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Northern Cape tour – Part 3

Monday, 20 July, 2015

Third leg:  A Touch of Karoo

Kakamas

Or rather, the Pienk Padstal just outside Kakamas.

Returning from Riemvasmaak we attended the Pienk Padstal.

Pienk PadstalA rather interesting place, but why the call it the Pienk Padstal beats me, nuh.

Voor die Pienk padstal

Even the ablution turned out to be something to observe.  Or at least, the men’s side.  I did not attend the ladies’.  In the men’s there is a picture of a scantily clad beautiful lady sitting ugly.  With a notice next to it reading that management had been advised that this picture promotes pornography that may lead to nasty things.  So they implore the visitors to behave themselves.  And for gents not to flatter themselves and to rather stand closer to the urinal than they think is advisable.

Lilies

Binne

Niks het gebeur

Stylish wind chimes.Kakamas chimes

Kakamas itself looks like a biggish town.  With a population of some 9500 it is about as big as Calvinia.  How green is my valley would be an apt name.

Kakamas[Imagery © 2015 TerraMetrics, Map data © 2015 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Here the Mas of Kakamas got the green light.

Mas van Kakamas

Passing the local high school I did not spot the not well marked speed bump until I took off in the direction of Jupiter.  The lift-off was hampered by gravity, though, which caused a swift and bumpy return to mother earth.

A touch of Karoo

The last leg of our tour entailed a visit to a Karoo farm.  Now picture this.  You live on a farm.  Your closest town is 75km’s away (population 3400).  Second closest town 80km’s away (population 2800), and your actual town (population 9700) is 135km’s away.  Imagine the school run.  Or the run to the shopping mall.  Or rather, don’t bother.  It does not exist.

Ok, so how to get there?

“You go past the Granaatboskolk turnoff.”

“There’s a place called Granaatboskolk?”

“Ja, but ignore the turnoff.  You look out for where you get the crossing to Breekbeenkolk and Tontelbos.”

“You’re making this up, right?”

“What, haven’t you heard of these places before?”

“Is that a trick question?”

“Sakrivierstation?”

“Huh?”

“Kooktjieskolk?”

“****-off!”

“OK, do you know where Calvinia is?”

“Yes, yes, yes!  I know where Calvinia is!”

“Ok, good.  It’s not near Calvinia.”

Sigh.

I’m telling you, the people who make a living here not only have hair on their teeth.  They shave the hair on their teeth.Ooie uitvang

Eskom?   Who’s that?  But please meet Mr. Lister.Lister The Lister is started as it had been done for the past sixty plus years.  By hand.  You (well, the farmer actually) cranks the handle, and then you get this chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-katak-katak-katakatakataka and off goes the one cylinder engine leaving you under a cloud of smoke which clears after a while.  And then there is light.

OK, in this instance the farmer went somewhat further with solar power and a battery pack.  So the Lister is just the back-up.

Electricity is self supplied.  Water is self supplied.  You make your own roads.  If you want a dam, you have to build it yourself.  All you need to do is to afterwards pay the government tax for the privilege of collecting water in your dam (no seriously, I kid you not).  If something goes seriously wrong here, it’s a 20 km drive just to get to the tar road.  Then you still need to get to town.  That the government can levy tax on farms such as this just beats me.  But sorry, I digress.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the sixty year old Fairy anthracite driven oven (next to the gas stove) serves as a donkey for the sink hot water, and to bake bread in.Stoof

The Americans call biltong beef jerky.  And that is defined as dead dried meat, to be eaten “in times of hardship”.  Of course, in South Africa it is a delicatessen.  Go figure.  But on this farm it’s part of the staple food.  You begin your …

Burn, Boobs & Battery

Thursday, 7 May, 2015

AfrikaBurn

My bakkie just returned from a trip to AfrikaBurn. Without me, though. A bunch of biokinetics offered their trade as a gift at the Burn, and required transport to get them and their stuff there. So my bakkie was called up for patriotic duty.

Boobs

I have never been to AfrikaBurn, but it seems like a rather interesting occasion. Testament thereto my friend who borrowed the bakkie sent me a picture of a nude lady on a bicycle taken at Afrikaburn. Being mos well mannered, I thanked him for the picture of the bicycle.

“What picture of the bicycle?” he asks.

