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.

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.

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.

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!

Pack No Ego

He has soft blue eye and he is just over five feet tall, cannot

weigh more than fifty kilo’s. And he is threatening me and everybody

else. His lawyer apparently must be a direct descendant of Ivan the

Impaler. He mentions a lady’s name, repeatedly. Sue! And he must be a

gray little accountant as he keeps adding up the millions that Ivan the

Impaler and Sue will bring him from our empty pockets. I guess he is

also a concert director, by the way he waves his finger before my eyes.

Maybe he isn’t aware that, in my country, acts of intimidation are equal

to assault, both being criminal. His luggage must be heavy as he had

brought one helluva ego with him. At least twenty times the size of his

rather flimsy physique. Knowing Ivan the Impaler and Sue makes him

strong. Very strong.

“Eeen my kahntree, veee vill Sue zee for menny meelions, zee?” Zim

dollars, I hope!

Oh, the typical air of superiority of his tribe shines through. A

conundrum. Be friendly towards tourists, we also need their Euro’s. But

should we always be content to bear with the abuse we get from them,

even on the streets of our Mother City?

Our train is a few hours behind schedule. Guests flock together in the

Lounge Car and the Club Car. They play card games, have entertaining

conversations, enjoy a few drinks. This in the Club Car smoke a few

cigarettes with their whiskey. One lady guests encounters me in the

passage, her eyes glowing with delight. “This is the #GoodValueTrain”,

she says enthusiastically, “we can travel so much longer for the same

money.” So many others don’t even complain. They are mature enough to

know that airliners, ships, buses and cars get delayed, expecting it to

be no different with trains. A family member is an airline pilot: he had

to land his jet in Johannesburg the other day; passengers were on their

way to Durban. A little nasty detail in weather patterns caused a

deviation. Landing a few hundred miles off-target saved lives.

RSR (Rail safety Regulator) imposed several speed restrictions after

recent floods. Railroads were completely under water in some places. We

all know that the restrictions are not always necessary, but rather safe

than sorry, eh? I can agree to that! Don’t you gamble with MY life,

because I don’t. The train crawls across Africa at a third of its usual

speed. We see more game, more detail and also new things, because we now

travel in daylight through places we usually experience at night. We

see two eagles, in different places. Two steenbok, two ribbok, a few

kudu, eland, herds of springbok, ostriches. So many that I lose count.

The staff work more than an extra day’s shift, preparing two more meals

for 76 guests. Only once did one lose her usual smile, I think she

needed a hug. Someone threatened the already overworked lady with Ivan

the Impaler and Sue. The Bonnie & Clyde duo makes for scary thoughts.

Our elegant waitress regains her composure, fits a new smile and

soldiers on. I find a lot of heat in the kitchen. They are peeling

fresh veggies, while cooking up a storm. An extra lunch for 76 plus

staff, must be a hundred mouths to feed. Then another unscheduled dinner.

The little man with the huge ego has intimidated enough guests for one

day. He finally reaches the Train Manager, just by chance. He never

thought of going to the right person, the very friendly, efficient Train

Manager in the first place! No, he had to threaten almost every guest

on the train with his duo of quasi-medieval torturers. Terror! Imagine

being swathed to death by a Law Book and then bankrupted posthumously.

Train Manager, staff, drivers up front – none are to blame for any

delays, yet they have to take the flak coming from a little

Messerschmidt train fighter. Ever so diplomatically, faster road

transport is arranged, the EGO gets off-loaded (if it will fit into a

1-seater van….) and we continue our journey, munching away at the most

tender braised beef with a brown sauce, savoury rice and a choc-mint

creme brulee.

Their is peace in the palace as we enjoy the beautiful pastel coloured

mountains, as the sun is setting in the west, where we are heading. We

all just enjoy the increased travel time and the pleasure that comes

with it.

Maybe just one bloke was too small to peek outside and see the beauty. Or did his ego obstruct his pleasurable view?

 

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!

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 ate 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…….

#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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

#ItsTime

I posted this on Facebook on April 22, 2017:

South Africa is praying for change today. People are flocking together in Bloemfontein. Change is needed, but we need change from within ourselves, first. We cannot expect others to change unless we are willing to change ourselves. Today’s mass prayer could be placing the cart before the horse.

How do we drive?
We take someone’s written quote to lower the prices of others – that is corruption
Skip stop signs, traffic lights
We jaywalk
We cycle selfishly, arrogantly
We do as we please – each his own little god
One racist accusing the other of racism
It is always someone else, never me
That is what has to change
I
Pray that I will change
Then I can change
South Africa

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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.)

Harbourview – Kitchen Magic

A cheerful family visit. Lots of fun, laughter, joy and bliss. As in the good old days, on the wide, open veranda and a lazy ocean shimmering below. Food and drink in abundance, people smiling, chatting, enjoying the feast on the tables.

March is such a wonderful time in the Cape, when winds die down a bit and the sultry, balmy days arrive before the lovely winter come to passionately take us into spring. We love every day, regardless of weather, as we have learned to dress in the right attitude. And, if you don’t like the weather, just a minute…. see, it has changed already!

So, there we were on a Saturday, late March 2017. We were seated at our favourite spot, overlooking the yacht basin below and the naval harbour beyond.

We sat watching the guests arrive, some in larger groups, others just intimate families. The decibels increased a little as food and drink went past us, to waiting tables. Tall, golden beers with frothy beards to softly kill the thirst of the weary traveler. All served with that array of natural smiles that seem to be the corporate trademark of the Harbourview Restaurant in Simon’s Town. As that is the lovely, close family we were visiting.

Some restaurants have a quicker staff turnover than they can flip over an omelet. Not at the Harbourview, oh no, here they stay! It seems that especially one lady called Noleen comes in when off duty. It is always a good sign to see people who are internally motivated, inspired and happy.

Owner Linda Wiltshire is a most agreeable lady. Linda is a really inspiring person who adores her crew so much. I love seeing a business owner involved, passionate and informed.

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Invited to a frothy cappuccino, made of great gourmet coffee, we extended our conversation until time came to snap some shots of sundry items of interior decoration.

A marine setting it is, with all sorts of military paraphernalia coming together rather nicely. Of course, Harbourview being in Simon’s Town, the legendary Just Nuisance also stands guard at a door. Etched into the glass, that is.

We ordered Dry Lemon and my “darlingmost wificle” selected a roast chicken salad. I settled for a smoked salmon one. As this was for starters, we were slightly taken aback by the sizable portions that arrived, rich in colours, textures and tastes. I have to deviate a little.

At some posh restaurants, supposed “chefs” show off their skills in commercial art by drawing food on one’s plate. People who come laden with money order it, stare at it, sip at drinks, swipe a platinum card and leave the sometimes untouched little Picasso job to the cleaners to dispose of. Haute cuisine is bad language in my home. We are Saffers, we eat for a living. Don’t mess with our food!

Back the salads. Never show fear in the face of adversity, so we assaulted our incredibly picturesque salmon or chicken. Freshest ingredients, all oh so perfect! As in the past, Harbourview’s chef’s team produced something almost magic from the kitchen. In fact, I did hint at Tanaka that his black magic was quite obvious. The large dollop of Danish feta found a welcoming party in me and the first battle was over. The memory will be lasting, as even food we ate upon previous occasions still remain fresh in memory, if not the palate.

Guests at a neighbouring table ordered prawns and I could not resist the temptation to ask if I could photograph it. I introduced myself as a travel blogger and aspiring food reviewer. “Oh so,” the one lady said and introduced herself as a renowned French food photographer and critic! Oh my, I walked into the dragons’ lair in my absolute ignorance. Sensing my apprehension, she soon gave me a few quick hints on how to photograph food. Her husband and other friend were very hospitable and accommodating as well. What a pleasant experience in the end! This was so kind of them and the expert never let me feel uncomfortable. The prawns, as you can see, are top class but I must say that my own photo taken with the flash looked better, so here it is!

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Then our main dishes arrived. My better half had ordered a wild game curry served cutely in a three-legged pot. She later described it as “the best curry I had ever eaten in a restaurant.” Of course, I had to taste a sample (or six) and found it quite to my taste as well.

My own was a 300g beef fillet served with fries and a fresh salad. It also came with a most delectable cheese sauce, which I treated as a side dish so as not to infringe upon the superior tastiness of the fillet. Soft and tender, grilled to perfection, sending my taste buds fighting for position. As I have said, I think there is magic practiced in Tanaka’s kitchen.

All good things come to and end and so did our main course. We greeted our empty plates with a sense of loss but were soon consoled by the ever attentive Noleen who brought my wife a slice of that legendary Malva pudding. Now I need to say here that we as Afrikaners will fight to our very last drop of blood for a spoonful. Any adversary is best advised to not come in between us and our Malva pudding.

I am a brave man and offered my wife half my cheesecake with the unspoken expectation to get a mere morsel of her Malva pudding. It paid off and I had a few crumbs to taste – but the cheesecake, in turn, is the best I had ever eaten. It really was tasty, the texture perfect, the balance between sweet and sour just about divine. (I never order cheesecake but wanted to review theirs. After all, there IS Malva pudding in the house…..) Having straddled six decades, there did come a day when I could say that a cheesecake was more than “nice.” Oh, I can become poetic about this one, wax so lyrical that you may think I get paid to write this. But I honestly do not charge for these reviews, so I was not bribed or influenced. Coming from me, the accolades bestowed upon the cheesecake are “awethentiq.”

Culinary Seductress Noleen appeared like a genie from a bottle and tried to entice us into more indulgence, to which I said that I would order anything with “bed” written all over it. To awaken us from an impending post-dinner sleep, we were soon served with cappuccino to end the day where it started.

We came full circle. Harbourview’s lovely silly kitchen banter, jovial mood and leisurely ambiance will keep the wheel turning, as full circle isn’t full stop.

But why take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!

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A Little Something To Take Home

 

Cape Town Under US3!

Table Mountain comes for free if you are prepared to hike up one of various trails. Strangely, a few million locals never have been up the Mountain despite the fact that every South African citizen gets a free ride once a year, upon presentation of a valid ID document, on his or her birthday. In the same vein, we live in one of the loveliest cities in the world, featuring the most scenic train ride globally (to the best of my knowledge) yet so many locals never venture out.

Our Metrorail Journey From Cape Town To Simon’s Town

At just R35 (thirty-five Rand) or roughly three United States Dollars, one can board at Cape Town and enjoy a day’s scenic rail travel, hop on,hop off and return via Metrorail.

Typical 1 Day Tourist Passes
 This is a steal, as it is about six times less than the fuel an average car would use on this return trip. Few cars can legally transport six people and the driver usually has to watch our for traffic and sees little of the scenic beauty.

Also, no parking problems, one can stretch your legs even on the train but we usually hop off at Muizenberg, where the world renowned surfer’s corner is.

The train stops right at the beach!

From Muizenberg, we take the lovely walkway towards St James where we board again for Simon’s Town. Alternatively, we have walked a short bit further to Kalk Bay, really an easy walk.
Bridge Crossing At Kalk Bay Harbour

The salty sea provides the signature fresh ocean fragrance, locally referred to as “champagne air.”

Sniffing “Champagne Air”

The tidal pool is great for safe bathing and this is a favourite with families as well, as children can play and swim safely. The colourful beach day cottages are a world renowned landmark.

Whale Rocks

From nearby rocks, the whale season usually provides the sighting of many Southern Right whales.

These rocks are situated directly opposite the St James Metrorail station. Whale season is defined by the whales themselves but usually runs from April to November.

Our train terminated, unusually, at Fish Hoek. This is because wind had blown hundreds of tons of sea sand onto the tracks and earth-moving equipment is being employed to clear the tracks. Also, other railroad maintenance is being carried out as passenger safety does not get compromised.

