The Rissington Rag - March 2022
Up-to-date news, interesting thoughts and special offers from Rissington Inn, Hazyview, Mpumalanga, South Africa
A Warm Welcome to the March 2022 Rissington Rag … something of interest for absolutely everyone with a love of South Africa, Hazyview or just of Rissington Inn. Please read on ...
This Rag will be a little shorter. I know I always say that but, on this occasion, I think it is true and I don’t want to eat into the time you will need to book your trip to South Africa when you have finished reading it, so here is some inspiration …
Up, up and away …
Suddenly it is all systems go. Restrictions are being lifted worldwide and it seems that we may finally have reached a point where it is recognised that travel bans and red lists have no useful effect whatsoever. It is time to book with confidence.
South Africa relaxed all of its policies long ago and, although we still wear masks in shops and follow a few other basic sensible protocols, we have no restrictions on movement within or to and from our country. And masks are very African, after all!
There is also no longer any need for isolation or quarantine for those testing positive in South Africa if they are not showing any symptoms. It is now the way to go for all of us, I think, and we continue to take all the right precautions at Rissington and to keep the entire team up-to-date with vaccinations.
Masks, of course, also have many other benefits in keeping out bad smells such as those derived from sewerage, fish, halitosis, trucks and nappies as well as visuals of bad teeth and acne, although I rather liked the head teacher I heard explaining. on the radio the other day, that it quite simply can’t be good for children to be breathing in their own carbon dioxide for the whole day. He’s quite right. We all need some air. Good Fresh African air.
Seriously impressive major changes at Rissington
As usual, we have not been resting on our laurels. When it was clear that future bookings were picking up, we (once again) put our money where our masked mouths were and took the decision to follow up on last year’s superb new terrace and swimming pool by extending the renovations to an almost total rebuild of our original five rooms (on the right of the main house and restaurant building as you look at it from the front).
As the before, during and after pictures attest, we have made the rooms bigger, replaced all the old, tired wooden doors and windows with smart new aluminium frames and with our signature sliding doors, whilst adding bigger verandahs to the budget rooms and rebuilding the steps and stoeps of the upstairs rooms. It is a triumph – and quite probably a somewhat overdue one! In front, we have also removed all the bricks and built another new paved terrace, landscaped the gardens and cut back the trees. giving the rooms a huge view and a new style whilst still keeping the homely touch of the thatch and the shade.
We have also repaved behind the dining room and extended the herb garden, giving a lovely shady bushy spot (see bottom picture) for a cup of coffee or a bit of quiet work with accompanying birdsong.
As ever, Rissington is looking absolutely great as we go into our glorious, sunny mid-year weather. We can’t wait to show it to you.
In addition, following the loosening of the health regulations, we have also added back, into the rooms and the bar, all those little details you loved. The games are back, the biscuits are back, our Wellness Bar has been extended and the complimentary sherry is back, much to the joy, I am sure, of the man who posted a picture of himself on Facebook, grinning, with the words "They even gave me free Hennessy". Well, we didn't - we gave him good old student-staple Sedgwicks Old Brown Sherry, but he thought it was cognac and that was good enough for him!
How to book Rissington. NOT through Booking(dot)com …
After two years of travel chaos and restrictions, the means by which reservations are being made seems to have changed once and for all. To my mind, there really are only two sensible ways to book Rissington and both are equally effective.
Firstly, especially for short trips and return trips, there is the option of booking directly with us. It is a strange but predictable side-effect of the mess caused by the ever-changing restrictions that people like to deal with real people and they like to have a personal connection and the reassurance that cancellation fees will not be levied in the case of unavoidable changes of plan. Such bookings can be made DIRECT online on our website, but make sure you really are on our website and that we are dealing with you direct, not through an intermediary. All payments are completely secure without giving us access to your credit card details.
