Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South *

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Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South *

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:43 pm

Mon Sep 26, 2011

AKA "Operation Ubhejane" Image

I know it’s time to start my TR when my alarm is set for 6.15am, but by 5am I am wide awake and going through lists in my head!

My dad suggested that this TR be called “Operation Ubhejane” as he is on a mission to find a Black Rhino on this trip...an animal which has eluded us on all previous trips to Kruger (and there have been many....we have been visiting Kruger since 1976! Image ). However, since this is MY TR, the title had to feature the word ‘flutter’ just to keep up with the tradition of my previous TR’s…so a compromise has been made! :lol:

If you have read my previous TR’s you will know that Bush Brat is my 12 year old son – a true Kruger fanatic. My SO (NOT a Kruger fanatic) prefers to stay at home with our 3 dogs (Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest ), so instead, we always go to Kruger with my dad (navigator outside the park, and driver and chief cook and bottle washer in the park).

On our last 4 trips we always spent 4 nights in the park, but it was never enough for the Brat, and he insisted that this time we had to stay at least 7 nights, and, as is usually the way with brats...he got his way !! The sacrifices we make for our kids!! :wink: This trip was booked in October last year...needless to say, routes, camps, meals, and all other relevant details have been discussed extensively and exhaustively since then, and books, photos, videos and maps have been thoroughly examined...even though my SO has only visited Kruger twice, he could probably draw a detailed map while blindfolded, just from sitting through our numerous planning sessions!! :lol:

This is the itinerary: 2nd & 3rd October – Shingwedzi, 4th & 5th – Olifants, 6th – Satara, 7th & 8th – Lower Sabie. The Brat has never stayed further north than Letaba, and my Dad and I were last in Shingwedzi about 20 years ago....so we are super excited about this trip 0Y ! Enthuse, enthuse, enthusiasm (with thanks to Cheetah \O )!!!! The Brat would have preferred more nights at Satara instead of Olifants, but nothing was available...so, he didn’t get his way this time! :twisted: And, to be honest, we haven’t stayed at Olifants for so long (and the Brat has never stayed there) that I’m really looking forward to it.

Since our trip in October last year, the Brat has acquired a lovely new camera – the Canon SX 30-IS (did I mention that he is a spoilt Brat :twisted: ) – and is on a mission to become an award-winning photographer Image!! I have to say I’m a little jealous of the zoom on that thing...it puts my 75 – 300mm lens to shame!!! Alas...all my subtle hints about a nice, new, big lens have fallen on deaf ears (I’m not a spoilt brat), but the challenge is on!! Hopefully, I can now con him into looking at birds by taunting him with some nice pics!! :lol:

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:45 pm

Sun Oct 09, 2011

We're back!!! Z1

I see there's been lots of action on the forum...lots to catch up on!! :wink:

It felt like quite a different trip to normal....the first time we haven't seen the Big 5 :shock: !!!! It's also been quite a while since I've spent 7 consecutive days with my Dad...some of those days felt quite long! :lol: As much as I love dear Dad, things got a bit tense occasionally! :roll:

Here are some scenarios for you to picture.....

Echo Scenario 1 - (remember, my Dad's hearing is not what it should be):
FB: There's a kudu.
Dad (5 seconds later): There's a kudu.
FB: I just said that.
Dad: What?
FB: Nothing. O**

Echo Scenario 2:
FB: There's a giraffe.
Dad: What?
FB: There's a giraffe.
Dad: Where?
FB: It's gone now. :roll:

Echo Scenario 3:
FB: Stop...there's a bird I want to photograph.
Dad: (silence).
FB: STOP!
Dad: What?
FB: Reverse...there's a bird I want to photograph.
Dad: (comes to a gradual stop, grinds the gears into reverse and slowly starts reversing).
Dad: Where is it?
FB: About 2 kms back!
Dad: Can you see it?
FB: It's just flown away!! O/

Echo Scenario 4:
FB: Elephant in the road.
Dad: (silence).
FB: STOP...ELEPHANT!
Dad: Where?
BUMP!!!
Dad: Oops!! :lol:
(OK...this didn't actually happen....but there was an elephant in the middle of the road, and dear Dad was looking all over the place except right in front of him!! :wink: )

So you get the general idea!!!

