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The Rissington Rag - March 2023

Posted on Wed March 1, 2023.

The Fiftieth Edition of the quarterly Rag. News and views from The Lowveld's favourite lodge.

Welcome to The Fiftieth Edition of the Rissington Rag. Yes - the 50th edition of news and views from Team Rissington, with all the regular unusual competitions, thoughts, ideas, fun and statistics. Plus details of a new book.  And introducing the new Rissington video. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and read on ...

So how did the The Rissington Rag first come about?

It all began in the year 2000 with a typed annual Christmas newsletter, personalised and signed by hand (or topped and tailed, as we used to call it in the days of typing pools full of secretaries). This was snail-mailed out to our top guests, between 2000 and 2009, folded inside a signed Christmas card. At the end of 2010, that one-page letter morphed into an email and became a quarterly event, meaning that this March 2023 edition is the 50th Rissington Rag in its current quarterly form. What a long way we have all come! And how much longer (and how much more popular…) it has become!

Through the years, The Rag has charted the story of Rissington. It has been collated by recording thoughts over a three-month period and then pulling it all together in one long and very concentrated weekend just before it is due to go out. I know it has become quite lengthy at times but I do honestly try to keep it varied and vaguely focused. If you find this hard to believe, just imagine what the ‘chatbot’ ChatGPT would churn out if it was asked to write the Rag! The mind boggles.

According to a recent report, a global expert on Artificial Intelligence estimates that ChatGPT currently outputs 110 times the daily wordcount of all the tweets on Twitter and that it churns out the equivalent of the entire printed works of humanity every 14 days. Incredible. However, as Wikipedia tells us: “its uneven factual accuracy was identified as a significant drawback” – something that could never be said of the Rissington Rag. Hmmm!

So, let’s celebrate our 50th edition with a few more milestones and a wander through some of our favourite Rag topics with even a gentle rant here and there. Let me start by saying that I do apologise if this Rag seems a little self-indulgent, but the past four decades of tourism has been quite a journey for all of us, including our guests and staff, a good number of whom I have known for many or all of those 40 years!

40 years ago …

I started my 'gap year'. I touched on this in the December Rag. It was on February 1st 1983 that I began my career in South African hotels at the wonderful Cybele Forest Lodge, only 25 kilometres from where Rissington would finally emerge. Here I am, aged 19, pictured sitting in one of Cybele's rooms and writing the daily log that I kept of all my experiences in that era that changed my life.

These two 1983 photos (below) of Cybele were taken in its simple early days (look at how random it all looks, right down to the abandoned chairs...!) but it went on to become one of the first five-star hotels of its kind and was a ground-breaker in the country lodge hotel genre for which South Africa would become (and rightly remain) famous. From humble days as a former hunting ‘box’, Cybele was developed and grown by iconic hoteliers Rupert and Barbara Jeffries into one of the world’s greatest hotels, a member of Relais et Chateaux and a South African icon in its own right.

I was the barman. I was paid just R100 a month (then about £50 – now, alarmingly under £5 a month), which I had to share with Simon, the schoolfriend who accompanied me (who can be seen sitting on the steps in the photo). It was worth it.

I would later go on to become General Manager of Cybele and to be included and involved in the founding of a minibus transfer company, its helicopter sightseeing arm and, eventually, a tour operator as well as the formation of the Leading Hotels of Southern Africa. These were the golden years of South African tourism as we approached the transition to democracy and showcased our beautiful country to the whole world for the first time as a tourist destination.

Sadly Cybele closed a few years ago but it lives on in the spirit of Rissington, where a significant number of Cybele alumni now work, including Philippa in the office and Gertrude, our Head Chef. We are all paid a lot more than £5 a month now too!

30 years ago …

I think I always knew that I wanted to open a place of my own but, at 29 years old (and not yet quite grown-up enough), instead I moved on and started work at another truly ground-breaking South African lodge, Fugitives’ Drift, with the late great storyteller David Rattray and his consummate-hotelier wife Nicky, who is still runs it today with the next generation of her family. The picture below of the view from the lodge was taken in 1993. I had thought I was going be helping out just for a month or two but I ended up staying the best part of two years. 

