September 2017



Welcome
to the
September 2017
Spring Rissington Rag

Off-Beat News and Views
Rissington Inn, Hazyview, South Africa

A Day in the Life of an Hotelier

It is almost impossible to put a value on hospitality, which is, of course, primarily, what Rissington provides. According to our guests (and obviously also according to me) we have our finest-ever team and their welcome is simply unbeatable.
Again according to our guests, everything else is pretty damned good too, and we are offering good value for money, which, of course, is the bottom line when it comes to choosing a hotel. The quirky guest quotes at the bottom of the letter show the importance of this. Firstly, you choose the type of hotel you want to stay in and secondly, you establish whether it does exactly what it says on the tin. Nowhere, for example, do we say that we have an immaculately-maintained access road, or high-speed Internet, or gourmet fare, but we do say that the dirt road is only a kilometre long, there is WiFi most of the time and the food is good.
We don't negotiate on the price either. I am unable to haggle - I find it awkward and embarrassing - so we have set a price, which we think is fair, generous even, and we stick to it.
With so many websites offering so-called 'discount booking services' and tour-operators outdoing one another to offer the same service for the same price, you can be quite sure that, however and with whomever you book, you will pay the same for Rissington. And if we decide to give you a discount, it will be because we like you, not because you asked for it!
Otherwise, it all ends up in chaotic horse-trading and we end up in the situation we have all been in, whereby you take your car in to a dealer to sell it and after looking up the price for a second hand version of your particular model, he then explains to you that he will also have to deduct an amount for the tiny scratch on the door, and for the fact that the car needs new windscreen wipers and brakes. I mean, surely that is built into the price of a used car that it is, well, used? Just as we have already declared and costed in our dirt road and our total lack of caviar on the menu?
I don't haggle in markets either. It is patronising. There we are. It costs what it costs - and the facilities offer good value. The warm welcome is actually free.

Snowflakes Revisited - and On Obesity

Let us go back to melting snowflakes. It was so much fun last time out - and I received an absolute deluge of messages from people agreeing with me about the up-and-coming generation. Even some of the snowflake readers actually recognised themselves or their friends in the descriptions of the delicate little treasures under discussion.
But it goes on. Apparently the young adults of the 2010s are the new Victorians, prudish and socially strict (although we all know what the Victorians got up to when the back was turned). The Sunday Telegraph also now tells us that traditional black teas are too bitter for Snowflakes, so they opt instead for speciality teas. I mean, being easily upset or offended is one thing, but not being able to drink full-strength tea? And having to settle for cranberry and camomile or raspberry nettle and mango pip?
The meme above was sent to me by my godson Will Scott, the ultimate (and I mean that - he is quite possibly the last of his kind) non-snowflake of his generation. He travelled with us for a month in July and he grasped the issue perfectly. Ironically, this probably makes him genuinely unique. (And what do you mean, you don't know what a meme is? Where have you been for the past ten years?)
If you are interested in further studies on the differences between the generations, click HERE to see what the age-groups offer and expect. Dislike of the next and previous generation is nothing new and I reckon it is based on jealousy more often than not, along with the view that everyone believes everyone else to be lazier than them. Something tells me, for example, that the survey below was carried out by a Generation X member!
Now, moving on.... Try this for a statistic on The Reasons for Obesity: Out of England's 15.3 m adults between the ages of 40 and 60, 41% fail to take as much exercise in a month as even a 10-minute stroll at over 3 miles per hour.
Now read it again. It was in the Daily Telegraph, so it must be true. It is absolutely staggering. Per month?! And these people are kept alive by the rest of us?! That means that they don't even go to a supermarket! It's all drive-thru junk food and home deliveries, off-loaded for them by the driver!
One of my favourite gluttons from the past was Samuel Pepys, who was a busy man, walking a good few miles a day to work off what he ate. He was an MP and a Naval Administrator among his many busy roles. But, boy, he could eat!
Pepys's Diary records lunch on 4th April 1663 as consisting of the following: 'Very merry at, before, and after dinner, and the more for that my dinner was great, and most neatly dressed by our own only maid. We had a fricasee of rabbits and chickens, a leg of mutton boiled, three carps in a dish, a great dish of a side of lamb, a dish of roasted pigeons, a dish of four lobsters, three tarts, a lamprey pie (a most rare pie), a dish of anchovies, good wine of several sorts, and all things mighty noble and to my great content.'
It doesn't tell us how many people joined him - hopefully quite a number - and he lived to be 70, despite there being no mention of even the tiniest vegetable in the meal above.
Pepys also had a favourite hangover cure breakfast: A dish of Mackrell, newly-ketched, cold turkey pie, a goose and a coller of brawne.
We are thinking of putting it on the Rissington breakfast menu! There's nothing like a collar of brawn to get a man going in the morning.
Of course it is a well-known fact that obesity leads to cancer, but then, more realistically, living longer probably leads to cancer as well. And living longer makes you grumpier, except on the days when you discover from a doctor that you are unexpectedly not going to die now; then you are no longer a grumpy old man but suddenly full of the joys of spring, getting on with all those jobs you have been putting off because you might not live long enough to benefit from them ... buying new shirts, getting a haircut, cutting toenails, trimming nasal hair, sitting for hours with a spotted youth processing a cellphone upgrade.
When young people are nice to you, without being patronising - like when they give you a free head massage after your haircut, or tell you during your phone upgrade that "you have chosen a great phone, dude" - they can be absolutely delightful. During my recent upgrade, in order to choose the right model, I was asked whether I took a lot of selfies and I was able to say - truthfully - that I have never taken a selfie in my life. Did you know that selfie sticks are banned from all Disney Theme Parks? Even Mickey Mouse is fed up with them.

