Bass Straits and Dire Straits

Early Sunday morning I roust the lil bastids. C’mon, Up! Let’s go. Off to Inanda Dam where they’re going to slay the bass. Tom, Jose & Ryan. 45yrs of trouble on six legs and, according to them, fishermen of note.

We hire two canoes from Msinsi and off they go. “See you in about two hours, Dad!” shouts Tom as they wobble off.

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I chill and watch the terrific birdlife. Wrynecks, woodpeckers, waxbills, prinias, canaries, sunbirds, geese, a fish eagle, herons, neddicky, bush shrikes, etc.

Six hours later a weary and sunburnt crew return. They had flattened the eats and drinks I packed and it’s lucky I did: No fish were harmed in the filming of this movie (none were even disturbed).

Lugging the boats back to the boathouse (with much help from Dad) they unanimously decide they would not be doing the Dusi anytime soon.

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Dusi – The Dusi Canoe Marathon, 120km 3-day river race from Maritzburg to Durban passes by this point on the Umgeni river.


Tommy Burgers

Jess has gone ice skating with friends. Tom says “I’ll cook Dad”. Suits me.

“Come and get it!” he shouts after a spell of loud gangsta rap music blasting out from the kitchen.

“Tommy Burgers!” yum

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Another Year Moertoe

or put more politely: ‘Bites The Dust’.

Woke up to breakfast in bed. The bacon was crispy:


The card was mushy:


Thank you Jessie love!!

Tom was first to wish me. That’s because he got home in the wee hours and woke me to open up for him, giving me a big “April Fool!” as I welcomed him home.

April Fool’s Day started before me! PROOF:

On this day in 1582, the Council of Trent called for France to switch from the Julian calendar. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognise that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.

These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

England had a similar tradition and by the 18th century, April Fools’ Day had spread throughout Britain. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event.

Afriski without Aitch

Travelling in the kombi! The T5 1,9TDi’s first trip to Lesotho! Strange travelling without Ma, but she’s decided to skip this one (first time!). She’s on a PE-EL trip for Pfizer plugging cancer products (‘oncology’). It’s winter 2009.

Stopped in at Gogo Mary’s in PMB. Had tea. Kids ‘watched’ a bit, but no “303 Disney” so SABC couldn’t hold them for long.

Tried to phone Pierre in Harrismith. When I hadn’t got hold of him by decision time, I turned for Oliviershoek Pass. We stopped on the pass at the lovely thatched restaurant and the kids did their traditional “Let’s tease Dad” by bringing a long grass stalk. “Don’t pull out the thatch!” I said again to their “innocent look”.

Spoke to Pierre on the way to Clarens. In Clarens I filled up the kombi and the Petrocard topped out at R500 – needed R600. Wasted time trying to speak to Firstcard, but ran out of signal.

Saw Destiny Castle near Fouriesburg. Border uneventful

Afriski PIN chalet. We have taken a small unit this time: Two bedrooms with bath only. No other room, and no self-catering stuff (no room for it!). Turned one bed in my room on its side to make room for the microwave on the bedside table. Checked for blankets: Plenty. Checked the gas hearth: Working well. Gas bottle outside: Full. The room soon warms up. It’s here:


Off we go to the ski shop while its still open to get kitted out with skis. Tom wants to “one-board” but chief instructor Rudi tells him not yet. Rudi (who’s admittedly biased in favour of skiing!) says there’s still lots to learn at eight yrs-old, m’boy. Methinks Rudi regards snowboarders as unruly hooligans.

I book a morning lesson for Jess & Tom with Charles. They get a HUGE welcome from all last year’s instructors: Wessel, Charles, Bronwyn, Rudi, Moruti at the ski lift, etc. Spoilt brats.

Off to supper in the room. Sure, I’m a cheapskate. We warm up a meal of Aitch’s pork sausage n baked bean pie for the first supper.

Jess & Tom are on the slope early the first morning, before the skilift has started.

Can we go up the lift?” they chorused as it started up. Definitely not, says their law-abiding Dad. First, you have your lesson with Charles, then he’ll decide what you can do. “Aaw Dad, go on!” No. No means No.

Next minute Bronwyn arrives: “Hey, guys, you wanna come up the lift with me?”