Sand Invasion

We were taken to Simon’s Town by a luxurious Mercedes-Benz coach, air conditioned and with comfortable seating.

This at no extra cost, of course! The elevated seating position afforded us better views of the railway line that hugs the coast.

 

Our Luxury Coach At Fish Hoek Metrorail

Simon’s Town Metrorail station, is where the Historical Mile begins.

A leisurely stroll took us into the village, past the Admiral’s Residence, Simon’s Town Museum and beyond. This time around, we visited the expertly maintained SA Navy Museum, well worth a visit.

From there, we visited our friends at Harbourview Restaurant, which is situated right above the jetty and overlooking the yacht basis and naval harbour. We were informed that they are expanding their footprint by adding to the extensive veranda as they are loved by large tour groups arriving in their droves. Harbourview is otherwise quiet, intimate, romantic. For many years now, we had accompanied visiting friends there and never had any disappointment. Not very cheap, yet their service is excellent, food memorable and views to die for.

Just below is the smaller Salty Sea Dog, housed in the historical fish market. They offer great fried fish and chips, our favourite upon every visit. Like Harbourview, there is a full bar. Views are restricted unless you are seated at the large windows and it is more suited to small groups. We have fond memories of Salty Sea Dog, which is where you can also pick up a nice T-shirt. It also sits adjacent to the yacht basin and almost directly on the jetty, you will just love the setting.

Moving on, we came across the purveyors of hand crafts which included traditional hand-made toys like so many of us grew up with on South African farms. Then, something caught my eye – a Golden Retriever at leisure in the shallows of the yacht basin, just below the statue of Just Nuisance.

Venturing on across Jubilee Square, we visited the Tourism Info which is very close to the Toy Museum. We will try to visit the Toy Museum next time, as our time had run out. One can buy a Two Day Tourist Pass at R60, which may be a great idea, as there really is way too much to see and do in just one day.

Kalk Bay and Muizenberg need to be revisited as there is so much to see and do, either could easily keep you pleasurably occupied for a day or more. From Muizenberg to Simon’s Town, one is enveloped in between the mountains and the ocean. The natural beauty is augmented by historical architecture, also designs by the late Sir Herbert Baker. There is a myriad of little stores where you can eat, drink or indulge in buying vinyl records, arts and crafts, hand made clothing, artisanal bread -too much to mention.

Muizenberg Station

You will most likely agree that our visit is incomplete. Remember to buy your 1 Day Tourist Pass – which also is a return ticket – at Cape Town Station and then use it to hop on, hop off.

Also, if you are on a budget, you are welcome to pack a picnic and enjoy your meals at any of various scenic spots, not needing to pay for entrance to most public beaches and leisure spots.

 * exchange rate as at march 23, 2017

Anthony’s Golden Cup

Anthony’s Golden Cup is an established purveyor of the finest coffee beans, freshly ground or that refreshing cup of coffee that had made him owner Anthony Swartz world-renowned.

Cape Town never afford the resident or visitor a dull moment. There always is a new discovery to be made or, sometimes, a hidden gem to be found. Such a gem is my dear old friend since eleven years ago, Mr Anthony Swartz.

Having grown up at #Kylemore near #Stellenbosch, Anthony has since settled in the greater #CapeTown and he has been in #coffee since 1963.

At age 79, Anthony is most likely the oldest serving #barista in Cape Town. He declines calling himself by that title yet he is an expert in knowledge about coffee – and also tea! He only sells the choicest #Arabica coffee beans, or ground to order and no Robusta is allowed in his little store at 59 on Loop Street, Cape Town.

Anthony’s Golden Cup has been the stage of various film shoots. Also, he has an established clientele internationally and we often see old friends arriving, GPS in hand. Having placed Anthony’s Golden Cup on Google Maps does help customers find him, as many forget where they last saw him. Do not underestimate the value of GoogleMaps.

As far as we could establish, Anthony was the first non-white commercial coffee roaster in Cape Town. His coffees are authentic and he does support the African farmers from many countries. Therefore, if it is the BEST coffee you need, Anthony’s has been rated as the best in Africa several times, also by in flight-magazines of international airlines, etc. But is that important? My nose regularly guides me to his front door and yet another special coffee or cappuccino finds its way down.

Do yourself an immense favour and go visit Anthony at https://goo.gl/maps/4JWyq68DLYU2 and be sure to send him my regards. Click on the link for lovely photographs as well!

To whet your appetite, here are a few.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and indoor

 

Image may contain: drink, dessert, coffee cup, food and indoor

Loss of Memory

We finally had an oppurtunity to travel on one of the most luxurious trains in the world. It had taken me 43 years to be doing this.

I went armed with a Canon EOS 700D DSLR camera to which a fairly new Strontium Class 10 microSD card was fitted. After we had been traveling for some two hours, during which time I must have taken well over a hundred photographs, the above mentioned memory card simply failed.

My Linux operating system would not mount the device and neither could GParted recover any data. The Financial Manager on the train tried same on his Windows-based Thinkpad laptop, to no avail.

Eventually, the device had to be formatted, ensuring loss of precious photographs. I don’t know if I ever will be fortunate enough to travel on that opulent train again, meaning that the loss of so many photographs is severe.

Needless to say how peeved I am.

If one has a camera with wireless networking capability, it may be better to uppload media in real time to a wireless pocket storage device. Be sure to back up that portable device to a laptop or other mobile device regularly, just to be on the safe side.

I had eight Sandisk memory devices fail on me in one year. It is only Transcend USB flashdrives that seem to last. Perhaps the actual memory chips come from either Toshiba, Samsung or LG, yet the control firmware or even physical construction may turn apples into pears.

My next camera equipment will need to be utterly robust and reliable. It also need to offer wireless networking (WiFi being a specific, branded protocol.) This is not negotiable.

A photo opportunity only ever happens once.

Capture it.

Then be sure to keep it.

Cape Town on a Shoestring

Not all locals or visitors are affluent enough to afford luxury tours, yet you can see the very best even on a  shoestring budget. My wife and I usually do this every three months or so, here is my latest review.

Please do visit but also share, as so many miss out on this when they visit South Africa.

My blog review of the #Southernline

 

 

FemalePower! 

It is busy at the day hospital. A hundred and sixty of us are waiting in a stuffy room, waiting for our names to be called. If they call you, it is into a little room where they first ascertain that life is still found in you. Machinery is plumbed into you by abrupt F-types, almost like automotive technicians doing diagnostics tests on the supposed black boxes of modern cars. Some are blunt, but a sheep dip isn’t an overtly emotional heaven.

She caught my eye, a little girl. Maybe eleven or twelve years of age. Wearing a Burkah. I don’t see her mom. Did she find a new way to bunk from school, then waste her day of liberty in an unpleasant environment where she knows nobody will even come looking for her?

I notice many old ladies smelling of saffron and cumin or other kitchen spices. Or of incontinence.

The dreary day draws on indefinitely. My name is called and I enter the consulting room. I am invited to sit. Then the little girl across the desk takes out her stethoscope from its hiding place under her Burkah. She is my doctor. A sweet little kid who says that “uncle” may drink coffee again. I contemplate putting her in my shirt pocket. So that she can be on call to defend my constitutional right to coffee, should another fully grown doctor decide otherwise. I almost said “thank you, my child.”

Another of her kind saved my son’s life one night. A few months later, she treats my chronic condition and I get the opportunity to thank her for extending my son’s life. In jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers, she appeared to be about thirteen, or fourteen at most. She could have been an identical twin to my daughter, when the latter was fourteen.

Looks can be deceiving.

Her room is lined with pictures of racing cars, rally cars, pipe cars and a go-kart. She has the best seat at the race track – behind the steering wheel. A plethora of silver cups and colourful medal ribbons testify of her acumen to hold it right. She is a menace, beating the boys at their own game. And reminds me of the quality female soldiers I had served with in the military. Most of the guys were of a still evolving species, homo erectus.

She sits across me, a very neatly packaged specimen and manicured, pedicured or just cured to perfection. A young professional lady that packs a bouquet of talents in a deceptively cute appearance. Here eyes tell me there is much more than meets the, er, eye. The mouth soon confirms this suspicion when she speaks her mind. The eyes are sweet, green I think, but it is the eye of the soul I sit staring at. So young, yet a little nuclear energy plant powering her strong inner drive, a creative visionary aided by a superior intellect. A young executive going places. An uncommon collection of gifts and talents combined with outward beauty. Yet this boardoom diplomat straps wings to herself and run off mountain cliffs. Icarus and Daedalus failed where she is triumphant. And she is only content with being at the top of the world. Which is where she climbs to, literally. Her spiritual wings are set for high altitudes.

Forty years ago, any or all of these would have been constrained to skirts and pianos. It is great to see that we have learned not to inhibit female power. My own wife has an unquenchable thirst for adventure, she is a pioneer in body and spirit. An overcomer and survivor, a true entrepreneur. An unstoppable business success only restrained by an acute lack of start-up capital. Yet she has succeeded greatly in the face of adversity.

My darlingmost wificle has opened my eyes to the tremendous inner power of Homo Sapiens (F). She gave birth to my two children, endured pain that would kill the toughest man in nine seconds flat.

And I love her, and only her, to bits.

The Day I Couldn’t Write My Name

Over a period of we week, I became more and more sensitive to things around me. There was much excitement but also terrible disappointment.  There was stress about possible eviction. And excitement about a possibility to join a church’s missions division. Then the procrastination by the pastor; even this morning he yet again failed to show up for a meeting he had set yesterday.

Ups.

Downs.

More and more straw on the camel’s back.

Then came a few nights where I just could not sleep, there were sudden headaches and I arrived at the doctor’s yesterday, having skipped yet another night’s sleep, with sudden, sharp headaches. I was given a form to fill in. Oh, that’s easy!  I have been filling in tax returns, insurance forms of various sorts, other financial forms, death- and birth registrations, the list is endless.  So I look at this form and I think it was printed on Jupiter. I cannot speak and, finally I manage to say a few words. On this form….a drawing of a pine tree or a camel?  I see lines, many lines. What on earth do I have this paper for?  Paper. Papers.

There is a long wait. I remember I have a wife; where is she?  I call her on the phone, she said I kept saying “Papers. Papers. I don’t understand the papers. I don’t understand.”  I recall none of this, but I do remember crying and feeling ashamed as there were people all around me who saw. They checked my vital signs; somehow I remember that to some extent and that my blood pressure was high but reasonable. 161/83. Blood glucose was 9.4; not good but also not as bad as 18. They did find a pulse, somewhere. I peed on my hand when offering a sacrifice in a plastic jar. Yuck. I frightened me that i could not aim. There was a day when I won medals for target shooting over a thousand yards. No I wet my hand because I don’t know where the jar is that it is supposedly holding.

There are so many people; one is busy having a serious stroke.  The day goes by in hour-long seconds; too many of them.

Over time, I get better. I still cannot type on my tablet but I manage to read Joel’s response and an email from a fellow blogger who also had a sudden ER trip.  Yes, now I will remember to read it to my darlingmost wificle.

The doctor sees me. A very decent, soft-spoken Muslim girl. She is so small that I thought she could be in primary school still. She explains to me, as politely as she can, that I am already taking meds for stroke, if it was an ischemic stroke (TIA) but it could have been a neuropathic event caused by diabetes.

That I have my faculties back, seemingly without noticeable damage, is more than just a stroke

of luck

I called it Grace.

I originally posted this on July 8, 2016 and had another mini-stroke in October of that year. Speech impaired, was taken to hospital by ambulance, walked out there a few hours later, having checked myself out and I have recovered fully by His grace since. 

Steenbokkie is a lovely game reserve

Steenbokkie is a private nature reserve on the outskirts of Beaufort West in the Central Karroo region of South Africa. The reserve covers in excess of eight thousand hectares or roughly twenty thousand acres.

