July 2013

Welcome to the July 2013 edition of the much sought-after Rissington Rag And now (honestly) for something completely different ...

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Rissington is so busy we have decided to celebrate by giving you an absolutely minimal amount of Marketing News and lots of other interesting stuff instead.
So here goes...

A Day in the Life of an Hotelier

In place of the usual comic stories about hotel life (you'll have to wait for my next book for that) I thought I would share a couple of old menus to titillate your taste buds. Firstly, here is Rissington's Menu from when we opened 18 years ago in September 1995. It was a fixed price affair, hand-written, and cost R45:

Chilled Avocado Bisque
With Extra Fresh Cream
And finely Chopped Herbs (R5)
Gently fried Mushrooms topped with a Dill and Anchovy Cream,
Served with finely Chopped Parsley
On a round of Toasted Home-made Whole-wheat Bread (R10)
Rissington's own World-class Bobotie,
Rich with interesting Fruits and Spices
And served with Today's Fresh Vegetables (R25)
Caramelised Brandy Oranges topped with Fresh Cream (R5)
Filter Coffee or Twinings Tea (included)
Wow! What a great healthy menu. Plenty of cream but, what, I wonder, was Extra Fresh Cream? There's lots of Topping and Fine Chopping. Worse still, I put Brandy Oranges on the Menu? Who did I think I was? Robert Carrier? Or The Galloping Gourmet? And then, at the bottom stood the words Get In with the Inn Crowd. Oh dear! You could tell I was eventually going to be a writer from the fabulous turn of phrase...
Here's another one. This menu, from The Carlton Hotel, Johannesburg, dates back to 1963:
Bear in mind that the weekly wage earned by a manual worker was then R9 per week. Hmmm.
And finally here's the 1983 Menu - the so-called Bill of Fare - at Nelspruit's sadly-defunct Red Lion Tavern:

