Nikita’s Has A Malignant Tumour #cancer

It was around this time, October, in 2007 that we first met them. The young mother with the two pigtail daughters, aged six and nine, respectively. Give or take a year, but there they were, the shy one and the extrovert. Nikita is the eldest and the introvert while Keisha is the ever-spontaneous extrovert. The two kids soon take to my wife Karen and I. They had an additional set of (grand)parents now.

One day, their daddy left home but never returned. They found him somewhere, dead. He had suffered a massive stroke. The kids were both broken but Nikita never really recovered. Her smile died with her Daddy.

Karen makes custom jewellery by hand and the two kiddies had a fair share over the past eleven years or so. Once, I went and bought specific miracle beads that I very much liked – and so did they. Karen made them earrings and necklaces. We did not have much to give yet we loved giving them what we had available.

The pigtails and skinny legs soon made way for blossoming girls who, in October 2107, are fully grown. The youngest, Keisha, is by far the most mature body wise while Nikita is a twiggy little thingy that I could fit into my shirt pocket. Intelligent, a keen observer and a silent achiever who had passed Matric in 2016 with good grades. We really love these two kids as if they were our own.

A medallion-like growth appeared on her abdomen about a year ago and it had taken her six months to even get an appointment with a surgeon. As they are poor, they have to do with State medical services that sometimes is just a cut above basic. About two weeks ago, the surgeon wanted to remove the blob and found that it sat deep – he took a biopsy and sent it away. Yesterday, October 11, 2017, the results came: she has a malignant growth that already has spread deep.

Surgery is scheduled for Monday, October 15, 2017. The surgeon is already worried about the growth’s spread but will try to clean it all out.

The mother earns a tiny income and the family lives in Hanover Park, a poor suburb in Cape Town. They rent a small dwelling from a landlord. Keisha is still at school and I sometimes wonder if these people even have food on the table, do they sleep warm? We have no car ourselves (I was semi-crippled for 22 years but can now walk again, but lost my job at age 37, I am 55 now) and I cannot visit to check up on them. We are friends with her employer, an elderly gentleman who is soon to retire as he is aged 79 already. Nikita cannot find a job as unemployment in South Africa is rife; the unofficial rate most likely is over 60%.

As from Monday, there may be loss of income as the mother will need to be at the hospital and also to care for Keisha who is still at school and cannot be left alone at home in a suburb know for gangster crimes. A conundrum. There will need to be money for meals at the hospital, for transportation, all of the sudden there is additional expenses and a likelihood of less income.

Friends offered help and, with the mother’s permission, I am now posting this here. A few thoughts:

  • If, for instance, a private surgeon can adopt her case on a charitable basis, this may help
  • Gift of the Givers?
  • If a restaurant can stage a breakfast or dinner to raise funds? We as a group of influencers can do the online marketing.
  • Hotel sponsor accommodation as prizes, say a 2-night stay in a quiet period, to be put into a draw against donations? We will surely give much media coverage.
  • Shops can offer gifts as prices for the draw, maybe the draw be done at the breakfast
  • Please be creative here, come up with ideas, let us create a home, a future, a life for Nikita and her mother and sister.
  • Prayer support, anyone who can help with transport, data bundles for WhatsApp connectivity, etc.

We will gladly introduce you to the family upon arrangement right here in Cape Town. We know that con artists abound and we need to ensure that the authenticity is proven to you. It is me and Karen who have known them since 2007, not you who read here. You still need to see what we already know, we understand that.

Please be creative, see how well we can come to the aid of this young family who had already endured so much loss and hardship.

Come on, let’s rase them up!

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Two Oceans That Are Not #CapePoint

Ever since I was a small kid in the 1960’s, I knew where the two oceans meet: at Cape Agulhas, close to the famous lighthouse there that resembles the one at Alexandra, Egypt. 

Even so, this morning which is October 10, 2017, some gent writes on Twitter that “Cape Town is the only city that sits on both Atlantic and Indian Oceans.” If ignorance is not fueling the myth, it is the greed for tourist dollars.

Having done quite a few forensic audits in my life, let us follow good protocol and let the facts speak. What does the evidence say? 

FACT ONE – NO VISIBLE CONVERGENCE

One cannot see where two oceans meet, at least not with the naked eye. Videos trying to “prove” this on YouTube is a bit delusional in that it can, at best, display where the polluted waters from False Bay meet the open ocean.

FACT TWO – WHY FISH HOEK’S WATER IS WARMER

Two currents run along the coast of Africa toward Cape Town, one being the Mozambique current which is joined from another to form the Agulhas current. This brings warm water at a speed of about 5 nautical miles, 100km wide and 3,000 m deep, to a point far south of Agulhas. This point fluctuates as no ocean current is fixed. 

The other current is the cold Benguela current on the west coast. Where these two meet, it forms a gigantic “whirl pool” which spews warm water out at Fish Hoek, explaining why the water there is nice to swim in. This intermediate current sometimes run as fast as 43km/h!

FACT THREE – INTERNATIONAL BORDERS

It was confirmed in writing by the Chief Hydrographer of the SA Navy, Captain Kampfer, now retired, that the two oceans meet at Agulhas. He gave me maps of the oceans to show the demarcations.

FACT FOUR – DIFFERENCE IN OCEAN LIFE

Marine fauna and flora on the other side of Agulhas differs from that on the Atlantic side, even the abalone is different. The only thing truly Two Oceans in Cape Town, the Aquarium, will show you what the two marine habitats look like.

Estate agents, tour operators, as well as many others, live in some sort of dark place where people believe without questioning and learn without knowing. Even in the funicular station at Cape Point, one can see a map where it is very clearly stated that Cape Point is NOT where the two oceans meet and that the meeting place is at Agulhas.

20ceans

 Also, bear in mind that all of the earth in reality has only one ocean; how we name it, does not change that. It is one huge system. 

Why Bikers Bleed #ThinkBike!

Just a thought: is it biking, or bi king?

Now on to serious biking stuff. This man loves bikes. I am no biker but can appreciate it just like I can appreciate a decent Gibson Les Paul guitar without knowing how to play it. I leave that to those who can – Eric Clapton, John Fogerty, Tree63, Peter Frampton.

Bikes – I rode a few, a 125cc Honda trail bike, another 125, a Yamaha DT, a 200R Honda scrambler, a mighty Yamaha 600 TT with 58-tooth sprocket. A monster on pull-away and a powerhouse in the dunes. It would keep up with a Ford XR8 for the first few hundred yards, or shake its tail end when you roll the throttle at a hundred miles and hour on a loose gravel road. I can wax lyrical; that thing was D O P E!

Then there was a Yamaha RD 350, a little two-stroke wonder that could kill a 900 Kawasaki on sight. Or a GPZ1100 Quack. Kids, if you dunno what I’m talking about, just Google it. My most pleasurable spin was on a Honda CB900F Bol D’Or, a version named after the famous race. It was on that beast that I saw how I was going to kill myself as my enthusiasm had no rev limiter, even if the bike (maybe) did. Nope, I unsaddled my own gallows noose and never mounted a bike again. That was in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.

My cousin had a Yamaha 1.1 and later a Honda Shadow. When Japs build something like a HOG but actually get it right. Harley-Davidson for all the hype cannot build a bike with a meaty roar like a Duke or a Beemer, but hire Junk But Loud to engineer sound effects that sound like the Mayor’s fireworks – loud, erratic claps that only create noise and hurt the ears. That one can mess up a great bike like that. The Buells on the race track sound wayy better.

HOGwatch, eat that!

Now for the thing: bikes need their own space in traffic to be safe and I am a saint when it comes to being truck and bike conscious when driving. Also very Land Rover aware, as there always may be another road block around the bend. No, not cops, I mean the Landy…..

A bike being rear-ended by a car is a sight for sore yes. Something you really don’t want to see, when meat and metal become one on the tarmac. So, smartly, these bikers drive in between lanes, where (hopefully) alert motorists will (hopefully) see them. And, my word, do we get to see eye candy on our way into town every morning! Beautiful bikes, with tyres so wide a Mini could park on them. Ever so often, that throaty rumble of a BMW Motorrad. Lovely stuff; I have a taste for style – as little as I like their cars, as much do I love their bikes. I grew up with them in Worcester, where the traffic cops rode 650’s.

Then we also get to see ZZ Top passing by on his Harley, which is quite nice but please just leave that throttle alone. Don’t spoil the moment of bliss. Or maybe a fat scrambler riding high, or a superbike in full song.

Full song it sadly is, as that is where the trouble starts. Some come from behind at such speed that even the most alert driver stand no chance to see them. A lane change could be fatal to the biker – and to those in the small cars on our roads. It really is unwise to travel outside of the median speed – best is to stay within 20km/h either side of traffic flow. Our crazy laws forcing trucks to do 80km/h while traffic flows at 120-140km/h (the latter illegally) serves as a reminder of danger being legally created. Rather up the truck speeds and lower all other traffic speeds, let all run somewhere between 90-110km/h.

Speed differences in traffic flow is where the problem lies as they come from the other side of where the driver sits, around a bend, so fast that checking a side mirror every six seconds is too little to notice them in good time. The cars crawl at 5km/ while the bikes do twenty times that. A car driver simply is not capable of seeing them in time when quickly needing to make a decision when switching lanes. Disagree with this to show you are an absolute idiot, like someone lambasted me on Twitter. He wants to bleed, let him. It is his choice, but don’t put others at risk. They are innocent. 

Now for the bikes: I really do hope that some biker reads here and spread this about. We’d love to see you guys arrive in one piece at work, at home or at the playground, not covered in a white sheet in a fridge. Please do be considerate to yourselves, if not to others, try not to be foolish on your way into work.

And this applies to every biker out there, from Murmansk to Hobart. Not just Cape Town.

Why I am not #Vegan

Creation was perfect. Man lived an eco-friendly lifestyle among animals, they were all friends. There was this stupendous harmony. Mind-blowing. Imagine not having to break in a horse. Or to feed a carrot to a lion. 

When Adam and Even brought a curse upon earth, nature changed and even lions became carnivores. The Bible has interesting teaching on this. Prior to that, in paradise, animals had no fear of man – who did not eat animal protein. But nature had changed. Even though the book of Genesis would suffice, interesting reading is to be found in the Forgotten Books of Adam and Eve. It just gives a greater understanding.

So, when I decided to follow Jesus, I slowly grew out of many things, like dancing, partying, etc. I never became a religious zealot, it is more that those things did not fulfill me any longer. Ditto pork and certain foodstuffs – I just developed an aversion that had nothing to do with brainwashing but rather natural selection. I would end up referring legumes to meat, for instance and I thought that “on earth as it is in heaven.” There won’t be butcheries in heaven, right?

Jesus came to put the curse right, yet we still live on the cursed planet. A new earth, new heavens await us, so things will become better.

Our bodies still need certain things, things that sadly are usually found in red meat. There is a way out, of course, so one can be  vegan and be healthy. It just takes a bit of planning and precaution. 

For now, I have several auto-immune diseases including intolerances for legumes, certain seafoods (mostly shellfish and octopi) as well as different types of grains. As plant material is really low in certain vitamins, especially B12, I have to aid my diet with what I can afford, sort of, as I am also living on a rather meagre income, being a State disability grant recipient. Even with my limited means of eating eggs, dairy stuff and some meat and fish, the vitamin intake is insufficient and I am always sort of anaemic.

Vegans fall into various categories and are as far removed from each other than the Roman Catholic Church could be from interdenominational home churches. Being a Vegan can mean many different things. My biggest gripe is that some types of Vegans sometimes are sort of militant, uncouth and confrontational. I see no peace in that, neither do I see that an unbalanced concern for animals while humans go to waste is even a righteous approach. All humans also cannot help for where they find themselves, not all can work, not all kids can think for themselves, etc. There has to be balance. it also doesn’t help you wear non-leather clothing but arrive at a protest march in a 6.3-litre twin-turbo V8 that eats its own hole into the ozone layer. Yes, that happened here in Cape Town!

But these are not my concerns.

As a diabetic, I flinch at the unhealthy meals and drinks I see on Instagram, for instance. Laden with sugars, starches, fructose – the latter particularly unhealthy when taken in the wrong quantities. Just because it is natural doesn’t mean it is good for you. Pretty harmful things grow out there. I see cakes, fruit shakes, baked stuff so laden with grains that my stomach turns. It will instantly send blood glucose into a high and send the gluten-intolerant reeling under the advances of microscopic soldiers attacking one’s body. I really think that more attention should be given to truly healthy eating, not just eating something because it natural.

Moderation.

I really miss by dried bean stews, different types I loved making, surprising my wife when she arrived home. Or that Gentil Lentil stew, chick pea pie (my version of shepherd’s pie) and a few others. Legumes. Good source of proteins albeit not sufficient. And Vitamin B12 is something most Vegans need to take supplements for – just make sure you know this. As, if you don’t, you may find that your suffer in terms of nerve health, brain function, etc.

Soya. I forgot soya. Another lovely item that had to be scrapped off my list. Sadly.

Moderation. Did someone say “moderation?” Even the Bible mentions that man should not eat too much meat; God has an aversion to that. And, as wrongly translated Bibles say, Jesus did NOT okay all food. That is an insertion made by mischievous monks centuries after Jesus lived.

Interesting when you read the dietary laws of Moses: today, with scientific research on our side, much can be said for the accuracy of that. I’d say that the true disciple is best advised to live according to the Word of God, as first and foremost authorative writing. It really contains good advice. What you eat, how or why is up to you – I am no judge of that. I just mentioned why I reverted back from my own version of mild veganism. And, in a separate post, I explained how my body chose its own selection of food.

How eating healthy food pays off #LCHF #Banting

For two decades and, of necessity, our small family’s diet really wasn’t very healthy or even balanced. Rich in carbohydrates, poor in protein and anything fresh. At some point in time, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

I saw my surgeon on July 8, 2015. My regular Metformin dose was augmented by a small white tablet to be taken at night. Within four days, all hell broke lose. I had very high fever, cold fever, convulsions and I bent over backwards in pain. I could not eat anything and all food had “the texture of sackloth and the taste of dishwashing liquid.” This went on for three weeks, then I could start eating small morsels of red meat, cocktail tomatoes, lettuce and about nothing else. Oh, and a few bananas – my only source of starch. No teas or coffees, except Chinese green tea with nothing added. And water, lots of it.

Five weeks later and I started recovering, having lost 22kg! Within about three months, I started feeling healthy again. Of course, I stopped the tablets immediately and went on to control blood glucose with healthy eating: lean red meat, said fresh vegetables and, by now, also Greek salad. For dessert.

The water addiction continued. I felt how every cell in my body came alive again, how youthful energy returned – I was 54 by now. Me, a former cripple, could run up steps three at a time.

For reasons of economy – I live on a meagre state disability allowance –
we had to resort back to a high carb diet. Now, after a year of eating badly again, I have gained about eight kilogrammes but the centimetres are what had grown. Short of breath, lethargic, pains through my body…..like before the good #LCHF diet.

This all happened while the world wanted to crucify Prof Tim Noakes for his Banting advice. He is a diabetic as well and should know. Unbeknown to him, I had proven Tim Noakes right! And, as soon as I can afford it, I will be back to eating healthily – not exactly strict Banting but at the very least a #LCHF way of life.

This is to eating healthy. Dish up the great life!

What to do when suspecting #heartattack – how this had worked for me! (Pls reblog/share)

In the prime of my life, I slipped a disc and had a (botched) laminectomy L5-S1 after having spent some time in a wheelchair. The surgery did restore my mobility to some extent but left me bedridden for weeks or months at a time over a period of 22 years.

About a year later, I was booked off work for six weeks with an “impending ischemic event of the heart” and, lo and behold, ended up with a mild-to-severe heart attack and, on top of that, a stroke that had left me speechless. Yes, my household was blessed with me having been stripped of my infamous eloquence. Silent is golden, they say.

Later on in life, I would be afforded a few more of each, with two minor strokes during 2016 alone. Less severe heart attacks around 2002, then again 2009 and some undiagnosed events over the past two years. Undiagnosed because access to medical help is simply ridiculously inaccessible. It only lives in departmental health policies and official procedures, yet ambulances that don’t show up even a day after having been summoned. Or, as my young doctor found, he had me carted away to the hospital nearby as I was enjoying my most recent stroke in his consulting room. Not able to walk or speak, off I went in a large green Volkswagen with red lights minus the Hollywood sirens. My wife was with me.

At the hospital, my wife was told that I would only be seen, hopefully, within some 24 hours or so. Stroke? 24+ hours? One needs help within the hour. Right in front of me, three doctors were politely debating with a lunatic why he neglected taking his lithium or whatever. Three doctors. I was sitting six feet away, not sure whether I would ever be able to walk or speak again, but that was none of their concern. With hindsight, my own state-employed GP perhaps would have been better equipped to deal with me; I also have much faith in him.

My first heart attack came when the military sick bay commander told my wife “he just fainted, it will be okay.” They knew what I was booked off for and they were close by, but chose to ignore me. Ten days later, I drove myself to the military hospital 260km away, where I was diagnosed with a heart attack and the stroke, after some vigorous testing by various specialists.

Twice in my life did I see where the ER service and medical system failed me. There would be more times to come, I just did not know it yet.

This past Friday, I went into a long but entertaining, constructive business meeting and left with high spirits. I did eat just before the meeting and felt on top of the world. My business friend’s little 3-year old granddaughter joined us at some stage and her witty comments had us laughing. All was well and I was on top of the world.

Driving home by 15:12, I went straight up to a less congested main road and took that route home. A felt a strong conviction to drive to a certain McDonald’s nearby but shook it off as a silly idea and proceeded on my way home. I needed a bathroom and stopped at the smaller McDonald’s near my house and, upon my return to the car, it hit me. A numbing pain from my lower left arm, going all the way up and growing in intensity, into my left shoulder, left upper back and up into my left side of the neck, left jaw. The pain became very severe. By now, the chest was hurting really badly, not a sharp piercing pain but rather a very strong pressure that had brought on an intense numbing sort of pain. I found it hard to breathe. I needed help but we have seen too much of the ambulance service over twenty years.

