South Africa Midlands Day 10

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July 31st 2013
Published: July 31st 2013
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Whenever I start to write one of these entries I always want to start, “wow what a day” so today after three years of blogging I am going to.

Wow what a day, today has been; a day on the move as we are now in Zululand, and no nobody has come up with any Michael Kane quotes even among the UK guests, well until now “you’re only s’posed to blow the bloody doors off” I know it’s the wrong movie but I’ll save the correct quote until tomorrow after we have visited Rorke’s Drift.

We left Hartford House this morning after forcing down another large breakfast and decided to battle with the maps again to try to find Spion Kop, where one of the crucial battles to relieve the siege of Ladysmith during the Boar War took place. After taking a 50km detour because of map and signage inaccuracy we finally made it to the battlefield as opposed o the dam, nature reserve or hotel. You can drive all of the way up to the top of the Kop and the views are amazing and you can see why it was such a crucial strategic point. The top of the kop is very exposed and considering we are here in winter I would not want to be stranded on the top without water! As with so many battles that we remember today, the battle for Spion Kop is better known for the mistakes made than for the successes; both sides faced heavy losses, and both sides withdrew from the summit under the cover of darkness on the second night. The boers at least had the sense to reconnoitre the strategic position early the following morning and were able to reoccupy the summit before the British realised their mistake.

We than pushed on for a quick stop in Ladysmith for fuel but succumbed to the temptation of a Wimpy: these were the burger bars of my youth before McDonalds and Burger King staged their invasion of our shores. Wimpy was the height of cool. This is the teenager Rob speaking not the forty five year old, but they still do, as the advert goes, what they say on the tin, and the food was OK and a refreshing change from the luxurious but rich food we have been treated to over the last three days. I am unsure about what this says about me at heart but the food at Hartford is fantastic and I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone, but sometimes a burger and chips is all you want!

On this trip we have spent quite some time on rural unpaved roads but today for the first time on this trip we travelled on gravel roads that were of a standard comparable to South Africa’s neighbour Namibia where we travelled last year. I had come to believe that gravel roads where you zip along quite easily in top gear had ceased to exist here in the last three years but it is often nice to be proved wrong.

On arrival at our home for the next three nights (yes Meg has unpacked again for the third time this holiday) we were given ideas of how to spend our time. This afternoon we went on a game drive around the property here and we managed to spy out in the bush, Impala, Kudu, Zebra and giraffe so tame that we could get within a few feet of them. After the customary sundowners we were able to admire the southern stars and listen to the animals of the night as we returned to the lodge.

As I said at the start, wow what a day and we have a full day planned for tomorrow as well, I guess I will have to find a different way of starting tomorrow’s blog (or just let Meg do it).

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