Can we Dad?” Um, of course you can (Bronwyn is a delightfully sexy, fun-loving, dare-devil, can-do instructor and expert skier who knows what she’s doing and has them sussed, so who’m I to argue!?).

And away they go – first up the ski lift. Jessie with Bronwyn, Tom on his own. Tom going all the way up to the very end of the line where the big knobs and instructors hang out. Jessie starts first, comes down snow-ploughing and zig-zag turning, graceful.


Halfway down Tom zooms past her going head-first straight down, hell-for-leather “Yee haa”.

Overheard at the ski lift: One of the new instructors saying to Bronwyn: “Is this the Tommy you were telling us about?” (this after he left his braking a bit late and crashed into the little hut at the foot of the lift, sending snow flying all over, a huge grin on his dial and waddled off to the T-bar, jumping the queue by about three people).

Later: TomTom: “Dad I weed in my pants”. All the way down the slope. Just couldn’t stop the fun long enough to find the loo!

LOTS of washing and drying of underpants, long johns, ski pant inner and outers. Then drying. Fuckit. Being a Dad is the pits 😉

Another day (early morning): “Dad, my tummy’s sore”. C’mon TomTom, you’re going skiing.

No, but my tummy’s really sore, Dad”. OK you can ski for just an hour.

Suddenly Oops! Projectile vomiting! Five big spews – and NOT ONE on his clothes or on the bedclothes or anywhere but on the floor in a trail all the way to the bathroom.

Tom you’re a super-hero, I said. You didn’t hurl on any of your clothes! Well done! “Thanks, Dad”, he said with a proud smile. And “I feel much better now”.

Our Morning Ritual:

Have a wee – don’t forget that! It’s a mission once you’re suited up! Then it’s thermal unders on; Suits on; Blockout on; Gloves, boots, beanies.

Cereal in the chalet; Muti (Ritalin) after that; Full fry-up breakfast later in the restaurant;  Homework on the restaurant deck;

THEN (at last, Dad!): First on the slopes – “Why do we have to wait?”

Midday sleeps and movies on the laptop. Charlotte’s Web gives a last showing before it locks up (a gift sent from the USA, won’t play again in SA). Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Polar Express (sent from the UK) won’t even play once for us! Pigs! Thieves!

So The Incredibles and The Little Mermaid have to do duty (only after an Earobics session, though!).

Taking the microwave was a definite win. Rice sachets a big hit for suppers; Hot Milo before bed; The last night we splashed out on a restaurant meal.

Homeward bound we stop for a meal on Oliviershoek pass. Kids get to buy themselves a coolie and sweet in the shop. Joy!

The kombi gets 7,3l / 100km as we cruise along, no hurry, dropping from 3222m on the Mahlasela pass down to (probly) 222m in Westville. Yay! 1,9l diesel!!


Christmas Coprophagia

Christmas lunch for a Green-veined Emperor feasting on Sambucca’s labrador poo. Liked it so much it didn’t budge when I opened its wings with my fingers to see its upperside!


Charaxes candiope

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Yuletide Munch

Pig, chicken, potatoes, beans. And champagne. Clean forgot the salad but it wasn’t missed. We had two types of gammon: Slices from Woolworths and a whole one cooked by Dad (who had – horrors – mistakenly bought an uncooked gammon and had to cook it this morning).

A vote was taken and (bearing in mind they’re only getting their prezzies in January) the kids unanimously by a wide margin and by popular acclaim and unopposed, decide Dad’s was best. By far.



Jessie’s Safari

She passed her matric, so got to choose her holiday! A safari, Dad!





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At Nambiti outside Ladysmith. Springbok Lodge. Jess loved the accommodation and the food and the big beasts.

There were also wonderful little beasts.

Here’s the best one (Tascha got a better pic than me):

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The food was really special, the chef took great pride in his work. Jess took to our Ranger Tascha the Pom and loved the drives.

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Here she watches three male lions try to attack hippos in a dam. The hippos were having none of it, so there was a standoff. Threats and splashes.

On the other end of the scale I watched a tiny green mantid nymph (half the size of a matchstick) rock and sway, trying to look like a leaf, then dart forward on his four legs (no wings yet) then sway and mimic a leaf in a breeze. Amazing feisty little fella was stalking ants, it seemed. (I clean forgot to take a picture!).

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