Day 1, Sunday 2 Oct., JHB - Shingwedzi

So, Saturday was spent washing, ironing, cooking and packing. The Brat & I decided to try to get some shut-eye and went to lie down at about 8.30 at which point a huge storm broke!!! Great! O/ The Brat was very upset as he knew I would not leave during the storm, and he could not bare the thought of delaying our departure. :( We both nodded off and thankfully when I woke up at 10.30 the storm had passed and it was clear again. :D My dad arrived on time and we left at 11.50. We went via Witbank, Lydenburg and Orighstad. It was a very easy drive….except that someone had forgotten to lock the animals up for the night! :roll: We saw a jackal and duiker on the side of the road, and a cow and a goat in the middle of the road!!!! A bit nerve-wracking!!! :shock: After negotiating the animals we soon arrived in Phalagat, where we filled up with petrol, and then we were at the gate at exactly 5.30am!!! \O/

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After all the formalities, getting cameras and binoculars out of the boot, and attaching our ribbons, we were on our way!! It was a comfortable 18°. Our first sighting was guineafowl on the road, followed by a giraffe, impala and a juvenile Bateleur, and then a not-so nice sighting. :evil:

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We saw this little fellow who had obviously got tangled in a spiders web and was having a hard time trying to catch the little critter! :lol:

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We popped in at Sable Dam but it was obviously too early for the morning drinkers.

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We saw a steenbok and the first of many Emerald Spotted Doves…I don’t remember ever seeing as many as we did on this trip. As we carried on my dad suddenly piped up “Who’s this idiot flashing lights at me….he can pass if he wants to!!” :lol: The car pulled up alongside us, and it was none other than Sprocky!!! -O It was great to finally meet the man behind the name! \O We chatted a while and he took pics of my ribbons and sticker before we were on our way again! The Brat spotted the first of the Big 5 – 2 ellies, and then another 2 further on with some nice tusks. Another Bateleur later, and the Brat spotted a hyena…he was on form this morning!!

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This road showed us a lot of game – zebra, warthog, kudu, and fighting impies.

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:45 pm

Leaving Tsale waterhole we saw a familiar car approaching us…Scipio and Petra!!! :D We were doing well with yellow/green ribbons this morning. O_ They had driven up on the Friday night in the middle of a huge storm and it had taken them 9 hours from Johannesburg to Phala!! :shock: We exchanged sightings and they told us where to look out for a Verreaux’s Owl on the H1-6. We soon parted company and were on our way again. We had a quiet patch at the end of the H14, but found some buffs on the H1-6 near Mooiplaas – two of the Big 5. We popped in at Mopani for a loo break and gave the dam a quick look. There were lots of ellies around.

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Just after leaving Mopani we came across a huge buff herd….well over 500 at least….and found our first Yellow-billed Oxpeckers!! Tried my hand at some HDR (not sure if I like this one :? ).

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More ellies...never seen so many ellies before!! :shock: But I have to say that the Brat was very brave on this trip....he only disappeared behind the seat when they were very close!! :wink:

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We also found Scipio’s Verreaux’s Owl…another first for me!! \O/ If you are compare the Brat’s pic of the owl with mine, you can now see how strong his zoom is! :mrgreen:

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Lots more ellies in the riverbed outside Shingwedzi, and finally we were there. While checking in there were two other men at reception...guess who? GlenD and Chip!!! :D We had a short chat but it was so hot and I think we all wanted to get settled in! Great to meet you Glen. I didn’t envy you having to set up camp in that heat (it was about 34° now)!!! Definitely time for a swim.