I have no medical insurance, so I slowly drove to the medical facility, a day hospital, across the road. They were closed, two staff were sitting outside and asked if they should call of an ambulance. Ah, we know where that would take us……so, in my persistent fight for survival, I faced the pain and got into the car again. On my way to an ER not too far away.

Trouble!! Rush hour on one of the most congested roads in the country!! Bumper to bumper, with minibus taxi’s doing just crazy things in between cars. A traffic officer could not help as he had to keep cars from rear-ending a stationary truck. Which is reasonable.

Amid all of this, I remember something my friend Kath sent me on WhatsApp a while ago: an Indian doctor telling people to induce coughing violently when experiencing such symptoms. I started doing it, going up the street, trying not to pass out as I felt very dizzy. I managed to get to the initial McDonald’s where a staff member my wife and I are friendly with, came to my aid. I found my isosorbide denitrate sublinguals and placed one under my tongue. As I am diabetic, I had something to eat as well. I had to fight not to lose my conscience and a few times nearly blacked out. The lady later brought me some kind of aspirin to place on my tongue, to let it dissolve and not to swallow. About twenty minutes after taking the isosorbide, the pain started subsiding yet remained for another three hours.

Eventually, I managed to drive to where the ladies in my home could be collected and the car handed to them, about ten miles away. In all of this, there really was no other help that I could summon at all. I had to do it, regardless.

It is Monday now and I am still weak, really tired to death and will see a doctor tomorrow morning. What had happened to me fits into the matrix of either angina or a very light heart attack. After all, i do have some experience in this as it had happened before over the past 22 years. But let the good doctor give his verdict, if at all.

What you should learn from this, and the reason for me sharing this with you:

  • Help is always available in theory but practice may differ
  • Don’t give up but fight, even if it is the last thing you do.
  • Do everything not to black out, it is all too easy to succumb to that
  • Cough – even if it makes you feel like vomiting or if it feels that your chest will split open. Cough. Cough. Cough. Leave a few seconds in between coughs. It apparently helps with blood flow into the lungs and therefore to the heart.

ISOSORBIDE NITRATE

I was never instructed on how to use it, so let me explain – as taken from some medical website:

  • Put one under the tongue
  • If the pain doesn’t subside within 5 minutes, CALL THE AMBULANCE
  • Only then can you place a second tablet under the tongue, but call for help first!
  • You can use a third tablet if necessary but never more than three. Please do your own research, consult with your own doctor or medical professional.

Remember:

  • If at all possible, don’t black out
  • Cough cough cough
  • Get help
  • Cough cough cough
  • Sublingual tablet if you have one
  • Cough cough cough
  • call ambulance or doctor
  • Cough cough cough
  • More sublingual
  • Cough cough cough
  • maybe third sublingual, not more
  • Cough cough cough

Come back and tell us your story!!

Cursing and Aphasia – The Aphasia Center – Intensive Aphasia Treatment

https://www.theaphasiacenter.com/2014/09/cursing-aphasia/

Now you know.

Five strokes.

A stroke of bad luck?

As a regular soldier, I never swore.

A reborn Christian? Rather, I need Jesus.

After stroke, I was a loatheful man.

The secret’s out.

Get Real. Relationships.

A matrimonial breach of trust is so acutely severe that even the Bible holds it as valid reason for divorce. Trust cannot ever be bought.

It can be lost in a split second.

As a Christian, I have been circumvented in business by Christians vociferously proclaiming their faith. Such usually are also very smooth, know how to let the innocent appear to be guilty while the guilty get comforted by the next unsuspecting victim. I have learned how not to treat others, to be fair and just and a man of my word.

It would be unthinkable to do to others as had been done to me. I have seen bad examples and the responsibility upon me is huge not to also do that, not to do as has been done to me only this morning.

Karen and I have been married thirty years, we met just over 31 years ago. We both have been absolutely faithful. Temptations came, so openly that even the very naive me could stir it with a stick.

In marriages where there had been a breach of trust, it seldom is restored once broken. In business it is no different.

I sit here writing, at the doctor, with very high blood pressure. I came here for something else but received a call, only to hear how a very Christian friend, tagging me in the sweetest religious posts on social media, is busy stealing my business, using my contacts, behind my back. Yeah, now my blood pressure is elevated.

I next found I was tagged in a sweet religious post by the very same person.

Get real.

Elke Hond Kry Sy Dag

Dit het toe mos by Russell begin, hy wat nie ons meisiekind kon uitlos nie. Vlekkie, so ‘n klein Foksie. Toe sit hy op haar vas en daar kom toe groot drama.

Ses welpies is gebore, maar twee is honnehemel toe nog voordat hulle die Riemland kon aanskou.

Begrafnis, met groot somberheid. Die buurt se kinders is daar, rent-a-crowd onder dwang. Tania is in standerd vyf en vat nie nee vir ‘n antwoord nie.  Nie van kleiner kindertjies nie.

Monique, Sandra, Elodi en haar sussie Leanae, die twee telge naasaan. Hennie, Tania se kleinsus Marchelle en Jeanine. Ook Die Fillistyn, tweejarige woelwater. Hy is Russell’ se baas, as ‘n Jack Russell ooit een sou kon hê.

En Boorgat. Van bloudraad gemaak, of dalk doringdraad. By die bek langs moet dit lemmetjiesdraad kon wees, daardie kant was skerp. Boorgat is uit wel, ‘n boorgat, gered toe hy ‘n welpie was. Herman was dalk sy kleinbasie. Maar onder in die singel was Boorgat eintlik die baas. Skerpkant straatkant.

Daar is gelees uit ‘n onderstebo CAR-tydskrif en gebid. En as een nie hard genoeg wou huil nie, was die amper uitgegroeide Tania daar met ‘n wildepruimloot. Tania vat nie nee vir ‘n antwoord nie.

Daar is gesing ook, so tussen die goed geïnduseerde trane deur.  Jan Pierewiet.

Twee basterfoksterriers met volle eerbewys ter aarde bestel.

Elke hond kry sy dag.

(Ware gebeurtenis in my agterplaas.)

El Lions Conference Centre

It was Friday morning, the the 15th of September, 2017, as we headed out on the N7 highway, with very little traffic and the going was much easier than anticipated; time was around 8:30AM.

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We were not rushed and drove at a leisurely pace to Philadelphia, where we turned left towards the West Coast and passed the historical farm Keert De Koe. This is where we saw the first of many man-made owl-nests. This stretch is just 4.7km. We turned right into the R304, the old road to Darling and travelled for 7.3km, passing through a leafy tunnel formed by huge saligna trees and turned right into Saxonwold Road. We passed the Waldorf school to our left and saw many more owl’s nests. The effort to re-establish owls is encouraging. Following this road, we entered another “tree tunnel” and promptly found El Lions to our right, after having covered 4,1km.

Arriving at the gate shortly after us, were Marius De Vos and Marinda Holtzhausen, who had facilitated the day’s educational visit. We passed through the electric gate and saw a few peacocks doing their prouncing. We parked under gigantic trees next to a large khoi dam, where we were introduced to owners Mario and Lona. We were surrounded by woodlands alternated by expansive lawns and grasslands, with spring flowers blossoming. The setting was picturesque and the two ladies, Karen and Niki, soon took to doing some photography.

 

As other guests arrived, we were introduced and invited to the lapa, a tented wooden structure made of home-grown saligna and hand-built by Marco. It did not ask but estimate that it can seat approximately seventy guests, maybe more. In the centre is a lovely built-in fireplace and in the one corner, a very neat bar counter from where we were served light snacks and coffee.

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We were then taken on a walk to view the facilities and were shown a number of 1-bedroom apartments, each with a sofa, kitchenette, bedroom with double bed, wardrobe and a bathroom with toilet, basin and shower, all very neat and presentable. Each has a two-seater wooden table outside.

From there, we went to the conference centre consisting of two one-bedroom apartments that can also be used as a two-bedroom apartment, with a lovely lounge, there are two bathrooms and two kicthens, of which one interleads into the fairly large conference room.

We also viewed the thirty stables converted into sleeping rooms with two double bunk beds each, a shared kitchen and his & hers bathrooms, each with several showers, toilets and basins. As in all the other facilities, wood sourced from the premises have been used, expertly crafted by owner Mario Baragona.

Finally, there is an indoor swimming pool, pool table and other leisure amenities.

El Lions is set in rustic woodlands covering 21 hectares and there is ample space for team building, mountain biking, quad biking, jogging and other physical activities. There are various braai spots as well as an amphitheatre with a plinthed fireplace at its centre – formerly used as a lunging ring for training racehorses. As someone remarked, there has to be a place where Khumbaya can be sung under a starlit sky.

Groups of twenty or more are welcome and El Lions would be ideal for church-, school-, youth-, cultural- and corporate groups for conferences, team building and training.

 

Google Rock Star Level 7 #LocalGuide

This had happened two or three months ago, already, yet it gives me great pleasure to show that working for free, initially, had helped me gain recognition, making me a worthy influencer to market your product or service.

On Twitter, up to 250,000 impressions per month, Facebook is much more active and drive more readers to my blogs, yet I have no stats for that.

Being associated with six major passenger transport social media accounts and even more industry influencers, also helps taking your product out.

Furthermore, collaboration with various tourism bodies and other influencers makes my offer just that much more resilient and advantageous.

There are many ways in which I can promote your product as I am a recognised, authentic influencer, trusted by many as I don’t buy fake followers like many do, then they let you pay for that.
Test my Twitter handle @awethentiq at TwitterAudit.com

Contact me so that I can show you the different ways in which I can market your business an a great way, at a very low cost.

Being The Change #Leadership

We sometimes get into situations where compromise gets called upon. These are the times to prove your integrity, as the politician will always first see where there is either a benefit or a risk. A true leader, however, will seek the right outcome, event to his disadvantage, which is why very few politicians will ever be true leaders. I may sound rash but this is cold fact, not criticism. Moreover, it also is just logic.

I live in South Africa, a country with its own challenges and slow but certain backslide. it is slipping away from the fingers of the sane, just like the USA or Canada. It is evident that Americans would think their country is the worst and, on social media, they cry it out loudly, as do Australians, Britons, Germans, etc. Even Canadians nowadays prefer to be opinionated instead of being PC. Too little, too late, also that great nation is in a death spiral. All these people ever can achieve is to market possible failure so effectively that it eventually happens. When it does happen, they still blame others without realising what a tremendous role they have played in sinking their own Titanic.

How does one turn the tide? Well, positive change, like its negative evil twin, never came about by following protocol, or filling out twenty pages in triplicate with carbon paper. Of course, one would first seek a solution amiably and, when that fails, opt for a bit more enhanced influence. We love to play it by the rules, yet if the rulers entangle themselves so badly in red tape, using all their energy to manufacture elaborate excuses, one need to make new rules.

Making new rules is giving you the upper hand as the ruler now have to submit, as he is forced to. You can now call the shots, hopefully not through arrogance but just from a perspective of control. A more beneficial angle of attack. If you are off on a tangent, let it be one of fortitude. Effect positive change by frog-marching the ruler, yet save his face, always keep an olive branch almost within his reach. Give him something to live for, a reason to comply.

In so doing, you will not only save his face, but also your own cause. Be smart, always present solutions, even alternatives to said solutions, to afford your adversary an escape route that takes him on the path that you want him to be on. Let him choose what you wanted in the first place, by making it attractive to him. Ten, when change is effected, stand back if need be, let him get the honour, as this isn’t about you but about the positive change that you are called to effect upon this planet.

In so doing, you will earn respect and become trusted. If you have integrity to the core, that is.

Another article by Pete posted to WordPress via email. Follow on Twitter: @awethentiq

It Is Hard To Be Civil #DisabledParking

Section 9 of the South Acfrican Constitution states that neither the State nor anyone else may discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, religion, culture, disability, etc.  Taking reasonable access to public facilities away from anyone is a violation of that person’s rights. When disabled people get targeted in this way, we expose the very worst in society. 

Sometimes, being civil really is a challenge. For instance, I wanted to tell you that I really regard these people in the same league as child molesters, baby rapists or those who violate their own mothers and grannies. Then, I thought, what would that do to me in the end? Will I feel better if I blacklisted every shopping mall that doesn’t control their disabled parkings and encourage people not to be buying there?

I could tell you how badly management at Bayside Mall handled my complaint when I found a vehicle from South African Police Services parked across a number of disabled parkings, with a minor child left unattended inside. That I was told that it would be illegal to clamp transgressors – something I checked with the local traffic authorities since and found it to be not true. Clamping is still legit, parking without a permit sticker on disabled parking is not.

Of course, I could say that the very next vehicle that parked where the cop truck was parked, was just a coincidence and that the security officers were watching UFO’s and flying pigs, which is why they didn’t notice.

Okay, so let us not tell you what a badly bred tribe these parking offenders are. People so selfish and lazy that they cannot think that someone may actually need the parking near the door. Like my one friend whose 34-year old daughter is an invalid since a car accident at age five months, totally dependent upon her mother only. As an adult, so very easy to be carried over quite some distance from a remote parking as the mother is very strong and fit, despite being sixty years of age. No problem, she also handles the shopping trolley. But you must see my other friend, a real lioness. Wow, she does it grand! With a little boy breathing through a hole in his throat and limp in a wheelchair, she finds it so delightful that she can show off her prowess by juggle the limp boy, her very active three year old, a wheelchair and a shopping trolley without assistance. And how she just hates these disabled parkings as it makes her feel entitled. So, you will notice her at the mall next time, red in the face while showing off how tough she is.

When she cries into her pillow, be sure that it won’t affect you, as you parked where she should have. You sucked at a smouldering weed between your lips, your truck across to disabled parking bays, while you own very fit, healthy and sexy daughter runs to the store to buy your cigarettes.

So, instead, I told a beautiful young girl on the passenger seat one day, how noble she was to sacrifice her youth, her life, her career, even her blossoming sexuality, to the invalid driving their little Nissan truck. For some reason totally unknown to me, she started sniggering when I complemented her best qualities, while at the same time, her totally cripple boyfriend with his stick-on muscles (buy that at Virgin) became increasingly rosy in his complexion. To the point of being very red. I told her that a beautiful, fit young lady with a healthy dose of hormones like herself, really should have gotten herself a nerd who thought about nothing other than sex all day, as that would have satisfied her most basic needs. Yet, she was noble-minded and sacrificed her endless youthful joys to invest it into the life of her invalid boyfriend.

So, let me reiterate. We will be kind to these parking area pests who invade disabled parkings, as their mental retardation warrants it. And their wives must be deep purple with sexual frustration.

Next time you see one, hoot and feel sorry. Take a photo, share on social media, that others can help bear his burden.

As that is what love is. Carrying someone else’s burden.

What to do with #GeneraztionZ

About a year ago, I took an on-line assessment for my It skills and was rated young enough to be Generation Z.

Yesterday evening, I sat installed in my regular corner at a coffee shop at the V&A Waterfront and a number of tourists from India took seats at the table adjacent to mine. I didn’t realise that they were watching me as I backed up data between devices, swapped SIM cards, employed various types of external memory devices and did it all on Linux Mint, not MS Windows.

After a while, I was confronted in broken English – the gent wanted to know my age. Not something a total stranger should be asking me, yet I was intrigued and told him my age. The group exchanged glances, nodded knowingly but were taken aback when I told them that I come from the days of pre-PC and my first OS was CP/M. That, to the new kids on the block, is the OS before MS-DOS.

Yes, I am the new Millennium Kid, the tech geek who drives smartphone sales “executives” crazy and hack deep into the innards of Linux and Android. In the past, I was quite fluent in anything Microsoft, Symbian60, BBOS, Mac OS X, OS/2……

The website said I was Gen Z.

At age 55!

I Am A #PermaTourist In #lovecapetown

We were at a world renowned precinct, visited by 24 million people annually. It is called the V&A Waterfront, a working harbour with several shopping malls, roughly eighty restaurants, museums, cinemas, offices, residences over and above helicopter flights and ocean cruises from local sunset trips to ocean cruises, including the world’s largest liners. Tourists asked me if there was a travel agency and I said “NO.” They were taken aback, then I asked them to just look around them, saying “we are here already, where do we need to go to?”

I live in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the five most scenic cities in the world and the top travel destination in Africa. I am here to stay. Tourists sometimes ask me where I am from and I am quick to point out that I am a local tourist. That confuses them, so I explain that I must have a few thousand photos of Table Mountain alone. To do what with? Well, it was fun taking them! When asked if I travel, I say “of course!” When asked where I travel to, my answer is “Cape Town.

Let me explain: one an be born here, live here, see a new thing every day and still miss out on so much by age 85! The other day, a young tourist from Europe wrote on Facebook that she spent two very boring days in Cape Town….she must be very unimaginative as the world’s most scenic coastal rail route already was worth a day out on a Tourist Pass costing less than three United States Dollars? Nothing to do? Did she even put down her phone, detox from social media and noticed where she stayed – in beautiful Hout Bay where one won’t get bored for weeks on end, too much to do!

So, photos we take, things we see. Just yesterday, we discovered a very nice hotel hidden in plain sight right in the centre of the Mother City, as Old Cape Town is fondly known. Views from a rooftop garden on the ninth floor cover from Devil’s Peak to Lion’s Head. The rooftop is an ideal party venue, honeymoon suite with a great setting for wedding pictures. Or a rave with your young mates, or a corporate conference venue. That is where a sign advertising morning coffee at seventy US cents led me….nothing boring there!

Architecture, museums, action activities (well over a hundred!) plus so much more. I don’t need to travel abroad to see wales as we have our whales here 😀

Gosh, how can anyone become a couch potato in such vibrant surroundings?! If anything, cape Town can become an indulgent sensory overload, not that the young adventurer made herself guilty of that.

