Friday, July 27, 2007

Tony Park nude

All live, all nude. Now that I am learning to customize (customise?) my blog, I have been madly resizing pictures. The one at the top left of this page shows me indulging in one of my favourite pasttimes, drinking, in one of my favourite places - the outdoor bathtub at Nantwich Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Nantwich consists of three two-bedroom national parks lodges, set side by side on a ridge overlooking a waterhole. The view (I will try and find a pic to do it justice) is incredible. Miles and miles of Africa, open plains, some bush, and even a big African flat-topped tree (my knowledge of African flora is, as you can tell Legion of Fans, extensive).

The lodges date back to the 50s, I think. They're a little tatty in some respects, but the camp attendants keep them in spotless condition. It's like stepping into an olde-world colonial time warp when you open the door. There are no fences around the lodges or camp, so animals come and go at will. We've had elephants and hyena wandering past in the night, close to the accommodation, and the guest book in one of the lodges tells of lions killing a Kudu on the lawn outside.

From one of those houses I've watched seven lion take down a buffalo in the middle of the day, and seen four of the big five (lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo, but no Rhino in that part of the park). Mrs B and I awoke one morning to the sight of 24 engdangered African wild dogs trotting about the plain.

I've written parts of all of my books at Nantwich. I love it. If I could pick anywhere to live in Africa it would probably be there. To top it all off, it's only about 100km from the majestic Victoria Falls.

Of course, the best thing about this bestest place is the outdoor bathtub. Each lodge has one. It's nestled against the old fashioned 'donkey' (or Rhodesian) boiler, a bricked fireplance and chimney which heats a drum of water for the house over an englosed wood fire. When you sit in the bath the hot (boiling, in fact!) water comes straight from the drum, and the warmth from the fire inside the bricks washes around you while you soak, so you never feel a chill.

I've watched lion stalking across the pan from that bathtub, while sipping an ice cold Zambezi Lager.

During hot summer days Mrs B and I sometimes fill the tub with cold water and use it as a mini swimming pool.

Mrs B doesn't mind the odd outdoor bath either, and was famously sprung a few years ago when members of the Wildlife Society of Zimbabwe buzzed our camp while doing a recce of waterholes. Clutching her towel she waved to the Cessna and it waggled its wings in salute of her fine form and attitude.

(And now, for some non-too-subtle plugging...) The outdoor bathtub actually gets a mention in my latest book, SAFARI ($32.95 RRP at all good bookshops, out now in Australia). Our heroine, wildlife researcher Michelle Parker, makes use of one of the tubs and, gentle reader, she is not, ahem, alone...

At the top of the hill, behind the lodges, is the grave of a Rhodesian white pioneer, Percy Durban Crew. I don't really know who he is, or what he did, or what the significance of his impressive marble tombstone or the wall that surrounds his grave is. All I know is that when I stand on that hill, with 180 degrees of Africa around me, the sun warm on my back, is that Percy and I have one thing in common.

We both know that this is the sort of place where you'd want to spend eternity.


bec said...

I'm with you on the hill, and the flat trees, and the eternity thing...

But, seriously? We're all very glad that's such a deep bath, my friend.

Trev said...

top read. made my day. must go to Africa if just for the bath and beer!

ali g said...

half plus a bit thru Safari not got to the bit about Michele in the bath yet. sigh... no sleep tonight CANT put it down now till i find out happens

ali g said...

sorry that should read 'what' happens

Hann said...

The flat top tree could be the "kameel doring boom" translated into giraffe thorn tree, is it the one with the long white thorns you are talking about? They are the trade mark of southern Africa.
My uncle had a "donkie" on his farm too for bath water, although their bath was in the house ;-)
We visited a holiday place in WA once called Silver Sands and they had outdoor spa's and we sat there until sun set and even that was fantastic!

Grant said...

I haven't been to Nantwich for 20 years, but it sounds as if nothing much has changed (which is a good thing!). I agree its a glorious place, and I have had some wonderful times there. I too remember watching a pride of lions stalking Buffalo at the other side of the dam, but on that occasion they fluffed the final pounce. The only other widerness camp that matched Nantwich for me, is Bumbusi Camp, near Sinamatella. Bumbusi is another very special place! Check it out if you haven't already! How is Zimbabwe nowadays from a tourist/travel perspective?
Well, I'm looking forward to reading Safari. I'll check it out on Amazon.Com.
Grant - Scotland (