Steenbokkie offers holiday and overnight accommodation in a variety of rooms and chalets, as well as a fourteen site camping terrain on lush lawns, shaded by huge trees.  We are also popular with corporate guests, church- and school groups. 

 

Steenbokkie is more than overnight accommodation. It is a haven for injured or orphaned wild animals.  It is no theme park and the farm itself is the entertainment we offer. Expose your children to nature, wild and domesticated creatures, in topography ranging from lush greenery to arid, rocky landscapes. At Steenbokkie, one can really go back to your roots and get in touch with nature. Night skies are ideal for star gazing and clearly marked hiking trails will take you into the austere beauty, the magic of Karroo landscapes. 


It is so easy to find us, just look at these maps:

www.steenbokkie.co.za

Telephone +27 83 540 4573 & +2 782 202 2529  Email steenbokkie@beaufortwest.net 

Practical Travel Tips – ShosholozaMeyl

Here are a few really practical tips for travel on South Africa’s tourist class Shosholoza Meyl trains. We are seasoned travelers and share our experiences with you.
Prasa operates two long distance trains:

  • Premier Classe, a luxurious travel experience
  • ShosholozaMeyl, a tourist class train

These travel on rails owned by another company, power comes from yet another. Sometimes, there are delays caused by power failures or speed restrictions. Also, freight services are given preference and this is not the fault of Prasa who operate passenger trains only.  It is no different from aircraft delayed for hours because of operational variables. Please be considerate, take this into account.  Also see the media statement from the Minister of Transport.

An Italian friend, Giulia Raciti, is a seasoned traveler and tour guide who hasn’t seen home for seven years. She has experienced public transport – buses, aeroplanes, ships and trains – in numerous countries. She views a train delay of three hours as international average. 

Go with the flow. Don’t pack the go. Sit back, relax, you will get there. 

Read more here

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ShosholozaMeyl

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ShosholozaMeyl in Nieuwekloof Pass

Water Wars

He built the Fernkloof Dam at Hermanus. And a much bigger one in the Free State. Numerous very round ones all over the Overberg, on wheat farms. Several canals, pipelines, water works. And he shaved the tops of hills, cut canals and even a railroad through the forbidding rock of the Hex River Mountains. His last dam, he never saw. He did the initial surveying, drew up plans, wrote a proposal to Eben Dönges, MP. On his death bed in 1968, he was informed that “his dam” would be built. Within a week, Piet Marais was no more, a forgotten man, yet one whose visionary foresight affords the Western Cape life-giving water in 2017 and beyond.

Theewaterskloof. Oupa Piet’s final dam.

With water being scarce as it is, we South Africans are just very crazy. Precious, expensively treated drinking water turns our yards into lush gardens. Taking water for granted, we indulge,wasting copious amounts of water on non-essentials. In a country rated by some scientists as Africa’s second most water-stressed. An indulgence that is not sustainable.

We need to adapt. Oupa Piet taught us not to waste water, as he knew where it came from. He carried a lot of it. Trekking with ox-wagons, he traversed large parts of South Africa and formed a lasting legacy, sculpting rock faces with basic hand tools. The hot Karoo sun at Kleinstraat does not mix well with hammer and chisel. The cold can be arresting.

My other grandpa, Thys, also built a concrete dam in the Nieuwekloof between Tulbach and Gouda. Both were sub-contracted to canal building between the Little Berg River and Vogelvlei Dam. Oupa Thys also worked on expanding the same dam.

While two of my uncles worked on these projects, with hand tools, my father also worked at installing a pipeline from Stettynskloof Dam to Worcester and another from Fairie Glen. The latter is in the Brandwacht Mountains.

One of my uncles held a degree in theology but there was no work, so he laboured with pick and shovel in laying a pipeline to the industrial area of Worcester, where a textile factory was being erected.

This is typical of the spoils of white privilege in South Africa. Only some became financially independent, most still live in heavily mortgaged homes and drive encumbered cars. It is easy to appear wealthy,but hard work and unquestionable work ethics is our mainstay. Strikes and riots are alien to our culture, we are defined by sacrifice and perseverance.

Modern city dwellers usually do not realise that the catchment areas of our dams are on the semi-desert side of the mountain ranges skirting the Cape Peninsula. Rain in Cape Town simply does nit replenish our dams, with the exception of tiny ones behind Table Mountain or above Simon’s Town.

Recently, a chorus of idiotic voices went up, announcing that “the drought has been broken” after just a token rainfall occurred. It just shows how little understanding people have of water.

A mechanical engineer, a civil one and a dentist had to be educated that paying the fines imposed for water abuse still did not fill our dams, also it had to be explained to them that one cannot drink a garden or a clean car when dams run dry.

Civil rights organisation Afriforum charted freight trains to take water to the 150,000 or more residents of Kroonstad, when their water ran out in late 2016. It would be impossible to procure water and distribute it to the four million people of Greater Cape Town, though.

Grey water only saves water when replacing the use of fresh water for secondary use. Real water savings happen when we keep taps closed, it is that simple.

We need to learn to live like so many just outside of Cape Town do. Wash with minuscule quantities of water, using a jug and a bowl. I use much less than half a litre per day to wash my body with. And I do not smell.

Gardens in so many arid areas consist of barren land. That’s it. If you go on holiday to some destinations on the Cape West Coast, you take your own water supply. They have none to share.

In these regions, cars are seldom washed, if ever. A feather duster does the job.

Piping water from the Gariep is a ridiculous idea, as not much will be left for downstream human settlements and agriculture. We cannot take their precious water because we do not respect our own. The infrastructure will be costly and take many years to complete. To the very clever, ill-informed, there cannot be any foreseeable problem, of course. In the same way, water cannot be channeled from areas experiencing flash floods. The floods occur randomly in different places, impossible to predict. Laying costly pipelines that may only be used once in a decade, if at all, would be sheer stupidity. Too many people have opinions but don’t understand what they are talking about. No real understanding of the distances involved and unpredictability of such floods. They seem to want to play Russian roulette with pipelines or canals.

Dams can only be built in certain places. Soil types and topography dictate that. Already, some dams lose much water to seepage. We already have utilised almost all places where dams can be built.

Dredging sand from the now empty dams is another hotly debated topic. Firstly, that “dry” sand is an aquifer preventing too fast evaporation. Removing it will expose even more water to the sun and, worse still, to the wind. Secondly, due to the sheer magnitude as well as the wet nature thereof, even starting out is almost impossible. Earthmoving equipment will most likely get stuck, filling the dams with machinery by the time the rains come. Also, it may take a few years to move all that sand and silt, yet the dams will most likely fill up well before that can happen.

As for grey water – the municipality treats all sewage water, recycle it and uses it on the city’s gardens, golf courses, etc. It isn’t wasted BUT real water savings start by closing taps.

Given the witch hunt comments on social media, it becomes evident why it is predicted that WWIII will be fought over water.

Too many have opinions, too many are vindictive, too few know even the basics of hydrology or water supply.

Finally, it uses lots of water to generate electricity. Reducing the use of energy will save water. Switch off appliances when not in use. This also applies to unoccupied rooms. I grew up in a home where we never left a light burning when we left a room. And we had electricity for free when we did that.

Become water wise. Close taps. It never fails.

Mall Shooting

I am a very dangerous gent. I did learn to shoot with an air rifle but became bored soon. I wanted real action.

A BSA .22 rifle with a Martini Henry-type action was only a consolation, used somewhat expertly to kill off paper circles at twenty five yards. It does require a fair level of skill to hit a tiny bull’s eye time after time. Rapid fire was my coup de grace.

Of course, some guns are designed for people who cannot aim and shoot properly. It has a “to whom it may concern” kind of payload that doesn’t discriminate. I went shooting with these on a farm a few times, but saw no challenge to it. So I filed it in a safe.

From marriages to shooting, I avoid shotgun affairs.

My favourite was my old British Lee Enfield Mark IV .303″ which a gunsmith at Youngsfield military base converted for me into a heavy 29″ barrel of 7,62mm calibre. Its accuracy was via a precise Parker Hale peep sight. This rifle stood me well. I killed off herds of paper bulls with remarkable accuracy. It was a firearm, precision made, for precision shooting. It won me medals over anything between three hundred to a thousand yards. Every wood-and-paper target branded me as a serial killer.

So, when I entered our shopping precinct the other day, I scared the wits out of a female security guard. Despite her fairly dark complexion, I thought she looked a tad pale when she confronted me. One doesn’t argue, after all, with someone holding a dog on a leash, or something that can shoot.

Shooting is what people do at this place. Twenty four million people come to do it here, annually. Even the KKK arrive in droves, wearing their shades, shooting on sight. Point. Aim. Shoot.

My weapon, this time, was a beastly 77mm calibre with a barrel that extends from seventy to three hundred millimetres. Such a thing could scare a lady, I must admit. And it apparently did. I was told not to expose or use it in public. A primeval hunter cut to size.

A Canon with a long barrel is a scary thing. Google it, it is called an EOS 700D. Or T5i if you call some metal “aloominnum.”

The KKK may shoot. The Klik-Klik-Klan arriving in Hilton Ross buses, or other big adventurer coaches aptly named MarcoPolo.

One can have a field day with the equivalent of a handgun, maybe a Nokia with some fifty megapixels. Or a Sony Experia ZA with twenty four. My freshman tool sports only eighteen but is considered lethal.

Twenty four million shoot. They shoot landscapes and they shoot portraits. They shoot at themselves while pouting daftly. The Selfie Pout was the face of 2016 and no selfie sticks could prevent that stupid look.

Shoot at our mall if you wish, but don’t extend protrusions in public. It does cause offense.

Visit www.waterfront.co.za to view a gallery of successful kills. I presume these were drawn with crayons.

Don’t shoot. It’s only me!

Unhappy Valentine

I sit at a table outside the Food Court, taking shots of seagulls frolicking at the water feature, trying to catch one in flight with the Canon.

The table can seat at least eight folks, on benches either side. I am the only person there. Then a soft, cuddly being flops down next to me. About twenty years my junior. If she reincarnates as a dog, she’d be a fluffy golden retriever. Snuggling up to me, she asks if it is okay if she sits with me. Her accent could be German, even Austrian. Really an attractive, agreeable being, about six foot tall, with a large bone structure, copper blonde hair at shoulder length. Wavy, curly, well looked after. And an agreeably upholstered physique.

I answer her, pointing towards the opposite side of the table, that she is welcome to sit there, as she is presently occupying the seat reserved for my wife.

A coil spring stiffens next to me, it jumps up and disappears as if into thin air. I turn around yet she has vanished.

Sorry, dear, if I spoiled your Valentine’s Day 2017. I can truly love many women, but romance I reserve for the queen who had graced me with a YES on the rear steps of a little English church in a town called Darling, some three decades ago.

As beautiful as they are, they also make the greatest of friends, but King Solomon found that, confusing issues, can divide a nation. I don’t need seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Getting to know just one takes a lifetime.

We have a happy Valentine’s every day as we are never sure of the actual date.

Steenbokkie is net ‘n Shosholoza Meyl ver

Treinry was nog altyd vir my baie lekker en ons ry gereeld. Metrorail na Simonstad met ‘n 1-Day Tourist Pass. Wanneer ons bederf wil word, die luukse Premier Classe. Ons hou egter ook van die Shosholoza Meyl, ‘n nuwer inkarnasie van die ou Trans-Karroo.

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Min het verander op die trein. Lekker ruim kompartemente, elke wa het twee toilette en ook ‘n aparte stort. Daar is ‘n eetwa waar jy heerlike etes kan bestel en ons verkies die baie gesonde Sirloin wat goeie waarde bied teen slegs R95.

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Sirloin

 

Ons is op ‘n Woensdag weg uit Kaapstad, nadat die wêreld se mees luukse trein, die befaamde Bloutrein, hoflik genoeg was om plek te maak vir ons ou staatmaker.

