South Africa 10th July – 11th August 1998
Arriving in Durban this time round was done in so much more comfort than normal as we had been upgraded from Economy to Business class, as in all of us in one fell swoop! Eating things such as Smoked Salmon, fillet steak and Belgian chocolates on the plane. We knew that the standard of food on our holiday would have quite a lot to match up to!
It was just so typical that as a result of this fluke occurrence that our bags would cone off last!!
Walking into what we had hoped would be the warm winter sunshine of South Africa was sadly nothing like we had hoped. We had managed to bring the bloody English weather with us. Initially we had trouble in finding Auntie Juliet as we thought that she would be inside – Mum had thought that she hadn’t actually told Auntie Juliet the time if the flight – I told her to stop being so stupid. Eventually, after squeezing through millions of Indians that seemed to be crammed around the exit of arrivals, we found Auntie Juliet and her friend Rosalie Crutchley who had sweetly cone to collect us too as us and all of our stuff would nit have fitted in Auntie Juliet’s car.
Once at home and settled in we saw Hilda – Auntie Juliet’s faithful household help – we were later told that the radiant yellow outfit that she was wearing to greet us in gad been brought especially fir the occasion. She was SO touched that we had brought her, she kept putting her hand in front of her face as she was opening the presents and giggling. After opening both of her presents she pronounced herself to be a very special lady as a result.
Hilda is a small, round, black lady of about 45ish, she has been working for Auntie Juliet for about 18 years and looked after Little Granny when she went to live with Auntie Juliet in 1980. She loves meeting people from England – especially relatives if Auntie Juliet and Uncle Ant. Dad only met her for the first tine when we were out here back in 1995 – she was so delighted to meet him then it was too sweet.
Our first week in South Africa seems, to me, to go by really slowly – definitely not a bad thing at all. In this first week we have managed to have Dad taken to Westville Hospital because he was nit feeling at all well and kept complaining every morning of being cold when none of the rest of us really were. I was awoken by Hugo, after having or trying to have a mid morning nap, to be told that I had better go and see Dad because he was nearly dying – such a lovely thing to be woken up to and of course it was not at all true. After numerous trips to Doctors, Hospitals and Pharmacists it was discovered that all it was was a simple virus. Moaning and groaning continued though unfortunately and we were expected to check on how he was feeling every 10 mins. The story of it all (or ‘rather dull saga!’) had to be repeated, much to our embarrassment to every Ton, Dick and Harry that he met.
Our stay, being of course being only full of exciting occurrences, managed to induce Angus (14 1/2 year old West Highland of Auntie Juliet’s) to fall into the swimming pool in the garden, at night. The poor little creature is deaf and blind so obviously didn’t see the pool in his path. Thankfully Uncle Ant managed to retrieve him from the pool and Auntie Juliet retrieved him from tge kitchen where he was reportedly seen shaking in a puddle if water. Sitting on ‘Auntie Serena’s knee the little thing had made a slow recovery but quite obviously enjoyed the attention and pampering that he was receiving. After that we were all worried that he may do the same thing again and so a very close eye was kept in him at all tines if the day.
Shortly before our break in the Sabi River Sun Resort near Hazyview in the Eastern Transvaal we had a slightly more severe accident, or rather Uncle Anthony did. After being told not to go by Auntie Juliet it was only expected that something such as the following event would occur. Uncle Anthony got bitten, severely, on the arm by an Alsatian whilst ringing on the doorbell if his client. It was the neighbours dog and a teenage girl was in charge if it whilst her parents were at work. Apparently she saw the dog biting Uncle Ant but yet did nothing to even try and call the dog away. It wripped right through his shirt and thankfully his client drove him to the hospital to have it checked out. Uncle Ant being Uncle Ant hardly complained about it at all when he must have been in severe shock and no doubt agony.
We managed to make it to the Sabi River Sun Resort though after several wrong turns and trips past and through towns such as Dundee, Newcastle, Amsterdam and White River which made you feel like you weren’t in South Africa at all but instead taking a damned quick trip around Europe!
With the hills being deserting steep at tines Dad was not the ideal passenger and I was very surprised that both Mum and Auntie Juliet managed to cope with the most horrendous amount of back seat driving and ‘I think that I am going to be sick!’
We arrived in a place that even on arrival, to me, looked like the St. James’s Club in Antigua with flood kit tennis courts, a very snazzy reception area and palm leaves and aloes all over the resort. We had obviously come to a fairly snazzy upmarket resort – would we fit in?!