“Hoe bedoel meneer dan nou? The one you just sent me.”

“Can’t be,” he said. “I sent you a picture of your bakkie.”

Upon revisiting the picture I actually found my bakkie on it. It was taken to commemorate the moment my bakkie arrived at AfrikaBurn. In my defence I have to add that the bakkie was not exactly centre in the picture, hence me focusing on the wrong part. Of the picture, I mean. My friend never noticed the (lady on the) bicycle when he took the picture, nor when he sent me the picture.

So he says.

Battery

But I digress. I know that the esteemed readers on this site would be more interested in mechanical stuff, so let me get to the actual purpose of my contribution. The return trip, I was subsequently advised, did not go exactly uneventful.

Upon returning from the AfrikaBurn, about 30km’s out on the road the bakkie’s radio suddenly stopped working. After a while the bakkie also stopped working. Sort of like a sympathy strike, verstaan. It died down, and would not respond to attempts to have it started. After jumping the battery from another AfrikaBurner on his way home, the bakkie started, and off they went again. After 20 km’s the same thing happened.Apparently the Calvinia-Ceres gravel road at that point in time looked like the N1 inbound to Cape Town on a normal working day. Only, the people were friendlier, and with the goodness and wellbeing of the Burn not yet sucked out of them by ordinary life. So there was no shortage of people stopping to assist.

One of these Samaritans then noticed a loose connection at the alternator. The recalcitrant set of cables was reconnected to the alternator, and off they went again. After a further 50 kilometres, the occupants of the bakkie started breathing normal again and event sat down with their full weight on the seats. Things were going well. In fact, it continued to go well for the rest of the journey, which included some two hour driving with headlights on. Eventually they arrived home safely. So it would appear that everything had been sorted by putting the cable back.

It just goes to show what it can do to an old dame when friendly hands mess around underneath her hood now and then, nuh.

 

Testing, testing, testing

But I needed to know for sure that the problem had been sorted.

The offending cable was subsequently been pointed out to me. I then tried to Google wiring diagrams to try to figure out what the purpose of that cable would be. But if you have difficulties changes a blown light bulb, these kinds of diagrams, apart from looking impressive, means absolutely nothing to you. I found the picture of my bakkie arriving at AfrikaBurn a lot more interesting. I could understand the beauty of it.

So I just popped in at my autolec where one of his assistants had a quick look at the wiring.

Albertus could immediately confirm to me that the combination of the two wires would have caused (a) the battery warning light not to work and (b) the battery not to charge. Nuh.

So I am happy to report that the problem has indeed been fixed.

I enjoy the

Audience on the Run

Wednesday, 29 April, 2015

by Johnie Jonker

As was the custom at the time, our 1974 Std 9 class held a school concert in order to raise funds for that year’s matric farewell.

One of the items on the program was live music provided by a school band. The band members comprised Bernard on guitar, James on drums and myself on keyboards – that being the upper and lower manuals of a Yamaha Electone organ.

As a group, the three of us had made our debut during the previous year’s Musiek Aand, organized by the very likeable music teacher. In haste, the band was named “Hot Ice” by one of the teachers.

That event was a rather serious music evening comprising song upon song performed by the choir and solos by Marietjie, who later made a professional career out of operatic singing.

Numerous piano solos and duets, pieces for two pianos – some with lid open and others with lid closed – followed. If it was at all possible to fit THREE people abreast behind a single piano, the concert would have contained trios also.

The (welcome) light relief was provided – briefly – by Hot Ice just before interval. We shot to instant fame, as old tannies recognized us on the street afterwards, on our way between the school and the Springbok Kafee on a Tuesday (langdag). They wanted to know why we did not play more than the allocated 3 numbers, as they liked the variation very much.

This was the basis from which we started rehearsing for the Std 9 concert.

But this time we felt that a fuller sound was required. Basically this meant “louder”. Bernard wanted to sound like Carlos Santana, James like Ringo Starr – he already had the hair to go with it – and me like Santana, Deep Purple and Focus, all rolled into one.

In addition to Michael who volunteered as conductor, we enlisted the help of 3 matrics to expand our sound. Let me introduce them to you:

Pop: Owner of a 12-string acoustic guitar which he could play really well. We had all heard him on a number of occasions previously, and especially his rendition of Donovan’s “Catch the wind”, was a favourite.

