Tuesday, 28 February 2017


Our room here at Black Buck Lodge is very spacious and comfortable but unfortunately I've started yet another cold (3rd one this Winter) and woke up at 4.30am to get a glass of water and tissues. I looked out of the window and was stunned to see scores of blackbucks (mostly female/juveniles which are tan coloured) grazing outside our bungalow and right up close to our patio – I was so excited I had to wake David (no mean feat).  But he agreed the sight was worth being woken for.

Our cameras aren't up to taking decent night time photos so all we could do was watch them grazing  for a while and go back to bed.

This morning we went to the restaurant building to find we were the only guests in residence.   David went straight in and helped himself to a bowl of cereal but I just wanted fruit juice. We didn't realise there is a formulaic breakfast served and David had spoilt their routine …. 

Firstly we were served with these delicious bowls of granola and dried fruits with yoghurt and sliced apple. David tried to send his back but the waiter was adamant he should try it as an energy food (obviously recognised  that David definitely isn't a morning person and needed some help) !

Then came a huge bowl of freshly prepared local fruits, pineapples, melon, mango and the tiny little grapes I love here – they look like jelly beans (torpedo shaped).   David's face fell – he really isn't into healthy fruits and salads so I struggled through and made a bit of a dent in the mountain.  Omelettes turned up (plain for him and masala for me) followed by toast and preserves. I don't know who controls portion sizes here but they sent out 8 slices of toast for the two of us! Crazy!    

I think the restaurant staff are bored, each time we've walked past today they've asked if we want snacks or coffee but we're happy being back to eating just two meals a day.   We did settle for fresh lime soda drinks this afternoon - they were delicious.

After breakfast we went for a walk and headed for one of the 'tent/hides' to watch the wildlife/birdlife. Hide is not dignified enough to describe the luxurious shady seating areas …. pictures of a couple of them

This was the smallest one at the side of one of the lakes - it had a couple of loungers and a cupboard/table top but it was a welcome haven from the hot sun - the animals and birds are used to seeing them and seem to ignore them

This was a bigger one close to our bungalow

This was the largest and obviously intended for when there are more guests staying at the lodge ... we spent a bit of time at this one as there were a couple of dead trees in the centre of the lake which were in regular use by Kingfishers (3 different types), green Bee Eaters and Drongoes 

The blackbucks came down to the lake to drink and kept a wary eye on us but didn't seem too fazed by our presence – we were on opposite sides of the lake though so they knew they were safe enough.

As I'm feeling very full of cold it has been lovely to just chill today and watch the animals/birds. The temperature is 36 deg / 97 deg which is just too hot for doing lots of sightseeing. I think we'll do much the same thing tomorrow. Having heard from the 'outgoing' tour group yesterday that they didn't think much of the drives in the main National Park (and had to pay £15 each camera charge) we might as well stay put.

Sadly, our penultimate bottle of wine enjoyed on our patio yesterday turned out to be our final bottle. We got through our secret hoard sooner than anticipated this trip although we did share a few bottles at the Olivipe Homestay.   

The restaurant here has apparently been drunk dry by the tour group so has no beer or wine left – just vodka and whisky.  David is grumpy – he hadn't realised Gujerat is a 'dry' state so any alcohol provided is done almost surreptitiously . I think he's writen his own blog post so I won't say any more on the subject!

I must say I LOVE the outdoor shower - such a novelty.   Its in a totally walled garden area but open to the sky.   Its a fab place to dry washing.   We've  caught up on laundering shirts/blouses/underwear and everything dries in under 2 hours!   We'll be heading off to Mumbai with no dirty laundry in our cases which is a bonus.

Black bucks (Indian antelopes)

The adult males appear to spend most of their time strutting around looking very superior although the ladies seemed to be leading them a merry dance ... its obviously the season for the ladies' attention to stray and they had to be constantly rounded up and brought back into the harem

This one had a nice 'smiley' face I think 

Females and juveniles are light coloured and I think this is a young male .. although I've read that the females can also grown horns sometimes

Boing, boing ... bouncing black buck females

There was a bit of male rivalry going on here - vying for the female's attention

As we left the restaurant after breakfast David spotted this huge lizard but it was so immobile we weren't sure if it was a carving or the 'real thing' ... so I gave it a little poke (as you do)

and up curled its tail ...... it was real

then David spotted another one nearby ... this one had a raised crest though but I think they're the same type.    Overall we reckon they're around 15" long (the tails account for most of the length)

 and this one went scuttling across the steps of our bungalow this afternoon ... I startled it, hence the raised tail - They're quite comical little characters

and one of the cows which roam around the grounds of the Lodge ... well it wouldn't be India without a cow or two!

There are lots of squirrels everywhere - very similar to the Barbary Ground Squirrels found on Fuerteventura (commonly known there as Chipmunks).   They are much smaller than European squirrels and have striped bodies.

and some other bugs seen near the water

Well it's been a long and hot day and we need to catch up on sleep so will call a halt here.    

