The last time I spoke to Henley Management School it was on the banks of the River Thames. This evening it was in the Paulshof suburb of Johannesburg to the background accompaniment of a dramatic thunderstorm. It has been too long since I was last in South Africa and a lot has changed for both good and bad. The Gautrain is one of the good. Straight out of the customs hall, up an escalator and then less than half an hour later I am greeting Sonja in Centurion. My first (of three) guest houses on this trip is the Leopardsong Lodge located a secure estate near her house. The security is increased, one of the bad.
I had flow here by way of Cairo and the quality of service on Egyptair was a bonus. Budgets are tight on this trip and accepting a Cairo routing had allowed me to fly business class for less than the cost of Premium Economy on It's your privilege to be allowed to fly with us BA. Some of the reviews had me a little worried but there was nothing to complain about. The diabetic meals were good and handled with discretion, there was plenty of room to work and sleep and the staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. OK the absence of any alcohol meant by normal strategy of G&T induced sleep was not available and the lounge in Cairo was basic but overall I'd recommend them without hesitation.
There is also a nice rhythm to a five hour afternoon flight where you can work being followed by a near midnight flight of with hours where you can sleep. So I arrived a Jo'burg fresh and any dullness was relieved by the bath in the lodge. I never understand why people stay in hotels in South Africa when there are so many wonderful high quality lodges, run by interesting people who go out of their way to welcome you.
The afternoon was spent on the lodge balcony planning the rest of the many and various events that have been set up. It is good to be working with Sonja again and she has but a lot of effort into maintaining the links with Cognitive Edge and myself over the last few years. The illustration for this blog is from her web site. It is going to be an intense few days, but we are already planning a longer return in May and a possible shorter one in May. The other bonus at tonights lecture was meeting up again with Derrick Kourie who was doing his PhD in Lancaster at the same time as I did my BA. We were both in the Catholic Chaplaincy and ended up sharing a house in Lancaster along with Celia (who later married him) and John (who I have lost touch with). I've managed to get together on most of my trips out here and both his sons have inherited his capacity for deep conversation.
Oh, and yes the lecture went well, slides here for those who want them. Lots of good questions and considerable excitement. More to come of that relationship I think both here (and back in the UK).