Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The layers keep peeling off where I live

Drove out again late yesterday afternoon for my coffee... the exceptionally welcome 'distractions' hardly ever last longer than 30 minutes. Yesterday evening Alwyn Viljoen from the farm De Kroon, walking distance from here, joined me for a cup... only many hours later - after a walk in the veld with two dogs, a foot massage beneath the dam wall, a magnificent sunset, baby Luke and his mother and a tuna salad - later was I was on my home in time for the 09h00 news.

I love living where I do...............

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dullstroom Inn

I'm having breakfast and ice cold Pilsner Urquell draught for lunch at the Dullstroom Inn established way back in 1912. It's just across from the tranquil tree-filled church square that's well off the tourist beaten track of the main throughroad between Belfast and Mashishing.

The magnificent maples on the square are old and moody, almost melancholic. They're drawing me in and affecting my mood: the town's spirit is also drawing upon mine; it's mingling with my being like it always does when I visit here. I'm at home here. Personally, it's a pity for me that the place is so popular...

The leaves, which are turning, are rustling in the autumn wind and whispering of the mist and cold still to come. But for today it's a scorching hot day reminiscent of the height of summer and I'm basking, baking in the sun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jock 'n Java.. yeah i kno!

This afternoon at the botanical garden the smell of thatch and wood varnish did my head in. In a good way. It took me back, at least, to the seven months I spent in Olifants camp of Kruger yonks ago. Twisted and turned me.

Now the smell of someone's deoderant here at Nelspruit's Jock 'n Java is takin me back to a place I can't quite put my finger one. The danger of scent.........

Tonight I'm staying at Louis's before heading back home early tomorow morning. A night in the Lowveld.

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Nelspruit Botanical Gardens

Right in front of me is the awe-inspiring confluence of the Crocodile river (on the left, flowing all the way from Dullstroom where it rises, through the Kwena Dam - between Waterval Boven and Mashishing, old Lydenburg) and the Nels River, straight ahead, originating near Sabie and named over 100 years ago after the three Nels brothers. The Crocodile river then flows along the southern border of the Kruger National Park, through Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean.

I'm all alone here this afternoon, mine's the only car in the parking lot... I needed to come here to be restored and centred. This botanical garden is magnificent, the grass cool and soothing beneath my feet despite the perspiration on my forehead and my clammy chest and armpits.

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A disapointing morning. I work best on my own. Lesson learnt.

Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency

The offices of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency are stunning...surrounded by lush Lowveld vegetation and running water, also lots of my favourite, fever trees, it's a peaceful and pleasant place. I'm basking in the sun while waiting for Bongani. A lot of well dressed, well heeled people are in and out of the offices with files in their hands.

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Breakfast at Wimpy at the famous Hall's Gateway on the N4. I left Waterval Boven at 06h45 and have flown down the road to here, making notes all the way. Sitting here I've no doubt I'm in the Lowveld: it's pleasantly humid, temperatures are going to reach a very pleasant 32 degrees Celcius despite the autumn solstice four days ago, lush vegetation and abundant, exotic bird life.

From here, with Bongani Tshabalala of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, I'll head through Nelspruit and on towards Mozambique... unwrapping delights all along the way. I could not think of a better way than to spend this magnificently sunny autumnal Thursday.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

There she goes.. like countless times before

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Quiet time with coffee

'Round about this time on most days, when I've got rectangular eyes from my laptop screen and can no longer think straight, it's time to hit the N4 and to travel the approximately 20 or so kilometres to the Seattle coffee shop at Millys, just the other side of Machadodorp, on the way to Belfast.

Here, through the three dimensional lens (yes!) of a tall cafe mocha (no cream) I make sense of today, yesterday and sometimes tomorrow. Today, just before getting into my car to travel home I took this photo facing the sunset as I gave thanks for the day.

