As we sweep the 10th month of 2014 out of the door, just two months are left until we celebrate a brand new year. I can hardly believe that 2015 is just around the corner! I am happy to report that the bush is slowly, but surely recovering after the fire. The rain we received during October was a huge blessing and it is amazing to watch the barren, black areas turning into a sea of green. We still have to be patient and give the areas time to completely recover before going off-road with our vehicles, but luckily the extra traversing areas we have at the moment more than makes up for this. Thanks again to all the landowners involved in this initiative. With your help we could make sure that the fire did not have a negative impact on the game viewing experience of our guests. If you would like to treat yourself to a safari, be sure to contact our reservations office. You might be able to snatch up some last minute availability, before the festive season rush!
Now that we had our first rains after the winter, our maintenance team has been spending some time on the roads. In order to keep them in a good condition, we have to give special attention to roads where erosion is prone to take place during the rainy season. After a few loads of gravel and general maintenance, such as opening up mitre drains, the roads are once again in a good condition and ready for the rest of the rainy season. Those of you who have visited the lodge before would remember the bumps in the road, leading to the lodge. These are not speed bumps, but act as barriers to prevent water flowing down the road, washing away the top soil, which in turn causes erosion. With these bumps in place the water runs up against them, redirecting it into the bush, away from the road.
As most of you know, our rangers are very involved with everything happening around the lodge. Whether it is game drives, bushwalks, admin, assisting with luggage or doing bush clearing, they are always part of the action. As they work on a six weeks on, two weeks off leave cycle, most of them do two game drives a day for at least 50 days in a row! In order to give them a gap every now and again, we have decided to appoint another ranger to the team. So therefore we welcomed a new face to the lodge this month. Stefan Kruger joined our team on the 25th as the newest addition to our ranger team. Stefan entered the hospitality industry in 2005 and has been guiding since 2006. Welcome to the EP family, Stefan. Your bubbly personality made you fit in from day one and I am sure you will have many more joyful days with us in the bush!
This month we had an enormous group of buffaloes moving through our area. With the Trapcam up at Bushcamp, we were able to get a picture of some individuals of the herd moving past. There were many females with young calves, as well as some older females and a few big strong males.
We had three staff birthdays at the lodge this month. A big happy birthday goes out to Tannie Margie, who celebrated her birthday on the 6th of this month. On the 8th Khanisile celebrated her birthday. Khani is the short, friendly waiter that keeps our guests entertained with her friendly smile during meals. The 10th day of the 10th month was a very special day for Hendrik, who celebrated his birthday on this day. Hendrik is our own DIY maintenance man, keeping the lodge and surrounds in tip top condition. I do hope that you got spoiled on the day and that you would celebrate many more joyful birthdays at Elephant Plains. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during October, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!
As we are getting closer to the festive season, some of you might be planning some mouth watering dishes to spoil your guests with. This month, Chef Linda is sharing her Braised Oxtail recipe. If you are still unsure what to serve for Christmas dinner and prefer not to spend the entire day in the kitchen, preparing a traditional meal, you might want to consider this easy and delicious meat option.
1 packet Brown Onion Soup
500 ml Beef Stock
½ cup Tomato Sauce
2 cups Red Wine
½ cup Chutney
Slice all the vegetables into even, chunky sizes. Brown the oxtail pieces in a bit of oil. Put the vegetables and oxtail into an oven proof pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bake in the oven for about 4 hours at 160°C, stirring every hour. If it gets too dry, add some extra water as needed. When the meat pulls away from the bone, it is cooked. Serve with rice, or any other starch of your choice.
Serve and enjoy!
All the best till next month