A steel company in Pietermaritzburg invited me to share some stories illustrating their core values, at a conference the day after we landed from London. It was most rewarding linking stories/characters in my repertoire to values such as excellence, customer fixation, integrity, teamwork and professionalism indicating the versatility of this wonderful vocation. Most poignant perhaps was that of a council worker from Portsmouth, who emptied rubbish bins for a living. A man with one eye who had dreamed of visiting Rorke’s Drift from the age of 11, when he first saw the movie Zulu. After years of dedicated saving, his dream was finally realised. The point I wished to impress upon the audience, as I often do with tour operators, is that they have no idea of the sacrifices a client has made to afford their product. Be that product a safari to Africa, or a steel structure, and we should never assume that product is easily affordable to the client. The product may well be life-changing, and the result of years of dedicated saving.
Nambiti Game Reserve graciously asked me to share a story with their guests and staff, at The Homestead. The Homestead dates back to the 1860’s, now just beautiful cut-stone walls and old Fig Trees, not unlike Angkor Wat. The organisers had put up a marquee, with chairs, and hay bales for seating. On a stunning evening overlooking the dam and sunset, I spoke to around 170 people on the history of Natal, with special mention of the Zulus. Mark Marshall of Ndaka Lodge arranged a sound system running off a 12 Volt battery and inverter which worked beautifully. We were made to feel most welcome at Umzolozolo Lodge, hosted by the owners, and loved looking over the historical sites which abound on Nambiti. Their breeding herd of elephants greeted us literally yards from the car park, all drinking at a water hole. This reserve deserves to do well; well situated, malaria-free and providing employment for many in a varied bush environment.
Some years back, I addressed a conference of Principals in Durban, and this year they invited me to share Isandlwana in situ. Nearly 30 Principals holding their conference in the area, with a theme of “Winning the War”, joined me for the tour. Two days later, I took a group of guests from Howick and Kloof, to the battlefields in a hired Quantum. What a treat to have enthusiastic, like-minded South Africans on tour, all eager to further their understanding of our history. On both occasions we had lunch at Rorke’s Drift Hotel overlooking the Buffalo River and Rorke’s old drift.
It is difficult to believe that September lies around the corner, two thirds of 2017 practically done and dusted. October finds us in the UK on tour, and in December I return to the Antarctic for two cruises on expedition ships. After a leap of faith in 2011, we really are living the dream, and grateful daily for the extraordinary opportunities which have come our way.