Christmas 2014

Welcome to the
Christmas 2014 Rissington Rag
Off-Beat News and Views as
Rissington Goes from Strength to Strength

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THE GOOD NEWS : 2014 has seen Rissington’s occupancies rise yet again ...
THE BAD NEWS : You need to book early to get into your favourite hostelry ...

A Year in the Life of an Hotelier

Saint Bob Geldof, who is currently occupied with finding a cure for Ebola (or he was until his mate Bono fell off his bicycle on rough terrain in Central Park, New York City) famously – and rather fatuously – said ‘There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’. No doubt he is right, apart from the Snows of Kilimanjaro. But we also have to break it to you that Christmas snow is still more likely than a Christmas card from South Africa this year. The Post Office has been on strike for over three months.
Although the (non-)workers have just decided to go back to (non-)work, there is currently a 10-week backlog, with hundreds of tons of undelivered mail. What kind of civilised country doesn’t have a functional postal service?

At a sorting office near you
But it doesn’t stop there. It has been a truly ridiculous year politically for the most beautiful country on earth. Even the President admits that the ANC is in chaos, but then rather bizarrely insists that the country would be in even more of a mess without the current governing party ...
Which brings us to the electricity supply. I was brought up near Godalming, in England, which, in 1881, was the first town in the world to have electric street lighting. A year later, Kimberley was the first in the Southern Hemisphere and then, strangely, just up the road from Rissington, the gold rush village of Pilgrim’s Rest was the second in South Africa (powered by the fascinating Belvidere Power Station – you should do the walk; it is beautiful). Anyway, Hazyview, on frequent afternoons in 2014, now has no lighting at all. So far backwards have we moved that we are more than 130 years behind the levels of development of the town of my birth!
Of course, the current (excuse the pun) lack of supply is not a problem peculiar to Hazyview but is rather a nationwide issue. In the early days of what is, rather quaintly, called ‘load-shedding’, we quite enjoyed the enforced quiet and the calming conversation induced by powerlessness, but it is a lot less funny when you are trying to do dinner for 40 in the dark. Rissington has a generator in the main building, but the lack of electricity is a nuisance either way. As the joke above has it: AC = Alternating Current, DC = Direct Current, ANC = Absolutely No Current.
We can beat the system on most fronts though, just as we have abolished our reliance on Telkom for WiFi and on the Municipality for anything at all.
And if you didn’t see the riots in parliament the other week, that is because the ANC had the cameras turned off and kept them from us. Mobile phone footage has emerged, though, and you can watch a brief video of our idiotic legislators at ‘work’ by clicking on this image and scrolling down to the clip:

A hard day in the National Assembly, Cape Town, before the Riot Police were called in. Seriously.
So as our descent into chaos continues and the New South Africa turns 21 (and grows up?!), Rissington celebrates its 20th glorious year. This is Africa, after all, and government is totally irrelevant to our ability to wake up in the sunshine and have a wonderful time. We love what we do and the challenges associated with keeping the wheels on, despite Eskom’s ‘forces of darkness’ ...

20 Years of Rissington Inn

Which brings us to our annual moment of gross self-indulgence. In the post-election euphoria of 1994, South Africa entered a new era of hope and positive thinking. A year later, Rissington opened its doors. Hurrah. And, wow, we have come a long way since then.
From a derelict house on scrubby lands to a highly successful lodge set in lush sub-tropical gardens. (Somebody wrote the other day that it was ‘almost a botanical garden’ – almost?!). From five rooms to sixteen. From five staff to forty. From 20% average occupancy to month after month of occupancies of 80-90% and more. From a little country restaurant to an award-winning eatery, our latest accolade being a Diners Club Platinum Wine List Award (see below). From charging 20c/page to send a fax to offering free unlimited uncapped WiFi throughout the lodge, rooms, pool and gardens. From basic rooms to comfortable, spacious retreats. From guide books to Google.
And of course with the Internet, the coming of Trip Advisor and a radical change in the way that the client researches everything from the quality of the accommodation to the number of shelves and hooks in the bathroom.
It doesn’t matter how many shelves and hooks we put in our rooms, there’s always somebody who wants more shelves and hooks ...
Hence our slogan for our anniversary: ‘Rissington Inn - Keeping Happy People Happy for 20 Years’.
Thank you to everyone who has loved Rissington, everyone who has returned again and again, everyone who has kept in touch after their stays, everyone who reads these Rags. Or should I say ploughs bravely through them ...
To all of you, thank you, thank you. And a very Happy Twentieth Birthday to Rissington in 2015!

