The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa- a review

 

 

guide

What an absolutely delightful book! I read ‘ A Guide to the birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, in a couple of days, and was the perfect companion during my short flight from Cape Town to East London. Again, this book was purchased from the lovely FB group which brings new meaning to book buying addict… and was the second to be read in my ‘pile’.

When I started it I thought surely I have read it, it sounds so familiar! Clearly, this was another book I had started and never got further than the first chapter. Fascinating how some books just don’t grab you the first time! The story was about two gentlemen who have a friendly contest on who can see the most birds, and new birds each day within 7 days, in order to ask a certain lady out on a date. The story was amusing, the characters were quite vivid and again, they have planted themselves in my mind for the moment. I loved that the story was set in Kenya, with references to England too. Though the most amazing thing was the amount of birds these gentlemen saw each day.

To sound a little ignorant( I have never been a particularly avid ornithologist ) I really didn’t realise there were so many birds in the world, never mind one country in Africa.  It made me feel a little excited at the prospect of bird watching in my garden, we have many many birds that pop in and sing us good morning. Not that I know what any of them are, but I think I could very possibly give it a go in the holidays and see how many different species I can spot in a day…..

The ending was lovely and fitting for the novel, no serious great shakes, just a gentle novel, about kindness and honour and grief and bravery and learning to get over ones self.

 

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Q&A with Riaan Manser and an Awesome Give away!

As promised here is the interview with Riaan Manser, author of Around Africa On My Bicycle, Around Madagascar on my Kayak and Around Iceland on Inspiration.

Enjoy it, I have to say that I have great admiration for this man and what he does! As I used in my Pilates this morning: What doesn’t challenge you won’t change you! So very apt I think!

So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentleman, I present Riaan Manser!

1)    In writing ‘Around Africa on my bicycle’ did you find it difficult to remember your journey in as vivid detail as what you described? Especially when your notes were stolen?

Not at all. My diary was stolen on the Around Madagascar circumnavigation but returned after the robbers were caught the next evening while robbing someone else.

My Africa circumnavigation was different. I wrote notes on small pieces of paper and sent them home every now and then. It was amazing how many notes I had taken throughout the two years. I remember writing the Around Africa book and been mesmerized at how not only memories flooded back but even distinct smells!

2) If there was just one memory that you could keep from your journey around Africa what would it be?

Crossing that finish line feeling. It was unbelievable to imagine someone actually took a bicycle where I had and HOW I had. And that person was ME. Strange to say but it probably was the first time in my life where I was genuinely proud of myself.

 3) Since traversing the African continent (including climbing Mount Kilaminjaro -which is definitely on my ‘list of things to do before I die) and kayaking around Iceland and Madagascar, is there anything in your ‘creature comforts’ of home that could compare with any of those expeditions?

I love sleeping on the floor. Just a blanket over me and maybe a few books as a pillow. I also have a weird obsession with cold weather. I don’t like getting too hot.

 4) How did you meet Dan Skinstad and how did he need much convincing in order to go around Iceland on a kayak?

Nope Dan was super eager. I had met him through his famous big brother. Dan pulled at my heart string and I wanted to do something for him that would change his life. I think we accomplished that in the Iceland circumnavigation.

 5) What is your main inspiration to be exceptional?

I don’t have a father who I can look up to and appreciate. A father I can brag about and call on when times are tough. My goal is simple. I want to make a legend of my life so my children one day can be proud of me. Probably every man’s goal I think.

 6) What was it like to meet Mandela, our heart of our nation? 

 Surreal. Mr Mandela is what all human beings want to be. That humanness that cannot be reproduced or bottled. The time I spent with Mr Mandela was probably the highlight of my career thus far. The special moment in our meeting was when he paused for a long time. Looking me square in the eyes, and then telling me that I don’t realize how great an achievement this Africa journey was. He said it is a journey that will inspire the youth of our continent .

 7) In your book, you alluded to your childhood and foster care, do you think that you would write a book about your experiences there? 

Without a doubt. I’m just very sensitive about it and not brave enough. I grew up feeling inadequate , abandoned and unwanted. It’s cowardly I guess but I will in time share everything.

8) What is your hardest part about putting pen to paper and telling us readers about your journeys?

