The ‘Guildford Castle’ spent January 31st at anchor off Tilbury in thick fog which did not lift until the ship was passing the Isle of Wight the next morning. By coincidence, our journey to Nairobi also started on February 1st, on the same day separated by 92 years, that my grandmother Emilie May Sutton started her journey. That’s the only similarity in the journey.
It took another twenty-five more days before Emilie May reached Mombasa, and two days more until the train pulled in to Nairobi station at 12:30. We will fly for 8 hrs in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we will queue for quite some time to be fingerprinted and processed into Kenya. My grandmother’s arrival was altogether better:
‘The entrance to Mombasa is quite one of the most beautiful things I’ve see, and I feel it quite useless to try to descript it. Anyway, we steamed right up to the land – so close, that I could recognize Joyce on her verandah, and was almost certain of Fred in a car. Then we turned sharp left, and kept close in under the land and cars and motor bikes kept level with us round the side of the island. We finally anchored off Kilindini, and at once the doctor’s launch came alongside, followed immediately by the Police one. I could see Fred sitting in it, and then he came on board, exactly after Capt. Scott Higgins, who is the Policeman. Oh, it was quite too wonderful. We went to the cabin – etc!!! The rest is left to your imagination. Anyway it was only about 7 o’clock when he came on board. We had plenty of time, and got my emigration form and passport done.’
Emilie May’s letter to her father on 25th February 1924
We queued for over an hour at immigration and were very thankful to meet the lady from the Norfolk Hotel and leave the airport. Travel is faster these days, but it has certainly lost its romance and much of its appeal. Since Emilie May’s reception after her wedding was at The Norfolk, it seems fitting that we should too. It’s still one of the best hotels in Nairobi.