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Correspondent&#39s week

Back at work after five days away in South Africa and the depression is just starting to subside.

I was a guest of Deutsche Asset Management, which arranged the trip for journalists and IFAs to mark the launch of two funds and its forthcoming rebrand as DWS Investments. Hard life, I know.

Arriving at Heathrow, I was met by Victor Ubogu, the ex-England international rugby player who was organising the jaunt through his new company. After blinking back the tears following Victor&#39s vigorous handshake, we set off.

As soon as the plane touched down in Johannesburg, we were whisked away to Sun City, passing dozens of locals by the side of the road selling cans of Coke and, biz-arrely, egg whisks. Upon arrival, we went straight to the Gary Player golf course (where the annual $1m challenge is held) and waited for the decent players to tee off.

As an astonishingly inept golfer myself, I ensured I was matched with the three people who were equally cackhanded at the noble game. The men in question, including Deutsche UK CEO Paul Berriman and Hargreaves Lansdown&#39s Mark Dampier, joined me in hacking around the course for the rest of the day.

The next morning, Deut-sche gave us a briefing about the fund launch at the amazingly tacky but salubrious Palace hotel (where we were residing) before taking us on safari at the Pilansberg game reserve.

Despite a frosty start – the gamekeeper, Sonya, kept threatening to leave us at the mercy of “brown, furry things” – the safari soon warmed up, with several rhinos, giraffes and elephants trundling nonchalantly past (and, in some cases, play-fighting). What a fantastic experience.

Later that evening, we visited the casinos in Sun City, where we witnessed fund manager Charlie Curtis walk straight to the blackjack tables and clean up with a dazzling array of double-handed moves that would have stunned Omar Sharif.

Duly inspired, I strutted to another table and discovered very quickly why Charlie manages more than £2bn while I have a crippling overdraft. Suitably chastened, I took refuge in the worst bamboo-splattered bar Sun City had to offer and helped another journalist fend off the amorous attentions of a local woman/man while balancing yet another drink.

Jolted out of my coma barely two hours after going to bed by the sound of Mark Dampier hammering on my door, I blearily joined the others as we headed back to Jo&#39burg and the Tri Nations rugby match between South Africa and Australia.

As the murder capital of the world, Jo&#39burg is a fairly scary place but I soon discovered that it was nowhere near as frightening as the Afrikaaners in the hospitality area before the match.

The mullet-happy crowd did not take long to clock the Australian journalist among us (it must have been the canary-yellow shirt) and wasted even less time in abusing/trying to pull her, as only a rugby fan can.

The game itself was very entertaining, particularly at the end when South Africa won with the final kick, but I cannot say I was unhappy to be ensconced in the warmth of the hospitality area after the game (it was eight degrees and raining).

Dinner that night was at the unpromisingly named Codfather, which turned out to serve the best (and most copious) seafood I have ever tasted. You had to see the sheer quantity to believe it.

I was still having difficulty hauling my bloated frame around without pain the following day, which was spent shopping for souvenirs at a local market and mall.

Managing to pick up a couple of bargains (at around 15 rand to the pound, no hard task), we headed back to the hotel for the last time and, in the true tradition of British tourists the world over, settled down to watch Liverpool •Aston Villa.

Sadly, after the game, we had to head back to airport, say goodbye to South Africa and one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had. I hope to go back soon.

Chris Duncan is a reporter on Money Marketing


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