On our first morning in Sabie we awoke to see out of the kitchen cone dining room cone sitting room 2 Hippopotamus taking in the clouds on the small island in the middle if the pond/lake. Sadly we watched them whilst also looking at the sky which was covered with cloud – sadly. Thankfully when Hugo entered the golf competition at lunch time the sun came out and it was definitely sun tan weather! I had the pleasure of driving around the golf course to much criticism from both Hugo and the Afrikaans that he was playing with. The youngest of the three seemed to be alright and was talking to Hugo quite a bit but the other two certainly weren’t as talkative.
Our second day at Sabi was spent mostly in the car and without Dad who stayed behind because where we were off to was nit a place that he would enjoy because of the heights and number of sheer drops.
We travelled first of all to a small villa calked Pilgrim’s Rest where many years ago people panned for gold in the hope of earning their millions, by the sounds if things and by the looks of the actual town not many people found very much. Apparently sone people still pan for gold hoping ti find some but with not much luck. It was a quaint little town with many little curio shops. In one I brought hairbands 3 if them, 2 with brightly coloured beads and one with black and White beads. Postcards were also brought to send to my oh so numerous friends around tge world!
From there we travelled a little further in the car to a place called God’s Window which sounded almost too big for it’s boots but it turned out to be absolutely stunning and most definitely worth its name, the only thing that marred the view was the haze from the sun – but as the sun wad actually making an appearance we couldn’t actually complain. I brought a soapstone Hippo which is and will always be an absolutely stunning piece of work. Hugo also got a soap stone animal of a tortoise. From there we had another shirt trip in the car to Blyde River Canyon which, again had an absolutely stunning view bur again it was slightly obscured by the gaze of the sun. Looking back at all the curios on the way back to the car I got lids of ideas on what presents to buy for people back home. From here we went to our last port of call before returning home and that was to see the potholes. These were absolutely fantastic but fairly scary to look down onto. I took photos galore which I hope will all come out well so that Dad will be able to see these absolutely stunning views without having a horrendous bout of vertigo like he would have done had he been with us.
Back to the golf in the tv in the bungalow to see sone absolutely stunning shits from the amateur Justin Rose. Dad seemed to have done nothing all day – we were very much hoping to come back to sone quaint little paintings of the Hippos on the lake and the bungalow, sadly not! (re-reading that sentence I have realised that quaint wasn’t really the right word to use but I can’t think of another to put in it’s place)
Sundown and yet another stunning and fulfilling day and yet another hone cooked supper. Tomorrow night we are going out to supper – NO WASHING UP!!
Dad and Hugo played golf today, Mum and Uncle Ant walked around with them and I stayed behind and had a bath and washed my hair.
We went out to supper at tad Rissington In which to get to you had to drive down a really long and bumpy road which seemed to lead no where – Daddy didn’t like this bit of the evening at all. We had a delicious supper with two bottles of wine. The owner of the inn was really nice and spent s lot of time talking to each table. On my trip to the loo I saw loads of letters and cartoons etc framed and I saw that he had once worked in Fugitive’s Drift and so I told Dad. After supper Dad had a long chat with him and it turned out that Dad knows his mother and that he is a great friend of Rib’s (my cousin) and used to go on holiday with him and a gang if friends to the South of France every summer. It was absolutely extraordinary. We left promising to cone back for supper one more tine before we left.
The next morning we were all up with the sun and in the car at 6.30am and we headed off to the Kruger National Park. We spent all day in there. We prepared ourselves for seeing absolutely nothing all day because of the lack of rain that this country has had.
Thankfully this didn’t happen and we saw lids of fantastic game. The impala were endless, they are such fantastically beautiful creatures and just so graceful when they move. We saw quite a bit if the big game as well. About 200 yards into the park we came across 3 buffalo. They were grazing and they were REALLY close to the road and they are meant to be the most dangerous animals because of the damage that they can cause when they charge.
We saw 5 individual elephants all but 1 of which were just in from the side of the road. Auntie Juliet is very scared of big old bull elephants which were all the type that we saw. I really love them, they are fantastic to watch.
We saw loads of giraffe which are really graceful animals. It is really strange the way that they walk – I was so surprised that they don’t fall over as they move both their left feet at once and then both of their right feet. We were really lucky as we saw loads of giraffe and they were all fairly close to the road.
We saw sone White rhino. 1 was by the road and so we managed to get sone fantastic photos of it. We then saw another but it was much further into the bush.
We went home very pleased with all of our viewings and because of our early start we decided to go to bed fairly early, particularly as we were off in the night drive the next night.