I travel every day, from Cape Town deeper into Cape Town.

I never get enough.

I coined the term PERMATOURIST to describe myself.

Follow me on Twitter @awethentiq

Main Line Trains In South Africa – PRASA

There is somehow a perception that trains have stopped running in South Africa in 1994. Many reasons are given by “those in the know” yet I am here to boldly tell you that all is well. We travel so often that I have lost count, but I am going to outline our journeys for you.

PREMIER CLASSE

1-2 November 2016

Upon our arrival at the Premier Classe Lounge, we were served with tea, coffee, scones and muffins. Our Train Manager welcomed us and we were addressed by Mr Mthura Swartz, Executive Manager, Main Line Passenger Services. We were made to feel at home. We also soon made friends with a couple from Kenya.

We left Cape Town on the morning of November 1, 2016, on board PremierClasse, South Africa’s only affordable luxury train. At a price point less than a business class airline ticket, you get:

  • Air-conditioned throughout with individual controls in each compartment
  • Only two guests per compartment, one per coupe.
  • Convenient lockable wardrobes, oodles of stowage space and lots of place to hang things
  • Complementary amenities such as body wash, shampoo and shower slippers
  • Shower gowns and towels – these remain on the train
  • A variety of mood- and day/night lighting options with reading lights as well.
  • A foldable table that hides a stainless steel wash basin
  • Soft carpeting on the floors
  • A complementary bottle of still spring water per guest
  • Personalised welcoming letters that also serves as travel information regarding your journey
  • Two lounges with cash bars, with card payment facilities – one for smokers, one for non-smokers
  • Dining cars where some of the most delectable meals are served, prepared by top class chefs
  • Dinner is a five course affair. Affaire could be the right description. It is a sensory seduction.
  • Lunch is a three course delight fit for a king
  • Breakfast – once you have been served, you can face an army. It is scrumptious and laden with goodness
  • Afternoon tea with a selection of cake
  • Welcoming tea/coffee with a selection of muffins and scones, jam and butter, sometimes cheese as well, in the PremierClasse Lounge
  • Welcoming bubbly or juice with crisps, nuts, sandwiches and biltong once on board.
  • I forgot to mention the crisp bed linen, really in a league well above the travel price – also included.
  • A conference car that can be equipped according to your needs and taking 20 – 30 delegates. Also great for weddings, birthdays and wedding anniversaries or just a nice party!
  • Telephones are being installed so that guests can order room service or summon the Train Manager.
  • Mains power ports – 220V great for USB charging, laptops, cameras or your own music gadgets!
  • Plain clothes Police and Security officers keep guests safe. Relax, all is well!

On this first journey, we traveled to Potchefstroom, some 1,200km away – it is not a scheduled stop yet the Train Manager allowed us to disembark as we had another train to catch.

Our train traveled through the vineyards of the Boland and finally we stopped in Worcester where fresh water and Diesel fuel were replenished. The fuel is for the twin generator set that powers all facilities on board as overhead power is only for the electric locomotives. We then passed through the scenic Hex River Valley, then the Hexton tunnel complex that consists of four tunnels of 0.5km, 1.1km, 1.2km and 13.5km respectively. We emerged in the Karoo desert and witnessed a sable antelope that stood guard over a solar power farm. On to Beaufort West, where we arrived about 90 minutes early. On our way there, we were served with afternoon tea and cake.

At Beaufort West, more replenishment and a single Class 7E locomotive replaced the twin set of Class 6E1’s. Overhead voltage now increased from 3kV to 7kV. This is also where the sun set as we passed Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve while the famous five course dinner was served. Some had energy left to party the night away, smoke cigars in the Club Car or just converse with fellow guests over a few drinks in the Lounge Car. In the last few rays of daylight, we were treated to three herds of Springbok (Thomson’s gazelle) showing off their skills. A beautiful sight to behold and as African as it can get.

The next morning, we woke to coffee being served at our compartment – sunrise was so beautiful but we soon saw more herds of wild game – kudu, eland, sable antelope, zebra, gnu, giraffes, red hartebeest……and we were being served that famous breakfast as we passed through Klerksdorp and the first gold mines. Our journey was over within forty minutes and we greeted our new-made friends from Kenya, delightful people that we are still in contact with.

Our Train Manager was the venerable Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana.

14 March 2017

A number of journalists were invited but only showed up. Then you ask me why you didn’t know that main line rail passengers in this country is still alive and well, just better than in the days of old. The occasion was celebrating the brand new Conference Car and I travelled with Mr Karel Crous, the Area Manager, Prasa main Line Passenger Services, as a special guest, to Wellington. I had the opportunity to view the Conference Car on its maiden journey, but had to terminate my travel at Wellington as I had another appointment soon after.

17 March 2017

Karen and I boarded at Klerksdorp, on the return journey of the PremierClass with Conference Car. This was an excellent choice, as the SiMODiSA #VentureTrain was happening in the Conference Car and I was the first media representative to see it in action. Quite phenomenal and those people brought a great mood with them. Our journey to Cape Town, like our November one, was a delight and bordered upon indulgent. We met the owner of a game ranch, his wife, brother and sister-in-law. As our train was a bit delayed, we had the benefit of traveling about two hours longer, due to speed restrictions imposed by the Rail Safety Regulator and/or Transnet Freight Rail, both separate entities. Even so, these and other guests were reluctant to end their journeys as they found it so enjoyable.

Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana was our friendly Train Manager.

11 April 2017

Arriving at the PremierClasse Lounge, we were met by Chris and Nathan, who efficiently took charge of our luggage and directed us towards the lounge area, where Mr Sydney Pele Nodikana awaited guests for the welcoming snacks and drinks – and the regulation welcoming speech and “house rules.” We soon made new friends and were soon on our way, but I first showed an interested guest the heritage trains at the nearby Monument Station. Our journey to Klerksdorp was very pleasant and we were yet again treated to much wild game along the way. We arrived some twenty minutes late despite having gained 90 minutes during the course of the night. This was welcome as it afforded us an opportunity to breakfast before we disembarked.

27 April 2017

Our train arrived a few hours late due to speed restrictions as there was a TFR freight train that had derailed a week prior and the Rail Safety Regulator did not give clearance to travel at the usual 90km/h, but rather at 30km/h. As our train drew into the station from Johannesburg, a guest stepped out to stretch her legs. Her words to me: “Sir, you’d better board this train, the MOOD on here is GOOD.” So, it runs much late yet the guests celebrate? We were whisked to the dining room where our food was served, as they kept our lunch for us. A very nice touch. Then we went to unpack and settle in, as my usual paraphernalia had to be hooked up to the mains power to get charged. Cameras, laptop, tablet, three phones. We are geeks on a mission.

This journey became memorable in so many ways, as we saw even more wild game, twice we found that eagles glided for some distance right next to where we sat to breakfast in the Dining Car. We could advise foreign guests on matters travel in South Africa and we were delighted to count so many relics from the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902, in the form of blockhouses.

People really enjoyed themselves even though we were running quite late – they found it a bonus as they now had more time to play card games or chat while having a few more cocktails from the cash bar. One guest came up to me and said: “You told me this is the #GoodFoodTrain, but I can improve upon that. Let me call it the “GreatValueTrain as we get more for the same money.” I just loved that attitude!

So, we rolled along the Karoo desert towards the Hex River and Cape Town. Because of circumstances beyond the control of Prasa, our train arrived nine hours late; we had two extra meals meanwhile and dessert with each. I stand amazed at the hours the staff were on duty and how friendly their service was throughout. As we neared Cape Town, a few guests came up to me, asking if I knew “the guys at the top.” They then asked me to “put a letter forward asking that the train always travels at 30km/h so that they can sleep another night on board.” Out of 68 guests on board, only ONE person was upset because of the delays.

Our Train Manager was Mr Patrick Khumalo assisted by James. As we disembarked, James asked me if the trip was exhausting and I surprised him by saying that, to the contrary, a number of guests indicated that they would board at the drop of a hat…..ready to go! Traveling on the PremierClasse is exceptionally pleasant and I am so glad I am not on board on the many days that I see it arrive either on time or a bit early. I would hate that!

SHOSHOLOZA MEYL

Expect:

  • Two classes, Sleeper and Sitter
  • Dining Car
  • A La Carte restaurant
  • Cash bar
  • As on PremierClasse, two flushing toilets but traditional types
  • Hot showers
  • USB charging ports, 220V
  • Carriages are being refurbished and have wood paneling (almost as great as PremiewrClasse)
  • Some have air conditioning
  • 5 or more uniformed armed SA Police Officers
  • 5 or more uniformed Prasa Protection Services Officers

You are in capable and safe hands!

November 2, 2016,

We boarded the ShosholozaMeyl at Potchefstroom and were allocated our compartment. It was old and maybe needed a lick of paint but it was really very clean and somehow, someone had made our (optional). Otherwise, spic & span! We left in a mild thunderstorm, treated to the beauty of Highveld lightning as we passed the many gold mines on our way to Kimberley. Soon, we had dinner which was a beautiful Sirloin served with Hot and cold salads. We had nice company in the form of a few couples who traveled quite often, ONLY to experience the train! They came to beautiful Cape Town, stayed a night or two and were on the next train back. They take all routes on ShosholozaMeyl and never seem to get enough of it. A good sign.

I slept like a log and woke in time for breakfast. Trains lull me to sleep and the gentle sway is something I love. I almost forgot to tell you: we were woken with coffee, a rather nice touch. After breakfast, we stopped at Beaufort West to replenish (there were two such stops while I was sleeping, at De Aar and Kimberley.) From there, we started our slow descent towards the Hex River Valley a few hundred kilometres away, passed through the four Hexton tunnels, the valley itself and on to the beautiful Worcester. We spent some twenty minutes here and I was fortunate as Mr Karel Crous, Area Manager, awaited me and promptly installed me in the driver’s cabin with driver Okkie Pretorius and Assistant Henricho Vermeulen. I had a fantastic ride to Wellington, through Nuwekloof Pass between Tulbagh and Gouda and, all too soon, our journey ended.

Our Train Managers were Mr Veldtsman and Delafontyn while Soraya Stemmet managed the dining car. We were really impressed.

November 23, 2016

We boarded at Cape Town and were once again surprised to see how smooth a train can pull away. One just sees the “platform move away.” So subtle, even on a budget tourist class train. We followed the same route to Beaufort West and took many photos, or bloopers, rather. Fun with cameras….. The train was very neat and tidy, nothing out of place. James, Assistant Train Manager was installed in the Dining Car where Suraya Stemmet did her usual magic and we really enjoyed the shorter journey to Beaufort West, where Dries Potgieter of Steenbokkie Private Nature Reserve collected us for a farm stay. Something I can really recommend.

We stayed for a week en returned on ShosholozaMeyl on November 28, 2016 – another pleasant journey.

I think this is sufficient to give you an idea of passenger rail travel in South Africa that really is doing quite well. You owe yourself a nice journey!

July 5, 2017

Stepping from a train that had been awarded the title of World’s Best Luxury Train some sixteen times or so, of which eight were consecutive, we boarded this train that cost almost twenty-two times less. With some guests in our party who had never traveled on trains before! No problem, they found all to their satisfaction and they soon were tweeting and posting all over social media about how great this backpacker on wheels was! Yes, ShosholozaMeyl is LOVED by we South Africans, yet we see that visitors from abroad travel here to experience her yet again. Some adopt some sort of “addiction.”

Yes, rail travel in South Africa is just great and, if anything, better than 25 years ago!

Join the #RailLoveRevolution (also as a group on Facebook) and re-live the days of rail travel. It is here and it is as great as ever, if not even better!

Be sure to: Follow @awethentiq on Twitter and AwethentiQ Travel on Facebook. Visit www.railloverevolution.blogspot.com

Another Crazy Little Thing Called Love

1 If I make use of the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am like sounding brass, or a loud-tongued bell.

So often, we find that some charismatic Christians will become confrontational about the speaking in tongues, telling those with other gifts that they don’t have the Holy Spirit. In doing so, they prove that they don’t have His Spirit themselves, as they are unfairly judgemental and surely not acting in a spirit of loving kindness.

2 And if I have a prophet’s power, and have knowledge of all secret things; and if I have all faith, by which mountains may be moved from their place, but have not love, I am nothing.

What does it help to have all the prophetic wisdom and then be devoid of His Love?  The result is just another source of irritating noise.

3 And if I give all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it is of no profit to me.

To be a giver and a sharer is really something commendable, but does it come at a price? The moment that it takes away liberty, freedom, dignity from the recipient, the deed is nullified. Do it in such a way that the one at the receiving end never feels compromised.  Don’t send emotional bills. They may become bad debt.

4 Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride;

My wife and I have been waiting on the Lord for something since 1998. If ever someone was being taught patience, this must be it. During this process, like Job, we had everything taken away from us.  We had to remain humble and kind….not always that easy. Others had given up after waiting just a year or so; waiting is too much effort to have one’s faith really tested.

5 Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil;

A sharp tongue, sometimes selfishly so, has ended many marriages and relationships, friendships and also careers. Being critical of others is a sure sign of the absence of natural love, a disqualification for being a marriage partner. My wife and I have been married very happily for thirty years and hardly ever a harsh word. I don’t jump on her because she cannot replace a cap, be it the toothpaste or shampoo, the ketchup or the jam. And she just never tires of me spreading reading material, flash drives, USB cables and computer paraphernalia all around me.

6 It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true;

Love won’t enter into a contract with sin, it won’t lust after someone outside of marriage, or covet the neighbour’s brand new Lexus. Love will want to walk a straight path as God is Love.

7 Love forgives everything. Love is always trusting, and always hoping, and never gives up.

Love forgives everything. Did you make a wrong turn in traffic?  Love forgives that. Did you burn the toast?  Love forgives that. Did you spill tea on the carpet? Love forgives that.  Did you forget to close a window or take out the trash?  Love forgives that. When we remind others of every little mistake they make, we reveal our own hearts to be devoid of His Love. If He cannot entrust colleagues or friends to us, how can He trust us with a spouse or children?  Someone who nags all the time and point fingers, simply lack His Spirit. The Bible teaches that.

8 Love never ends. The gift of speaking words from God will end. The gift of speaking in different tongues or languages will stop. The gift of knowing many things will end.

Tongues will stop

Prophecies will end

Love will last into all eternity.

If our friend has done something wrong, remain silent and forgive if it isn’t something really, really crucial. Be the least, just shut up and let that person be, as such is grace, the Product of Love.  This really is the acid test for true Christianity.

A burning question:

How does your life measure up in terms of love?  How tolerant are you of others?

With the Black Eyed Peas, I sing a sad song:

“Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)”

Spayed

It was 1967 when we took her to the vet, her name was Lulu. She was a smooth-haired fox terrier. (Fox or terrier?  Not sure!)  Lulu stayed there for the day while we went to the co-op, Dad demanded more money from Volkskas and we drove around the dusty little town in our Ponton Mercedes. We had chips, Coke and warm bread, then it was time to collect Lulu. She had yellow stuff and a fresh zipper on her tummy and she walked rather stiff-legged and looked dopey. As a small child, the day was a busy one. I knew what was happening to Lulu, or so I thought.

The next Lulu smiled in my face when I told her she was a real brown bitch; she was my Spaniel and she slept behind my back. I smuggled her into the room via the outside loft stairs at night. She attracted too many boyfriends and Mon didn’t take kindly to that. She was Lady Angelique De Something  but we couldn’t care about titles. It were puppies we didn’t want. So, to the vet she went and also she returned with stitches and a stiff gait – and dopey. The year was 1979.

Spookie was our white cat. She was taken to the vet in 2013 and we were told she had “very small kittens inside” when the operation was done. I am not so sure they were so small as I saw her crawl into all sorts of tiny spaces just a few days prior. Her stiff gait was less pronounced, she also was less dopey and the zipper very small.

It was when Spookie started acting weird that I was spooked. Around the time that she was supposed to have given birth, she started looking all over the place for her kittens. Finding none, she drove Seun crazy – he was our very innocent and technically disarmed tomcat with some discreet Bengal blood in him.  Spokie cuddled Seun, he had no peace the way he was being nursed by a caring “mom.”  Yet Spokie went in search of her kittens, meowing relentlessly as she went.

That was when I decided that I won’t ever do this to an animal again. Right now, Ginger is growing a belly and in search of a private little corner……..

 

I didn’t leave under a cloud!

Mac is hugely expensive in South Africa, sometimes we must pay up to 155% of what someone would pay in the USA, when making direct comparisons.  This is enough reason to give it a wide berth but I also had experiences that let seek my solace elsewhere.

So, that was Apple. Now let’s talk Windows.

Some have radical reasons for using open source operating systems. These range from conspiracy theories to paranoia. I am not a member of that club.  Instead, my approach is practical.

I live in Africa, where less than half the 1.2 billion souls have Internet of any kind, let alone broadband. Even globally, less than half the population are online.

Globally, there is a huge drive into the Cloud. Everybody seems to be pushing everything into the cloud, making themselves totally reliant upon a good, constant internet connection. As Windows is going the subscriptions route and more becoming like ChromeOS in the end, we really do need alternatives.  I cannot be using GoogleDocs or Office365 or ZoHo if I don’t have constant Internet access, can I?

The solution is simple:  I am using Linux Mint Cinnamon, the world’s most advanced computer operating systems that also happens to be FREE.  Perhaps another reason for using open source software!

I can travel into the Karoo desert, or the Kalahari and still have all my applications ranging from image and video editors to office applications, with all my data neatly on my laptop.  No cloud required!

Think of the future – Microsoft has already killed anything up to Windows 8.1 and they are already slitting the throat of Windows 10; soon you can choose between 10S, 10S and 10S.

When I venture into an area where there is some Internet access, I can send and receive email using IMAP or POP3, even, by virtue of Mozilla Thunderbird mail client – also not a resource-hungry browser-based solution but a standalone client.

