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Out of Africa – The holiday of a lifetime

29 Jun
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The stunning view from Rourke’s Drift Lodge, as the sun began to sink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The ‘Twelve Apostles’ of the Drakensburg mountains on the way through the Sani pass into Lesotho.

South Africa to be exact.

So I’d say this is by some way the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, it’s bursting with boundless terrain, Middle Earth-level mountain ranges, endless forest plantations and some of the happiest and friendliest folk you’ll ever meet.

This was a trip in which I breathed in a great deal of history, visiting battlefields predominantly from the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars, as well as visiting the Nelson Mandela capture site where he was arrested in 1962. It was most interesting to hear accounts of these historic conflicts from a local perspective, as opposed to the largely ‘colonial history’ that so often dominates the global dialogue.

As a writer and as a person, it opens you up when you visit anywhere particularly unfamiliar. Absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of another country encourages you to think differently, and helps you embrace that ‘otherness’ of things you have never experienced before.

If you’ve never been on a safari, I highly recommend it. We set out at 6 AM around Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, which is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in all of Africa and we saw the most incredible sights. A herd of buffalo dashing across the road in front of us, several groups of giraffes hogging the road also as well as sightings of elephants, white rhinos, nyala, wildebeest, zebras, impala, monkeys and beautiful bird species such as the African fish eagle.

Of the most memorable moments from the trip was visiting Emdomeni Cat Rehabilitation Centre where I had the great privilege of stroking a fully-grown cheetah. The fur on the back of his neck was really course and fluffy and I learned that cheetahs purr really deeply. Completely unforgettable. It’s tragic though that the cheetah population is in such jeopardy, with infertility and inbreeding both posing huge problems for the specie. In a few generation’s time, I sure hope that people still have the opportunity to experience what I did these past couple of weeks.

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Welcome…to Giraffic Park!

The last-hurrah to this adventure was a two hour horseback ride through the ‘Forgotten Valley’ of the Drakensburg Mountains. I rode a horse once, about nine years ago, so I really didn’t know what I was doing when I saddled up. Despite this I ended up galloping – yes, actually galloping – across the flat fields of the valley. But not up the narrow winding paths up the hillside, no, we walked nice and slowly up those. It was a warm, dry day, with deliciously clean air and the smells of wildflowers all around as the mountains rolled off into nowhere.

I wish to thank Thomson’s Africa for an unparalleled holiday experience, and the incomparable Siboni, our guide, for sharing his vast knowledge of his country with us, driving us over a thousand kilometers and for making us laugh with his brilliant anecdotes and cheeky sense of humour. For now, though, it’s back to writing Robot Wrestler’s in Space, and marketing my steampunky Kindle E-book offering, ‘Voudou and the Machine,’ which as always can be found right HERE.

Thanks for reading, WordPressers! Keep on keeping on.

Before I go though, I’d like to ask; where have YOU been that you feel has really changed you as a person? I’d genuinely like to know what your experience was, and why it had such an effect on you. Just stick it in the comments. Nice one.

 

Photo credits: Evie Wolfe

 

 

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Putting down the pad. Confronting gaming addiction.

20 Sep

 

                             What happens when I play computer games using my thighs.

On Saturday the 30th June I made the decision to unplug my Playstation 3, bind the thing up in its box, and banish it under the sofa like a misbehaved child. It’s coming on for three months now since then, and I haven’t touched it again yet.

It felt like I was suffering from having a ninja sneak apple sauce into every meal I ever ate. Apple sauce is delicious, at the right time and on the correct food, but if it happened to suddenly appear in your coffee, on your cereal, on your every forkful of everything, you would soon surely resent it and whatever silent saucy assassin put it there. Thus did the big black box become the apple sauce of my free time.

It occurred to me at around 4 a.m that I was trying to pick up trophies on a game for the primary reason that I had to send it back to Lovefilm soon to take advantage of the credits I had left this month for more games. So, I was playing through obligation? Dude, seriously. Then I thought about all the other things I could be, the things I should be doing with all this time. Ladies and genitals gentlefolk, I felt fucking ashamed of myself.

And it has been a long time. I considered the fact that, at 24 years old, the way I spend the majority of my free time has barely changed since I was 14. That is not cool. If Mr. T were here, he would say, well, “That is not cool.” And then, “Fool” I suppose, before drifting away on the breeze like a be-mohawked, black, male, jive-talkin’ Mary Poppins. And then he would punch a Boeing out of the air and rescue all of the passengers before they hit the ground. The crew might die.

I think perhaps reading Oscar Wilde’s novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray‘ made me more acutely aware of the passage of time. If you’ve never read it, give it a go. Damn book put the shits up me and no lie. Short of making a cursed wish to make my Facebook avatar bear my years and sins in my stead, every hour draws me nearer to a poor, mediocre and ultimately forgettable demise. If I’m ever going to afford a zeppelin to crash into a 300ft monument of my face in Tahrir Square on Wednesday 26th May 2088, as has been foreseen by the Starborn ones, then I’m going to have to start making something of my life real soon. As Morgan Freeman once said; “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

And so to Attack For Massive Damage the weakpoint of the Giant Enemy Crab of life. In the time since,  I have reconnected with my guitar-playing and discovered the joys of washing dishes to a Metallica accompaniment. Dish-wash mosh – it’s my new thing. I also discovered that you can take the games console from the procrastinator, but you can’t just assassinate the bone-idle bastard alter ego of ‘Potentially Awesome Me’ with any resemblance of ease.

Having just become employed again, being due to commence my Creative Writing Masters Degree, and having done some actual writing recently, I feel like I have now ‘earned’ some time back in Skyrim. I do miss my murderous two-handed axe-wielding kleptomaniac orc warrior, ‘Thrognash Uthmong.’

In the meantime, let’s see if I can keep this banana rolling.

Have you ever snapped, and forsaken gaming for the better good? How much gaming do you think is too much?