traffic - although still exloring the full lateral limits of the lane. Neither are burning oil! Norms is using a little water. Both are quite happy at 80kmh, and usually we drop into 3rd gear for most grades.
Peggy and Christopher are having a ball - we were invaded by scorpions in our campsite last night, so Peggy was in her element, explaining all about scorpions etc. Slow Mark has found a competitor in the slow eating category, namely me. I do so enjoy all this wonderful camp food. Joanne and Peggy are like a couple of old hens and are constantly chatting. They run the kitchen with an iron fist and are producing excellent food! Joe is very quiet but with a typical Zim sense of humour.
The Tanzanian scouts are looking after us very well, and the climb is scheduled to start on the 16th. Planning on the 5 day Marangu route. Thence on to the Serengetti, Ngorogoro crater etc.
Customs and immigration is very slow and cumbersome, and visas are expensive. Zambia has constant check points where we have run the gamut of various fines to bribes. Norman Stirling Moss Scott was clocked at 57kmh in a 50kmh zone. Umgulivani was giving it all she had. Tanzania on the other hand is very very poor but we have had no bribery type problems at all.
We are all in high spirits but tired. Tomorrow we will go to Zanzibar and will camp overnight there and leave on monday, back to Dar Es Sallam. It will be nice to see more exotic locals!
Hope all is well in your various parts of the world.
Chow, Neville

Date : Wed 21 Jan 2004
Subject : Mount Kilimanjaro expedition update
Hello everyone!
We are all safe and well (apart form either diahorrea or constipation No problems with the 'Bumper Dumper' from!
{no problems with the 'Bumper Dumper'}
) and are presently in Arusha Tanzania. The mountain has been conquered and we are all safe, sore, stiff, and very happy that it is done. We are travelling the rest of today to the Serengetti and Ngoorongoro Crater. We have piles of Tanzanian Shillings and will "make a plan" as to what the rest of our itinery will be. Possibly Lake Victoria and David Livingstons death place. So far the roads have been better than hoped for, and things are going smoothly but somewhat costly. We have just found out that the road we will be taking today is now tarred. In Swahili "Akuna Matata" - no problem!
Thanks a lot for all the help everyone, we are having a ball!