Lady Di Dies Again and Again

It might seem to be an unlikely topic for the Rag but all will become clear. Everyone knows where they were when they heard that Princess Diana had died. I was leaving the Timbavati Game Reserve, when a rather confused Afrikaner woman on the gate told me that the Princess of England had died. I had assumed that she had meant the Queen Mother.
The funeral - you will remember - was an emotional outpouring on a scale never seen previously or since in Britain, and it was watched all day, 20 years ago, at two-year-old Rissington, on a small television set up for the event in the library. And it seemed to go on for ever, with that gun-carriage appearing out of the Kensington Palace Gate, and heading through Hyde Park and down the Mall, seemingly every twenty minutes or so, in the replays.
We had an English family staying; parents with three delightful blonde teenage daughters. The three girls - let's call them Henrietta, Jocasta and Annabel - were inconsolable and had sat in front of the television sobbing for the entire day. Eventually, as the gun-carriage emerged again and yet another highlight reel began, I insisted that they go outside for a walk. It was a beautiful day and my two then-dogs, Sport and umQombothi would accompany them.
They had only been gone about three minutes, when they rushed back inside howling even louder. Sport (intelligent mongrel) had been chasing monkeys in the bush below the lodge where the garden suites now are, and umQombothi (unintelligent labrador) had been gaping daftly on, when a baby monkey had fallen out of a tree and landed, literally, in his mouth. He had swallowed it in one gulp, setting the girls off into further paroxysms of distress.
It is interesting, isn't it, to reflect that the Princess of Wales died in a pre-digital era, before Facebook and long before Instagram? Word of her death leaked out on the radio and the television and nobody believed it. Not even the announcers, faced with reading it. Nowadays everyone believes news - true or fake - instantly.
Twenty years ago, to mark her death, people queued for hours and hours to sign books of condolence, countrywide, and lined the streets in their hundreds of thousands to weep and throw flowers at the passing hearse. CEEFAX, above, was the closest we got to a news feed. Today's younger generation, on the other hand, would probably stay at home, trying to out-do one another in announcing their distress on Twitter #sadnews, then get on with some good old self-absorbed Snapchatting #tearswatchingfuneralontv , without getting off their dayglow beanbags.

South African Innovations

South Africa leads the way on the Continent of Africa in so many ways and returning home from a month on the road, driving around our neighbouring countries (see below) only serves to emphasise that. But there is good news everywhere and many of our neighbours are booming, at least on the surface. Zimbabwe is spotlessly clean and the infrastructure is surprisingly functional despite that country's downturn. Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, has at least five new giant shopping malls since I was last there five years ago. Tete in Mozambique is similarly developing at a phenomenal speed. Only Malawi appears to be going nowhere fast, although this fascinating chart from 2012 tells a different story.
Since Rissington was founded in 1995, Hazyview has also grown enormously, expanding from 14 shops to nearly 300 with no greater example of progress being the fact that we now have a Game (a hypermarket), a Cape Union Mart (the dream camping and clothing store) and a giant Checkers (supermarket) that even has a fresh fish market and sells sushi, which brings me back to the topic. You may not know it, but South Africa actually invented sushi (not really), which is why you can buy it everywhere even if no-one actually knows a sashimi from a sandwich.
We also invented Tuscan architecture, which is why great chunks of Johannesburg are Tuscan and there are currently 147 Tuscan houses for sale on Gumtree, all with stucco and pillars. Admittedly there is no limestone and far too much terracotta, and these are not rambling farmhouses. There is also too much wrought iron and there are very few cypress trees. Just to test your deductive skills, only one of the following three houses is in Tuscany and the other two are Tuscan homes in Johannesburg. Can you identify them?
And as if that is not bad enough, here is the next Big Thing... the photos show a so-called Bali style house in Johannesburg, alongside a Bali style house in Bali. Can you see which is which?
The other interesting South African innovation is the near-abolition of the wallet and the handbag for many women, who instead carry their cash in or near their armpits, secured within what the Germans rather quaintly call a Büsstenhalter (or, in rare coy moments, a BH). It is hard on the money, though, as shown by the Zimbabwean dollar bills below, and has resulted in certain stores issuing edicts about where cash may be withdrawn from!

