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The Rissington Rag - December 2023

Posted on Sat December 2, 2023.

A really good Christmas edition, full of festive fun ...

Hi there – and welcome to the Christmas 2023 Rissington Rag. This year-end, as well as some Rissington news, we are also having fun – riotously, in places – with the online community, whilst taking a broader look at tourism and how it works (or sometimes quite simply just doesn’t really work).

Most of it is entertaining; a few tiny bits are quite serious. And we are hitting the road too. More below. Plus there’s a competition, of course. And some other goodies. But first, I need to clear up a possible misunderstanding …

No Politics Permitted!

I was told by a reader of the September Rag that I had been ‘political’. The Rag, though, is never political. Never ever. So, if you are reading between the lines and finding a political standpoint, you are definitely reading incorrectly, I promise! My point was merely this: as always and as with everywhere in the world, in South Africa we just carry on regardless of our politicians. All of them. Anyone. Government and Opposition alike. And all those caught and confused in-between.

No-one knows how we at Rissington vote and we have no interest in how anyone else votes. South Africa is a complicated country and a tough place to find a permanent political ‘home’. SA still holds political rallies by the stadium-full, for example, and we are subjected to endlessly heavy brainwashing both by mainstream media and by social media. In fact, we have plenty of challenges but, quite frankly, who would you confidently choose as your first-choice leader anywhere? Any of those on offer? Trump or Biden? Sunak or Starmer? Macron or Le Pen? Ramaphosa or Steenhuisen or Malema or Mashaba?

Anyway, let’s not get political. Keep the blinkers on. Don’t look too carefully – because it is really not there, I promise.

We are tripping ...

Next year, we are hitting the road. Don’t be alarmed. Everything is fine. Rissington will be well cared-for as always by the excellent team and we shall all remain in permanent touch. In this sense, it is a far easier journey than the similarly long road trip we undertook in 2006; there were no cellphones then and contact was rare and sporadic.

Nowadays the lodge is also far better-equipped to deal with our absence; the team (with Philippa now in the office as well) is way more experienced and qualified. Rissington itself is in tip-top condition and looking amazing. It is generally a far better accommodation establishment than it has ever been and we are all hugely proud of it. In fact, I shall miss it when I am away – and how many people can convincingly say that about their place of work?

Please make a point of paying the team a visit as usual next southern hemisphere winter and checking on them for me! Maybe ask them if they miss me? But then again, maybe don’t. I think I know the answer. Rusty and Bruno might miss me though. They will definitely enjoy your company even more than ever.

So … where are we going?

Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia. Eleven beautiful and diverse countries; some new to me, most not. All fascinating. And all places we want to know more about. The map shows the current planned route.

Why are we doing it? Well … because we can, that’s why! Because I am turning 60. Because I have worked hard and long hours for 42 years. Because the ‘boys’ have left school and are ready to travel their continent. Because I would like them to see what I have seen.

Because someone – a friendly German guest with otherwise exceptionally good English – stopped next to me as he and his wife were driving out while I was walking towards the gate to go to work and asked me a very simple question:

Do you belong to this place?

At the time I thought nothing of it. He went on to tell me how this was their second stay at Rissington, that they had loved it, that the ‘new’ swimming pool was wonderful and so on … then, vowing to be back again soon, they drove off.

In the office, I told Philippa that I had met another happy guest and I quoted him … then the unintentional irony of the question struck me. Do I belong to this place? Or does the place belong to me? Well … it belongs to all of us, I guess. Our guests and Team Rissington alike. But do I belong to it? I decided that I didn’t – not full-time anyway – and that, to prove it, I would go for a thirty-five thousand-kilometre drive.

There will be two of us travelling for the full length of the journey but a number of other good friends and relatives of all ages will be dropping in and out at various points. It will be campsites all the way.

To spare you putting them to us, here are the answers to some questions we are regularly asked about our voyage :

Will you be posting on social media? No, because this is a ‘getaway’ in every sense of the word, but we shall all be posting photographs on Tripcast from time to time, with a brief commentary as we go along. This will be our video diary. Anyone will be able to ask to follow us and we will add them, subject to the strict condition that they follow silently and without commenting on any of the posts! Each posted photo will explain where we are, interesting facts, beguiling observations and impressions but (with the best will in the world!) we don’t want to be dealing with loads of messages. No ‘gosh, how amazing’. No ‘mooi mooi mooi’. No ‘have you caught any fish? … seen a lion? … met anyone interesting?’ No ‘are you OK?’.