 

 

Kort nadat dit vertrek het, het Shosholoza Meyl langs Perron 24 kom stilhou sodat bagasie ingelaai kon word en passasiers kon inklim. Dit was bewolk en dynserig toe ons vetrek het en die rit het ons geneem al langs die N1-hoofweg op, waar dit net anderkant Monte Vistastasie weggedraai het na Bellville, die eerste groot stop. Daar het verskeie passasiers opgeklim en ons is gou weer voort na Hugenoot-stasie by die Paarl, toe Dal Josafat en Wellington. Buite Wellingston het ons die eerste van ‘n reeks Britse forte gesien, wat dateer uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog van 1899-1902.
Pragtige groen wingerde, goue koringlande en blou berge versluierd in gryse mistigheid het kunstig ‘n landskap geverf. Gouda se woud van windlaaiers het beïndruk maar dit het begein reën en fotografie was nogal ‘n uitdaging omdat ek nie graag die Canon wou laat nat word nie. Boesmansrots, dan Nieuwekloofpas (ek sien padkentekens spel dit verkeerd) waarna ons die Wamakersvallei betree het by Tulbachweg. Al klikkende en klakkende het die trein sagweg gewieg en gou het ons verby Wolseley gesnel, waar daar nog ‘n fort te sien was. Ons was nou in die Breëreviervallei en oppad na Worcester, waar my Pa en broer my op die stasie kom groet het. Oppad soontoe, by Sedgwick’s Distillery & Vintners verby daar by Goudini; dit is waar die Old Brown Sherry en verskeie brandewyne vandaan kom, onder andere Oloff Bergh.

Met ons vertrek uit Worcester is ons gou verby die wêreld se grootse brandewyndistilleerdery onder een dak, reg langs die treinspoor. Dan die wêreldbekroonde olyfplaas, wat weer plek gemaak het vir die De Wet-vallei waar ons die eerste prieële met tafeldruiwe gesien het. Deur die kloof na Sandhills en toe is ons in die Hexvallei. Dit is hier waar ek meer as dertig jaar gelede die liefde van my lewe kom haal het as bruid op die plaas Mon Desir (wat ‘n gepaste naam!) by Hexrivierstasie. Sy neem toe die ou groot plaashuis af en ook die Shosholoza Meyl wat vanaf Johannesburg na Kaapstad onderweg was. Twee susterstrein glip by mekaar verby en ons kronkel kort daarna regs, om die eerste van ‘n reeks tonnels in te gaan. Die Hexrivierpas bied verskeie tonnels waarvan die langste ongeveer 14 km is.

Ons trein verskyn uit die tonnel soos ‘n slang uit ‘n gat en begroet die Karoo. Daar boer die mense met son en die sonpanele staan aangetree soos soldate. Of is dit ‘n energieboord? Kort daarna trek ons statig in Touwsrivier in, om hulde te betoon aan die historiese stasiegebou wat deur ‘n brand verwoes is.

Daar heers ‘n opgewekte atmosfeer op die trein, mense gesels, leer mekaar ken. Daarna volg Matjiesfontein en die historiese dorpie lyk pragtig in die laatmiddagson. Ek is te ver agter in die trein om foto’s te neem en die trein staan net twee minute. Volgende keer, dalk.

Oppad na Laingsburg verwonder ons onsself aan die mees ongelooflike rotsformasies en wens so daar was ‘n geoloog aan boord om meer te vertel van die eienaardige, pragtige landskappe wat die oog begroet. Na Laingsburg, Prins Albertweg, Leeu-Gamka, is daar nog drie forte maar ek kan nie foto’s neem nie omdat die kamera se battery pap is. Met die terugkeer Maandag, dalk. Ons gaan verby plase onder besproeïng, diep waterkuile met spaansriet, olyfboorde, landerye maar ook dorre streke in die Moordenaarskaroo.

Die son van die Kamdeboo sak weg agter die berge in die verte en kort daarna kom Shosholoza Meyl tot stilstand in Beaufort-Wes. Ons treinreis is vir eers voltrek en ons gaan deur die stasiegebou waar ons kaartjies ondersoek word. Dan ontmoet ons vir Dries van Steenbokkie Privaat Natuurreservaat. Hy gesels gemoedelik namate ons deur die dorop ry, verby ‘n imposante historiese kerk. Iewers sal ek ‘n foto moet kom oes.

Die Ford Ranger 2.2 se hoofligte boor deur die nagdonker en ons draai regs, by die netjiese ingang na Steenbokkie. Dries verduidelik dat dit eers ‘n jagplaas was, maar nou bedryf word as ‘n natuurreservaat. Meer as agtduisend hektaar, met verskeie soorte groot- en kleinwild. Elande, takbokke, drie soorte springbokkies, duikertjies, steenbokkies, wildebesste, kameelperd….die lys is eindeloos. Dit is nie ‘n spa of ‘n oord nie maar ‘n werkende plaas met diere op die werf.

Ons hou stil op die plaaswerf en Dries neem ons na ons baie netjiese, ruim akkommodasie. Dit is skoon en baie goed toegerus. Satelliettelevisie, Dstv maar ons is nie TV-kykers nie. Dit is egter noodsaaklik vir so baie gaste wat Sewende Laan graag saamneem plaas toe. Lugversorging, muskietmatjies in elke kamer, alle geriewe soos ‘n yskas, elktriese stoof, mikrogolfoond, ketel, broodrooster. Daar is moerkoffie en filterkoffie, jy verstaan?

Die woonstel waarin ons die volgende drie nagte gaan slaap, is ‘n tweeslaapkamer met ‘n lekker groot stort en alles wat nodig is. Ons hoor plaasdiere, soos skape, poue, ganse, eende en kan nie wag dat Donderdag aanbreek nie. Ons nagrus is sag en diep en nie eens die geroep van ‘n pou af en toe maak ‘n mens wakker nie.

Donderdagoggend is ons veld toe nadat ons die pragtige plaaswerf en opstal verken het. Daar is ‘n aantal gastekamers, vir elke behoefte en gesinsgrootte. Elkeen is uiters smaakvol ingerig en lugversorging is standaard. Dan gaan ons veld toe, waar ons troppe takbokke en springbokke teëkom. Op die platorand vind ons ‘n houtkruis, net soos by die kantoordeur. Om in die Karooveld te stap, stilte te ervaar, troppe wil van ver af te aanskou, dit is iets buitengewoon. Geen mens sal die gevoel verstaan alvorens jy dit nooit self gedoen het nie. In my kinderjare reeds het ek soveel aangename ervaringe gehad in die veld weerskante van Beaufort-Wes, en dit is juis hoekom ek hierdie reis saam met my vrou onderneem het. Ons wou kom kyk hoe Steenbokkie lyk, hoe dit is vir die stedeling om per trein hierheen te reis maar ook wat hierdie lieflike natuurreservaat bied aan die motoris.

Ek sal mettertyd meer byvoeg in volgende aflewerings, maar ek laat die leser met die gedagte om nie Steenbokkie oor te slaan wanneer jy weer Kaap of binneland toe reis nie. Kom staan ‘n paar dae hier oor, rus goed uit in goed ingerigte gastekamers en kothuise. Reisigers wat wil kampeer, gaan aangenaam verras wees deur die lowergroen grasperke, skaduryke bome en baie netjiese ablusiegeriewe. Ek vertel u later meer.

Shosholoza!

#GoodFoodTrain 4 #RailLove

As requested in the Facebook Trans-Karoo Group, here is a list of some of my first wobbly steps in rail travel blogging. During 2017, this will be revisited and improved and I will also take better pictures next time.

This friendly couple consented to having their picture taken

Hors D’oeuvre on Premier Classe

Nieuwekloof Pass between Gouda and Tulbach, Western Cape, South Africa

The famous Three Sisters just north of Beaufort West

For more, please link to these pages:

Excellent service from Prasa

ShosholozaMeyl

A Premier Classe Journey

Premier Classe Makes Business Sense


Romance on Rails

German Invasion of Simon’s Town! (via Metrorail)

Rail Travel South Africa Photo Albums

Karoo Backpakers

Reviewing backpackers can provide for interesting reading material. A few around Cape Town surely are of an alternative kind, offering all sorts of extras guests never thought were part of the bargain. I have seen a few things elsewhere as well, as far afield as an island in the Pacific. Backpackers always impressed for every wrong reason imaginable.  I mentioned this to many people and, in so doing, was challenged to review Karoo Backpackers in Beaufort West.

Reluctantly, I accepted and left my lovely stay at Steenbokkie Private Game Reserve which is situated about 8km (five miles) outside of Beaufort West. Steenbokkie made such an impression on me that I am starting a blog for them, as a few blog posts simply would not suffice in conveying what we have found there. I am also going to return to Steenbokkie to refine my impressions, get a second opinion from myself for the reader.

But we are at Karoo Backpackers now, which is where we arrived on Saturday afternoon, November 26, 2016. We were greeted by the youthful, ever-smiling Siyabonga, a most helpful young gentleman whose mother tongue is isiXhosa.

A pleasant surprise awaited us at Karoo Backapckers

Karoo Backpackers, Clyde House, 25 Donkin Street, Beaufort West Tel +27 23 415 3226

Siyabonga welcomed us and assisted us with our luggage after showing us around and letting us complete the guest register.  He then showed us our room, gave a short introduction to basic house rules and then showed us the lounge area, kitchen and leisure area in the back yard, with built-in braai facilities.

Siyabonga agreed to pose for a photo
Oregon Pine floors & doors, imbuia furniture and a couch for lazier souls.

There also is a shelf with books to read, a dining table and

satellite television

Fully equipped kitchen with honesty bar and even ice cream on sale
Braai area in backyard

We spent our first night in a dorm room, which we as fifty-plussers found quite pleasant as we were soon joined by two travellers, a young gentleman called Ricky and his cousin Francis.  Almost immediately, we struck up conversation and was relieved that the young folks weren’t offended by having Jurassic reviewers in their midst. Soon, we had something to eat on the balcony from where there are great views of Donkin Street.

Lovely views from balcony

Victorian wrought-iron added to the rustic ambiance

Crispy white linen on sturdy dorm bunk beds. Each bed is well equipped with

bedside table and power outlets for laptops, smartphones, camera’s and tablets.

Smoking is not allowed inside the building.

Ricky & Francis ready to depart, with Siyabonga looking on

We were invited to make coffee which was enjoyed from huge mugs, which promptly were called Pin Cushion Mugs by a very anonymous coffeeholic.

At around 11pm, we all retired to individual beds and slept well, despite countless trucks using their Jacobs Engine Brake systems down the slight decline. None of us could recall being woken by traffic on the busy Donkin Street.

Resting in a super clean room, with no sign of dust anywhere, using pure white linen, afforded us a good night’s rest.  All bathrooms are as clean and well maintained, over and above being really spacious.

Sunday dawned upon us and, a bit too soon, the two pleasant youngsters took to the road, as they had another five hours’ driving ahead of them. We are smarter as we travel via ShosholozaMeyl long distance express train, saving money, relaxing as we go and arriving fresh at our destination.

My wife and I were then relocated to a double room downstairs, with its own private entrance from a side street but also direct access from the backpacker side.

First impressions last and also this room appeared clean and tastefully decorated. It also is well equipped and the electric fan has a convenient remote control. It has its own satellite decoder and television set as well as comfortable writing desk cum dining table for two, a bar fridge and tea-coffee making facilities. As in the main kitchen, bottled water is used for human consumption as the spring water in this region tend to be brackish.

Karoo Backpackers has so far been a most pleasant surprise. The cleanliness, efficiency and friendliness of staff, the ambiance and Victorian setting did impress, as did its affordability.  I would give it the thumbs-up as an overnight stay, even a few more nights to discover the beautiful town of Beaufort West will still be an enjoyable stay.

