As we ticked off the second month of the year, I can’t help asking what is going on with our weather. It has truly been quite unpredictable since January. We’ve had a lot of cloudy days with high humidity, only to see the sun come out behind the clouds for a while, before the sky closes again for a quick thunder shower. But then again, if everything in life was predictable, how boring would that be?
I mentioned in my previous reports that we were planning to do some work at the lodge and we started at the beginning of the month. First up was the dining room. We took out all the wooden door frames and replaced them with aluminium frames. These new doors have made quite a difference. The frames are not as wide as the original wooden ones and allow a lot more light into the room. We are very happy with the end result! We also gave one of the Luxury Suites a revamp. We closed Zebra Suite for a few days and this allowed us to also replace the frames with aluminium. While it was closed, we repainted the room and did some more work to it. It looks brand new! Over the course of the next few months, we will be renovating all the rooms and we are very excited about this venture.
This month we did not see much of Morné, our head ranger. You might ask why? Well, the poor man had to have a knee operation. Morné has been struggling with his knee for some time, after he injured it a few years ago while we were playing touch rugby on EP airstrip. As time passed, the problem worsened and his doctor confirmed that he needed an operation to repair some badly damaged ligaments. I am happy to report that the operation was a huge success and that he would be back at the lodge by the end of March. We wish him all the best with the recovery. Should a hippo chase us in the future, he might just be able to keep up now! In the interim we were joined by a familiar face. Stephen Pieterse, who also used to be head ranger and later manager, re-joined the team for two weeks to help out with game drives. I believe that Steve enjoyed to be back at EP and enjoyed his time here. We would like to thank him for helping out when we needed an extra ranger. I will be driving from middle March until Morné returns and am also looking forward to spending some time in the bush, sharing this beautiful area with our guests.
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 joyful days! At the lodge we had a couple of birthdays. On the 1st Morné celebrate his birthday. If you read our newsletter, you would know that as head ranger here at EP, Morné writes all the Rangers Reports, informing you of all the ins and outs that happened in the bush the past month. Morné has been with Elephant Plains for seven years now and we hope to still have him on staff for many more years. On the 2nd Morné’s tracker, Derrick, celebrated his birthday. As many of you, who have been on drive with these two, would know Derrick is a brilliant tracker and can follow animals deep into the bush. Next up was one of the faces that you would definitely remember if you’ve visited EP before, our barman Walter. He celebrated his birthday on the 7th, as always with the biggest smile possible on his face! Marlet celebrated her birthday on the 24th. As she spends her weeks in Nelspruit with Etienne jnr. being in school now, we did not see her, but I am sure that she had a lovely day spent with family and friends.
This month we employed another staff member. With the lodge being so busy, we thought that it would be a good idea to get an extra person to help out in a few areas, as needed. Marie van Wyk is a very hard working person that will go a long way here at lodge. She was brought up on a farm, so the bush is no strange place for her. She and her sister used to have a chicken farm that supplied some of the high market shops here in South Africa with chickens. She then went to Cape Town to try and see if she would be able to make it away from farm life, but needless to say she is back where she is happy and what better place to be, than the Sabi Sand! We also appointed a new maintenance manager, Hendrik Snyman. He started with a bang and we are very happy with what he has achieved so far. We hope that both of you would fall in love with the lodge, like all of us have and that you would enjoy working here for many years to come!
This month’s trap cam picture is two Waterbuck females, drinking water at Rampan. The name Waterbuck pretty much says it all. They like to stay around large areas of water and most times you will find them standing in the water itself, feeding on water cabbage. They are attractive antelope, with a massive white ring on their rump and a lovely, soft face. They do, however, carry a strong smell about them, as they have many glands on their legs. From being in and out of the water, they have a tendency to smell like a wet dog on a hot summer’s day! Overall, they are the (somewhat smelly) teddy bears of the bush, with their soft faces and shaggy coats.
I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for her delicious recipe of the month. Chicken Milanese is a refreshing option for a hot summer’s afternoon lunch.
Start by making the salsa. Cut the onion, sweet peppers and tomatoes into small blocks, season with coriander, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix the thyme, oregano, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper for the marinade and place the chicken breasts into this. Arrange the chicken breasts onto a baking tray, allowing to marinade for about 2 hours. Bake for about 20mins. Once the chicken is cooked, allow to cool, slice into slices across the breast. Arrange the chicken onto plates, with some of the salsa over the top. Serve chilled with some honey and mustard dressing.
Honey mustard dressing:
Mix together well.
Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!