Occupancy Chart

You will be bored by now with my telling you that this has been our best year ever, so here’s the proof, as of the end of November! The blue shows the original rooms and the red shows the additional capacity we have created and how we have filled those rooms. Look at the recession in 2010 and 2011 and then look at us now. Percentages are therefore calculated on 5 rooms ...

The Book Section (Don’t skip this, it’s great!)

Published in 1936, here’s an excerpt from High Street, Africa by Captain H Birch Reynardson, whose great grandson Adda was a gapper here a few years back, describing a visit to the Kruger National Park:
“You can go as far as Pretorius Kop” said the Keeper of the M’timba [now Numbi] Gate “but no farther: no travelling after sunset, you know – everyone has to be in camp between sunset and sunrise.”
It was late afternoon: the sun slanted its golden rays between the trees, and threw blue shadows across the road. A herd of wildebeeste was grazing in the open and only an old bull turned to stare morosely at us, as we passed slowly thirty yards from him: beyond, three koodoo moved stately to the edge of the glade and stood with their splendid heads silhouetted against the daffodil sky. To the right a few impala galloped leisurely, gracefully, across our front, and then – one, two, three, four, five – bounded high over the road, the low sun turning their coats to gold; they shone like burnished beasts of heraldry, strutting upon an azure field.
Three days and three nights we spent in the Park, much as other people spend them. Rising early, very early, we sought for lions and found them not; but (almost literally) ran into two comprehensive families in the heat of the day. A lioness strolled between the cars – blasé, uninterested ...
What else was there? Everything – a catalogue of the fauna of Old Africa; grazing, sleeping, wandering, hunting; living free and undisturbed as they have lived these thousand years. Free and undisturbed, and unafraid. For the denizens of the Old Africa have made an apparently strange, and a convenient, concession to the denizens of the New. They approve of motor-cars – at least they have no objection to their presence; so long of course, as the business is not overdone … But should one of them suddenly halt and – incredible horror! – disgorge one of those evil-smelling and highly dangerous humans – of that Old Africa does not approve. And therefore it is against the law.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Whatever happened to the art of travel writing? I guess the standards of education fell worldwide and the majority nowadays wouldn’t understand either the thinking behind the words or the beauty of a ‘daffodil sky’.
The book is out of print but Google it and try to get hold of a copy. It is an absolute joy from beginning to end, covering the road from Cape Town to East Africa, much like my own book but far, far better. And if you can’t get hold of the Captain’s epic book, read anything by Lawrence G Green, a South African travel writer from the 1950s. Equally wonderful.
But we have other books to discuss. For example, Susie Cazenove, a good friend and a stalwart of the Southern Africa safari world, has just updated her fabulous Licence to Guide (2004) and re-released the updated version in paperback as Legendary Safari Guides. You can find out more by clicking on the picture. I understand that the book itself is available at Exclusive Books in South Africa and there is an EBOOK version.
I have also now got my copy of Nicky Rattray’s Out of the Fire into the Frying Pan, which I helped put together. I am strongly recommending it, if nothing else, because it is a really good recipe book but it also contains lots of great stories and some really fabulous photography. Click on the picture below to read more or to order your copy:
Rissington also gets a mention in my very famous Aussie mate Tony Park’s latest novel The Hunter, available in bookshops all over the world. Yes, that’s how famous he is. All over the world. I am only half-way through the book, which is set in this area, but I haven’t got to the Rissington bit yet. I am reliably informed that nobody in the story gets hurt here (as I strongly insisted to the author) but that Kanan (under the cunning alias of Canaan) gets an honourable mention, along with a gapper character. For such individuals we have ourselves become famous.
And, as always, you can still download Do Not Take This Road to El-Karama (by me) onto your iPad or Kindle. Buy it on Kalahari here or on Amazon here.
And remember that I was also responsible for the written content of the Kruger Lowveld site, which can be seen here at It is a great place to research the region - and keep an eye out for the imminent guide book too.