Yet another room that I came across has a spacious en-suite bathroom and four dorm bunks, used especially by families with small children.

Verdict: a safe, clean and affordable option for the weary traveller. Cheap is not nasty at all and other backpackers could live up to the standard set by Karoo Backpackers, our new benchmark in this category.

Beaufort West Tourism is also housed in the same premises and this is convenient as guests can get excellent travel advice from accredited tour guides. An extensive library of travel information is freely available to all.

We were pleasantly surprised by the Karoo Backpackers in Beaufort West.

Do you know Joe from Africa?

So we meet online, you ask me where I am from. I say that I am from Africa, then you ask if it is one of those countries in Darfur. I say now, I am from Cape Town, so you ask me if it is in one of those countries in South Africa.

(eyes roll)

Do you know Joe?

Where does he live?

In Ghana, that is close to you, eh? You must know him?

There is an online tool to check how far Accra, Ghana is from Cape Town, South Africa. Check it out.Bear in mind that Accra is just about halfway across Africa from Cape Town.

Chances are that I might not have met Joe, after all.

Africa is a rather large continent with more than fifty countries in it, just like North America has the USA, Canada, Mexico and other countries in it.

South Africa is a country. It has more than fifty million citizens who don’t BBQ. We braai.

Something to consider.

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Independent Countries in Africa

 

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The Size of Africa

Mary Had A Little Lamb(s)

Some say that Dorper sheep are not exactly intelligent. Let us investigate a little by observing Mary and her two BBq-ready lambs at www.steenbokkie.co.za

Mary came at night and opened our secured kitchen door. We are not sure whether she wanted to assist with the next morning’s Merino salad or perhaps she needed a place to sleep. A rough doss apparently is below her level of sophistication, or is it? We shall see……

Here she is with her lambs on the lush greenery of the campsite at Steenbokkie.

Forsaking creature comforts, this is where they decided to rest instead of lying down on green pastures. Maybe they did not want to sleep on their food? Want to risk a wild guess here?

Notice the lovely lawns and shady trees in an otherwise almost barren desert.

Mary and her two lambs were just very polite and hospitable. As farm staff, they are not supposed to camp out where visitors do, so they politely stepped aside to make room for a school group that showed up later. Or let us believe this instead of suspecting them for being a bit dim-witted in not seeing a great opportunity?

Whatever the case may be, let me suggest that you come on over and bring your tent or camper along. Or, if you are like Mary, why not settle into one of the comfy chalets that we found on this working farm? A most enjoyable stay in nature, where nothing works with batteries and your young ones can learn to be unplugged humans for a while. There are many more animals, some very clever.

A farm stay in Africa with no malaria mosquito’s and no big cats that will hunt you down. Even Mary and her lambs are at peace here.

(Don’t mention that BBQ or braai as we locals call it.)

Steenbokkie – A Karoo Oasis

Meet Steenbokkie, a little oasis in the Karoo. A most lovable stay on a working game farm.

Steenbokkie

 

Over the years, we as a family have camped at so many different places and some of us have slept in caves and even in a tree or two. Some of our worst travel experiences were at little Karoo dorpies where the only camping available was on barren soil, infested with mosquito’s and with the awful noise of big trucks accelerating or using those noisy Jacobs engine brakes.

Sometimes, when making a reservation, one does so with hesitation. Apprehension, even. When booking our stay at Steenbokkie just outside Beaufort West in November 2016, we did not know what to expect.

We arrived at night and were received in a most welcoming way by owner Dries Potgieter. We found our 2-bedroom chalet to be fully equipped and even air-conditioned, with mosquito repellent mats and burners ready. Our accommodation was generous and especially neat and tidy. As Steenbokkie is a working farm, after all, we did not expect this guest house standard of presentation.

Soon, we learned that Steenbokkie is some kind of safe house to a zebra, a limping Thomson’s gazelle, a zebra and a blind fallow deer. All be cared for in a most loving way. In the same vein, their are horses and donkeys that were saved from becoming pet food.

Early the next morning, we put on our hiking boots, grabbed our camera and set off to take a few pictures while exploring the farmstead and surrounding area. We were almost overwhelmed to find an extensive farmstead with some four or five more overnight rooms, plus two more chalets. Dries and his wife Rene can accommodate a small army and various church-, social- and school groups visited during our four day stay. The big attraction is the campsite with some fourteen stands, with electricity, neat, adequate ablutions facilities and, wait for it, lush green lawns under shady trees!  Farm animals and a zebra roamed the extensive garden and Zebbie can even be petted!  There are many farm animals but we found no bad odour, despite a few porkers in neat camps. Our luck was in and I managed to shoot three gnu and stalk twelve fallow deer within a few yards of the farm gate.   There are hiking trails which leave the oasis-like farmyard behind in exchange for a real desert-like experience. Hiking across that arid land is an experience of a lifetime as we saw a few herds of three different kinds of Thomson’s Gazelle (springbok), more fallow deer, the few wildebeest as well as rock hyrax otherwise known as dassies.

Steenbokkie stole our hearts and it is just 8km north of Beaufort West, just before you get to the little airport when heading north.

Expired Goods

They moved to Australia, from South Africa, to live near their internationally (in)famous church.

I live two doors away from their mother, here in the retirement resort. Christmas saw no guests arrive at the mother’s, neither over New Year’s.

The mother is in bad health and underwent surgery. One child lives an hour away but did not visit during weeks of recovery. The other went to church with Waltzing Mathilda. Oh, there is a third child, also taken up in the independent church movement.

Spiritual warfare, designer worship, new teachings. So politically correct. New clichés, nuances, mannerisms, jargon.

We meet more and more estranged elderly. Children so easily forget what their parents had done for them, but the bad is easy to remember and not forgive.

Renewal does not reach far, or deep. Its arms are short.

Dogma fills the head, but love in the heart had expired. Hearts turned to icy cold, mouths proclaiming Jesus so bold.

What is the purpose of their cutting edge religion, then?

Potjie

An old English proverb rings true: “A boiled stew is a soiled stew”

In the 1980’s, a wave of retro cooking hit South Africa. In the mind of the average South African, this is going back to our pioneer day roots. In reality, it is an entirely new culture altogether.

Today, curries, seafood and all sorts of stews are prepared, typically in 3-legged cast iron pots over open fires. There are recipe books and many competitions are held. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that.

The historical potjie was also known as togkos or transport food, made by togryers or transporters using ox wagons. Grandpa on my mother’s side was a ‘civil engineer’ who built many dams across the country and this also necessitated transporting logistical needs and construction equipment.

A horse rider or two would travel in advance of the slow convoy and pick a campsite for the night. A pot of food would be prepared in a way more or less as described below. Note there never is a recipe for traditional potjiekos or pot food. Instead, the method defines the dinner!

A pot would be heated on a thick layer of glowing embers. Hot coals, with little or no flames, is a signature of a traditional potjie. Meat would be braised, even roasted, in the heated pot.

The fat flowing from the meat itself would serve as lubrication as, usually, no oil or fat was used. The meat, once browned thoroughly, would be removed and placed on the upturned lid alongside the pot. Usually, lamb was used, sometimes beef or wild game, but pork was uncommon.

The hardest veggies would then go in first, resting at the bottom. Green beans usually formed the basis of such a pot, also waterblommetjies in season. Layer upon layer of available vegetables, if available, were added. Salt or basic seasoning, added to taste. Seasoning traditionally was limited to basel, nutmeg, rosemary, if any. Food prepared this way does not really need added taste.

The braised meat would go on top, sometimes on a thin layer of cabbage leaves. The lid would be replaced and the food baked from the top by placing a few hot coals, from a separate wood fire, on top. Three to five large ones would suffice, as too many may scorch the meat. At the bottom, two smaller hot embers may suffice in spreading heat evenly.

While pitching the night camp, collecting wood, fetching water or perhaps some hunting, the advance team would slowly bake the caserole without adding water and, most importantly, no stirring in the pot.

As you can imagine, unlike the modern potjie, this method easily requires five to nine hours to produce a succulent, tasty meal. As the food is cooked very slowly, there occurs a great fusion of flavours.

Veggies was in short supply and dried fruit was used instead – peaches, apricots, prunes, raisins, pears were the norm.

Small quantities of wine were used sometimes, but not generally.

The meat at the top would allow some of its juices to flow down through the food below.

Remember, it is about traditional method, not about a recipe. You add what you have, yet preparing it slowly is the secret here. You can always make a nice stew much faster, add soup powders, Aromat or other artificial flavours but will that be true to the Awethentiq® togkos potjie?

Geloof – Blydskap – Liefde

Sondagoggend preek die dominee oor die radio, uit Wierdapark-Suid. Die boodskap handel oor my pet subject naamlik die sogenaamde “kerk van Handelinge.” As jy nie weet waaroor dit gaan nie, lees in jou Bybel of aanlyn hoofstukke 2 & 4 van die boek Handelinge, wat eintlik maar net deel is van die Lukasevangelie.

Lees bietjie hoe die mense een was in gees, hoe hulle alles gedeel en mekaar versorg het. Dit volg op wat Jesus aan die yuppie gesê het.

‘n Week vantevore was ek op ‘n Karoodorp waar daar tans ‘n droogte heers. In die verlede het verbygaande vakansiegangers reeds bottels water soontoe moes aanry, sodat mense kon voortbestaan. In hierdie droogte kry ek toe mos fonteine wat oral uitborrel.

Eers was dit Driesfontein wat ‘n Steenbokkie aanhou so sewe kilometer buitekant die dorp. Driesfontein is ‘n afgetrede skoolhoof wat oorloop van die Lewende Water. Ek sien die Kerk van Handelinge reg voor my staan toe ons koffiewater opsit. Hy vertel my verhale van stukkende mense en diere wat weer heelword. Op ‘n jagplaas wat tot natuurreservaat bekeer is. Dan vind ek uit sy vrou, René, is ‘n under cover sendeling in die gedaante van ‘n NG dominee in ‘n gemeente wat sewentig persent Khoisan en Xhosa is. Haar bediening is bedrywig en ons het hierdie vriendelike vrou net skrams raakgeloop, sal graag om ‘n vuur wil sit. Die Lewende Water borrel uit asof daar veertig standhoudende boorgate is. Mens en dier kom drink, word gelawe en vertroos. Die plaaswerf is een oomblik kinderpartytjiewerf, dan weer een of ander kerkgroep, maar daar is altyd beweging. Al is dit net ‘n zebra, perd of donkie wat gered is van ‘n doodskoot iewers. Daar was sendelinge en ‘n appy predikant wat daar gewoon het.

In ‘n effe nekkie op ‘n heuwel, by ‘n platorand, tref ons die eerste houtkruis aan. ‘n Sendeling het dit daar geplant. Oor die volgende paar dae word dit oor en oor bevestig – hierdie mese se harte klop reg; hule is fonteine van Lewende Water.

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Die tweede houtkruis ontdek ek later by hulle voordeur, waar ek nie onnodig wou gaan pla nie. Ek staan verstar toe ek dit sien.

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Die vorige Maandagoggend, lank voor vyfuur, ontmoet ons Ricardofontein, wat net so borrel en bruis. Lewende Water stroom uit en, net soos Driesfontein, vertel die rivier se loop hoe die Skepper hierdie mense se harte en voetstappe gerig het. Ricardo bedryf die skoonste, netjiesste en mees ordelike backpackers wat ek in vyftien jaar teëgekom het, sedert ek die eerste keer by so ‘n plek aangedoen het anderkant die aarde op ‘n Suidsee-eilandjie.

