Dec 3, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 6

Early 5 am start for our game drive along the Skukuza road and back to Lower Sabie for breakfast along  designated dirt tracks.

Just outside Lower  Sabie Camp is Sunset Damp where we saw Crocodile and Hippos.  Not much further on we came across a large herd of elephant making their way up from the river and onto vegetation on the opposite side of road. Everything stops to see these beautiful creatures cross in front us replenishing their food intake – patience is needed as any sudden movement could increase the possibility of  a charge.

Our next sighting was of a Lioness with her cubs coming onto the tarmac road, she was very clever in ushering the cubs back away from the traffic and into the bush.

Two more Rhino were spotted with full horn attached, so far we are up to about six in all with complete horns which is reassuring after all reports of poaching.

Arriving back at Lower Sabie we were able to stop on the bridge here we saw Goliath Heron and on our travels Yellow Billed Kite, White Backed Vulture and Bateluer Eagle.

Next was a day/night organised game drive in the locality. The Elephants were very much in evidence as they made their way back across the river to their overnight stop before stating their journey again. Apparently they eat roughly 20 hrs a day whilst making their journeys back and forth.

Two young Lions were spotted resting up and then three Rhinos likely a male, female and a young Rhino again fully horned.

The darkness falls very quickly here just as we spotted a lone Lion in the distance only distinguished by eye colour in the light beams are you able to tell what it is.

Dec 3, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 5

Hi folks back in contact again after our journey to the south of The Kruger National Park.

We left Hoedspruit just after 9-45 to make our way into The Park at the Orpen Gate en route to Satara and then onto Lower Sabie Camp for 3 nights. The Park has eleven entrances nine on the South African border and two on the Mozambican border. The Park has a staggering diversity of wildlife and plant species and beautiful unspoilt scenery. Whilst I have been here the temperature has soured every day into the high 30’s.

On entering the Orpen gate we immediately saw two Rhino and male Lion in the distance along with Zebra and Impala. Lunch was taken at Satara after making confirming our booking for Lower Sabie.

The vegetation changed very quickly as we climbed out of the Veld still on the main H10 road and then wildlife sightings increased as well.

We came across a water hole with two magnificent Lions a male and female we stayed here for a while watching them no more than 4/5 m in front of us. Elephants were in abundance as we got closer to Lower Sabie and the Sabie river. 

Anne, Stan and I had a wonderful meal overlooking the river and finished off our meal with a full on toffee cream which was very sweet so definitely high calorie count here.

A super day traveling down from Hoedspruit.

(Pictures to follow)



Nov 27, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 4

A quiet day today in Hoedspruit and Raptor reserve.

We had more rain last evening and during the morning – the local population are ecstatic the place has taken on a new vibe now with more of the wild animals venturing to get fresh fodder from the ground cover and the Giraffes from the trees.

We are in planning mode today for our trip up to The Kruger staying at The Lower Sabie camp and then I am told a couple of nights camping in another location on our way back to Hoedspruit on Saturday.

In the afternoon we decided that we would go to the Moholoholo Animal sanctuary  where they take in any injured animal and reintroduce them to the wild. However we were told that it would be more likely private reserves as in truly wild places they may not survive. Most of the injuries are caused by snares which either cut deep into the animals neck or very deep lacerations into their legs. We were shown some very disturbing pictures and thankfully many of the animals survived after treatment.

A whirlwind tour of the animals followed the pictures are of a Cheetah which were allowed to stroke. Then on to the vultures these were some really big birds. Lions, Hyenas and wild dogs.

Tomorrow is Monday already and we are getting very close to the main reason for my trip here to Anne and Stan’s home in the Raptor reserve and spreading of Margaret’s ashes at Anne’s chosen place. Over this last week Anne and I have had some great chats about Margaret and even this morning she was telling of some exploits whilst they were hosteling and camping in Loch Lomond and I thought Margaret never got in any scrapes. I think Anne has enjoyed herself looking back at all the escapades they got upto.

A chill day today ready for tomorrow journey to The Lower Sabie camp.

I am not taking laptop so a rest with blog till I get back – there will be so much to add.



Nov 25, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa day 3

After yesterday if has been quite today.

On the road with Anne just after 8 am visiting a lodge where she has a commission for art work in their rooms. She has completed only a few so far with more required in the New Year.

