It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Think It, He Says It ...

Each time I go back to Australia I nearly die at how expensive everything is.  The prices are outrageous.  I remember when I was growing up in Australia that we would always hear how expensive Europe was and how cheap Australia was in comparison, well that's certainly changed now.

Here's an article that my girlfriend Sarah found, written by Ben Groundwater in The Age on his reaction to prices in Australia when he got back from his adventures.  Apologies for the formatting, it's just not coming together for me!

I'm really trying hard. I don't want to be that guy. But I have a feeling I'm starting to crack.
Everything's so expensive! Everything in Australia, that is. It's crippingly, shockingly expensive.
And that's the thing you notice when you get back from a long trip overseas. It's not that your friends all have more children than they used to, or that the Labor Party is more of a shambles than it used to be, it's that everything in this country seems far more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
No one likes that guy, the one who whinges about how much cheaper everything was when they were overseas. They don't want to listen to you bang on about the 50-cent beers and the two-dollar dinners. So you have to try to keep the outrage to yourself.
But come on! I went to a bar in Melbourne the other day and ordered a schooner of beer. Normal old beer. "That's $10 thanks," the bartender said.
I looked up. "But I'm only having the beer."
Eight dollars! For a beer? What I wanted to do, of course, was turn around to my friend and have a whinge, to tell him about the €1.20 beers I was drinking in Seville (they weren't the full schooner, but they were still pretty darn cheap). I wanted to tell him about the £4 pints in so-called "expensive" London.
But instead I just reached into my wallet, eased out a lobster and prepared to take the pain.
It's not just booze that hits you though. I'm back from a long stint away, so I'm catching up with a lot of friends, and it's all started to add up.
Brunch is expensive. A great concept, obviously – but expensive. When you're used to paying a dollar or so for a meal in Iran, or slightly more for dinner in Burma, getting stung $18 for some eggs and bacon first thing in the morning can be a bit hard to get your head around.
Do you know what it's like buying breakfast in Spain, you want to ask people? You can go to a bar and get a toasted roll with tomato, olive oil and jamon iberico, plus a coffee with milk, for €3. Three euros! You'd be lucky to get the roll for that much here.
Getting around is expensive. I had to pay $6 in Melbourne just to buy a Myki card. Not to get anywhere – just to have the pleasure of using the system. I could have talked someone into driving me clear across Iran for $6. I could have ridden trains in Berlin all day.
Oh, and then there's rent. I'm looking for a flat at the moment, and it's sometimes hard to work out whether the advertised rates are per week or per month.
But hang on, I'm thinking. I was paying €300 a month in Seville. My friend in Phnom Penh pays $200 a month. And here I'm staring down the barrel of $300 a week for anything that's got a roof.
This is one of those traps. You can't start thinking that costs in Australia should be the same as they are overseas. It's ridiculous to believe we should be paying South-East Asian prices every day (although it's galling to know how cheap things are in the UK and Western Europe compared to here).
You have to try to put out of your mind the fact that everything was so much cheaper a few weeks ago, or it'll drive you crazy.
And no one here wants to hear about it. No one wants to know about the cheap beers and the lovely breakfasts and the nice accommodation that cost next to nothing. No one feels sorry for the guy who just got back from a long trip overseas.
You can't complain; you don't want to be that guy. Just open your wallet, pull out a few more lobsters, and try to smile.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Really, TSA? Really?

Okay, so the US Transportation Security Administration (aka TSA) is now, after huge international uproar, re-thinking its decision to allow you to carry knives on planes.  Why they ever thought the new ruling would get off the ground (giggle, snort, see what I did there?), amazes me.

I've NEVER wanted to carry a knife on a plane.  I don't know anyone else who's ever wanted to carry a knife on a plane either (do you?).  But, sometimes, I'd really like to take a bottle of water that's bigger than 100ml, or, if I'm travelling for just a few days with only hand luggage, a decent sized bottle of shampoo or moisturiser.

Knife = okay.  Water = DANGEROUS.  Obviously!

Think it through, TSA, think it through.