Bruce: You could not tell the difference between him and George Harrison when it came to playing Daytripper. Accurate, tonally perfect – a good rhythm player for the band.

Patrick: Band manager.

He was one of those laid-back people who could insult you to your face and you would not realise it. At times we thought that his response towards teachers bordered on disrespect and that surely some repercussion would follow, but he somehow used to charm his way out of it.

Now, we thought that such a diplomat would be beneficial to our band’s existence. This, and his actions during the compulsory weekly singing period in the hall, which comprised all the senior classes.

In spite of having 3 resident music teachers, for some reason the headmaster decided to lead this gathering himself. He would start us off on the first song and would then ask for suggestions from the floor. An indeterminate voice – we all knew it was Patrick – would suggest: “Page 29” of the songbook. Our choirmaster would then fervently page through the book and discover that it had only 28 pages. This led to him becoming visibly annoyed – not to the point of his favourite expression: “Mark my words, Pappa”- but rather: “Jy’s nie snaaks nie!” We of course thought otherwise.

OK, so we would sing patriotic songs: “Nooit hoef jou kinders wat trou is te vra …”, English drinking songs: “Hahaha, you and me, little brown jug oh I love thee” and then the “indeterminate voice” would suggest: “On Top of Old Smokey”. Not because that was a particularly popular, emotional or upbeat song, but rather of the way in which it …

Wasps

Thursday, 5 March, 2015

In principle, I prefer to learn from other’s mistakes. Preferably from a distance. Sometimes, though, things are forced upon you, and you have no choice but to learn from own experience.

Recently our area has become invaded by an intruder specie of wasps.   I have now removed a number of these wasp nests from my residence, with mixed success.

In one instance I spotted these buzzers entering one of my roof tiles at the front of my house – at the very highest point from ground level possible on my erf. But having been fairly successful on previous occasions, I waited until dusk one afternoon and decided to tackle these guys.

I got my (friend’s) telescopic ladder that could, with a stretch, make it to that point of the roof. I then took two canisters of aerosol, said to be effective under circumstances, put it in a plastic bag over my shoulder, and took the long road to the roof.

Upon reaching the destination I immediately realised it was a mistake. I should have sent my wife to do this job. This was really **** high! You see, up to the height of say three to four bricks I can still get back to ground level without assistance, but this was way higher than what I consider palatable.

Somehow the wasps became aware of me, with a few of them coming to have a look. They were supposed to be asleep that time of the day. But it is for this purpose that I mos armed myself with the doom fogger.   A slight technicality stood in the way of utilising my weapons of choice, though. See, to reach into the plastic bag to get the doom, I had to let go of the ladder with either one or two hands.

My brain instructed my right hand to let go of the ladder and reach into the plastic bag. Both hands told my brain to take a hike. Funny how white my knuckles became.

I realised that the only way to get them to let go, was to motion some movement downwards. Which I then duly did. I slowly made my way down to the ground again. Very slowly. So that I do not disturb the wasps, that is.

OK, new plan. I took the ladder around the house and put it up at a level where the ground was a lot closer to the roof. Approaching the wasp nest from the other side not only gave met the element of surprise, it also allowed me to crawl over the roof on all fours, rather than to dangle from a ladder.

This was much better.

I took up station near the roof tile under which the nest was. The two cans of doom fogger I put down neatly besides me so that I can grab them easily. See, I first have to lift the roof tile a bit to get to them.

It turns out this roof tile was rather stubborn. Moving it quietly was not an option.

Watching from a distance, my wife raised her doubts as to the wisdom of this exercise and urged me to leave it to the experts. She’s going to call the vet, she said.

I would have preferred her to call the doctor, maybe, rather than the vet, but before I could suggest that, the nest seemed to explode with all the wasps suddenly getting out.

Like Billy the Kid (maybe more like Lucky Luke) I rolled over to foil the attack. I grabbed my double rollie doom fogger and started squirting away. Any wasp coming near were either suffocated or drowned in the doom fogger, depending on the distance. Some might even have died of poisoning. One or two made it through my defences and landed on me, but by that time they were too, well, doomed to launch a proper attack.

I …

Yzerfontein

Sunday, 22 February, 2015

We recently had the privilege of being able to slip away from home for the weekend.  We booked a self catering unit at Kariza guest house  in Yzerfontein.

