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Swindon couple move to Africa safari dream (and it’s ALL been filmed)

A COUPLE who swapped Old Town for the African savannah have found TV fame.

Heavily pregnant Ruth Pinches jetted out to Zambia with husband Lyndon in 2016. The couple, who lived in Old Town, were followed by a TV crew as they built a safari lodge.

But the pair were forced to abandon the project when Ruth, now 32, flew back to the UK to give birth to baby girl Indianna.

They returned to Africa, opening Pinnon Lodges last year and realising ex-British Army officer Lyndon’s dream of living in the African bush. The couple’s journey was filmed for Channel 4’s Our Wildest Dreams programme.

Ruth, an ex-teacher who grew up in Nythe, said the couple had initially moved to Africa to pursue Lyndon’s interest in African wildlife and tackling poachers.

She said: “We packed our bags with just a few clothes, thinking we would return in six months. It was while we were in Malawi that Lyndon first mentioned moving to Zambia and building a safari lodge.

“I can’t explain why, but I was really up for it. I think my saying ‘Yes, let’s go’ really spurred Lyndon on. A few weeks later we were in Zambia registering Pinnon Lodges.

“It was the opposite of a long-term dream. In fact, if we had spent more time thinking about it and discussing our plans with family we may never have had the courage to just do it.”

Living out of a small two man tent while the lodges were built became more difficult as pregnant Ruth’s due date approached.

She said: “Living in a tent while pregnant had its pros and cons. It was very relaxing being somewhere so beautiful and peaceful. I wasn’t working every day, which was a real luxury.

“However, hauling myself up off a mattress on the floor was getting harder and harder. If I wanted a bath I sat in a large washing up tub with water I had boiled over a fire.”

Ruth returned to the UK a month before she was due to give birth in August 2016: “When I got back to Swindon my dad was ready with a fridge full of strawberries and cream and chocolate oranges.”

When baby Indianna was born, dad Lyndon flew back to Zambia to complete the chalets. The couple accepted their first guests in autumn 2016.

“It was amazing finally welcoming guests to the lodge, almost surreal,” said Ruth. “We have been really lucky.”

However, tragedy struck last November after a catastrophic fire burnt down their lodge’s restaurant and kitchen: “A gas canister exploded and since the building was thatched within minutes it was all gone. It’s incredible no one was injured considering the size of the fire and the amount of gas and fuel that ignited.”

Luckily, the couple was insured. They have almost finished rebuilding the gutted dining room and kitchen.

A year and a half on from opening, the couple have welcomed more than 300 guests to Pinnon Lodge.

In the Channel 4 show, ex-Rifles officer Lyndon, 35, said: “This time three years ago I’d come back from operations and you were a teacher. It just goes to show if you’ve got the drive and determination you can just do anything really.”

The couple now have a second child, Ivy, just seven weeks old.

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