After making York his home, Pete Richardson set off for a new life in Africa. In his first despatch he reveals the hazards of living with wildlife on your doorstep – and in your kitchen…
Sometimes it’s good to look back at places you have loved. As a slightly younger man I moved to York in 1986. I stayed rather longer than anticipated as a reporter on the then Yorkshire Evening Press before moving away in around 1998.
York has always had a very special place in my heart and I am proud to be the only York City fan I have met in South Africa as I now find myself living in the heart of Limpopo.
Sport is a massive thing here and my YCFC allegiance causes many a wry smile and the question: “But which Premier League side do you support?”
At this rate in three seasons they will have heard of the might Y-fronts.
One of the most popular past times is a sport prediction game called Superbru and it is from this I derive my login name of Yorkieboy.
Log-on and have a look and you will be impressed.
So each week when rather unsuccessfully try to predict some or other Super Rugby result I am reminded of my old home.
My new home is rather different.
Set in 22,000 hectares of Africa bush I now live at a rather special golf and safari resort where life is never dull.
In my York days I was always looking for a story… it was my job.
Here the stories are a little more extreme and not what I would have anticipated in the days when I was sampling the rather splendid ales at the finest pub in the world (The Maltings). The best stories still come from sharing a beer or two (although I long for the real stuff on tap just under Lendal Bridge not this freezing cold bottled lager).
And the latest is perhaps one of the best of my time here.
On Wednesday morning one of the game rangers here was woken up when an impala crashed through a window in his house in the game reserve. Sander is a Belgian. How he comes to be a qualified game ranger is for another day… but this was his most bizarre day at the office.
You can imagine the shock of the crashings and smashings of a medium-sized antelope suddenly arriving in your home – I can just see the headline in the EP now if a resident of sleepy New Earswick had a similar but rather unlikely experience.
And even more so when the impala was escaping from a hungry leopard.
Yes, the leopard was heard stalking around on the roof as Sander tried to shoo the terrified impala out of his cornflakes!
If you know your big cats you will now that the leopard is the most dangerous, most ferocious, most amazing of Africa’s predators. Sightings of leopard are relatively rare – I have seen one in three years – but the most exhilarating.
What would the news make of that in suburban York? Big cat terrifies Belgian. Big cat chases buck into bedroom.
As I said, there’s never a dull day in Africa. Or as they say here… Africa’s not for sissies!