November Beho Beho Bush Mail
In the Southern Hemisphere the 11th month of the year represents rejuvenation and rebirth as we celebrate Spring. November is represented by the Chrysanthemum flower – for us it is a month when the new rains fall on the baked African earth bringing life and restoration of food to so much wildlife. Green grass grows abundantly, hippo’s now wallow in full pools and the giant majestic baobabs sprout their green luscious leaves for the first time this season. And yet as far as safari is concerned it is a quiet month in East Africa with few travellers. With this in mind we decided to close Beho Beho for just under a month from the middle of November to the first week in December. What comes to mind in the first few weeks of spring? Some spring cleaning one would expect and perhaps a bit of gardening – out with the old to make space for the new?!
The knocking down of Banda 1 was the first therapeutic move towards clearing out that which was old and unused. Banda 1 can be compared to the scraggly teddy bear that you keep in your cupboard – collecting dust but of which you have such fond memories and personal attachment that you can’t seem to let him go. Banda 1 was one of the first stone cottages built by Christopher Bailey and for most of his time Banda 1 was always his. After he passed away, Banda 1 became the room that Charlie and his wife Nicky would always stay in. A bit small and pokey for paying guests perhaps – but cosy and homely to everyone else. After much discussion, it was decided that Banda 1 be knocked down to open up the area near the swimming pool and enlarge the view over the hills from the main area. Knocking down a house built by the infamous Christopher Bailey (as predicted) turned out to be no easy task.
First the furniture, decorations, plumbing and lighting fixtures were removed. Then came the process of removing the stone cladding on the outside (to be recycled in a new building project called ‘Bailey’s Banda’), removing lead wood, breaking the walls and stone floor (but keeping the beautiful stone floor pieces intact – again for recycling) and then breaking through concrete foundations that turned out to be much deeper than one would ever have expected! Then all that remained was a sad pile of concrete rubble that had to be loaded onto trucks and carted away to be used elsewhere. Then soil on top and time to get gardening. Ian and Walter enjoyed planting new grass and watering the new top soil everyday watching new sprouts with eager eyes and even scolding Bond (our resident elephant) one morning for walking over the new bare patch. Compressing the earth – that’s what I would call it and very helpful too!
The pool – another area which we felt needed some tender love and care and a bit of a face-lift. We removed the wooden decking first and then the makuti thatch roof plus the wooden support structure. Both decking areas were filled with rock and concrete and given a smooth stone floor with stone from the Beho Beho River. The end result is a new larger and superior sun tanning area with space for more sun beds. The beautiful tree which no-one had noticed before (being hidden by the thatched roof) now provides dappled shade over this area. Six single sun loungers plus two stunningly romantic double sun loungers provide ample space for everyone to enjoy the pool on a hot day. The area on the left hand side now has been given a simple flat roof made from poles and shade cloth. This is pleasing on the eye and does not obstruct the view. Under here are comfortable new wicker chairs and a table – the perfect place to have a lazy lunch and a glass of vino on a warm day.
The kitchen was also another area to go under renovation with some exciting improvements. Karin is pleased to have been able to knock down an interior wall and open up the middle space of the kitchen and thus move things around to create more space and order. Old tiles were removed from the walls and new work surfaces put down. The floor screeded and painted and a false ceiling put in. The end objective was to have a central open space with stainless steel movable work surfaces and preparation areas allowing the cooks to move freely around the kitchen without any obstructions. Cooking areas on one side and refrigeration on the other. The end result is a hygienic and professional cooking area.And so, saving the best for last…The refurbishment of the soft furnishings here at Beho Beho. The end result is a surprising mix of bright colours which work together superbly. New comfy couches and armchairs in plain tones with a collection of vividly coloured comfortable cushions. Cushions with floral prints, poka-dots, and stripes in varying shades of colours are scattered in abundance. New lamps and new glass candle globes provide illumination at night and set the perfect tone with plenty of candles. Oversized bamboo lanterns light the corners of the dining room creating a starry-eyed effect. Moroccan style floor cushions are hidden in the front of the dining area on the steps down to the parade ground – providing the perfect secret cove to relax for a moment and enjoy pre-dinner drinks whilst watching the water hole. And at the same time all of this seems to keep in touch with the ethos of Beho Beho – that this place is a home, your home with a hint of something British.
A similar style is continued into the rooms – with the bed being covered in a cream-coloured soft comfortable throw with pale pink and green floral bed cushions. The Zanzibar day bed is given a kick and perked up with a bright red bed cover and loads of comfortable brightly coloured cushions in pinks and yellows. The stone veranda chair is also given a thick supporting mattress in plain beige with some matching beige cushions – making it the perfect place to enjoy a veranda safari from the comfort of your room. The overall effect is an appealing fresh touch of the pale pinks and greens of spring with a hint of something quirky and bright.
Our renovations and interior transformation has been completed in a total of 25 days. A mighty feat considering that all of the construction work is done by hand assisted by a tipper truck. Casual employees were brought in to assist our permanent staff. They were picked from the nearest local settlements – Matambwe and Kisaki providing new employment opportunities in the area. And after the first week of December Beho Beho has now been open again to receive guests. We hope our new visitors as well as those who are returning to us again will enjoy the little changes made which we hope make a big difference and the new colourful soft furnishings of the interiors. As a camp, personified by it’s name – Beho Beho (‘The Breeze’) should be continuous, ever-changing and progressive. With the flowers of spring blossoming now in the Selous Game Reserve and butterflies abound we look forward to welcoming new guests and soon to be friends of Beho Beho. Karibu sana.