  • Click HERE for the link to the proposed changes on carrying knives onboard.
  • Click HERE for the link to the proposed changes on carrying novelty sporting bats onboard (really).
  • Click HERE to find out what else you can/can't carry onboard.  No doubt you'll be thrilled to know that your 7" screwdriver (obviously can't hurt anyone with that!) and souvenir snow globe can now be carried onboard without a sideways glance.  Oh, and your knitting needles (yay for my Mum!).

Friday, April 26, 2013

... And Now For Something Completely Different!

I've got a bunch more info on Macatoo, but I figure even the most ardent horse people amongst us (hello ardent horse people, you're lovely!) are getting a bit of Macatoo fatigue after a few weeks of Botswana blogs, so tomorrow I'm going to give us all a break and post some other bits and bobs for a while.

I'll still be dropping in the odd Macatoo post, but look out for some recipes, restaurant and hotel reviews, and general "other stuff".  I'm also going to try and post some short blogs from Instagram and my iPhone - fingers crossed that it works.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Abu

Here's Abu's official blurb from the camp brochure:-

  • 18.1hh, 2004, Grey Percheron.
  • Our biggest horse with a huge presence.
  • He is a very special horse with a great personality.
  • Half brother to Jao.

I had my last ride of the trip on Abu, after asking Mod if I could ride him - mainly because I'd never ridden a horse as big.

There's no doubt about it, Abu is huge.  Even from the mounting block it was a bit of a stretch to get on him.  He was an absolute love though, very slow and steady at the walk, but surprisingly sprightly and forward at the trot.  With his long legs, he does tend to pass other horses going at the same pace, so you do have to keep an eye on that.

If he had a motto, I think it would be "Whatever".  He doesn't bother about much, and isn't frightened of any of the game - mainly because I think he's bigger than most of it!

He crashed happily through the undergrowth, blissfully unaware that I was even sitting on him.  He's his own man and didn't pay me much attention - very funny.  I felt absolutely safe and secure on him and he was very happy to accept my snuggles and a kiss on the nose when we were done.  He's fabulous!

And, just as a side note, use your fingers to measure the size of his head in the photo, then move them over to me and see that his head is bigger than my torso and head.  This is a SERIOUSLY big horse.  And he's seriously brilliant.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Khwai

Here's Khwai's official blurb from the camp brochure:-

  • 15.2hh, 1993, grey Arab cross.
  • A truly amazing horse.
  • Forward going, intelligent, responsive and good with game.
  • The perfect safari horse, he becomes a favourite with most guests.

Khwai is apparently is a bit of a legend with guests, so sorry if he's your favourite!  He was lovely, but I thought his trot was like riding an arthritic table.  It felt like my spine was coming out through the top of my head, and I asked not to ride him again after the long morning ride.

His canter was lovely though  He’s 15.2hh, but has a swayed hammock back, so he’s really more like 14hh when you’re on top.  My other problem with the trot is that he really likes do it, whereas most of the other horses walk when the guide walks, Khwai likes to jog – PAINFUL!

I don't like to ever blame a horse for my faults, so me riding Khwai obviously is "horses for courses" - we just didn't mesh.  Another guest rode him after me and absolutely LOVED his trot, so it was more my problem than Khwai's.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

** WIN A Trip to Macatoo! **

Have you been reading the blog and thinking "This sounds fab, I wish I could go and have some amazing adventures with the crew at Macatoo"?  Well, now there's a chance you can!

The great team at In The Saddle are offering you the chance to WIN a trip for two to Macatoo!

If you're in the UK and are lucky enough to be heading along to Badminton, then go and visit the In The Saddle Team at their stand and you can enter.  If you're in the US and planning on visiting Rolex (soooooooo jealous!), go and visit the In The Saddle gang at their stand there and you can enter also.

If you're lucky enough to be attending either of these great events don't miss your chance to win the trip of a life time to Macatoo!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Moko

Here's Moko's official blurb from the camp brochure:-

  • 15.2hh, 1993, chestnut Arab cross.
  • A very reliable horse who is a favourite with many guests due to his lovely paces and nice temperament.