Zebra – they came wandering into the camp whilst we there.

Off to the gallery for this evenings exhibition setting out art week that each member has contributed. Quite a  variety on show pen and ink, photographs, pastels etc. We will be off back there around 6-30pm I am one of the barmen now.

Then a visit to The Blue Mountain reserve to meet one of Anne’s friends Crystal. On arrival yes we saw this journey herd of Giraffe. (Journey is the collective of  a group of Giraffe)

Back to Raptor for a rest till this evening.

We might get more rain this evening dancing in the streets again.

Tomorrow well we will wait and see.

Nov 24, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 2

How does one begin to describe today. It is 2200 as I write which means I have been up over 17 hours so far.

An early rise around 3-30am to get prepared to drive with Anne to Tanda Tula approx 50 km. First Anne navigates the tracks around the estate then open road till we get to the entrance gates to the reserve, a further tarmac road and then a sharp right on to dirt tracks to the meeting point. The meeting point only becomes visible at the last minute tucked in among the bush.

Our land rover is allocated and we set off in a convoy of three. We heard stories from the guide that there had been lions close to the camp last night. The first stop was an instuctional introduction in the life of DUNG BEATLES very David Attenbrough style from Civilised the guide. This took about 15 minutes and then a shout over the land rover comms that a lion kill had happened.

Hold tight was the cry and we set off at top speed to locate the kill at full speed off road trees did not get in the way.

The trackers had followed the tracks from the camp on foot and heard the cries from the downed Buffalo. We stayed here almost an hour as this was not seen very often Anne has lived here decades and never seen a kill.

What followed next was just as awesome Elephants, Rhino, and some wild dogs which apparently are dwindling in  numbers with only 5000 left in the wild.

A good hearty breakfast was called for which we took at a bush camp on the river bed – a full english and a few other bits and pieces were taken no calorie count taken but likely off the scale.

Anne had her end of year presentation with her class of ladies which was a good laugh and I have edited them a video.

We departed en route home arriving back around 3-30pm.

Skype with Matthew in midst of a welcome thunder storm on Logan’s birthday.

Today was EPIC.

There may be other words to describe today but what I have witnessed in South Africa takes my breath away and I have so much to come.

It may be a light day tomorrow PHEW!


Nov 23, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 1

My journey to South Africa brought me from UK via Virgin Atlantic flight to Johannesburg and then on to Hoedspruit in the north-east of the country. When  I arrived at Hoedspruit it was quite a while before you were at the terminal building. However there was no terminal building it was a small reception area with a lot of people hanging around awaiting to pick ups guest etc. and you walked from the plane to the assembly point.

I was only expecting Stan to be there to meet me but Margaret’s friend Anne was there as well a lovely surprise. It was then just a short journey of about 10km to their home in Raptor. In that short journey we saw Giraffe in one of the reserves alongside the road.

Anne and Stan’s home is on the Raptor reserve nestling in its own clearing (pictures later). There was a lot for Anne and I to catchup on so Stan trotted off to a neighbour to take workmen back to main road. Anne outlined the plans for the next two weeks and then this morning added a few more to the list. I think I will update as the days pan out just incase they change.

My room is on one of the wings of the property with a view of the bush in any direction. I finally made bed about 10pm I think.

During the evening Stan lit a Braai (BBQ) in the open area just in front of the main deck with local wood making the kindle and a couple of beers to chill whilst the kindle got going. We had a visit from a Warthog – mother and her two kids – Anne went out and fed them with some specialist dried food and then – Nyala came as well to have a nosey all in the space of a couple of hours. They also have a nesting bird in a trunk of one of the veranda supports. I spied a beautiful Kingfisher but it was too quick to get any pictures.

I slept well so well I left all the lights on when I woke at 4 am I was so surprised still dark outside. A visit to the bathroom put one light off and collapsed again woke a couple of hours later – now light.

I am sure you would be interested to know that this mornings shower was actually taken in the bush well almost. The shower cubicle is 4 m away but open to the elements so I can say I showered in the cool air of the South African bush at 6am very refreshing.

Spent the day getting my bearings in the reserve. Decided tom take a little stroll that ended up over two half hours. A friendly ranger gave me a map and directed me to a hide on a trail about 3 km away from where I met him. Camera in hand but very little about however I see a group of Impala about a dozen or so but they are quite timid so scuttled away very quickly.

