Quick one from Africa

After a brilliant 5 days in various game parks in Kenya I am now currently in Zanzibar making use of the “High Speed” Internet connection. I will post some more when I get a chance but at the moment I will just say that everything is OK and I havent been kidnapped/eaten/got anything too nasty

Safari Day 2

I wasn’t sure if we could beat the experiences of the previous day but I couldn’t be more wrong!

I was awoken abruptly at what seemed like some ungodly hour by a very loud “grunting” noise. Opening my eyes I realised t was still dark and the fact that I hadn’t heard my alarm (set for 5:45 local time) I assumed it was really early and tried to go back to sleep. Unable to settle due to the heat I strained my eyes to see the time, thinking that it would say 4:23 or similar but was shocked to read that it was 6:21 and my alarm hadn’t gone off I struggled out of bed and threw on some clothes before heading to breakfast at 6:30.

Breakfast was like every other meal – a buffet of hot and cold food. Not feeling too hungry/awake/adventurous at such an early time I decided a simple cooked breakfast of pork sausages baked beans and potato would do. The potato and beans were nice but the sausages had a much better flavour than they had texture!

The morning safari drive started at 7:10 and it was so cold that I needed a jumper to keep warm. We started off in a completely different direction to the previous day’s drive and standing at the front of the van I managed to spot a couple of jackal and gazelles. Shortly after this we saw a collection of birds sitting in the nearby trees. Tom identified these as Marabous and Vultures. not content with seeing them from the road, we were taken right up to one of the trees the vultures were sleeping in. It was amazing to see the huge necks and wingspans that these birds have.

Soon after this started to see similar sized herds of wildebeest and zebra that we had seen yesterday. However when we came over the next peak we were confronted by endless numbers of wildebeest all migrating from Tanzania. There were so many it was impossible to keep track of them all. However there was still lots of young males fighting over their “space” and this kept us entertained.

The further we drove, the more animals there seemed to be and soon all we could see in the road ahead was a dark cloud as the wildebeest had filled the entire track for at least 700yds. As we slowly made our way through the mass of animals they jumped and leapt out of our way. Suddenly there seemed to be very few wildebeest blocking our way and Tom took a turning that led us around the back of the herd.

Until now we had only seen the herds of animals and a pride of lions, however nothing seemed to be attacking other species like you see on the wildlife documentaries. We thought we would get to see some fighting when we managed to spot a lone hyena lurking near the edge of the wildebeest but sadly it seemed content waiting so we moved on.

Tom was getting lots of chatter over his radio and while it all seemed to be complete gibberish he started to use more minor tracks and cut across the plains. We saw a number of large birds flying overhead and swooping on the buffalo however this didn’t amount to more than some impressive aerial manoeuvres from the vultures. We did however see a number of vans grouping together ahead of us and we drove closer and just as we arrived saw a female lion sitting in the grass looking around. Tom didn’t stop immediately but drove another 100yds to show us what he had heard on his radio – a male lion with three females. There were many expensive cameras focussed on the male and the closest female. The other females realised that they weren’t “going to get any” so started to walk away. None of the lions seemed to care that we were staring at them – I suppose it must just become second nature to them. The remaining male and female walked past the van and into the grass on the other side of the track, the female lay down and the male decided to spread his “man seed”.

Meanwhile the other three females were getting close to a nearby heard of wildebeest and zebra and from our original position we were able to see them creep through the grass and towards their prey. By now there were a number of vultures circling above and soon enough we saw the herds scattering each way as the lions closed in. Tom took us down to where we had seen the lions go and we managed to see one female relaxing in the shade. Unable to spot the other two we went back to where the original two lions had been. Once again the male decided to show off his mating skills and this time I managed to snap him with my mobile (it’s all we had as Bob’s suitcase hadn’t arrived and Tony’s camera was out of batteries with no charger). I managed to get a couple of other shots with my phone but the VGA camera wasn’t good enough to see much through.

Once we had seen all we would from the lions we started to head on and see what else we could see. our first encounter was with a zebra. Well, half a zebra. I thing it may well have been a snack for the lions. After all this excitement, Tony, Bob, Liz and Tom were all in need of a toilet stop and this gave us all a chance to think about what we had seen.