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After unpacking and having a quick swim to cool off we made our way out again. Just outside camp we came upon this gentle giant with a collar (although he wasn’t that big, but had very nice tusks). Look at the indentations on his forehead. :shock: I checked Aat’s notes that I had with me and I’m sure it’s Mpenza.

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He was feeding in the riverbed and came closer to us. He was so calm.

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There were a few cars up ahead and we assumed they were also watching ellies but someone came past and told us there was a lion on the other side of the road.

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While watching the lion I spotted a Brown-headed parrot – another first for me!! z0z

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This was a typical lion…doing nothing….so we moved on. We had decided to do the S52 Red Rocks Loop. Now I don’t know where we went wrong but we could not find those darn rocks!!! Ei We did see lots more ellies, nyala and this little one – especially for Lis! :wink:

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We came across this huge buff herd in the middle of the road, and we were soon surrounded by them. I can tell you I was feeling quite nervous! :? (Note the Yellow-billed Oxpecker! :wink: )

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There were some pretty scary looking ones giving us the evil eye!! :evil:

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We managed to get through the herd and made our way back to camp. These ellies were having fun with water.

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We got back to camp a bit before closing time but we had been in the car for 13½ hours – enough was enough. My dad had a knee op a month ago and his leg was really worrying him. He got the fire started but the Brat took over and did the braaing!! \O After a supper of chicken and wors it was time for a shower and bed. Then…disaster :shock: … I realized I’d left all my magic potions at home Image ….no moisturizers, not even body lotion. Ei All I had was an almost-empty tube of hand cream in my bag…that was the extent of my preening for the next 7 days!!! So, to everyone I met…I actually look MUCH younger in real life!!! -O

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Day 2, Monday 3rd Oct., Shingwedzi – Pafuri

We were up bright and early, packed the cooler box for brunch at Pafuri and were out the gate before 5.30 (I presume they open them earlier if it's light enough).

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We had decided to do the Mphongolo road that everyone had raved about – it was great! :D There was so much life in that area…we were stopping every 5 minutes to look at something! We spotted another Verreaux’s but couldn’t get a nice pic…managed one of this Tawny instead.

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We saw lots of these handsome fellas along the road. 8)

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The birds were abundant….White-fronted Bee-eaters, Brown-headed Parrots, Brown-hooded Kingfishers, Weavers, Emerald Spotted Doves, more Tawny’s, Kori Bustards and lots more!

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I always thought that dry grass must be a bit hard to swallow! :roll:

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We stopped very quickly at Babababablalalala but there was nothing around. The attendant told us there are had been wild dogs and jakalas there earlier in the morning!! O/ Just after getting back onto the H1-7 we found this group of sleeping ellies…it was so lovely to see how protective the big ones are of the little ones!

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We decided to have a quick peek at Punda….a camp I have never seen before. It really takes you back to days gone by!

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by leachy » Wed May 23, 2012 1:46 pm

:-) :-) :-) :-)
hi flutts... 0/*

sorry i'm late......

'twas really great meeting you

(i didn't notice that your skin was dry ---- only your humour) (thanks too, for my character reference :o0ps:

and "dad dave" and the "b/brat" with the cool "mik-en-druk"

your photos are a lot better than what you described them to me as being... \O \O \O

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:47 pm

Day 2, Monday 3rd Oct., Shingwedzi – Pafuri cont.

As we left Punda, travelling at 25kms, a steenbok came rushing out of the bush!! :shock: I was convinced it was a goner but it came out the other side unscathed. :D Just shows that not all roadkills are a result of speeding! We got onto the S60 and saw a car stopped.....our first ever grysbok!!!! \O/ Such a pretty little thing!

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There were so many nyalas along this road....almost like impalas in the south. :D We got to Klopperfontein and found another first....eland!!!! z0z But he was very shy and didn’t hang around long...just enough time to get one pic.

