We are offering a stay 4 pay 3 special for the month of June which is on top of the discounted rates for the Winter Season, plus the exchange rates now are extremely favourable. A beautiful time to come and visit the Bush!
It’s been sooo long without a rant! Starting with Maggie who was given such a great send-off by most; as for those who chose to dance on her death – well, your time will come, and I doubt you will even reach her years let alone her achievements, one of which was to free the Argentinian people from the military junta by defeating them in the Falklands; so basically Maggie/Britain gave Argentine their democracy; that lady who is in charge down there just needs to remember that! Then of course she freed Britain from the shackles of Union Power and abuse turning it from a banana republic to a 1st rate Country! Only for the likes of Blair, Brown and Major to turn it back towards a banana republic. Cameron needs to get a pair unless UKIP take over. It just seems he cannot see it; what people want! Boris over to you.
MP’s seem to be at it again, by selling their 2nd Homes which the public bought for them. Can you believe it – yes, of course we can. Cash for questions Mercer gets more than he bargained for; wrong regiment you see!
Then, of course, the despicable act of barbarity in the middle of a London Street where a Soldier was cut to pieces whilst the public all filmed it on their social media machines! The police kept back until an armed unit arrived (20 minutes later); and here I thought the police had pepper sprays, batons and whatever you can lay your hands on. Well, simple answer is that UK is no longer the “Dixon of Dock Green” and needs to at least arm the cops with tazers which would have probably saved a life. Now I suppose we have to put these “Animals” up in prison, feed and water them, and pay for their nice long trials. Open and shut; send them to some stinking hell hole in the earth.
Natural disasters all over the place as well as human – The USA, Bangladesh; at least they caught the owner. The Little Man in North Korea fancied his chances for a while playing Big Boys Rules for a moment; haven’t heard a whimper for a long time now. I suppose the fact that he may have survived 5 minutes if he’d gone ahead with his threats may have had something to do with it.
Now down here in S. Africa we have the “Gupta Family” which controls the Presidency and do what they want; how funny is that! They just land their private aircraft in a VIP military base and use the trappings of state for a family wedding; NO it’s not a cartoon series I promise you. Then Justin Beiber (beaver?) came and cried, I mean sung, to his fans, and then left his monkey homeless in Germany. SA troops killed in the DRC, but nobody knows what they were doing there (they do but the ANC doesn’t apparently?). All good fun and Games, and now Strike Season begins for 3 or 4 months.
Winter is upon us down here in the sleepy Lowveld and what a beautiful time to come it is!
April was incredibly busy and full which is fantastic. The Little Garonga staff have also had their hands full and performed incredibly well.
We have also had a few weddings, and so how fantastic it is to congratulate Piers and Hayley (they first met here at the Garonga Student Conservation Programme (10 years ago) who came with families and friends to mark their very special day; a gorgeous setting down at Fig Tree Pools. Then many congratulations also to Peter and Elaine, Roland and Sandra, and finally Andrew and Janice. A great honour for us to host you on your very special day! Welcome back to Mandy and Thane; great to see you again! May is always also busy with agents coming to inspect of which we had quite a few.
We did our annual closedown in March for three weeks, and also did a bit of changing with the doors and windows of the tents which are now black and much smarter. A deck was added to the main area so guests can have a drink outside under the African skies at night. Otherwise just cleaning, scrubbing, painting and varnishing.
Two new Landrover Game Drives were purchased and are superb; LED Lighting for the seats at night, a much quieter engine and incredibly comfortable. So as is traditional they needed names; well the one used vehicle we kept was “Thatcher”; very in keeping with her passing away, so memories will remain. The new vehicles were named “Churchill” (same name as before) and “Seal Team Six” No guesses there, and NO, we are not near the Ocean!). Strange, but the guides were hesitant to drive them being straight off the factory floor; now they seem fully into it.