Don’t worry, we will be OK. The Tripcast details will be sent out in the March Rag, before we leave. If you don’t know Tripcast, all will become clear in due course. It is brilliant and totally unobtrusive. Anyone with any specific recommendations or discussions about the actual route will be welcome to WhatsApp us directly as we go along and we’ll read and reply when we can.

Will you be writing a book? No, not this time, but the Tripcast will be turned into a photo album (which can be printed) and will be our permanent record of the trip. I loved writing Do Not Take this Road to El-Karama but this journey is going to be all about the different views of everyone else who is travelling – not my views!

Are you going to El-Karama? No, I don’t think so. It was a lovely cheap option in 2006 but it’s not so affordable now. We are going to be close, though, because we are planning to climb Mount Kenya. If they invite us, we might go…!

I thought you were in the middle of writing another book? Well, yes, I am. But I think I might be taking a bit of a break from that. These trips take a fair bit of organising and I am easily distracted, especially by such a great project. ‘Hotel Havoc’ will not go stale, though, and we might well stumble across some content for it in the campsites of East Africa. It’s all about hospitality, after all.

How will you get around? Well, just like anyone else gets around, I guess. By travelling on good, bad and almost non-existent roads to places where people are already living. They all got there OK, so we can get there. It might be a bit easier for us, as we have a Land Cruiser…

How will you survive? Easily, I imagine. Even taking fuel into consideration, it’s going to be cheaper than staying at home. If there’s no electricity (a bit like at home in South Africa) we will use candles and rechargeable Lumeo lights. (What? You don’t have Lumeo lights? Look them up. They are brilliant). If there’s no hot water, we’ll use cold water. If there’s no cold water, we’ll wash in mud. Or dust. Or just smell for a bit.

We will eat what the people who live there eat. Here's a photo of a home trial session with our new braai, which we have named 'Brian'. Every region has its own specialities. There might not be a lot of meat up north but there will be no shortage of sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, butternuts and avocados the size of rugby balls. There will be occasional excitements such as carrots. Or eggs. Mushrooms are very unlikely. There will be fish from the lakes and the rivers. There won’t be much chocolate or milk. And every now and then we’ll stumble across a monastery or an abbey, where they will be making wonderful cheeses, growing olives or baking delicious fresh bread. Eating from the roadside is a great treat and we shall be very healthy; I am sure of it. In the cities, we shall occasionally splash out and spoil ourselves in world class restaurants (but only on the days when we don’t smell). 

What if you get sick while travelling? We’ll do what the people who live there do. We’ll find a clinic or a pharmacy or a hospital and get treated. We’ll also be carrying a first aid box and clean needles. We’ll be fine. Just like most of the other people who live in Africa!

What if the car breaks down? It won't. It’s a Toyota ... but if there is an awry moment, then we will do what the other people there do with their Toyotas. We'll just stop a passing politician, revolutionary or mercenary and ask them who their preferred mechanic is when their Land Cruiser breaks down in the middle of launching a coup. I am sure they will have a contact.

What is it going to be like? Well, I can’t really answer that but I know that I am going to love it. I am certain that my fellow-travellers will too. They will get into the groove very quickly. It’s a wonderful way to live. It’s unimaginable freedom. If you have not yet read my 2006 book, please feel free to do so and get some idea of life on the road in God’s favourite continent. Occasional second-hand paperback copies pop up but it is permanently available as an eBook online from AMAZON . Follow the link.

And now back to the usual chaos …

Random views from hotel life – some of them very random indeed!

I have so many interesting discussions with guests which prompt them and me to come up with a variety of topics and views: nostalgic; cheerful; outrageous; funny; shocking. Any thoughts from your side? These are some of ours:

What has happened to airports? As the guest said: “I used to love airports”. I think he’s right. Airports were magical, exotic, international, cultural experiences. Like fantasy worlds, filled with all the promise of travel, holidays and excitement.

Nowadays they are depersonalised and aggressive places for the processing of travellers. Everything is homogenised: the food, the shops, the people, the awful, intrusive shoe-removing security with its little plastic bags for liquids, the tiles, the walls, the carpets, the airlessness. Where did all that magic go?