Fugitives' Drift was very much ‘bush and basic’ in those days (unlike today, where now it is an absolutely top-ranking establishment www.fugitivesdrift.com) but it was there that I learned that the true art of hospitality is getting to know people as individuals and hosting them as you would your friends. It might seem obvious but it is not as easy as it sounds.

These were two of the happiest years of my career. Ten years into that Gap Year! The following year South Africa voted for a new multi-racial dispensation (it seems bizarre to talk about it now as if that was what it was all about, but it really was …).  The dawn of democracy broke and I was one of only two white people among tens of thousands of Zulus to vote at Rorke’s Drift in the ground-breaking 1994 general election. The year after that, Rissington was born, with an ethos firmly rooted in everything I had learnt at Cybele and Fugitives’ Drift.

Book writing

Sometimes, even now, I think my gap year has lasted four decades, with that feeling further heightened as JJ starts his own year of volunteering and adventure. Of course, the reality is that I am just lucky enough to have had a career spanning forty years in which I have always done pretty much what I wanted to do. I have loved almost every day of it.

I have also travelled Africa and the World (yes, I still prefer Africa – sorry World!) and somewhere in the middle of my Rissington career, I accidentally seem to have become a writer. This sideline, in a strange way, was itself born out of the Rag which had come to the attention of a newspaper editor, who then asked me to write a few pieces for him.

This Rag is not the end of anything though - I am planning on at least another 40 years running Rissington - but I have also decided to mark the start of my fifth decade in hotels by writing another book; this one is under the working title of Hotel Havoc. It’s a handbook full of my best stories from my career. I like it already.

So what’s it about? Well … there will always be people who, rather than sensibly looking for a hotel which already caters to their needs, instead choose one that doesn’t and then try to tailor it to their requirements. To help with this, I am writing a book from my own experiences, clarifying for travellers (in a kind and light-hearted way, naturally ...) how not to fall into that category and explaining to hoteliers how they should deal with such people. The primary purpose is to enlighten travellers (so that hoteliers will like them because that is going to be to everyone's benefit!) on what it is like to run a hotel with the secondary aim being to make hoteliers better at understanding the trickier clients and how to foster good relations with them.

It is principally a bit of fun, of course, but I think it will be quite an eye-opener as well. There will be much tongue-in-cheek stuff and it will be filled with all your favourite anecdotes from the past four decades. The what-went-wrongs. The how-did-that-happens. The can-you-believe-they-really-did-thats. Then some handy hints and some DO and DON’T advice. I have a cartoonist lined up for illustrations (because everyone secretly needs pictures in any book) and it will be an easy layout on-the-eye, good for dipping in and out.

Then, 40 years from now, when I am on the cusp of turning 100, I shall start writing the sequel to update Hotel Havoc. In the meantime, there will be at least another 50 Rags. In fact, by the time I reach a hundred, there will have been another 160 Rags. Now there’s a great thought.

Hotels on Television

One of the realisations that promoted the writing of the book is that, for some reason, we are all slightly intrigued by hotels. We wonder how they work. Hotels and also hospitals. Where does the leftover food go? How do they keep rooms clean and safe? Where do the staff sleep? How do they deal with tricky customers? What do they do with the dead bodies? (OK – that’s just the hospitals, although we have had a dead body in one of the hotels I have worked in and that story will, of course, be in Hotel Havoc).

I don’t really know where this fascination comes from but it is probably partially fuelled by spy-on-the wall documentaries such as the one made at The Savoy and also by the exploits of Giles Coren and Monica Galetti, as well as the likes of Fawlty Towers, Hotel Babylon and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, not to mention (for the dead body bits) Casualty, Holby City and The Good Karma Hospital. (I have only ever seen the last of these three medical dramas, but you get my drift.)