Rissington Revamped and Super Friendly

I have mentioned the current brilliant Rissington team a few times already but, quite apart from being (as it is now termed) a 'super-friendly' place with the most professional and charming staff we have ever boasted, we also have a number of genuinely exciting changes to report.
So, for the record:
  • New WiFi - we have installed a totally new Internet access system, making our Internet at least 10 times faster. It is such a treat. Almost like being in the real world.
  • The library has been revamped and refitted. It remains Rissington's loveliest and most under-used spot.
  • The garden suites have new funky hanging lights in the bedrooms for those very occasional gloomy days (and new basins in the bathrooms).
  • And in case you have forgotten how fantastically colourful our gardens are, here's a reminder of our famous purple bougainvillea and the spectacularly lovely flowers of one our fascinating sausage trees. And a pool shot.

This month's -ISM ...

Last month's -ISM - in our occasional series on -ISMs - was anthropomorphism. Watch this space for Darwinism, sadism, symbolism, embolism (hopefully not) etc. This month, it is a little more contentious but not meant to be political or cruel. It is a kind of benign racism, which is unintentional but incredibly hurtful. It has happened a couple of times recently that guest comments have suggested that the only downside of their stay was that they have not met any management (whom they would have like to thank), whereas they have in fact just had their breakfast served by a couple of very competent front of house managers and their bill prepared by the general manager, who probably handled their booking as well. I am the only non-black person working at Rissington and whether we meet or not - and I am here most days - every single good thing that happens to you will have been as a result of the very high standards maintained by GM Hlengiwe (left), Shirley, Euginia, Sydney, Wise, Nonhlanhla and numerous other highly competent people. They don't need to be insulted for not being white!
It's like that old South African-ism - "They broke into my house last night". What? All of them broke into your house? And who are "They"? Was it, er, Black People? And how do you know? Surely you are making an assumption here?
I was in a hospital the other day, visiting a friend, when a dreadful relic of a bygone age actually walked in and blurted out to the black surgeon we were seeing: "Where is the white doctor?"
I mean, really??!! We have come such a long way, but wow we can be a schizophrenic world sometimes!

The "Where in the World" Competition

An interesting photo - and I am always amazed at the ingenuity of the people who remember, or discover, extraordinary places such as the one shown. Well done Odette Bester. Come and stay. Two nights, bed and breakfast, on the house, for recognising that these Egyptian papier-mâché puppets are standing on a balcony in the Old Cairo street that leads to the Khan al Khalili souk.
For this month's competition again, as usual, detail is everything. Where in Africa was this photograph taken?
Entries to info@rissington.co.za by 15th October 2017 to go into the hat for the prize draw to win two nights, bed and breakfast, for two at Rissington.

On Yer Bike : Our Travels

The July school holidays, this year, produced an absolute treat of a trip, parts of which I referred to above. With two vehicles, eight of us took a 6700 km road trip through Zimbabwe (The Lion and Elephant, Great Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou and the Bvumba) and Mozambique (Tete) to Malawi, where we spent an excellent four nights on Mumbo Island, kayaking, walking and birding. Here's JJ:
The journey home brought us back through Zambia's South Luangwa and Ntsefu to Lusaka and Victoria Falls before crossing back into Zimbabwe and dropping in at Matopos on the way home. It was a wonderful drive, camping most of the way and enjoying the company of some highly enthusiastic pre-teens and one almost-ex-teenager, all of them totally without phones, tablets or games for a whole month - proof, once again if you need it, that, if my lot are anything to go by, the next generation of workers is going to be a damn site better than the current bunch of school-leavers. Which leads me on to ...