I’ve since found out that they guessed his age for the description, and it turns out he’s 24.  And he's got one eye.  Really.  He had problems with one of his eyes for about 18 months and they tried everything, and about 6 months ago they removed it and sewed over the socket.  It doesn’t make him the prettiest horse from the right hand side, but he’s an absolutely brilliant boy.

I was nervous at first that he’d be unstable on his feet as he had only one eye, but he was fine and seemed very happy to be out doing some work and snatching at mouthfuls of grass as we ambled past. 

Our first trot ended up being a lovely collected canter as we rode through the high grass.  I held him on a very loose rein, hoping that it would encourage him to find his own feet and path over the uneven ground, and he stumbled no more than any of the other horses I’d ridden over such broken ground – such a good boy for 24 and one eye!

At morning tea break, I was surprised to see that Moko was the only horse not tied.  Apparently he’s been around for so long that he just stays with you.  I chose an apple from the snack box and Moko walked towards me as I was munching away, sitting on the grass.  I offered him the core and he took it very happily.  Many of the horses here aren’t used to such things, and I was surprised and thrilled that he took it.  I thought he was great and he really seemed to like a bit of a cuddle.

Oh, and whilst we're on the subject of morning tea, the first morning after I dismounted, I ran the stirrups up and loosened the girth before I sat down.  Then I noticed that the guides hadn't run up their stirrups, but had loosened their girths.  When I asked about the stirrups not being run up, Sekongo replied "What happens if you need to get on in a hurry and get out of here?".  Valid point, Sekongo.  I didn't run the stirrups up after that, though did loosen the girth one hole each time.  I figured that if it was an emergency, I can clamber on with a looser girth, but I definitely can't clamber on if my stirrups are run up ...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Foster

Here's Foster's official blurb from the camp brochure:-

  • 15hh, 2006, local Kalahari horse.
  • A handsome bay horse who likes to go fast, but also very responsive to the touch – he enjoys jumping.
  • He has a small white heart shape on his face.

Cantered through water for the first time in my life on Foster - it was amazing!  I found Foster to be the slowest of the three horses ridden at that point – though apparently he’s the fastest!  Again, it's obviously "horses for courses" - I’m sure it was just my riding style.

I only rode him once, for a morning ride, as I'd done a game drive in the 4WD the night before, so I'm sure we would have meshed much better if I'd ridden him again.  He was rather lovely and very sure footed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Champion

Here's Champion's official bio from camp brochure:-

  • 14.1hh, 1999, chestnut local horse from Maun.
  • Very good natured lovely horse.
  • Easy, safe and responsive horse.

Here's my take on Champion:-

Champion really is a champion.  He’s so willing and forward, there’s no urging him on – he loves his work!  Happy to go and happy to stop – he’s just what I asked for.  His ears flop back and forth very reassuringly as he walks along, then point sharply forwards when there’s something you should see – he doesn’t miss much!

He is hardy, tough and goes all day, he will do his best to take care of you.  I think he’s made from iron and high tensile steel cable, covered in a furry Kevlar.  He’s not a snugly, “kiss my nose” type of horse.  I offered him my apple core on our first morning ride and he looked at me with utter disdain, as if I was mocking him.  He's not a snuggler, he's a worker.  I thought he was fabulous.

He could tell when I was getting a bit off balance, and tilted himself to fix the problem until I could get myself centred again.  If we had to suddenly swerve (and we did, often), he would try to swerve a bit slower so I didn’t go over.  His only downside is that he’s a bit afraid of elephants, but I think that’s actually quite clever and a good self preservation move.  A brilliant horse.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Macatoo Camp - Equitrekking TV Feature

We're lucky enough to be able to get Horse & Country TV via satellite, and Darley Newman from Equitrekking has just been featured this week showing her experiences at Macatoo.  It was great to see the camp again, and watch Darley's adventures with John & Bernard.

I was a wee bit surprised that for a show called "Equitrekking" there wasn't actually that much riding or many horses featured, but it certainly shows some of the adventures you can expect to have at Macatoo.

Click HERE to read about her adventures, click HERE to see her behind the scenes and blooper reel, and click HERE to see her horseback elephant encounter clip.