And how can any place have so many keyrings for sale? I mean who buys a keyring of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben or the Empire State Building with all those spikey bits that anyway make holes in your pockets? For goodness sake!

And what is it with the aeroplane language?  Why do we have to learn a whole new form of English to be able to understand the terminology used for announcements in planes. It’s not a language we speak in any other aspect of our lives and it must be very confusing for foreigners not well-versed in the English of the ocean-going liner and of ‘Titanic’.

We don’t ‘board’ or ‘disembark’ a car, for example. We don’t ‘stow’ our vehicle luggage in a ‘hold’. We bung our bags in the boot and then get in ourselves! It’s quaint but slightly odd. Aeroplanes have overhead lockers, galleys, captains, cabins and decks. They have (alarmingly) lifejackets under the seats – as if they are going to do us any good when the plane plunges into the Bermuda Triangle. Airports are ‘ports of entry’ to countries. Planes dock at landing piers and use gangways.

It's fun, quirky and interesting … but imagine if we had to explain to our children that they needed to stow their ‘personal items’ in their bedrooms and to open their lockers carefully in the morning in case the contents have moved around during the night.

Hotels are arrogant. They have way too many rules and signs. There is a crucial difference between being helpful and bossy. I think we are sometimes a little guilty of this ourselves. We have a ‘No Cellphones’ sign in the restaurant, for example, but this is to stop people shouting into their phones at dinner and Skype-ing videos of their food to their relatives at home. (I mean, if you really need Grandma to see what you are eating, bring her to Rissington with you and talk to her live at the table).

Other signs are at the demand of Health and Safety. I mentioned in the last Rag that we had just undergone a very successful assessment, but we had to do some pretty bonkers things. Think about this:

We had to put a picture of a firehose above each firehose and a picture of a fire extinguisher above each fire extinguisher. But in reality, the firehose is itself bigger and looks much more like a firehose than the firehose in the picture. And the fire extinguisher is bigger and looks much more like a fire extinguisher than the one in the picture. So what is the point of the picture?

We had to put up a ‘No Lifeguard on Duty’ sign at each swimming pool. Like we are Jeffreys Bay or Bondi Beach. Can’t they tell, without a sign, that we don’t have David Hasselhof strutting around in his speedo or Pamela Anderson hurtling pool-wards down the steps in her red bikini, a board under her arm? Perhaps we should? Then we could take the signs down …

As for those garage coffee cups marked : CAUTION - CONTENTS MIGHT BE HOT … well, perhaps it would be a more useful reminder if they were to be marked : CAUTION – CONTENTS MIGHT NOT REALLY BE HOT ENOUGH. PLEASE TAKE A SIP BEFORE PAYING.

How should we address clients? And other people?Everything alright with you guys?” – Don’t you hate that? Who guys? What happened to ‘Sir’? ‘Madam’? ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’? Are women now guys? And what would anyone think if someone came to the table and said “Everything alright with you chicks?" Especially if some of them were guys who identified as chicks or chicks who identified as guys. Or chicks who identified as chickens or even (careful here) cockerels.

And then there is this scenario:

And what is your name? (I have just walked into the bank.)

My name is Harvie.

And what is your surname?

That is my surname.

So what is your first name?

Why do you need my first name?

So that I know what to call you.

You call me Mr Harvie … it’s as simple as that … or Sir. Or Meneer. Or Mnumzane.

What is your cellphone number?

Why do you need that?

So that I can call you.

You don’t need to call me, I am standing here. You can just call my name …

                (It was going to be a long day.)

What puts us off travelling nowadays? Here’s a chart which tells us. But isn’t it interesting that environmental impact does not even get a mention? I see airports feature, especially when they double up as massive dormitories where the staff are on strike or flights are delayed by computer malfunctions. But there is no mention of the French ski resorts that have recently given up being ski resorts because it simply doesn’t snow any more. They are reinventing themselves as walking and cycling centres. Surely that is more worrying? And more likely to put skiers off going skiing generally?

Didn’t we think we were going to fly less often after the pandemic? Not that I am in favour of that for obvious selfish reasons, but I do think carbon offsets and planet-saving are important. Hence the huge effort we put into our recycling initiatives at Rissington.

