Thursday, November 25, 2010

In which Mr Blog saves the German crown jewels

Yes, yes, yes, I know... I've been neglecting all my many blogs, but honest, guv, it's because I'm once again drowning in edits. Just about got the edits all done on novel number 8, and in came some more on non fiction book number 3.

Racked (wracked, crookedpaw?) with guilt, I decided I would send you all some pictures, in the hope of keeping you from switching channels.

And so today, we have some images (I can only load five per post) of our recent sojourn to Etosha National Park.

Tough, ferocious, and usually elusive it's not often you see a honey badger (above) in broad daylight - especially not three metres away. The German tourist camped next to us in Halali Camp in the middle of Etosha (all tourists in Namibia are German, except us) had to ask me what this little fellow was.

"Honey badger," I said.

"Excuse me?"

"Ratel," I tried, exhibiting my comprehensive knowledge of Afrikaans (koeksister, ratel, snot klap, lekker, renoster, voetsek).

"Excuse me?"

Clearly I wasn't getting through. Mein neighbour proceeded to walk up to the honey badger with his tiny digital camera. When he was two metres away I called out "Stop-en-zee."

"Excuse me."

Clearly I had to talk louder to this man and resort to sign language. "Dangerous! Grrrrrr," I used my hands as claws for effect. "Scrotum!" I placed a hand on mine and mimicked extreme pain and severe blood loss.

"Ah!" said the man. Few (male) travellers to Africa have not heard of the honey badger's legendary modus operandi for bringing down prey as large as a wildebeest... they rip their victim's scrotum out. Something clicked in the neighbour's mind and he backed off.

Etosha Pan (in the background) and Etosha lion in the foreground. Enough words from me.

Each of the three camps in Etosha: Namutoni, Halali, and the other one (it's Okukuejo or something like that - I can't be bothered checking the spelling, Crookedpaw) has a permanent floodlit waterhole. Stacks (hobos/maninge/plenty) of animals come to drink. We saw black rhino, elephant, giraffe (they're giraffe, above) and many other grass eaters at each of the camps. At Halali we saw one of the aforementioned honey badgers bite a female rhino on the bum (no joke). Just as well it wasn't a male rhino.
The waterholes are great, and they sound like someone getting their tyre stabbed in a Francistown car park. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. There are signs ordering "Silence!" everywhere, which is funny because just beyond the ring of hushing tourists is, like, a thousand other tourists and staff chatting and drinking german beer and braaing bratwurst and inflating their air beds etc. Whatever. It's still pretty cool.

Black rhino. These poor things are getting clobbered at an alarming rate again, all because some f*ing idiot of a Vietnamese government minister (no other PC way to say that, I'm afraid) claimed rhino horn is a cure for cancer. I'd like to set the honey badger on whoever came up with that pearler. Anyway, Etosha is a great place to see black rhino (they have no white rhino). Go see them... before it's too late.

The leo-pard - my favourite of the killing animals. We bagged this lovely young specimen near Rietfontein Waterhole. I love the light in this pic and in a high res version (not sure if you can see it in this opne), you can see the sun's reflection in her eye.

Etosha's a great place. It's very pricey these days and the camps are absolutely chockers (crowded). However, there are only the three camps and they're not all that big compared to, say, Kruger's camps. The park, on the other hand, which runs along one side of the gigantic Etosha salt pan, is very big, so you never really feel crowded out when you're out game viewing.
It's stark, arid, dusty and beautiful. I know at least one of you is going there soon. Have fun, and watch out for the honey badgers.
(I'll be blogging more on Namibia and Botswana again soon in my relatively serious Getaway blog).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I heart my Kindle

I love my Amazon Kindle ebook reader, almost as much as I love my Land Rover and my small but perfectly formed wife. Serioulsy, it's that good.

I've been meaning to post about my geekish affair with ebooks for a long time, but never got around to it. Fortunately my techno-savvy friend Joel, who is one of the editors at Pan Macmillan, has interviewed me about using my Kindle in Africa on his blog, here, so I can cross 'blog about Kindle' off my comprehensive list of things to do.

Just as well, as it's Mrs Blog's birthday today so I have a comprehensive to-do list today.

1. Check emails (done)
2. Blog about Kindle (done)
3. Do more edits on Book 8. (ummm, pending, due to birthday party)
4. Get drunk
5. Cook dinner for wife.

Maybe that should be:
4. Cook dinner for wife
5. Get drunk.

No, here's a better idea.

4. Get drunk while cooking dinner for wife.

Anyhow, all this list making is making me look very productive, as she sits opposite me, checking her birthday emails on her computer.

Joel's posting the Kindle interview in two parts, to add to the suspense. I bet you can't wait to see how it ends.

How about you, Legion of Fans (LOF), any ebook fans out there? I know at least a couple of you have dabbled in the world of digital books. Confess...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Caption competition...

Here's me in the Khwai River, Botswana, again. Go on, do your worst... I can take it.

(Too busy to blog anything else just now... have to get the edits on Book 8 finished, so I can, at last, start writing Book 9).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In which Mr Blog is embraced by another man...

Yes, read all about my somewhat intimate welcome to Zimbabwe, where I was hugged by the gate attendant at Hwange National Park. We're close... real close.

It's here on my Getaway Magazine blog : you know, the sort of serious one.

Leave a comment or two, so they keep the blog going.

Any UK readers yet? Make yourself known, and welcome, if you've bought a copy of SILENT PREDATOR, the first of my books to be published in the UK by the wonderful, lovely, wise people at Quercus Books.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

At last, some pictures!

Yes, I know you really only come here for the pictures, not the articles... and I don't blame you.

Mrs Blog has been going through the pictures, picking out the best ones, and we just took delivery of a stack/span/hobo of good pics from our friend Annelien, who accompanied us on our recent trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Here's a selection, in no particular order...

(There's even a naked one, which should keep the anonymous commentators happy).

We came across this mean and nasty old lady not far from the Pandamatenga border crossing, from Botswana to Zimbabwe, on our way out of Hwange National Park after taking part in the 24-hour game census in the park - a highlight of our safari calendar. This lioness was in the Matetsi Safari area, which features in my book, SAFARI.

Bagged these elephants at Chingahobe Dam, which was where we and our South African friends spent the aforementioned 24 hours counting animals. This year's count was a big improvement on last year's. It couldn't have been any worse, because it poured with rain for the whole census period last year and we saw nothing.

Incidentally, in the acknowledgements section of SAFARI, I mention that a rhino was shot by poachers during the game census,while I was busy writing SAFARI. This is where it happened, at Chingahobe. Apparently the people counting that year were close enough to hear the poachers chopping the horn off. Scary stuff.

Annelien took this most excellent picture of a lioness walking past Broomas, our trusty 300Tdi Land Rover Defender, at the Khwai Community Development conservancy in the Okavango Delta.

She also caught me in the shower at Khwai, four-handed. You can never have too many hands in a bush shower, I always say. (Oh dear, that didn't come out right, did it?).

And as the sun sets slowly over Robins Camp, Hwange National Park, we say night night to Broomas the ultimate off-road adventure vehicle. (Actually, that may be a sunrise picture. Whatever).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

High drama in Botswana...

...well, sort of. Look, to be perfectly honest, apart from its wildlife, Botswana is not the most exciting or adrenaline-charged country in the world.
Or so I thought...
Click on over to my blog on the Getaway Magazine website to learn how I (pictured right, above), contemplated murdering two men and a woman while changing a tire on my Land Rover.
Leave comment (please), and use phoney multiple names if you like, so it appears there are many of you.