No More Gap Year Students

I am afraid we are not doing it any longer. It is unfair on my entirely competent team to expect them to continue to hold the hands of these hopeless characters any longer. When one of their number actually had the gall, after a day in the Kruger National Park, organised by us and as a guest of our favoured operator African Safari Adventures, to phone in from his flat and say that he wouldn't be able to work that evening as he was too tired .... I decided to call it a day.
From Rissington's point of view, you can be sure that you will now be looked after by a full-time professional, not an entitled Snowflake. And to those of you who have been amongst our spectacular gappers over the years, thank you. The programme has been an important part of the making of Rissington and some of you have been wonderful. The rest of you have not been gappers, but at best gapers, at worst gawpers. Boy, am I glad it is over!!

Anti-Social Media and a New Rissington Gallery

Rissington has a BRAND NEW website. Check www.rissington.co.za. We REALLY love it and we hope that you do too. (If the old one pops up hold down Ctrl and press F5).
I remember being offered a free website by a friend, at the beginning of the Internet, and saying "Thanks but no thanks". This whole web thing was a flash in the pan, I told him, and it wouldn't catch on. He insisted and we had our first ever website only 18 years ago in 1999. Until then, it was all brochures and faxes and cheques.
In another interesting anniversary, the first ATM came into use 50 years ago this June and consisted of a complicated procedure whereby you had to go into the branch, pick up a token from a cashier and then step outside again and insert the token into the ATM to withdraw the cash. It makes you wonder why you didn't just get the cash from the cashier, but it did mean that you could keep the token and use it after banking hours. The automated card and PIN only came in about 10 years later and, of course, Internet banking was not widely available until about ten years ago.
Of course, in the ultimate form of obesity-inducing laziness, the US now offers the drive-through ATM, which I guess is similar to a toll plaza. Tolls, on the other hand have been around for at least 2700 years, with the first known tolls having been charged to travel on the Suna-Babylon highway during the 7th century BC reign of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, which makes it all the more extraordinary how some drivers can apparently be so confused as to what is required of them at a South African toll plaza - often surprised enough to hold up long lines of cars while they get out of their own to get cash from inside the boot.
Once again, my writing website www.chrisharvie.com has been completely reinvented and updated and it also now includes my most recent blogs for Portfolio under My Travels. As always, you can download Do Not Take This Road to El-Karama (by me) onto your iPad or Kindle from Takealot (the former Kalahari) HERE or Amazon HERE.
I would also urge you to join the Inn crowd and follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter. Only there will you get to read the Rag before everyone else ...
Tour operators and website operators please note: you can also update your photos any time from a new Gallery on our website. Click on 'Introduction' and then choose 'Downloads' from the drop-down. We urge you to do that. There is nothing worse than having stale and out-of-date images lurking on the Internet.

Guest Quotes of the Month

Before I take you to the Guest Quotes, here is my fascinating fact of the month : The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most stolen from public libraries. How's that for self-fulfilling. And we worry, at Rissington, about the theft of the occasional Giles annual from the loo!
And for the Quotes of the Month:
One of the most interesting complaints about the Rissington road: "We were afraid of our car". I know what you mean. I am often afraid of visitors' cars, especially when they are on the wrong side of the road...
But I also love a bit of hyperbole, such as this morning's comment from a young South African: "Rissington offers the BEST value in all of RSA!!!. The TEAM is AMAZING!!! Best dinner and breakfast EVER!!! I love the turndown at night. Rissington is just the COOLEST place on EARTH. They even washed my car WITHOUT ME ASKING, dude. I will defo be BACK SOON!!!" So she liked it.
I hope the person who sent the following request with their booking will enjoy it as much, although, I wonder whether she might be a little trickier? She asks by email: I am asthmatic, so accommodation facing into prevailing wind/breeze is desirable. Don't worry. We will get the car-washers to turn her round from time to time, so that she faces into the wind as much as possible.
The rest of you, lovely, easy guests, come back to Rissington soon but BOOK NOW! We are very very busy. Drop us an email to info@rissington.co.za.
We very much hope to see you.
Chris the redundant host, GM Hlengiwe (who just received her first speeding fine!), Ever-cheerful Assistant Manager Shirley, FOH Manager Nonhlanhla (proud mother of 6-week-old twins, Ashley and Ashante), Genius Euginia, Sydney Australia, Wise #BeWise Shabangu, Danisile, Marvellous (OK, the jury is out!), Sipho the Driver, Head Chef Thandi, Cindy, The Great Gertie, Emelda, Zenzile, Betty, 10-Ton Thuli, Lily, Sanny, Sisters Ntombifuthi (Foots) and Nokuthula (Noggs), Patience, Yvonne, Able Aubrey, Sbusiso, Guy The Guy and Ezekiel, the Weekend Man (and, in his spare time, JJ's cousin). And of course JJ, who is now officially a teenager and has been accepted to the senior school of his choice - Congratulations! Plus German(ish) Shepherd Bull, who is now slowly going blind, but only slowly. Soon he will neither hear nor see us, but he remains delightful, good-natured and brave, and Rusty who has developed an instantly see-through-able psychosomatic limp when the rest of us go camping. And NO GAPPERS!