There's an unusual not-quite-chill on the air: the leaves are turning, they are falling from the maples, the sun is setting earlier, birds are packing up home and heading north. I'm looking forward to a time of much less light, hibernation, rest and contemplation. I'm ready for the winter.

Tomorrow, while researching the book, I head down the N4 and past Nelspruit and on to Komatipoort and the Mozambique border. Especially after Nelspruit, relatively unchartered territory for me, I want to take in as much of that heavy-with-history road just south of the Kruger National Park, and to the eastern edge of the country - especially the Lebombo mountains that triangulates Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa.

On Friday I'm expecting to fly to George and then, at the ocean's very edge in Mossel Bay and with my beloved Klein Karoo at my back, write up the parts of the book already researched... and again seek guidance and inspiration beneath the St. Blaize lighthouse.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

She's really looking pretty

Am I safe in supposing that something as masculine as a road could be feminine? The N4 road - well the part of it* that passes my house and that straddles the Gauteng powerhouse and its closest port, Maputo, capital of Mozambique - whic is probably the busiest national road in sub-Saharan Africa, is looking it's prettiest right now.

Yeah, I love the emerald green countryside at Christmas time, the height of summer, in particular when contrasted against turbulent, low slung elephant gray storm clouds.

And the khaki of mid-winter in stark contrast against cobalt blue skies is breathtaking.

But, most of all, I love the voluminous whites, pinks and mauves of cosmos time, which for me heralds a time of autumnal introspection, also speculation, and of course, lent. My arms bristle with the chicken flesh that comes from sniffing the winds of change... of knowing that no matter what befalls the world, I have an intimate relationship with the One that is the writer of The Story. That's when I imbibe the electricity in the air of knowing that, a long time ago, I walked right off my map....

*In fact the N4 straddles the entire subcontinent, right across from Walvis Bay in Namibia, through Tshwane in Gauteng, across to Maputo in Mozambique. Trans Africa Concessions (TRAC) has a 30-year concession on the section of the N4 between Tshwane and Maputo.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pizza for 2.5

A walk down to Michael Tellinger's Stone Circle Bistro late yesterday afternoon again emphasised the beauty and uniqueness of my adopted little town: Waterval Boven.

And just before dusk, walking along the now turbulent Elands river, I had a stunning view over the old 'veld school' (before that it was the high school), which was my first introduction to Waterval Boven - exactly 30 years ago.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blogging is for babies

Yes, consistent babies! The last fortnight has been crazy for me. I've not got to blogging, nor to writing (except for churning out the thousands of the churn words that pay my salaries, but that aren't my art and are delivered like droplets of blood on hectic, city-style deadlines). Instead I've gone with much less than my desired amount of sleep and entry into a vortex that was extraordinary - but it was all about incredible projects (more later!) thar will come into fruition later this year. In summary, and to mix my metaphors, I've not touched sides, I've not been able to come up for air from where I was chucked into the deep end.

I'm just back from the Heartlines sponsored soccer tournament at the Vusi Masina soccer park in Emgwenya, Waterval Boven. After a days of rain it was an afternoon of sunshine and football. Now I've downed a Castle Milk Stout and rubbed my stubble in the fur of my most favourite dog, Serra. The sun's baking down, burning my bare legs, while the wind of change is blowing and warning of a rapidly approaching winter. The peach trees' leaves are yellowing and rattling on the still emerald green lawn. Now we're off to Stone Circle Bistro for a pizza. I couldn't be happier... God is good.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

'The trees are in their autumn beauty...'

Those are the first words of my favourite poet, William Butler Yeats' 'Wild Swans at Coole', which first enthralled me in high school, then in my first year at Rhodes. Those words always come to haunt me every autumn as the leaves start turning, as the wind begins to whisper of change and as the sky's summer blue makes an initially hardly noticeable transition to cobalt, all heralding winter in the south.