Secondly, if you are booking an all-inclusive trip with flights, car hire, tours and so on, it can make absolute sense to book through a fully-bonded specialist tour operator and to benefit from their recommendations (as long as Rissington is one of them!). If you would like us to suggest an operator for you to use, please let us know and we will be happy to propose a suitably-reputable company – one we know and trust from our own experience.
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND booking through an international online portal such as booking(dot)com under any circumstances. In fact, it is no longer possible in most cases as we have removed Rissington from booking(dot)com and Agoda for all future bookings (existing bookings still stand but you might want to reconsider and rebook them direct). There are still countless numbers of unscrupulous websites out there though, trying to get your business and your money. Often, they masquerade as our official site and they frequently mislead their victims with rates, lures and promises which they simply cannot fulfil. Most seriously, they regularly refuse to refund in the case of a cancellation, which means that they keep your money and ours with no hope whatsoever of either of us recouping that.
On balance, Expedia seems to have behaved better but if you do want to use an online portal, we would say that you should use a South African site such as Travelground/Lekkeslaap or Safarinow, all of which offer a personal service from ‘real people’.
Too many of us have been bitten by the OTAs (online travel agencies) in the past two years, so it is our strong recommendation that you deal with a proper person with experience instead of being fooled by an algorithm. If you go to our site and make a booking online, you will receive a prompt emailed confirmation direct from us and it will contain a whole lot of useful information about your stay and current conditions. A good tour operator will offer the same. You have been warned! Make the most of your Hazyview holiday and don’t risk being duped in the booking process.
Hazyview has it all
So … what are you going to do in Hazyview, adrenaline capital and focus of the fun …?
Well, our region is fully up and running, as ever, with a wide range of activities operators offering everything from hiking to riding horses, mountain bikes and quad bikes. There are elephant interactions, nearby wildlife sanctuaries, farm visits, a canopy trail, tubing, kayaking, crocodile tours and everything in-between. Obviously, we don’t recommend kakaying in and out of the crocodile tours …
There are also plenty of foodie, fun and funky stalls, markets and restaurants as well as day tours further afield into the stunning Blyde River Canyon (the world’s third largest, where there is even a bungee-jump in the Graskop Gorge) and into the Kruger National Park, only ten minutes from Rissington.
So, whatever you seek … Hazyview is THE focus.
Dad jokes (used to be good jokes)
The above bad crocodile/rafting joke made me think... I am so often accused of making ‘Dad jokes’. Obviously this is less hurtful than being accused of ‘Dad-dancing’, but what is this ‘Dad joke’ thing? It seems to be a mean put-down when all the Dads have done is come up with a witty comment that their youthful audience wished they had thought of first. I mean where will be – and where will the Rag be – without a few sharp corny lines here and there? And where will The Spectator be when cartoons like these are too ‘Dad’ to be good? Let’s hope it never happens.
This top one strikes a particular chord with me as the dogs look just like Rissington’s original dogs, Sport and umQombothi (shown below it in a photograph taken 20 years ago at that favourite Rissington dog vantage point at the top of the steps). We also have a new office manager who is a dog trainer in her spare time so I am sure there is another analogy to be explored.
For those readers who have not come across Philippa yet, she was once my PA in my previous life at the late lamented Cybele Forest Lodge and has now bravely taken up the role again, about 35 years later. So, where she and I were once all about telexes, Dictaphone tapes, typewriters, letters in the post and deposits paid by cheque, now we are embroiled in computers, emails and Internet banking and all the more efficient for it. I am not sure who is whose personal trainer – and she and I may not agree on that – but it works very well either way.