June 2017

Welcome
to the

June 2017
Winter Rissington Rag
Special Snowflake Edition

Off-Beat News and Views
Rissington Inn, Hazyview, South Africa

A Day in the Life of an Hotelier

I don't usually dedicate a huge chunk of the Rag to one topic, but this month is going to be an exception. As our gap year programme has suffered a few DOWNS in the past six months (although, I should add, it is currently on a huge UP) I am dedicating the central section of the Rag to the current youth, affectionately known as the Snowflake Generation, officially a subsection of the Millennials. This is stuff you need to know if you plan to live on Planet Earth for the next twenty years, so hang in there. But before that, a few other random thoughts, as usual ...
Believe it or not, The Rissington Rag is 10 years old, which means that I have sent out about 40 of these rants and still people are reading them. Extraordinary. A friend told me the other day that the Rag says more about me than I realise. I hope that is a good thing, but of course it is not about me at all. It is about a hotel, a magnificent team of staff, a complicated industry and a fabulous country.
The joy of putting together the Rag is that it gives us all a chance to look back over a 3-month period and assess what has happened to Rissington (and to the country and to the world as they affect Rissington) in that period, and to reminisce about some of the quirkier moments we have enjoyed.
I calculated the other day, using occupancy figures, that during my 35 years in this job, at Cybele, at Fugitives' Drift and at Rissington, I have met over 550 000 people. Imagine walking 550 kilometres and meeting a new person every metre. That is the distance from Johannesburg to Beit Bridge, Paris to Bern or London to Edinburgh. The driving time for those routes, according to the infallible Internet, is 5hrs, 6hrs and 7hrs respectively (which, in itself, is an interesting insight into the traffic flow on those three routes!). Now go back to the walk, and imagine how long it would take to walk it, if all 550 000 of those people in the line were to tell you their life story or even a small part of it!
It also baffles me that, just as I like to air my views openly, many people choose to share their secrets with hoteliers on the basis, presumably, that we are famous for our discretion. This is obviously entertaining but also somewhat illogical, just as it is absurd that people apparently tell their best-kept secrets to their hairdressers. A hairdresser gossips to a new person every half-hour (or when coiffing balding middle-aged men like me, every five minutes or so). In the same way, we meet thirty new people every day at Rissington - and we also send out the Rissington Rag, known to broadcast the foibles of our guests, to tens of thousands of people. It is our turn to have our say. You have been warned - tell us your secrets at your own risk!

The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum

Let's get TripAdvisor out of the way, quickly. It does appear that the world's favourite review site is slowly and mercifully losing its way, with more and more people using it to score cheap points and bully hoteliers for freebies and upgrades: "You do know that I am a top TripAdvisor reviewer, don't you?" Well, no, I didn't but it tells us much more about you than you realise!
Rissington is still holding its own there. Number One in Hazyview at the time of writing. Here is a chart to show the breakdown of positive views of Rissington, kindly provided by guest and professional statistician Scott Franklin from Queensland, Australia, who not only came up with the proud-making statistic that only 1 in 100 reviewers of Rissington finds it to be below average but also compared our ratings with those of a number of hotels and resorts in which he and his wife Margaret have stayed over the past couple of years.
He also compared our 'Excellent' ratings with the same hotels:
And our "Poor/Terribles":
There was, however, a patch recently where we began to wonder what had happened to the (presumably?) original intention of the site - namely, that it should be used to recommend a really good find. I mean, surely that is what we go to TripAdvisor for? Not to read the crazy thoughts of whinging frustrated critics, who think they can teach hoteliers how to run hotels by publicly humiliating them with mad, made-up, vengeful, sour-grapes stories.
Anyway, because of these idiots, it seems that many of the sane people have realised that it is not quite as much fun as they thought it was, thus leaving it to the lunatics and the complainers. Of course, there are many exceptions, among them numerous avid readers of the Rag. We love the positive reviews we receive, though, so please - you sane people - keep them coming. It is now even more important than ever to keep a sense of balance in the face of the occasional nutcase-onslaughts.