I'll sort out some bird pics taken today and post them tomorrow ... wifi permitting.


Hi. It's me, David. 

It's been 97deg today. Just right for a cold beer while sitting watching the wildlife. 

Today we found that Gujerat is a 'dry' state, you can't buy beer or wine and hotels don't serve it.  A tour group of about 15 people were here up to yesterday and the hotel had got a special supply in. There were three small bottles of beer left and we'd brought a bottle of Sauvignon with us so we polished them off in expectation of supplies being shipped in. 


So that's added a new line to my planning checklist!

Sue's been very good about it -- so far.

Monday, 27 February 2017


Joshi (our driver/flexible friend) wanted us to leave at 7am this morning to avoid the worst of the Monday morning rush hour driving to Bangalore airport. In the event it was an easy drive and we were in the departure hall less than an hour later ….. to find the flight was delayed by 50 mins, then 1 hour, then another 15 mins etc., so we found a cafe where David could have an all day breakfast and we could charge up the laptop computer at the same time

When the gate was announced I got us to the front of the queue!! I was asked to sit down and wait but I wasn't going to give up our Pole Position in the queue– the Mem Sahib is not moving for anybody. So the jobsworth little desk man created a barricade around us with those metal upright stands and elastic fences. But we won! Only to find that pole position just got us onto the transfer bus first … then I gave up my seat to a fairly decrepit Indian gentleman so went down the pecking order rapidly.

I've never seen airline staff running so fast …. the crew, pilots … everybody really was scurrying around to get the plane off the ground. The new crew were running up the stairs as passengers were still disembarking from the incoming (late) flight. Once we were on board the chief steward was screaming at people over the tannoy to get on and sit down.... the airport closes from 1145 to about 1700 and it was already 1135. Our flight was around 90 minutes late arriving at Ahmedabad and I reckon they had less than 10mins turnaround. But they did brilliantly – well done IndiGo airlines!

The flight is a short one – just abut 90 minutes so we ordered Chai (Indian tea) and fruit cake – expecting one thin slice of cake. But we were each presented with a box containing 4 thick slices of traditional style fruit cake which was delicious. David read the calorific count (425) so we restricted ourselves to one slice each and the rest is still boxed for future consumption.

We arrived at Ahmedabad and were met as planned by a driver organised by the Blackbuck Lodge. The drive was pretty boring – the first hour was slow, negotiating through a busy city but then gradually the landscape became more rural and interesting. If Joshi had been driving I'd have asked him to stop several times on the journey so I could take photos. Our driver had very limited English so David dozed and I took a few photos from the back seat, through the driver's windscreen, which are very poor. The temperature is in the mid to high 30s (nearly 100 degrees) and there is a haze everywhere – I guess partly from pollution and partly from the heat.

Anyway in the absence of anything else to post here are a few pics taken on the road through a dirty screen – I do love the Indian road scenes:

I've never heard of yoga for eyes before ... must Google it when we have a decent internet connection.   This was an ad on the back of a Tuk Tuk (auto rickshaw)

These little 3 wheelers are everywhere  - real workhorses always loaded up with goods and people

Plastic chairs

Friends and family

 What a lot of Bulls!

Hanging on by the skin of their teeth here, methinks!

We arrived at Blackbuck Lodge shortly before sunset so just chilled on our verandah with the penultimate bottle of wine we bought with us. 

This is our lodge (photographed in poor light)

The bedroom/sitting room area

Bathroom, with sunken bath and indoor shower


outdoor shower (totally private) and highly recommended by David

Private Terrace overlooking 'savannah' landscape

 There were hundred of birds flocking around sunset


We saw one blackbuck deer in the distance and lots of birds but the light was failing.

The lodge has 14 bungalows, all equipped to a very high standard. Each has a private terrace facing the scrubland where blackbucks graze in the cooler parts of the day. There are a few lakes which attract birdlife and many other attractions which I've forgotten (tired tonight)!

BUT oh dear, we went to Dinner and sat next to a table of Brits about to depart tomorrow and one guy was very angry about having to pay camera fees on the 'drive' they'd taken. He was really ranting. As he left I couldn't help butting in to say that we've always had to pay to take cameras into tourist attractions – its a standard thing in India. However, we'd expect to pay between 50pence and £2normally. He reckons he was charged £15 which is a bit steep …. and that the 'drive' wasn't worth the money. Another member of his group (a lady) just walked past us and muttered 'happy days' so I think perhaps this guy is a serial complainer and we will form our own judgement. However, we're going to hold back on doing any official drives till we get a better feel for the place … maybe we'll be happier just wandering around and taking pictures around the lakes and grounds of the lodge.

We've been given the wifi code but the signal is so weak I haven't been able to access Blogger tonight so am just uploading photos and putting down some thoughts on Open Office Writer – which I can copy and paste to Blogger when we get a better signal … which may not be until we're in Mumbai now