Monday, October 31, 2011

Chef Sophy Bennet and her favourite Malva Pudding Recipe

Today we introduce you to one of the chefs at RiverBend Country Lodge - Sophy Bennett.

Sophy Bennett was born and raised in Addo. She is married to Andrew and they live in Nomathansanqa near the village of Addo, with their 4 children - the last 2 being twins. Apart from the influence of Chefs she has worked with at RiverBend, Sophy also picked up a lot of her skills from Dessie Price (now Botha), daughter of Wimbledon Single's Finalist in 1961, Sandra (Reynolds) Price. Dessie now runs a restuarant in Port Elizabeth -

We caught up with Sophy whilst she was preparing breakfast, so unfortunately we don't have an image of her favourite recipe - featured below - but this is what some Guests were having after their return from an early morning Game Drive.

Sophy has worked at RiverBend Country Lodge for 11 years. Her favourite recipe is for Malva Pudding served with a Creme Anglaise and Ice Cream. Decadent and delicious.

Here is her recipe:

Butter                           30mls or 2 Tablespoons
Apricot Jam                 15mls or 1 Tablespoon
Egg                              1
Sugar                           125 mls or 1/2 cup
Milk                             125 mls or 1/2 cup
Bicarbonate of Soda     5 mls or 1 Teaspoon
Vinegar                        15 mls or 2 Teaspoons
Pinch of salt
Cake Flour                   250 mls or 1 cup

Cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat in the egg yolk - get it light and fluffy
Disolve the Bicarb in the milk
Add the milk to the creamed mixture, alternating with the flour and salt which have been sifted together.
Lastly add the vinegar and stir.
Pour the mixture into a rounded dish. Bake - with lid (or foil) for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Sophy likes to serve the Malva pudding with a slight twist to the Creme Anglaise in that she adds a bit of Liquer - try any of your favourites.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cape Chestnut in Flower at RiverBend Lodge

The Cape Chestnut Calodendrum capense (Wlidekastaiing) is described in "Tree's of Southern Africa" (Keith Coates Palgrave) as "a small to tall tree varying from 7 to 20 m in height, depending upon the habitat..".
This beautiful specimen (at least 20 m high) is currently in bloom - and makes for a glorious sight against the backdrop of the Rooiwalle.
We will bring you more of the great specimens of the various tree's on RiverBend and the Nyathi Concession of the Addo Elephant National Park.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frogs in the Garden at RiverBend Lodge

Frogs are responsible for a lot of the comforting night sounds you hear when walking in the Gardens at RiverBend Lodge on your way to, or from, dinner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Whole NEW World

            You get to share extraordinary experiences this!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spiders in the Garden at RiverBend Lodge

                Jumping Spider Salticidae Thyene (male)
                Hairy Field Spider Araneidae Neoscona
                Jumping Spider Salticidae Baryphas Ahenus
                Jumping Spider Salticidae Hyllus
Silver Vlei Spider Tetragnathidae Leucauge

"South Africa's Spiders need all the friends they can get. Thousands are killed every yearsimply because they look scary, when in fact most are relatively harmless. Fortunately, an unlikely expert has spent most of her working life studying - and championing - these facinating creatures" Scott Ramsey writing in the Autumn Edition of WILD magazine.
All of these photographs were taken in the garden at RiverBend Lodge. There are many more species which I hope to capture.
The expert referred to by Scott Ramsey is Ansie Dippenaar who is the Curator of the South African National Collection of Arachnida at the Agricultural Research Council in Pretoria.
Some interesting facts about Spiders. The one which really caught my eye was the fact that "there has never been a recorded death from a Spider bite in South Africa". (Ansie Dippenaar)
"Spiders are the seventh most diverse group of organisms in the world. There are 170 000 estimated Spider species of which 40 000 are currently described. There are 2 000 specise in South Africa of which 1 054 are endemic" (WILD Magazine Autumn 2011)

Our grateful thanks to Ansie for identyfying these Spiders.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Avril, a Matriarch Elephant

