Thursday, April 28, 2011


Today was perfect. I breathed in deeply the tangy salt-freshness of the ocean, while wearing the absolute minimum clothing possible. I dreamed of the impossible. I had my outta-bed-hair frizzed and whirred by the bluster that was driving the waves. I had the skin on my feet scoured by sea sand and tanned by the sun; now they are looking so healthy and smooth it's as if I'd lived on this beach as a bum for months. Then, when I was tired, I walked barefoot up to the house gulping in fresh air beautifully tinged with the giddying scent of frangipani blossom.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Larry's family restaurant, Margate

Unusual is how I'd describe tonight. I drove down the KwaZulu-Natal south coast from Hibberdene to Margate for a walk-around and dinner. This is another world, especially in the midst of a Harley Davidson sponsored Africa Bike Week. I imagine this would be the SA equivalent of the UK's Blackpool etc. at the height of a European summer?
Some drunken bikers have just sang the South African national anthem in Afrikaans. It is our freedom day after all... 17 years ago today the new South Africa was breathed into life.
It's a cluttered and happy, but tired and old restaurant with a deck overlooking Margate's main beach filled with people that I find wonderfully challenging to relate to. (I wonder how they perceive me, should they even care to.) I life and its incredible variety, diversity. I am but a drop in the ocean.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Road trip

I can literally already smell the sea a mere 450km since leaving home this morning. I'm also swamped by the humidity despite winter knocking hard on the door at home, a tad further north.
I've taken a surprise road trip with the purpose of resting, of centering myself and with the aim of developing my vision of my way forward.
All in all this is my artist date; I'm needing to refuel, on every level. And there's nothing wrong with a change of scenery.
Slip slops and shorts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Autumn, local elections, and monuments

Autumn elections and haircuts in Belfast

Belfast's new name is Emakhazeni, which means 'place of cold'. It's one of South Africa's colder towns perched as it is on the beginning of the escarpment's edge. Unfortunately 'place of cold' is also a synonym for mortuary in the local indigenous language. I've picked up on much resistance to the name amongst locals.
Other than stopping to take some quick snapshots around town, I was in a hurry to pass through and to get to good coffee 30 kilometers away in Dullstroom. I have never found a decent cup of coffee in this place. Ever.


At the Belfast turnoff there was a pleasant surprise: an old
Ford, magnificently restored, outside the Wimpy.

Easter Sunday

Last night I lit the wood stove in the kitchen for the first time. This morning I wore a scarf, another first for this year. It's a beautiful Easter Sunday, chilly and at times moody. I find myself in a contemplative space, also slightly excited in the pit of my stomach about what I'm not yet sure. This period, just before the winter, is a favourite of mine.
We're on our way to Dullstroom for coffee and carrot cake.
Happy Sunday...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tear stained

It's a wet and gray Good Friday here, all quiet except for the train in the shunting yard. I'm sitting in perfect peace with the cat on my lap staring out of a tear stained window at the autumnal garden.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Most unusually I've not seen the sun since last Wednesday. There seems to have been a drastic change in weather patterns, even in my lifetime. After an unusually dry period we've had an unusually wet period, with the sky leaking hard for days now. I've loved it.
This period of my favourite weather has coincided with o e of the toughest weeks I've experienced in 21 months of owning the newspaper. We have brought out two publications in a week, which is was a first.
We've wrapped up the layout here in the Berlin Forest outside Kaapsehoop.
It's a magnificent Autumn day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The lavender in the front garden has flowered. The other, a much more heavyset and woodier lavender, another type altogether, flowered in the back garden much earlier in the summer just past. A most beautiful butterfly, a variety that I've not seen before, seems as pleased as me about the flowering. It kept my gaze for a few minutes, then was gone.
The wind of change is blowing today, I feel uneasy and keep looking up at the sky to see where it's coming from.
My neighbour has covered his banana trees against the coming frost. The winter is close. I'm half filled with dread, half filled with excitement.
Change is always good, even though one doesn't always realize it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


With a steaming bowl of green tea I wait for the sun to peek it's head over the tree that is between me and east.
It will soon lose it's leaves, then I won't have to wait so long.
It's the most beautiful day on God's earth.
I give thanks for this day, also for the peace, quiet and birdsong of this early morning.
Thank you that I have everything that I need, also that I am filled with happiness, inner peace and joy.
Thank you that my heart is bursting with love for this magnificent planet that I'm so lucky to be alive on.
And thank you for the potential within me to change the world to a better place, even if it's only by smile to a stranger at a time.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

African Gladiolus

I took a walk around parts of my town today. The first to greet me was the African Gladiolus, floating in my own garden, and at the window I work at. In the bright afternoon sunshine it was a magnificent sight, in stark contrast to everything that's currently rusting, fading away into autumn, then the bareness of window. I'm enjoying my gardens moods and seasons.