Stan is due home shortly and we are off to the local for an afternoon beer, Anne is scheduled to be at the gallery to make final arrangements for the weekends exhibition.


Jul 1, 2016 - Family History    No Comments

Alfred Abbott

Alfred Abbott

Alfred Abbott enlisted in The Royal Warwickshire regiment on XX . I got in touch with regimental headquarters to find out what was happening in Arras in December 1916. It appears that they were just holding lines and no particular battle was taking place.
He died of gunshot wounds in hospital.
His grave is marked in Bethune Cemetery. I visited the grave in 2004 and was very moved by the surreal setting of so many graves of all nations. There was an egg coloured rose at his grave I found this so moving as the rose was one of our dad’s favourite plants.

To a young lad with just over a month from his sixth birthday loosing his father we will never know what effect this had or to the many generations who lost loved ones in The First World War which still had two years to run till 1918.

Those of us here today acknowledge the sacrifice of our brave men and women who gave their lives so that we might live in peace among nations.


Jun 26, 2015 - Blog    No Comments

Ramblings from Carrickdrive

This blog is one I started when the snows of 2009 arrived in November to keep the family informed about life in Glasgow.

I am married to Margaret we have three sons Steven, Philip and Matthew dotted about the UK and now in the Middle East.

Of interest might be the family history section which looks at the Abbott and Howat families when they finally linked up in 1970.

The Abbott family moved from Kidlington Oxfordshire to Minworth Warwickshire around 1890. The Howat family moved from Cumnock, Ayrshire and settled in Glasgow around 1900.

The holidays section highlights some of the holidays we took with the boys and some of the crusies we have taken in the last few years which is very much work in progress.

Nov 30, 2014 - Just Now    No Comments

Ten years on – catch up since I retired

Well here I am on my blog after a little time away. It seemed right to launch into a rambling as on this St Andrews day 2004 I retired from the BBC.

Ten years where has it all gone? Many people ask do I miss it Yes of course I had a wonderful time in my role in BBC Sport Scotland forging many links with friends both in the sporting world, the many technicians who made it all look so simple whether it was camera shots, audio work or the mystery of video editing on both film and videotape.

The many commentators and pundits that I met were some of the most knowledgeable in the art of communicating the action to the viewers.

One of the reasons I decided to retire before my sixtieth birthday was to look after Margaret full time. She has supported me all the time I was dispatching myself to Olympic, Commonwealth Games, World Cups, European Football championships and various sporting events around Scotland for the past twenty five years’ – time was to take stock as her Multiple Sclerosis condition was not getting any better and more help was needed from yours truly.

So what did happen in the last ten years?

If you have followed some of the threads going back to the winter of 2010 when the snow came in a vengeance and seemed to last forever was the start of the Ramblings from Carrick Drive as a way of communicating to our three boys scattered around the UK at the time.

I started my Open University Degree in the 2005/06 which at the time I had no idea which direction it was going to take or the time taken to complete. Going to Glasgow concert Hall in April 2012 to receive my Honours degree was one of those days in front of my family was very special.

Margaret and I managed many cruises and great holidays in the last ten years. The highlight would be two to mention the Hurtigruten journey up the coast of Norway which spread over the midsummer when we had six days of 24 hour sunshine. The sun never setting was too much to take in.

The other trip was the canal journey on a barge (Reine Pedaugue) in southern France around Dijon. The barge was a converted coal carrying barge from the Rhine with a stannah stairlift to get down to the bedrooms. An open bar and food you would not believe cooked in the smallest galley kitchen in the world – 12 days of total relaxation. We managed as part of our trip to take in my grandfather’s grave in Bethune near Arras he was killed on December 23rd 1916.

So what have the family been doing?

Steven and Yvonne now have two children. Matthew is now married to Fiona and now have one child born in November 2013. Philip at long last took the plunge and married Jacquie in August 2013.

When Margaret and I look back as we will do in just a few weeks’ time at the start of January 2015 we will see our family flourishing and making their own way in the world.

So ten years have disappeared in a flash with great memories to reflect on.

So I start the next chapter 1 December 2014.

Some pictures


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