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With much of South Africa still gripped by crippling drought, a friend sent me photos of large trout at Graaf Reinet desperately swimming up irrigation canals, their reservoirs dry. Our trip to Thanda Game Reserve confirming their trucking in ALL water, for lodges, staff and wildlife. I often wonder what would have transpired in the Midlands, had Spring Grove Dam not been built, then filling unexpectedly quickly, to augment Midmar supply?

Jaguar Land Rover in Durban invited me to share the Anglo-Zulu battlefields with them early in July. They drove up via the roads less-travelled through Kranskop, Jameson’s Drift, Ekhombe, Mangeni, Isandlwana to the gorgeously rebuilt Fugitives’ Drift Lodge. The new-look Lodge beggars belief, unrecognisable to those familiar with Fugitives’ Drift previously, and promises to delight guests. Doug Rattray kindly cleared the old 4×4 track to Shishane on the Buffalo River, on a remote part of the reserve. We drove the track, and everyone loved it. So much so that a repeat is planned in September, with a braai at Shishane. Sundowners were enjoyed at the ledge overlooking beautiful Zululand, kudu and nyala browsing beneath us.

Neil Aspinshaw graciously invited me to be best man at his wedding in England. Mark Jones, another of the infamous Raucous Drifters, immediately and happily assumed the mantle of Best Man’s UK Agent, with a certain 007 ring to it, and what a masterful agent he has proved to be. Ably assisted by another of the Drifters, Steve Cluff, tank driving was arranged at Armourgeddon on Saturday. It was a proper Boy’s Own activity, with us driving the tanks, aiming the 40mm air canon, reloading and firing them. We all agreed that tank corps and submariners demand far more respect – the claustrophobic conditions with no view outside bar a periscope, in diesel fumes being thrown about is no fun. Neil Aspinshaw, a fantastic shot, was horrified that our tank achieved more hits on his tank, in the tank battle. The evening was spent in Derby, including viewing the poppy display. These fellows’ ability to consume beer, with no apparent effect, is startling.

Some may suggest that both Wimbledon Finals were damp squibs, but I was absolutely ecstatic to see the magestic Federer do it one more time. What a sportsman he is! The mighty Cilic appeared to have no answer to RF’s imperious stroke-making. Talking of sport, on Monday, Neil, Mark, Steve and I went off to Trent Bridge to watch England chase 473 against the Proteas. The day shall be seared in my memory forever. Nobody dared make eye contact with me, as I revelled in the English wickets falling like skittles. The assumption of another capitulation, as happened at Lords, foremost on spectator’s minds. The three Drifters were horrified, wondering mid-morning whether England would get to 150. Even that proved to be optimistic, as they tumbled to 133 all out! Making the series all the more exciting. Of course, I have not let the Drifters forget it, after their anticipated fun at MY expense. It was a sublime, sunny day, and many drinks helped soften the most ignominious defeat.

This is being written in Bishops Stortford, staying with dear friends, that I can catch trains into London. Last evening, a wonderful gathering enjoyed Rorke’s Drift at the South Kensington Club. Tonight another dinner event sees me in London, before heading north again for wedding preparations and festivities tomorrow and Friday.
We love being here, and the British are so very kind to us. These trips are a special privilege, and we feel abundantly blessed.