Red Lion Tavern

Bill of Fare


Asparagus á la Caréme
R 3,00
Room van Aspersies
Turtle a la reine
R 3.00
Skilpad "a la reine"
Consommé Nouvelle Régime
R 3,00
Helder "Nouvelle Regime"
Chicken Broth
R 3,00
Mushroom De Couche
R 3,00
Room van Sampieone
Leek Potage
R 3,00
Dik Preisop
Lobster Bisque
R 3,50
Lobster Bisque
Hors D'Oevre
Rolled Ham & Asparagus
R 4,75
Ham en Aspersie Rolletjies
Hot Asparagus Spears in butter sauce
R 4,25
Warm Aspersie in bottersous
Fresh Oysters per 1/2 Doz.
Vars Oesters, per 1/2 dos.
Pate Maison
R 3,75
Paté "Maison"
Smoked Trout "Horseradish"
R 4,75
Gerookte Forel met peperwortels
Smoked Salmon "Caviar"
R 5,25
Gerookte Salm met Kaviaar
Seafood Fantasy
R 4,50
Seekos fantasie
Escargots Au Gratin
R 4,50
"Escargots Au Gratin"
Braised Celery Hearts
R 4,25
Gesmoorde seldery harte
Grapefruit Cocktail
R 2,75
Pomelo Kelkie
Coquille St. Jacques
R 4,75
Coquille St. Jacques
Crayfish Mayonnaise
Kreef Mayonnaise
Crayfish A'la Meuniere
Kreef "Meuniere"
Grilled Prawns Portuguese Style
Gebraaide Garnale Portugese
Per Doz.
Manier per Dos.
Grilled Langoustines
Gebraaide "Langoustines"
Kingklip St. Geran or Mornay
R 7,75
Koningklip "St Geran of Mornay"
Sole a la Provencale
R 8,25
Tongvis "a la Provencale"
Sole Waleska
R 9,25
Tongvis "Waleska"
Sole Maniere
R 7,95
Tongvis gemarineerd
Almond Trout
R 6,95
Forel met amandel
Coquille St. Jacques (Grandé)
R 8,25
"Coquille St. Jacques" (Grandé)
Poultry/ Pluimvee
Duckling bordelaise
R 7,50
Jongeend met wynsous
Duckling with Peas
R 7,50
Jongeend met ertjies
Chicken Peri-Peri
R 7,50
Hoender Peri-Peri
Chicken Gabrielle
R 7,50
Hoender "Gabrielle"
With Prawns
R 6,25
Met Garnale
With Mushrooms
R 5,75
Met Sampioene
With Cheese
R 5,75
Met Kaas
With Ham
R 5,75
Met Ham
Fillet Steak Poivre
R 9,00
Beeshaas met sous
Entrecote Steak
R 8,25
Grilled Rump
R 8,25
Gebraade Kruisskyf
Rump with Sauce
R 8,75
Kruisskyf met sous
Garlic sauce, Mushroom sauce
Knoffelsous, Sampioensous
Pepper sauce, Cheese sauce
Perersous, Kaasous
wine sauce
King Steak
Koning Biefstuk
to fill your plate
om u bord te vul
Tournados Beaugency
R 9,50
"Tournados Beaugency"
Lamb Chops Rosemary
R 8,50
Rosemarie Lamskottelette
Roast Beef and Mustard
R 7,75
Geroosterde Beesvleis & Wortels
Braised Ox Tongue
R 8,00
Gesmoorde Beestong
Braised Ox Tail
R 8,00
Gesmoorde Beesstert
Roast Pork and Apple Sauce
R 7,75
Geroosted Varkvleis met Appelsous
Rabbit Coquibes
R 7,75
Haas "Coquibes"
Rabbit Casarole
R 7,75
Haas Kaserol
Homemade Apple Pie & Cream
R 2,25
Tuisgemaakte Appletert met Room
Cherries Flambé
R 2,50
Kersies Flambé
Red Lion Logolla
R 2,50
Rooi Leeu "Logolla"
Stawberries with Cream (in season)
R 2,25
Aarbeie mer room (in seisoen)
Ice Cream with Hot Choc. Sauce
R 1,95
Roomys met warm sjokoladesous
Haig Plaige
R 2,25
"Haig Plaige"
Sherry Trifle
R 2,25
Irish, French, Jamaican, Russian
R 2,25
Ierse, Franse, Jamaika, Russies
and Liqueur Coffees
en Likeur-koffies
Filtered Coffee
R 0,60
gefiltreerde koffie
A Selection of Local
'n Verskeidenheid van
and Imported Cheeses
R 2,25
ingevoerde Kase
Only Red Room
Luncheon Menu/Middagete Spyskaart
Steak & Kidney Pie
R 4,75
Beeshaas- en Niertjie-paté
Curry & Rice
R 4,75
Kerrie & Rys
Sausage & Mash
R 4,75
Wors & Kapokaartappels
Cold Platter
R 4,75
Lewer & uie
Mini Carvery
R 4,75
Mini Vleis-buffet
Salad Bar
R 4,75
For all outside catering
requirements contact
us at 26951
Vir alle spyseniering
kontak ons by 26951
Sales Tax Excluded
Verkoopbelasting uitgesluit

French- and Afrikaans-speakers will take particular pleasure in some of the unusual translations, the punctuation and the chronic accent abuse but either way there are some ideas to be conjured with. I love the ‘King Steak to fill your Plate' and I wish I could remember what a Red Lion Logolla was. And a Haig Plaige. We were hooked on the place and went for lunch every week on our marathon Nelspruit shopping trip from Cybele. The Coquilles St Jacques - shellfish topped with cheese and grilled in a kind of ashtray - were delicious. We always went for the "Grandé" !
On a more serious and up-to-date note, for anybody visiting the Cape and looking for an unforgettable meal, I cannot recommend too strongly the Tasting Menu at the Haute Cabrière restaurant in Franschhoek. See above and click on the barrels to visit their website. Food and Wine combinations to send your taste buds soaring and enough coulis, drizzled oils and green foam to sink 'The Flying Dutchman'.