We left for The night drive at about 2ish and we had to drive along the Bush Buck Bridge road which is meant to be the dangerous road and so I was fairly scared. We all took lots of layers because although the weather forecast said that it would have been 25 degrees c today but it was only 15 degrees c.
We arrived in plenty of time and parked the car and paid for the night drive. We met Cornel and James, our driver and spotter for the evening who I would say were both in about their middle twenties. They turned out to be really nice and made a real effort to try and find the animals for us and they also told us a lot about the animals and their habitat – it was fascinating.
Just before we were heading to the Elephant Inn in the reserve for supper it came over the radio that all of the elephants were heading in the direction of a waterhole quite near to where we were. We moved there but there was no sign or sounds of them coming and so we went off to look for them. By this time I was getting VERY desperate for the loo as a result of my beer as a sundowner.
After a while we heard them. It was fantastic, Cornel turned off the engine and the lights and we just sat there and listened to them trying to work out from which direction they were coming from. We drove a bit closer to the sounds and worked out that they were really close sober turned the car around and waited for sone of them to cross the road in front of us. Cornel radioed for the other two vehicles to cone to where we were as they were obviously no longer heading for the waterhole.
In the position that we were in the elephants could actually smell us as we weren’t downwind from them – they didn’t seem scared or frightened by us – they probably smelt that I was desperate for the loo.
The sounds of them breaking down the trees was just incredible and also fairly scary as it made them sound much closer than they actually were. We were told that the matriarch elephant is always an kid female and if she wants the herd to move from encases or she just wants to call them then get stomach rumbles very loudly. We were amazed by this and the fact that it could be heard up to 2km away. A few moments later we heard this sound which really sounded more like a human farting and thus was what we had just been told about. It was absolutely amazing – a true sound if South Africa.
Thankfully Cornel appreciated the fact that I was DESPERATE for the ladies and so drove fairly fast to an open space with little to no threat of lions or any other form if animals trying to attack me! Everyone looked away and the definition of relief was accomplished.
After supper we had about another hour if night drive before we were due to head home. We had yet to see sone lions and just before supper apparently we had just missed seeing them by a whisker which we were really annoyed about and had almost lost hope in seeing them.
Suddenly the van came to a halt ANC there, about 50yds from the track were 2 female lions of about 3. We went off road to get closer to them. Mum and Dad by thus tine were very scared but I was in heaven. We were about 15ft away when the car stopped and the lions hardly moved at all. We sat very still fir quite a while just watching them and taking photos. It was the most amazing sight and just SO wonderful to finally see one in the wild. I just couldn’t believe it just watching them in silence with the engine off – everything, for once in my life seemed perfect. We went home to bed along that dangerous road once again all saying to each other just how lucky we were to have those two chaps looking after us and just how much they really tried to find the game for us.
For our last night in the Sabie River Sun Resort we went out to supper again at the Rissington Inn – this tine though without Auntie Juliet as she wasn’t feeling at all well and decided that it would probably be best if she stayed behind. We were on the same table as we were before and we found out a little more about James Sitole was. He took him in to look after during term time and he goes home to his family during the school holidays. He has been doing it for about 3 or 4 years now and it seems to be going very well so far. We were sure that we would find out much more about the situation when we got home and phoned up either his mother or Patricia Holland.
We left Sabi quite early the next morning and went into Kruger Park through the Kruger Gate and drove up to Satara where we were staying for the next two nights. Driving through we saw very little game compared to the amount that we had seen previously. We saw two individual old dark bull elephants by the side of the road which were a super sight. We also saw some really dark giraffes, baboons, warthogs and of course loads of birds.
Auntie Juliet made the place that we were going to sound absolutely awful and run down so I was really expecting the worst when we got there but it turned out to be super. Each little rondavel had 2 beds, cupboard, sink, loos and shower inside and outside it had a cupboard, fridge and open terrace but covered with a table and two chairs.
Once unpacked Dad immediately sat down to paint whilst we all got to know the place by working out where to get boiling water for our teas and coffees.
We went out on the night drive that evening with 13 strangers which, admittedly was a bit if a nightmare. We had a button in each row to press if we saw anything. Again we had a mainly Afrikaans speaking guide. He was again really good and obviously very knowledgeable telling us a lit if things about the animals and their habitats. His name was Charles and he spent a lot of time telling us about the flora and fauna and what the animals ate and what their size was etc etc. He was fascinating and we heard a lot of different things that that which we had heard with Cornel.