So, that explains it.  No cloud coverage, no cloud computing. The old way sometimes really is the very best – yet my OS is fast, modern and sublime. It is stable, reliable and extremely secure compared to Windows.

I am not living under a cloud.

Werksoekers Lees Hier

Gee my bietjie tyd om te besluit of ek moet lag of huil. Dit is nou eenmaal so dat daar regstellende aksie plaasvind en daarom kry onder andere Afrikaanses moeiliker werk. Dit geld dan ook vir meer as een ras. Dit is egter nie die onderwerp ter bespreking nie en ek gaan nie kommentare in hierdie verband toelaat nie.  Jy is egter welkom om kommentaar te lewer op die onderwerp hieronder:

Die onderwerp: net die sterkstes sal oorleef.

Wanneer jy alreeds deur wetgewing gemarginaliseer word, moet jy alles in jou vermoë doen om jouself te verbeter, jouself op te hef. Daar is programme by sommige van ons biblioteke, waar jy gratis kursusse kan doen, jy kan aanlyn studeer, ens. Die belangrikste, egter, is dat jy nie stagneer nie maar soveel vaardighede as moontlik bemeester. Dit is ook regtig baie belangrik om jou taalvaardigheid te verbeter.

So pas het ek gesien op ‘n groep vir minderheidsgroepe, dat die volgende baie sigbaar is:

  • Swak spelvaardigheid
  • Onaanvaarbare grammatika
  • Patetiese woordeskat
  • Gemengde taal
  • Afstootlike, vuil taal

Een dame het hierdie probleme uitgewys en binne ‘n ommesientjie het bykans tweehonderd lesers haar aangeval en in die proses beide swak en vuil taal gebruik. Dit beteken dus dat hierdie tweehonderd mense by geen organisasie met ‘n goeie statuur aangestel sal word nie – voornemende werkgewers lees ook daar en sien wat aangaan. ‘n Manspersoon het selfs aangedui dat hy haar fisies sou aanrand – maar hy soek werk!

Dan het ek gaan kyk na die sosiale mediaprofiele van etlike van hierdie mense wat so tekere gegaan het; bykans sonder uitsondering is dit mense wat nie omgee wat hulle in die openbaar plaas nie. Daar is skynbaar ‘n totale gebrek aan selfrespek. Hoe sal jy ander, insluitende jou kollegas asook meerderes respekteers as jy nie eens vir jouself respek het nie?

Dit wil voorkom asof ‘n redelike persentasie werkloos is as gevolg van wie hulle in wese is en hoe hulle hulleself in die openbaar aanbied. Dalk juis niie as gevolg van hulle velkleur nie of taal nie. ‘n Mens moet darem ‘n bietjie gesonde veggees hê, of hoe? As jy nie goed kan spel nie, is dit waarskynlik grootliks daaraan te wyte dat jy nie genoeg lees nie. Jy kan nie verwag om goed taalvaardig te wees as jy nie in daardie taal lees nie. Daar is mense met aangebore taalgebreke; hierdie gesprek handel egter nie oor hulle nie. Dit is die gewone persoon wat weier om te groei wat my hinder.

Sedert ek sowat twintig jaar gelede medies moes aftree (sonder pensioen) het ons deur diep waters gegaan. Mettertyd het ek weer geleer loop, soveel so dat ek nie meer ‘n rolstoel, loopraam (winkeltrollies werk ook goed mits jy op die winkelperseel is) of kierie hoef te gebruik nie. Omdat my werkgewer my nie medies ongeskik verklaar het nie, het my ongskiktheidsdekking nie uitbetaal nie en daar was werklik geen inkomste nie. Desnieteenstaande het ek myself so wyd en ver as moontlik bekwaam, aanlynkursusse gedoen (ek kon net nie die tagtig Euro vir elkeen bekostig nie en het dus nie my sertifikate ontvang nie) alhoewel ek met lof geslaag het. Ook het ek die Linux-bedryfstelsel so goed onder die knie gekry dat ander Linux-gebruikers my as ‘n “geek” beskryf. Ek dink dit is gevaarlik om so ‘n titel te gebruik. Tans leer ek alles wat ek kan van fotografie en videografie maar het net ‘n klein tweedehandse kompakte kameratjie om praktiese ervaring op te doen. Laasnag het ek twee ure geslaap en daarna weer begin werk. Ons bou alreeds twintig jaar aan ‘n besigheid, wat my ses maande sou geneem het as daar net van iewers af ‘n bietjie ondersteuning was. Tog gee ons nie moed op nie en beur voort.

Moenie jouself in die voet skiet deur te stagneer nie, moenie jouself gaan goedkoop maak nie en doen die maksimum met dit wat jy het. Iewers vorentoe gaan iemand dit raaksien en jou ‘n kans gee. Koop die tyd uit, ontwikkel jou vaardighede en talente, ook die moeilikes wat nie van nature kom nie. Sorg dat jy in geen gemaksone verval nie.

Gedurende die eerste helfte van 2017 kon ek nie eens blog om byvoorbeeld die Wes-Kaapse Departement van Gesondheid se #WoW-inisiatief of ander gemeenskapsprojekte te bevorder nie. Ek het onderhoude gaan voer, notas geneem maar daar was net eenvoudig nie voldoende internettoegang nie. Klein dingetjies wat elders ‘n groter uitwerking het, goed of sleg.

Sedert ek weer leer loop het, het ek om ander redes medies ongeskik geraak, naamlik Tipe 2 Diabetes en hipertensie – maar omdat ek self verantwoordelikheid aanvaar vir my toestand, is ook bloedglukose en bloeddruk regtig onder beheer. ‘n Mens moet eienaarskap neem en elke faset van jou lewe onder beheer kry, sodat jy so effektief as moontlik kan wees.  Ook om nie ‘n las op ander te wees nie.

Vermy negatiewe gesprekke, klaery en vitterigheid – omring jouself met positiewe, kreatiewe geloofsmense. Leer om inisiatief aan die dag te lê en maak jouself onmisbaar so goed as wat jy kan, dan sal die deurbraak vanself kom. Die regte geleentheid op die regte tyd. Om te verwag dat jy in ‘n pos aangestel gaan word deur te versleg of, ten beste, bloot te stagneer, is onwerklik.

Kry koffie en word wakker.

Carey Dunn on “Chemtrails”

Quite often, here at the tip of Africa, we get to laugh at silly folks in supposedly more sophisticated countries, who believe this junk despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. But, then, we also live in times when any lie and deception becomes mainstream and treated as “knowledge.” The truth, to the contrary, doesn’t stand a chance as they simply reject it.

Here is an example:

My month with chemtrails conspiracy theorists | Environment | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/22/california-conspiracy-theorist-farmers-chemtrails

Are Dogs De-Tuned Wolves?

We grew up with the belief that dogs were bred from wolves. This was fifty years ago. Over time, we would learn about evolution, a theory that really doesn’t sit well with me, for various reasons including that of science.

Through DNA testing, it would seem, however that dogs do not come from grey wolf lineage at all but that it shares a common ancestry. Interesting that dogs have been with humans for thousands of years, yet they have not evolved any further. So, why did their evolution stop?

Man, however, had gone out of his way to breed new types of dogs, from huge monsters that can fend off packs of wolves, leopards, cheetahs or lions, even, to tiny things that live in dark places and make purses growl. There are so many different types and breeds now that it would almost be impossible to list them, as someone may be having a secret new breed almost ready to be released in public.

So, while the grey wolf and the household dog share some common DNA, they are different beings altogether. Some have tried to domesticate wolves, foxes and jackals, but with rather uninspiring results. It seems that only dogs are really suited to this role.

The one thing stands out about dogs – apart from the Everlasting Jesus, they are man’s next best friend. We can learn lots about friendship, love, affection, loyalty and forgiveness from our dogs.

Must be the most “Christian” animals on the planet, then?

NAILS IN THE WALL

An anonymous message via WhatsApp

Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence. (Most importantly the last sentence)

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper.
His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the wall.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the wall.
Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.

He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the wall.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the wall. He said, ‘You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the wall. The wall will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.

Once you hurt ur loved ones It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound will still be there.

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

Remember that friends are very rare jewels indeed.
They make you smile and encourage you to succeed;
They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care. (Edit: Don’t snap at your friends for no reason – me. Love covers all, hold it in.)

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND, even if it means sending it back to the person who sent it to you! If it comes back to you, you will then know you have a circle of friends.

YOU ARE MY FRIEND AND I AM HONOURED!

Now send this to every friend you have.!! And to your family (they need to know that you love them too)

Please forgive me if I have ever left a hole in your life.

KJV Only

I own a KJV and also have it in electronic format.  It is great, but it isn’t 100% accurate, either.

There are people going about shoving “KJV Only” in everybody’s faces. Not only is it devoid of His Truth, but it also speaks of arrogance, therefore absence of the Holy Spirit. It is done in an autocratic and unloving way and it does cause offense. People who promote this theory just reveal their own very, very sad ignorance about who James 1 and Sir Francis Bacon were, also those involved in the translation. Also do they not know about the source texts used and its origins.

KJV_JesusWasHebrew

Moreover, if they had taken the trouble, as I had done, to research for many years, how the Bible came about, who compiled it and why, they may have come to a different conclusion. If these people, in their arrogance, rather repented and followed The Living Word, Jesus Christ and lived His Gospel in such a way that we never needed a printed book, it would have been different. As it stands, their zeal makes them to be fundamentalist radicals. One of their very stupid premises is that God head “breathed every word” written in the KJV.

OK, say that was true, why are there 11 different versions?

Did God breathe in English? Why then not breathe in Hebrew, His own language? Did God have to try a few times before getting it right?

Why, then, following public outcry because of the occult and Masonic symbols in the original 1611, was a revision published to remove the occult?

In other words: did God breathe occult and Masonic symbols originally?

With or without Apocrypha?

Where are the lost books of Adam and Eve, books that tell of the love of God, how He restores when there is repentance?  The most beautiful of all yet the monks and scribes decided to chuck it out as they rejected it for personal reasons.  If the Bible were complete, it would have consisted of some 600 books, not a mere 66!

Then, also please note that quite some texts were ADDED to the KJV that were NOT in older texts at all. It is as if the translators decided to breathe a little bit of their own. Insomuch it changed the gospel greatly, but is it not a SIN to add, alter or delete?

Please, let us be civil and not repeatedly offend others with rude and offensive posts about what we may THINK is the truth – without even having researched it.

The KJV is NOT a literal (direct) translation but an idiomatic one, NOT based upon the original languages and the KJV itself says so in its foreword! Some wrongly believe that it is a direct translation like YLT or Green’s. It is NOT.

The unloving sheer arrogance portrayed by some of the most religious here makes me understand better why Jesus Himself felt more at home around sinners.

Go, set aside seven years and study the subject intensively, go far outside the scope of theological college, don’t get spoon-fed but be taught by His Spirit who will guide you to the TRUTH if only you are open to accept it when in comes.

Amen.

Spoorweglegende Flip Botes tree af na 43 jaar op Worcester

Soos in 1995, toe dit die prys as beste stasie in die Wes-Kaap gewen het, blink elke hoekie en gaatjie op Worcester Stasie. Dit is 11 Julie, 2017 en ons stap op die stasie rond met toestemming om foto’s te neem, want die PremierClasse kom mos netnou van Kaapstad af.  As daar in Suid-Afrika ‘n netjieser stasie as Worcester is, moet ek dit nog sien – en ek reis gereeld per trein na verskeie plekke in die land, sien baie stasies.  Flip Botes is in beheer as Senior Administratiewe Beampte.

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Flip Botes spreek gaste toe tydens sy aftreefunksie.  Foto: Drikus Louw

Soveel maal in my lewe het ek daar plek bespreek op die Trans-Karoo of Trans-Oranje sneltreine, ook op die “melktrein” wat op elke stasietjie stilgehou het.  Flip Botes het menigmaal my eie besprekings hanteer en later dadelik geweet wie praat as ek getelefoneer het. Tog het dit dekades geneem om Flip regtig te ontmoet en watter aangename kennismaking was dit nie?!

Rustig, iewers tussen beleefd en beskeie, maar baie intelligent en ‘n wandelende ensiklopedie van Spoorwegkennis. Hierdie man wat voor my staan en so onderhoudend gesels, is eenvoudig ‘n onuitputbare bron van kennis.  Hy versamel foto’s van stoomlokomotiewe en vors die geskiednis na; hy praat met groot gesag oor die onderwerp van Spoorweggeskiedenis.

Flip Botes het op Barrydale grootgeword en gematrikuleer aan die Hoër Landbouskool Oakdale op Riversdal. Hy wou graag in die veeteelt gaan studeer, op grond van sy belangstelling in beeste. Daar was egter nie geld beskikbaar nie en dus sluit Flip Botes aan by die Sporweë op 25 April 1974.  Daarna rapporteer hy vir Nasionale Diensplig en keer daarna terug na die Spoorweë op Ceres.  Hy het al die inkarnasies daarvan beleef, beginnende by SAS & H, Spoornet, Transnet, uiteindelik Prasa Hooflyndienste.

In 1977 trou Flip met Rina van Riversdal en die egpaar het twee kinders, Marnél wat werk as kraamsuster en Arno, wat getroud is en werk as sjef in Melbourne, Australia.

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Karel Crous, Areabestuurder: Wes-Kaapa van Prasa Hooflyndienste, oorhandig sy dienssertifikaat aan Flip Botes. Karel is die groot man.  Foto: Drikus Louw

Flip Botes, persoonlik wil ek jou bedank vir dekades van vriendelike diens, jammer ek het jou so laat eers regtig leer ken. Jy het diep spore getrap, ‘n baie hoé standaard gestel en joy aftrede op 31 Augustus 2017 laat ‘n leemte wat dien as ‘n groot uitdaging aan jou opvolger.

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Flip Botes en Karel Crous   Foto: Drikus Louw

Geniet die welverdiende rus, Flip, geniet ‘n rooiwyntjie en geniet jou liefde vir geskiedenis en aardrykskunde.  Dalk kry jy nou kans om ‘n paar beeste aan te hou.

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Freek Mentoor oorhandig ‘n geskenk aan Flip Botes op 31 Augustus 2017  Foto: Drikus Louw

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Flip Botes ontvang ‘n geskenk van Jakob Delafontyn, Treinbestuurder en Unieverteenwoordiger van Prasa MLPS in Kaapstad tydens die aftreegeselligheid op Worcester, 31 Augustus 2017. Foto: Drikus Louw

Braai

Abroad, it is called barbeque. BBQ. At the Southern tip of Africa, it is called a braai, which means to “grill.” You need a visa and a foreign passport if you want to be doing a BBQ in my neck of the woods. And people will decidedly frown upon you.

We traditionally only braai real meat, not fornicatious food such as burgers, hotdogs, etc. No bockwurst, knackwurst, Frankfurters or Russians on our braais around here, if you are a proudly South African patriot with deeply rooted values. Lamb chops, beef steaks, Boerewors (Google this) or garnishings like pork or chicken also allowed. Fish, of course, also do qualify. My own two favourites are lamb leg chops and snoek, a South African relative of the barracouta found elsewhere.

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Men braai to save their ladies the trouble of cooking. The ladies then team up in the kitchen and produce all sorts of very nice side dishes, salads and the like, yet this hardly ever is of any consequence. After all, a braai is about meat, isn’t it? One cannot braai a salad, can we? Recently, however, we were invited to a braai at Klerksdorp in the Northwest Province of South Africa. Already, the meat coming off the braai grid was in a league of its own. A father and son combination who obviously understood the finer secrets of a great braai very well. The surprise came when we sat around the dining table and Mrs S produced a few dishes, each a solid meal in its own right. A sweet, sticky bread baked in a casserole, I suppose it had lots of cream and maybe brown sugar in it, in dollops. Nothing else can produce that kind if taste and texture. Then, there was a paptert. A dish made of corn flour and other secret ingredients, wanting anyone to dish up again and again. This is quite uncommon as we never saw a decent paptert in all the years we lived up-country. Surely, Mr S had chosen the right wife!

A quick way to make enemies, is to interfere with anyone’s braai. Don’t meddle with a fire made by another, don’t be a braai-backseat-driver. If you can do it better than your host, go do it elsewhere, say nothing.

Firewood is the first preference, but charcoal briquettes are also great, even though the visual effect and social factor may be less prominent. A yellow fire eating proper wood is a first choice. Alien trees such as Port Jackson and its cousins Black wattle and “Rooikrans” provide red embers more quickly, but these glow at around 280 degrees Celcius and, like vines, don’t last long unless you were lucky to fell some very old trees that had grown rather slowly. Peach, apricot, lemon, orange and even guava wood are better for a braai, but my own personal choice is camelthorn. This wood glows at 400 degrees centigrade and lasts for a day, if the going is good. It won’t let you down.

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Of course, many “cannot” braai without being inspired by alcoholic beverages, yet most of our friends are teetotallers to whom a “kuier” means a great visit with friends, true to the original meaning of the word. It is also interesting to note that all the best braai artists I know, are all sober people. They build better fires, braai meat more perfectly and have no memory loss by the next morning. We had three braais in Klerksdorp, each of which was memorable.

Noteworthy to mention my friend Quinten Pendle, with his permission to do so. This gent taught himself to braai at age 28 only, as he wasn’t allowed to braai when he grew up. He does it differently from others, using charcoal only and elevating the braai grid higher above the glowing charcoal, to ensure there isn’t too much heat. His braai meat always emerge from the grid perfectly grilled, or braai’ed as we would say around here. He washes his hands well, and often, as he uses them as braai utensils. Yes, he turns the hot meat with his hands and always gets it done perfectly, one of the five best braai guru’s on this planet. His extraordinary way of doing it was born from the fact that he cannot see, so he cannot turn meat without knowing what he is doing. The very slow braai process therefore makes for meat or chicken grilled to perfection, evenly from the outside to the bone. Nothing burn slightly black, as most guys would have. He has impressed me very much as I come from a lineage that do understand the art of braai rather well.

