As featured on 2 Oceans Vibe Radio; Bob’s Weekend Getaways.
Listen to Bob and Dan chatting to Garonga’s own Bernie Smith about what makes Garonga special.
As featured on 2 Oceans Vibe Radio; Bob’s Weekend Getaways.
Listen to Bob and Dan chatting to Garonga’s own Bernie Smith about what makes Garonga special.
45 degrees Centigrade on Xmas Day and 30th Dec! Was so humid one could almost shower in your own sweat – nice thought I know! I’m sure you had a great Xmas and New Years Eve party; we certainly did – thanks Billy for the 0300 hrs finish on New Years night/Morning reminiscing and banging the world to rights. It’s fine; I know Billy of old (best Man at his wedding!). We had an all American cast on Xmas night; I think that is a first. Thank-You USA! Also a number of Family Groups coming over the festive time; from Mexico, Canada, Germany, Ireland. Really great fun!! So typical of the hospitality scene when the electrics stuff up in one Suite at Little Garonga on Xmas Eve; can you get an electrician? Can you heck! Some bridging was done to get some lights, but not Hot Water! The Lekkie (Electrician) does come out on the 27th December; so apologies to our 2 Guests who were upset by this situation, but unfortunately “Murphy” is always around, and as much as we try, there is only so much that can be done.
Fiscal Cliff – none of them are even trying up there on Capitol Hill! Egos so high as the Empire State Building. What a pleasant start to 2013. Thanks BO and those other ……………..Politicos. What on earth is happening out there in the US; School kids massacred by a complete Geek; then 2 firemen deliberately murdered by a Physcopath; then the whole debate of who is right or wrong; it does seem very odd that you can buy a weapon without little or no references, licenses or anything, yet to drive a car you have to have this, that and the other. Doesn’t make sense to me. The Israelis have the best system, and it is well regulated, and makes a lot of sense. However no excuse for Piers Morgan (brit Anchorman on CNN) to lose his cool and be so one-sided; I always thought a news Anchorman or Presenter should remain Impartial; not this odious Guy! He insults his Guests if they don’t listen to poor old Pier’s point of view! I saw one debate where he completely lost it. Now the Gun Lobby want him deported – good idea, not that I agree with their views.
Cameron and his “Notting Hill Set” think it more important to think about “Gay Marriage” etc, when the Country is in the worst mess for years. I thought it was the Church that decided on those sorts of things, not meddling Politicians? The Police incident with the MP at Downing Street seems to continue with new evidence etc coming to light. There can’t be a very pleasant feeling in Downing Street amongst the Police and these Notting Hill Kids, and I dare say there must have been a lot of ill-feeling going on well before this incident to kick off.
The sorry Saga of the Nurse committing suicide after an Aussie Radio Prank went so terribly wrong. Here in South Africa Zuma is re-elected at the ANC annual Conference ……just, but only after Ramaphosa is elected Vice-President; that’s a good move, so maybe next year in 2014 no more Zuma, and a New refreshing start with Ramaphosa?
A milestone in English Cricket with India being defeated in India; first time for centons! Excellent cricket Captain – Alistair Cook! Harry Rednap puts the top football players fraternity truly in their place by saying something we all think anyway; it’s the Team, NOT the Individual and much more.
Down here in the not so Sunny Garonga we have had more good rains. What has been lacking is the Sun. The bush is lush and green, and we have had the Ellie Bulls frequently at the Camp waterhole always appearing almost on Q at Lunchtimes, or when Guests are checking in. It’s the Duracell batteries you see – Duracell lasts longer… apparently. Great sightings of Cheetah, and the Rhinos. The Lions are sometimes playing hard to get disappearing in to the Pidwa Block where the Guides cannot off-road. Beautiful Leopard sighting; one attached to this letter from Eion; thanks indeed Eion! Occasional walks still happening for those who want to exercise the Limbs. Sleep Outs have been a disappointment because of the Rains, but Guests are still plucky enough to try, even on Xmas day/night.
Many congratulations to Michael and Sandra, Andrew and Karen, and Holger and Rosalind for tying the knot here at Garonga!! It was a real pleasure hosting you on your very special day!
To the Chefs who work tirelessly in the Kitchen heat! I think it’s bad enough sometimes outside but then adding the Kitchen Heat, that’s quite something to be working in. A recipe will be attached as per normal. I was glued to Jamie Oliver’s Xmas cooking programme for tips etc; he had many, and they seemed to benefit.
