Location: Campfire Safaris, Hoedspruit, South Africa
Sorry it's been such a long time coming but it has been very busy here! You are all welcome to smack my bottom when I get home.
So the time came for me to leave Offbeat and it was a very sad affair. I had an amazing time there and an experience I will never forget. On to the airport and met Lindsey off the plane. She walked through arrivals as I walked through the door, it was like a scene out of Love Actually! You couldn't write the script.
So there it started and we began our trip on an open top pick up truck which was and is the bain of my life at present (try riding on the back of that at 2am in zero degrees at 60mph, (the alcohol defo helps)).
The last 3 weeks have been pretty hectic and I'll be here for a day filling you in on it all! Basically Elephants, Elephants, Elephants!!! The camp is fenced off but is in a conservation park which is opened to Kruger, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to allow natural migrations to happen. Basically, we could wake up to anything on the door step and the present flavour of the month is Elephants. You really know when you're alive when you have been charged by a Bull Elephant the size of a house! I shit you not, this beast was 2 metres away and 5 metres tall......yes Dad, that's about from that wall to the end of the patio! My main concern was not for my own life, but for Lindsey's (have you seen that girl try to run at the best of times?). She assured me that she was more than capable of running in zig zags and should the Elephant charge, she would be fine. Sure enough he charged and she did run........ straight into a the biggest thorn bush you have ever seen in your life, bigger than the feckin Elephant. At which point she stopped to say "owwwwww". I can't understand what I was worried for!!!!!!!!!!! The word liability comes to mind.
As I say there has been so much, but the highlight so far has to be our 24 hour survival in the bush. So apparently we have been trained to survive should we be lost in the bush. We were allowed a sleeping bag, torch and knife, that's it! We had to survive on the water we found and boiled in an old beer can and the food that we managed to provide for ourselves. I was part of the hunting team. Armed with my catapult, I am proud to say that I returned to the group of 9 with 12 (yes 12!!!!!!) raisen berries. For those of you who don't know what a raisin berry is, its about the size of a retarded pea which didn't make the packet! As for the water, the alternative was to suck on the roots of an indigenous plant commonly referred to as "mother-in-law's tongue" (Sorry John, but this was survival!)
Anyway, we set up 4 fires which apparently kept the man-eaters away. I say apparently because at 10pm the group was silenced by Letitia (our resident bush woman, aka Lara Croft) who heard branches breaking. For the simpletons, this means......... ELEPHANTS!! Cue the adrenalin rush. Over the space of 45 minutes in the pitch black of the bush, we had heard 4 Elephants approximately 10 metres from us. All those that were weak climbers were ordered to retreat to the higher ground just behind us (about a metre away and a metre high!). Lindsey (aka Lara Soft) was up there like a shot, shaking like a shitting Zebra. I stood brave of course until her tears started to fill the dry river bed (Linz here! - for the record, I have never been so poo scared in my whole entire life!!). To be fair, everyone was saying their last prayers.........
So all of a sudden there was a charge and the people on the ground turned to run with faces you would only see if Freddie Kruger was chasing you (excuse the pun). Lindsey moved faster than I have ever seen her move before (I am thinking of entering her into the next Olympics with an Elephant up her arse), attempting to grab my arm as she fled. I think she nearly broke a finger as I stood firm. Well, if you are going to be attacked by an Elephant you'd want to see the size of it first. Makes for good stories for the Grand Kids.
Much to Lindsey's relief, and my disappointment, the "Elephants" were actually 4 of the Dutchies (people from Holland) from Camp who had decided not to join us! The worst of it was that Letitia was the mastermind behind the whole scam. That is the bush woman who is supposed to protect us. Her performance was worthy of an oscar.
I could go on forever, but I'll save it until I get home!
See you all soon.
Location: Hoedspruit, South Africa
Now i know i've been a little slack recently but 'Life's tough in Africa! In the last couple of weeks I've said goodbye to one group and a new group gas descended on camp. They are all larvely people which is always good news.
