The year 2012 has come and gone, almost like a ghost in the night. Overall, I must say that it turned out to be another great year at Elephant Plains! The first month started a bit hectic due to the floods we had, but from February onwards it was full steam ahead. The end of the year is a time of mixed emotions – out with the old and in with the new. Every year Elephant Plains gets new ideas and views on how to better the lodge and services we offer. So I am looking forward to seeing what new endeavours the year 2013 has in store for us.
This year we had Janine set up the dining room for the main Christmas dinner and the place was decorated in a lovely white and gold theme. For those readers in the northern hemisphere who traditionally enjoy a white Christmas, I hope you had a nice, cold day that included some snow. As for us out here in the bush…Well, what can I say? Our temperatures soared to around 40°C, with a very high humidity. Steaming, to say the least! Janine mixed some lovely cocktails for the guests and they enjoyed the refreshing, ice cold drinks to end off the warm day. Linda’s menu was delicious and included duck, gammon and lamb. Everyone was talking, laughing, and enjoying this merry Christmas dinner. For our New Year’s celebrations, Atasja was responsible for the decorations. It was a joyous theme with a lovely barbeque and our guests celebrated well past midnight! Thanks to everyone who made sure that these two special occasions were indeed memorable to all our guests.
Last month, I mentioned how great it is to stand in an open area and be amazed at the show that a lightning storm can provide. Well, this month started off with a literal bang and when I say bang, I mean a very big bang! We had a lighting strike and after a few minutes we started to smell smoke. Seconds later smoke was visible around the lodge and my heart relocated itself from my chest into my left foot. The closer I got to one of our luxury rooms, the more the smoke seemed to thicken. After doing a thorough check around camp, we came to the conclusion that the fire was thankfully not in camp. We then started seeing flames on the open area. The lightning had struck a Leadwood tree. Strangest of all was that it wasn’t even the tallest tree in the area. The lightning ran down the side of the tree, igniting the surrounding grass. With the grass being very moist, it made a lot of smoke whilst burning. This made the fire appear worse than what it actually was. In no time we were in fire fighting mode. Deploying staff close to the fire and starting to spray water, we were fighting fire in the middle of summer – something I thought would never happen. After a whole twenty minutes, we had extinguished the fire. We all looked at one another and started laughing as this was totally bizarre. The area that got burned was about 20 square meters. It was interesting to see how the tree got struck and how the lightning had exploded the bark off in a perfect line. We returned to camp with a newfound knowledge that apparently lightning does not always strike the highest point…
We would like to congratulate Etienne and Marlet Swart with the birth of their second son, Martin. He was born on the 11th of December at 09h25. He weighed 3.77 kg and was 56cm tall. He is a strong and healthy little man. I must say, his brother is very excited about this new arrival. Little Martin will have to grow up very fast – learning how to kick a ball, or go into a serious battle with a plastic sword, in order to keep up with his older brother.
We welcomed our new Maintenance Manager, Braam Byleveld, who joined the Elephant Plains team on the 17th. We hope that he will enjoy working here. So for those of you that will be staying with us in the near future, if you see a very muscular young gentleman walking around camp, carrying some tools, it will be Braam on his way to sort out any maintenance that might have come about.
To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy, joyful days! At lodge there was only the one birthday this month. Linah celebrated her special day on the 24th. She is a very down-to-earth lady who takes her work as cleaner very seriously. I must say, what a day to have your birthday – one day before Christmas. This means two consecutive days of receiving presents. I am sure if feels like a double Christmas, or Birthday!
I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda Van Heerden, with her mouth-watering chicken Mirabelle recipe. This chicken recipe will make you very popular among friends and family. And this is what the festive season is all about, friends and family showing their love for one another.
6 Chicken Breasts
1 ½ tsp. Garlic
2 tbsp. Dried Oregano
¼ cup Vinegar
¼ cup Olive Oil
½ cup Prunes, pitted
8 large Olives, stoned and cut in half
¼ cup Capers, with some of the preserved juice
3 Bay Leaves
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the Garlic, Oregano, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Prunes, Olives, Capers, Bay Leaves, Salt and Pepper.
Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let it marinade for several hours, or overnight in a refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer and spoon the marinade over evenly. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour the white wine into the dish. Bake until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork.
Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!