2013 is looking promising, although January is pretty quiet; those of you who fancy a quickie, come over. We close 01 – 24 March 13 this year, so NOT the whole month, and Easter is much sooner this year anyway. We will be operating the Steenberg/Garonga Package again from March – September; it’s a great package; give it a crack, and then throughout the year a package with the fantastic Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa near Hazyview.
Last but by no means least, and how could I forget (It is definitely the Grey Cells), thanks Sue (Ethos Marketing UK) for stomping the streets through, wind, rain hail and ice, and a bit of sunshine thrown in selling Garonga to a very hard competitive Market. Your efforts and pains, and smiles reward us all so well!!
Right, lets get cracking for 2013.
Keep well and all the best
So BO is back in the WH and Mitt now takes a back seat. BO did handle the floods in NY pretty well and that must have certainly helped. As for that Plonker of a Mayor in NY cancelling the marathon at the last minute AFTER people had arrived is beyond understanding. It’s a no brainer – you get the storm, and you cancel – most people (reasonable people anyway) would quite understand. I hope he has a hefty wallet. Good luck to all the very stoic people of New York; they know and do it so well; pick themselves up and become even better than before. Here’s to you (actually a bit too early), later then!
Cameron and his bunch of ditherers are beyond help. It seems both Conservative and Labour just play to the whims of the People as to how they think; so forget principals, just play to the popular vote to get as many votes as you can. However the voters are not stupid, and if you don’t show your principals and what you stand for, then you deserve a good kicking in the goolies, which is what they need now. Look at UKIP; sure I don’t believe in everything they say but at least you know where you are with them. It’s quite simple; if we don’t get fair treatment from the EU and renegotiate our stance, then leave. Cameron move on. Liam Fox come back and lead the Party.
Hollande in France – a basket case; completely turned round from what he said he would do; what’s new! Who believes a politician anyway. The Arabs fighting amongst themselves – that’s a change! Uhmm. Always remember the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, at the end of the film when they are all squabbling and fighting amongst themselves. It’s a useless case; what can be done? As for Israel; they had no choice. Nobody would have put up with so much cak from Hamas which is ably supported by Iran. There’s a lot to be said to having Dictators control their Country after all the shenanagans going on in Egypt, Libya etc. Is the world a safer place now? This is said with Tongue in cheek before I get arrested by the “Thought Police”.
Here in SA, the Unions have quietened down a bit apart from one day when they blocked the Main Highway out of Joburg to the North protesting against the E toll system which looks like is going to be enforced next year and also spread to other Cities; so much for democracy when you just stamp over the people. Roll on the elections in 2014 – could be a nice surprise.
Rugby!! England v SA. Did not realise that captains are now going to be issued with calculators so they can add and subtract! Sure beating the All Blacks was an incredible achievement, but think if we had also beaten SA; that would have been a real winner beating the two top giants in Rugby.
Have I waffled enough! Most definitely. Back to reality. It’s been a bumper couple of months; it appears that South Africa is bouncing back. A very warm welcome back to Daniel and Michaela, Corne’ and Beate, Tim and Helen, Frank, Susanne, and Torquil and Marian (Good Luck with the wines – details are in the Curio Shop now). AND many congratulations to Ludwig and Anja, Luck and Cindy, Nigel and Jane, Warren and Jenna, Tim and Helen, and Karl and Terry for giving us the great priviledge of joining you together on the most special day of your Lives. Thanks also to George (MO), Louise (Photographer) and the staff for making their day so smooth.
The rains have come! 145mm to date and the Bush is looking splendid! Impala and Wildebeest calves all jumping over the place and looking so fragile and vulnerable. The Game Viewing has been truly excellent, and the Guys pulling out the stops. Not going out all that much myself, I was very lucky to spot a Leopard under a bush 20m from my house as I was driving back one afternoon. The 2 Big male Lions have been over a few times, and the Ellies doing what they do best. Guests till doing walks in the mornings – very popular. Sleep Outs – some successes, but with the rains etc there have been a few tactical withdrawals in the middle of the night. Still so worth doing.
The Chefs have been doing a brilliant job as ever producing some really delicious dishes; for some reason the “health options” are proving very popular; difficult for me to understand when you have the “Truckers Breakfast” available. As always a recipe will follow and give it a whirl.
On the Staff front Vanessa has very sadly left Garonga to live in Durban. A truly loyal, hard working, and great person who will be sadly missed. She had been with us for 8 years. Vanessa, good luck in what ever path you chose to travel. However we must move on and so Nicole (manageress) will now be taking over Reservations and Accounts, and Elizma joining us to take the position of Manageress. Good luck to both! Andy and his farm team working hard as ever fixing, growing the garden, and doing all the behind the scenes work which is not really noticeable up front. So much does go on behind the scenes to keep such an operation going. Evelyne has been kept very busy indeed with massages, and something noticeable, Facials proving very popular. Dinamosi (Tracker) had his work cut out when hosting one night, when one of the Guests decided to teach him the “Rumba dance” (no, Berlusconi was nowhere to be seen).