Yzer Map

Arriving at Yzerfontein we first attended at the SPAR to get the necessary goodies for the weekend.  As I got out of my car, I was immediately approached by a vendor who sold leather belts.  I suspect this is an eventuality that befalls anyone who stops there with any registration other than CK.  The vendor introduced himself as Robert, but hastened to add “not Mugabe.”   Fortunately I had my belt on and could show Robert a convincing reason why I would not be interested in his belts.

Robert clearly was not to be easily convinced.  He could see I had a belt on, but his is kudu leather, no less.  I should not pass up the opportunity to buy one of his kudu leather belts.  “Ask me how much,” Robert invited me.

I’m a sucker for convincing sales people.  But this time I decided I will stand firm and not let myself be bamboozled into a sale (which it would be, rather than a purchase) of something I do not want, regardless of how cheap it might be.  Apart from previous bad experiences at the hands of a Zambian, and Israeli and a con man  respectively, I thought I might try to impress my wife by not budging.

So in the end I did not ask Robert for the price of his belts, nor did I buy one.  And I can sincerely say it had nothing to do with him being named Robert.  I mean, there are mos some very upstanding Roberts in our world.  I’m thinking Mcbride, Leibrandt, Sobukwe, just to name a few mos.

Anyway,  we eventually arrived at Kariza.

Kariza

The welcome note left us in no doubt that we were at the right place.

Welkom

The purpose of the weekend was for my wife to work on her writing, and for me to catch up a bit on my reading.  So the setting was perfect.

Sonsondergang

From my bed I could see Dassen Island in the distance.

Dassen

Slightly to the left Table Mountain was visible in the far distance.

Tafelberg

Well, we put the weekend to good use.  Sitting on the stoep even saw a chick or two passing through.

Volstruis

We interrupting our reading and writing respectively with braai and eating.

Braai1

Vroegaand

And as I was taught at school to end an essays:  a good time was had by us.…

That thing of the Pharisee

Sunday, 22 February, 2015

I should have known it could not end well.

Picture this, nuh. I’m walking through a shopping centre, minding my own business. I reckon I have become rather good in dodging these sales people that spring a surprise on you and try to sell stuff to you that both you and them know you neither need nor want. I’m always embarrassed to try a new biscuit or whatever and to then nót buy it. So I do the thing of the Pharisee in the biblical parable of old and pass the other way.

So how this girl got it right, I do not know. But the next thing I know, this very beautiful girl had me by the arm and steered (more like pulling, I’d say) me to her open kiosk in the middle of the broad passage of the shopping centre.

At first I was totally flabbergasted by the strange sounds the girl made. After a while I started catching up on the accent. She was actually speaking a good English, it is only the accent that took me a while to realise it is actually English.

“I show you someteeng?” she explained. With the third attempt I understood. Strange, how quickly your ear can adjust. She then grabbed me by the hand.

“You see da lines on yourrrr nail? Everrrrybody has them.”

No sh*t, Sherlock, huh? I thought she was going to read the lines on my hand and tell me my fortune. Not so. The next thing she grabs this funny little brush and starts polishing / massaging / brushing my nail. When she was done, I had this very shiny thumb nail. She pulled my hand to her and pressed it between her breasts.

“Now notting weel take thees off,” she said with conviction. Well, I would hope so.

The next moment she holds something under my nose. Obviously she was now going to give me chloroform and abduct me and have her way with me. So I took a deep breath.

“Thees ees ceutex, ok?” she explained.

She grabbed my thumb again – well, actually for the duration of this whole exercised she never once let go of her grip on my arm. She was making sure I do not escape before she concluded her sales pitch. Another sniff from the cutex and my sinuses were as clear as it had not been in months. She attacked my shiny thumb nail with the cutex, but the shine remains.

Only now did I understand what she meant with “notting weel take thees off.” It was the shine that would remain, not her …… aaah, never mind.

OK, I understand now. And your point is? I wondered, but did not dare to ask.

“You know what happens thees month?”

Aha, trick question. I ran a few possibilities through my memory. School already started, holiday has come and gone, no rugby match to speak of, maybe an eclipse of the sun, I tried.

“No, eet ees Valentines day.”

