A month on, the flight was from Harare to Ethiopia, via Lusaka (and return) both sides of a Persian Gulf cruise from Dubai to Fujairah, Muscat in Oman, Abu Dhabi and back to Dubai. Soon after, was a weekend road trip to Bulawayo (AirZim on strike) for RTG’s cooking competition.
Interesting assignments not involving travel included: US Embassy’s Lori Enders’ 50th birthday at Amanzi, in Gone With the Wind costume; Royal Wedding and Queen’s Birthday Party, both at the British Ambassador’s residence.
In May we took a private charter to Vic Falls (my 50th visit there) to see a multi-million refurb of RTG’s A’Zambezi River Lodge. A planned trip to the group’s other properties in that bit of the Zambezi Valley, into Chobe, Botswana and Livingstone, Zambia were postponed due to AirZim being AWOL.
In June, two days at Kariba covering the amazing sustainable fish farming project run by Lake Harvest. (I’ve recently heard they’re diversifying to Zambia’s side…nothing to do with indigenisation, what?)
I had to be in the UK for my grand-kids’ joint christening on June 19, so booked, with AZ, a flight on June 15, having been assured it really would take off. Mug! At 3pm on take-off day, “they” rang to say it was postponed until Sunday. We lifted off from here an hour before the lovely service began in a 13th century church in the Cotswolds. I was 12 hours late!
To Scotland, by road, the next day: for a week with my son and daughter-in-law. Weather-wise, just one good day: when I did an open-top bus tour of Edinburgh. Great for photos, I’ve also taken similar outings in Oxford, Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year.
Spent the hottest day of the UK year in Swindon, Wiltshire, in a park playing with my grand-daughter, (who can lap up all the play going) and a fortnight later, after a trip to the Middle East, was back there on a July day colder than January! Highlight of that trip was the Great Western Railway Museum.
My Middle East break was to Morocco; screen temperature at Marrakesh, surrounded by the Sahara and overlooked by the majestic High Atlas Mountains, was 47C. A two-hour trek to the coast at Agadir saw heat plunging to a more comfortable 35C; swimming and snorkelling, in a pleasant cooling North Atlantic swell, was at least a thrice daily necessity, to cool off. BMI now fly direct to Agadir, no need for the tiring hot desert drive.
Back to Zim on July 18; waiting for a bus at Gatwick on arrival by AZ, I was invited to the official re-opening of Pamuzinda Lodge (after a disastrous fire) at Selous by a pretty blonde, whose name I never got. Nor was she there. An official written invite was for July 29: a memorable two days on the veldt, only an hour from the office.
Harare was bitter mid-year; Christmas in July at Meikles was just the ticket with all the heart-warming trimmings of a northern hemisphere yuletide.
We “did” Manicaland August 24-26, lunching at Inn on Rupurara one day, Leopard Rock the next; staying at Inn on the Vumba, having high tea at White Horse Inn. A highlight was bumping into the rump of a wedding group who just wanted to party, party and party.
Fed up with boring local politics, I conceived a new opposition outfit: The Let’s Have a Party Party and 16 folk joined!
Prior to that jaunt, Paula’s Place, successor to Cascais, was first visited on August 9. It’s a huge success of the local hospitality scene and hasn’t been less than full since opening. August 16 was (cowboy) suits and boots for the Association of Zimbabwean Travel Agents’ annual awards at Dungarvon, Borrowdale. I meant to check out La Serenata (ex-Season’s) en route home, but there was no safe parking within half a kilometre. Run by lovely Lauren Pyle, it’s another super success story (But I haven’t yet visited!)
Brands South Africa hosted a trip from September 27-October 1. We flew SAA Premier Class, touring Pretoria, Johannesburg and Western Cape, staying at Protea’s hotel, Wanderers, and the swish Taj in Cape Town.
Sanganai, Zimbabwe’s bog-standard tourism expo, was at the Conference Centre October 10-12. On Day 1, at lunch, most stands weren’t ready; on the last day, at the same time, many were being dismantled! South Africa’s Indaba (in Durban) it ain’t!
We sweltered at Kariba’s 50th Invitation Tiger Tournament October 22-29. One of our houseboat party lost fingers to a V-belt on a kapenta rig visited for bait; a second was evacuated by his memsahib, suffering heat-stroke, exhaustion and BP. Jaipur had a curry stall in camp. Sadly their chef died after being rescued from a swimming pool by anglers.
I began in journalism on a racing desk: “Captain Coe, the Bookies’ Foe!” but now go to the Sport of Kings but once a year, to the end-of-year party at Borrowdale of insurance brokers HRIB. It’s a not-to-be-missed event (held on November 20), starting Christmas/New Year off with a bang.
I sampled six Christmas dinners in Harare, before leaving for Siavonga (the town called “thank you”) Zambia, for THEIR tiger challenge, staying at Eagles Rest Lodge, December 6-12.
My 10-year passport is about full, well under five years from issue, and there’s an invite to the Cape Winelands due for early February. (Thanks, guys!)
As John Buchan (Lord Tweedsmuir) said in his WWI novel, Greenmantle: “What a damned taskmistress duty is!”