The veldt is still looking very good having had about 75mm through the months of March and April. The game viewing has been fantastic; Jaff picked up the tracks of a newly born Rhino calf a few days back; 4 week old Cheetah cubs were seen with Mum (four of them). The Lions and Ellies have been viewed regularly, and still we get the Ellies coming down to the waterhole in front of the camp. It is cold first thing in the mornings, so if you are coming come well prepared. Star gazing at night is much more productive now with the lazer torches, and of course the walks as well being much cooler during the mornings. Now that we are in winter routine we are doing High Teas, no lunches or picnics, and this will carry on until September. So back to the thick Chocolate Fudge Cake!! The kitchenettes are loving it, as it is a nice change of routine, and as usual a recipe will be attached to this newsletter.
It’s been a busy marketing time as well. In April there was the first ILTM Africa Show in Cape Town which I attended and was well worthwhile; if anybody needs any tips regarding restaurants; here’s one – Café Paradiso in Kloof Street; brilliant ambience and excellent food. Then in May there was the Classic Safari Camps AGM whereby we hold the meeting at a member’s property; this year it was at Little Governors in the Masaii Mara in Kenya; how lucky we are. It was superb; this area is a gem in the Safari Experiences; the camp idyllic, and staff couldn’t do enough; thanks Dominic, Justin and Alex!! Straight after the AGM there was the annual Travel Indaba Show in Durban – much the same!
Now I see there is ANOTHER show starting next year just before Indaba opening in Cape Town which may put the cat amongst the pigeons competing with Indaba; watch this space as they say.
Please remember the Steenberg/Garonga Package – for June we are offering an 8 day special where you only pay for 6 days! Incredible value and add-ons. Then there’s the Cybele/Garonga package, and we are offering a “Stay 4 pay 3 special” for June only; not too late for those who want a “Quickie”!
As always remember the Troops out in Afghanistan, and try and pledge towards “Help4Heroes” Charity which is doing such superlative work for injured servicemen.
Thanks indeed to Christophe and Celine for sharing your incredible pictures! Take a look!
I hope to see you sometime soon; enjoy the English weather! I just need to pop for a swim and a “frostie”!
Well I was wondering why my ears were becoming pointed; now I know. It’s been horse meat all along! The French don’t seem to mind as apparently they eat horses every day; a thing from their past when Napoleon was thrashed by Wellington at Waterloo after the Prussian Cavalry arrived at the last hour turning the tide of the Battle – so no wonder they don’t like horses. Well, somebody/people have been making a nice few bucks as a result.
Cameron decided to hold a referendum to stay in the EU but only in 2017 when he’s not in office. I wonder who was fooled by that! Then of course that little frenchman, Hollande, decides that UK is not worthy of the EU; we know that France has always been the traditional enemy, and that despite a couple of wars, Germany is far more our cup of tea.
The weather of course has been at the forefront in UK, and elsewhere. It snowed again in England; can you believe it, in January?! And, well, yes, Heathrow closed again (“Never again will it happen” – sound familiar?); desperate fires in Australia and the farm Industry there really struggling with drought. Here in SA we had large amounts of rain in January almost to the day of the previous 2 years; so there’s a trend. We were only cut off for 12 hours, and it wasn’t as bad as last year in the local areas.
Then there was the mass murder of expats in Algeria by those Nazi fundamentalists. Well done the Algerians for going in, and going in hard. They knew the story what was going on and had to make a move, not some clot in the foreign office thousands of miles away. Then Mali kicks off and the French send the foreign legion in to go and sort them out. Inevitably the terrorists run to the hills and caves and wait for a better time. Not so lucky however with some precision air strikes taking out the ringleaders; it does seem to take the African Union Armies weeks, if not longer, to get sorted, and yet they are always the first to complain about “Colonialism and Occupation” blab la bla. A pity they don’t use the money from their untold mineral wealth and oil to get proper equipment etc, but then of course they spend it on their own palaces.
So gay marriage is now voted in. As one MP put it very accurately (obviously not in favour); the story said “Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve”. That sums it up nicely. Not anti-gay at all, it’s just that some things should be left alone.
Italy elections could only end up as it did with a comedian taking a nice size of the vote. It’s certainly time to kick out the “normal politicians” that we get nowadays and rather get in people who have experienced life on the outside. Look at UKIP in the UK. Anyway Bunga Bunga here we come… again! Sounds like Abba!