As for this second one, well, yes, I know that daggers are drawn between cars and cyclists, but being both, I just love this:
If you have a favourite Dad joke, please send it in. Either a cartoon or a good old shaggy dog story or a really ghastly pun. We might award a prize for the best one and publish it in the next Rag. If they are really good. Or maybe just not too ‘Dad’ …
The beauty of Africa, where it all started
Throughout the past couple of peaceful years, as I have sat on my Rissington home verandah at dawn with a cup of coffee looking out over the view of the mountain at God’s Window rising where the morning sun falls on the escarpment, I have been struck time and time again by the same thought: early morning people have the world to themselves in a way that late-night people never do. There is absolute peace. No noise; no cars; no shouting; no intrusions apart from the chirping of the birds. This is nowhere more apparent than in Africa where life began and still begins daily with a fresh new start. We bush people always rise early and this alone-time somehow gives us a strangely primordial connection with our ancestors.
I found this fantastic map and I fell in love with the way it shows so clearly how, far from being 'New World' like the Americas, we are the oldest part of the world in terms of where humans came from. Take a look. Once you get the hang of how it works, it tells an absolutely fascinating story.
Of course, Rissington is fiercely proud of its African-ness and of being proudly South African. I have been saving this video for you since Heritage Day in September last year, not only because, as the article says, it is the ‘most unifying national anthem in the world’ but also because, whilst magnificently celebrating our joy and our diversity, it is also somehow imbued with a soulful hint of the isolating drab loneliness of the recently-past Covid era. You can watch it: HERE. (It might take a moment to load but it is worth the wait).
God Bless Africa indeed!
Competitions: Where in the World … and Tony Park …
In the last Rag, because we were worried about all the young Millenial and Gen Z treasures and their delicate state of mind after Covid, we offered a free two-people-for-two-weeks stay on a bed and breakfast basis at Rissington to the 18-to-25-year-old who told us why he or she had deserved it most. In only 50 words, they had to tell us what lockdown had done to them, what had it taught them and what they were going to do about it.
Well, guess what? Nobody entered, so I guess they are all OK after all. What a relief.
The Tony Park competition, on the other hand, had a huge number of entries and the first winner was Peter Scott. We managed to get Tony to sign the book for Peter personally and sent it to him for Christmas. (Don’t tell Peter it was us – he thinks it was Santa Claus).
So, now that we are all travelling again and the young are evidently fine, let’s revert to the WHERE IN THE WORLD format, which has always been so popular. Where in the world was this photograph taken (by me, bravely aboard a horse) a few weeks ago? And apart from the horse bearing the groom, what is the other animal in the photograph? The winner will get three nights for two at fully-refurbished new-look Rissington, including bed and breakfast. A name will be drawn from the hat on the 31st March 2022 and announced on Facebook, Instagram on that date and in the next Rag.
If you are not already doing so, you should definitely be following us on either (or both) of those two forms of social media. We regularly publish specials and sudden deals. A few weeks ago, we gave away five free weekends at the last minute and all of them were taken up willingly and with great excitement!
As I was saying, deals …
While no-one may have entered our Snowflake competition, we have had great numbers of Rissington addicts taking up our other offers and deals including our gap year special, our offer to long-term remote-workers and our long-stay and ‘watershed’ deals. With July and August filling up very fast indeed, we recommend that everyone should book for those months and for the rest of the year as soon as possible. We are still happy to offer specials for long stays, especially as this seems to be the new trend. More and more people are staying for a week or longer. It makes absolute sense, of course. In this day and age, we all want to find somewhere we like and to stay put for a while. And for so many people, that place seems to be Rissington.
See you soon … or just now, as we say in South Africa
There is still time to book for the last part of our southern hemisphere summer. March, April and May are three of the loveliest months in Hazyview. We have had plenty of good rains, leaving the bush looking exceptionally green, and now we have warm sunshine and blue skies with less extreme heat and humidity. It is perfect for activities, for game-viewing, for swimming or just for lolling around in the sun with a good book and taking day trips out to the glorious scenery that surrounds us all year round.
So, get in touch as soon as possible and we look forward to seeing you back here and climbing those famous washed and spruced up Rissington steps to the new terrace, well, just now …!
All the best from all of us
Chris and the amazing Team Rissington