Weather Envy and a Currency Check

The R500 per person Bed and Breakfast cost of staying in the cheapest rooms at Rissington at the current exchange rate works out at approx £33 or €38 or US$50. And our weather in winter is as good, in many cases, as a Northern Hemisphere summer's day. Compare your weather today with ours by clicking HERE. See how it says No Rain, No Rain, No Rain. It is a gloriously sunny day today and bear in mind that we are always a good 3 degrees warmer than the website claims so, for interest's sake here are a couple more useful facts:
  • Ice cream at Rissington costs £1.60. A half-decent ice cream in London is £7 plus 30p for each extra topping. An ice cream in Rome (according to The Guardian) last week cost a 'whopping' £13.50. That's just over R200!
  • A fine South African beer at Rissington costs R12 which is £0.80 or US$1.20. A Coke at the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia, costs US$6.50. A good beer in London is £6.00. A cheap-cheap beer (Pabst) in New York would cost you US$3 (as well as being undrinkable and labelling you an alcoholic).
  • Point made.

Chris becomes Something of an Interior Designer

I was actually talked into this moment of drama by Molly, my Indian style-guru at Valencia Wholesalers in Nelspruit. I would never have dared to do it on my own. New cushions in the sitting room (and new pool cushions in the background). I have to give it to her - although she has never been to Rissington, it's a big improvement on the striped 1980s stuff we had before and gives a welcome dash of colour to our best (and least-used) room.
Also, do you know of a good furniture-restorer? I am looking for someone to restore an antique writing bureau desk. I'd pay the going rate and offer a room at Rissington if they can come and collect. Please email info@rissington.co.za with any suggestions. Thanks!

The Battle of The Gappers - the Result and an Appeal

Our gappers continue to give us and our guests a great deal of pleasure. The recently home-departed Alice and Charlie were reconciled after the childhood battles we revealed in the last newsletter; so much so that we all visited the Cape together before I put them on separate planes to the UK where they are currently gearing up for university. Both of them did us proud and we wish them well for the future. I am sure they will be back.

Alice and Charlie on the Robberg Hike, Plettenberg Bay.
Sammie Swabey, who arrived a month or so ago from Cornwall, is our most highly-qualified gapper ever, with two years' experience under her belt working at Rick Stein's restaurant in Padstow. She's a total star.
Our gapper roles are filled until July 2014 and include some English lads, a Welsh boyo (Siwrne dda!) and, over Christmas, Hans and Stefan Minnaar - a pair of twins from Graaff-Reinet. So we really shall be seeing double. If you know of anybody looking for a 3-6 month stint in Africa between school and university (or after university) next year, please put them in touch with me. It's great fun, offers good experience in management at an early age and it inevitably also gives them a few good travel jollies as well. Remember the rules: No problem children. If you don't know what do with your errant son or daughter for six months, then neither do we!

Corrupt Cops

It is a never-ending source of shame to us South Africans that the number of reported cases of corruption amongst police and traffic officers in South Africa is increasing sharply.

I fear the Police and the gifts they seek
When travelling on our roads please, please... Never ever pay cash to a traffic officer
  • If a traffic officer tries to extract a cash payment from you, insist on accompanying him or her to the nearest police station. He or she will almost certainly give up.
  • To dispute the fine, you will have to go to a police station
  • Remember - corrupt traffic officers are already nervous of being caught, so take down registration and badge numbers and watch their confidence wilt.
Only by standing up to these appalling scourges of our society can we puncture their arrogant and corrupt ways. Everyone can do their bit. Two very determined Rissington guests were so horrified to learn that they had unknowingly paid a bribe to the cops in Graskop last month that they went up again the next day and demanded their money back. And got it, too!
If you get the impression I feel strongly about this... YES I DO. I hate these leeches as much as I hate People who Skype in Public Places.

The Where in the World Competition

The Answer to the April 'Where in the World' competition - JJ, Oscar and HM The Queen (Please Stand) plus a corgi (or is it a dorgi?) are photographed in Bachelor's Acre, Windsor, Berkshire. Patricia and Benny Catteeuw-Duthoo, from Adinkerke in Belgium, win a three-night stay for two, bed and breakfast. They also win the prize for the largest number of double letters in a surname ever in the history of mankind.
In case you missed it, click on the picture above for another opportunity to view JJ's entire holiday homework slide show on YouTube.
Here's this month's picture of the now-home and therefore-lamented Gapper Charlie and my late Land Rover. Cool picture, hey? But does anybody know where they are standing?
Get the right answer to info@rissington.co.za before the end of August to go into the hat for the prize. A three-night stay for two at Rissington on a bed and breakfast basis is up for grabs.

