11 April 2009

Some of our battlefield tour clients

With the Gilbeys at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift - 17 October 2008

The Gilbeys met me in the lobby of the Royal Country Inn. They were an experienced bunch of travellers, and I soon found out that the son could, if not fluently speak Afrikaans, at least command some of it. He had been in Grahamstown for some time. The father - big guy - in the oil industry, worked in Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Not my favourite spot in the world, but we did talk some on the current spate of rebel attacks on oil workers.
It was freezing cold on Isandlwana. We retreated to the faithful old Condor, or "Kondoor" as I refer to it, where I continued. The weather gods are completely off their nuts this time of the year. Temperatures fluctuate like crazy, with wind and what little rain we have had so far, everything was as dry as a bone. Everything went well, in spite of the weather, and we had a interesting time at Rorke's drift too
The day ended in style, with some harmony being had in the pub of the Royal Country Inn in Dundee, one of my favourite watering holes.

The United States Marine Corps on Majuba - 29 August 2008

This guy on the picture (right) is Joe Torre, a former American Marine officer, and one of my clients. He came through Dundee in the last week of August. We spent two days on the battlefields, especially the Battle of Blood River, the usual visit to Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, and of course, Majuba. When Joe was not doing battlefields, he hunted.We went to Majuba, that timeless battlefield where my ancestors kicked some serious ass on the 27th of February 1881. General Colley, the then GOC of British Forces in South Africa, took a mixed bag of soldiers and sailors up that impossibly steep mountain, thinking that they would have had a position from which they could dominate Boer Forces then entrenched at Laingsnek, below the mountain, in the direction of the border town of Volksrust.It did not work. Boer commandos went up that mountain, inventing the South African military manoevre of “fire and movement” whereby sections of men gave covering fire to men rushing the enemy. Colley was shot for his trouble, Lieutenant MacDonald of the Gordon Highlanders captured, and a legend was born. The haunting poem, “McDonald’s Sword” was written directly afterwards, presumably by one of the soldiers present. (I have placed it on the site.) Joe went up that bloody mountain like a flippen mountain goat, leaving me gasping in his wake. Not bad for a 53 year-old Marine! I took his picture next to the Boer memorial on MacDonald’s Kop. I am standing on the site of the Naval Detachment’s old position, facing the camera, but the shot faces slightly northwest, (left)with Sailor’s Knoll and Nkwelo away to my left, off-picture to the right of the photograph.


Andy Thackwray's Borst Group - An almost forgotten lot - 21 October 2008

Yes, yes, I did almost forgot this very keen group of Dutch visitors to our wind-wracked shores. They were brought here by fellow tour guide Andy Thackwray, (that's the big guy with the bigger smile in the back) and came on trek in the footsteps of Andries Pretorius and his band of merry men who fought the epic battle of Blood River on December 16, 1838. Picture taken in the lounge of the Royal Country Inn in Dundee. Andy is a Western Cape guide, and can be found on Facebook.