We had hardly seen anything until about an hour before the end when we started gearing lots of roaring noises and so went in search if lions. Sadly, everywhere we went we seemed to totally miss them, but only just. Charles said that the lions are most likely to be sitting on the tarmac at night as t is fairly warm on the roads because if the sun during the day. Blow me down the lions – all 14 of them were all sitting on the road as we came around the next corner. It was the most fantastic sight and they were really close. They were all females bar 1 who was a young male cub. They all moved off the road and onto the side, they were making the most amazing sound. It was roaring but it REALLY sounded like they were throwing up. They all started scratching a tree. It really was the most amazing sight and sound that I had ever heard. I took some photos and I really hope that they cone out.
On our following two days in the Kruger we saw lions on both occasions. On the first occasion it was in the boiling heat by a water hike but they were quite far away from it and also from us. There were 2 lionesses and one VERY large male who at one point appeared in full view when he scared off some impala. We were really hoping to see a kill but sadly we didn’t in the end. Then the following day we saw a lioness taking a break under a tree.
We had a picnic in one of the picnic areas and there were loads of birds and nests where we were sitting and so that kept Auntie Juliet happy. Suddenly out of the blue a huge baboon was right at my side and had it’s paws on my jumper. I quite literally was scared out if my wits as I just turned around it was there staring at me. I don’t think that I have ever screamed so much in my life.
After our trip to the Kruger we went to Wakastroom for the night where we had the most delicious food presented beautifully. Two gays run the place and I have never seen such a pair of camp gays in my life. Poor old Auntie Juliet wasn’t feeling at a well. We took her to her doctor in Hillcrest just before we got home and it turned out that she had bronchitis AND laryngitis.
The following few days were meant to be spent resting but Auntie Juliet was absolutely insistent on going out to a charity bridge lunch when really she should have been bed resting. Whilst they were bridging Dad, Hugo and I hit the Pavilion and got sine new clothes, pressies for Mums birthday and some charms for my bracelet.
For Mim’s birthday se went out to supper at the Durban Club and to the Italian restaurant there called La Dolce Vita. It was thought to be the mist expensive restaurant in Durban but it still seemed to be unbelievably cheap. We even bumped into Ken Palmer which was an extraordinary coincidence and a lovely surprise, although he refused to join us he gave us a bottle of champagne to have with our meal. He actually gave us two but we refused the second.
The meal was delicious and it was a lovely way to celebrate Mummy’s birthday and their last night in South Africa.
The following day was taken up by doing the essentials, buying the J & B and if course sone fags for Fiona! Hugo got awfully stroppy as he wanted to buy his own fags and booze to take back to school and quite rightly Mum and Dad were having none of it.
We went for lunch next door to PheZulu and it was fairly mediocre lunch after which we went to PheZulu to get some more gifts for friends and relatives. After returning home for tea they all left. I think that they were almost expecting me to cry when they left and Dad had to get out if the car just one more time to check that I was going to be alright.
The following day once they had left was spent mainly relaxing hoping that Auntie Juliet would get a speedy recovery. Angus’s foot was delt with which had previously been giving him some gip and the essential shopping was done.
The were without the rest if the family started off with a trip to Hilton with Rosealie and a bit of shopping for some soon to be newlyweds and to gave a small spot of lunch. The weather was super but still sun-tan would not appear – a pity having such fair skin.
The following day Auntie Juliet and I travelled into Durban to see Eileen and also to visit the Hari Krishna Temple which was fascinating to look in but it certainly wasn’t a religion that I wanted to take up right away! We were then taken to lunch at the Durban Country Club by Eileen which was really nice if her and we had a delicious lunch. With the weather being so hot Auntie Juliet and I nearly melted in the car as there was no a/c and she had the windows wide open with the air blowing through the whole time which Auntie Juliet really didn’t enjoy. Also she really wasn’t feeling at all well. Eileen said that it was really strange as Auntie Juliet is always feeling ill and when she gets bad she us really bad. It got me really worried that it could be something that is breaking down her immune system but I really don’t want to suggest it.
We went to Umchlanga Rocks planning to go for a walk on the beach but instead we had to go and buy what we were having for lunch in the local spar. We then went to Mount Edgecomb Country Club where Vera – sone acquaintance of Dawn’s who was the most tarty woman that I have ever met in my entire life. She stuck her little finger out when she was eating and drinking and I have to say that all I really wanted to do was to tuck it in!! The house was so huge it was revolting I mean they must have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all. We then were going for a walk on the beach but I was told that it was too late but lunch went on for ages and I was so bored as they were talking about people that I had never heard if before in my life. The daughter, aged 19 but looked about 30, invited me to go out with her and her boyfriend on the weekend which I have to say was really nice of her, but the timing was not great.