The NHS in UK has it head in the sand and wastes so much money. A new caring culture needs to be restored, and those who make incredulous mistakes are taken to book; not keep on saying “SORRY”, and nothing else is done.
Sports – rugby; England v Wales next Sunday! Unfortunately the other side of the wall, but still! Pistorius and Armstrong – 2 icons fallen from Grace. A very strange story indeed regarding Pistorius.
If your eyelids haven’t yet closed, one more story! Here in SA there was of course the tragic death of a taxi driver at the hands of the police. As tragic as it is, there is another side which most news reporters seem to avoid in saying as it would harm newspaper sales and The audience watching. Taxi drivers down here are completely lawless, ignore most rules of the road causing untold carnage and death on the roads; they block normal road lanes in the cities and are completely ignorant of other road users. They cram their vehicles so full, that basically people are in a death trap. When police try and intervene which is VERY rare they accuse them of harassment. Not to mention the taxi wars (quite literally) happening now and again. Just thought I’d point that out.
I know, you’ve had enough of this rant. Many congrats to Niall and Stephanie, and Thomas and Monique for tying the knot here at Garonga. We hope you had a great day! It was great to welcome back Joerg and Christiane, Simon and Maggie, Mathias and Connie, and Paul and Jo, all who brought along family or friends; thank-you, and hope to see you back one day.
As I pointed out the bush is incredibly thick and green after such rains; 260mm in January alone. As ever the river came down in front of the camp, and as ever the sand clobbered the waterhole. The thunder and lightning was pretty dramatic.
Although the bush is thick the guides have still seen some great sightings. The lion prides and their male admirers are changing the goalposts round regularly so difficult to decide who is with whom.
The ellie herds have been difficult to locate but they have been found especially entertaining when they have the very new born calves with them. But still the guests have really enjoyed the show, and appreciate the hard work the guides put in. Fortunately or unfortunately off-roading is necessary to find game, if there is no other way of locating it, and, as much as this looks damaging, it is not nearly as bad as it seems. I know we have to be sensitive, as do the guides, but like everything in life there’s a balance.
On the chef front we had Judy who came over for 2 weeks to do some instructional training with the chefs – very much appreciated by all and hopefully lessons learnt. As ever a recipe will come with this rant.
It is with sadness that Evelyne, therapist, has decided to move on. Thank-you Evelyne for your passion in what you do! Wish you every success in your new spot.
Whilst writing this newsletter we are closed now for the annual clean up, and thatchers, builders, tent people, and cleaners are coming and going like there’s no tomorrow (It never stops in this game). We were let down by a contractor and so will be unable to build the extra bathroom at the Hambleden Suite until next year. So life carries on, and the marketing, with a show in Cape Town next month (The first ILTM show in Southern Africa), then the infamous (maybe not so infamous anymore) Indaba in May in Durban. So anybody who may be coming along to these shows do pop in and say “hi”. Please remember the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town and Garonga combined package starts again when we reopen end of March through to end of September. Even if you don’t take the package you must visit Steenberg. We also run the Cybele Forest Lodge and Garonga package, and we continue to run the extended stay package of stay 5 nights pay for 4.
I would really like to thank all those who gave us such stunning reviews on Trip Advisor. As a result we have won three awards; In the best 10 romantic in Africa, Top 25 best service in South Africa, and top 25 for best small hotel in South Africa. Without you we could not have achieved this!
I was back in UK again over January and February as we (family) are selling the family home in Hambleden; it has to be one of the saddest things ; I will certainly miss it like anything as it was always something I really looked forward to when I returned to UK. Still, life carries on, and better start house hunting!
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!!
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).
"New Look massage Sala"
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.
"The Garonga Choir"
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!
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!
Now what makes an idiot try and out swim a rowing boat. Talking about the Oxford and Cambridge boat race. The best way to deal with these “d………..ds” who crave publicity and attention is to ignore them. He should have been left in the pond to make his own way back to dry land, and then be quietly knicked and lead away. It’s quite ironic that the media “complained” about how the attention was taken away from the race and landed on this aussie guy. WHO took the attention away? The ………………. media! Then of course the man involved says the race is elitist. Try telling that to crew who have been getting up at 5 in the winter’s morning and practising in their own time!
