If you want to do something, do it.
That’s the advice from Parsley Box Personality Jean Kreiseler who, at 87, is about to embark on yet another wild camping safari to Botswana.
‘There’s nothing like the place,’ she said, adding that her first visit to Africa in 2009 sparked a love for the continent.
‘I went to Namibia in 2009 and again in 2010. I wept buckets when I left. It really got me.’
But it was the Okavango Delta in Botswana that really captured Jean’s soul – not least because of the closeness to wild animals in their natural habitat.
‘We were sleeping in our tents and at around 3am I was woken by this incredible roar which vibrated through my bed. It was a lion just a few feet away, telling its mate it had made a kill.’
Rather than be terrified at the prospect, Jean – who lives in Devon – was invigorated.
‘This was the centre of the natural world. Our guide, Joe, got us up for a hurried breakfast so we could follow the lion and see it eat the animal it had caught. It was just fabulous.’
Jean doesn’t believe in giving in to age, claiming it is just a number and everyone should ignore the stereotypes of ‘being too old’ for anything.
‘You only have one life and we’re not coming back. If you feel like you want to do something you shouldn’t be put off by what other people might think. Just do it.’
Travel has always been a passion and often included many trips to friends and family all over the world, particularly Germany where her late husband came from. They also went to India, Canada, the USA and most of Europe, which they visited using their motor caravan.
‘It has really been since he passed away that I have been exploring other parts of the world as we were often drawn back to Germany because of our connections there.’
In 1980 she visited Russia and Mongolia with her sister, on a Trans-Iberian trip but it is still the draw of the African people and countries that draw Jean.
‘Meeting Joe, our guide, has been wonderful as he knows the place like the back of his hand. He has taken me to outreaches that average tourists wouldn’t get to see. Since we first met him he has set up his own travel business called Through The Lens and he does a fabulous job of showing people what the area is really about.’
Even a heart attack requiring stent surgery in 2007 didn’t stop Jean in her tracks. A few months later and she was booking her next adventure, despite having to take around 30 tablets a day to keep herself in tip top condition.
‘I just swallow them and get on with it. No point thinking about what could or couldn’t happen. While I’m here I want to live life to the full. I’m spending my daughter’s inheritance and if I live very much longer then I’ll be eating bread without butter or jam! But so what?’
Jean’s next trip is already booked now the lockdown restrictions are over and she is free to fly again.
‘It was hellish during the two years of not being able to travel,’ she said, although she still kept herself very busy helping with her daughter’s horses, including a rescued racehorse, two dogs and various other activities.
‘There’s not point sitting around. Life is for living and that is exactly what I’m going to do.’
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