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The H1-8 up to Pafuri was very quiet and hot. BB and I both had very heavy eyelids and it was a welcome relief to finally reach the cool, green shade of Pafuri!! Frank came over as soon as he saw our ribbons...what a nice man! He asked what the green ribbon was for and said he was getting very confused with all the different colours he had been seeing!! O** He set up the skottel for us, and Dad got the bacon and porkies sizzling, followed by tomatoes, eggs and toast!! I had a chat with Frank and he showed me a couple of birdies and a saddle-billed stork in the riverbed.

Frank with his ‘kettie’ to keep the monkeys away. O=
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Frank and the Brat
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After a delicious meal and bidding farewell to Frank and Pafuri we made our way towards Crook’s Corner, but some inconsiderate ellie had left his breakfast in the middle of the road! :twisted: The impies were trying to clean up but it was not fast work. :roll:

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We could see where other cars had got past and carefully did the same. What a magical place...one could almost imagine fairies and pixies peering out from behind the trees. :P

One normal pic and one HDR...you pick!

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And finally we had reached Crook’s Corner!!! After hearing about it from so many people it was great to finally be there! z0z

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I think we may have spotted RP, inspecting his very serious injury! -O

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Mpenza...you can hear the baboon voicing his disapproval of the nearby lion.
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Big buff herd on Red Rocks loop.
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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:48 pm

Day 2, Monday 3rd Oct., Shingwedzi – Pafuri cont.

The H1-8 was quiet again in terms of sightings...not in terms of noise! :roll: The Brat decided to entertain us with a medley of songs, his theory on where due north actually is (it’s in the south in case you weren’t sure 8) ), and general babble. I dozed off after a while at which point he tied my hair around the head rest!! -O

On the H1-7 we did see a fair amount of game – lots of impalas, a huge herd of ellies and waterbuck.

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We popped into Babababalalalalala again and this time found Tsessebe!! :D

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When we approached this ellie he gave a feeble mock charge and shook his head and then went back to eating, but it was enough to scare the Brat! :twisted: Hope you enjoy the exchange between him and my Dad...telling him he needs excitement in his life!!

View My Video

We got back to camp and the Brat went for another swim. We decided to do the Kanniedood road that afternoon, but were very disappointed!! Apart from some monkeys we saw nothing!! :( We visited the causeway and saw an eagle eating something in the riverbed but it was too far away and getting dark so we couldn’t identify it.

So it was back to camp and as my Dad started the fire a huge storm broke. Luckily we were having oxtail for dinner, so the fire was just for atmosphere! The lightening was a pretty good substitute!! :shock: The end of our second day in Kruger...time for a shower and bed! Ozzz

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:48 pm

Day 3, Tuesday 4th Oct., Shingwedzi – Olifants

This morning we were up early again to pack everything for our move to Olifants for 2 nights. Our stay at Shingwedzi had been lovely, but if it’s the Big 5 you’re looking for then I would say stay in the south. :wink: The storm had cleared the air and washed my car!!! \O/ We got onto the H1-6 and 10kms out of camp we found a lone lioness.

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She was very relaxed, had a good roll-around and then moved to a better vantage point.

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After sitting with her for about half an hour we moved on. As the lioness was not that close to the road we stopped the Shingwedzi morning drive vehicle to tell them where she was. The driver told us of a hyena den a couple of clicks further on. We soon found it but not a hyena in sight. We had a good look around and as we were about to drive off we spotted two hyenas walking towards us from the other side of the road. They crossed over, walked past the den and carried on into the bush. While watching them we spotted something running down the road. I have to admit I created total confusion....I was convinced it was a wild dog, and because of all the excitement in our car, the people next to us also got very excited. As it got nearer we could see that it was another hyena and had to apologise to our neighbours!!! :oops: :oops: :lol: Ei As she got to the den, 2 cubs appeared and the one was obviously very happy to see mom and became quite vocal, but it was also a bit of a scaredy-cat and would not move away from the den!! More hyenas appeared and were running all over the place...great fun to watch!!