Now we have that terrorist Al Muqtda The Hook or whatever he wants to call himself languishing and making a mockery of British Justice and spending our hard earned dosh so that he can stay longer in the country he so despises. Ignore the European courts, and hand out our own Justice; send him to Jordan or wherever he has murdered before, and rot in a cell there. Bring back the British bill of human rights and stuff the European justice system which is full of unvoted judges whose pay packet would even make Wayne Rooney blink.
Greece – drachma please; who can trust them anyway. I bet there are many Europeans now wishing they had the mark, the franc, and so on. Even the guys who set it up say it wasn’t thought out properly. Start again.
Syria – The man “Basher” or something has obviously lost it; or maybe the crazed army have just taken control and ignore him, as surely nobody in their right minds would allow the disgusting images we see on a daily basis. What to do though? Russia can stop it overnight!
The UN want to name Mugabe as “Tourism’s lead Ambassador”! That sums up the UN!
Here in South Africa they have just sacked another top Cop for……….? 2nd one in a year; a pretty good record! Malema is out as we can breathe normally again as he used to gob off so much you could feel the oxygen being taken away from you by this “oxygen thief”.
Not being a footie fan, the last week of the premier league was full of fun, with the 2 Manchesters battling it out, and right down to the last minute it was undecided. Fergie – must have had a few whiskies that night to get over it. Now we have the Euro Championships; Spain V Germany Final.
Cricket going well for the team thrashing the Windies. Just the Rugby; can’t win them all.
Congratulations to Markus and Marta, Dan and Lisa, Simon and Carla for tying the knot here at Garonga! And to those on Honeymoon; we hope to see you back on an anniversary! This time of the year we got a number of inspections from the Trade from Italy, SA, UK, and Germany. Andy from Africa In Focus brought in a group from Cape Town and great fun was had by all – if I can remember.
It has been a busy couple of months exceeding previous records which is fantastic. Now that we are well into winter, the fires in the evenings, and now the hot toddies, the electric blankets all make it very comfortable and fun. It has to be said that we are now purchasing a crane to hook to the guest’s ankles in the early morning to get them out of bed as it is pretty nippy first thing, and so “no mercy”. The sleep outs are a great success as this is the best time to do them, and it is much warmer than in the camp area – trust me…………I’m a catholic! The skies are incredible at night, a delicious hot meal, comfy bed with duvet and blankets, a toilet on the same deck; what more do you need?
Safari guides have been incredible and gives me much more confidence in saying that we are a “stand alone safari camp”. The sightings have been amazing; one morning they saw cheetah, lions and leopard in the same game drive. Another couple saw a leopard drinking from the Little Garonga fountain during their tea time. Unfortunately due to the high number of lions including the 18 lion coalition, we have had to reduce lion numbers by 7 as the wildebeest and other Snack game were just being dropped regularly. This makes it more even stevens on the reserve wildlife. The ellie bulls have been performing their normal tricks, ripping up water pipes dropping trees in the most inconvenient of places when there is SO MUCH space out there. The eland have been back which are always great to see. So well done guys, and now that most of them are qualified trails guides (no mean feat by the way) they can teach and show so much more.
On the feeding frenzy front the ladies have been cooking admirably, and those chocolate cheesecakes look simply delicious. Still cooking a lot of game meats and also adding more traditional winter fare such as casseroles, Pastry type steak and kidney, a fish and chips night which went down very well, but the special wines………………? Not doing well there as apparently the house wine is too good; so am off to Gravelotte to buy a cheapie!
On the staff front congratulations to Zandile for the birth of her daughter. Angelique has left us to take up massaging on the cruises, so Tahnee has stepped in as relief therapist until we have a permanent one in August. I went to the Arabian Travel Market Show in Dubai (waste of time) and then on down to the annual show in Durban for the Indaba. Indaba has become over-expensive and completely lost its way; I wouldn’t be surprised if a competitor show started up and Indaba just dropped out.
