Sunday, October 31, 2010


I've come to Johannesburg to partake in the African investigative journalism conference at Wits university for the next three days. It will be the first one I'm attending. Now that last week is behind me I'm looking forward to it.
It took me well over four hours to get here this afternoon; my first delay was caused by a devastating hail storm that saw me drive off the road and under tree canopies for protection.
The storm took out the power to pumps at the petrol station I desperately needed to stop at for fuel, so I thought I'd have coffee there.
Water from the ferocious downpour was flooding the roadside restaurant, so I promptly ordered a cappuccino and breakfast, which arrived in record time.
Wind buffeted the car the remainder of the stormy route to the big smoke, with it at least three dust storms for company.
But all's well that ends well - I type falling into bed, a sumptuous curry & rice later, washed down by a glass of dry white wine.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Utterly bushed

After the adrenalin rush of the last few days, I'm sitting bushed over a cappuccino, struggling to keep my eyes open. The relief is seeping into my muscles, tendons and between my joints.
But now is not a time to relax, otherwise I'll lose my advantage.
Coffee anyone? I'll get it if you can keep my eyelids parted....

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Phew... it is done

Although November's was an extraordinarily challenging edition of the paper to put together, I did enjoy it in the end.
For one it's the most content we've ever squeezed into the same amount of pages (which means this edition comes the closest to paying for itself entirely from advertising revenue), which makes great business sense.
On the other hand it contains some of my old fire in it. (I started praying for fire in my spirit after realising I'd long neglected that particular prayer.)
Got to Johannesburg, for the printing process, at 2am. That was a good five hours after leaving Kaapsehoop, as we wrapped the layout.
Lightning, thunder and rain in gutters as I entered lalla land. Bliss.
I had Molly, a 6 week old German Shepherd puppy, as my passenger.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Naked brunch

Johannesburg. Saturday morning, I'm sitting up naked (except for my glasses) in bed with my laptop on my lap and a mug of good, strong coffee on the small wooden table to my left. I'm working on the content for the November edition of the newspaper. Despite my lack of attire (it's not even my birthday), an unshaven face and out-of-bed hair, I am officially on deadline.
I watched the 20h00 screening of 'Eat, Pray, Love' in Sandton last night.
After reading the book the movie disappointed me. I felt bored and restless
at times, and I expected extraordinary cinematography because the three
destinations - Rome, India, Bali - lend themselves to it. But there was
nothing exceptional about it at all.
(This photo was taken from the back of a motorbike by my Capetonian friend,
Ronelle Rust, on the road between Cape Town and Riebeek West. She is a
cycling photographer... and a physiotherapist.)
Happy Saturday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

African dusk

Big city. Driving back from gym. I pushed through Give Up a good few times this afternoon: only one beer for lunch, no thanks to a fizzy drink and sugar in my coffee, and refused (but close I'll admit) to give in to the ten excuses I had not to turn up at Virgin Active.
Life without any self denial can only be disastrous. Trust me on this one...I'm an expert.
Oh yeah, and it's been the perfect summer's day.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Ask for the ancient paths

The Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

-Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
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Walkersons Country Hotel & Spa

Walkersons Country Hotel & Spa

My kingdom for a herb garden like this one

Walkersons Country Hotel & Spa outside Dullstroom, on the Mashishing (Leydenburg) road.

My kingdom for a herb garden

This weekend saw my first visit to Walkersons Country Hotel & Spa.
Well hidden away in Mpumalanga’s velvet, rolling hills 10 kilometres outside Dullstroom, my very first forage was into the walled herb garden reminiscent of a monastery’s.
A cappuccino and butter biscuits with head chef Adri van Wiering as he explained that the garden was being replanted. (I’m planning a revisit with the month.)
My fingers crushed time, fennel, oregano, rosemary sage and many others, leaving their pungent, exhilarating scent on the tip of my nose and around my nostrils.
My kingdom for a herb garden like this one.    

Spot the redcoat (& win a car)

Escarpment perspectives while driving home yesterday on the Machadodorp gravel road between Dullstroom and Farrefontein. The deserted country road oozed atmosphere, allowed unexpected views over the escarpment's edge towards the Kwena Basin and Mashishing (Leydenburg), and made me wonder about how things were at the turn of the last century, during the second Anglo-Boer war.

Fire & ice

This view greeted me just as I came through the Machado Toll Plaza on the
N4, travelling westwards from Waterval Boven towards Johannesburg. I
couldn't help but pull the car over on the verge and take some photos.

Neon night better than cabin feva

Monday night sushi bar on 11th in Benmore.
Neon nonsense as a drunk stumbles past with a remarkably clean, very yellow t-shirt on.
I'm far from home, but happily so....