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After about an hour we moved on and saw wildebeest, and the Verreaux’s that we had seen on the first day, still sitting on its nest. The road down to, and past, Mopani was very quiet. We decided to take the Tsendze loop, but apart from a bit of a stand-off with some ellies we saw little else. At the Letaba high level bridge we got speaking to a couple who had been at Letaba the night before. The storm had been much worse there....hail stones the size of golf balls. :shock: Their car was badly damaged as were all the other vehicles in camp...thank goodness we had just had the rain and wind!! :?

Before reaching Letaba we saw out first fish eagle of the trip.

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We stopped at Letaba for a loo break – what a mess!! Leaves and branches all over the place but mopping-up operations were in full swing!!

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We carried on towards Olifants and found more evidence of the storm.

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I have been trying to upload a video of the hyenas all morning and finally admit defeat. O/ O/ Will post it when I can!!

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:48 pm

Finally managed to download the videos and just to complete my embarrassment I've included the part with the wild hyena/hyena dog!!! :oops: :oops: -O Moving making at its best! -O

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Re: Kruger - A 7 Night Flutter from North to South

Post by Flutterby » Wed May 23, 2012 1:49 pm

Day 3, Tuesday 4th Oct., Shingwedzi – Olifants cont.

We checked in at Olifants and were wondering what the accommodation would be like. When we booked we had only been able to get the units with no utensils, hot plate etc. and thought it would be one of the units right at the back, but we were pleasantly surprised! :D We were one row back from the front and our unit (no. 8 ) had a really nice view between 2 units!! It was a bit of a schlep having to boil water and wash dishes at the communal kitchen but it was very close and not too much hassle...in fact in reminded me of our first trips to Kruger when that was the norm. :wink:

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For our afternoon drive we decided to do some of the S90, turn around, get onto the S89 and back up on the tar. At the low level bridge we found a water monitor, some Egyptian geese and a Great Egret having a paddle.

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We got onto the S90 and were not seeing much when my dad suddenly stopped and reversed...this was lying on the side of the road!! My first Kruger python! z0z

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It must have been about 2 metres long. It soon started moving off the road...fascinating to watch it move!

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It moved into the shade of a tree and was quite difficult to see, so once we had passed the sighting on to an oncoming vehicle we moved off. At Bangu waterhole this ellie was holding up the reservoir.

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We carried on little further and then turned around. The python was still under the tree and had attracted a bit of a crowd. We got onto the S89 where we saw wildebeest and some ellies with a tiny baby, but the bush was too thick to get a good pic. When we reached the H1-4 we decided to turn left and head towards Ngotso to see if could spot a leopard someone had mentioned. We never found the leopard but the Brat spotted a little hyena on the side of the road, which was soon joined by another littlie and mom...the first time we have ever seen hyenas from the famous Ngotso den. \O/ They were very cute and mom was very attentive...continuously licking and nuzzling them.

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After watching them for a while we turned around to head back to camp. These two Tawnies attracted our attention.

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Just before the turn off to Olifants we came across our first traffic jam - two lionesses on the riverbank. They were quite far off and moving around so were not easy to spot, but very easy to hear....they were calling to each other all the time until one eventually moved down into the river bed. The other one settled down and we were finally able to get a pic, albeit a fuzzy one!

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Time was marching on and we had to get back to camp, although we left a lot of cars behind us. We got in just before 6 so there must have been a lot of late arrivals that night.

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We got the fire lit and settled down to a relaxing evening. We noticed that the unit behind ours was a staff unit...something I’ve never seen in other camps before. They were a little noisy but nothing to complain about. After a delicious meal of rump steak, pork rashers, potato salad and green salad, it was time for coffee. Off I went to the communal kitchen only to find that the boiler was off...no hot water!!! :? In the old days there was always boiling water available in the kitchens...obviously not anymore! -O- Oh well, time for bed anyway...

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