The Perils of Skinny-Dipping

BOOK: The Perils of Skinny-Dipping
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The Perils of Skinny-Dipping
J A Sandilands
Purple Flame Books (2012)
Abbey Harris is a successful career woman who enjoys a comfortable life style in the leafy, Cheshire suburbs. One Sunday, she spots an advertisement by a charity looking for volunteers to work on an ecological project in southern Africa, and impulsively applies.
Abbey arrives in Kasane, Botswana. She has joined the forestry unit and has two colleagues, Richard and Phil. Richard fails to impress Abbey with his attitude towards life and people in general.  Phil, on the other hand is a laidback, likeable guy who embraces every opportunity Kasane has to offer. 
As Abbey settles into her new life in the African bush, she encounters poisonous snakes, has a brush with black magic, and also has to contend with Anna, a stunning South African, who is determined to rekindle a relationship with Darren, Abbey's new husband, undermining Abbey's confidence at every turn.
A sudden death forces Abbey to temporarily return to the UK.  As she battles to come to terms with her loss, she finds herself on a collision course with her estranged father.
The Perils of Skinny-dipping is a novel about love, cultural differences and human nature in a stunning and unique environment. The story includes several subplots which follow the highs and lows of some of the Batswana, trying to provide for their families and the relationships they have with the people from other parts of the world who also make Kasane their home.

The Perils of Skinny-dipping







J. A. Sandilands

UK Copyright 2010 by Julie Sandilands


All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of Julie Sandilands.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


First published in 2010 by Julie Sandilands

Published in 2011 by Purple Flame Books


Cover design by Tim Ryan


Graphic design by Sylvia Breslin



To purchase a paper copy of this book please

email:[email protected]







About the Author



Julie Sandilands is originally from Cheshire where she lived until 1997. After completing her B.Ed. (Hons) in Business and Information Technology, she spent three years in Botswana teaching in a large government secondary school in the capital, Gaborone. She moved to Scotland in 2000 and now lives in rural Fife, Scotland with her son, Duncan.








Thanks as always to Duncan for his patience and interest in all of my endeavours.


To Gillian, whose constant encouragement and relentless ideas helped to take this story to places it might not otherwise have gone.


To Tim Ryan, who kindly agreed to create the image for the book cover. Tim worked as an art teacher at Lotsane Secondary School, Palapye, Botswana, between August 1997 and December 2000. The imagery in southern Africa had a profound effect on the illustrator. This is reflected in the cover showing a baobab tree, the African night sky, and the type face on the ‘do it yourself’ road signs publicising lodges and hotels, common on any road trip in Africa.







The man walked up the steps and into the bright lights of the hotel foyer. The receptionist smiled at him as he handed over his passport.

Dumela Rra, I hope you’ve had a good trip.’ She gave him the swipe card for his room and shouted for the night porter.

It’s OK, I can manage,’ he said, as he swung his bag over his shoulder and disappeared through the swing doors.
His room was on the second floor and looked out across the pool bar. After a cool shower, he poured himself a drink out of the mini bar and lay down on the bed. The air conditioning unit rattled away, blowing cool air across his skin. He closed his eyes, tired from the long drive.
When he awoke it was still dark. He shivered, stood up and turned off the air conditioning. The digital clock beside the bed read 1.45 am. He picked up the unfinished whiskey and pulled open the sliding doors that led onto the balcony. The night was warm and the sky clear. He stood and looked out across the hotel grounds. A familiar sound caught his attention. He leaned on the balcony, focusing his eyes in the direction of the noise. After a few moments, he could see someone swimming up and down in the pool. He stared as the body glided through the water.

After completing several more laps, the person climbed out of the pool. At first he could only make out the outline. As his vision sharpened, his eyes followed the smooth contour of her body, unspoilt by any garments. He watched as she picked up her towel, wrapping it around herself, before disappearing from view into the darkness of the hotel gardens.