I have been in Mud Island again visiting The WTM Travel Show in that terrible place called Docklands. The show itself is great and very impressive in EXCEL, but when you go outside you could almost be in “The Clink”. Anyway once again managing to defeat Customs and bring back Cheeses; Vicherin, Stinking Bishop (Reineth, head Chef, always runs a bloody mile when she sees me return with this), and the inevitable Blue Stilton. This has now run out.
Now it is that time of the year to wish all our Guests (previous and those coming) a very Merry Xmas and every success for 2013; apparently the Aztecs have other ideas however; we’ll see. Also to the Tour Operators from far and Wide who have supported us so nicely, a big Thank-You! Also to our Marketing Reps who patiently grind the walk and keep patient with us – The Ethos marketing Team in UK, Alison, Amanda, Claire, Kevin, and Cara; Roland and Hella ETC Marketing in Germany; and Andy, Beth, and Jann in the Africa In Focus Team in South Africa. Also a big thanks to Wild Web, Paul and his team who keep us in check regarding the web, Facebook and Twitter (Still trying to figure this out especially all the stuff that went on in the UK. We look forward to the year ahead whatever it may bring.
As always spare a big thought for the Troops In Afghanistan; we wish them every success in their task. We can all help by giving to “Help4Heroes”; a cause that keeps going from strength to strength! They look after us, we need to look after those who keep us safe! Cameron, stick to your word and keep to the Military Covenant!
Signing off another year in the African veldt! Keep safe and Go well!
TEAM GB! What more can be said. What a sterling, courageous, professional outcome for the whole team both Olympics and Paralympics (footballers take note; as if you care!). France cried because the bicycles were too technologically advanced for them, and we all know where that technology came from, don’t we – LA FRANCE! HA! Boney eat your heart out. Maybe the French should take up cricket. Anyway judging by the guests coming over from UK, it was just such a euphoric atmosphere; like the empire had been rebuilt – Rule Britannia and all that. Well, only another 100 years or so to repeat that performance; what a crescendo of a finishing concert; even the tube and bus drivers were polite! The military; I’d wager a bet that the WO & Sgt’s Mess watched the volleyball, The officers the horse events, and the JNCO’s and Rfm the remainder. Boris was a superstar and outshone that ridiculous PM, DC, who has lost the trust of most if not all.
Now we have a stinking toad of a politician who calls the police protection team at Downing Street (People who protect him) “Plebs” and “I’ll have your job”. The sheer arrogance stinks; he needs to go; send him to Afghanistan and do a decent day’s work there.
So In UK don’t wear a cross to work or you may offend…………………..WHO exactly! The PC police? stuff them; go ahead and be proud to wear it in a Christian country. Others wear their turbans, or their long ghostly dresses, so why not good honest decent Christians!
So, on the cricket front KP has done the unthinkable and betrayed his “mates” to the opposition; in fact this isn’t unusual for him, as he doesn’t have many friends in the English cricket dressing rooms; country or county. A one man band who plays excellent cricket doesn’t wash anymore. It’s called “teamwork” KP. We still lost the cricket anyway against South Africa.
Now down here in deepest Africa there was a huge problem in the mines; the platinum one to be precise. Weeks before there had been violence and intimidation even before “The Shooting”. No politicians, or senior police came out; it was left to the men on the ground. Basically a turf war was surfacing between two unions; one being pragmatic, the other offering such ridiculous hopes for their members that of course the members crossed sides. Anyway both Unions had no control whatsoever of the Miners. Two policemen and two security guards were hacked to death and their weapons stolen. Then to cut a long story short a mass of “people” armed with Spears, Knokopjies, machetes, and of course the weapons stolen from the police advanced on the police lines. Police had tried to restrain with Rubber Bullets and Tear gas to no avail, so when your lives are at risk from a Mad Mob you have only one answer left; which is what happened. Sure some were shot in the back turning away after the mass attack (not to be condoned), but what would you have done? The thing is that this should never have got to this stage; where were the politicians (cowering in their SUV’s and sumptuous homes in Houghton)? Where was the police top brass to support their members; same as above! Now the company has given in and handed them their demands and now, guess what – all the miners think that if you intimidate, kill etc they will give in to your demands. Anarchy in the workforce is where we are now in the mines, and now possibly the transport strike, where vehicles have been torched and one killed. The government needs to seriously get a grip or anarchy will reign. There are no longer negotiations; it is strike, and so on! Enough; I think you get the gist! So Africa is not for pussies (was told that many moons ago – it is not Sloane Street in London).