Pigs Might Fly

We have been running a major drive against corrupt traffic officials in our region, where there have been numerous cases of tourists (and others) being forced to pay illegal cash bribes to traffic police for often-imaginary contraventions. I am happy to say that the campaign, along with a number of other projects aimed at preventing scams, card skimming, petty theft and so on, has been a huge success and the number of cases of crime and scamming involving tourists has dwindled to almost nothing.

No stopping – and look who has stopped!
All of this also had the rather bizarre side-effect that I was named Kruger Lowveld Tourism Personality of the Year, for which I received a dead-smart certificate and a trophy for the mantelpiece. Very dramatic.
And if you would like one of our anti-corruption cards to wave under a traffic officer’s nose, cut this out, fold it in half and use it!

Gappers and Community Work

Talking of gappers, which we were, if you have a model child - someone young, useful, intelligent and insightful who is at a loose end – or know of one, looking for a three to six months of life experience in Africa, gives us a shout. We have space for one gap year student from March 2015 onwards and another from July. They must be competent and educated. No drop-outs or addicts please. And who knows, they might even go on to feature in a Tony Park novel.
The appeal reminds me of a fantastic cartoon in The Spectator earlier in the year:

‘Apart from your generation’s over-inflated sense of self-worth, what else makes you the best candidate for this vacancy?’
So if that question seems relevant to your nominated gapper, the answer had better be convincing!
We keep in touch with most of our former gappers and I am very chuffed to say that one, Sammie, currently works for Rick Stein (and has done so for some time) and another, Adda, was managing events for Jamie Oliver. There you have it. Rissington is training staff for celebrity chefs. Gordon Ramsay keeps asking us to send him people, but I just tell him to Eff Off!
As well as taking on teenage waifs and strays from around the world, Rissington is also involved in a number of charities. We support a school and an orphanage in Hazyview, we do plenty of community work in the town and I am still actively involved in the David Rattray Foundation, making radical improvements in numerous schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal. For more information, click HERE.

Harvie Chickens

Just a few pictures to amuse you in the run-up to the end of another fun year. Here’s Hlengiwe with the Platinum Wine Award. We have been winning Gold for years, but we have been upgraded.
Here’s my trophy for Tourism Personality of the Year. Rather magnificent, I am sure you will agree.
And here’s the Graskop outlet of Harvie Chickens.
No relation, but how odd is it that my strangely-spelled surname should be shared by a poultry retailer in Graskop of all places (unless, of course, they named the shop after the Tourism Personality of the Year!)?

Upgrades and Security

“It has got a real WOW-ness about it!” This was the very succinct appraisal of our newly-upgraded honeymoon suite, from Betty Khoza, whose enviable task it is to clean it every day. I just love the way that our wonderful staff so approve of the place they work in.
Here are some pictures of Sycamore with its new look. It really is stunning. Just try and stop yourself jumping onto that fabulous day bed and looking out over the gorgeous Rissington gardens to God’s Window and the mountains beyond.
We have invested more this year than ever before in upgrading Rissington’s rooms, as always taking into account suggestions made by our much-loved guests as much as pursuing our own ideas. All of the garden suites and some of the other rooms have new armchairs, new pictures on the walls, new Turkish mats, improved lighting and hanging space, upgraded door fittings and lots of fun, updated décor.
We have also taken the plunge and put a new electrified fence around the entire property, not because it was really necessary but because people seemed to expect it. There are advantages though and it does mean that we can relax even more than we did before. And don’t worry – it’s almost invisible.
The only negative comment we occasionally receive from our guest feedback is that people missed air-conditioning, so please remember that not all our rooms are air-conditioned. Frankly, the need for it is rare, but if you do want it, you must book a garden suite or a hillside suite!
Next we shall re-tile and re-fit all the bathrooms and put an extra shower into the hillside suites. It never seems to end, but at the same time it is very rewarding to see Rissington just getting better and better.