O, shucks, good thing you remind me. I totally forgot. Oh, but hang on, it is also my wife’s birthday, I remember.

“That is good,” she swooned. She sells just the stuff that my wife would want. “And your daughter,” said she. “Do you have a daughterrrr?”

I hate it when people ask these personal questions. I always suspect a phishing scam in progress. Yet, I find myself mumbling a feeble “yes”.

“And how old ees shee?”

That is none of your business, I thought, but nevertheless find myself parting with this information too.

“Now see, because you arrrr my firrrst customerrr forrr today, I make you a verrrry special deal.”

So there is the lesson. One should not go shopping this early. It is the early worm that gets caught. But now just because (a) I am her first customer, and (b) she is very nice, she will now …

The scary world of the hearing

Thursday, 19 February, 2015

 

Since I can remember I did not hear excessively well. It was never too big a problem, really. I got by for five decades without major hassles that I’m aware of.

But then my family developed a hearing problem. They suddenly had a problem with my hearing.

Next thing I know I am ushered into the room of an audiologist. She sat me down on a chair in this small room (more like a closet, really) and closed the door. But with her outside, looking in through the window.   I just knew this is trouble. I mean, why lock me up in a sound proofed room if you do not intend doing something to me that is going to make me scream.

I meekly obeyed her orders after she gestured to me to put a set of head phones on that was in front of me.

Well, it did not turn out too badly. She ran a few words past me that I had to repeat to her. Just to have fun I gave her a few wrong answers. After a whole battery of tests she allowed me out of the closet again. She concluded that I do not hear well. No sh*t, Sherlock! She suggested hearing aids to alleviate what she termed “the problem”.

She presented us (yes, my wife would not allow me to go without her in case I did not pitch) with various options. Inside the ear. Outside the ear. Inside and outside the ear. Colour coded, you name it.

It turns out the stuff costs what I got for the last car that I traded in. So I suggested that we just get the largest possible dummy hearing aids in a neon fluerescent shocking colour. Then everyone can see I have hearing aids, and they would then automatically speak up. Problem solved.

I heard my wife say something that sounded like “cheap skate”, but I must be mistaken. She’s normally a kind lady, but she was rather firm in advising me that my idea is not a good idea. Nobody ever listens to me.

In any event, after some hassling, haggling, and serious discussions with my friendly banker, I eventually left the audiologist with a hearing aid in each ear.

Man! What a scary world I entered.

The audiologist and the receptionist bid me a friendly farewell. But why they had to shout is beyond me.

I might have mentioned previously here and there that my bakkie has let me down from time to time. But she is now fine, really. But suddenly I hear noises from the engine (and various other places) that I have never heard before. Before I got to the first traffic light I had to do breathing exercises to calm myself down. I was just convinced the bakkie is at the point of total collapse.

Once I took out the hearing aids, though, the bakkie was fine again.

Upon my arrival home I could hear a huge fracas going on inside. That’s not our style. We’re normally quite a docile bunch. I stormed into the house to calm everybody down, only to find them sitting around the dinner table chatting amicably. But why is everybody shouting!

I went outside into my garden just to collect myself. There, in the quiet remoteness I started relaxing. Being outside earshot of everyone, I even allowed myself to let a soft little flatulent escape. Absolutely simultaneously someone else let rip with a really loud fart. How uncouth!

I jumped, startled, and looked around to see who crept up on me, but there was nobody. I was still alone. Oh, my! I’m starting to hear things!

These things happen, you know. And these gasses can really be a bit of a bother sometimes. So unfortunately I felt the urge to let another little one of these fellas escape. Again I hear this thunder around …

Holiday over

Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

Real life

This year I have a house sitter who stays in my house, looks after the dogs, keep the pool clean, water the garden, and in general check my property to the exclusion of burglars.

One morning he sends me a message that his car had been stolen from the garage. Fortunately (for me) it turned out to have been stolen not from my garage, but from his parents’ house.

We always want to know where our kids are. Gouritsmond is probably the safest place in the country, but still. It is a bit uncomfortable, though, when the kids WhatsApp you 04h00 in the morning to advise that they have returned to their tents.