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When we arrived home via the luxurious, yet affordable PremierClasse train, we were picked up at Monument Station in Cape Town by a dear family friend, who had invited us to hers for the weekend, prior to us finally going home. Where I have been living since 2006, we were not allowed to braai and I love every opportunity I can get. Therefore, I was glad when I was asked to braai while the two ladies were doing beading. There were nice, thick pieces of wood and these were properly dried out, yet not chopped through. That is how I love my firewood.

Sitting outside in a backyard, the dogs at my feet, the starts above –
well, one could call it heaven, I suppose. A salty fresh ocean smell from the Atlantic pond two hundred yards away added to the bliss. So we braai-ed four times within a fortnight, more times than in the previous ten years!

All is well that ends well. The dogs are my witnesses, as they had their own thick pork chops while we had lamb ribs, Boerewors and lamb chops. Kath apologised for not having prepared a salad, offering to open a can of baked beans which she was going to add some attitude to. She was relieved when I discouraged her, as we are BRAAI people, meaning that we are carnivores!

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My son is excellent at braai-ing and he told me on the phone when he called last night, how he manages to get it done sooo right. He braais on hearing, not on sight, despite having keen eyesight. Maybe he shares a little secret with Quinten, that meat speaks from the gird, asking to be turned? Thinking back to so many braais in my life, I think there is truth in that.

Speaking of braai, will you excuse me for a little while, i have a little something to attend to…….

The Blue Train – Great Value

So many times, people will advise me that it is too expensive to travel on The Blue Train. It is expensive, of course, as that supreme level of luxury and comfort decidedly cannot come at giveaway prices. One has to be fair in making direct comparisons.

As a retired financial consultant, I decided, to do just that and had a quick look at comparable prices:

  • 1 night for two persons sharing in a comparable five star hotel would cost upward of R14,000
  • Business Class airline tickets (no comparable domestic first class flights) R7,000
  • Gautrain R350
  • Meals, snacks, drinks R9,000 at the very least

I have arrived at R30,350 without including all possible drinks, snacks, room service, etc. Already, this is just short of our own De Luxe ticket of March 2017, which had amounted to R31,000. Of course, on The Blue Train, all meals, drinks, snacks, high teas are included in the price!

Thinking back to our most enjoyable trip, I do not think that most equivalent hotels would have afforded us the same levels of comfort, superlative levels of service and memorable meals while offering us an ever-changing landscape, a pleasant interlude at Matjiesfontein or even delivered us in premium class style to Pretoria, from Cape Town, at the same price.

As there are no premium or even first class flights on domestic flights, The Blue Train does afford the most luxurious travel between the two capitals of South Africa possible, except for much more expensive charter flights using private jets. For the levels of sophistication we had experienced on The Blue Train, we still rate it as the very best hotel we had ever stayed over at.

Value for money it certainly is – I have made basic cost estimates and I am of the opinion that their tariffs are at least thirty percent lower than expected. Given the top service from each and every staff member, from making our reservations right to the end of our journey, we decided that we had the very best deal available in South Africa.

Reclining at the rear of the Observation Car really is a window into the soul of Africa!

The Blue Train – To A Blind Friend

Do they serve pudding after dinner?
I looked at the lady, not sure how to react. Was this a joke, a trick question? Even so, I responded: “Either side.”
The Blue Train is where everything is included, it oozes with luxurious opulence. To even think that there won’t be dessert is, err, unthinkable.
People ask questions about The Blue Train when they learn that my wife and I had the privilege to travel on arguably the world’s best train.  Let us investigate further, taking a blind friend with me.

 

A Tour of The Blue Train

Taking a blind friend on a short walking tour of The Blue Train, awarded the title of World’s Best Train eight times consecutively.

Entune In-Car Entertainment

“Toyota’s Entune in-car infotainment platform is a one-stop shop for all your in-car functions: hands-free phonecalls over Bluetooth, music streaming, satnav and so on. You can even bellow at Apple’s Siri after button-mashing your steering wheel while doing the supermarket run, if that’s the sort of thing that tickles your fancy.

Built in Linux, Entune will receive the benefit of input from fellow Japanese car firm Mazda, according to Japanese business newspaper The Nikkei, which reckons the joint effort is at least partly due to a shortage of vehicle-focused software devs in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Entune essentially aims to put smartphone-style functionality into the central dashboard touchscreen, meaning it is not written to interact with key car systems such as acceleration, braking or steering.

Auto Trader has an overview of it here, noting that access to core apps is free for the first three years. Those core apps include Bing, music app Pandora, radio station streaming app iHeartRadio, a film tickets app, restaurant booking app OpenTable and an in-house Toyota app featuring various news and weather feeds.”

Read the article

What I can do with Linux Mint instead of Windows

Before you read:  in my Linux articles, I usually say this: every geek has his distro.  You are welcome to enjoy yours but please don’t bring it here, as your opinion is an opinion and therefore irrelevant. This post is for Windows users, written at their request, not for Linux users.

My suggestion of using ONLY Linux Mint Cinnamon is aimed at Windows users wanting to escape the “Hell of Gates” and decidedly not for Linux users at all. So, if you are a Linux user, this is not for you.  Free to read, but that is all you need to do.

Over the past decade or so, the “but I use KDE or MATE or whatever was argued to and fro on a thousand and ten forums, without resolve. I used several platforms ranging from a 2002 Pentium 4M 2.8GHz with 1 GB RAM to s whopper of a Macbook Pro, with several offerings in between, running different AMD and Intel chips.  On all of these, it was Linux Mint Cinnamon who remained utterly stable, reliable, dependable and FAST, even on old hardware that were salvaged from the write-off corner.

The objective is to offer the WINDOWS USER an alternative that affords a smooth migration, with the least hassle and without confusing them.  Linux should have standardised long ago.

I communicated personally with the developers and owners of distro’s, for instance Mahdi of Ari, Clem of Mint, etc. Oh, and the project managers at Zorin and UltimateOS respectively, there are many, many more.  Can you talk to Bill Gates?  I guess not.

Also, I come from before the days of the PC and started my IT career in 1982. I have been in the corporate environment and especially in the defense industry. I know what users need, which is going to be different from what you want.  Let us address the needs of hundreds of thousands of others out there, not your private preference. I am really not going to take kindly to “but my distro….” kind of talk, heard it thousands of times.

Also, considering the unfriendliness of user support groups, let me say that the ONLY user-friendly one I ever found was Mint’s. The others are intolerant and rude. Mint shines in its user support department and that is why I will only ever promote this distro. Mint Cinnamon isn’t the world’s third largest operating system without reason.

Finally, lab tests show that speed differences between lesser, quirky Xfce and MATE and that of the advanced Cinnamon is negligible. I am typing this on a laptop that runs Cinnamon on a 2009 Celeron-based machine and I use OpenShot, Darktable and RAW Therapee for media production and it does the job.  For web browsing, office work, GIMP and such, still just perfect.


OK, so now over to business………

So, what can you actually do with Linux? This is a valid question. I am giving a link here, please go ahead and compare feature-for-feature with Mac OS X and MS Windows 10S, then consider that this is FREE…..

It comes bundled with:

  • Office applications such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, a math tool, a database, etc. Compatible with MS Office, GoogleDocs, etc.
  • Internet browser of top quality and hardened against malicious script
  • Firewall
  • Mail application that can be turned into a PIM app (Personal Information Manager much like Outlook)
  • GIMP image editor
  • Document reader
  • Audio- and video players
  • A host of utilities
  • Half a million FREE apps that can be installed with the click of a mouse

http://www.zdnet.com/article/so-what-can-you-actually-do-with-linux-a-guide-for-beginners/

Travel

I find that travel takes me places. No, I don’t mean destinations. I am talking personal growth, a broadened mind, a greater understanding of how the world fits together. It takes me to new friendships, tastes, smells, fragrances, stimulating thought and creativity. Travel prompts me out of my comfort zone into the torrent called life. One can never travel and return as you left, you will be a changed being.

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Why Linux Mint? What is Linux Anyhow?

Being a cheapskate for reasons other than laziness, I believe that one should only pay for software if you are using it to earn an income with. When it is your tractor or your plough, your ox. Thinking of the very poor Third World out there, in being kept poor deliberately by the First World, I also think it is unfair to expect from a small office in Africa or Asia to pay the same price as enterprise on Wall Street. I am sure that apples on Manhattan Island cost more than one in Darfur.

Having said that, I am also not satisfied with software piracy, for various reasons, suffice to say that it is a criminal deed.

So, if one cannot afford expensive software and you also have some conscience, what do you do? Easy does it. What is good for 95% of the world’s huge supercomputers, your microwave, PVR, VCR, TV, fridge or your car’s “black box” must also be good for you. It is an operating system that is called L I N U X. The name is derived from its inventor, Linus Torvalds and the UNIX operating system, to the best of my knowledge. Linux just turned 14 in the second half of 2017.

There are well over 300 different versions or “distro’s” of Linux as these are free and open source (FOSS) operating systems. Every geek has his distro and enthusiasts bicker and argue all day, defending what they like best. Well, that shows that the fraternity is alive and well. However, I am not here to tell you what works best for me or even what I like best myself, as then you would have to deal with a little beast called Slacko Puppy Linux. Instead, I went to research this for the past ten years or so, tried and tested them from AriOS to ZorinOS and pretty much every main distro in between.

I would rather want to stay with what will work best for the absolute novice, for someone who doesn’t know RAM from ROM. The beauty of the Linux Mint Cinnamon distro is that “everything just works.” Well, it does take extreme circumstances to let it ask you for a little extra help. It is super smooth, extremely stable, hyper reliable, dependable – to the point of boring we geeks as there is really nothing necessary to fiddle with – and fiddling under the hood is what we like most.

But: to be productive, one needs a car that runs, eh? You can’t stop every fifteen yards and change the engine, right? As that is another reason why I like Linux and not the usual expensive computer operating systems. “Windows requires reboots so often that one can’t really get work done.” In Linux Mint Cinnamon, all drivers for hardware and peripherals are already in the system, so just stick in your dongle or your printer, connect your camera and it should just work. Some high-end graphics cards may need to download drivers but even that is still easier than Windows. When you pop in a HSDPA dongle, for instance, it doesn’t download or install drivers. It just works. 99% of the time!

Cinnamon Desktop on www.linuxmint.com offers a number of workspaces, up to 64, meaning that you have as many computers to work on! It is not like Windows with the pesky minimise/maximise thing all the time, just flip through to where your browser sits….I have Firefox on one workspace, Google Chrome on another, my email on a third, my camera and photos on their own, etc.

It comes pre-installed with:

  • Thunderbird email, something that can be grown into a powerful tool similar to Outlook
  • LibeOffice which works much better than MS Office
  • GIMP image manipulation programme
  • PDF or document reader
  • Firefox browser
  • and a host of other apps and utilities

I have a full Bible programme on my computer, as well as several RAW image editors, openShot video editor, etc.

Oh, then Linux usually doesn’t get viruses/malware – not because there are few users but because of how Linux works, also because of the huge variety of distro’s, yet the security lies in its architecture.

It all is FREE of charge, take a look at the website as above but please stick to Cinnamon desktop, you will thank me for that some day, guaranteed. Oh, you can even run it as a live session from a CD/DVD, USB flash drive or even a microSD card like I do!

Happy computing!

 


Disclaimer

In my Linux articles, I usually say this: every geek has his distro.  You are welcome to enjoy yours but please don’t bring it here, as your opinion is an opinion and therefore irrelevant. This post is for Windows users, written at their request, not for Linux users.

My suggestion of using ONLY Linux Mint Cinnamon is aimed at Windows users wanting to escape the “Hell of Gates” and decidedly not for Linux users at all. So, if you are a Linux user, this is not for you.  Free to read, but that is all you need to do.

Over the past decade or so, the “but I use KDE or MATE or whatever was argued to and fro on a thousand and ten forums, without resolve. I used several platforms ranging from a 2002 Pentium 4M 2.8GHz with 1 GB RAM to s whopper of a Macbook Pro, with several offerings in between, running different AMD and Intel chips.  On all of these, it was Linux Mint Cinnamon who remained utterly stable, reliable, dependable and FAST, even on old hardware that were salvaged from the write-off corner.

The objective is to offer the WINDOWS USER an alternative that affords a smooth migration, with the least hassle and without confusing them.  Linux should have standardised long ago.

I communicated personally with the developers and owners of distro’s, for instance Mahdi of Ari, Clem of Mint, etc. Oh, and the project managers at Zorin and UltimateOS respectively, there are many, many more.  Can you talk to Bill Gates?  I guess not.

Also, I come from before the days of the PC and started my IT career in 1982. I have been in the corporate environment and especially in the defense industry. I know what users need, which is going to be different from what you want.  Let us address the needs of hundreds of thousands of others out there, not your private preference. I am really not going to take kindly to “but my distro….” kind of talk, heard it thousands of times.

Also, considering the unfriendliness of user support groups, let me say that the ONLY user-friendly one I ever found was Mint’s. The others are intolerant and rude. Mint shines in its user support department and that is why I will only ever promote this distro. Mint Cinnamon isn’t the world’s third largest operating system without reason.

Finally, lab tests show that speed differences between lesser, quirky Xfce and MATE and that of the advanced Cinnamon is negligible. I am typing this on a laptop that runs Cinnamon on a 2009 Celeron-based machine and I use OpenShot, Darktable and RAW Therapee for media production and it does the job.  For web browsing, office work, GIMP and such, still just perfect.

The Old Man and the School Mistress

Firstly, I am an independent writer with a keen interest in travel; I do write about travel but my opinions are most definitely my own, I don’t get paid and neither am I employed by anyone.

There once was an elderly gent who had to take the kids to school on his donkey cart every day. He served his community as best as he could and, so many times, the farmers in that area refused him a better wagon or faster horses so that he could transport their children and their farm workers’ children more efficiently. They just ignored his pleas and just added children from more farms and villages to be transported.

The wagon he had was really getting old, the donkeys too. Then, one night, someone stole one of his twelve donkeys. Soon after, the wheels were stolen from the wagon and he had to find another. They sawed chucks out of the seats or just stole them, took the wheel nuts, even an axle once. Every time, the old man had to find a spare part or two, even when he had very little money, yet he believed to take the kids to school. As, who else would have?

One morning, he saw that even the workers’ kids had killed and eaten his best donkey. His bridles and reins were cut to pieces by vagabonds. Nobody wanted to help him and few even paid him.

One day, the school mistress became angry because the kids were always late. She went to the judge and asked that he gets fined for not doing his duty, despite much of his work having been a free service. Of the twenty kids that went on each trip, only four really paid the fee, the others just stormed his wagon and jumped on board. The kind old man never could chase them off as he was a good man not given to violence.

Eventually, the school mistress stood ready to whip the old man. She never educated the kids, never taught them manners, same as the parents.

One night, the old man passed away in his sleep and his donkeys only knew his voice, refused to pull the wagon.

So, everybody had to walk.

Premier Helen Zille wants to hold Prasa accountable for lack of service delivery without understanding the problem, just as she had shown before. But then, she made a comment that perhaps fits, at another time she acted inappropriately. Yes, cane people into submission, whip them when they can’t drive a car with a stolen engine. I wonder why it had taken her so long to wake up to the problem and why she did not intervene to help save the old man and his wagon instead of taking him to the judge.

Electric Cars Not The Answer

It is like me cooking on my stove but the coal makes smoke in your back yard. Are electric cars really cleaner? Where does the electricity come from? Only from pollution sources elsewhere, of course! Let’s take a look:

– Fossil fuels cause terrible pollution, coal being used for electricity generation

– Nuclear is still the safest and cleanest if modern technology is employed. Uranium only needs to be excited 2-4% yet waste is active for longer than we would live, or our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren.

– Wind power is really only about 17% efficient, it takes tremendous resources to construct and they kill our larger birds, raptors especially. The worst is that they cannot generate power in gusts or strong winds. Also, an ugly source of spatial pollution. Lifetime is rather limited and they don’t generate power when wind is too strong or gusty. 

– Solar power is more efficient but still spatial pollution.

Electric cars need expensive batteries that cause terrible pollution during mining of raw materials as well as during the manufacturing process. These batteries have limited lifetimes and need to be replaced at great cost. Recycling also causes pollution.

Perhaps we should just drive less…….

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The Best Hake Around Cape Town

Uncle Bobby is a soft-spoken gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He comes from the faraway island of St Helena, from a family of traders and fishers. Having been in South Africa for the past sixty-six years, he knows his way around fishing spots. Uncle Bobby has a palate attuned to the best.

Look, take it from myself, one must have a standard. There is no communism in the ocean; all fish simply aren’t equal. While I am always grateful for a bite of fried hake, for instance, my own palate does discriminate.

In October 26, my wife and I tasted a rather exceptional fillet of hake. Later that night, we scanned through our mutually shared history to see if we could recall even one offering of the same freshness, lightness, flakiness, fluffiness, like candyfloss melting in the mouth. After just over an hour, we just gave up. This had to be the best.

I sat across the table from Uncle Bobby. He came from the other side of the peninsula to taste the best coffee in Africa at Anthony’s Golden Cup.

Uncle Bobby gave me fatherly advice in finding the very best fried hake in all of Cape Town. “Go to just before Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town”, the dear old gentleman softly said, “just before you get there, at your left….they have a take-away section with a few tables outside. It is the absolute best….and me and my family know our fish.”

Never boastful or offensive, always humble and modest. I really love Uncle Bobby. So, here he sits across me, the date is August 18, 2017. And Uncle Bobby just guided me to the renowned restaurant that I had written about so many times. Yes, we tell all, that theirs is the absolute best fish in Cape Town.

If an expert arrives from St Helena, make his pilgrimage to Simon’s Town, to taste the superlative little fillet of hake at Harbourview Restaurant, who am I to disagree?

