Saturday, July 10
I meet Bjorn who is looking even more knackered than me.
"You must be more than ready to go home?" I ask him
"You can't imagine. I don't even want to think about these last five days here. I want to see my kids now."
Bjorn (as well as Blackburn) is hoping to get into tomorrow's final here in Joburg.
I will be more than satisfied to watch it on the TV if I get back to the UK in time.
I say my temporary goodbyes to Blackburn, who has been a brilliant laugh over these past few weeks at the world cup.
I say my temporary goodbyes to Bjorn, who was an absolutely amazing companion to travel 6500 kilometres with from Kenya to South Africa.
I will miss both of them, but now it's time for me to catch the brand new 'Gautrain' from Sandton to Joburg International and my plane home...
Well, at least that's what I had hoped: When I get to the airport I discover that there is no record of my flight booking on Emirates' computer system.
It's a bit stressful for a few minutes but, luckily, I somehow manage to get rebooked on to my original flight by paying for a new ticket at the airport ticket office. It's fortunate that I arrived at the airport 4 hours before the flight.
Germany are playing Uruguay in the third-place play off. The idea of this match is a bit pointless in football but I am more than happy to watch messrs Forlan and Ozil take to the pitch one last time in South Africa.
One of the things I have loved about this country is how laid back the people are. Point in case is two dozen of us sitting on the hallway floor in the departures terminal watching the match. At least half of those present are airport staff. In another country they'd probably lose their jobs and I'd get a telling off for lounging about like this. But here, nobody cares. I think it's brilliant.
Forlan hits the crossbar with the final kick of the match. Simultaneously passengers begin filing on to the aircraft for our flight to Dubai. My last image of South Africa is a black airport worker holding his head in his hands and remarking "Forlan is brilliant. I wish he could have scored that goal and got the golden boot."
I'm really going to miss this beautiful country and its lovely people.
Thursday, July 8
Durban - Joburg
So Spain managed to get past the brilliant young German side. It must be their trophy now...
It wasn't the greatest semi final you'll ever watch, but it was certainly intriguing. The young Italian bloke in a wheelchair, who miraculously rose to his feet and ran onto the pitch in the middle of the match blowing his vuvuzela, was another highlight of the evening for many football purists.
I don't know how much publicity it got abroad but there is a big stink here today about the 1,000 plus football supporters whose aircraft were unable to land at Durban Airport for last night's match. The story goes that a good half dozen scheduled flights were unable to land because of private jets belonging to celebrities and FIFA officials blocking the landing berths. It's an absolute disgrace. The media though hasn't mentioned the significant number of police and military aircraft that were patrolling the skies last night. I suspect that also had something to do with the mess.
Blackburn and I check out of our Durban beachfront flat (more like an upmarket prison cell) and make for the coach station.
"Can you believe it?" Blackburn tells me, "I even got told off by one of the street beggars for being too rowdy a couple of nights ago. 'Blackburn', he said. 'You shouldn't get so drunk'. It comes to something when the local beggars are telling you off."
Prior to coming out to South Africa there were not only horror stories in the press about crime - we were also told that the price of domestic travel would be unaffordable. More nonsense from the world's media. Down at Durban coach station a 7-hour journey on a luxury double-decker from Durban to Joburg will set you back the grand total of 180 rand (16 pounds).
We are heading back to Joburg so I can fly home and Blackburn can try and get into Sunday's final at Soccer City. Four coaches leave Durban at the same time, the morning after the world cup semi. We spot a grand total of two German fans and zero Spaniards making the journey north.
South Africa has been brilliant but Joburg isn't exactly my favourite place. We arrive at Joburg Park Station late afternoon. It's more than 10km from here to Randburg where Blackburn has booked us in to his old guesthouse.
The problem with Joburg is that everywhere is so difficult to get to if you are relying on public transport. And then there's the threat of voilent crime...
A policeman at the station advises us against walking the couple of blocks it is to the minivan taxi rank.
"To be honest, it isn't safe at all. You are much better off taking a taxi to Randburg."
The taxi ends up costing as much as the 7-hour coach journey but at least the last long road trip of this adventure is over.
I grab an early night. I feel exhausted and ready to go home. It seems more like years rather than months since I left England. I can't imagine how Bjorn must feel after nearly 13 months away.
Thursday, June 17
Trystan from the BBC meets Bjorn and I to film the shirt. All being well the images will go out on BBC breakfast in the next day or two. Trystan is also hoping that England legends Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer might sign the shirt.
Afterwards we bump into one of the lads we met in Botswana five weeks ago. This tournament is turning into the World Cup of coincidences. Not only do we keep bumping into people we have met elsewhere, but every second person also seems to have spotted Bruce Grobbelaar at some stage or other in the past week. Maybe Robert Mugabee has had him cloned.
Cape Town waterfront is gorgeous. It puts me in mind of Norway, although the prices are about half of those in England. We meet Blackburn in Ferryman's. He is hopeful of sorting Bjorn and Marianne out for England tickets for tomorrow's match.
Highlight of the day, of course, is France losing to Mexico 2-0. Resisting the temptation of a night of heavy drinking we all separate and go home early. England must win tomorrow and we all need to have our best singing voices on us if we are going to compete with the vuvuzelas.
Friday, June 4
"Peter, do you know any nice bars where we can get a decent bite to eat and there is a nice mixed crowd?"
Ten minutes later our taxi driver pulls up outside Sunrise, in the edgier end of the Rustenburg suburb.
As we jump out of the car, and the freezing cold Joburg air hits us, we spot a lone white guy, aged around 50 and wearing an England shirt, stumbling around the car park. Maybe I am imagining him.
The pub isn't quite what we had expected. We are the only whites in it and, initially, it looks a bit on the rough side.
Sure enough though it is a great little find with the pre-requisites of good food and beer and a mixed crowd all satisfied. It is easy to see why they call this the 'rainbow nation' - the friendly crowd includes Nigerians, Indians, south Asians...and one very drunk English bloke.
'Blackburn', as he likes to be called, arrived on thursday and is staying in a guest house over the road from the pub.
"It's a bit wild 'ere, ain't it?" he comments in a broad, working class Blackburn accent.
"Are you from Clitheroe?" I ask him, remembering a good friend I used to know from the Ribble Valley.
"No, but I was in prison there."
It turns out that Blackburn, aged 49, is at his sixth World Cup. He is very, very drunk and keeps kissing Bjorn on his bold head every time the topic turns to him having cycled to South Africa from Norway.
"You must be f###ing mad," he slurs. "That is f###ing amazing. I love you."
Blackburn passionately recalls his favourite World Cup, Mexico '86, and brushes off the news that England captain, Rio Ferdinand is out of the World Cup:
"He's f###ing crap anyway."
Blackburn is good value. He is the very first England fan we have come across since arriving in South Africa, and for that he deserves my recognition.
As the draught Castle slips down and increasingly-poor-games- of-pool are played, Blackburn suddenly tells us:
"Sorry, I'm a bit drunk cos me sister got shot in Cumbria."
"Yeah, she got shot by that mad f### in Cumbria. The bloke who killed all those people....she'll be OK, like, but it's sick cos all my mates were taking bets and joking on how long it'd be before I got shot in Johannesburg. It's f###ing terrible. I hope she'll be OK."
Bloody hell, it's a small world. Let's hope Blackburn is right and his sister makes a speedy recovery from her shocking ordeal.
And let's hope we see more of Blackburn in the coming weeks. The World Cup wouldn't be the same without colourful characters like him.