Window on the world

I'm sitting at the window where I write my morning pages in the short cold season.
It's my peaceful window on the world.
There's not much to see but nature, sky and the odd person walking by.
Sometimes there's a horse in the field, sometimes there's four horses. I don't know whose they are, nor where they come from.
Sitting at my window I'm reminded of my choice to leave behind my life in the city four years ago. That I chose to slow it down and simplify it. It's not everyone's cup of tea.
Last night I fell into the trap, while reading and tweeting, while seeing what others do and have 'achieved', of believing that I'm a failure and an under-achiever, that I have not accumulated possessions, that nor do I have bank accounts flowing over with money, nor investment portfolios. That, in fact, neither do I have medical aid, nor a pension.
Then, when I again have clarity after a good night's sleep, and where my thoughts and life become clear again as I write them out on the pages, I am again satisfied that I have taken the right choices for my life. I want to simplify it. I want to live deeply, passionately, intensely. I want to continue leading a good and faithful life, trusting that my every need will be taken care of. That even when it appears to me that I have nothing, that I must still help those in need, that I lend without expecting it back, that I'm kind, compassionate and that I love unconditionally.
All else is meaningless.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Bruce Chatwin in his 'Songlines':
In Islam, and especially among the Sufi orders, siyahat or 'errance' - the action or rhythm of walking - was used as a technique for dissolving the attachments of the world and allowing men to lose themselves in God.

Invent your world

Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, colour, sounds, and work that nourishes you. - SARK

Artist Dates

From Julia Cameron's 'The Vein of Gold':

Life flows like a river. We can skim the surface or plunge more deeply into our experience. It is solitude that encourages and permits the experience of depth. No wonder so many of us avoid it. The currents of our emotions frighten us. We sense powerful forces moving in the depth of our being. These forces often frighten us, and so we avoid contact. We become distracted by the surface of our lives. Our thoughts scuttle and dart like water bugs skating on the glassy sheen of current events. Leading lives of quick, shallow contacts, we yearn for something deeper, but even the yearning may disturb us.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Walk

The assumption of time is one of humanity's greatest follies. We tell ourselves that there's always tomorrow, when we can no more predict tomorrow than we can the weather. Procrastination is the thief of dreams.
- Alan Christoffersen's diary

Message from Alwyn

Head to Springbok, then down Spektakelpas to Kleinsee. Hence a meander south = ideal head cleaner, plus snorkling for crayfish good for body. (but water is so cold u'll have 2 p with a tweezer!)

Message to Alwyn

Tell me abt the place on the west coast calling me!! I could leave NOW for the West Coast or Karoo!

Message from Alwyn

Bagpantsboy on Sandton, there's a place on the Cape West Coast calling you.

Table 22

First I bought a brand-new secondhand book about the Karoo. Now I've just sat down in a bakery for breakfast and my first coffee of the day. 
It's cold and wet and the sky is a low-slung elephant gray. (Pregnant elephant-gray?)
I stayed in bed until now, the whole morning, with my phone mostly off. Sleeping and reading. It was just what I needed. 
I finished Barber-Smith's 'My Ancestor's Garden' (which I loved because of the parallels with my life, except that the setting was Limpopo province), then hurried more than halfway through Richard Paul Evan's 'The Walk', not without some tears.
I've listened to an Italian family of three at table 23 earnestly discuss family issues: "Oh no papa, but before she married she was still like that...". 
Mama, with her designer wraparound sunglasses (remember, it's an overcast and rainy day), and perched like a little self-important bird on the edge of her chair, kept robotically scanning the bakery just in case someone heard her louder, obviously continental husband.
Daughter, first generation South African, raised her voice, not shrill, but knew her place: "But papa,....!"
On a personal note, it feels like I'm very close to realizing so many of my dreams (from writing to income) that I'm having every weakness, every crack, every weakness thrust into my face; I'm under attack, I'm being set up for failure - I mean why should I deserve this after ALL these years?
Bring it on....
[The number 22 is my good omen, hand-delivered to me a few years ago by God. Remember, He hardly speaks directly to us, so it has to be via signs and symbols, also dreams. Ask Him to reveal to you His particular love language especially, lovingly 'designed' for you. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.]

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

City rat

Despite living in a summer rainfall region, which means the liquid from the sky will soon be coming to an end, today is wet and gray. It's weather I'm loving because it has been ugly hot at home these last few weeks.
Last night a thunderstorm of note let rip as I finished working out at gym. So I decided to wait the storm out. This I did alone in the steamroom and sauna. While watching swollen water drops melt from my finger tips, my ears thrilled at the thrashing the gym's roof received from the gods in charge of the elements.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Mandela Square

I rushed past Mandela's statue to get to my favourite coffee shop in Sandton; which is where I love to finger new books and imagine what it must be like to afford to buy any book that might catch my eye. Like Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky.
Last week Thursday I happened on a brand new secondhand copy of Julia Cameron's The Vein of Gold, which follows on from The Artist's Way. I began working through the book on Saturday...the journey has begun.

Travel Writing at Ground Level

At Ground Level, nothing is 'foreign' or 'exotic' or 'virtuous' or 'pure'. People are just people. Place is just place. When we 'make more' of it (or less), when we appropriate others' struggles or culture as our own, when we reduce people and places into symbols or abstractions or commodities, when we pretend to speak for others, we disrespect those whose lands and homes and cultures we're fortunate enough to pass through. Writing at Ground Level is a way of showing respect.


I've just arrived in Sandton. It's a beautiful afternoon, I'm content in board shorts, a t-shirt and slip slops. Technology means that I can wear what I like, that I cam be wherever I need to be, while keeping the finger on the pulse of my business. This especially valuable for someone who values his mobility and bores easily. Also for someone that's shy and prefers solitude and mostly his own company.