The Where in the World Competition

The September pic turned up a number of correct answers, so as ever, we chose the most detailed and specific. JJ was standing – on the auspicious occasion of his 10th birthday – on the banks of the Blyde River at Swadini with the escarpment and (just out of picture) The Three Rondavels in the background. The winners were Steve and Lyn Rood. Looking forward to seeing you again, especially since I missed you the last time you were with us.
Here are this month’s pictures. The six make up the Christmas Competition, which traditionally wins the bigger-than-usual prize of three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast, for up to four people in a hillside suite at Rissington (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, sitting room with television, outside shower, air-conditioning, private swimming pool).
Where were these six photographs taken? Click on the pic for a larger version:
Get your answer to before 15th January 2015 to go into the hat for the prize. And remember, even naming one of the above absolutely correctly might well be good enough to win ...

Rissington Pictures

Room pictures available on the website
We have had the photographers in again to update our much-admired website. Pictures may be downloaded from, as can our updated Info Pack in pdf format.
My old travel story website is also still up and running on and you can keep up with the Rissington Facebook page by clicking below. LIKE us please and keep up with very occasional relevant news.

On Yer Bike: Our Travels ...!

It has been something or a travel-free year, due to the busy nature of Rissington Inn, about which I am not unhappy at all. We have made our usual frequent trips to the Kruger National Park (for exactly the reasons that Capt Birch Reynardson enjoyed it 80 years ago) and my only foray out of South Africa was a brief trip to England and Wales in October, where I walked the beaches of Anglesey and the moors and dales of Yorkshire with great enthusiasm.
There’s little to beat a good night in a British pub after a day’s walking in the rain. And the Fawlty Towers moments that go with being welcomed by an Eastern European to a Helmsley pub with the explanation that the “there is no lift for lifting baggages and Zeblon the baggage lifter is on lunch till 30 past 2 so carrying own baggages please upstairs to room.” I suddenly missed Africa badly. Then our waiter at dinner was from Durban and suddenly everything seemed OK.


We continue to keep our rates down with no increases in tariff for the courtyard or the larger rooms. For the latest prices, check the website. And remember that we offer a corporate rate for people staying on business and generous discounts and upgrades to returning guests.
Please, I repeat, make sure you book the room you want – and if you’d like air-conditioning, you need to book a suite. If, for some extraordinary reason, you want television, you must book a hillside suite. The cathode ray tubes have finally been jettisoned in favour of flat screens.

Guest Quote of the Month

I have two. My most bizarre Guest Quote of the Month, at dinner, on their first night came from a group of Belgians, to me: “You speak very good English!” Well, thank you. It is my first language, so I have had some practice.
And to the woman who asked whether I had financed Rissington using money obtained from a Nigerian 419 scam featured on the loo wall, in which I was purported to be the last remaining descendant Mr Tanko Faruck Umara, an Ovarian farmer from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, who died in exile in Guinea Conakry in 1998, all I can say is: No, he did not leave me the sum of US$19,000,000.00 but I recommend that you apply. Just send an email with all your bank details to and you will almost certainly become miraculously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams!

Stanley, the Spare Reindeer?
Father Christmas, I presume ...
May your dong ding merrily on high and may you find time to watch Love Actually, especially that great line by Emma Thompson: “There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?” to which her child replies “Duh!” If you haven’t seen it, you really must.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all!
Come and see us in 2015. It'd be madness not to ...

Chris the English-speaker, Hlengiwe who just built a new house, Swirly Shirley, Sipho the driver, Kanan, the hero of a novel, Nikiwe, Thandi the Head Chef and who now wears the uniform to prove it, Cindy, The Great Gertie, Yvonne, Emelda, Betty, Thuli, Gladys, Sanny, Zenzile, Sisters Ntombifuthi (Foots) and Nokuthula (Noggs), Patience, Joseph, Aubrey, Sbusiso, Patrick the Machine, Hans and Stefan, the twins, who are back for Christmas, Mbuso the Barman and Gappers Joe (my PA) and Flora (Hleng’s PA). Rynhard is no longer here, drawn away by the inexplicable allure of Pretoria. And of course JJ who just progressed to Grade 5. Plus Bull, who just found the leguaan again, after all this time, and Rusty, whose English is almost as good as mine.