Sit tight, we'll be back to my Macatoo experiences in the next blog ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Macatoo Camp - The Horses

There are now 48 horses in the Macatoo barn and there's not a duff one amongst them.  There is a horse for everyone, ranging from 14hh to over 18hh.  These horses are incredibly well cared for and in top notch condition.  They are forward going and well schooled.  I was honest about my riding level and I was matched to horses who were forward, but also had really good brakes (which was what I was most worried about).

You have to remember that you're riding in Africa - there are lions, leopards and other things that would take great pleasure in killing and eating you and your horse.  You listen to your guide and stay behind him.  He is armed with a rifle, you aren't.  He knows where he's going, you don't.  He knows what'll eat you and use your bones to pick its teeth, or eat part of you and then use your entrails as Christmas decorations, you don't.  Basically, trust your guide and do what he says.

During the horse briefing, your amazing guide will give you all the information you need to stay safe.  My briefing essentially was:-

  • Stay behind him unless he says otherwise.
  • Watch him for hand signals.
  • If you happen to fall off your horse while you're moving along, stay still.  The rear guide is watching you and they won't leave you behind.  Promise.
  • If there’s an emergency and you fall off your horse, also stay still.  Even if you are looking at something that will eat you or smoosh you into the dirt.  Really.
  • If there’s an emergency and you stay on your horse, ride away with the rear guide and leave your guide to deal with the problem.
  • He’s armed with a rifle, radio, first aid kit, etc.  

There are two rides a day, the first leaving at 7am for around 4 hours with a stop about halfway for a drink from your water bottle (in a saddle bag attached to your horse) and a lovely snack.  The morning ride is mainly walk and canter, sometimes gallop.  The terrain appears flat, but there are holes, logs and high grass.  You are not cantering in a straight line on a flat clear surface, you’re weaving around, following your guide, over very uneven ground. 

The afternoon ride leaves at 5pm and goes for about 1.5 hours.  It’s a walk/trot ride to get you used to your horse in the cooler part of the day.  If you're going to try a new horse, you try it on the afternoon ride, and then ride it again on the next days morning ride before it has some time off.
When you're riding, try and stay on the movement, and don’t look down, keep looking forward and focussing on your guide and the surrounding countryside.  These horses will do their best to keep you on top, but it’s really down to you to look after yourself and the welfare of your horse.  The guide also uses hand signals to indicate which animals are where and what speed you're going to be going at - keep an eye on him.

I rode five horses over the week - Champion, Khwai, Foster, Moko & Abu.  They were all fantastic, and I'll blog about each of them separately.

Stay tuned for Champion ...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Macatoo Camp - The Riding

The horses racing home for dinner after their daily
turn out on the gorgeous green grass of the plains.

The official blurb from the brochure:-

Our beautiful horses range in size from 14 to 17 hands.  There is a horse to suit everyone, with a choice of English or Trail saddles.  Riding with wild animals through sparkling floodplains makes this the ultimate African adventure.  Qualified guides share their knowledge of this wilderness, using the horses to bring you closer to nature.

And, again, it's all true!

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a brilliant rider - I’m a mid 40s re-rider who rides 2-3 times a week at a barn in Germany, having a mix of lessons and riding through the forest on well trained horses.  I’ve never had my own horse, and horses aren’t my career – they’re my hobby and what keeps me sane.  So if you’re reading the following, and horses are your life, you’re probably just going to say “Well, duh!” to my advice.  But, hey, read on …

If you can ride at speed across broken ground, staying balanced when your horse stumbles, slips, lurches, shies, jumps things you can’t see in the high grass, and still keep a smile on your face, this is the riding trip for you.  These horses are very well trained and sure footed, but you’re definitely not riding on flat, smooth paths.  You’re riding across, around and through sand, dirt, water, sticks, logs, aardvark holes, elephant diggings and warthog scratches.  It’s the best fun ever, but you’ve got to be able to stick it and keep smiling.

Be very honest with your assessment of your riding ability.  It doesn’t help anyone to say that you’re fabulous and comfortable at all paces, over all ground, and all obstacles, when the last time you rode was in your teens and you could do it then, but you’ve not ridden much since.