Lying on a blanket at the bottom of my garden, writing my morning pages and having quiet time I had a suprise visit from a yellowed, velvet soft leave from the peach tree above. In that moment a life time of autumns fluttered past my eyes: army days, walking with Linda Marais in the park at Albert's Farm, Hampstead Heath, Emmarentia Dam, Grahamstown, Nature's Valley, Nieu Bethesda (contemplating the end of a relationship), Easter time in Philipollis and then Port Elizabeth, also Schoenmakerskop... walks along the ocean with my long hair tousled, salt air on my lips, in my eys, gulped deliciously deep into my melancholy lungs.

All of that memory, and much more, was released through the frail but beautiful yellow leaf on my page. My life. And to know I'm going to die in my eightieth year... to happily know.
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Road to White River

The first sign of the approaching winter is that the veld, previously emerald green, makes a transition to winter khaki as the grass goes to seed. The mood and atmosphere of our land is changing and it's magnificent to behold.
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Morning has broken

Sabi River Sun, Hazeyview: Mornimg has indeed broken, and it's a magnificent one... when your heart wants to leap right out of your chest at the sheer joy of being alive.

I'm leaving here for Nelspruit and a day of work, meetings and researching the book there. Then hopefully on to home tonight, where there is chest tightening amount of work to catch up on.

The magnificent Lowveld....
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

God of the Morning

I found this blog entry of exactly two years ago, I'd typed it up on my phone in the middle of the night in this exact chalet:
awoke in the middle of the night busting for a pee. the moon, bright, high in the night sky, was slowly being eaten by the earth's shadow, turning crimson as i stood in awe barefoot on the dew covered grass.
you get into the natural rhythms quickly. it's our eons-old instinct. i awoke as the sun crept over the bush on the side of the river. and the day party had begun... sitting here doing my morning pages i've been visited by a small brown sparrow (mossie?), five curious egyptian geese, a spider and some squawking prehistoric hadedas. all of this against the backdrop of the barking, grunting hippos!
now heading off to the pool and to bask in the morning sun and to lap up the natural abundance around me.

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Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is one of the most revered and respected travel writers alive today. He was born in England, raised in California, and educated at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard. His essays, reviews, and other writings have appeared in Time, Conde Nast Traveler, Harper's, the New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, and Salon.com. His books include Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, Cuba and the Night, Falling off the Map, Tropical Classical, and The Global Soul. They have been translated into several languages and published in Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. His latest work, due for release this month, is Abandon.

Source: http://www.rolfpotts.com/writers/iyer.html

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Rainy sunday book in bed (and a sex change)

"Hope you're having a great Sunday morning? I'm in the bush, at a lodge & having a random weekend... it's hot, humid & the rain's been coming down in torrents for 12 hours already: it's sluicing off the thatch, it's making all the larger than life exotic Lowveld vegetation exuberantly glossy, is running past my wide open windows in a gurgling stream. I'm surrounded by two of my favourites, fever and leopard trees, also deep throated hippos and lots of birds. I'm in my element... and in a strangely erotic mood I can't quite put my finger on................"

Lying in bed I'm reading renowned 83-year old travel writer, journalist, historian, essayist and novelist Jan Morris's 'Spain'... who I've only just discovered that between 1964 and 1972 underwent a sex-change.

James Humphrey Morris, as she was then, originally tied the knot with Elizabeth Tuckniss in 1949 and the couple had five children together. Then he had a sex change and they got divorced, but continued to live together. Then last year Jan Morris remarried the wife she wed as a man. At the age of 36, Morris had already visited and recorded his impressions of more than 70 of the world's major cities. But it was his 'Venice' (1960), 'The Presence of Spain' (1964) and 'Oxford' (1965), which really established him (then) as a major 20th century travel writer.

I spent most of yesterday, again randomly, in electronic 'conversation' with someone from and living in Malta. Etienne has piqued my interest in visiting the ancient Meditteranean group of islands.

The rain, the endless, marvelous rainAdd to Technorati Favorites