The area of land around RiverBend Lodge was incorporated into the Addo Elephant National Park in  2004 . This area is now known as the Nyathi (isiXhosa for Buffalo) Concession and is approximately  14 000 hectares in extent.
The Elephant herd which now wanders the Nyathi Concession was relocated by closing the main road between Addo and Paterson and opening the fences between the two sections - the Addo Elephant National Park and the Nyathi Concession. The herd was merely (although a difficult and well planned and executed process)  moved across the road. This herd originally numbered 67 Elephants and the Matriarch was an Elephant named Avril.
Avril died in July of 2010 - with all of the herd in close proximity.
Two of the words I would use to describe Elephant behaviour are 'discipline' and 'respect' (both words which are fast becoming meaningles in our human society) - and the following story, which I witnessed, illustrate this perfectly.
In February of this year I was taking photographs of the Elephant herd walking from RiverBend Lodge towards Long Hope Villa and I was parked not far from the now dried remains of Avril, which were on my left. The Elephants came up towards me (from my right - with RiverBend Lodge in the background ) in groups and upon reaching the remains of the Matriarch, stopped and touched the remains with their trunks. Once they had touched the remains, many of the older Elephants also swung their trunks over the bones in a slow circular fashion and then swinging the trunk towards themselves as if making (or receiving?) some kind of blessing  Some of the younger Elephants attempted to walk past the remains but were immediatly prevented from doing so by the older Elephants, and not allowed to move on until they had 'paid their respects'!
Observing this behaviour was indeed both a privilege and at the same time extremely thought provoking experience  - something I will never forget.
I was fortunate enough to get photographs (unfortunately I only had a 300mm lens, so could not capture the 'wide' scene) of this 'ceremony'.

           One of the Groups moving up towards me with part of RiverBend Lodge in the background.

                                                                      Avril's skull

                                                                    What I witnessed!

                                            Even the young were taught how to behave!!!

The Elephant herd at RiverBend (Nyathi Concession) now numbers 108 and Guests to RiverBend Lodge and Long Hope Villa can experience really close up Elephant Encounters, with our experienced Guides, during their stay.

Crowned Lapwing Vanellus melanopterus

Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus melanopterus) taking a bath in one of the pans near RiverBend Lodge.

Monday, October 17, 2011

 African Hoopoe Upupa Africana
 Brown - hooded Kingfisher Halcyon Albiventris
 Greater Double - collared Sunbird Cinnyris Afer
Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia Fermosa

Some of the beautiful birds in our gardens at RiverBend and Long Hope Villa.
Some Guests who stayed at RiverBend recently very generously gave Darlington (one of our Guides) a camera. After some Introductory Lessons Darlington has recently been taking some great shots, and all of the images featured today are photographs taken by Darlington and his new camera.

Thank you so much to the Guests for their very kind gesture!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Zebra at RiverBend

The Zebra have started foaling. This is one of the first foals born on RiverBend this season.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Buffalo at the Lodge

We had other plans for today's blog - however the sight of a herd of Buffalo in front of RiverBend Lodge just had to be shared. Aherd of Bufalo - with 2 recently born calves made their appearance this morning. As quickly as they arrived so they disappeared. Africa.
This reminded me of a quote from Hemingway's last book "True at First Light" - "In Africa a thing is true at first light and a lie by noon and you have no more respect for it than the lovely, perfect weed fringed lake you see across the sun baked salt plain. You have walked across that plain in the morning and you know that no such lake is there. But now it is absolutely true, beautiful and believable".
Yesterday we brought you the newest additions to the Elephant herd - today we are happy to bring you the newest additions to one of the Buffalo herds.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Youngest Member of the Herd!

Our guides have established that this is the youngest member of the Elephant  herd on RiverBend.
Fortunately we could get a clear shot to show you - there is normally a member of the family between such a young calf and these 'intrusive humans' - so photographs like this take some patience. Incredible to think that something so small becomes so big!
We hope to bring you photographs of Zebra foals soon. They should start foaling anytime now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Summer's arrival

Summer announced it's arrival on Sunday and Monday - two day's of temperatures in the mid to higher 30's (Celsius).

We took some close up images of the Elephants celebrating the warm weather with a swim. They come out of the water nearly pitch black. But the colour we are more accoustomed to is soon restored with a mud bath and some dust!