South African Inventions

This was such a fun section, last time out, that I think we might regularly add similar submissions to the Rag from readers, as well as anything else I might come across. I am grateful to my old friend John Haycock for this fantastic SA invention, photographed at the Dept of Home Affairs, where it appears to be lunch hour, with no-one actually serving. These sensible souls have therefore left their shoes to do the queueing!
No-one can beat the ingenuity of the average South African when it comes to minimising effort, whilst still achieving a satisfactory result.
Send in any good South African ideas or inventions you come across and, if we feature them, we will give you a free dinner.

Rissington and Rhino Poaching

Who would have thought that Rissington could be involved in the heinous crime of rhino-poaching? Well, the answer is, rather oddly, SANParks. We organised for two of Rissington's dynamic front-of-house dudes, Sydney Mokoena and Wise Shabangu, to spend a couple of days in the park, using the company bakkie (pick-up) for transport. But, wow, did we cause a commotion! It is a sign of the times that these two young men travelling alone were immediately picked out and bullied by the authorities, who followed them everywhere, regardless of the fact that they were obviously (highly) respectable and had two nights' accommodation booked in Skukuza. The guys were quite unsettled but the officials continued to hassle them, searching the car several times.
Finally, stripping the vehicle for the last time as they left the park, the security guard unearthed Former-Gapper Jonny's British passport, which he had unwittingly left under the seat, and decided that Sydney and Wise must have murdered Jonny and stolen the vehicle to carry out their heinous poaching spree.
The poor two guys were mortified. A more decent pair you could not wish to meet. Thank goodness not every tourist to the Kruger is put through what they experienced.
Finally - another thought for the Brits, especially after their recent traumatic election. Some Brexit advice photographed on the Sabi River in Skukuza:

Anthropomorphism

Still on the subject of the Kruger National Park, regular Ragsters might remember that one of my pet hates is people who talk to animals as if they were people, with the exception of the Rissington dogs, who are, of course, people. Although Bull, being deaf, should obviously not be expected to respond.
Anyway, this one amused me:

'It's come to my attention that you've been using your work computer to download violent images of zebra being slaughtered.'
The delicate nature of the idiotic bunny-hugger then leads us cunningly to my special topic for this month ...

It's Snowflake Time

"Will your children be adversely affected by the clocks going forward?" This is a genuine Sky News headline, presumably initiated by the unspeakable Kay Burley. What? Will they be affected by a one-hour time-change? Shame. Little treasures. So delicate.
And that is why the Snowflake generation is so-called. Because they are so delicate and because they are all "individual and different". And, in the view of the Baby Boomers and the members of Generation X - born in 1964, I am on the cusp of those two - they are therefore rather pathetic.
We Baby Boomers are the generation that gave you the Beatles, Genesis and Punk Rock. We are a dynamic bunch of go-getters driven by ambition. The Snowflakes, on the other hand, come from an era that has contributed George Ezra and Miley Cyrus and they cannot be trained, because they do not like being told what to do. It upsets them. They have an absurdly inflated sense of their own uniqueness and believe that we must fit in around them, pat them on the backs, tell them they are wonderful, nurture their little water bottles that they carry around with them so that they don't dehydrate - and we must always agree with their politically correct platitudes and remember that hey take offence easily, even going so far, at universities, as to ban speeches by speakers likely to offend their delicate sensitivities.
NO!!
The Snowflakes form a particularly hopeless subset of the Millennials - and this is where we need the Americans to prove us right. A 2016 study by SYZYGY, a digital service agency (whatever that is), found that Millennials in the U.S. continue to exhibit elevated scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory as they age, finding them to exhibit 16% more narcissism than older adults, with males scoring higher on average than females. The study examined two types of narcissism: Grandiose Narcissism, described as "the narcissism of extroverts characterised by attention-seeking behaviour, power and dominance", and Vulnerable Narcissism, which is "the narcissism of introverts characterised by an acute sense of self-entitlement and defensiveness".
There. You see. I am right.
Further to that, many Snowflakes suffer a particular level of vanity which leads them to work out all the time as they are so concerned about their appearances being inadequate. There is even a word for the condition:
Muscle dysmorphia : According the god of Wikipedia ... Muscle dysmorphia is the obsessive preoccupation with a delusional or exaggerated belief that one's own body is too small, too skinny, insufficiently muscular, or insufficiently lean, although in most cases, the individual's build is normal or even exceptionally large and muscular already. Sometimes called "bigorexia", "megarexia", or "reverse anorexia", it is a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder, but is often also grouped with eating disorders. Muscle dysmorphia mostly affects males.
Even in some of our competent gappers - the ones that do get up in the morning - it seems to manifest itself in excessive gym-usage, the ingestion of powders full of steroids and the devouring of absurd numbers of eggs and tins of tuna. (The lazy ones appear to be unaffected by this condition, preferring to get up at lunchtime instead of exercising).