I've been doing alot of farm work in the last couple of weeks which i've really enjoyed, especially when you never know what is around the next corner i.e Leopard, Cheetah, Hyena etc.
We're off to Kruger for a sleep out tonight which excites me massively because we are going to see the park come alive at night. Lots of Elephant, Buffalo and i'm praying for Hyena (still not seen one yet!). Which leads me to another story! I was in bed, it was about 3am, i heard a snuffling in camp outside my bedroom window (windows here are just openings in the side of the wooden wall, no glass or cover!) to satisfy my curiousity i sat up in my bed to look out and see who or what it was. In my sleepy daze i saw T-Bone who is the resident guard dog! In the morning i went up to the main house and told Millie (the owner) that T-Bone was in camp last night to which she replied, 'T-B was locked in the house last night'. 'Oh' i said. Apparently what i had seen was a Leopard or Hyena in camp about 5 metres from me! Needless to say i now piss about 4ft from my door at night!!!!!!!!!!
We also have a problem resident Honey Badger in camp. To give you an idea of how ferocious these cute little fur balls are. Two honey badgers were once recorded to have seen off 5 lionesses! They are the most fearless well respected mammals in Africa and we have one that visits every night! He is often spotted walking away from the scene of the crime with a bin over his head. He's bit of a character to say the least.
Well only a week to go until the girl of my dreams joins me in Africa and i can't bloody wait, it's so much fun here, Lindsey you's gonna love!
Hope all is well back home! Come on the Red Men!!!!
Location: Hoedspruit, South Africa
This week we have been mostly culling and tracking the wounded animals. It all sounds pretty brutal and it is but none of the animal gets wasted, everything is consumed or put to some use. I was instucted to hold the horns of a Wildebeest whilst one of the trackers removed it's head with a hacksaw! Being splattered with the blood of the beast was nothing compared to the stench and i mean stench; and this was before they had to burst the stomach with a knife before it exploded....mmmmm.blood and guts everywhere, which we saw as a perfect oppurtunity to have a blood fight. It's like a water fight but without the water and the balloons. I've got myself some trophies anyway, an Impala horn and a Wildebeest horn which i removed.
Am late for my lift so must dash. I'll try to add more on Thursday.
Location: Phalaborwa, South Africa
Well it's been a bit of a hectic week. I'll start with my birthday. The festivities began on Friday night, we went out on the "town" had a rack of ribs, standard. It seems everyone wants to buy you a shot of straw rum on your birthday to which you must comply and agree to drink otherwise penalties can be quite severe! Just for the record Straw Rum is 80% proof so as you can imagine i was a little tipsy. The night went on and at about 7 pm i was presented with a tiara, some fairy wings and a wand! which i had to wear all night as once again the forfeits would be harsh. All was going swimmingly until i had to do a "Muff Dive" which is a shot of something red and nasty put into a shot glass which is then put into a Martini glass then filled up with squirty cream. The idea is to remove the shot glass (no hands) and neck the shot! Easier said than done! I was giving it my best shot (no pun intended) until one of the girls decides that it would be a good idea to push the back of my head onto the Martini glass. I sit here now sporting a big fat bruise and a beautiful gash across the bridge of my nose. Anyway the night continued and was awesome.
Sunday 22nd came and i got woken up at 7am with my first drink of the day. I wanted water but that wasn't allowed so it was a shot of Gin, Vodka and whatever else they could find lieing about the place. From this point the drinking continued, a shot an hour for me and whatever else in between. We have an awesome Brai and a few of the rangers from around the place came over to join in the fun and games. I had an awesome b'day weekend and thanks to everyone for there messages from back home.
Went shooting last night. Millie wants some impala and Wildebeest culled so they have to be shot, life's tough in Africa! Went driving with Anton and Francois. Within 2 mins we had found the Impala and within 2 mins 2 seconds one Impala was down. Please be reminded that in the heat of the moment it is easy to forget how loud a Rifle is when you fire it, my ears are still ringing! More hunting tonight!