All writers will tell you that there are days when the words just flow and you’re a runaway train . Then there are those days where you cannot even get a paragraph out in one days sitting. Hyper self critique is the most debilitating .

 9) How did you decide on your charity ‘ No food for Lazy man’ to work with children and sport. I really like that they need to give back in some way, in this day and age so many children grow up with a sense of entitlement but yet give nothing in return or even work for that sense of entitlement. 

 You’re spot on. But the reality is that that entitlement you speak of is taught. Children don’t expect unless someone is always just giving.  I want any kid that is blessed through NO FOOD FOR LAZYMAN to pass that blessing on, in which ever way they can. Two things are taught and learnt here. One is that nothing in life is free. And secondly , no matter how dire your situation you can still help someone else.

 10) Would you like to have children of your own one day? And if so, would you do an adventure with your child?

Having children is actually my BIGGEST dream. I want to have 6 kids if possible. My kids entire life with me will be an adventure!

And there you have it! Admit it, you feel inspired don’t you?

And now, we have an awesome give away! We are giving away one of your choice of Riaan’s books. Choose one out of his three books AND get a personalised inscription in the front cover!

What do you need to do to stand a chance to win?

* Tell us in the comments section one crazy thing you have either done, or would like to do with your life.

* Share this giveaway on FB, twitter and/or your blog (an extra entry for each one)

* Make sure you include an email address so we can contact you if you win.

Simple as that!

So, even if you are not inspired, maybe you know of someone who needs that little nudge in following their dreams and knowing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it? Enter on behalf of them and get a personalised inscription from the man himself.

This give away is unfortunately Not international.

Get your comments on and holding thumbs you win!

Give away closes on the 13th June and the winner announced on the 14th.

You can see my reviews here and here.

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Around Africa on my Bicycle – Riaan Manser – a review

I am sure that if you follow me on FB or twitter, you know that I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Let me tell you a bit more about it…

I went book shopping a little while ago in one of my favourite second hand bookshops and I found it in the travel section, i often look in the travel because though I don’t do much of it myself, I do enjoy reading about others that have. Not all of them mind you, I like the quirky and interesting travel books, I remember one that I read a good many years ago called Around Ireland with a fridge, again I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, when I discovered this tome of a book, it was a given that it was coming home with me!

What I didn’t realise was that Riaan Manser was the very same man who went around Iceland on a Kayak, imagine my delight when I found out it was! I fell further in love with this intrepid traveller…

Firstly, I have to say, that I could never travel around Africa on a bicycle, the main reason being is that I cannot ride a bicycle, well, not very well and definitely not through terrain like Riaan had to traverse. So, why did I enjoy this book so much, that it even inspired me to go searching google and find him so that I could request an interview?

My first and foremost reason, is that he travelled Africa. Yes, I am born and bred South African but I have not travelled further than the Eastern Cape. I have not had the pleasure of meeting ‘real African wild life’ (bar from the animals that I see on the game farm on the way to and from my daughter’s school – including a zebra which seems to have come out of hiding and elephants at Addo), I haven’t experienced ‘African Food’ and the people of Africa are of such a wide array, I can honestly see why we are called the Rainbow Nation.

but he did, and on a bicycle no less!

36 500 kilometers and 34 countries,with experiences that most of us would cringe at.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for someone who can put away the creature comforts of our Western civilisation, go it alone and appreciate each and every one of his experiences. And experiences he had, many of them, which personally I think could shape ones internal life, spiritual and physical.

“Here I seemed to understand things about myself and the world itself that I had never understood or even thought of before. Like finding the places to put difficult puzzle pieces of a giant puzzle. nothing flashy happens but inside you know and understand that the puzzle is nearly completed. I don’t think it could have happened anywhere else on the planet.” – Riaan Manser.

Travelling from the V&A waterfront all along the coast line and coming back into Cape Town again, Riaan met many people on his journey, both good and bad and what I really enjoyed about this book is that he doesn’t hold back on spilling the beans on the ‘bad’ people. Both sides are mentioned but it is refreshing to see that usually kindness wins out on the most part. With a good few terrifying experiences, Riaan faces many of his fears in his determination to circumnavigate Africa.

It is a truly inspirational read and I urge to find yourself a copy and get stuck into its 700 pages, for South Africans and non South Africans alike, this will open your eyes to our country and its vast array of different people who inhabit it.

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