Tuesday, 4 May 2010

African adventure for House & Garden


I never was one of those people who was desperate to get to Africa. But when the opportunity came up to travel there I did everything in my power to be able to go. I'm so glad that I did because it is a holiday that has stayed with me longer than the happy memories. Something stronger and deeper happened.

I flew into Jo-burg and then to Zambia and then took a car journey to Zimbabwe. I heard stories of people's suffering that made tears well in my eyes. Not just because it was a sorry existence that they had to endure under economic sanctions but because of their resilience and their optimism and good humour. It's obvious, but it really drilled home that when sanctions are made against a country it is the people that suffer, not those in power.

The guides in Zimbabwe are some of the best trained in the world. They have to study for five years, learning about the environment and the ecology of their land. And at the end they go on a game drive and have to track down an animal and they only get one chance to get their mark. (These hunts are all regulated by the government so that they're sustainable - they were much more concerned with preservation than I ever expected).

From Zimbabwe we made our way to Botswana. The first stop was an area in the Delta, and it was a completely different landscape and ecology to Victoria Falls. Again, it was the people that won me over. I loved hearing about one of the guides who came from a family of Bushmen. These are people who live a very traditional life. Joseph told me that to gain the hand in marriage of someone from a nearby tribe he had to undergo three months of tests, which involved showing his competence as a hunter. He also demonstrated how to start a fire with his bare hands, which impressed me greatly as I have virtually no bush skills.

I have travelled in Asia and the Pacific and while I've met some lovely people I am often disappointed that the locals don't tend to engage with me as an equal - for various cultural and social reasons. But in Africa I was met with intellect, humour and pride. And I can't wait to go back.

The feature above is one that appears in the current issue of House & Garden. I was thrilled that they published my photographs too. Goodness knows I took enough of them!

I'll write more about my Africa trip as I can't wait to tell you about the &Beyond lodges where I stayed. They were amazing.

PS I have a little technical question for anyone who uses blogspot. My photos seem to be incredibly small even though I use the medium or large options to upload. I think it's because I've got three columns and they're getting compressed this way. Does anyone have any ideas of how I make them larger? Thanks!


dana | yellowtrace blog said...

Dear Natalie,
You words about Africa actually gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing your experience and your observations with us.
x dana

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

I just found your blog from A Tranquil Townhouse. I noticed you were wondering about the size of your photos. I get asked about that a lot and have suggestions on my 'blogging tips' page (http://gracie-senseandsimplicity.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_11.html). I do believe it is because you have 3 columns - try Minima Stretch. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Now I'm back to read more of your blog.

Lindsay said...

If you make the middle column wider by adjusting the sizes of your outer columns your pictures should get bigger. xx

julie said...

That's it, I'm going to have to go buy a copy of H&G now - your story looks amazing. I'd love to travel to Africa. I've been a sponsor through World Vision for the past 13 years so it would be so rewarding to meet my sponsor child in South Africa.

I use Blogger but am hopeless at the technical side, I just fumble my way through. I did come across a couple of great tutorials on Meet Me at Mikes a few months ago. If you search 'How to make photos bigger' on Pip's blog I am sure it will be of great help to you. Good Luck.

 Viv said...

Beautiful memories. I would love to visit there one day.

I upload my photos to Flickr first in the size I want (500px wide) and then I chose the 'add an image from the web' option in Blogger. I could never get them big enough by uploading to Blogger.

Anonymous said...

hi, first amazing images! me too, never really been an Africa person, although i love watching documentaries about the continent on TV so much! the countryside and animal life are amazing! would love to go on a photography trip maybe!

concerning the images, have you tried adjusting the images after you have uploaded and before you post them? there should always appear a small blue bar which sais the different sizes like small, medium, large, xlarge and you can click on them or also remove them... not sure how it is with a three column site...

hej, wanna have a look at my first ever Giveaway! would be glad to seeing you around...


lovely greets!

Carole said...

I'm so thrilled for you. To get your photographs published! I was in Zimbabwe and Botswana (and Namibia)last year and everything you say is so, so true. I was very mis-informed about Zimbabwe but I urge everyone to go. They need tourism so badly and you will be rewarded with kindness and grace.

Brandie {Out and About Africa} said...

Being from Africa + having an entire blog about the creative side of the continent, I'm clearly VERY bias. I really appreciate you sharing your experience with your readers as there are so many misconceptions about the continent. There is so much to see and do and wonderful people to meet and experiences to live, I wish everyone could at least visit as I am sure that even the most "not into Africa" person would quickly convert!

Thanks again

Natalie Walton said...

Thanks, Dana. I can't recommend Zimbabwe and Botswana highly enough.

Everyone else who gave tips. I'll give them a go and if I have no luck I'd love to some basic step-by-step instructions :-$

Andree said...

Dear Nathalie,

Beautiful pics -- I know exactly what you mean. We just came back too from SA, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia. Drove 4007km -- an amazing experience, especially camping in the bush with the animals all around you (and yes, they are, all around you!). You can see my pics under "Southern Africa" at www.bumpytours.com.

For my blog (On Linden Way), I upload pictures to Flickr, then post them to Blogger (which pushes them to my own platform). I've manipulated the image size in the text body. Please drop me an email if you'd like more details, so I can send a sweet and easy "tutorial".

Glad you had a great trip. I know that I'll be going back ASAP!



Andree said...

Great pics Natalie! I know exactly what you mean. We just drove 4007km in SA, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. One of the best part of the trips was sleeping in the bush with all the animals around you. And yes, they are, all around you! My photos are under "Southern Africa" at www.bumpytours.com.

For my blog (On Linden Way), I publish photos (700 pix) to Flickr, then post them to Blogger (which in turn pushes to my platform). I also tweak the text/HTML i blogger to get nice big images. Please drop me an email if you'd like a short "tutorial", I'd be happy to help.

Glad you had a great trip!


Andree said...

Great photos! I know what you mean -- we just came back from a 4007km drive from SA to Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. The best part was camping out at night in the bush, with all the animals! My photos are at www.bumpytours.com (under "Southern Africa").

For my blog (On Linden Way) I publish 700 pix images to Flickr, then post them to Blogger (which in turns pushes it to my platform). In blogger I have tweaked the HTML to get the size and the border. Please feel free to email if you'd like some more info.

I enjoy your blog very much!

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalie,

I have all of the Real Living magazines (one of my favourite shoots being the kids explorer bedroom in the recent issue), I love interior decorating & just purchased Sibella Court's beautiful book, Etcetera a couple of days ago, I haven't been able to put it down ..

I love receiving the Babyccino emails each day ..

I am yet to visit overseas though if I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be Africa in a heartbeat. Everything from the films shot there to the accomodation to the culture to the animals, which was the inspiration behind my business, The Savannah Room, for children's interiors.

When I came across your blog just now, with segments of all the above combined together, I just smiled :-)

Thanks so much Natalie, I've now subscribed

Katherine x

Marimardepp said...

Thanks for your lovely post. Your story is lovely.The images take me back to my African trip in Namibia. It was a dream come true to go to Africa and it was indeed the most memorable trip I've ever made. The poeple,the nature,the animals, the scenery,the contrasts. I hope I return to Africa in the near future.


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