The next encounter we had also featured death. A group of vultures were dismantling the remains of a wildebeest carcass. Once again I managed to get some pictures of this with my camera.

It wasn’t even 10 am yet and we had seen masses of cool stuff!!!

We drove back through more wildebeest and continued down the track we were on before we detoured to see the lions. Tom pointed out three interesting looking birds in the middle of the track as Crown Cranes. They were so called because of the yellow crest of feathers on its head.

Our next encounter was with 2 adult elephants in the grass. They were happily wandering away from the path but were an impressive sight to see in a relatively empty landscape. With no decent photo opportunity we moved on and soon saw a group of 8 more elephants, including 2 little ones. I managed to get some photos, including my first using the binoculars as a zoom lens. Once everything was lined up it didn’t take a bad picture.

Just after 11 we saw another pride of 10 lions eating in the grass. They were all just amazing to watch.

We ended the morning by going to one of the Masi tribe’s villages. Upon arrival we had to pay 1500 kenyan shillings each, after this we we allowed in. Before we entered the compound the Masi warriors treated us to some of their dancing. We saw 2 dances, the first (circle dance) was used for celebrations and festivals. This involved the warriors “skipping” round us in a circle whilst humming something undecipherable. The second dance consisted of more random hums whilst the warriors took it in turns to stand in the middle, hold their stick and jump to the beat of the music. This was a warmup for pre-hunting and got the muscles ready.

Look round village, lots of poo, si made fire, women dance, look in hut, buy expensive wood then go home.

After lunch swim in cold pool. Leave at 4:30 see monkeys around hotel. See giraffe up close by hotel. See lions hiding in grass. See more lions in same place as day 1. Spot sole female lion eyeing up water buffalo and follow lion along road. Lion spots prey and crouches, prey crosses path, driver of another bus releases air brake and scares prey. Lion gives chase but prey escaped 🙁

See other animals, go home see sunset on masi mara. Drink with hippos, supper, bed

Safari Day 1 24/07/06

Left hotel at 8am still 1 suitcase short. Driving down the rift escarpment we stopped to admire the view before continuing through the valley towards the Masi Mara. We stopped for petrol in a minging little town that was described as being full of touts and con men!!! Needless to say I ignored them all and we continued on along the worst maintained roads I had ever been on.

There is no sense of lanes or even official side of the road to drive on – at one point there were two mini vans next to each other with another 2 side by side coming the other way. None of the drivers agreed to give way and it was as though we were all in a big game of chicken! Also featuring on these appalling roads are police road blocks which allow only one vehicle through at a time as there are large metal spikes blocking the rest of the road.

The closer we got to the game reserve the more people try to sell you useless wooden animals or tacky bracelets. There were at least three who tried to sell stuff to us at the entrance to the game reserve. Once again I refrained from looking at them and managed not to get too angry – if I want a souvenir I will go and buy one, I don’t want them thrust at me by some local ‘chav’.

Once in the national park things changed dramatically – there were no more annoying people, just lots of grass and lots of animals. Before we reached the lodge we had seen lots of gazelles, zebras, wildebeest, cows and goats. We were also lucky enough to see a number of giraffe, a couple of elephants and a monkey.

We got to the lodge in time for the end of lunch. There was a large selection of different foods from the buffet available. We ate with Tony and Catherine (safariing with us) and after lunch we walked around the grounds, finding the “hippo bar” which overlooks a small bit of water then at 4 we set out on our first game drive.

We drove around for about 3 hours and saw tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebras migrating across the plains. we saw a few elephants taking shade under some trees but weren’t close enough to take any photos (not that we have a camera as it is somewhere between Heathrow and Kenya in Bob’s suitcase).

Our next encounter was with some giraffes who were relaxing by a small watering hole. it was interesting to see them bending down to drink – they have to spread their legs whilst bending them in weird directions before their bent neck is close enough to the water to drink. When the giraffes had moved on we crossed through the water to the other side but managed to break the air conditioning off the bottom of the van!