Ons trein is laat; die sinjaalstelsels in Johannesburg het vertragings veroorsaak. Ons was vyfuur op die stasie; die trein kom agtuur eers daar aan. Nie een wat mor nie. Geen gekla nie. Niemand redeneer met die dame agter die glasvenster nie. Hulle gesels met mekaar, dit klink soos Spies & Plessie. Die mense het iets moois in hulle; daar is vrede met die lewe self. Bietjie wag vir ‘n trein wat laat is, gaan hulle nie onderkry nie. Later sal ons saam met hulle op dieselfde trein reis Kaapstad toe en almal sal dit ewe veel geniet.

Ricardo bring vyf liter fonteinwater, afkomstig uit die Tsitsikamma. Ons sal nie dors kry langs pad nie. Ons het baie lewende water gekry op Beaufort-Wes in net vyf dae se tyd, soveel so dat ons ook oorloop daarvan. Die oorblywende bottelwater gaan saam met mederesigers Khayelistha toe, waar daar min water is.

Ja, daar is plekke waar Lewende Water ontbreek. Ons sal dit moet aandra soontoe.

Beaufort-Wes loop oor daarvan.

Holiday On Track

Freshly out of high school, now entering the adult world, I stood on the platform of the neat railway station in my home town. The Brandwacht mountains, Audensberg blue in the distance, the evening heat thick in the air.  By my side is a bed roll and my luggage.

Padkos.  South Africans don’t travel without padkos. Travel food, that is.

The train arrives from Cape Town. Trans-Karoo. Anticipation grows as she comes to a halt. A few hugs and kisses to the loved ones staying behind.

I board and find my seat in a compartment where two others show me where I can choose my sleeping bunk and store my luggage. I travel the cheaper second class.  The benches are clad in blue leather, walls neatly paneled and the wash basin is of durable stainless steel.

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A hint of a slight jerk, hardly noticeable and we are on our way. The two electric units at the front raising their voices as they urge their burden along. My first “real” train journey has begun!  A few years before, we went to Cape Town where we took the suburban train to Simon’s Town on a day’s adventurous outing. Once, I traveled to Goodwood to visit a cousin. But, this time, I will sleep on a journey taking two days almost, to faraway Pretoria!

Surprises await me.  The conductor comes to check if I am settled in.  He realises I am a first time traveler and looks at my ticket. He advises me to opt for the third sitting in the dining car.

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Dining car?  But I do have padkos, I tell him. “It is included in the price”, he advises me, discreetly enjoying my astonishment. I would later dine with fine porcelain and silver, enjoying freshly prepared cuisine fit for a Sunday lunch. Few five star hotels have served me better food, ever since that day, 37 years ago.

Back in the compartment, satisfied after a scrumptious meal, at least four courses at that, another surprise awaits me. Our beds are made!  Someone brought fresh linen and blankets, prepared our room-on-rails for the night. My bunk is at the window.

Many hours later, I woke to new sounds. The train is stationary.  The powerful puffing of steam engines can be heard. Hissing, blowing, they approach and connects with our now engine-less train. We are at Beaufort-West ad I wonder if my uncle will be our driver.  The Class 25 NC connects with our train so softly that water won’t ripple in my glass. Amazing how these guys marry hundreds of tonnes without us feeling it.

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The locomotives speak out in their thunderous voices, commanding the follower to obey. We move out in the darkness of night en route to De Aar and Kimberley. I lie awake, enthralled by the sounds and smells coming from the shiny black steam engines up front. I am deeply in love with fire and water, with Natal nuggets and steam.  A fine mist of ash softly sifts down onto the train’s roof. I fall asleep, bewitched by the black monsters dragging us so effortlessly across the arid plains of the Karoo.  Every now and then, blowing its whistles to warn traffic at level crossings, to give us a wide berth.

I wake up in Kimberly. Dang! The steam engines slowly crawl past us while we are being connected ever so gently to two electric engines. Consolation is that I will experience this in less than three weeks again upon my return and again two weeks after that, when reporting for my two year compulsory national service in the army. This trip is the first of many to come.

We are served a scrumptious breakfast, once again the waiters are dressed smartly, wearing bow ties. The food is excellent and the scenery a new experience.  I have traveled by road before, many times, but this is different. The thorn trees, animals on farms and game ranches, little villages, eventually mine dumps increase in numbers and we finally arrive at Johannesburg Park Station, or maybe Germiston, where the train is split., I think. Some people travel to Durban while we go to Pretoria.

All too soon, we arrive at the beautiful old Pretoria station building where an uncle and a cousin come to collect me. There is much padkos left and my bed roll is still fresh.

The first of many pleasurable train travels had culminated where others were already waiting for their next adventure to begin.

It is your turn to venture out – here are a few suggestions.  Rail travel is fashionable again. It is comfortable, there are no overturned trucks or potholes to deal with at night. Just a relaxed environment and time to take in the scenery as South Africa slowly rolls by.

Waar Die Treinspoor Ophou

As die treinspore in die sand verdwyn, weet jy dat jy aangekom het op Simonstad!

Soveel maal in die verlede, oor die afgelope 42 jaar, het ons as gesin hierdie lekker treinrit onderneem. Dis toe ek nog aan huis van my ouers was. Daarna, sowat dertig jaar gelede, het ek en my vroutjie vriende oortuig om dit saam met ons te doen. Vele treinritte na Simonstad sou volg. Elke rit bly vars in my geheue. Daarom dat ek dink dat geen mensdie moet misloop nie.

Binnelanders kan gerus die tipe ding aandurf wat ons weer op Sondag, 16 Oktober 2016 gedoen het. Sommer vroeg die oggend was ons op die stasie en het ons die Day Pass gaan optel. Dagpas? Ons dra pas want ons reis eersteklas! Met dié slim kaartjie ry jy heeldag lank, soveel jy wil, waar jy wil, wanneer jy wil op die Simonstadlyn. En die lae prys van R36 (Oktober 2016) bly immergroen. Jy betaal geen bloue duit meer nie.

So klim ons toe mos af by Muizenberg. Of Amuzingberg soos ek my geliefde

ou kusdorpie graag noem. Daar is te veel dinge om te doen, ons gaan weer

hieroor gesels. Ek sal weer ‘n draai gaan maak en die drade daar optel.

My jy kan gaan leer branderski, of vis eet, stap op die myle lange

strande af, daar is die Zandvlei waar jy kan gaan braai vir die

dag….te veel om te noem.

Maak soos ons en raak voetvaardig met die netjies gepleisterde

betonpaadjie na St James. Dis so ‘n outydse myl oftwel 1,6 km ver en

selfs geskik vir ouer mense en ander, soos ek, met beperkte mobiliteit.

As dit nader is, of verder, gaan dit jou nie pla nie.

By St James kan jyvir jou ‘n kleurvolle kleedkamertjie huur en gaan baai in die lekkergroot getypoel. Wanneer die Noorkaper-walvisse aandoen, is dit maklik om hulle vanaf die rotse waar te neem, veral regoor die stasie. Hierdie

kolosse is baie nuuskierig en hou graag dop wat op land aangaan. Die

rotse aan die Kalkbaai-kant van St James is redelik regaf en die see

diep, derhalwe swem die walvisse na aan die kus. Noorkapers kry hulle

naam van die Noorse Kaap en is nie “noordkappers” soos wat mense op RSG

hulle noem nie. Dag ek seg maar net.

Vanaf St James het ons die trein geneem tot op Simonstad, maar langs pad

baie foto’s geneem want jy sien soms net die see as jy afkyk. Min plekke

op aarde bied jou ‘n treinrit wat soms soos ‘n bootvaart voel. By

Simonstad raak die spore weg in die sand en jy gaan later weer

daarvandaan terug Kaapstad toe, maar verder is jy aangewese op ‘n lekker

stap. Neem gerus die motor wat HGTS Tours so gerieflik op die stasie

aanbied. John het ons geneem na die Quayside Sentrum, waar ons middagete

by Harbourview Restaurant genuttig het.

Toe eet hierdie Bolander mos iets anders as waterblommetjiebredie! Eers

het ons ‘n Griekse slaai gedeel met olywe wat so lekker was dat my vrou

glad daarvan geëet het! En Deense Fetakaas daarby, lekker sag en

romerig. Toe kom die regte kos!

Vir mevroutjie was daar net mooi presies die heel beste stukkie stokvis

met calamari. Nou kyk, daardie stokvissie is agterna oor en oor

getakseer en so het hy moes kompeteer met Salty Sea Dog naasaan se

uitstekende stokvis, of met Lusitiania in Waterkantstraat (Kaapstad se

middestad), of met die uithaler-stokvis van Manny De Gouveia se Da Gama

Fisheries in Van Rieebeckstraat, Kuilsrivier en selfs met die befaamde

twee viswinkels op Worcester, wat landwyd bekends is: Heuwel Vissery en

Lamouette. Na meer as ‘n uur het ons besluit dat Harbourview tog die

wenner is; die vis is net meer perfek as die ander se perfek. Ag nee,

man, nou sit ek in Seepunt en skryf en Simonstad is aan die ander kant

van ons geankerde eiland!

Bolander soos ek, Blootvoet daarby, ken toe mos nie vir bok se kind nie.

Van sien, ja, ook van sien hoe die geelkatte van die wildtuin hulle

plattrek. Maar toe is dit my beurt. Nee, daar was nie leeus nie, maar

genoeg vleis om ‘n trop gelukkig te hou. My baard is af maar ek speel

toe maar maanhaar en eet al te lekker aan die wonderlikste stukkie

rooibok daar. En toe wei ‘n koedoe homself onder my mes in. Vlakvark het

kom kyk en ook nie oorleef nie. Hulle is binnetoe. En baie lekker

daarby, veral die rooibokkie. Murgsag, man, maar ek beveel die hele

drie aan – Three Game Medallion. Amper by Kaappunt, kan jy dit glo?!

Vir die effense Ingilse kultuurtjie durf my vrouwtjie toe die Apple

Crumble aan en dit was heerlik. Maar tradisievaste Afrikanergelowiges

hou mos by die bekende; ons eer nie vreemde afgode nie en dus het ek

oordadiglik eer betoon aan ‘n lekker skep Malvapoeding. Net soos Ma se

poering het dit gekom met twee bolle roomys daarby. Maar, Boera, was dit

nou vir jou agter die oor!

Geurige koffie, lekker milde Arabica smaak dit my, het die dag se

eetverrigtinge formeel afgesluit.

En dis hoe ons Wêreldvoedseldag op Simonstad gaan vier het. Hoe ry doe

trein, hoe ry die trein, Simonstad se trein! (Askies, Kimberly.)

Toe nou, moenie in Kaapstad kom rondflenter oor Desember en my verkla

oor julle nie weet hoe om die dag om te kry nie. As ek nou nog so ‘n

draai of twee gaan ry het, sal ek beter idees gee van alles tussenin

Muizenberg en Vishoek. Daar is nog ‘n wêreld om te gaan ontdek!

Metrorail maak dit maklik!

World Food Day At Simon’s Town

Thirty thousand words in my vocabulary, 25,000 from English plus another five thousand in Afrikaans. Yet I am at a loss for words here. I have eaten at five star hotels in Cape Town, but also in exotic places such as the Pacific, for instance. Tonight, I am trying to recall a meal that was better presented, or that had tasted better, in a better setting than today’s lunch at Harbourview Restaurant.

With a lovely view over the Simon’s Town Naval Base and its fleet of sleek corvettes and other men-of-war, as well as various civilian yachts, dinghies and speed boats, the laid-back setting adds to a homely atmosphere. Having brought various friends, including several visitors from Deutschland here in the past, Harbourview Restaurant already established itself as a safe, reliable venue. In the past, my wife and I mostly drank soft drinks, or the gourmet coffee from Peacocks, together with delectable cake from an appetising display. Before, we also had fish & chips there, which was great at the time.

Guests can be seated inside our out on the lovely veranda.