The Recovery of Tourism.  How many more years can it be, anyway, until we have recovered from Covid and stopped blaming it for everything. Isn’t it just possible that the fact that tourism is still not totally back to ‘pre-Covid’ levels has more to do with the general cost of living than it has to do with the aftermath of (or fear of) the lurgy?

This chart would seem to back up that theory but then business travel is reportedly absolutely booming so perhaps we just need to stop worrying about Covid and embrace whatever travel we can afford. And maybe think about the planet a bit too.

What if Tourism had never existed? We have always been tourists. Madagascar was the country I visited most recently. And it was also one of the last landmasses reached by man – or woman. Or guys and chicks.

I love the map below. I have published a similar one before, but this one is so clear. Look carefully at how we all moved around and how long ago. How recently the antipodes were settled! How the land bridge from what is now Russia was the route to the US! And how long it took us to spread back into some parts of the southern hemisphere, once we had left our first African homes some 200 thousand years ago! Even then though, plenty of Africans already seem to have been packing for Perth, 65 thousand years ago …

How do our computers rule our lives? This might not be quite what you are expecting. It’s not about the flight delays above, or identity theft, or our phones listening to us (which I happen to think is incredibly handy as I am planning the road trip and my phone tunes into all my conversations and magically posts me lots of information on accommodation options on the route and high quality camping equipment – from Lumeo).

No, it’s not about that. It is about the amazing information your computer gives you unasked. Where would we be without headlines like “Former Miss South Africa in horrific frozen fish truck crash”. Or the little link that pops up day after day in the top corner of my home page: “The Canary Islands are incredibly diverse”. I don’t dare click on it in case I am totally blown away by the totally unanticipated variety to be experienced in Lanzarote (especially when it comes to the party animals).

 And then one day it changed, without warning, to: “Who wrote the original spider-saga comics?” That was easier not to click on because I know that I simply don’t care.

But where does my computer find these imaginary interests of mine? And what depths of irrelevance is it trying to drag me into. (OK - I read the Miss South Africa one and it was nothing like as interesting as I had hoped for.)

Blackmail. Yes, really.

Here’s an odd way that computers can be used to cheat hoteliers, which turned up last week. Read this email. It is unbelievable.

There is obviously no truth in the content whatsoever but it makes you think, doesn’t it? It’s potentially very convincing for a bigger hotel with a less hands-on management style than ours. Whatever next?

Have tourists crossed the line? 

Here’s another story that keeps popping up in my newsfeed. What a strange BBC headline: IS THIS THE SUMMER OF BAD TOURISTS?

What can they mean? Well, take a look at the link and see what you think.

Obviously, there’s some rubbish in this, but there are further signs that, in addition to their crazy comments online,a tiny minority of tourists have some bizarre ideas, requirements and requests. And they are giving everyone else a bad name.

It is public knowledge that I am not in favour of people doing their own laundry and hanging it out in full view of other guests, on chairs, stoeps and windowsills. I just think it is odd. We are not a campsite. But even more odd, I think, is the person who wrote to us months ahead of their stay, asking for a copy of the laundry prices. What were they doing? Planning the budget ahead so that they knew whether they needed to bring their own washing powder with them from The Netherlands? Or might they go mad and buy extra underwear?

Also I get food fads – I really do – but nowadays we get a list of ailments as if we were doctors and might need to treat the clients ourselves. A booking which used to look like this:

PLEASE CONFIRM NEW BOOKING AS FOLLOWS: Mr and Mrs T. Smith and 2 children. Hillside suite, arriving 23 Nowonder departing 26 Nowonder 1999.

Oh those happy days! Now – a quarter of a century and more than a full generation later – the very same booking from the tour operator looks like this:

PLEASE URGENTLY BOOK !!! In 23 Nowonder out 26 Nowonder 2024

Mr Terence Smith (known as Terry) 55yrs

Mrs Pamela Smith (often called Steve) 52yrs

Polly Jones 17yrs (Pamela/Steve’s daughter by her first marriage)

Joshua (Josh) Smith 14 yrs

NB !!!

Terence has a heart condition, treated with prescribed medication. He pursues a gluten-free diet as a result but can eat bread rolls. He enjoys train-spotting if there are any possibilities nearby. Needs permanent power at night for apnoea machine.

Pamela (Steve) is diabetic and allergic to bees. She carries an epi-pen. Please keep all bees away. She is also terrified of snakes but not actually allergic to them. Please keep all snakes away.

