Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Roosfontein Mass March

‘Smorning I went for the worst nature walk I’ve been on in my laaf! This was May 2015.
I knew I shouldna gone, but friends said come and I thought ‘don’t be a recluse all your life.’ So forty fools wandered through a coastal grassland and riverine forest starting long after 9am. Brats as young as three scurrying around underfoot. NOT my style!

Not a leaf stirred, not a birds turd.

Got home at noon and saw more birds and blomma cheese in ten minutes than on the whole 2,5hr walk. We live and don’t learn.

Make no mistake, Roosfontein is a beautiful grassland and riverine spot and well worth a visit. Early morning best, small group best. Ah, well, I took Jess along and she got some exercise.

– Roosfontein Jessie –
– too late in the day, too crowded –

feature pic on top is from Amblers hiking club – thanks!

~~~oo0oo~~~

One year later, a decades-long struggle by environmentalists finally succeeded with the official proclamation of the Roosfontein Nature Reserve.

The nature reserve, which will now be preserved for future generations, borders the Westville Prison and is being preserved to protect the endangered rare dwarf chameleon, North Coast grasslands and medicinal plants.

The land had been earmarked for a golf course, stadium and casino in the past, but environmental activists fought for its preservation.

Richard Boon, manager in biodiversity planning at the eThekwini Municipality, said the nature reserve covered 213 hectares, with a further 20 hectares near the nature reserve earmarked for housing projects.

Dr Debra Roberts, deputy head of environmental planning and climate protection, said it was a joyous moment that the reserve had finally been proclaimed such and recounted how they had negotiated with the Westville mayor pre-1994 not to misuse the land.

She said the challenge for Durban and African cities now was to create uniquely African cities that were not made in the image of mini-European cities.

“We’ve had to decolonise our minds,” she said. “We need to be uniquely African, like when you go to Rio or Nairobi, they have huge natural parks and savannahs. Our cities have to be different and must play a different role.

“Look at the beautiful grass hills, these are a valuable resource. That is why a golf course on that land was not part of building an African city, that is why we started lobbying 30 years ago, we said we think this is valuable and we need to protect it for the future and keep Roosfontein free of development,” she said.

Well done Richard and Debra and Mayor Nxumalo!

~~~oo0oo~~~

blomma cheese – blommetjies; flowers

Africa, Family & Kids, Food

Urgent Bulk Purchase

Oh Emm Gee, another phase. Now we’re thirteen and we NEED to “get buff“. To bulk up. School starts in a week and five weeks of lying on the couch while I say “Come for a walk” is over. Suddenly, we now need to get fit and bulked up in the next couple days!

It’s 6.55pm and TomTom and his mate Francois who’s staying over NEED money and NEED to walk to Pick n Pay to buy “future life” a fake-promise cereal endorsed by people who will say anything for $$$. OK, OK, off you go, I say. It’s late, but PnP is just 200m up the road.

Pring from his phone: Dad, PnP is closed, can we go to Spar. Spar is 4km away and it’s 7.15pm. I ask: Don’t they close at 7.30? No at 8pm he says We can make it Dad!

I’m not going to stop him. Off you go.

Halfway through my apple crumble n custard and black coffee which I’m eating as part of my alternative Tim Noakes diet – the original one; my other diet is the Tim Noakes ‘Banting-type’ Diet – I have misgivings. His friend with him is an only child and his Mom once specifically worried about him not being able to ride a bicycle out in the big wide world, so maybe she wouldn’t approve of a 4km walk at 7.15 and a 4km walk back in the dark.

So I head off once I’m done to see how far they’ve got and to give them a lift. Just like most other Westville Moms.

Actually, Tom has ridden a lot and walked a lot and swam quite a lot these hols, so I do exaggerate somewhat.

They made it – I found them on their way back already.