June and July we have a fair bit of space left for those who want a quickie trip over; great time to come; warm to hot days and chilly nights but no bugs, rain or mozzies. We are about to put a package together with the “Steenberg Hotel” in Cape Town; it will be on the website very soon. It‘s so worth doing (9 nights between us and 2 of those nights free!).
Am off on my travels again to “Mud Island” for a sales trip and back in mid July. Wishing you all the best and hopefully see you here soon.
Despite being closed in March for our annual clean up and 5 year refurb, it was busy here with builders, tent repairs, interiors, tree fellers, the clean team steam cleaning, and all the game drives going in for their thorough annual check up. All of them have done an incredible job, and now the rooms are looking much better with a few subtle changes, and the main area looking great with some new furniture pieces etc. So the feel is still the same which was the whole point – NOT to change the feel and look too much. So thanks to Jonno and Keith from “Africa on Site” for the subtle changes and rebuilding here and there, and Trish and Ilona from “Lateral Designs” for their interior thinking; very happy; only the dining chairs to be changed which happens next month in May.
It was certainly “Murphy’s Law” that we had a huge storm the evening after all the new furniture was put in, and despite the blinds being down (but not hooked up!) the wind tore through the main area and left a number of pieces looking dishevelled; nothing serious though but quite heart stopping when I first arrived on the scene. One of the tent fly sheets tore off and so the tent guys had to return! And only a paltry 35 mm of rains.
So now it’s back to normality and full camps in Safari Camp and Little Garonga. A few nice touches to breakfast with fresh mint from the garden being available for those who like fresh mint tea, and also fresh ginger where you can cut some pieces and have with hot water – apparently very health and actually quite tasty.
The weather here has changed quite dramatically with fresh mornings and evenings now but hot days – a perfect combo. So do start bringing your autumnal clothing if you’re coming this way soon.
On the marketing front Garonga is offering a complimentary 3 night stay at the Hambleden Suite for a couple who win the “Stars Auction” in conjunction with “Help4heroes” golf day being held at Stoke Park on the 25th April 12 – go to www.heroescelebritygolf.com. Please support as much as you can!
And you thought you had got away with it – no chance! How can those idiots in government in UK put out such poor info regarding a looming petrol tankers strike panicking all to stockpile fuel; this was over a week ago now and there hasn’t even been a strike yet. God, where on earth did they get their brains from! God help us all in a crisis!
So Mitt the Mormon is the favourite to take on BO in November. I think BO will have a field day. Afghan seems to be going from bad to worse now with “an allied soldier” going nuts massacring 17 People; this is only just after the “Koran” was mistakenly burnt by the same allies! Not particularly helpful. Syria – well he’s just sticking his fingers up to all. Nothing will happen there.
In France, Sarkozy is playing the strong man ready to hit the elections running. Spain next then on the bail out list – that could be interesting. More pain for the Euro – how long can it go on? In Italy we miss the “bunga tales”. Silvio, go on TV or something and amuse us all.
Sports – England just holding on to No.1 spot but not playing well at all. Hopefully that will change as we can’t have South Africa overtaking now, can we! The Super 14 Rugby has kicked off, and so now rugby, rugby, and more rugby. Don’t forget in June England are over for 3 tests – just think; come and stay here at Garonga, watch the games at my pad on big (well biggish) screen, drink beer and more beer, have boerowors rolls with loads of onions, mustard and ketchup, get drunk, sing bawdy songs and celebrate England’s……………… win! Oh what a life, by the pool watching the four legged game walk by thinking what are those crazy people up to! God, what fun!
On the safari front it is with great pride and joy to announce that Jaff, Musa and Josia have all passed their “trails guides exams” with flying colours. This is a huge step for them in their careers, and so well done to them all. CJ – hopefully next month. Thanks indeed to Mark for the training and persevering, so now we have the majority of trails guides here on the Greater Makalali reserve; Makalali come on, catch up!
So all the staff are back now after their 3 weeks annual leave and raring to go. Uhmmmm! Bear in mind that in May we move to winter routine where Lunches are replaced by high teas, and sadly no picnic lunches until September. Game drives leave later and come back earlier morning and afternoon time; fires, white port, rose port and tawny port – what more do you need.