Polly is an ovolactovegetarian but identifies as vegan. She votes for the Greens and does voluntary work for Greenpeace. Please keep climate-change denialists away from her (or ‘them’ as she/they prefers to be known) as she/they is prone to panic attacks.

Joshua has no special requests. He likes just about everything, especially tree nuts. He turned 14 four months ago. Please arrange cake (taking into account family dietaries above).

Please note: Terence and Pamela (Steve) would like a king-sized bed with non-allergenic pillows and extra towels (Pamela/Steve likes to use a different towel for each foot). NO TRACES OF HONEY IN ROOM PLEASE.

Polly and Joshua can share a room but must have two beds far apart and all items which could be used as weapons or for self-harming should be removed.

Please confirm URGENTLY !!! Pax want to hear back today !!!  VVVIP!

See what we are up against? It’s not that I don’t think any of the facts referred to in the booking requests are relevant. I just think that much of it is detail that we don’t need to know in advance. We can deal with all of it, but we would just do so if/when it arises. Or as a Gen-Z might say: “TOO MUCH INFORMATION!”

Review ratings:

We have no real connection with the Rissingtons, which are actually small villages in The Cotswolds in England. The name was the original name of the property when it was a farm and we decided to keep it because we liked it. We have been served well by the Rissington name.

We actually have signs, referring to the ‘other’ Rissingtons at our Rissington. Upper Rissington is the restaurant, Great Rissington is the bar and Little Rissington is the loo. There’s a Rissington Wyck as well, which is now the games room where the pool table hangs out with its associated teenagers.

I know this is a road sign, pictured, but imagine if it wasn’t and if this was a rating for your hotel out of five…

What is it with rating everything all the time? Are hotels stupid? Are tour operators daft?

I know I go on about the review system often but I think, in this febrile post-pandemic era, that through the process of helping our industry to recover by taking ever greater care of our images, we have actually done ourselves a disfavour. Tour operators, especially in my view, ask way too many questions of their clients on their return home.

The travellers are just heading back into their normal lives, still brimming with well-being and filled with fabulous memories of their great South African holiday when … in comes an email :

Good day

This is Monique from Africa-At-Its-Most-Ludicrous Travel.

Welcome back from South Africa. Please rate your holiday for the benefit of our future customers. A feedback form is attached. Be honest in your assessments and be sure to tell us all the negatives, however small, for each property, as well as any positives …

And so it goes on.

Well, there will always be the keyboard warriors who are straight onto Google or TripAdvisor with even the tiniest niggle and there will always be the busybodies with nothing better to do than to write self-aggrandising nonsense about how they feel ‘let down’ by the fact that their grim, scowling faces were not met with constant smiles from everyone they dealt with but the feedback form thing is a real danger.

What is the point of asking for bad news that has not been offered? People arrive home thinking that they have had a perfect holiday until they are coerced into providing negatives. "Is there anything you would like to complain about?” Does every traveller now have to be a travel writer or reviewer?

The tour operators are asking for trouble, not only because they are asking for complaints for which people now have to grapple around (or otherwise, if they can’t think of anything, to feel they have somehow failed) but also because the tour operator then gets back to the hotel, which then has to defend its corner and find out the truth behind the accusation, however untrue, false or petty, ‘so that we can report back to our client’.  It is all so unnecessary. Any reasonable person who had a problem with a hotel would have taken it up during their stay anyway and it would have been be resolved. Water under the bridge with lessons learned and no need for a bollocking from a tour operator. Everybody happy.

We received a message the other day that said an operator’s client had loved Rissington, enjoyed the food, loved the garden and the views as well as the helpful smiling team but that ‘it looked as if a homeless person had been sleeping on the daybed outside on the verandah’.

A homeless person sleeping on the daybed? Really?! Where did they think this ‘homeless person’ had come from? Down the road and through the fence, unnoticed? Did they see a vagrant shaking a tin at the gate, perhaps, with a cardboard sign saying ‘HUNGRY’? Do they know what an outside daybed looks like after a ‘homeless person’ has slept on it? Do they have an intimate knowledge of nomads and their sleeping habits? The client was scrabbling around for a negative comment to give to their tour operator and they had found one, so now they were going to milk it and go full-on witty travel writer in the process.