Chapter One





The morning sun was rising in the eastern sky, slowly covering the earth with a rusty glow. The air had a stillness about it as if in anticipation of the unfolding of a new day. It was already twenty-two degrees and not yet six o’clock. Abbey had never been a morning person and getting out of bed had always proved to be a chore, regardless of the time of year. That, however, had been twelve thousand kilometres away in Manchester, England. That was where Abbey had been born, schooled and spent the first thirty-two years of her life. Here in Kasane, Botswana, the dawning of a new day heralded the start of another adventure just waiting to be experienced.

She rose with ease and dressed into cargo pants and a long-sleeved shirt. The heat and mosquitoes were difficult adversaries and Abbey knew better than to try and ward them off by state of mind only, as malaria was a very real threat in this part of the country. She pulled on her walking boots, after having held them upside down and banging them together to dislodge any insects that might have crept in during the night. Substantial boots were also a necessity if scorpion bites were to be avoided whilst walking through the bush.

She left the small bungalow and made her way down to the bottom of the hill towards the village to buy fresh milk and bread. There were no pavements anywhere in Kasane and, apart from the main road in and out of the town, which was tarmac, the remaining roads were simply well-used dust tracks.

Goats, dogs, donkeys and chickens roamed freely around the town. The goats wore collars with bells that jingled constantly, and being woken up at five in the morning, when their day began, had taken some getting used to. The rickety, corrugated iron shops were already open, selling anything from electrical items to vegetables.

The smell of barbequed corn wafted through the air. Music thumped out of a cassette player and many of the locals were also up and about on bicycles, or on foot, making their way to work. Children, immaculately dressed in their blue and white uniforms, made their way to the local community junior school, waving and shouting to people in cars and trucks as they drove past.

Kasane lies adjacent to the Chobe/Zambezi River and is the most northerly town in Botswana. The charity, African Volunteers Project (AVP), had been active here for many decades. Abbey had joined the forestry unit, helping to plant new saplings and educate the locals on how to look after the newly-planted trees.

The land had been protected as a non-hunting area for some decades and eventually declared as a national park. As a result, the ever-growing elephant population had reached immense proportions as herds had flocked from the surrounding countries of Namibia and Angola for the safe haven of the Chobe Park and the thousands of acres of bush land, south of the river, down to the Okavango swamps. The daily damage to the bush land was now threatening other species of wildlife. Trees could not be planted fast enough, and keeping them safe from being trampled or eaten by these enormous, ravenous mammals was proving to be a far greater task than ever expected.

Abbey entered the local Spar shop, her t-shirt already sticking to her from the heat. She bought what she needed, practising her limited Setswana to the delight of Beauty who worked in the shop. Abbey had been impressed by the welcome she had received from the local people and their attitude towards foreign, white people coming to live and work in their country. She suddenly understood what it meant to be in the minority, and wondered if the ethnic minorities back home felt as comfortable as she did as she wandered freely around, familiarising herself with the town and its inhabitants. She was also impressed with the standard of English spoken by the majority of people, who would never miss an opportunity to stop her on the street and try out their language skills.

There were many stalls of various shapes and sizes selling the most obscure and random items, yet this was the only shop made from bricks and mortar with an electric till which offered a good selection of groceries and household goods.

The temperature was rising fast as Abbey stood outside the shop. She smiled and breathed in the clean, dry air, surveying her new world with ever-increasing wonder.

Chapter Two





Four months previously on a late August, Sunday afternoon, Abbey had been sitting in front of her computer, staring vacantly at the screen. She was working on her personal development plan as her annual appraisal was scheduled for the coming week. Abbey worked for a printing firm in the heart of Manchester, working her way up from office junior to the marketing director. She had dedicated her life to her career and was a valued and respected member of the firm. It had, however, been a difficult week for Abbey, involving a dispute over whose job it was to look after a couple of international clients. It had always been her responsibility and she had been shocked to hear that the Costello account was being given to one of her less experienced colleagues. Abbey had questioned the decision with Colin Trump, the Managing Director, and demanded a meeting in his office.

BOOK: The Perils of Skinny-Dipping
3.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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