Hotel Havoc takes some of its inspiration from all of these and I am enjoying putting it together as much as I hope you will enjoy reading it. Like the Rag, it will have a broad reach and will be far from exclusively South African. There will be stories from my travels as well.

In the meantime, John Cleese has helpfully announced that he is making a new series of Fawlty Towers with his daughter. Here’s the story: NEW FAWLTY TOWERS

Cleese stayed two weeks with us at Cybele in the late 1980s. Can you imagine being a hotelier doing your level best at all times not to be anything like Basil Fawlty – and then having Fawlty stay with you for a fortnight in your hotel?

Also topically, we had Priscilla Presley staying for a week in the '80s when she was starring in Dallas. Unfortunately, during a delivery of salad ingredients to the lodge, she was accidentally pinned up against a wall by the Lettuce Lady's Land Rover, although it was not the accident which upset Madame Presley but rather the fact that the Lettuce Lady had no idea who Priscilla was. But that, like the whole book, is another story ...

ClearScore and other rubbish

Talking of television and returning to a familiar theme, is it just me or are advertisements on television still getting more and more unbearable? BBC World News is bad enough with all its obsessing over one story per day but these repetitve reels drag on long enough, without their broadcasts being rendered even more unbearable by ceaseless ClearScore ads (hasn’t everyone that really wants to know their credit score downloaded the damned app by now?), explosions of yuppies mysteriously making a world-class cappuccino using Jacobs instant coffee and the endless cajoling of South Africans into online-betting on everything from cricket to the Superbowl, or playing virtual slots and Blackjack? Even craps has undergone an online revival.

It seems to me that ClearScore and BetWay are fundamentally immoral in a country like ours, where everyone’s credit is already way over-stretched and where gambling should never be portrayed as a potential way out of poverty. As far as coffee is concerned, there is NEVER any excuse for drinking instant; it’s even worse to try and dress it up as something exotically Italian. And don’t get me onto Hug-in-a-Mug.

Review sites

A 50th Rag would not be complete without a rant about TripAdvisor (and yes, of course, that scourge of a site will also play a good-sized role in Hotel Havoc).

If you look at our recent TripAdvisor reviews (and you don’t have to; you can take my word for it) we had a long and successful stretch of five-star wonderful write-ups but then along came one of those idiots who just has to make a scene. He described us as ‘Disappointingly average’ and gave us three stars. I remember him vividly and he was a nuisance from the moment he arrived but the point is this: didn’t he realise that, if everyone else loves Rissington and he doesn’t, then there might be something wrong with his attitude? I mean, if I don’t like a place but everyone else likes it, does that mean that everyone else is wrong and I am right? He even implies that he is questioning the sanity of other reviewers when they pay us compliments.

The danger with review websites and comments sections on booking sites is that the reviewers come across as if the hotel’s owners have personally requested them to make their suggestions online. It’s as if there were a notice in the room saying: “Please don’t bother us with your niggles while you are staying here. We are busy. Rather post an exaggerated and self-pitying version online for the world to see. We will get around to reading it when we have time to ruin our own lives. Thank you.”

We all like constructive feedback, obviously, but preferably in person, especially with cases of suggested changes and improvements. An internet forum gives the 'reviewer-guest' an unjustified sense of ownership, as if they are carrying out consultancy work and then posting the results publicly for all to see. In doing so, they are dictating changes that would suit them better, with the owner being disempowered by public demands for services, which hitherto, for reasons of budget, tariff or personal style, he or she has clearly decided not to offer. If we thought Rissington needed a Spa for example, we’d build one and charge a lot more. Our choice is not to do so and to get in a mobile Spa service which travels to the lodge for anyone who wants a treatment in their room or on their stoep with a magnificent view over the Sabi River Valley. A much better system, which saves everyone, in the long run, the cost of paying for a facility they might not use.