September 2014

Welcome to the
September 2014 Rissington Rag
Off-Beat News and Views
Rissington’s Best Ever Year Continues

To unsubscribe, click the link at the bottom of the page
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A Rissington Sunset

A Day in the Life of an Hotelier

This month’s featured impossible guest was an Israeli. Now we all love a discount as much as the next person, just as everyone thinks it is it their inalienable right to be upgraded free of charge on an aeroplane and thus to get a proper metal knife and fork and china salt and pepper pots instead of those little sachets, all for the price of an economy ticket. I am told that giving chocolate to the check-in staff helps. But, of course, hoteliers have a different view. We are probably asked for more discounts than any other industry. Why, I wonder? What makes everybody think that our margins are any more squeezable than anybody else’s? I can assure you that, if anything, the opposite is the case...
Anyway, the said Israeli couple arrived mid-afternoon without a booking and were greeted by Kanan the Zambian. Maybe this is where the confusion first set in. Maybe they thought, with this evidently being the Land of Kanan, that milk and honey were on special. They asked him the rate. He explained – R500 per person per night. A measly £30. Under $45. Or about 165 Shekels. Did that include breakfast. Yes, it did. Per person? Yes, per person. Was there a special deal available? No.
But, what if his wife was pregnant? he asked. Same price, Kanan told him.
Where did he think he was? Bethlehem? Was his wife carrying the Messiah, because if so we needed some proof, otherwise she’d pay the same as anybody else. No pregnancy discount but no surcharge either. It was late, though, and there was room for them at the Inn. Reluctantly, they stayed.
The next morning, on checkout, with Kanan not on duty, they claimed that he had quoted per room, not per person and refused to pay more than R500 in total. And, as if to prove a point, took four scones off the breakfast buffet, buttered them and stuffed them in their rucksacks.
Some people just don’t seem to get it. The price is the price. Why wouldn’t it be? Lawyers don’t give specials on first-time divorces. Doctors don’t give bulk discounts on un-booked consultations. Pay the price. Get over it. It’s cheap. And if you are about to bring the Messiah into the world, have a halo to prove it...

Could this be a halo?
Now, of course, for regularly-returning guests, it’s another story. Good deals readily available. Free upgrades. The warmest possible welcome. No halo required.

The Unsuitable Political Bit

Would you believe it? On one day in June, the power went off for 5 hours, there was no water in Hazyview for the whole day (thank goodness for our boreholes), the telephones were down because the lines had been stolen, the Internet was on a national go-slow and the TVs in the two hillside suite were on the blink because a guest had packed the remote. Of course, we can’t blame the ANC for the last one but the other four basic services fall squarely under government and give an idea how frustrating it can be to do business here. But we do. We plough on. We make a plan. And we love it. After all, there has been a postal strike in Johannesburg for more than a month as I write and we only found out about it yesterday. We thought it was just shocking service as usual!

’Elf ’n’ Safety

In my last Rag, I explained that we now have to have different coloured chopping boards for cooked meat (brown), raw meat (yellow), fish (white) and vegetables (green). Essential, obviously. Thank you, though, to Darren for pointing out that I had the colours of the boards wrong. For anybody taking advice on Health and Safety from this Newsletter (which I don’t recommend) I found this very helpful sign, available from a UK website. Please note therefore that the correct colours for the boards are as follows:
I trust you will all apply this at home and that you will NEVER EVER cut up a cooked fish, because it is not catered for above and it must therefore be illegal.
Sincere apologies, also on the health and safety front, to the guest who proved me right about what I thought was a mild zing through the taps in one of the garden suites but turned out, when we measured it, to be 236V. Apparently it was fed back from the air-conditioning. I told you air-con was a bad idea. Oh, and by the way, maybe we should put one of these on every air-conditioned room:
On a rather more peculiar maintenance and upkeep note, we have 29 loos here at Rissington altogether – and every day we have to fix at least three of them. What is it about hotel loos? I don’t know about you but I have never broken my loo at home in any way – cistern, pipe, handles, joins, seat, bowl. Nothing. Am I missing something? (You will notice that I have avoided the old joke to the effect that investigations continue but we have nothing to go on).

Another helpful sign?