Sport, Travel Africa

Wilderness Walk – Mfolosi 1985

The Umfolosi Wilderness is a special place. Far too small, of course, but its what we have. I’m reading Ian Player’s account of how Magqubu Ntombela taught him about wilderness and Africa and nature. The idea of a wild place where modern man could go to escape the city and re-discover what Africa was like

My first trail was ca 1985, when I went with Dusi canoeing buddies Doug Retief, Martin & Marlene Loewenstein and Andre Hawarden. We were joined by a 19yr-old lass on her own, sent by her father, who added greatly to the scenery:

What a beauty! 'Our' 19yr old D___ (Donna?); Martin Lowenstein on right

A good sport – took our gentle teasing well

We went in my kombi and some highlights I recall were:

Doug offering “bah-ronies” after lunch one day. We were lying in the shade of a tree after a delicious lunch made by our guides: Thick slices of white bread, buttered and stuffed with generous slices of tomato and onion, washed down with tea freshly brewed over a fire of Thomboti wood. Doug fished around in his rucksack and gave us each a mini Bar One (“bah-ronie”, geddit?). Best tasting chocolate I ever ate, spiced as it was with hunger and exertion.

After the 5-night trail we went for a game drive. Needing a leak after a few bitterly cold brews I left the wheel with the kombi trundling along amiably and walked to the side door of the kombi, ordering Hawarden to take over the driving. Not good at taking orders, he looked at me, waited till I was in mid-stream out of the open sliding door and leant over with his hiking stick and pressed the accelerator. The driverless kombi picked up speed and I watched it start to veer off-road, necessitating a squeezed premature end to my leak and a dive for the wheel.

Thanks a lot, Hawarden! Pleasure, he murmured mildly. Hooligan!

————————

30yrs later Andre Hooligan Hawarden wrote:

“Hey, remember that cool walk we did in the game reserve when you had the tape recorder and we attracted the owl? Then next day we lay on the bank of the Umlofosi river and watched the vultures coming down for a lunch time drink and a snooze?

That was a wonderful experience. I’ve never forgotten it.”

Canoe & Kayak, Sport, Travel, Travel Africa

Just Before Inanda Dam

1990 saw the completion of Inanda Dam on the Umgeni River. As always, a dam profoundly changes the river and the valley. Yet another river tamed to serve our insatiable thirst. It also changed the Dusi Canoe Marathon, inundating the Day Two sandbanks and creating a 10km flatwater haul to the new overnight stop at Msinsi Resort.

For old times sake I wanted to go down that section before it got flooded, so I took all my boats and borrowed a few more and invited a few non-paddling friends to accompany me. For me a nostalgic trip, for most of them a first look at a section of the Dusi course.

We launched all the craft at a low level bridge and started laughing: They didn’t float, they just plopped onto the sand under a millimetre of water. Talk about LOW water! We dragged the boats the length of the dam-to-be to take out about where Msinsi campsite is now, hardly getting our shoelaces wet.

For me a lovely walk in the river bed, for them (I suspect) a bit of a pointless mission – and certainly not the “paddle” I had enticed them into!

An idea of ‘Before & After’: (better pics needed!)

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, Life, Nostalgia, School

A Slow Walk, My China

Way back in around 1962 Donald Coleman and I walked home from school. The Harrismith Kleinspan School.

It was about a mile and we set off around 1pm. When we got home we got the “Where have you been!?” treatment. Apparently it was 5pm already and getting dark and cold. Well, we wouldn’t have known and anyway, we’d had a lot to talk about and Donald had a box of matches, so we had stopped and made a little fire of plane tree leaves in the sandstone gutters of Stuart Street. These gutters used to channel water from Platberg to town according to Blanche Hawkins, local historian.

Fast forward to 2014 and 12yr old TomTom asked me if he could walk home from school today. It’s about 4km and school ends at 2pm. When I got home at 5pm he had just got in and Cecelia and Carla had been worried: “Where had he BEEN?!”

I knew where he’d been. His journey was double mine and he’d taken one less hour. Why, he’d almost hurried home! And no matches, so how could I complain? You have fun, my boy? I asked. He’d stopped en route to buy a pie, a packet of jelly tots and an energade drink.

New Schools ! (2).JPG

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Feature pic: Me, Anne, Donald & Sheila in Platberg’s shadow