We had a tough pair of guests the other day, who insisted that they wanted the à la carte menu which they had seen on the website (although there hasn’t been an à la carte menu on the website for more than three years now). Perhaps, though, they would also have preferred it if we had taken out the new air-conditioning and the high-speed Wi-Fi, then moved the swimming pool back to the terrace where it was three years ago? This is a new issue. People complaining because we have made changes and improvements which they hadn't forseen. This pair also asked that we remove the spare single bed from their room. Why? So that there could be no escape from each other’s clutches, maybe?

Bad reviews breed and they are horrible. Please be kind if you are ever reviewing a hotel or a restaurant (unlike the influencer to the left!). If you are not in the industry then you can’t have any idea of just how much a bad review upsets and hurts its victims – the staff as well as the owner. And do review Rissington, if you get a chance, please. Gently!


As I write this, we are bracing ourselves for our second cyclone in three weeks (seen swirling towards us in the picture below) ... and the potential slew of complaints about the road which always follow extreme weather. The road has held out remarkably well up to now but we can't grade it until the rain stops for fear of making the mud worse. Instead we pack it with rocks and rubble so that everyone can get in without sliding around. Yes, even the people with a totally illogical approach to driving in the wet (and they are many...).

As the African saying has it: Does your roof leak? Yes, but only when it rains. Rissingon's leaks are few and far between these days but the outside walls can get a bit green after prolonged rain and humidity. This month, parts of our region have received more rain than at any time since Hurricane Domoina in 1984 so yes, it has been damp, but clearly, we can't touch up the paint when it is raining.

These storms have such gentle and endearing names - last week it was Cyclone Eloise (who sounds like the assistant at the local pharmacy) and this weekend's one is called Freddy - but they really make our lives difficult. It's all we can do to get the staff in and out and keep the service going, to keep the kitchen stocked and to keep the power on. The Kruger National Park has done a superb job as well, despite huge floods and surging rivers. Even Rissington's dam is full, six metres deep and full of leguaans and the fish which emerge miraculously from the dry mud. Life after rain. It's all rather magical, even if springs have sprung up all over the garden.

Yesterday we painted Rissington. Tomorrow, we shall paint it again. And once it has dried out, we shall grade the road. It's the Circle of Life, after all, isn't it?

Names, nicknames and respectful terms

Every now and then I like to take a quick, light look at how our guests are handling some of this country’s map-reading challenges and place names. And staff names. As is so often true about so many problems in life, it helps to be Welsh when dealing with many of our vernacular pronunciations. So no, Nonhlanhla’s name is not Nonky-Lonky, as one of our regular guests insisted. It is Non-hla-n-hla (meaning Lucky) with the ‘hl’ sounded with the same explosion of air through the teeth and the tongue on the upper palate as is required for the double-L sounds when saying Llangollen. The same applies to eMalahleni (formerly known as Witbank, and the first town most people pass through on their way from Johannesburg to Rissington) and to KZN's Hluhluwe, which is not (as a Brummie once said to me) Hooly-hooly or, as the Germans say, Loo-Loova. As for Skukuza, you might think this fairly straightforward, but we get a bizarre selection of sucks and kisses. And don’t blame us for the funny names. Blame the early missionaries (bless them!) for the messy transliterations. 

Of course, one of the greatest creative skills is to come up with good nicknames. It seems to be something of a dying art. Maybe it is simply considered unkind by the younger avo-and-quinoa-chomping generations. I mean, at my school, we had teachers called Kipper, Ratbag, Creeps and Whizz-Bang just to name a few. They were affectionate (although they may not have sounded it) and a teacher without a nickname was somehow left feeling irrelevant. The matrons at our school were called ‘The Hags’ and they lived in a ‘Haggery’! John Cleese’s schoolmaster character in the great South African book and movie Spud was always known, quite simply as 'The Guv' and one of our porters at University was invariably called 'Jimmy The Git'. There was a time when our President 'Nice-One-Cyril' Ramaphosa was affectionately known as 'Uncle Squirrel' but that rather died out when we learned that he had millions of dollars squirrelled away in his sofa.