 

Overlooking the Marina

Today, we were met with a cheerful vibe among staff and a festive hum from many guests enjoying a scrumptious Sunday lunch. At some point, there even was singing coming from a table some distance away from us. Two tour coaches arrived and staff were quite busy for a while, yet managed to attend to other guests in a most friendly manner.

We also took a peek at what others had ordered and I think that more than one visit would be justified. My wife never eats olives but she stole three of mine from the lovely, fresh Greek salad. I can just mention that this salad has the integrity to stand on its own legs, not really needing the olive oil or balsamic vinegar treatment. It was made up of a cheerful selection of vegetables and herbs, as well as the Calamata olives and Danish feta. For once, I nit-picked in a restaurant, but only to sample each ingredient on its own. The freshness is almost unbelievable and I was tempted to search for a veggie garden outside, but only found ample parking on the harbour side.

Greek Salad with Calamata Olives & Danish Feta

The main course consisted of a seafood order for my wife while I went hunting in Africa. The Missus had a Fried Hake & Calamari with Chips. French fries. It comes garnished with a fresh tossed salad although it is a good portion of delectable freshness, not just garnishing. Somebody back in the kitchen must have been performing some magic rituals on the fish, as I have never tasted hake that fresh, or tender, or succulent, or flaky. I think it is safe to say that I have been caught red-handed, fishing in my darlingmost wificle’s food plate. I am not exaggerating; we as a couple have done our bit of fisheries-crawling and not even the freshly speared parrot fish from the tropical reefs can better this hake. If you want your taste buds to be overwhelmed, this is it. The generous portions of fried potato chips and tartar sauce were appreciated but deemed as an option to resist. The fries, golden brown and at that ideal spot between golden brown and ultimately crispy, were really nice but would have infringed upon real estate required for the dessert to follow.

Hake with Calamari

As I am a supporter of anything Banting-ish, or in the direction of #LCHF as described by Toortsie in her Banting books, the choice of a Three Game Medallion as suggested by Noelene proved to be just perfect. Once again, garnishing was in the form of a sizable tossed salad and the lavish portion of said golden brown fries. I am not supposed to touch it but half of it got the better half of me. Now to the meatier issues. Impala, kudu and warthog accepted the invitation and joined me for lunch. Impala can be tough, sometimes, but not at this address. It was tender beyond belief and, like the kudu and warthog, very succulent and tasty. The chef was smart enough to properly cook the wild game, leaving me at no risk of taking in boarders. I have noted this with appreciation as too many chefs simply want to be fashionable instead of considering the future bodily welfare of guests. I think that cooking it to a proper well done is just a sign of good training and of understanding the nature of wild game. Tasty it was, as mentioned before, yet this deserves a second mention. This is what a true South African family restaurant serves: properly cooked meat with a slight basting that doesn’t kill off the taste. A more or less perfect balance.

There are Banting options on the menu, though. I chose to transgress, digress and took my egress from living overtly healthy.

Three Medallion Wild Game – Impala, Kudu & Warthog

Dessert. Apple Crumble with Ice Cream for the Lady and yours truly ordered a traditional Afrikaner Malva Pudding. This is a dessert of Cape Dutch ancestry and as South African as Braavleis, Boerewors or Biltong. Not to leave Boerbeskuit out of this sophistication. This is now where prejudice and bias may be playing a role but the rather lovely apple crumble just disappeared in the fog of time. Good as it was, with more apple than crumble, sticky inside and crumbly where needed, it simply is overshadowed by the vastly superior Malva Pudding. It came served with a much welcomed toffee syrup, not required yet just adding a touch of different taste. This elevated the already mouth-watering Malva Pudding into a league of its own.

image7

Malva Pudding

As mentioned, the well-known Peacock’s Gourmet Coffee is served, in my book the second best coffee money can buy in South Africa. (The best is made by a personal friend who was trained by the old Mr Peacock!) Peacock’s is a coffee (and tea) brand that is as safe as houses. When you dine out and see the Peacock’s logo, rest assured: good coffee is on its way, from the bean to the cup.

As teetotalers, we did not make use of the excellent bar facility but I did notice that good beers, a selection of really good local wines as well as various cocktails are served.

There also is a take-away counter. This is for those who want to take their food to the beaches nearby, or at elsewhere.

Thank you so much for a most memorable feast at Harbourview Restaurant!

When Church Isn’t Church

“This church isn’t loving enough!” – http://wp.me/p1V2TT-2Ae

Now, let us see how loving Jesus was towards the “church types” of His day:  He did not WANT to forgive or save them. He said it Himself!

I grew up with a fierce passion for what I thought was His house. Boy, was I mistaken! Quite soon, I was asked to denounce my faith in Jesus Christ.

Same fate happened to Brother Andrew aka God’s Smuggler.My youngest brother who is slightly awetistiq did his B. Theo Summa Cum Laude. 89,4% average. He was not allowed to bury my mother from her church!  A few years ago, he was banned from church because he was baptised following him accepting Jesus.

“We believe in one holy, universal Christian church” is their weekly chant, yet apparently Terms & Conditions apply. 38,000+ denominations cannot have one right and the others wrong.  All are just wrong.

What I have seen over a period spanning five decades, very much by pastors going from house to house, gossiping, sowing division, with elders and church members following suit. In over forty churches and innumerable missionary organisations. Also in social media.

  • Several families driven apart
  •  Children estranged from parents
  • Careers, businesses ruined
  • Families becoming homeless
  • Freemasonry with all it brings
  • Satanism
  • Witchcraft
  • Love for the unreached yet no love or compassion for own members
  • Dining with pastors, rejecting the poor within the church
  • Pedophiles abound in Protestant churches yet we tell jokes about Catholics. Hypocrisy!
  • Wealthy members getting all the love
  • Suicide among rejected, shunned fellow believers. It will be Christmas soon, the risk increases.
  • Partisans
  • Unbelievable promiscuity, swingers’ clubs but only gays get bashed.
  • Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Blackmail
  • Theft
  • The list is endless

Already judging someone who is hurting, shows there is no love, that we are shooting the wounded. Remember the song by Chuck Girard? DON’T SHOOT THE WOUNDED

Reminder: In His very own words, Jesus said He did not want to forgive the hard-of-heart temple (church today) people. He said they were not His people, either. John 4, Revelation 18:4, Ezekiel 9 from verse four. 

“Church needs true repentant revival, not these ecstatic soul dimension impersonations.”

Finally, read in Acts chapters 2 & 4, Exodus 35 about unity in His Spirit. Yes, even in Exodus!

Location! Location! Location!

The mantra of real estate agents has a familiar ring to it. We have all heard it before. Yet, the world we live in is dynamic and change is guaranteed.

We moved into a new suburb in March 2016 after we had lived for two years in an apartment owned by the same landlord from whom we had rented the five years prior to that as well. At our initial address, mobile broadband signal was quite good, measured in South African standards as my HSDPA dongle averaged around 7.5mbps while peaking at around 21mbps. Then he sold the property and allocated a different unit to us, just 300 metres down the same street and our signal was gone! We had to change to a new service provider at much increased cost.

After we had moved to our current address, we suddenly had terrible connectivity issues and we once again had to change our service providers. Even so, where we live, even the best service providers are not on par. There simply are not enough mobile antennae in the area and the existing ones are antiquated Sony Ericsson pr Nokia towers, while the more modern Huawei ones are not yet deployed to my neck of the woods.

Current speeds are sometimes measured in mere bits per second! Not even kilobits, let alone gigabYtes! I can only blog via off-line email and not even using a browser as it just times out.

It is safe to say that one should first investigate a new neighbourhood if you want to relocate. If you are like me and absolutely need mobile broadband for basic survival, then please ensure beforehand that there is good coverage, if no ADSL or Fibre Optic infrastructure around. Satellite around here is prohibitively expense as if regular data does not already cost four to five times that of other countries.

Did I hear someone say: “Location!! Location!! Location!!” ??

Helping Brethren In Need – Jesus Taught This

We have a free will, we have the right to choose. God did not decide all of our steps at the beginning but handed us the yoke, which is why Adam & Eve could and did choose wrongly. Eventually, a few thousand years later, God regretted that He had made mankind and wanted to obliterate them all. It was Moses who stood in the gap, pleading. Man had a tendency to choose badly then just as he chooses badly now. Just yesterday, the majority of my predominantly Christian nation voted for a pro-communist, pro-Marxist government as corrupt as hell with a president that makes Hilary, Obama and Trump look like saints. Research #Nkandla and #ZumaMustFall. Even so, the minority knew to choose a better option than the proven corruption and international disgrace. They had a free choice, it was not predestined. And do not draw the Paul card to tell me that “all government is elected by God” as that is his opinion. God, speaking through Hosea, said the opposite: “Hosea 8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me. They have made princes, and I didn’t approve.

There is much dogma about God having predestined our every thought and action. If that was true, it means we had a sinful, utterly unreliable God! One who would willingly do wrong and who then could be blamed for all our faults. It would be easy then to pardon ourselves, as we would have played no port in our iniquities. Just one area where Jesus, our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6) commanded us to look after our impoverished brethren, is a point of discussion here, as most neglect this yet take gifts to strangers. (In Isaiah 30, God is quite outspoken about this.)

Already Jesus said that those not in obedience will not enter heaven and He is echoed in 1 John where John wrote that those not obedient to God are not His children. Only those guided by His Spirit are the sons of God. It really is rather obvious that believing is insufficient and that we must obey His will, as if we do not, He would reject us as we then are not His children. I know most people believe differently because they believe dogma instead of His Word.

(I will not follow human dogma and doctrine in conflict with Scripture. The Pauline quasi-Christian will necessarily have to disagree as it does not follow the parallel gospel that replaces the teaching of Jesus, who is God in human format.)

Let us look at what the apostle John had written here: 1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
16 By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?
18 My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.

Matthew 25:34 Then will the King say to those on his right, Come, you who have the blessing of my Father, into the kingdom made ready for you before the world was:
35 For I was in need of food, and you gave it to me: I was in need of drink, and you gave it to me: I was wandering, and you took me in;
36 I had no clothing, and you gave it to me: when I was ill, or in prison, you came to me.
37 Then will the upright make answer to him, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food, and give it to you? or in need of drink, and give it to you?
38 And when did we see you wandering, and take you in? or without clothing, and give it to you?
39 And when did we see you ill, or in prison, and come to you?
40 And the King will make answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
41 Then will he say to those on the left, Go from me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which is ready for the Evil One and his angels:
42 For I was in need of food, and you gave it not to me; I was in need of drink, and you gave it not to me:
43 I was wandering, and you took me not in; without clothing, and you gave me no clothing; ill, and in prison, and you came not to me.

Jesus provides, not through descending with a bucket filled with gold, but by placing a dollar in someone else’s bank account, to see if that person is going to love the needy one enough to help. (Jeremiah 6:27-29, but read the foregoing pericope for context.) Now, as He had already provided, and if we obey His commands by NOT saving up in worldly banks but invest in His Kingdom instead, there would be no lack. Jesus did teach the rich man to let go of his wealth, did He not? So, why do you cling to yours? Oh, so you live in faith but need a AAA+ financial instrument to back your belief?

If we choose not to help, we choose not to obey. We already contravene the Laws of Moses which said that it is a sin to allow your brother to become poor by you. It also contravenes the commands of Jesus as well as display no love or grace as we see clearly described from the New Testament. So, from a position of law it is sin and from a position of grace it is sin.

Now I am asking: is God the reason why you had chosen not to help people in need? Is it predestination that is at work here, so that you can sin freely and just let it run up Jesus’ account. After all, he paid the price so we can do as we please, it is after all His will that we sin, as He predestined it so that He could suffer terribly? Only a deluded person can belief in such ludicrous dogma. It borders upon being blasphemous and it takes away the responsibility to be accountable for our own thoughts & deeds. “Why did you lust after Jessica?” …… “Oh, God predestined it!”