Once the a/c unit had been removed we headed back to the main track and jouned with a number of other white vans to see the best sight of the day. A mother lion and her three cubs were relaxing in the early evening sun. The cubs were happy to play with each other whilst we watched. Another brilliant photo opportunity missed.

After seei enough of the lions, we left the “pack” of white vans and continued home. We passed more zebra and wildebeest and we also managed to spot two more lions in the tall grasses a couple of hundred yards away.

Once back at the hotel we showered and went to supper. After supper some of the Masi tribesmen did some dancing (very much like on the BBC intro sequence). On our walk back to our rooms we were escorted by a member of staff as the hippos and other animals wander around the lodge and before we were in our rooms we had seen zebra and hippos!!

Kenya on its way

On Saturday evening I am flying out to Kenya with my parents and brother to celebrate my mum & dad’s 25th wedding anniversary.

The trip has been booked through Trailfinders and our itinery includes 5 days of safari and 2 weeks of beach holiday in Zanzibar.

If I’m perfectly honest I am looking forward to the 2 weeks on the beach more than the safari if only because the days are starting at 5:00am and that’s gonna be more than a small shock to the system!

Wherever possible I will keep the blog updated with the happenings of the holiday and anyone who is interested can read along.

2 presentations in 3 days

Well after the success of Tuesday’s presentation I was asked to create another that could be used at the Middle and Senior school prizegiving. This was a much less difficult presentation to organise as there was no music for it to be in sync with and just to be merely a collection of images displayed in order. With just over 100 images and 6 seconds per image I created at 10 minute slideshow that repeated.

However, now that this has been completed I am looking for some work that I can do to keep me going now there is no more to do at Downsend (except their website).

Presentation over!

Well, that was possibly the most stressful presentation I have ever tried to do.

Once I had completed the first phase in Premiere I exported the video as uncompressed and the resulting file was 13GB in size! I stuck the video into AVI2DVD in an attempt to author it successfully however this decided that it would author the first 4:54 but not the remaining part of the video! This stressed my dad out and didnt make it too easy for me. At the end of it all I managed to get it working but it did involve me taking my computer into Downsend in order to run the presentation off it.

When I got there PMI were happy to DI my PC into their sound rig so that people could hear the presentation. We tested it – all working OK. Parents started to arrive and my computer sat there running well. The event started and just before the presentation was due start I realised that my screensaver had kicked in and was password protected. I had to crawl in front of the stage, put the password in and make sure the presentation was working properly. How embarassing!
All ended up working as it should do and the children clapped along with the music and people were happy. There was a lot of positive feedback after the event which was good to see – I now need to beat this years presentation next year!!!

Dario G – Sunchyme

I’m currently in the process of creating a DVD presentation set to Dario G’s Sunchyme and over the past 24 hours have heard the song about 1 000 000 times. It is starting to get quite tedious but in order to get the timings of the various clips accurate I need to listen to it over and over and over again!

Apart from that I have been to a White family lunch. My mum, dad and myself went over to see most of the my dad’s side of the family. We had a really nice meal and it was the first time we had all been together for a long time. My dad showed his complete dislike to animals by scaring off a random cat that had wandered into the garden – everyone was just ignoring the cat but when it walked towards my dad he just shouted at it to “GO AWAY”. As the cat clearly doesn’t understand english a further shout of “BRRRRRRR!!!!” was heard!

Simon “couldn’t make it” but I feel that he would rather spend time with friends over family… tut tut!

Right… off to sleep as I need to get up early tomorrow to sort out the rest of this bloody presentation!

Heatsink installed

Well after a while without posts I thought it about time that I add a couple in one day.

Having finally woken up this afternoon I have taken my case apart and fitted my new XP-90C heatsink. My CPU is idling at 33° and I think it will run slightly cooler than that when i sort out the airflow properly. I have yet to test it under load but the copper base of the heatsink mixed with the Arctic Silver thermal compound should provide a nice, cool operating enviroment for my PC.

I will keep you all posted with the news relating to the temperature once I have started to use it more