There you have it – an independent, Awethentiq opinion, from far across the ocean.

Magnet tude of Joy

The joy of the Lord is your protection. This is a little understood truth divulged through Scripture.

How can joy protect?

The sine wave has two sides to it, an upswing that is positive and a downswing that is negative. But you can only surf the positive one.

Interesting that some computer electronics only use the upswing, the negative one is filtered out. This is sheer coincidence yet it serves to drive home my point.

For a year, we lived independently and were joyful. The place where we lived even had an African name meaning “jubilation.” My (electronic) tablet so many times started playing praise music, inexplicably, even in public places. We soon realised that this was the Lord at work. More so when, at first, I was annoyed a bit, thinking it was a glitch. Then others would board the train, playing such music out loud and His Spirit reminded me of Jericho but also of the siege King Jehoshaphat lived through victoriously. Surely, we see that the Lord uses praise music to power the instruments of war where our eyes cannot see.

And it is nuclear!

Despite our own situation, dire at that, the Lord instilled in me a deep knowledge that we should just look up, ignore our dire plight and praise His Name.

See, we went through a most trying financial crisis and constantly faced eviction. Yet we were called upon to praise.

It soon became evident that positivity is very, very contagious. We saw time and again how our Lord smoothened our progress. In practical things such as finding parking, or the best seats on the train. Bargains hidden in plain sight in the stores, at a fraction of the price.

In this time, our Lord Jesus helped me, an indigent disabled person, to effect the most positive change in my city by Him forcing large corporations to replace or repair several escalators in three different buildings. This is where even the mayor and premier dismally failed – but the Lord afforded victory to the insignificant.

We had the most wonderful blessing from above! We could travel on the world’s best luxury train. Not once, but twice – the second time was on our thirtieth anniversary. We traveled five times on another prestigious luxury train and then scored a few trips on a tourist class one. We greatly enjoyed these journeys, all within a period of seven months!

The Word teaches that footmen can wear one out and leave you powerless when facing giants. Jeremiah 12:5 teaches: “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? Though in a land of peace you are secure, yet how will you do in the pride of the Jordan?”

The downswing of the sine wave isn’t a wave you can surf but is destroys, like a small tsunami. You can’t balance on it.

Find yourself in an environment where there is constant fuss and you will see the destructive forces of unbelief at work. The Holy Spirit simply is absent when we nag and fuss, when food is never right, when the boss and colleagues or the food at McDonald’s annoys.

I saw how a gent berate a lady at McDonald’s the other night. It wasn’t a real issue with food, but rather a display of ego and pride, as that is what food fuss is about almost all of the time. It never is nice to experience, the animosity about a gherkin marching out of pace. Or too little sauce, or perhaps the abundance of it.

The lady staff member at McDonald’s is a widow, trying to raise four children on a tiny salary. When visiting there, she greets patrons as if she owned the Sheraton. Never a frown, never a sigh, even when egotistic customers come from abroad to tell us here in Cape Town how important they are back home.

The Spirit of God withdraws where there is negativity, where there is a lack of gratitude, an absence of jubilation. We have been saved from the realities of eternal hell; isn’t that reason enough to praise God constantly? To be filled with joy?

While I was writing this, my wife brought me a breakfast of “krummelpap” which is a very stiff form of corn porridge. A basic meal, the staple diet of so many, seen as traditional “African” cuisine despite its Mexican origins. And Matthys Roets was singing in Afrikaans about what music had done to Jericho’s walls.

Leave the whining, complaining, fussing, belittling of others to the spiritually dead, the lost, the unsaved. Prove to others that you have the gift of eternal life so that sweetness will flow from your lips, making the world feel a bit better.

As, if we don’t, do we show to others that we are thankful for being plucked from hell?

In traffic, we have the opportunity to show our Christianity. Allow others to pass, extend grace by giving someone a gap – even the minibus taxi. Show the driver that you, as a Christian, doesn’t hate him.

Negativity rubs off, so rub it off.

Don’t steal the joy of others by constantly complaining, as you will rob the most enthusiastic person of joy. In that respect, you will be doing exactly what Satan does, therefore becoming his instrument.

Joshua told the Israelites to choose who they wanted to worship. They opted for the Living God but Joshua told them they couldn’t, as there came a huge responsibility with it. They had to appreciate the cost.

In the same way, we need to live up to being Christian. Not religious, just righteous as there is a difference.

We cannot praise our way through hardship if we sulk, frown and whine. We cannot do that by saying negative things about others. If your friend has a terrible wife, take her to the Lord and not to the coffee table for discussion. Also that is negative talk.

Change your tune, improve your tone. If someone did something wrong, remember that love covers everything. You fix it, save that person’s face. It really creates division complaining about a teaspoon that wasn’t washed properly.

When you sit down to eat, first thank Jesus for the privilege of having a meal to eat. Do this because you love Him. Then thank the one who had prepared it, also not out of decency but out of love. If it tastes different from how you wanted it, why didn’t you prepare it? Why didn’t you do the dishes?

If we are positive and joyful, if we praise God in every circumstance, we create a better world for ourselves and for others.

Of course, we can prove that we are spiritually dead and emotionally bankrupt by being negative. As Joshua said, you choose, but be sure to live up to expectations.

Joy protects by placing you smack in the presence of the Lord. Can anyone touch you there?

The Unforgivable Sin

Some aren’t even aware of this, but there is a sin called unforgivable. It gets described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

There are so many interpretations but I have an idea how it works. God wants to have communion with us, relate to us, be friends with us. If we spend time with Him, we earn His favour just because the friendship grows. Of course, love is unconditional but favour requires relationship.

If we make Him feel bad, ignore Him, lash out at Him, or if we are pushy, demanding, arrogant, how will this further our relationship with Him?

But there is another angle to it; if it is unpleasant for Him to be around us, why would He want to be there? Slowly, but surely, we can cause a divide by being non-compliant, just as in any other relationship. If His efforts get a cold wash in the face every time, He slowly withdraws and the relationship eventually ceases to exist.

If we can do it to Him, we can do it to others. This is why Jesus, who is God, or His apostles such as Paul, Peter, James, etc., advised us extensively to live in peace with others, to let joy fill our hearts, not anger.

The Word also warns us to be careful about being friends with anyone with an uncontrolled temper. Along with that, the argumentative woman gets mentioned. Someone who stirs trouble in a household is already under God’s wrath.

We really need to be careful of how we treat others – or even God. It is really unwise to let our ambitions, moods and desires rule over us. We should be controlled by His Spirit.

The tongue is a powerful wrecking ball.

Dam Empty

December 2015 was the hottest and driest in over a century. When one has grown up in a family of civil engineering constructors, dam builders at that, water awareness is in your bone marrow.  Warnings about a severe drought coming was ignored because the political leaders don’t listen to people.  In the process, the very lives of roughly four million people, also the economy that sustains them, have been placed at risk. A potential humanitarian crisis in the making.  I see this neglect as irresponsible and bordering upon criminal – to me, it makes Apartheid look small.

Our water reserves – the safe kitty in the life bank – was splurged on luxuries, not essential needs. Our leaders, in their acute ignorance, defied logic by letting dams run dry while there was a very clear pattern of reduced rainfall.

I so many times drove through poorer suburbs and saw how people collected water from a central tap, then leaving it wide open while purified drinking water was running down the streets, the next person carrying a plastic container still many metres away.  Be it such a water waster or the wealthy person watering the air above his lawn, wastage is wastage and a senseless act.

As I child, sitting quietly listening to conversations of the adults, afforded me a fairly good general knowledge and an understanding of how life works. Sadly, children are given electronic games and sent to play on their own, removing society’s corporate IQ from the next generations. Perhaps this is why senior officials of the City of Cape Town pardoned themselves by stating “there was no way that we could see this crises coming.”

Of course, they were so very wrong! The signs were very clear yet they lacked the insight of traditional wisdom.  City people who don’t understand nature. Scientists sometimes don’t see what basic people living close to nature, do.  To the latter, it comes natural, as they are experienced observers of natural trends. For example, scientists don’t understand why whales do “tail hopping” yet common fishermen do. In the same way, even farm hands saw the drought coming but, even in 2017, Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia De Lille, said that there was “no crisis.”

A tad over four million people live in the Western Cape of South Africa. Not just the City of Cape Town, but those living in rural areas also make use of water from, for instance, Vogelvlei Dam.

Coming from a culture where one stood upright in a bowl and washed down with a jug, where cars were sometimes dusted and not washed, toilets were only flushed when solids were deposited it has always been hard to see how water was wasted in suburbia. Water sprinklers on lush lawns, with taps opened too wide, maybe also with the usual wind blowing, up to ninety percent of that water ended up in the atmosphere!

Purified drinking water get used to flush toilets and water gardens. So many homes have swimming pools. Then, Cape Town’s water comes from mountains fairly far away from the city. When it rains in Cape Town, it doesn’t necessarily also rain in the catchment areas of our major dams.  These are:

  • Theewaterskloof  (a dam my late grandpa envisioned and proposed, planned but it was built after his death)
  • Vogelvlei Dam that also provides water to much of the Swartland and West Coast
  • The two Steenbras Dams
  • Wemmershoek Dam
  • Berg River Dam

The general level of ignorance as far as understanding water is concerned, is astounding. It seems that people show very little interest in their life-giving water and just assume there is much more, out there, somewhere.

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Section of Theewaterskloof Dam, July 11, 2017 – Photo credit P. Louw

Large expanses of where water used to dominate, now meet the eye. People are fooled into thinking there is no problem when they, as we did on June 9, 2017, drive across the Theewaterskloof Dam wall and see some water. To the untrained eye, it looks fairly good but then the observers most likely don’t know what the dam should have looked liked if much fuller.  As water flows into the dam, water levels don’t only go higher but also much, much wider. As hundreds of hectares now lie exposed, imagine the volume of water presently not in the dams.

The sand is too wet to be dredged out at this stage, as it forms an aquifer that also holds in water and protect it from evaporation.  Even deepening the dams won’t resolve anything, for these reasons:

  • The inlet to the water pipe is at a fixed height and water below that level simply cannot flow into it. The pipeline gravitates into a tunnel which cannot be lowered, so there would be no way to lift that quantity of water into the pipeline.
  • It would remove the sand holding the last bit of water
  • Moving that amount of earth would take many years, time we don’t have
  • Where will the mountain of soil be taken to?

Many people have arguments about water, but here is what needs to be done:

  • Ban the many swimming pools, lush gardens and car washes
  • Create a parallel system and use treated waste water for use in gardens, toilets, etc., while drinking water is supplied separately.
  • Step up water savings projects, in so many homes leaking toilet valves, etc., waste millions of litres of water per day. Go from house to house and cut off water where wastage is encountered, be totally strict.  Instill in people a fear as it is too easy to pay a fine.
  • We have the ocean around us, desalination for industrial use is much cheaper than producing drinking water; provide much of the drinking water from the Atlantic ocean that surrounds Cape Town and beyond.
  • Use aquifers but bear in mind that these will also dry up in the end.
  • There is no guarantee of ample rain; indications are that more drought is to come. Teach children at school, at tertiary level, educate the public. Inspire people to become water wise. Educate, educate, educate.
  • Policing water usage has never been done effectively; we need to see radical change in this.

About the springs and rivulets around the city, a Facebook user was advised as follows by the City of Cape Town (reprinted with permission.)

“Please be advised that the City has been aware of these springs off the Table Mountain range and has been utilising some of them in various forms for decades. The City is currently applying to the National Government to use these springs more extensively, and if this application to further harness these springs is successful, they will be used to offset the demand on our potable water resources, for the benefit of all residents.

In addition to further exploring options to utilise the springs around Table Mountain, the City has been studying the deep aquifer underlying the Cape Folded Mountain Belt (which essentially runs from Vanrhynsdorp to Mossel Bay) for more than 10 years to determine the best possible sites to be able to extract water viably and with minimal impact on the environment. This water will be abstracted to augment the potable water supply. We are nearing the end of the exploratory phase and are about to enter the pilot phase which will help us identify and confirm the locations and design of future production wellfields. The City chose to adopt a precautionary approach to the project in order to ensure that the integrity of the environment was not compromised. The allegation that ‘the municipality is sitting on this resource and busy arranging business interests to take over the management of some of these springs for private gain’ is pure fiction. The National Department of Water and Sanitation is the custodian of our country’s water resources, and ultimately decides on how water resources can and should be used by municipalities, agriculture and all other users of water.

The claim that harnessing this spring water could have prevented the water crisis is also unsubstantiated. The City’s studies show that the yield from these springs is not enough to offset the current drought. For example, the Oranjezicht spring source (mentioned in the post) flows out at approximately 2,77 million litres every 24 hours. However, this varies according to the season. Unrestricted peak summer demand from the City’s residents is currently approximately 1,05 – 1,15 billion litres per day. In order to preserve our water over the coming summer, we need to reduce this to 800 million litres per day – a reduction of 250 – 350 million litres. As such, even if the water from these springs had been licensed, it would not have made a significant difference. The suggestion that there is no ‘real’ water crisis is not true, and is very irresponsible during the current severe drought being experienced in the Western Cape and other parts of the country, in which the successful adherence to water restrictions is critical to ensure that our water supplies are protected. Thank you.”

We really need to start taking our water seriously and become educated on this subject.

Metrorail Manual Train Authorization

Like ships and aircraft are controlled by traffic regulators working from control towers, such as the ones at Table Bay Harbour or Cape Town International Airport, Cape Town’s trains are controlled from Windermere near Century City.

Metrorail’s automated systems have been sabotaged through vandalism and crime. It now means that train movements are authorized manually to comply with requirements set by the independent Rail Safety Regulator or RSR.

A driver approaching a signal that is not functioning, has to stop the train. He will then phone the Authorizations office at Windermere to get clearance to proceed. This takes time. Only once authorized, he may proceed, many times with a 30km/h or even 15km/h restriction. Cable theft, malicious damage to property and acts of sabotage or vandalism all complicate our lives and frustrate us. The important thing to remember is that decisions are made with your safety in mind. Rather safe than sorry, late than never.

Disclaimer: author does not work for any railway company, is not paid to write and opinions are his own.

Magic Carpet Ride on The Blue Train

Our reservations were confirmed via email and we were also sent Guest Information Forms to complete and return to the friendly bookings officer. They ensure that they can contact your next-of-kin or anticipate medical conditions, food allergies, etc. Special dietary requirements are taken care of individually. Impressive efficiency.

A few days later, we made our way to The Blue Train Lounge where butlers awaited is, greeting us friendly, welcoming us to The Blue Train, while taking care of our luggage. A soft carpet bearing The Blue Train’s logo led us into the lounge, where we were registered at the Concierge Desk, by two very friendly and helpful ladies. We then were invited to take our seats in the plush lounge area, tastefully decorated.

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A gentleman called Collen appeared and offered us coffee or juice, or we could have had some sparkling wine if we so desired. Soon, the ever friendly F&B Manager Leon came to greet us; we have met before as this wasn’t our first journey on The Blue Train. Also, Financial Manager of The Blue Train, Mr Francois Geldenhuys, came to greet us as also he was no stranger. Friendly faces, a hearty welcome. Africa is renowned for its hospitality; The Blue Train certainly is a window to the soul of Africa.

We were the first to arrive and had a second coffee while guests trickled in – our own group consisted of six guests including my wife and I. Our journey would be short as we were here to expose stakeholders from the tourism industry to the superlative service on board The Blue Train. Next to arrive was Siphelo Guwa, a videographer who agreed to film our journey – this also wasn’t his first experience of The Blue Train, having been part of a film production team on board this magnificent train some time prior. The social media marketing guru’s arrived next. They are Marinda Holtzhausen and Marius De Vos of Cape Town Bookings, who also own the contracts to market various regions of the Western Cape. Finally, Richard Valentine of the Fish Hoek Valley Museum joined our group. He is involved in promoting tourism in the South Peninsula and is an accredited tour guide as well.

By the time that all guests had arrived, we were formally welcomed to The Blue Train, by Train Manager Lethabo Vilikazi. She explained the “house rules” and then we were taken in groups by our assigned butlers to our suites. Our butler was Angela; she was our butler on our first journey as well and there was a good reunion with this impressive lady.

I made my way to the Observation Car at the rear, hoping to take video footage of our departure from Cape Town Station. Great was my surprise when I noticed that we were already under way. The movement of the train only became perceptible as speed gradually increased. Table Mountain, followed by Devil’s Peak, sailed past like silent ships on the ocean.

Of course, our group are all active on social media and we took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter almost right away – and a little frenzy ensued. Before long, the shock and surprise of friends elsewhere made room for their inquiries: “How do we book to travel on The Blue Train?”

She gracefully wafted through the northern suburbs of greater Cape Town, found her way through the vineyards, orchards and dairy farms until we slipped past Simonsberg to the right, Paarl rock to our left, where wider spaces welcomed us with open arms as we skirted the edges of the Swartland, home to wheat and sheep farms. We passed a few Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the wind turbines at Gouda, from where the train made her spectacular passage through the Nuwekloof en route to the Wamakers Valley and the Witzenberg range of Tulbagh, on to Wolseley where we soon crossed the Breede River, flanked by two more of the historical British blockhouses.

Guests indulged in an array of snacks and treats, to suite even the most discerning palate. Even so, it soon was time for brunch, something we sincerely enjoyed as Master Chef Bobbie Wessels and his team are renowned for performing magic in the kitchen. Already, a less opulent cousin of The Blue Train goes by the hashtag #GoodFoodTrain. What shall we call this delightful dining experience, progressing almost imperceptibly yet at 56 MPH across the southern reaches of Africa. I have thought of the title #GlamTrain but, then again, the timeless class of this train is more of an understated thoroughbred.