I was really clear and honest with my riding abilities, and Mod (the great Master of the Horse) matched me with horses that were perfect for me, and Sekongo (my fabulous guide) catered the pace to what I was comfortable with.  That said, I had a few “What on earth was I thinking!?!?!” moments as I hurtled through the bush.

If you're not quite as confident, or a bit of a re-rider like me, think about booking your Macatoo experience in the off season when there's less guests and the guides can pace things a bit slower for you.  Double bonus?  It's cheaper in the off season too!

The guides here know their horses and they know the country.  Your first ride is the 1.5 hour afternoon ride and they will know within about 10 minutes if you’ve been honest or not.  It’s NOT a case of being introduced to a horse in a ménage and being asked to trot and canter around to gauge your ability.  You’ve paid a lot of money and said you can ride well enough to be here, and it’s expected that you can.  Be truthful and you’ll be okay.

Official "experience level" blurb from In The Saddle for this ride:-

Confident and in control on a forward going horse at a fast canter in the open over rough and variable ground.  There are likely to be long stretches of fast riding and/or you will be riding in areas with potentially dangerous game.

Stay tuned for the horses ...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Macatoo Camp - The Food

A typical dinner table at Macatoo.

For a kitchen with limited electricity in the middle of half a million acres of wilderness, the food that the marvellous Macatoo ladies turned out was AMAZING.

Your day starts at 6am when one of the ladies "knocks" on your tent door, wishing you a good morning, and delivers a tea or coffee tray to your bedside, so you can laze about in bed and watch the sun come up - bliss.  BTW, you WILL miss this when you get home!!!

At 6.30am you meet over at the mess tent area where there is a spread of fruit, yoghurt and cereals set up.  One of the crew is cooking fresh made bread into toast over the coals, and there is a choice of spreads.  Of course, there is more coffee, tea, water and juice available.  You eat with everyone, sitting in deck chairs around the fire having a good old chat.

At 7.00am you walk down to the barn (or into the game viewing 4WD, if you're not riding) and head out for your morning ride.  About 10am you pull the horses over into the shade of a tree and dismount, sitting down to a snack of home made flapjack or an apple.  There is a water bottle in your saddle bag at all times for drinking on the move.

At about 11am you get back to the barn and then walk back to the mess tent for a drink, then to get ready for lunch at 12 noon.

Lunch is a hot dish, salads, scrumptious home made bread, water, juice and wines at a table laid with linen, proper silverware and glasses.  After that relaxing repast, there is also a cheese or fruit platter.

Just about to have lunch at "Tim's Landing"
(you'll read more about this newly named location later)

You meet up again for "tea" at 4.30pm, which is tea, coffee and a homemade cake by the mess tent, with a member of the crew helping to serve you.

Then you ride again, or go on another game drive, arriving back around 6.30pm for nibbles and a sundowner before dinner at 8pm.

Dinner?  Three courses with wine, served by staff at a gorgeously set table lit by candles or lanterns.  Oh, and don't be surprised if you get some uninvited guests cruising by whilst you're having dinner.  We had elephants very close (I'm talking 50 metres) to our dinner table nearly every night.  They're not really interested in you or your dinner, but stay in the undergrowth looking for food.  I was a wee bit scared the first night, but after that it was purely amazing and I couldn't wait until one (or more!) turned up.

If, after all this food, drink and activity, you can crawl away from the table to the mess tent, there are games available and more drinks to be had.  We made it until about 10.15pm one night, but were exhausted most nights by about 9.30pm.  There are always staff around to have a game or a chat with you in the mess tent if you want to keep the night going.

There are also some special lunches and dinners in different and amazing locations, but I'm not going to write about them much on the blog, mainly because I want them to be as much a surprise to others who go as they were to us.  If you aren't intending to go to Macatoo, then ask me about them in the comments below and I'll put details there so they don't spoil the surprise for others who will be there.

I was hoping I could shift a few kilos of extra blubber by riding for about 35 hours in the heat during the week we were at Macatoo, but I came away bigger than I arrived - how could you not?  It's all marvellous - pack clothes with stretchy waists.

Stay tuned for the riding ...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Macatoo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

A comfy corner of the Mess Tent.