Went out cutting grass the other day and it's definately the most worrying moment of my trip so far! So who has ever been stalked by a hungry male Lion? Well it's safe to say i can tick that one of my list! He was in a fenced Game Reserve within which he roams free. These places are massive e.g the size of 7000 fotball pitches. He was right up at the fence about 10 metres away from me! Now you may think he is behind a fenceso it's safe. Oh no. The fence in my back garden would keep more things out! There are so many holes and breaks in these fences and after a while of being here you soon realise fences don't actually do an awful lot other than create land boudaries! Animals pass through them very easily. It was hair raising to say the least. The way he was looking at us, then the fence, then us. Needless to say i told everyone to grab there tools and get in the car, we were leaving! I've got rights to drive all the cars which is a right touch!!
If none of that makes sense i apologise, it's been very rushed today.
Hope you're all well back home.
Location: Hoedspruit, South Africa
Hope all of your are well. Ta for all the messages they're much appreciated.
Went to an Air Show on Thursday. There was a helicopter taking people for rides over the Bush. Game viewing from the air in a Chopper. Have a little guess how much that would set you back?? Well believe it or not 15 squid! Neigh i hear you cry!! What an experience. I announced to Air Traffic control that i needed a shave which was very amusing! Then i nearly blew the pilots ear drums by shouting (more screaming) extremely loudly when he went straight up and then let the chopper fall out of the sky. He actually told me to Shut up.....i mean what the hell did he expect me to do when he's pulling stunts like that!!!
Just been to the Dentist/Doctor been diagnosed with bacterial sinisitis (you'll have to check the spelling on that one). You'll like this one Bullit boys......I got chatting to both Dentist and Doctor, great guys, at first i thought it was toothache but it's just the roots going through my sinus because it has expanded...so they both had a look...(fluttered my eyelids/eyelashes!)...so i had a check up from a Dentist and a Doctor and had to have X-rays, what did i pay.........nadda....not a cent!! Proper Bullit!!!
Unfortunately i am now on anti-biotics for 5 days so no drink for me!!
........But for all those who might be worried (Mum, Lindsey!) I'm fine and it's just an infection with a fancy name, you know how it is.
Went to my first Brie (BBQ) on Sunday. Seriously, you haven't tasted steak until you've had a South African steak. Admittedly they hardly cook it, I think a good vet could actually bring some of the meat back to life, but the knife glides through....mmmm.....ssssttttteeeaaaakkkkkk! Dad you would love it.
We had two riding casualties this week. Tina has a broken arm and Lisa has torn the ligaments in her ankle. Not pretty! No riding for them for a while!
Forget my camera so no pics unfortunately...next week!
Ciao for Niao!
Location: Hoedspruit, South Africa
Hello from Hoedspruit!!!
Hope everyone is well. I'm good and have settled in to the SA way of life very well. It's very quiet here. The people here are very friendly and the crew i'm staying with is lots of fun. I have introduced them to the ring of fire as the evenings here can be very quiet....not anymore!
Have been learning how to ride a horse, it's not as easy as John Wayne makes it look i can tell ya! Although a bit of Carrot and a pat oin the back and you've got a friend for life!
Given that every animal (lions, hyena, leopard elephant, baboon) have been found on the Reserve it can be hard to get your head down at night. There are no windows in my hut and it's right at the bottom of camp by the river bed....that's where the alcohol also helps!
Being woken up by the raw of lions is something else. It'll make the hairs on the back of everything stand on end! It's a pretty impressive sound.
Went to Kruger and got charged by an elephant....Mum can you send some new pants over please!!! Tried to upload some pics but the computer reckoned it was going to take about ten minutes. Will do it next week when i have a bit more time.
On a final note, if anyway could send me a piping hot shower that would be larvely!! No hot water here at all. BULLIT!!
Next installment next Monday hopefully!
Location: Borehamwood, UK
This is a liccle message for all those eager beavers who are curious to see what this page is all about.........I haven't gone yet so leave me and my page alone!! ;0)
NB. There is a weekly donkey ride to Hoedspruit town, (local to where i will be living) where i assume i will have access to the internet. I'm guessing updates won't be that frequent so please be patient!
See you all soon