Send us your Pictures and Win a Prize

We also want your best Rissington photos, so that we can see how you see us through the lens of your camera. Please email your favourite shots – only a few really good ones per person please – which best show Rissington as you loved it. There will be a suitable prize for any photos used in our marketing material (so please don't send them unless you are happy for us to use them).

Rissington's Best Year Ever Continues

We are sailing towards our best year ever (by far) and we are very grateful to all of those loyal folk who keep coming back. There are more and more of you and I always think it is such a great tribute to the team here that the number of returning guests continues to rise. New tariffs are available until end October 2015. Let us know if you need them. We have frozen the rates in the courtyard rooms again and also in the larger rooms.
Remember that we always offer upgrades to the best rooms and discounts to returning guests and favoured tour operators whenever we can and that we have a corporate rate for bona fide businesspeople. To stir a few memories, have a look at the website www.rissington.co.za.
Our Facebook page still gives details of last minute deals and occasional tantalising photos. Sign up below. The Twitter account sends out very occasional opinions and humour but no celebrity nonsense. Become a follower to keep up with us – click on the logo below – but if you are interested in Justin Bieber or the Kardashians, follow them instead.
We have just been awarded Trip Advisor's Certificate of Excellence for 2013. If you are really desperate for something to do, you can catch up on the latest reviews by clicking on their logo above. And you can still download Do Not Take This Road to El-Karama (by Chris Harvie) onto your iPad or Kindle. Buy it on Kalahari here or on Amazon here.

On Yer Bike: Chris's Travels... and Hlengiwe's!

I have just been to the Cape in winter and do you know it really wasn't that bad? The weather was considerate, the flowers were out and the roads were empty. If you are looking for a really great place so stay around Plettenberg Bay, I strongly recommend a few days (or weeks) at Fairview in The Crags. Deep in the fynbos, this gracious home gives you the chance to imagine that you have your own baronial manor on the Garden Route … Click on the Fairview logo below to visit the website:
For more information on my other discoveries, look at my website www.christopherharvie.com and read the pieces as I get around to writing about my experiences. Forget the Blog. I stopped that long ago. I am however now blogging on the Portfolio website. You can catch up with those tourism-related thoughts by following Portfolio on Twitter or clicking on their logo here:
Hlengiwe, the sharpest pin in the Rissington box, has also become a traveller and is just back from Zimbabwe. I offered her a free holiday because she has had such a busy year on reservations and filling in for me in my absence. She went to Victoria Falls, was completely blown away by the friendliness and diligence of the Zimbabwean people and even ended up having lunch with the Zimbabwean Minister of Tourism. She is definitely the coolest person I know.

Come and stay ...

Winter Sunshine
We look forward to seeing you. We offer fantastic value and great hospitality and the food gets better and better. And, even more interestingly, remember that guests who stay three nights or more get to choose the special at dinner, on their their last night, from a wide range of old favourites and new ideas.
There. A different kind of Newsletter. Finally, a comment in the Visitors Book from a Colombian guest a few weeks ago: We love it here. Very nice staffs and you have an uncommon sense of humour. Followed by this morning's Dutch guest who wrote Thank you for the very good hospital.
Well, I don't know. But we try.
Come and see us. It'd be madness not to ...
Chris, Hlengiwe the Explorer who has just come back from Zimbabwe, Swirly Shirley, Kevin from Barberton, Skinny Sheila, Sipho, Kanan the Barbarian who has a new Barack Obama hairstyle in honour of that President’s visit, Sammie (Star) and Will the Gappers, Thandi, Cindy, Dudu, Yvonne, Zelly, Hendrina, Betty, Thuli, Gladys, Sanny, Zenzile, Sisters Ntombifuthi (Foots) and Nokuthula (Noggs), Joseph, Cassim, Aubrey, Sbusiso, Patrick and Rasta. And of course JJ who had an absolutely great mid-year school report. And Bull, the dog, whose report, if he had one, would say that he is becoming braver when faced with small children. This is where he and I differ.