I will rather show you photos of our meals as words won’t do justice. My crumbed Camembert with Cranberry Sauce was followed by a hearty soup and then the main course arrived, beef sirloin hiding a little blue rock cheese surprise to tantalise the taste buds. During all this time, our eyes feasted on the beautiful Boland mountains, vineyards, we passed Sedgwicks, home of the famous Old Brown Sherry as well as no less than five different brandies. Wine cellars, horses, farmsteads passed us silently as we enjoyed our dessert – mine was a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. All too soon, our journey came to and end at Worcester, where we were given lovely certificates of remembrance and a rather nice ballpoint pen each, with The Blue Train’s logo inscribed on it. We thanked and greeted Lethabo and David – he is the manager in charge of the bedroom suites.

Our magic carpet ride was over and we made our way back to #LoveCapeTown

The Train Always Wins

There are upward of 7,500 level crossings in South Africa. No country has the money to replace all of these with road bridges.

We grew up with level crossings and respected them with an acute reverence. That was fifty, sixty years ago.

The level crossings are still there, of necessity. To many, this is their only access route between home and the big world out there, even if your world doesn’t go beyond Rondomverskrik or Regtigverdwaal.

Relatives of my late grandmother’s were always very careful. In darkness, worsened by a thick fog, once looked left, then right, left again and slowly drove forward, straight into a stationary train! It remained a family joke, to repeat their conversation every time we encountered a railway crossing.

People are less careful nowadays. If one visits any of these level crossings, it is almost scary to see that most vehicles don’t even reduce speed, let alone STOP when the sign indicates so. Rules are there to protect and mischief leads to disaster.

The day before the accident, shown in the picture, had happened, a car hit an oncoming train at a level crossing in Cape Town. A week prior to the one depicted here, the very same train driver was part of a team raising awareness for road & rail safety at this very same level crossing. A month prior, I was a passenger on this very same train and saw, at this level crossing 1,100km away from home, how a father with his young children on board, sped towards the crossing to try and beat the train to it. Sheer arrogance, recklessness, to place one’s loved ones at such an unnecessary risk. The train is roughly five hundred metres long and moves at around 60km/h, so anyone needs only to wait a few seconds for it to pass. Why risk lives by trying to cross the railway line before the train does?

At the time of this accident, I was a passenger on another train and saw where a train had hit a stray pedestrian. The train did not swerve, as trains can’t – they are directed by the railway lines. As these rail tracks are meant for trains, best advice is to give them a wide berth. Two serious accidents in one day, caused by people disrespecting the rules of society. There is an adage that “rules are there to be broken” but this is false dogma and it can be fatal. As the stray pedestrian discovered much to his own destruction. As his body lay between the railway tracks, I could not but help to wonder how their loved ones would react to the sad news.

I told a friend about my experience earlier this morning and he then told me that his sister had died this way.

Lots is being said on social media about the Police needing to be more strict – why do we adults need cops to turn us into good citizens? If only we lived according to the official rules of society, this world would have been a better place. Why is it always someone else’s fault, never just our own?

Dice with death and your gamble may fail. I hope that your Last Will & Testament is in place and that your passwords are where your next-of-kin can find it.

Look for trains! Trains always win!

Short Trains, Shorter Tempers!

So many commuter trains had been gutted by arsonists and vandals – I call it sabotage – that some train service have been cancelled altogether while the remaining ones are now making use of shorter trains, to even the spread. Train sets typically consisted of thirteen bogey sets but the average number now is eight.

Of course, the number of daily commuters have remained the same and this is leading to a bit of chaos. Trains now are so overladen that it is even very difficult to disembark halfway, or even to board, as door passages are crammed to the hilt.

People rant & rave and are angry, tempers flaring up and much is being said on social media.

It will take many years to repair or replace the train carriages that were destroyed, some which are motor carriages meaning that they have electric engines. These are very expensive to replace. The older 5M train sets were produced from 1962 and the newer 10M3’s date from around 1989 – I stand corrected on this – and then there are a few 8M train sets being brought back into service. Even the 1962-built ones could have served us well, had it not been for people who set trains alight, or slash seats, stealing upholstery material, etc.

As long as our national government does not properly fund and protect (why are our soldiers not protecting our trains?) the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa – PRASA for short – we will endure major discomfort. Plan accordingly.

I am Pete, an independent travel blogger and I do not represent any railway service, nor I am paid by anyone.

Choosing the right Camera – Travel & Wildlife

Doing a bit of travel blogging and promoting tourism quickly taught me to go prepared. I always stand amazed at how quickly an opportunity arises, albeit rather unexpected. Perhaps, the old adage rings true: ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

There is a place called Dyer Island more or less two thirds of the way between Cape Town and the southernmost tip of Africa, Agulhas, where Indian and Atlantic oceans do meet. Dyer Island is where Jacques Cousteau used to spend much time, researching sharks, from his vessel Nautilus. I happened to have spent a fair share of my fifty-odd years in that neck of the woods and personally know some of the shark ticklers. I also know two of the first ever shark spotters. On April 9, 2017, the unthinkable happened in the least expected of places – St James, Cape Town. Twice on that Sunday afternoon did we see a shark breach the surface between 600-800m offshore. Don’t ask me for photo’s as I only had a little compact with me, not capable of capturing such action instantly at that range.

Some time ago, I had stalked fallow deer and came quite close to them, same as gnu (wildebeest.) As I visited a dusty region, I did not want to switch lenses at all, lest there would be dust ingress. A DSLR camera isn’t designed to transport the land you are treading upon. Fitted with a Canon EF 18-55mm lens, I was hopelessly under equipped for my task. Video of the fallow deer reminds of twelve mice jumping a fence.

If you are a frequent traveler in Africa or similar environments, best advice is to invest in a decent camera which is sealed, by design and manufacture, against weather and the environment. Extensive research brought me to a great solution in the form of Canon’s EOS 80D combined with a Canon 28-300mm L EF IS lens, offering weather and environment sealing, same as the camera. It allows for close-up shots as well as reaching far enough to capture most of the wildlife. Of course, a teleconverter aka lens doubler can be added, with a Polaroid filter to complete the package. This setup will afford the photographer a perfect solution for at least 95% of the time, with much of the remainder an agreeable compromise. Using a decent tripod is strongly recommended for super zoom shots and cinematography.

Said 80D also is an excellent video camera, at entry professional level for the cinematographer. Being weather sealed and of greater performance, it beats its nearest competition by a fair margin. It can also shoot up to around 960 still images on one battery charge, Its only downside is its use of an APS-C sensor, not a full frame. Then again, it has NFC & WiFi, making it ideal as it can also be controlled via a smartphone or tablet.

There is a much cheaper solution, as this bundle can easily set you back around R60k. A Canon Powershot SX60 will cost around R6k and offer super zoom of 18-1265mm, offering fantastic wide angle capability while that faraway little springbok can be turned into eyebiltong with ease, yet there is a catch! Also weather sealed and therefore won’t melt if a few raindrops comes in contact with it.

Middle ground is found in the incredible Nikon P900 with some 2,000mm focal length. A bridge camera that really just does it all. 

You get what you pay for – compact cameras sport small sensor chips, same as smartphones. Trouble starts the moment that you venture beyond Instagram and want to print, especially for publishing purposes. You will soon find that no camera can even come close to the quality a good DSLR offers.

My lay advice would be to buy the camera body that suits your needs the best, but invest in the best glass that you can buy. Canon’s L-series lenses are known to be especially crisp and effective even in low light conditions. They have an alternative to the 28-300mm, the 100-400mm which has a wider scope at zoom but then you will need to live with a more restricted short end.

Non-branded lenses may be okay but they lose some functionality in live mode.

Finally, I own a Canon Powershot A810 compact, basically a toy, yet it packs a lot of punch. It is utterly reliable and almost unbelievably tough, in that it had fallen twice now and was soaked by the frisky waves of the Atlantic ocean. I bought it used at R450 (about USD35) and fitted my own Sandisk 16GB SD card. It even takes reasonable video at FHD resolution.

Happy clicking!

Data Security – Travel Photography

On my very first trip on the world’s most awarded luxury train, The Blue Train of South Africa, the almost new Strontium microSD card failed in my camera. I lost some 100+ photographs, very much needed for my upcoming blog posts. I am not the only one who suffered as I frequently learn about the plight of others.

A solution to those who can afford it:

  • A camera with wireless networking ability, plus
  • A portable wireless hard drive, plus
  • A laptop, tablet or Smartphone with a large microSD card

The camera will upload automatically to the wireless portable hard drive which, in turn, can make instant backup copies to a portable device as mentioned. This is one way to ensure that you retain your data should either of these devices fail.

I would still suggest a second portable backup device such a portable USB hard drive, where data can be backed up after every day’s work has been completed.

Finally, digital photo formats are going to change so much in future that your typical BMP/JPG/PNG/GIF/TIFF files won’t be read by newer devices. it would be best to print your photos in hard copy as well!

It ain’t easy, eh?

#SM: Shift From Mass Marketing to Micro Influencers

“Buy 7,500 followers at only $250, offer expires tonight!”

My mother raised me with the right values. Never buy friends, never bribe someone to acquire that person’s favour. Therefore, I have always frowned upon these “follow trains” on social media. Why would anyone want one million two hundred and fifty three thousand friends? My own take on this has always been that I am on social media to learn from others and to share my own life experience. Therefore, when you check my Twitter account @railCT with a tool such as Twitter Audit, you will see that it gets a 100% rating, even though there are four or five fake followers – automated bots following me.

It serves no purpose to amass followers that one has no relationship with, or sharing no interest with their accounts. I immediately mute or even block people sending me dirty jokes, racist comments and pornography. I have no interest in that, so why keep such users alive on my account? I would not invite such to my home, so why tolerate them on my social media accounts?

I am Awethentiq. This means that I write from my own experience; I do not grab information from a brochure or website to write about your venue. I have to experience it myself. With my understanding of social media, I then get into the mind of your patron and speak to such in a language that will be well understood.

So many owners tell me “but I have a website already!” Oh, really? How are people going to find you if you are a white Hyundai parked among another 530,000 white Hyundai’s on a large field? A website serves those who already know and patronise you. What I am doing, is to expand your horizons. Bring people to your front door. At the time of writing this, there were 68,517 views of Good Hope Bakery at 77 Donkin Street, Beaufort West. I posted the photo on December 3, 2016 only. What is of importance here, is that these were viewed by travelers using a GPS in search of food! These are not just web browsers, but people looking for a solution and getting directions to the front door. I think that Uncle Johnny must have sold a few more springbok pies than usual!

Isn’t this cool?!

A recent street view photo of Harbourview Restaurant in Simon’s Town already was viewed by 4,588 folks using a GPS in search of a great dinner – and if only 1% visited and had a decent dinner, revenues would have been above R25,000! From one great photo promoted in the right way. The thing is that I have posted many more photo’s, some of which also had around five thousand GPS-related views. Someone was hunting for supper and my photo’s took them to Harbourview. If you are ever in need of a great meal, a sociable venue with great views and equally great service, visit http://www.harbourviewrestaurant.com/

Gifted, talented musician and music producer Quinten Pendle’s offices already had 399 GPS views in less than a full two weeks! Visit http://www.pendlepro.com for all your audio production needs, backing tracks, studio recordings, music at events, etc. Quinten and I have recently recorded five radio interviews about rail tourism, which he already has aired on two radio stations, one of which an international one.

My main activity is to promote tourism in general and rail tourism in particular. My wife and I travel frequently on our long distance trains, being the tourist class ShosholozaMeyl, best described as a great backpacker on wheels, with a good restaurant on board. Also, the affordable luxury PremierClasse train, the svelte sibling of the ShosholozaMeyl. Every journey on either exceeded our expectations. We have become brand ambassadors of note; we influence so many people via social media but word of mouth is what we really do. The same can be said for our experiences on The Blue Train, an opulent and sublime experience. We so frequently get asked to tell people about our experiences and we can give an Awethentiq review. Budget permitting, you simply cannot go wrong with any of South Africa’s main line passenger trains. We travel, on average, twice every two months and we have never been disappointed. We are sometimes astonished by public perceptions, something we change ever so often. Do visit http://www.railloverevolution.blogspot.co.za

Your restaurant, guest house, hotel, travel company or other business can really benefit from this values-driven influencing. One of our respected venues is Steenbokkie Private Game Reserve just outside of Beaufort West. Like the others, we have placed them on the map in a new way. An oasis in the Karoo, with air conditioned rooms and well appointed cottages set in a lush garden, or a lovely grassed campsite under leafy trees. Farm animals, wild game, all for your enjoyment. A place to take your children to, take a look at http://www.steenbokkie.co.za and http://www.steenbokkie.blogspot.co.za

Whether you remanufacture power steering systems like Roy’s in Salt River, or manufacture designer jewellery, we can drive feet to your showroom! Who are we? Me, Pete and my wife, Karen.

A final case study: our friend of well over a decade, Anthony Swartz, was the first non-white commercial coffee roaster in the Cape Town CBD. Tony has a quaint little coffee shop called Anthony’s Golden Cup at 59 Loop Street, Cape Town. He has a website and a Facebook account, yet foreign visitors had difficulty finding his little store. I did my trick and, soon, just one of the GPS-searched photos had almost nine thousand views! A few times now, we saw how people from Denmark, Korea, Canada, the UK, USA…..walked in the door, still wielding the GPS! People who had visited ten, twenty years ago and forgot where it was. A Google website search did not help at all, but the GPS brought them to a freshly ground cuppa aromatic coffee, rated as the very best in Africa!

Why wait? Let the proven influencers bring the boys to the yard!

#GoodMoodTrain

“Sir, you must board this train. The mood here is good”

She said this after stepping off the train to stretch her legs, accompanied by a relative, who was equally enthusiastic.  Of course, we were eager to board, as the train was already more than three hours late. As it was a public holiday and almost every shop was closed, we had nothing to eat or drink since we left the home of our hosts around 14:15 that day. It was around 18:25 when the train arrived.

I am diabetic and need regular meals and water to drink. One cannot blame the train service, though, as they were as much victim to external factors as ourselves.  The RSR – short for Rail Safety Regulator – had recently imposed a new rule that had brought train speeds down from 90km/h to 30 in some sectors.  At short notice, this had affected train schedules badly.  Of course, it would be really unfair to hold our Train Manager or even the drivers accountable, as this was not their fault.  They have to comply, just like airlines have to comply with FAA rules, even when it appears to be unnecessary.  Furthermore, our train ran on rails it didn’t own and powered by electricity from yet another company.

Our slight discomfort was soon forgotten.  Train Manager Patrick welcomed us on board and we were placed in a very neat compartment, 4B.  Beds were neatly made with crisp linen, there were complementary bottles of distilled water for each of my wife and myself, while fresh shower towels and amenities were placed in the convenient storage rack.

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Our carriage was next to the Lounge Car, followed by the Dining Car.  A few minutes later, we were on our way!  As soon as the train was moving, I started making my way towards the Dining Car but was met almost immediately by Faith, the efficient Dining Car Manager. She invited my wife and I along to dinner right away and we were served a most delectable dinner.

Our meal started with soup made with fresh sweet corn and cream with a fresh bun, followed by lovely freshly fried hake. The main course consisted of fresh vegetables, potato bake and a slice of succulent oven-roasted leg of lamb. This was followed by a chocolate peppermint desert and then the traditional highlight of a South African railways dinner, delicious cheese and biscuits.  Anyone who had traveled on the Trans Karoo, Trans Oranje or Trans Natal trains a few decades ago, will recognize this tradition with fond memories.  Of course, tea or coffee was served.

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As I am diabetic and my meal plan was disrupted, the chef gladly obliged to send some very nice sandwiches to my compartment later that evening. Instead of just a slice of buttered bread, as requested, he prepared a midnight feast of toasted cheese & tomato instead!

We went to bed quite content, my wife only waking up the next morning, just in time for breakfast. I did wake up as we arrived at Kimberley, after we crossed the Vaal River. This was where a different set of locomotives were coupled.  Locomotives are voltage specific and we were now entering a sector with much higher voltage.  Also, water and Diesel for the power generators were replenished ever so discreetly.

Our night train continued and we crossed the Gariep River but I was blissfully unaware and only remotely became aware of our stop at De Aar a few hours later.  However, by 6:30AM I was fully awake, in time to experience a most beautiful sunrise. The Karoo had seen the most excruciating drought over the past few years, yet this was broken some two months prior, with follow-up rains turning the arid wasteland into vast grass fields, with bodies of shallow water visible – and antelope, sheep and even some cattle visible.

At the breakfast table, we were served fruit juice, coffee and cereal with yoghurt. This was followed by a lovely hot breakfast consisting of eggs to order, generous slices of thick bacon, toast, butter, strawberry jam, a sausage and a little bit of fresh salad.  While breakfast was happening, we saw even more springbuck, impala, reebok, two steenbok, ostriches and then we were treated to the sight of two eagles separately.

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We passed Merriman where we saw the first of a number of blockhouses dating back to the Anglo Boer War and we were bemused by the fact that few South Africans seemed to know about this terrible and bitter war, but foreign tourists could tell some of the history with fair accuracy. From Merriman, we would also pass through the cuttings at Biesiespoort and see so many wind turbines, generating renewable energy.

 

The Three Sisters – round hills with typical Karoo table tops – came into view, we unexpectedly passed another blockhouse and, soon, we were at Beaufort West.  On our way there, we encountered the beautiful “carnival colours, partipants” tourist class ShosholozaMeyl train; that one was the Amatola heading towards the Eastern Cape. Friendly, enthusiastic passengers struck up conversation with us while parked alongside in a loop, at Ysterrante. A name meaning “iron hillsides,” referring to the iron rich rocks burnt black by the sun.  The Amatola’s passengers were a jovial outfit, in a great mood just like our train and we enjoyed this encounter very much. One even offered us apples through his compartment window!  This was now a train supposedly involved in “quite a serious accident” the previous afternoon, as erroneously reported by Network24. Accident, my foot – it was just a locomotive that was coupled a bit too hard, really uncommon in South Africa, as our train drivers generally can do this without spilling anyone’s tea. The Amatola’s whistle blew and our own train also soon continued its journey.