In South Africa, everyone has a nickname. Absolutely everyone. Often employees use them to discuss each other or their bosses without their knowing but also quite often the sobriquets are very blatant and there is no sensitivity. They say it like it is. There are tens of thousands of 'Shorties' and 'Baldies' in this country. The nickname Sdudla for a short fat person is always used affectionately. And Africans don't shy away from the facts. Where other cultures might pretend not to notice that someone is missing an arm (and hiss "don't stare" to their children) an African will simply say it like it is: "Hey, One-Arm, where are you going?". It should equally be said, though, that all Africans are unfailingly respectful in using terms of respect for older people and esteemed friends and relatives: Baba, Ma, Malumi, Mfo, Bhuti, Oom, Tannie, Sir, Ma'am and so on. There are dozens of them in all of our languages.

Nicknames might not be as sophisticated as the naming of racehorses, but they are fun nevertheless. I think the names people come up with for their grandparents are fascinating too. More often than not, it’s a child’s mispronunciation of Granny and Grandpa – so Bambam and Bumper, for example. Both sets of my grandparents were known (very normally) as Granny and Grandpa but to differentiate between them, we used the names of their dogs, so Granny-and-Grandpa-and-Tiko, and Granny-and-Grandpa-and-Jester, where Tiko was a legendary and apparently-leg-free fluffy ball of Pekinese, while Jester was a rather more traditional yellow Labrador. Family friends had grandparents who were always referred to as 'The Fossil' and 'The Founder'. Now that is sophisticated.

You are welcome to submit some of your favourite nickname stories from your school, work or family. The best nickname story will win its writer a free weekend.

So here it was, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun ...

Talking, as we were a bit earlier, of the staff, let’s take a look back, as promised, at our very lively staff Christmas party.

It is a sobering thought that many of the team had never been to the Kruger before and it was such a joy to get caught up in their enthusiastic giggling and shouting and taking-of-selfies with animals in the background. I don’t think anyone was particularly interested in the cheetah, but the elephants were a hit (with those who weren’t scared-to-pieces by them) and giraffes went down exceptionally well.

We stayed overnight in Berg-en-Dal camp, all 34 of us. It had taken a bit of explaining to the team beforehand that, given its bush location and the need for peace and quiet so as not to drown out the night noises of Africa, there would be no loud music. Instead, there would be a huge braai and a fire pit. And a few drinks.

As we arrived in camp and lit the braai, it began to rain steadily but this wasn’t enough to deter our heroic braai-masters JJ and Lungile who, along with a mate of JJ’s, cooked the biggest mountains of fillet, chicken, chops and boerewors I have ever seen. They kept their three braais going superbly in the warm downpour and by 7pm, we were all tucking into a gigantic delicious meal. Then the singing started, unaccompanied. And the dancing. In a ruthlessly judged competition, the teams took each other on with great creativity. Chefs versus Front of House, then Housekeepers versus Maintenance, followed by a dance-off.  It made Strictly look mild and my friend Coco, Hazyview’s answer to Darcey Bussell, adjudged the winners to be the Maintenance Guys, ably led, in a variety of fabulously-random chants and shuffles, by Aubrey Mashaba.

It was a later night for some than it was for others, as the revelries continued amongst piles of plates, chicken and lamb bones, torn crackers and soggy hats. Luckily the ongoing rain through the midnight hours dulled any noise that our ‘game’ enthusiasts might have made and the neighbours were left undisturbed. The next morning, after a breakfast of leftover braai meat and Christmas cake, it was two much quieter combi-loads of Rissingtonians that made the journey back to the lodge where, to give them an unexpected chance to recover from the celebrations, I had closed Rissington for another night.

It was wonderful. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Map-reading for Morons (Part 2)

Further to my comments last time, we do understand that people need help getting around and it is one of our happy duties to assist guests in the planning of their days out in our beautiful region but we do expect some thought to come from both sides.

Visitor: How do I get to God’s Window?

Hotelier (politely, in his imagination): What would you do at home? Ask God?

Visitor: We would use a map ….

Hotelier (still politely): Well, we have maps, so get one! Use one. Some of them are even free … and I will show you where to go and what to see.

