Between Easter 1967 and Easter 1973, we filmed Safari Rallies. The introduction to new food and drink was not limited to Monte Carlo, there were plenty of pleasant surprises waiting in East Africa.
Although I had seen Avocados in England, I had never tried them. Once I saw them in Nairobi, beautiful, green and fresh, I ordered one. It was so delicious, I had them every other day.
At the Intercontinental Hotel, we could make use of their Bamboo Room which was a small restaurant within the hotel that was open for most of the time. It suited our odd comings and goings. There, I was introduced to Tilapia, a fish that was being caught in Lake Victoria. Tilapia is a warm-water fish and I suspect it is this fact that prevented me from knowing about it in northern Europe. Today, it is available all over Europe and should be tried for its succulent taste.
The rally was what we regarded, by now, as routine, however, when the rally cars set off to the north west, bound for Uganda, cameraman Paul Badin and I went with them. We were flown up to Jinja in a light aircraft and then we walked along the rally route which took the cars into Kampala.
By lunchtime, we were hungry. The problem was that there was nowhere for us to eat. In fact there was no signs of civilisation on the road. After a while, we could see a truck approaching from about a mile away. It was at an angle as if it had been overloaded on one side. As it approached, we could see that it was carrying huge bunches of bananas.
There would have been around forty or fifty bananas to the bunch.
Badin stepped out into the road and signalled for the driver to stop. I was amazed that he was not run over. The driver, who spoke no English or French, asked what he wanted. Badin, realising what he was saying, pointed to the bananas and then to his mouth, chewing the cud, and then held out his hand with some money in it. The driver took a shilling from Badin’s display of wealth and then climbed up the side of the truck and brought down one of his huge bunches of bananas. Badin took the bunch, removed about half a dozen bananas then gave the rest back to the driver. He was well pleased and we had our early lunch before the rally cars came down the road.
Jacques Hubinet had asked me if he could bring his friend along (at his own expense) using our group air fare discount. I agreed and got a return ticket from British Caledonian Airways for £105. Patrick Cordesse was his friend who, at that time, spent a lot of his time in Scotland arranging grouse shoots on estates.
It was always useful to have an extra hand and Patrick travelled around with Jacques Hubinet working as his assistant. In return, I arranged for him to stay in a Cabana at the Intercontinental Hotel. A Cabana was a small accommodation ranged side by side at one end of the swimming pool in the gardens of the hotel. Inside, there was a single bed, a dressing table, wardrobe, toilet and shower. The room was about seven feet wide and about eighteen feet long. Patrick thought it was a fine room, especially as it was available at £3.50 per night.
A few months later, I received a parcel at the office containing a bottle of 1964 Dom Perignon. 1964 was one of the great years for Champagne. I was told that one should not keep a bottle of Champagne (unopened) for more than fourteen years. I kept it until my fiftieth birthday, fourteen years later.
Next chapter: Chapter 65: Try the Coquille St. Jacques