Picture this. A cute baby elephant grazing with mother and the rest of the herd along a narrow dirt track in the Madikwe Game Reserve in northern South Africa. Tranquil.
About two minutes after this shot was taken the mother became spooked by the ignition of our open Landrover 4WD and charged us. Our ranger Johnny was cool under pressure. Stalling the Landy wouldn't have been fun for nine passengers.
The mother chased us for at least a hundred metres at full tilt. Just as we thought we were in the clear, we rounded a tight blind bend in second gear and almost bumped into another elephant who turned on its heels and gave chase too.
I was sitting up the back and peering out the side throughout all of this. My running commentary was only: "It's still chasing us..."
We stayed in an open camp where it's not uncommon for wild dogs to be in the vicinity or to see the odd lion of a night. An evening stroll to the loo is not recommended.
Unfortunately we didn't get to see a leopard or wild dogs but perhaps one of the highlights was a pair of mating lions.
To learn about radio you have to listen to radio. I think I've learnt more about practical radio production through the crackle and hiss of this lightweight portable Sony transistor radio than from any book or course.
Sure you have to learn basic production techniques. But in my view, nothing helps develop your skills further than by listening to as much radio as you can and being an active listener - identifying and analysing different formats and techniques and then getting inspired to try something new in your own stories or programmes.
These days my iPod and podcasts compete with my little trannie radio, but I'm still an active listener by habit.
On my recent trip to South Africa to train community radio journalists/producers, none of the participants had mp3 players, but everyone had a mobile phone. And, quite a few had either late model N-Series Nokias, Samsungs or Sony-Ericsons. It was interesting to see music and audio files of comedy sketches being shared. Those who had built in cameras snapped photos, and some tuned into the radio with their built in receiver. One journalist even uses her phone to record audio interviews. Social media sites Facebook and Mxitwere also mentioned a lot. Mxit in particular is huge among young South Africans.
Multimedia-wise, the beauty of training in South Africa is that broadband internet is widely available. Downloading podcasts or audio materials for training examples is only a click away and fast. With around 90% of South Africans having access to a radio, community radio will continue to play a vital role in the SA media landscape. However in parallel, the proliferation of mobile phones, broadband internet and access to a 3G network could well make the mobile phone a handy little multimedia tool for training broadcast journalists. Mojos are already on the scene in South Africa too.
I've just got back from two weeks in Johannesburg. The last time I was there was 2000 and the city has changed a lot. Back then it wasn't uncommon to see CBD office blocks mothballed with the first couple of floors bricked up. I stayed in Sandton and very much felt confined to barracks in an apartment block - particular at night. There's only so much of interest at a local shopping mall. Hardly cultural.
This time round my colleague suggested we stay in Melville. Sure, your personal security is always going to be a consideration in Joburg but the combination of a comfy B&B close to the city and a foodie's paradise on nearby 7th Street made my stay very enjoyable. Well worth the 2 kilos I put on!
For journos looking for a place to stay your best bet is The Melville House B&B. Journalist Heidi Holland is a grand host. TV types might be in trouble if you're inclined to fret over your waistline - the full English brekky of a morning is something to look forward to. Heidi loves a chat and of an evening you'll no doubt meet other guests over a glass of wine.
Over the fortnight we were in residence we met correspondents from BBC, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, Mail & Guardian and people from the NGO's WWF and Amnesty among others.
You can just imagine what happens when you mix that lot together and add a yummy glass of SA white wine.