But often they don’t ask. Instead, they follow the GPS, zoomed into the tiniest degree on their destination and end up lost in the timber plantations trying to get there. Even God can’t help them find their way out of the maze that is a Mpumalanga timber plantation with its spiralling muddy tracks and endless hairpin bends.

With the recent heavy rains as we transition from La Niña to El Niño, it has become all the more important to take advice, follow a map and avoid falling into the potholes. Having said that, most of the roads in the region around God's Window have been resurfaced and are in very good condition. (The government must have known that God was watching.) 

If all else fails, take the advice of my previously-law-abiding Australian friend who knew that he had become a South African when he realised that solid white lines were voluntary and that overtaking across them was generally perfectly OK. That way, potholes are more easily avoided. South Africans, as we know, don’t drive on the left or the right. They drive on the best side of the road.

Social Media

If you are not following us on social media, you are missing out not only on some great envious-making photographs on both Facebook and Instagram but also on frequent deals and amazing giveaways. In January, we gave away two weekends for niks, nothing and mahala to the first person who phoned at a given time, previously-announced on social media. Totally free. You can’t get more generous than that. And the bunfight on the phones was good fun too. Follow us on @RissingtonInn on both forms of social media. In addition, please take a look at us on YouTube - you can sign up to subscribe HERE.

We recently made a really great video so even if you don't want to follow us, you can (and definitely should) watch the video here. It will make you happily nostalgic and you will definitely make a booking!  Don't skip it. We think it gives a really good idea of what we offer. 

watch: Rissington Inn - The Video

We would be interested to hear your comments.

Where in the World – and the Wildlife Competition

The December Rag always sets a more challenging competition and the most recent one was no exception. A few talented people still managed correctly to identify every exact spot. Goodness knows how they did it, although I know there was some very detailed detective work which saw one ruthless entrant even checking which T-shirt Lungi was wearing in the various photos to work out whether they were taken on the same day and therefore in the same area! The answers were:

1)    Trafalgar Square, Central London

2)    Madame Tussauds, Baker Street, London

3)    The Tate Modern, South Bank, London

4)    South Stack Lighthouse, Holy Island, N Wales

5)    The Port of Holyhead, with Anglesey, seen from the top of Holyhead Mountain

6)    Banks East Turret on Hadrian’s Wall, Brampton, Cumbria

There was some wonderful detail in the answers. I especially enjoyed the gratuitous use of Welsh translation and the speculation as to whether I was running for prime minister in the dying days of what was then the short-lived Liz Truss administration.

The winners were Simon Smith and Andy Kok. Amazing performance!

As for the wildlife competition, this was also exceptionally tightly-fought, so we had to be ruthless in the detail, right down to the size of the genet’s spots. The winner was Brian Pfeiffer and the answers were:

Blue vervet monkey, slender mongoose, large-spotted genet, Cape porcupine, white-tailed mongoose, grey duiker, ground squirrel, red duiker, dark-capped bulbul, Natal spurfowl.

Well done to everyone who took part. It was a huge entry.

This edition’s competition photos were taken - you have guessed it - in 1983, both in the same place and, from all the old photos I have dug out and included here and above, in what seems to have been an era of minimalism and more random chairs …. but what was the name of this (still-operating) hospitality establishment? The more detail the better and no, it wasn’t Cybele. The winner gets three nights for two people, bed and breakfast, at Rissington. (Please remember that you should not enter this competition if you have already won a Rissington prize which you have not yet taken up.)

Music section

South African music tells so many stories and is filled with the brimming love we all have for our country. It occurred to me that many of the people who have made the greatest contribution to some of our most eclectic bands were South Africans who were not actually born here. Who would have thought that Johnny Clegg was born in Lancashire, for example, and that Claire Johnstone of Mango Groove came here from Hertfordshire as a child? The uncluttered desire to fit in from a multi-cultural perspective maybe means that immigrants can appreciate and combine the diverse rhythms of a country in a uniquely special way.