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sugar level notes

Cooling down slightly. Just back from mall/shopping/checkin' movies/coffee & cake...blood sugar level's low 'cos I'm hungry; now for dinner, and a peaceful one at that I pray.
Right now I've a restlessness running like a wild horse through me.... I could easily lose/loose myself in the night....

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Christmas in (early) October

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Snap. Shot.

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I was a twit, but now I'm free

It took me more than 24-hours to delete my twitter profile after I'd made the decision to.
A struggle of note.
But now I'm free.
Never have I experienced such an invasion of my silence, of my time, of my life and my energy. Even though I was a willing partner in the parody...
When I develop the balls, facebook next. (TV has been gone for more than half my life.)

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Re-defining me

I woke up in the middle of the night a brief while ago; I can't even tell you when, blur.
I realised this blog was superficial. More of a public relations exercise than the true heart of a writer.
Do I have the balls to change this?
Yes I do.
But do you have the balls to read it.
No I don't?

You stay at arm's length you.
But then why bother.
Not even worth its salt.

This has become a world of the projected self image. No more spin the doctor games for me.

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Highveld lunch

A storm brewed just outside the open doors: passionately moody elephant gray skies; a slapping, tetchy wind; rain drops that merely dirtied; an icy cold draft, as if the freezer had been left ajar.
But it was all bark, no bite.
The next day's headlines: 'Joburg cries out for rain'.
But I enjoyed Thursday's alfresco lunch. With goose flesh from the chill, the wind, the excitement - and sometimes, because of all of the above - I tucked my bare arms and legs into and against each other. Like I imagine a bird bracing itself against a hurricane would.
But still my soul is parched.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Land without Fat (Part 8)

Round trips: Travelling the Cape West Coast - Land ‘Without Fat’

All that separates Saldanha from the long, straight coast road to Cape Town is the often choppy, aquamarine shores of the Langebaan lagoon.

Arriving there just before sunset the streets of the town were eerily empty, probably because of the icy wind. Langebaan can no longer be described as a village - there’s a proliferation of new homes, gated estates and convenience stores. And an out-of-the-box new shopping centre.

Karena du Plessis describes Langebaan as an excellent year-round holiday destination with plenty to do.

“In the summer months when the wind is up, there is a diversity of lagoon water sports to enjoy – sailing, kite- and wind-surfing are among the most popular. Bird watching on the Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park is always rewarding and in spring a visit to Postberg to see the flowers is an absolute treat.”

She maintains that during cooler months cycling through the park is one of the best ways to enjoy this unspoilt area, and that one should be on the lookout for whales towards the end of winter and early spring.

With the sun setting into the lagoon, just behind Saldhana, the deserted but magnificent R27 pointed to Cape Town. Nearby Churchhaven in the West Coast National Park, also Yzerfontein, remained unexplored in the dusk. They’re all apparently well worth spending time at.

This journey exploring the West Coast had been greatly enhanced by the versatile and urban SUV five-seater Mitsubishi Outlander that was now champing like a horse at the bit to get home.

While overall fuel consumption in the region of 8,6 litres/100 km apparently likely (which would give the Outlander a generous range on a 60 litre tank), slightly hilly terrain and strong headwinds meant consumption hovered instead around 13.6 ltrs/100km. 11.2 ltrs/100km was achieved when cruising comfortably at 120km/hr, like on the stretch between Moorreesburg and Vredenburg. On the 60 litre tank this is no longer a generous range... and for anyone used to a larger tank, having to refuel much more often could take some getting used to.

Some of the highlights of the vehicle were its all-aluminium engine/CVT gearbox package and its switchable two and four wheel drive. Its eye-catching design was commented on by strangers on the road and its enhanced passive safety was particularly useful when reversing treacherously close to an unnoticed pole. And don’t ever forget its sheer driving pleasure....

Watching a West Coast dusk fadeout - through the entire spectrum of pastel to deep purple, finally a velvet black  - in the rear-view mirror, one is intrinsically aware that although this is a ‘land without fat’, it is nevertheless a textured, energetic place of humble beauty, friendly people and immense surprise.



+Where to Stay

There is plentiful accommodation of the most un-commercial, un-clinical kind, whether homely B&Bs and guesthouses, or camping sites in some of the finest natural spots. Spontaneity is recommended - so stay at the end of the road you’re on. And helpful, friendly tourism bureaus abound.

+What to Read

West Coast – from the Cederburg to Sea (Struik) by Karena du Plessis and Vanessa Cowling was published last year and offers a fresh and extraordinary perspective on the West Coast (and its unique cuisine) in a user-friendly, but hardy, coffee table format.

Lovely Beyond Any Singing – Landscapes in South African Writing (Double Storey), an anthology compiled by Helen Moffett.

Two Oceans. A guide to the marine life of southern Africa (David Philip). by G.M.Branch (et al).

Just Blue, the tunicate taxonomy and marine invertebrate research website:

So Few Are Free (Howard Timmins) by Lawrence G. Green.