Date : Sat 6 Mar 2004
Subject : Mount Kilimanjaro expedition update
Hello everyone!
Finally from the good old USA. I am presently at 31,000 ft somewhere over Colorado, it is about 5am. We spent the last 5 days or so of our trip with Chris Pakenham driving him and the family crazy. He is busy as ever but it was nice to see them all after so long. Peggy spent a day in hospital getting re-hydrated with 3 saline drips going into her. She was jabbed prodded and poked and finally diagnosed with extreme dehydration and a case of bilharzia. We did not get to talk to Noman on our last night as we went out to dinner with Chris and Carol and missed his phone call. Dinner was great – sorry Norm. Our flight from Harare – Joburg – Dakkar- JFK – Lexington was uneventful and went very smoothly, but was very long. We found the bookstore in the Joburg airport and the credit card is still reeling. Great books, I even found a copy of "Jock of the Bushveld". This after having bought almost the entire inventory of the used bookstore in Borrowdale! April met us in Lexington and I then drove us all home in Peggy’s Land Rover Discovery – oh boy was that strange!! Right hand side of the road, power steering, power brakes (that work), a compliant suspension, etc. Needless to say I was overcontrolling and hamfisting for a while – no more manly Land Rover to muscle around. I am sure Joanne developed a few more biceps on her drive back to Bulawayo. We got in late on Friday and crashed! The next morning it was straight back into the rat race. April had paid the water bill, but apart from that there was a fairly significant melt down in the operational smoothness of the business. Mortgages had not been paid, insurance was being cancelled, escrows were incorrectly calculated by banks – leading to potential forclosures, phone bills were overdue, tenants were behind on their rent, tenants had just left, etc, etc. To be fair we had dropped April in at the deep end with very little preparation. Bright and early Saturday morning we received a phone call from our maintenance man to inform us that a main water main feeding all of our buildings had burst and was leaking. Oh Joy!! So taking matters firmly in hand I promptly left on Monday morning for a week long trip with UPS. My parting words to Peggy were "take care of it", or something to that effect. Peggy’s response was *!#@&)*!, or something to that effect. We are only now just starting to dig ourselves out of the hole created by a six week absence. I have removed three layers of hell from my desk and can almost see woodwork again. That water main bill is US $1,200.00, oh joy! Pegy has been working very hard for weeks now. I was home for a week – actually managed to pack away all our gear, got the Porsche up on jacks so I could drain what little oil had not leaked all over the garage, and promptly left on another UPS trip! My co-pilot is sleeping, I’m typing, its dark, the full moon is shining into the cockpit. Sure is nice and peaceful to be back at work. As always the transition back to life in the USA is sudden and jarring. We are only now starting to realize the enormity of the fantastic trip we just had. We have so many stories we just don’t know where to begin. Even when we describe a little of what we did and where we went, people’s eyes here just bug out and they think we must be mad. We all had an absolutely excellent time and would do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t thank Norman enough for inviting us on the expedition – it truly was an adventure of a lifetime. We spent long enough in Africa, not just as tourists, that we became very comfortable with being home in the bush again. As soon as we returned to the USA we sorely missed it. We truly felt alive and invigorated travelling through the "Dark Continent". Of course its great to have a hot shower, but where are the sunsets. Central heating and A.C voltage are nice, but where is the sound of hippos at night. I’m glad to see all my pilot friends again, but what of the cameraderie around the campfire. We do miss Africa terribly already as we do view it as our second home. Our consolation is the great friends we have there, and the knowledge that we will return (poor consolation for all our long suffering friends). Interestingly one of the little things I have noticed that I miss is the sound of the birds in the morning. They create such a delightful cacaphony of sound for the hour surrounding sunrise – what a beautiful way to wake up in the morning. Whilst at Chriss I finally was able to connect electronically with the world again via the internet. Here I learned some great news. UPS was having another system bid for pilots. I had a standing bid to return to Louisville and fly the MD-11. Well the bid closed just the other day and I did receive the MD-11 to Louisville. This is excellent news as I had been domiciled in Miami for about 17 months and the commute and time away from the family was getting miserable. The bad news is the potential impact on Norman’s trip to the USA. Here is the (typically confusing) timeline: The second half of the bid (realignment bid) closes on 10 March. A few days later we will bid for class dates. I have been told unofficially to expect a class date sometime in May. Groundschool and simulator training will last 6 to 8 weeks. Initial Operating Experience (IOE), plus checkride will be 1 to 2 weeks. 100 hour line consolidation (when UPS owns my butt for scheduling purposes) will last 1 to 2 months. This last item is highly flexible and completely at the whim of the company and their scheduling requirements vs the FAA requirement of 100 hrs in 120 days. The bottom line is that from May to the end of September I will either be in school or not in control of my schedule and flying a lot! I believe Norm’s trip/jamboree was during the August time frame. I will probably be out of the loop during that time. I will keep you updated as I receive information, but I wanted to let you know as soon as I could for your own planning purposes. Bugger! I still think Colorado would be an awesome experience.
Hi, I’m back, now sitting in the hotel in New Orleans. I have yet to clean up and respond to a pile of e-mails, so if you have been unanswered for a while – my apologies. I hope Joe has figured out what school he is going to, Mark has figured out what he is going to study, and where Joanne is going to go to University. As for all the long suffering parents – have you recovered from the shell shock of the kids returning. Norman have you figured out how to turn on your computer yet? Have Umgulivani and Umgulingudu recovered from their ordeal yet. I do feel a bit like the guy in Herbie when he traded in the old Beetle for a new Ferrari, vis-à-vis driving Peggys Discovery rather than Umgulungundu! Relatives in Joburg: Thanks very much for having us at such short notice, we had a great, albeit brief visit. I have just officially heard the rumor for the first time that UPS may begin flying in to Joburg, in guess what, the MD-11! Beware, I will return. Norman: Whenever you figure out your laptop and get an e-mail address, please let me know. I am very interested to hear if it works well, and is helpful. Have you figured out the GPS? I did forget to tell you that John Dellinger, who donated both was interested in some "Rhodesian Era" scout badges. Do you have his address? I also owe you some money for fuel etc, and also need to know what the final total was for food and any other incidentals... Chris: I cannot for the life of me locate the computer store in Miami that was selling the Toughbooks over the internet. I will keep searching. In the meantime I have e-mail requests out to over a dozen computer stores to get quotes on used laptops. There appears to be a good one in Canada, this may even be the store where I got my Toughbook. I do have a care package ready to go, so please send me the details for your contact. Also please e-mail me the numbers for the Windows XP and Adobe. What else are you needing, and are you and "Auto" still keen on a CD R/W? Hylton: If you send me an address (done) I will mail you a copy of the CD containing hundreds of pictures of our trip that you can post on the web site. Most are rather ho-hum, but there are some real beauties also – Norman with half his face swollen shut after being noshed by tsetse flies! Don: Hope your visit to the USA was productive, thanks for the help in Harare. If ever near Kentucky, please come and stay for a while, you are always welcome. At Chriss insistence I now have a copy of your definitive "How to Hunt Buffalo". Beware, I shall return armed to the teeth with ignorance and large caliber weapons! Perrys and Roses: Sorry we did not get a chance to come to Bulawayo to visit you. We had an absolutely delightful time with the "kids" and now have yet another excuse to come back to Bulawayo, to visit with yall (Kentucky speak). Jon: Take care of Umgulungundu, she has a special place in my heart, even though I did abuse her on a few occasions. We had an absolutely wonderful experience and want to thank everyone for the invitations, and help making our trip possible. We actually can’t wait to do it again! Pity work, etc always seems to get in the way. Well we are determined that it will not be so long before we come back to Africa and pester everyone again!! Chow for now, gotta go fly. Neville.
p.s. Mark – real quick, concerning the ball bearing joke, you have Africa figured out. University of Heidelburg, absolutely lovely and very well respected. With O-level chemistry (physics and chem) I dont think you would need more chemistry, but check with the admissions department. Chris Pakenham has burned copies of the picture CDs for all and will be delivering them soon, hopefully. I will pester my Christopher about the music CDs.

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