Clearly, either the monkeys (or more likely Bruno?) had been on the verandah. Not something to complain about really, I don’t think, but then they wouldn’t have done so had they not been pressurised. Maybe we should put up a sign saying ‘NO WILDLIFE OR DOGS ON THE DAYBEDS’. I just hope the monkeys can read better than Bruno can. But at least the tour operator can report back to the clients that their feedback has scared us out of our wits, forced us to take action and soured our relationship for no good reason whatsoever.

I suggest the tour operator ‘welcome home’ letter should simply say:

Hi! Welcome home. I am sure you have had the most wonderful holiday and the last thing you want to do is fill in a questionnaire but if there is anything you would like to bring to our attention, please feel free to get in touch whenever it suits you.

In the meantime, we look forward to being part of the planning of another magnificent African adventure for you as soon as you are ready to head back that way …

All the best


To finish off this section, here’s another piece of feedback showing how the input we receive after people’s stay can sometimes be absolutely bizarre. This is a comment on a hotel in Limpopo province, where we stayed a few weeks ago. They were foolish enough to leave out a Comments book at Reception and this is what someone wrote:

I know the writer is trying to be helpful – maybe even trying to show solidarity with a fellow ‘downtrodden’ human being but seriously? It’s a job, isn’t it? And not a particularly arduous one?!

Misleading websites:

After giving tour operators a hard time (although we really do love most of them) it would be remiss of me not to mention again, quickly, the risks of using certain online booking agencies. Although there are some online agencies we like to deal with, there is one with which we won’t work. Here DISASTROUS JAPANESE BOOKING is a story to illustrate why you might not get quite what you thought you had booked.

And the sites are simply not secure and can lead to users and hoteliers being scammed. Read the story from the BBC HERE.

Is everything really getting pricier?

A London restaurant is charging £900 for a steak. Just under R21 000. Aragwa, the Japanese restaurant in question, is located in Mayfair and offers five different choices of wagyu, with wines priced to match.  Rissington’s fillet (pictured, sliced for breakfast) is R160 (£7) when served hot at dinner and just as good, I am sure. If not better. #justsaying And it comes with our magnificent gratin potatoes, not ghastly chips.

There does seem to be a much greater diversity in the tourism offering nowadays and I worry that the Rissington market (the three-and-three-quarter star 'comfortable' market) is being ignored by the marketeers. Everything is either five-star/boutique or low-budget/mass-market, whereas Rissington is neither of those. It’s almost as if we are fighting our corner just for the right to exist and charge R160 for a perfect steak.

I read this morning about a new lodge at Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. It looks absolutely magnificent. Take a look at  MOLORI MASHUMA SAFARI LODGE. The rates start at $1724 per person per night. Yes. Per night. That is R32 000 or fifty times what it costs to stay in a budget room at Rissington. Yes. Fifty times.

Sure … it helps the community by employing a few people and improving a few lives, but can we really justify such wealth disparity when there are people in Zimbabwe trying to survive on the smell of an oil rag in a country where there is no oil?

According to statisticians, by 2050 one in four people on the planet will be Africans. We are going to have to do a bit more than employ a few of them. We are going to have to rebuild the entire economy of the continent and change with way the world sees Africa – and the way it sees itself.

Where in the World Competition:

The winner of the September competition was Andrea Hundermark for correctly identifying the Tsiribihina River in Madgascar. You see? It was that easy. Andrea – you have won three nights for bed and breakfast whenever you like. What a pleasure for all of us!

Here’s December’s challenge. Where in the World was this photograph taken? It's a bit of a tricky one, but well worth taking a random guess. We were celebrating Lungile's 18th birthday that October day, so the guys decided it was time to hit the playground!

The closest answer will win three nights’ accommodation for two at Rissington. Send your answer to [email protected] by midnight on 15th January 2024.

Rissington changes (for the better)

There has to be some blatant marketing, so here are a couple of news items, presented to you in ‘ad-speak’ and news media format:

Wake up and smell the coffee! All rooms at Rissington now have a Nespresso machine with free self-service coffee at any time of the day. The restaurant now also offers Cappuccino and Espresso in addition to our delicious local Sabie Valley Coffee. Life has never BEAN so good.

New Breakfast Picnic Menus get you going! Rissington now offers an à la carte picnic choice for those leaving early for Kruger or for a long drive. Plenty of ideas and new additions available including vegan/vegetarian options. Just place your order and pick up your delicious tailor-made breakfast before you head out in the morning.