But this is the 50th Rag and it would be criminally incomplete without a contribution from a 100% South-African-born group that has made a mark like no other. Here is the world-renowned Ndlovu Youth Choir with their own composition, We Will Rise, performed after they were voted one of the top America’s Got Talent acts ever and were invited to appear on the 2023 AGT – All Stars show. Wow!


Philanthropy - a short story

Every year Freddie (not Cyclone Freddy, fortunately) comes to Rissington at the beginning of the mango season and asks if he can bring a bunch of young kids to strip the trees of their green mangoes. Freddie is from the nearby community of Mkhuhlu, as are the children. They climb deftly around in the trees, pick and crate the mangoes and load them onto Freddie’s bakkie (pick-up). They then take them away and sell them to the atchar-makers. The funds raised are used to buy schoolbooks and uniforms for the same young pickers. Freddie pays me for mangoes. Of course, I say that Freddie doesn’t need to pay but Freddie insists. Otherwise, he says, they would come from me, not from him. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Rissington’s most valued clients

As we get older, we sadly but inevitably lose many clients to old age. Some are unable to travel and others, sadly, are no longer with us.

As I said at the top, the early editions of the Rissington newsletter went out by post and it was only in the year 2000 that we put together our first email mailing list. A few years ago, I then took a look at that huge and chaotic list of names and asked everyone to opt back in if they wanted to carry on receiving the Rag. Thousands (literally) of people did; many asked that we update their email addresses. We also sadly received (and continue to receive) emails informing us of lovely old guests who have departed this world. We hear how much they loved Rissington, how much it meant to them and, in many cases, how the email-writer, a widow or widower or their adult offspring, would so love to come back and wallow in the great memories of the good times they enjoyed here with a spouse or parent. And they often do exactly that. It is really poignant.

My father’s best friend died just before Christmas. He was a South Africanophile like no-one else. He loved Rissington and he was very important to me. For a long time now, there has been a quote sitting on the Rissington website, from a piece by Justin Fox in Getaway magazine, written quite a few years ago. It reads: “The Inn feels like home … I found one elderly gentleman fast asleep (mouth agape in a bout of blissful snoring) and slowly being devoured by a comfy chair. It’s the sort of place where you can sleep in the lounge all day and nobody would bother you unless, of course, you need to be helped out of the jaws of a predatory couch for dinner.” 

That man was Peter Herbert, my father’s best friend and one my greatest mentors. I would like to dedicate this 50th edition of the Rissington Rag to Peter and to all our many wonderful guests over the past almost-30 years who are no longer with us, and who loved Rissington. Rissington loved them too.

It's time for a DEAL

If you have got this far you deserve a prize so, for the first two bookings made by readers for a week-long stay in March or April (not over Easter) we will give you seven nights accommodation including dinner, bed and breakfast for just R5800 per person in total. And we will offer the same week-long deal for any booking made for a stay any time in May and June. Direct bookings only. Minimum stay seven nights. New bookings only. Additional nights pro rata.

Onwards ...

Easter is coming. A time of renewal and the beginning of the beautiful South African winter. Come and stay. We are ready and happy and vibrant! Please share the Rag with your friends and take a look around the website at www.rissington.co.za. You can email us any time on [email protected]. Or simply book and tell us all about yourself and what you are looking for in the ‘Special Requests’ box.

Life is good. Let's live it!

All the best from all of us at Rissington

Chris and the Team (mostly shown and in no particular order but demonstrating below what to wear for a Christmas party in the Kruger National Park - and if they look a bit like the Ndlovu Youth Choir, they certainly didn't sound like them!): Shirley, Natasha, Nonhlanhla, Princess, Nkateko, Rosa; Gertrude, Dudu, Yvonne, Angel, Conny; Futhi, Betty, Noggs, Patience, Bonisile, Lilian and Mildreth; Aubrey, Selby, Lucky and Peter; JJ and Lungile. And a friend of mine's children, Tim and Patrick, also shown. Philippa is not in this picture but she was there with us and wearing a radical red outfit!