Talking about pussies – Julian Assange has gone and run behind his mother’s skirt in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London pleading Immunity! Ecuador – Not exactly a bastion of free speech now! I suppose he can always get his food delivered by Harrods next door. Julian, old boy, be a man, and go and face the music in Sweden; don’t run behind those people’s skirts in the Embassy. After all I’d imagine a Swedish jail is a bit like a 3 star Hotel!
The heat is on now for the two sluggers in the USA – 4 weeks to go for the result. We all wait with baited breath – uhmmmm!
That was a bit of a long one – been a long hot day today; 40+ degrees. Now many many congratulations to David and Aline, Frank and Tanja, Brian and Denise, Andreas and Bettina, Gerard and Ann-Marie, Andy and Ulrike – for all tying the knot here at Garonga! We all wish you the very best for the future. Andreas and Bettina, you have set some very high standards as to what is expected post dinner celebrations! A very warm welcome back to Martin and Jane, Helen and Stuart, Barbara, Fabian and Laura.
Most of the game Viewing has been exceptional; sure there were a few quiet days, but the safari chaps have really done some sterling work with leopard sightings, the cheetah, ellies , the lions (Although not as prolific as before – story later), and loads of general game. Walks have proven popular as it has been chilly still in the mornings. We have now moved in to summer routine; by now wake up is at 0515 hrs departing at 0545 hrs getting back for those infamous truckers breakfasts! The lions; unfortunately the Garonga pride (five of them) went through the fence to a neighbours cattle farm; I’m sure you can guess what happened. Anyway the farm manager there took a dislike to them all (despite being informed that assistance was on the way to take them off) and shot all five of them! Unfortunately the mentality beggars belief! This is indeed tragic, but also I suppose what can happen in fenced off reserves. My aim is to restore a Garonga pride again.
The veld has been looking great recently greened up by the first rains – about 40mm. Yes, folks it does rain in Africa in September, so if you just arrive with a swimming cozzie; well, the rest is history. The chilly mornings are still happening, but the days becoming much hotter as you’d imagine.
So, it’s no longer death by chocolate… cake for tea; we have switched back to doing lunches, and of course picnics up in the tree. The chefs are now back in the thick of it with lunches, picnics, sleep outs, weddings – all go for them, and how well they have preformed! AS normal a recipe will follow this letter.
Sleep outs have proven very popular but I must admit we have had a case of 3 coming back in the same week. I think it was definitely a case of “It was THAT Big”. However we seem back to normality now and everybody thoroughly enjoying the experience.
On the staff front a very warm welcome to Eveleyne who has taken over the massages; welcome back to Zandile from maternity leave.
Both August and September have been very busy indeed, as will October and November. December – Xmas; can you bloody well believe it! I can’t. Surely Not! Off to UK in November for the WTM trade show in Docklands (EXCEL) London – what a pit of a place! Hope to see some of you there. Anyway a good chance to buy “Stinking Bishop” (Reineth the head chef loves it – NOT!), Vacherin, and the good old Stilton. Haven’t been caught yet returning with it.
Just to remind you, we have an excellent package with Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa, and also the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town (remember this for next year March – September 2013).
Enjoy the Autumn where you are as we will enjoy the Spring/Summer, swimming-pools, cold beer , braiis/bbq, and Rugby!
Look after yourselves and keep well.
The Jubilee – this was precision at its best. What a grand lady she is, and looks like she can do another 10! A fantastic start to so much happening in the UK. The boats, the troops, the weather – how more British can it get!
Bradley Wiggins!! What a star to win the Tour De France AND the Olympic gold! Not a celebrity, as he points out that there are far too many “celebrities” who have done nothing to get their so called status; good man!
What a cracker of an opening ceremony to The Games despite the usual last minute hitches one gets before such a huge event. Well done Boris and Danny Boyle! What was incredible was that even the Met. Office ordered in the right weather for the night; they don’t normally get it right (drought this year with the worst rains to date!), but there you go.
It’s all sports then. Congrats to Jonathan Marray (yes that is correctly spelt); first Brit to win the doubles finals in Wimbledon for a centon, with his Danish partner Frederik Nielsen. The other similar sounding name who doesn’t like Brits, well……………….maybe another year. Jeremy Clarkson’s obituary on the final was so to the point!
Cricket; thrashed the Aussies and then in the true Aussie style really beckons South Africa to do the same to England, which they have done so far! Good sportsmen those Aussies!