Queen size beds grow to King size in three favourite Rissington rooms! Three of our most popular rooms (with the best views) have received an upgrade. These 'superior rooms' now boast new furnishings and a King size bed in each. There is still an extra single bed where you can dump your suitcase. Or your child. The bathrooms have also undergone a significant revamp with new tiles, cupboards and fittings. All looking very FRESH. Live like a King!

Daybeds upgraded after surprise hobo scandal! Signage has been mounted on the walls above all Rissington daybeds after an unlikely story emerged of a homeless person sleeping on one.

Actually, ignore the last one. It’s not true. But we have bought some new cushions for the daybeds, so that we can say we have done something.

Rugby World Cup :

I have nothing to say about the Rugby World Cup except that we sympathise with all the countries that didn’t win but we are absolutely thrilled that we did! A number of people sent messages of Springbok congratulations to Rissington, which was really good of them. We had a majestic braai on the night of the final and a great buzz in the library where everyone was watching the match (except the French). Many media commentators picked up on the fact that the Springbok victory somehow had a symbolism and a nation-building aspect for South Africa way beyond the winning of a big cup. The following video was made by Siya Kolisi’s old school in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) before the big match. Watch it here:  SIYA SALUTE.

Goosebumps, for so many reasons!

Christmas and Phobias:

I know we all share the same phobias about Christmas decorations going up in early October. We simply don’t get it. I avoid going to the local Checkers supermarket from when the first dedicated decorations aisle is set up by moving all the critically important items (chilli sauce, chocolate, Bakers Eet-sum-mor biscuits) to some unidentified invisible far-flung corner of the store for three months; from the first sounding of the ‘Little Drummer Boy’ over the store’s music system until sanity returns in mid-January. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas but how can we bang on about neutralising it by rendering it as ‘the festive season’, with ‘year-end functions’ instead of ‘Christmas parties’ and yet still subject ourselves to Christmas carols out shopping and (especially in Africa) snow and robin redbreasts on cards? Bah humbug!

But I really do love Christmas, so let’s not get all Scroogy. I have a couple of suggestions for other phobias.

Firstly, I am not allergic to cucumber or coconut but, similar to many people, I really really don’t like them. Especially coconut. It should be totally illegal to sell anything containing coconut without a WARNING: CONTAINS COCONUT label. There is nothing more disgusting than biting into a cheesecake, only to find that the base is made from Tennis biscuits and therefore contains those heinously awful desiccated coconut bits.

A new one though: False eyelash extensions. I just hate them. The ‘Little Drummer Boy’ is one thing but if there’s a teller wearing false eyelashes in Checkers, I will stand in another queue. It is rapidly reaching the point where they all have them and I will have to avoid the shops altogether. I don’t get it. It makes the wearer look like a demented bovine.

Specials in 2024:

Bear in mind that we continue to offer our amazing specials in the few downtimes that we have at Rissington. That is in early December, late January and the whole of May and June - which is particularly odd as the Lowveld is quite simply the BEST place to be in May and June. Perfect dry sunny days. The best game-viewing. No-one around. Sunbathing without burning.

The deal will stay the same for another year. That is R5800 per person per week, dinner bed and breakfast. Best room available at time of booking. Minimum 7 nights, extra nights charged pro rata. Children subject to quote. A week in the sunshine at Rissington. Delicious food. Friendly staff. Lovely views. Bliss.

Merry Christmas!

Yes! Merry Christmas indeed! Wishing everyone a wonderful time and Rissington looks forward to seeing you next year. If you haven’t been here since Covid 19, you haven’t been here for almost five years, so you really need to make a plan to visit us. Five years is a long time!   

All the best from Team Rissington, represented once again by this fantastic photo of JJ, taken 12 years ago…!

Chris and the Team: Shirley, Natasha, Nonhlanhla, Princess, Nkateko, Rosa; Gertrude, Dudu, Yvonne, Angel, Conny and Dellina; Felicia, Futhi, Betty, Noggs, Patience, Bonisile, Lilian, Mildreth, Maureen and Felicia; Aubrey, Selby, Lucky and Peter; JJ and Lungile; and Philippa in the office, whom you may email on [email protected] for all your booking requirements.

Or simply book online on www.rissington.co.za and tell us all about yourself in the ‘Special Requests’ box. See you soon!