'From now on you must issue a trigger warning before you can call anyone a snowflake.'
You see how easily offended the Snowflakes are at being called Snowflakes?
And it is not just me. I urge you to watch this video so that you know what you are up against: HERE
If you are a snowflake, I urge you not to watch - it might upset you to know that we don't really care about you, and to realise that ultimately you are going have to do things our way, not yours, because we are currently in charge.
In the interests of balance - and so as not to upset the Snowflake readers - HERE is the other side of the story.
And - in more positive news - there is, it seems, one innovation for which we should apparently grateful to the Snowflakes. Because they don't like noise to intrude on their delicate little device-driven finger-clicking worlds, apparently our cars and fridges are going to stop beeping at us. If only they can stop railway carriages talking to us, we shall really have made it!
And while the Snowflakes remain umbilically hitched to their phones and their 'I am special and the world will not cope without me for 12 hours until I am back at this desk' Out of Office Replies, the rest of us can carry on with our lives and simply put up a sign that says 'I am out of here - leave me alone!'

The "Where in the World" Competition

This was last month's photograph of JJ aboard an ostrich, which numerous Ragsters correctly identified as having been taken in Oudtshoorn, and specifically at Highgate Ostrich Farm. If you haven't been there, do go. The tour they offer is both edifying and entertaining and it is followed by an opportunity for some of the lighter (in kilograms) spectators to climb onto one of the birds and hurtle around the pen until said bird rears back and deposits the rider into a pile of poo. It's a hoot. This month's winner, drawn from a busy hat, was John Francis. Well done. Come and stay. Two nights, bed and breakfast, on the house!
For this month's competition again, detail is everything. Where was this photograph taken?
Entries to info@rissington.co.za by 15th July 2017 to go into the hat for the prize draw to win two nights, bed and breakfast, for two at Rissington.

Keeping up with Demand

It has been our policy, for a while now, to change and/or improve any aspect of Rissington that any sane person professes not to like although of course we receive very little in the way of negative comment, with Change Nothing and Never Change a Winning Team being the two most common threads in our guest feedback (that which is received from guests on departure, not the comments posted online by demented trolls). I particularly liked the feedback from 'Dan' last week, who wrote : "Probably the best accommodation I have ever had (aged 70)."
The greatest innovation - and our largest single investment for a long time - is the addition of a much larger generator, which has become necessary with the more frequent electricity failures that we have been suffering as a result of extreme weather. This cunning new machine comes on automatically in the case of a power failure and will ensure no more of the juggling of the power supply that we used to suffer with our smaller portable one. The new generator is almost silent, the beers will always be cold, the full menu will be permanently available and the water supply will keep on pumping!
General maintenance is, naturally, the biggest ongoing issue we face, with people somehow unwittingly giving hotel rooms so much more of a pounding than they do their bedrooms and bathrooms at home. To this end, therefore, we closed for a week in June in order to carry out a full and comprehensive fix-up of every piece of equipment, every cable, every basin plug.
We are thinking of putting in these push-in basin plugs too, but have you ever known one actually to work? I mean, you fill the basin, ready to shave and by the time you have covered your chin with shaving cream, the water has gone. To be decided.
And while all of this was going on, we fixed up all the thatched roofs on the main house and the four newest garden suites and fitted new lights to many of the rooms in order to improve the ambient lighting.

On Yer Bike : Our Travels

Although it is possibly a bit of a strange question, I am often asked which is my "favourite African country". Well, it is probably Tanzania because it is un-spoilt, friendly and relaxed.
But it is definitely not Egypt.
Perhaps I am too much of a control-freak to be contained at someone else's whim on a boat for ten days. Perhaps the endless security became wearing. Perhaps it was the filthy rubbish in the Nile and its towns. Perhaps I am just a bit of a Philistine. I just didn't really get Egypt. I found that I didn't get the answers I wanted as far as what makes the country tick now is concerned and that I was too bogged down in history that took place so long ago as to be oddly lacking in relevance.
I spent much of my time birding from the deck with some really great fellow-passengers - thank you Peter and Sue - where I saw my first Purple Gallinule, several Smyrna Kingfishers and Palm Doves abundant, but with about 200 hundred species of bird at Rissington on a good day, even that was not enough. The upside is that Peter and Sue are coming here for their next holiday, so that we can show them some of Kruger's 529 species.