As the world becomes more and more hysterical about Ebola, somebody sent me this very helpful map, designed to show just how huge Africa is. And with the population of Africa being measured in 2013 at a rather tidy 1.111 billion, the number of Africans having acquired Ebola is still only 0.000005 of the population. As the chart shows, the distance from Hazyview to Monrovia (Liberia) is almost twice the distance from New York to San Francisco. Monrovia is nearer to London than to Johannesburg (and there are many more Ebola-bearing flights between the two).
No reason to stress about that then.
Ebola has also thrown up some interesting discussions with regard to the relative values of different humans’ lives as well. For example – unaccustomed liberal moment - can it be right that, if a doctor from Doctors Without Borders, or a missionary, catches the disease, he or she is flown home to the so-called First World in a Michael Jackson bubble and saved, while hundreds of Sierra Leoneans die, uncared-for, in the streets? In addition, numbering 100 000, there are now more aid workers in sub-saharan Africa than there ever were foreign administrators at the height of the colonial era. In this fabulously politically-incorrect exposé in The Spectator, James Delingpole airs his views on that and on pre-, post- and neo-colonial Africa. Read it HERE.

The Big Party

We only do one private party a year – maxiumum – and they are carefully chosen challenges. This year’s one, in July, was an absolute blast to mark the 50th birthdays of Suzi Holtzhausen (South African ‘darling’ celebrity chef) and Stella Brandsma (much-missed emigrée).

A street party in the making at Rissington …
To give you an idea, we kicked off with an English pub night, complete with quiz, ‘Name that Tune’ and fish’n’chips. The next day, we had breakfast and pyjama cross-fit on the lawn, an all-day street party from lunchtime (bunting, marimba band and all), a firepit with potjie fondue in the bush at dusk and then a full-on night club through the night. On the third night, just for fun, we then converted Rissington’s dining room into an Indian restaurant and had an authentic curry night (the only glitch being that, while some of the portraits on the wall were Bollywood and Babaji, Gapper Ellie inadvertantly confused her Indians and slipped in a couple of images more in the line of Hiawatha and Pocahontas).
It was an absolute blast and to those who attended, thank you. You were amazing. The final result was that I lost 4.8kg in weight in one weekend from table- and chair-carrying. And Barry Manilow and Jimmy Osmond will never sound the same again.

Honeymoon Time

There’s one significant ‘décor’ change in the offing, in that we are looking at creating a permanent honeymoon room. More and more people are coming here for what the French call a ‘lune-de-miel’ and the Germans (maybe less attractively?) ‘Flitterwochen’. The honey aspect is supposed to come from the fact that a couple would be given a month’s worth of leftover mead from the wedding – raw honey is supposed to be a powerful fertility booster. There you are. You heard it here first. We are back to milk and honey, it seems.
The room we have chosen is the most private of the garden suites, with the best view. We are putting in a new superking sized bed, fresh and lively furniture and other fittings and generally topping up the luxury a bit. We hope to finish it by Christmas – and I will let you know in the December Rag and post some pictures.
We are still trying to decide how best to serve the mead or the honey, which we will supply with a bunch of flowers. And whether to have ceiling mirrors and a trapeze. (That last bit is a joke).

A Rissington First

Rissington is a something of a groundbreaker in terms of its lack of rules, dress-codes, meal times and so on but we have always had a couple of non-negotiables. The lack of televisions, for example, and the ban on mobile phones in the dining room. (Did you know the German for a cellphone is ‘ein Handy’. How cool is that?)
Anyway, we are putting in a new rule. We are not allowing chewing gum in public areas. We have picked enough chewing gum off the dining room chairs now. Don’t gum-chewers know how disgusting it is? Did you see that red-faced, yellow-haired dude standing behind Alex Salmond at Holyrood, contorting has Gaelic chops around a hunk of blue bubblegum. Not so Braveheart, even if it was blue. I am sure that’s what lost them the vote. (That and the lying, admittedly). See how stupid these people look ...
So if your chewing gum (in the words of Lonnie Donegan) is going to lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight, make sure that bedpost is not at Rissington please. If Singapore can do it, so can we. Ha ha.

Nicky Rattray’s book

I mentioned in the last letter that I had really enjoyed helping Nicky Rattray to put together her story-cum-cookery book Out of the Fire into the Frying Pan, and I am glad to say it is now available. A great-fun read about the trials, tribulations and triumphs arising from the running of Fugitives’ Drift Lodge, my old stomping ground. As well as some good stories and a liberal smattering of useful facts, the recipes are really useful and manageable. Including that amazing muesli, the award-winning quiches and Anndora’s cabbage and toasted noodle salad. The perfect Christmas present for chefs, historians and hoteliers alike. In fact, for anyone. Order by clicking on the picture above. As well as within South Africa, delivery to the UK (yes, including Scotland) is also available.