Predestination, my ass! Choose right, choose to obey, choose to repent and return, choose to do His will. As predestination goes as far as allowing us the sovereign right of free choice.

I am sick and tired of people finding excuses not to helping fellow believers yet are critical of those who encourage people to do their Biblical duty. Once you lose your job, become needy yourself, you will soon feel how hard it is to not be loved enough by others, as they then won’t be caring for your needs. People only understand when walking in the boots of others. As such, I am asking God to place every critic in a position where he or she would feel the need and then understand what others are going through. I am just as sick and tired of so-called Christians who are so polite yet so unloving, so critical yet passive and not even willing to help another. May our Lord place such in a position of true understanding, as their is no willingness to even listen. Such is the lovelessness and the coldness of heart among so-called Christians! No wonder Jesus will reject the majority and say he never knew them!

I am not even going to debate this. Been there, done that. I am not interested in arguing theology here, all I say is just obey Jesus and His word.

Period.

to heal a nation

a rainbow nation, or so they say
a rainbow nation, such colourful clay
white and yellow
black and brown
the best in any town

black migrants moving south
wiping out the little brown ones as they go
across the ocean they come – the white ones
on ships painfully slow

where rivers converge, there is a maelstrom
turmoil where the oceans meet
blood in the river
cries on the street

settlers black and white
settlers come with all their might
settlers argue who is wrong, who is right
the bigger picture obscured in battle’s dust
a nation forged, a nation thrust

if only they denounced the fear
or buried the spear
went on their knees and prayed
instead thousands got slayed
rivers of blood into oblivion
carnage became our tradition
destiny thwarted by greed
jealousy the devil’s seed
violence became our creed
bloodshed indeed
blood in the street

many whites, at least among we afrikaners (or boere with a capital b) did not support apartheid on a racial basis but did so because we believed in liberty, freedom and equality. ever since karl marx, the atheist communist used the very last settlers in cape town, around 1853, to cause anarchy, riot violently and damage property, the whites – outnumbered 20:1 – saw they needed to protect minorities, including the indigenous brown people as well as the malay and asians, the semites and europeans. blacks are not indigenous to south africa, same as whites, as both came from the north. some came by sea, others came by land, but the indigenous khoisan found themselves outnumbered.

“Apartheid, at least in part, was the response of a tiny white minority to black racism”

te wealthy english were the first to introduce apartheid (segregation) when the first communists formed several societies that excluded all but white english-speaking people. the communist party was the very first to include racial segregation in a constitution. atheist communist karl marx lived in cape town in the mid 1800’s and his sister was married to jan juta, a lawyer and publisher. she was friends with olive schreiner, with whom she shared a lover called ellis, whose body was “like jesus” to them.

with keen foresight, proven correct some 160 years later by the unruling party, the minority of whites realized that minorities would be oppressed and that anarchists could come into power. in fact, the ruling anc, being communist in nature, had been teaching its followers to strike violently, to destroy and loot, to commit arson and be militant. the ruse has always been some sort of injustice, invented at times, but truth is that a reason would always be found to destabilise a country socially, economically and politically. the worker has always been used as an unpaid soldier, through the communist trade unions, without the worker realising, of course. the average worker believed the union to be his saviour while it was abusing him for ulterior ends.

when black communists were enticed into violent riots and strikes in 1853, it caused a most severe rift between black and white. the black workers who did this, cannot be blamed as, at the time, they were mostly illiterate and could not possibly understand. the blame must go towards karl marx and his wealthy cohorts who spread the bad gospel of atheist communism while being extremely wealthy capitalists themselves.

south africa was not a merely black <vs> white racial issue; it has been a fight between christ and satan all along and most of (we) afrikaners did not hate blacks, we did not want to fight them but we had to defend civilisation against the anarchy caused by the communist instigators and eventual dictatorship, as we see in the untouchable jacob zuma, state president and embarrassment to this nation. with forty percent of parliament being communist, and with a country failing fast, we can safely assume that the white elders were not too wrong in their expectation of majority rule under communist auspices.

then the british administered a brutal and severe genocide upon the white afrikaners but also wiped out thousands of blacks during the anglo-boer war, also known as the south african war, between 1899-1902. their concentration camps provided the model for hitler’s infamous auschwitz-type camps in which so many jews and others were tortured and killed, also the concentration camps used in the soviet gulag, the chinese torture camps, cuba and also here in africa, where nelson mandela’s anc had such camps across africa. yes, it started by the british and went all the way to nelson mandela and chris hani, the latter nicknamed “little mao” after the brutal chinese dictator mao se dung.

blacks and afrikaners responded to british oppression by forming nationalist movements. both claimed to be very christian but neither really displayed such qualities. if only they worked together in prayer……….where would south africa have been by now?

on december 16, 1838, a group of 470 afrikaner trekboere – includinf women and childrn –  (hence the nickname “boere” for afrikaners) and 128 others were attacked by some 20,000 zulu impi’s (soldiers.) the afrikaners prayed to god to save them and made a covenant with him that, should he deliver them, that day would be celebrated as a sabbath unto the end of days, to honour him. this was an important event, as only three afrikaners were injured and none killed while some 3,000 zulu’s died in the fierce battle. the importance is twofold: firstly, the zulu’s saw the power of god and, today, there are more reborn christians among zulu’s than there are whites in south africa! secondly, god demonstrated that he saved when approached in an hour of need.

south africa is in its hour of need. this country is on fire. schools, trains, farms, businesses, infrastructure, universities, art collections of great value, all these get destroyed because people have been trained to be destructive for 160 years now. this is especially so in black culture, because of communist influence, through instigators. left on their own, most blacks are just lovable, kind-hearted and friendly people. most of my friends are black for that reason. once again, communism raises its ugly head. read more about this destructive culture here and also here. read how nelson mandela’s violence gave rise to an estimated twenty thousand deaths – he was no mlk, not by a country mile.

the pro-nazi afrikaner, about half the afrikaner nation, added insult to injury, aided by some white english, when the 1960 referendum led to the apartheid state. apartheid means to be separate. verwoerd like hitler and mandela like stalin. both have their followers despite what the had done to humankind.

today, we have a nation of broken, hurting people, more racism than during apartheid, a failing state and an economy on a downward slide. a nation in turmoil, one in crisis, needing healing.

as for bad government, be it apartheid or the current reverse apartheid, one worse than the other, god laments that we appoint kings and princes he did not approve of, as we see in hosea 8:4

it is time to unite in prayer
it is time to humble ourselves in the presence of the creator jesus christ
it is time to repent from our past and our present sins
it is time to open up to true repentant revival, not charismatic fanfare
it is time to cry for help
it is time for a new covenant
it is time to become one in christ jesus
no religion, just jesus

this message needs to get out there
please support my ministry so that i can travel and call people up to prayer
to plead for unity in christ jesus
so that we can
heal this nation

in the power of jesus christ

To The Brother (Sister) In Need

  • send me your prayer request, see button above, it is confidential, or fill out the form below. only i get to see it, no risk of exposing to others
  • ask Jesus to put His song into your heart
  • do not worry, fret or panic
  • keep the faith
  • learn to trust
  • remain hopeful
  • do not sulk
  • do not moan
  • instead, praise His name, regardless
  • if you praise Him, he will make way
  • ask Him what you need to learn from this
  • also ask Him what He wants from the situation

let your suffering not be a wasted effort, use the pain as fertiliser to grow from here

 

 

ARE WE DISPOSABLE

WHY ARE DISABLED PEOPLE TREATED DIFFERENTLY?

In 2016, she said that, if #disabled people voted for the DA, the DA might consider looking into accessibility issues at Cape Town Station. This, after CoCT closed the ramp from Strand Street Concours leading up to Cape Town Station. At the same time, the escalators owned by Golden Acre and Old Mutual have been out of order for months, if not years. Same ad the ones in the Grand Parade, serving the Post Office.

Because of lack of co-operation from Patricia de Lille, Helen Zille was politely requested to use her influence. She responded in an arrogant way, became a cyber bully, supported by an evil group of supporters. When a letter was presented to set the matter straight, she simply refused to apologise.

It is a disgrace that a premier takes such a stance, unsolicited and uncalled-for. One would have expected at least a little bit of empathy but was met with arrogance and ridicule.

If only she was lady enough to apologise….I took the mattervto the DA but was ignored. Do the DA serve our disabled vote?! I really doubt that. They were quick to act when race came into play but didn’t care a hoot when the disabled were brusquely trampled underfoot.

Are disabled people such a burden that their constitutional rights get taken away from them? Is it fair to respond to statements about colonialism yet be content with mistreating and ridiculing the disabled?

This was worse yet nobody cared. Insulting the disabled of Cape Town was no sin? Did she apologise when proven wrong, then? No! Did the DA care? No! Did it bother society? No! Yet over perceived racial comments, all hell breaks loose. I see double standards, different rules for different folks. Our society is rotten to the core for being such hypocrites. As long as disabled people get treated like worthless dung, trampled underfoot, oppressed, there is nothing good about society. A nation’s integrity is measured by how they care for the elderly, frail, disabled, needy. Zille was given a golden opportunity to bring about positive change but responded with sheer arrogance, bullied the person. O, that didn’t cause an outcry? Instead, her team of bitches joined the frenzy of beating an indigent disabled into the mud. Until he proved them wrong. Did Zille or anyone else apologise? No! Of course not! Sorry, I lost my respect for your unrepentant idol. The DA sinned in not even responding when the matter was taken to them. The message is clear: Zille & the DA have no love for or loyalty towards people with #disability.

That is scandalous.

Finally, an indigent person living with disability effected the change. Who has shown commitment, leadership? Who saw it through successfully? The person who was called "clueless." That’s who!

Womanise

Tom McClean, the former SAS paratrooper who solitarily rowed across the Atlantic, went to live at Ardintigh, North Morar, Scotland. He later married a Yorkshire lass, Jill.

It was Jill who made his house a home, where they lived on a remote spot. A life lived in a most basic way, much of it in discomfort. It was Jill who had opened Tom’s eyes to the natural beauty, making him aware of so many aspects of wild nature surrounding their croft. He was a functional, logical and practical man It was Jill who opened his different eyes to his world; he tamed it, she civilized it.

As I took my wife to the oasis of Steenbokkie game reserve, we left the lush, green gardens and hiked up the almost barren hills. Karen soon saw so much life in the desert. Peculiar little plants, spiders and insects, also different types of quartz. White, emerald or rose quartz. The white was used as flintstone by ancient people. As I stood watching her, from fifty yards away, I could see how the Karoo’s less obvious treasures had her spellbound.

Before long, Karen saw natural life from a different perspective than mine. I can follow spoor and do very basic tracking, navigate, identify wildlife but she sees the beauty in an almost spiritual way.

When we return to Steenbokkie one day, I will be sure to take the love of my life with me, on every walk.

A man has to be womanised in a different way to have his existence given meaning to afresh.

These wonderful, resilient creatures have an unfathomable depth, a spirituality that is in angled in a plane no man can measure.

www.steenbokkie.blogspot.co.za

Southern Line – Albertyn Road Delays

Metrorail commuters are all by now aware of delays caused by damage to signals equipment at Albertyn Road level crossing at Muizenberg. This has affected train operations significantly as only one train at a time can be allowed to operate on that line, for your safety. A single authorisation is given to the singular train, which will travel all the way to Fish Hoek, where it will terminate (alternatively to Simon’s Town if there isn’t sand on the tracks). Once there, the train will return to Retreat where it had originated from.

This means that the rail service is limited yet functional. We as commuters are also being inconvenienced and this is so because the driver of a vehicle was mischievous in causing so much damage that equipment needed to be imported from abroad, a time-consuming exercise.

So much more reason for people to adhere to safety regulations and not take stupid risks.

Look for trains!

Disclaimer: I am an independent travel blogger and neither paid or employed by any railway company.