It was time to replenish and also to get our final two locomotives of the day. This was done at Beaufort West, birthplace of the heart transplant pioneer Dr Chris Barnard.  Passengers stretched their legs, yet we were under way soon again, passing even more of the blockhouses.  A Karoo with pockets of water, some greenery and fat livestock is a sight to behold. Our train made excellent progress yet we still encountered speed restrictions and we were now far behind schedule.

A group of tourists in the Lounge Car then dubbed it the #GreatValueTrain, stating that they scored a few hours’ travel at no extra charge!  If anything, the mood improved even more as we went, yet that can be ascribed to goodwill and not any kind of inebriation. Our fellow travelers were too well behaved for that kind of thing.

Lunch happened as we approached Laingsburg and this was once again a lavish affair. There was delicious fried fish for starters, followed by roast chicken served with freshly peeled and roasted baby carrots with young green beans.  This was followed by dessert and coffee.

We passed historical Matjiesfontein and proceeded towards Touws River – and were treated to sightings of even more wild game. I also took some guests to view the Conference Car, which is an ideal venue for corporate or social events, celebrations or even church conferences. It has a fully fitted bar with a large display fridge, microwave ovens, coffee machines, ice machine, etc. There also is a draw-down screen for overhead projectors and a sound desk at the rear.

Afternoon tea was served, with a choice of carrot- or chocolate cake. We entered the first of four tunnels, passing through in thirteen minutes, then the second, third and final ones followed, revealing the picturesque Hex River Valley at De Doorns. Vineyards getting dressed in colourful displays of rich autumn colours, patchwork of the gods.  Passing the largest pot still distillery in the world at Worcester, we soon drew into its beautiful railway station, one that has featured in so many international movies and commercials over the years.

At Worcester, a shuttle service was generously provided, at no extra cost, to the few guests who had other commitments and who preferred to complete their journey by road. The majority of us won’t let buses or airlines interfere with our #RailLove, so we stayed on board!

Once again, we were on our way towards Cape Town, the smell of fermenting grape skins letting out a little secret: we were now in the world’s prime co-operative wine making region, even though this is lesser known to the public. The evening sun painted the mountains called Brandwacht, Waaihoek, Mostertshoek and the Witzenberge in soft pastels, the sun setting as we passed through Nieuwekloof Pass. We were invited to yet another meal – the second one on the house, not part of the travel plan. Our Train Manager is a friendly guy and ensured that all get treated ever so nicely. Braised beef in a brown sauce with veggies, served on savoury rice. Yum!  And dessert, never think you won’t get served dessert!

We now traveled in darkness until we finally rolled into Cape Town, where our marathon trip sadly came to an end. Many of us would board right away if given the option, I did not hear anyone complain about the train being late.  The staff had worked many more hours than planned, it really added more than a work day to their itinerary. Throughout, they were friendly, helpful – others can learn from them. They really were great, even down to the cleaners. Always polite, always willing to assist, always a smile. Our showers and toilets were always clean, nothing ever lacked.

Yes, how shall we best describe this Premier Classe journey?

“….you must board this train. The mood here is good

 

 

 

 

 

1st Class “Trans-Karoo” Culture Lives on!

The neatly dressed gentleman greeted us friendly as we entered the foyer of the PremierClasse Lounge around 7am on a Tuesday morning. he soon relieved us of our luggage, which he tagged to our compartment and handed us our welcoming letter and boarding passes.

Guests’ Luggage Checked In

Some impressive “baggage” went into the Car Carrier as well. The cars in the background, plus a number of Mercedes-Benz’s travelled in the back.

Another “passenger” boarding!

PREMIER CLASSE LOUNGE

Soon, we were installed in the lounge area where we were served with tea or coffee, with muffins, scones and other niceties. In no time, we were chatting away with Frasier and Christine from the United Kingdom, who would be joining us for a memorable rail journey towards Johannesburg, South Africa. It was interesting to listen to Frasier’s account of a pleasant trip on the Algoa line of the ShosholozaMeyl, the tourist class sibling of the PremierClasse.

Scones, Tea & Coffee In the Premier Lounge

Among the guests congregated in the PremierClasse Lounge, were a number of people with restricted mobility. It is always good to see that people with special needs are being taken care of. I soon learned that meals and drinks could be served in their compartments, should these guests have preferred it that way. However, I did notice that some opted for joining us in the Dining Saloon for meals.

Special Needs Guests Accommodated

The almost legendary Food and Beverage Manager Millie addressed the guests, welcoming all to PremierClasse and gave a brief summary of house rules on the train. We soon left the lounge and strolled leisurely towards the light blue train waiting on Platform 24. (Frasier and I, however, had a brief meeting with a very Red Devil as well, but that is a story for another day.)

BOARDING THE PREMIER CLASSE

As my wife and I boarded the train, we soon found our compartment with our names on a neat card on the door. There were two bottles of distilled water, pillows and our luggage neatly installed by the efficient porters.

Our very comfortable, luxurious compartment.

We wasted no time to make our way to the Dining Saloon, where we were served with bubbly and snacks. Millie welcomed us on board and informed us of the credit card payment system after he had introduced us to the Dining Saloon Manager Faith. A similar party was underway on the other side of the kitchen car, as we had a full train and Train Manager Mr Groenewald was welcoming guests in the Lounge Car, I presume.

Millie welcoming his guests

After the initial complementary drinks, the cash bar was open – and we noticed that a huge rock was shifting past us. It was in the shape of Table Mountain. So imperceptible was the smooth departure by expert driver Okkie Pretorius that a few exclaimed their astonishment – guests did not immediately realise that our luxurious train was in motion.

This was when some noticed that the train was in motion, departure was very smooth and discreet!

Our train snaked its way along the Monte Vista line, then through Bellville, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, then onto the Paarl and Wellington. We soon saw wild game on a ranch near Klapmuts, still on our way to Paarl. The lions disappointed by hiding in their den.

As we left Wellington, we saw the first of seven Anglo Boer War blockhouses on this route, used by the 450,000 British soldiers to defend the Cape Colony against some 16,000 Boers, between 1899-1902.

British blockhouse dating back to Anglo Boer War 1899 -1902

Will Britain partner in restoring and preserving these? They are going to waste.

These “monuments” did spark some interest and some guests were able to take nice photographs. Slipping ever so discreetly past the wheat fields of the Swartland, then snaking through Nieuwekloof Pass, PremierClasse made its graceful debut to the Witzenberg region of Tulbach. From there, leaving the Little Berg River behind, we crossed the Breede River and saluted another two blockhouses, while sipping at our drinks. Flanked on either side by the beautiful Boland mountains, we passed through the last bit of grapes harvesting from vineyards that would soon be changing into its autumn attire. The smell of fermentation hung in the air as we passed the various wine cellars. Waboomsrivier, Botha’s Halt, Sedgwick’s Distillery.

Slanghoek Mountains and vineyards near Worcester

LUNCH

Lunch was served as we approached our first stop at Worcester, a town rich in history. Its railway station has featured in many films and commercial advertisements – we soon departed and passed the KWV House of Brandy which houses the world’s largest pot still brandy distillery, which was soon followed by award-winning olive farms.

Smoked Salmon
Roast Chicken
Cheesecake with Grenadilla

Passing through Hex River Kloof, we were enthralled by the rock formations of the mountains and some lovely farm scenes. It was time to enter the Hex River Valley, home of some of the world’s finest table grape farming. The spectacular valley was still dressed in green vineyards, a month from now it will be a colourful display of patchwork with warm autumn colours.

As we enjoyed our cheesecake dessert, we passed through the four Hexton tunnels of 0.5km, 1.1km, 1.2km and 13.65km respectively.

One of the four Hexton tunnels in the Hex River Rail Pass

PremierClasse shone in the bright sunlight as it appeared on the other side at Kleinstraat, where a solar power plant welcomed us, its myriad of panels bowing ever so courteously. This is where we had seen sable antelope before, but luck wasn’t on our side. Slipping through Touws River, past Matjiesfontein through Laingsburg, we soon saw the fifth blockhouse at Dwyka. By now, we were invited to afternoon tea, celebrated with a choice of carrot- or chocolate cake served with either tea or coffee. While at it, the two blockhouses either side of the train at Leeu-Gamka stood to our attention, somewhat worn yet as alert as ever.

Guests were socializing in either of the two Lounge Cars (one is a club car for smokers, both with fully provisioned cash bars with credit card facilities) or just enjoying the comfort of their comfortable compartments. An array of night-, reading- or main lights complemented the lockable stowage space, amenities such as shower gels and shampoos, take-home slippers and leave-behind towels and gowns. Did I mention that the train was air conditioned right through? Luckily, windows can still be opened, as some of us still prefer that.

Lounge Car – The Club Car for Smokers Is Similar

Beaufort West! As in Worcester, it was time for staff to replenish Diesel fuel and water. The former is used to power the facilities on the PremierClasse, from air-conditioning to lighting. Only the engines in front use the overhead power lines but, talking of which, our two trusty SAR 6E1 units were replaced by one with a higher voltage rating.

DINNER

Dining on the #GoodFoodTrain is a lovely affair. As in the days of old in the “Trans Trains” such as Trans-Karoo or Trans-Oranje, we have repeatedly found that cuisine is well-prepared and expertly served. Their way of dishing up, for instance, is their legendary party trick, perhaps a signature. On a moving train, the waitron will hold the serving dish in one hand and then use the other to dish up, using two spoons held between the fingers, or a spoon and fork. I have tried it at home and found it to be fairly challenging, say no more! Service is swift, food is really tasty and of good quality. Anyone complaining about food on this train is either very spoilt, or perhaps not used to anything this good.

As I am not paid to write this, I can speak my mind: so many people have doubts about our main line passenger services and some do live in the past. I can assure you that it only improved upon an established tradition. South African railways are known for its excellent catering on trains and PremierClasse is no exception.

Cream of Sweetcorn Soup
Delicious Fried Hake
Braised Beef Sirloin
Malva Pudding
Cheese n Biscuits – a long-standing tradition!

Darkness fell and we departed on our way to Kimberley via Three Sisters, Biesiespoort, Merriman, Hutchinson, De Aar. That is where we could smell the fresh Karoo air. Then, Poupan, Kraankuil, Hopetown, Belmont…..until we reached Ronald’s Vlei where we once again received electric locomotives with a different voltage rating.

Then it was Kimberley itself where we had another logistics stop, from where we departed towards Warrentown. Fog was fairly thick, even past Fourteen Streams up to Bloemhof, where it lifted to reveal African savannah mixed with typical Highveld grass. And a fair herd of red hartebeest, oryx, eland, kudu and giraffe while we were enjoying a scrumptious breakfast. We were glad that our foreign guests could also get so see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Soon, breakfast was over and so was our trip, as the first mine shafts and -dumps appeared near Orkney.

Complementary Fruit
Fresh Juice
Muesli with Yoghurt – There is a choice of cereals
A delicious English Breakfast. The eggs in the picture were the best I ever had, anywhere, on the morning of April 12, 2017. I did inform the chef.

As we slipped past Lava, my wife and I readied ourselves to disembark when we arrived at Klerksdorp, a gold mining city, while other guests would continue to Johannesburg. At Klerksdorp, Frasier stepped off the train and first took photo’s of the ancient plinthed SAR Class 7 locomotive. We said farewell to Frasier and also to Mr Groenewald, our friendly and very helpful Train Manager. Of course, we took a few photos of the lovely sandstone station building.

Train Manager Mr Groenewald at Premier Classe, Klerksdorp

12 April 2017

Premier Classe saluting the SAR Class 7 plinthed at Klerksdorp
Lovely sandstone station building at Klerksdorp

Thus ended a memorable trip on a lovely PremierClasse train, one that even had a bit of a “wild side” to it! As an afterthought: so many folks ask if South African long distance trans are clean, safe or as good as they were three decades ago? YES! YES! YES!

Footnote

PremierClasse has a ConferenceCar with a full bar and this can also be converted to a venue to celebrate events. Furthermore, an intercom system is being installed into the new train set, that would allow guests to order food and drinks from Room Service. USB charging points, wireless internet and an electronic map are all being planned and should be installed soon.

We also thank Quinten Pendle and PerronFM for having us and for broadcasting our four radio talks on air.

Cheez ‘n Bizkitz

It is called the #GoodFoodTrain. It is the luxurious PremierClasse of South Africa.  Of course, a train known for its lovely accommodation, pleasant lounge cars and excellent service, also won’t lack in the meals that are served to its guests.

BREAKFAST

Of course, breakfast is scrumptious and starting the day in this great way already is a sign of things to come. Fresh fruit juice, cereals with milk or yogurt, then a platter of eggs to order, a lavish portion of bacon with sausage and salad. Toast with butter and jam. Tea, coffee.

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This should suffice as a breakfast? There is more….

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Those eggs were done to purrfection!

 

LUNCH

A three-course feast that will satisfy the hungry soul.

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Smoked Salmon

 

 

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Roast Chicken

 

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Cheesecake

 

AFTERNOON TEA

A choice of delectable chocolate cake or carrot cake with a hint of spiciness.

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DINNER

A five-course offering taking the palate on a pleasant culinary journey.  These dinners build upon a tradition dating back perhaps six or seven decades.

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Cream of Sweetcorn

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Fried Hake

 

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Braised Beef Sirloin

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Malva Pudding

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Cheese & Biscuits

Ending the day’s food celebration with the signature cheese & biscuits is a long standing tradition.  Almost forty years ago, we anticipated dinner eagerly on the predecessors of the Premier Classe.  Dining on South Africa’s long distance trains accumulated a cult following over the decades.  Nothing has changed, it is the same time-proven superlative service.  Or, maybe it has even improved.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electric Vehicles Still Not The Answer Now #EV

Much of the global population live in developing countries where distances are huge and with very little in terms of public transport, be it by road, rail or air. Many are in income brackets where they buy used cars with, say, 250,000km on the odo.
Perfectly insane Europeans want to ban vehicles with internal combustion engines altogether. It seems that some attend university where they get spoon-fed with crazy ideas – lecturer and student alike cannot think. They follow ideologies that don’t even work on paper, let alone in practice. Just like the idiots who drive computing into the cloud, which does not exist for half the global population, they think that all live on flat surfaces near power outlets and, like themselves, live within a small radius from work & leisure.

Toys for the super rich?

“Neither Angela Merkel nor Gartner would hire me. Common logic, practical thinking is an obvious disqualification.”
The car in the picture was already being recharged when we arrived at work just past 7am yesterday. Eight hours later, it was still plugged in. It needed more than the allowed 3.5 hours. How about a business meeting on the other side of the city, meanwhile, without the option of public transport? Just 126km, shall we WALK?
A typical holiday or even business trip in my country could easily be 1,600km (a thousand miles), taking sixteen hours. The travellers will stay over with friends or relatives as hotels or guest houses are beyond their financial reach. It requires one, possibly two fuel stops of fifteen minutes each. Now apply this trip to an electric vehicle and see how dysmally that fails.
We live in a country with barely sufficient electricity to keep the lights on, as it stands. In rural areas, there currently is electricity for only a few hours per day but even cities with many millions of citizens each, had load shedding from time to time since 2008. You recharge a vehicle in fifteen minutes, let it run at 120km/h for eight hours, then we talk. Ensure that it can be recharged at the smallest hamlet and we talk.
But now over to total insanity. The same idiots wanting to ban internal combustion engines, build monstrous vehicles with up to sixteen cylinders, each producing enough power it seems,to counter the rotation of the earth when tied to a tree. Toys for the wealthy, three diff-locks, low range, a 6.3 litre bi-turbo engine with stump-pulling power and a price tag to drain the blood from your face – this is what some need to pick up milk from the mall. There must be a pothole in the road? Or the gent who paid so much for his red Italian sports car, with a dozen cylinders, who then is so broke after refuelling it that he has to visit McDonald’s.

Neverending recharging. Eight hours later…

Ban these things, we don’t need this indulgences. A car with its own private hole in the ozone layer – who needs that?  If you need that pukka 4×4, get one with a Diesel engine tweaked with a bottle of blue, as it mostly emits harmless water and nitrogen.
The medical profession can lend a hand here as well. It seems that symptoms of type two diabetes or the common cold can attract the verdict of depression. Maybe the crazy politicians can have their condition treated, along with some car makers, in institutions safely away from the societies they so threaten. Alongside the cloud gurus and engineers.
As anybody thinking that removing his pollution from his address, to filthily pollute the environment at a power station elsewhere, really is looney. Especially when he then thinks that he is saving the planet. Are they demon possessed? There has to be a tablet, injection or straightjacket that could help for that.

Nuff said.

New travel blog!

Hi, I just started a brand new travel blog at https://awethentiqtravel.wordpress.com/

It is pretty iffy right now, but follow and go with me as I grow. Hoping to bring you special places but also some nice discounts on holiday accommodation! 

See you there! 

A closer look at the Nikon Coolpix P900 #dpreview

If you are a blogger or a #socialmedialite, or just an enthusiastic photographer, Nikon has a really great camera for you – it is not a toy. Enter Coolpix P900.

It is king of the bridge cameras. A bridge camera bridges the gap between compacts and DSLR’s, nowadays also mirrorless cameras. It can do all the settings such as shutter speed, time value, aperture, white balance, etc., yet the lens is not removable. Instead, one like this offers 24-2000mm equicvalent to a 35mm camera. That is with optical zoom, add digital and it grows to 8000mm. Crazy. 

It sports NFC which allows for wireless connection affording the user easy photo sharing but also limited remote control via smartphones or tablets. Furthermore, it has built-in GPS. 

It isn’t ecactly cheap but presently can be had at around ten thousand South African Rand or roughly US$ 770.

If you, like I do, love cameras, take a good read at:

https://m.dpreview.com/articles/2417488569/a-closer-look-at-the-nikon-coolpix-p900-megazoom