The Where in the World Competition

In last month’s competition we asked you where these pictures were taken and thus began an interesting debate. They were ‘borrowed’ from the collection of Joep Stevens, courtesy of the excellent Mpumalanga Historical Interest Group. Thank you, both.
Two nights for two at Rissington goes to Richard and Carol Veitch. Well done again!
The photo on the left (for which the prize is awarded) is apparently a picture of Ken and Joan Merefield at the Numbi Gate in 1946. Note the old TDH Transvaal White River number-plates on the car. Remember those? TBH was Nelspruit, TBS Sabie, TJ Johannesburg and so on. As for the one on the right, it seems that the consensus has it that it is in fact Letaba in 1953. The 4 cornered huts were known as Knapp huts and they were the norm at Letaba, Skukuza and Crocodile Bridge. The building at the back on the right was the old ablution block. Very smart!
Of course, in 1946, and even in 1953, Hazyview did not exist. The town was only promulgated in 1959.
For more information on the history of the park read a very interesting summary from the SANParks website HERE.
This month’s picture:
Where is JJ standing? You could win two nights at Rissington for two, bed and breakfast, in the best room available on the day of booking
Get your answers to before 31 October 2014 to go into the hat for the prize.

Special Deals and Website News

We have received many, many compliments on the new-look website. If you haven’t done so already, you can look at it here on And – tour operators and website operators please note – if you need new pictures for any purpose, you can lift them, like this one, from the gallery on
My old travel story website is also still up and running on You can follow the Rissington Facebook page by clicking below. LIKE us please and keep up with very occasional relevant news. As always, we promise not to deluge you with religious tracts or motivational junk, Love, Light, Peace or shots of people having ‘fun’ and drinking themselves stupid, with their mouths open wide and green tongues hanging out.
And, as always, 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.
We continue to offer fantastic value, with some great specials available to returning guests in early December and mid-January, so if you are coming down this way then, send us an email on and we will tell you what we are doing.

On Yer Bike: Our Travels …!

This year’s winter trip was called off. Rwanda seemed an awfully long way away and Rissington was too busy for me to abandon it for that long, which is, of course, good news. And although the Talking to the Neighbours book topic is a good one, I’d talked it out in the bar so often that I felt I had written it already, so we scuppered it for a while. It is a fascinating idea. Maybe next year.
Instead I contented myself (very contentedly) with a very quick trip, with former gapper and general all-round good bloke Adda Birch Reynardson, to the Eastern Cape via KZN which brings us on to ...

Rissington recommends ...

... Three Trees at Spioenkop. If you want a sunrise like this, coupled with one of the best views of any lodge in the country, bush walks, horse-riding, proximity to the Drakensberg, away from the masses, history on your doorstep, comfortable beds, great food and good old-fashioned hospitality, then go to Three Trees. It is utterly wonderful. Contact Simon and Cheryl Blackburn. Visit their website HERE.

Guest Quote of the Month

Finally, my Guest Quote of the Month comes from a child on arrival, addressing Bull, the Alsatian, then its mother, then Rusty, the Jack Russell, and then me: “Hello Dog. Look Mummy, it’s like a real German Shepherd. Hello Puppy. Does this dog have rabies?”
It is, of course, a real German Shepherd, and no, the puppy doesn’t have rabies, unless it caught it from the child.
So, as JJ said in his English definitions for Natural Science at school: "Germination is a kind of dog or when there are too many Germans at Rissington". I tried to explain that it is not possible to have too many Germans ...
Come and see us. It'd be madness not to ...
Chris the confirmed Xenophile, Hlengiwe who takes charge of more and more every day, Swirly Shirley, Sipho the driver, Kanan from the Land of Zambia, Nikiwe, Thandi the Head Chef, Cindy who had a baby boy, The Great Gertie, Yvonne, Emelda, Betty, Thuli, Gladys, Sanny, Zenzile, Sisters Ntombifuthi (Foots) and Nokuthula (Noggs), Patience, Joseph, Aubrey, Sbusiso, Patrick the Machine and Rynhard. Yes he is still here. (You will have noticed that Rasta has gone). And of course JJ who just turned 10. And Bull, 11, and Rusty, aged 1.