Here's the official blurb from the brochure:-

"Join us on safari and ride with herds of giraffe and zebra across the plains.  Track elephant or buffalo from island to island.  Be part of this unique herd, cantering and splashing through the plains of the Okavango Delta alongside the game or simply watching the setting sun whilst listening to the calls of lion and hyena.

African Horseback Safaris was started in 1995.  Macatoo Camp is situated in the Okavango Delta.  The Okavango is the world's largest inland delta covering 17,000m2.  A mix of labyrinthine channels, palm islands and fertile floodplains in the midst of parched Kalahari sands, it is an oasis for wildlife  More than 400 species of birds, elephant, lion, hyena, wild dog, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, lechwe, warthog, mongoose, monkey, genet and more call this home.

Our stunning camp features 7 large, comfortable twin tents, each with en-suite bathroom, and sleeps a maximum of 14.  Centrally there is a large well-appointed mess tent and tucked away, a private pool.  Depending on the weather, longer safaris may include a ride out to our mobile fly camp, with traditional bucket shower and toilet.  The camp is open year-round."

And it's all true!

Firstly, the accommodation:-

The tents have all been replaced earlier this year and are really lush, it's proper "glamping" (glamourous camping).  Our very spacious tent had it's own ensuite with separate flush toilet and proper shower (no "long drops" or bucket showers here!), comfy beds, lovely bedding, polished wooden floors, desks, reading lamps and an open wardrobe with shelving.  The walls have several large mesh windows on each side, with canvas flaps to close them over for the evening.

The entire front of the tent is zippered mesh "doors" with covering solid canvas to zip up if you wish.  We didn't use our solid canvas front "doors" the whole week - no-one walks past the front of your tent (except the elephants!), and you can lay in bed and watch the sun come up over the plains through the zipped up mesh.

Each tent has a big wooden deck out the front, with comfy armchairs and footrests, perfect for lazing during the day, watching the wildlife pass right by in front of you.

There is an amazing communal Mess Tent.  "Mess Tent" doesn't sound very flash at all, but it really is. It's a gorgeous big, open tent with comfy leather sofas, squishy chairs and cushions, games, books, a well stocked bar (really VERY important) and charging station for your electrical items.

Outside of the Mess Tent is a large sandy area with deck chairs surrounding a camp fire.  It's also where the dinner table is set up of an evening, and the lunch table is sometimes set up there as well.  A little closer to the plain is a fab raised lounging area with deck furniture and a POOL.  Yes, I said POOL.  Where else in the world can you take a dip whilst you're watched by baby Vervet monkeys, and the herd of riding horses gallops past about 50 metres in front of you on their way back into the barn for dinner?

It's glamping, people, five star glamping.  In the middle of 500,000 acres of the Delta.  Once in a lifetime stuff.

Stay tuned for the food ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We've Been In Africa!

Yes, that's me!  About an hour after we arrived,
I was riding Champion and those are elephants in the distance!

Yes, that's why I've not been blogging - we've been in Africa!

We were lucky enough to enjoy a FANTASTIC week from In The Saddle with African Horseback Safaris at the Macatoo Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

I kept a rough diary whilst we were there, and I'm still editing it and breaking it down into blog-sized pieces, but the next several weeks of blog posts will be to do with this trip, and a lot of it is going to be about my horsey adventures, the amazing crew and fabulous experiences at Macatoo.  Then it'll be followed by a week of adventures in Franschhoek (wine!) and Cape Town (food!) in South Africa.

I was absolutely thrilled to find myself riding wonderful horses up VERY close to elephants, giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, impala, wildebeest, hippo, crocodile and many, many more.  I know that not all readers of this blog are horse people, but who wouldn't want to read about an elephant farting near my head whilst I snoozed in our safari tent, or climbing off your horse in the middle of nowhere only to be greeted by a crew member offering you a glass of champagne?  You'll love it, trust me!

So, please bear with me for a few days, whilst I get myself organised, and then grab a coffee and sit back while I share my amazing adventures at Marvellous Macatoo ...

"Did someone say "dinner time"?"  Dune, having some fun on his way to the barn.