Another bit of sports going on; it takes a thief to catch a thief; and so the politicians set up their own parliamentary enquiries to investigate the disgusting behaviour of certain banks fixing this and that. The polticos will be perfect for this as they know only too well how to be crooked! Of course it’s not your banker that you and I know, but those despicable hyenas behind the scenes. It’s very simple. Catch them, sentence them to 20 years in Jail, remove their trading licenses, and Bob’s your uncle.
Of course the polticos have also done the media as well for wire tapping, but very interesting to see a useless labour MP call Rupert Murdoch “unfit for purpose” – the hypocrisy of it all. Far rather have Rupert Murdoch than that MP any day.
Cameron – you’re losing it; get rid of that 2 i/c of yours; he’s got the smallest minority in history but controls what you want to do! Fix it, and let the majority rule (I believe it’s called democracy). As for your trip to Afghanistan to thanks the troops there, and then hand them out their retrenchment packages and put them on the dole; despicable and traitorous! Thanks God for the troops for saving the Olympics! However Harriet Harman telling the troops that they deserve a bonus like the bus and tube drivers (who basically held the country over a barrel and demanded 500.00 pounds each) is embarrassing from a supposed politician. The whole point is that the forces are NOT like the civil services; they are totally professionally, will have a quick snide and giggle at the expense of the “civvies” who couldn’t organise a P… up in Monastery and get on with the job! If only…..! Hopefully there will be no riots like last year as there are no police (olympics), no troops left; maybe get the Giles cartoon character of Grandma out and let her wield her brolly instead!
Euro getting worse, and Syria is just a tragic basket case!
Yes, I know, been away too long. Anyway I trust you are still awake.
Away from the loony bin, here down at sleepy hollow of Garonga it’s been great to welcome our first guests from India after such a long while! Many many congratulations to Jonathan and Nicola for tying the knot; a great day indeed. Thanks to a number of industry operators who came out to check us out! I hope we passed! A very warm welcome back to Sue, then Wolfgang, Ute and Soeren (8th time).
Spring is coming as I saw Jaffeth (head guide) wearing shorts the other day! Warmer to hot days but still cold mornings early on. The game viewing has been great with more leopard sightings now ; the ellies have been across a number of times to Garonga, which has not always been the case before during winter. Cheetah and rhinos have been much in evidence and the plains game in abundance. Walks are great at this time of the year; if you are coming, try them. The sleep outs as popular as ever; it is NOT cold up there, and the stars are spectacular.
Only one month left having those scrumptious high teas; the chocolate cheese cake; my God, I could munch that every day! The ladies in the kitchen have been producing some excellent nosh, even the fish and chips nights are popular; not to mention those traditional Sunday curry dinners, carvery roasts and the list goes on (that’s the sales pitch coming in having just done a sales trip). A recipe will follow; please do try this at home. Forget health and safety!
Microliting is also a great thing to do especially at this time of the year. A 20 minutes flip over the 60,000 acre reserve flying about 300m above the ground. Great fun and spectacular scenery. We give you a short intro, and then give you the keys.
On the marketing front, we are now doing a fantastic package with the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town; it’s a beautiful hotel in Constantia on its own wine farm. Check the package out on our website (www.garonga.com) fantastic add-ons, and a package of 9 nights where you only pay for 7 nights. This package finishes soon as it is only during the winter months, but will be repeated next year as well.
I was released in late June for a sales trip to UK which went extremely well. I was chaperoned around England by the ladies of Ethos Marketing (thanks Sue, Alison, Amanda and Claire for putting up with the grumpy old fart). Great to see so many supporters again who have really looked after us over the years; thanks so much to all for giving us your very precious time. I would also like to thank Julie from Country Club UK for allowing me to present to some key members (40+ turnout) at the club; A wine presentation given by SA Wines (Splendid start!), a presentation on the Steenberg and then my presentation and stories (It was THAT big!) to all. I even bumped into my Ex – CO there (I did not want to remind him about our (the platoon I was in) antics on the French commando course!), and his daughter Annabel who did a 3 month between jobs here some years ago; what a small world! Anyway beautiful countryside to drive around in with a SATNAV lady who, by the end of the trip, needed to be battered with a baseball bat; I don’t need reminding 4 times about when to take the turn off at a roundabout, and you know the UK is the king of roundabouts!
Now back in the grindstone. Both camps very busy indeed; still some small gaps in August, but September in Safari Camp – that’s a cracker! There is availability at Little Garonga for a number of days however, and before you know it, it is back to lunches, picnics, swimming et al!
Now back to more golds! Enjoy The Games. Keep Safe!
All the best