Anti-Social Media and a New Rissington Gallery

As a linguist, I found the hieroglyphs (along with the delicious vegetarian food) to be one of the more interesting aspects of the Egypt visit, with each Pharaoh having his own cartouche (or logo) showing a literal transliteration of his name. And then I was sent this chart which shows that are are still using them:

Proof that maybe we haven't really advanced at all!
As I have mentioned before, my writing website www.chrisharvie.com has been completely reinvented and updated. As always, you can download Do Not Take This Road to El-Karama (by me) onto your iPad or Kindle from Takealot (the former Kalahari) HERE or Amazon HERE.
When you next dig out your tablet, I would urge you to join the Inn crowd and follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter ...
We are also continuing to revamp the Rissington website : www.rissington.co.za. It will have a completely new look by the time the next Rag comes out. Tour operators and website operators please note: you can update your photos any time from a new OneDrive Gallery HERE. We urge you to do that. There is nothing worse than having stale and out-of-date images lurking on the Internet.

Non-Snowflake Gap Year Students

Just a reminder of our gap year programme for pre- or post-university students. From now on, we shall be looking at taking on a couple of youngsters at a time, to supplement our superb permanent front-of-house team and to spread the benefits amongst keen participants. Anyone may apply but we expect that all successful applicants will be 18-25, at least half-intelligent, interesting, energetic non-smokers, preferably with a driver's licence. Males and females welcome, but not couples. Aim to stay three months. No hopeless cases please. No beards, no tattoos, no lying around in bed all day. Email info@rissington.co.za.

Guest Quote of the Month

Before I take you to the Quote, here is my fascinating fact of the month : A fake airport (one that didn't even exist) was sold by Nigerian scammers to an unwitting victim for 242 million dollars. You have been warned. They are still out there!
And for the Quote of the Month - a phone call. About 8pm. Italians:
"Hello, we are lost. We are trying to get to your hotel."
"Where are you? What was the last town you went through?"
"We don't know."
"Do you have a GPS?"
"Yes, but we don't know how it works."
"Do you know what road you are on?"
"The R something. We went through Nelspruit about three hours ago."
"Three hours ago? Nelspruit is only 40 minutes from here!"
And so it went on. They had evidently driven down from Johannesburg and then taken the same road back again - to Johannesburg. They were totally baffled, they had no map and they couldn't operate the GPS that they had hired with the car. They finally got here at midnight after an eleven-hour drive which should have taken a maximum of four. Needless to say, they had booked through Booking.com.
The next day, we had a call from arriving guests who were stuck outside Graskop with a puncture, who couldn't change the tyre. We put it down to incompetence until they explained that they had been charged by a rhino in Kruger the day before and were to terrified to get out of the car. How were they to know that there were no rhinos in Graskop?
Finally, to the person who stole the hair-dryer from one of the budget rooms, well done. I am glad that you also stole the Bible - I hope you read the latter, especially Exodus chapter XX verse 15, which features the relevant Commandment with regard to theft.
Now, everyone else, please identify your favourite time to be at Rissington and BOOK NOW! Drop us an email to info@rissington.co.za. (If on the other hand, you are looking for a 6-bed self-catering unit in the area, in 14 out 21 July, we know of one available at Sanbonani, Hazyview, for a very good price. Email us if you are interested).
Either way, we very much hope to see you.
Chris the Snowflake-melter, GM Hlengiwe (and yes, in case you missed it last time, she has passed her driver's licence), Ever-cheerful Shirley (now Assistant Manager), Nonhlanhla (FOH Manager - currently away on a breeding programme), Genius Euginia, Sydney Australia, Wise #BeWise Shabangu, Godson-Gapper Will, Gapper Alex, Danisile, Sipho the Driver, Head Chef Thandi, Cindy, The Great Gertie, Emelda, Zenzile, Betty, 10-Ton Thuli, Lily, Sanny, Sisters Ntombifuthi (Foots) and Nokuthula (Noggs), Patience, Yvonne, Able Aubrey, Sbusiso the Womaniser, Guy The Guy and Ezekiel the Weekend Man (and, in his spare time, JJ's cousin). And of course JJ, who has just sat his senior school entrance exams, and his new Zimbo side-kick Tanatswa, who is also staying with us. Plus German(ish) Shepherd Bull, who is so deaf now that he barks at himself when he hears himself barking in the distance and Rusty the Mongoose Chaser.