Life savers guard the beach every day. Usually there are no strong currents at Gourits, so I would assume them to become very bored. One afternoon at the sea, though, they seem to have a perfect little storm, so to speak, with the backwash and the current being just right for people to get in trouble. We witnessed them collecting a little girl being drawn in by the backwash. She was not really in serious danger, although she probably might eventually have been had it not been for the life saver’s quick response. Apparently she was their seventh save for the day.

Friends

Camping seems to be a bit of an equalizer between classes. Granted, you could arrive there with very luxurious equipment. But in general the whole camping setup would appear to make the difference between the have-a-lots and the have-less fade away.  Except if you are an avid angler, there is not necessarily much to do that really has to be done. Everything can wait. Meaning that one spends time with neighbours and friends that in the ordinary rush would not have happened.

Kepsie

 

Whilst preparing the fire for the after dinner roly poly on old year’s eve I got a call from a relative. He’s coming over for coffee tomorrow morning. “Is after eight all right?” he asks.  Of course I say it is fine.   I mean, of course he is kidding. Who comes for coffee anywhere near eight in the morning of New Year’s morning.

Well, it turned out he does. Just past eight he and a friend pulls up at the camp site. As it happened this was the hottest day of the holiday, and by that time we could not stand the heat in the caravan in any event. Even at that hour we did battle finding enough shade for us to have our coffee without breaking a sweat.

Leaving, but not on a jet plane

That last day before leaving for home always turns out the same. In spite of our undertakings to ourselves to enjoy the day to the full, half way through the day we find ourselves starting to slowly lose the holiday feeling and starting putting things right for the big packing that would happen only later the evening.

And when that is done, it is a juggling exercise to organise the stuff so that enough space remains to still sleep that one last night.

So this time we decided to short circuit the whole exercise. A day before our scheduled departure we got up at first light and started packing. By eleven the morning everything was packed, the caravan hitched, and ready to leave.

Oh, not quite. I still need to check the caravan’s rear lights. Normally it works. I always hope it does, because save for scratching the contact points with sand paper, I have no remedy for the event that it does not work.

The trip home goes somewhat slower than with a jet plane, I’m afraid. Just short of five hours later, covering the 360 km at an averaged GPS speed of 76 km/h we arrive home. Thankful for a very nice holiday, and for the tow vehicle not playing up …

Holiday Season 2014 – Part 2

Saturday, 10 January, 2015

Food

Preparing food is nogals a big thing when camping.

I’m not much of a cook, but under the watchful eye of my wife I can these days boil water and even some more without causing injury.

Braai is, of course, the preferred mode of cooking. A conditio sine qua non, so to speak, for camping.

Braaivuur

A lamb chops and wors combination is a good start. The chicken kebabs we got from the big shop in Mossel Bay went down well. Only, we too late realised that the red bits on it were chili that the chef chose to add to his spices. We don’t actually do chili.

Potatoes, buttered and covered in feta cheese and then wrapped in tinfoil to bake in the coals make a fine side platter.

For quicker food we make pasta, or resort to vetkoek and mince. OK, to go even quicker we sommer attend Koffiestories, the new coffee shop at Gouritsmond.  They serve milk tart pancakes as a novelty.  Pancake filled with milk tart filling.  So what you see is pancake, but what you taste is milk tart.

Potbrood takes a bit of time, but it can in itself make a principal meal.

One morning our angler neighbour’s fishing expedition came to nought, and we decided on an impromptu brunch.  Brunch in the form of sausage, eggs, tamato, pineaple, greenpeppers, onions and toast all done on the pan on the fire.

Die brunch pan

No, not all at once.  Step by step, until you get to the end result.

Opgeskep

My neighbour, being the avid angler, comes home from time to time with fish to braai.  These, I’m told, are called “silver”, although it is red.  Perfectly logical mos.

Silwer

For the past many years a friend donated a lamb for a spit braai for old year’s eve. Due to bad weather, though, the lamb was this time reduced to tjops, ribs, and leg of lamb. The ribs were made in a potjie, with onions, where it simmered for three hours to make for marvelous rib.  Well, so I’m told.  By the time I got to the pot there was nothing left!

This was followed up by roly-poly desert also made in the potjie on the fire.  I managed to get the ‘before’ picture.

Roly Poly

There was no time for the ‘after’ picture.  I did not think the empty potjie would count for an ‘after’ picture.

In the beginning we used to stock the caravan up before coming to Gouritsmond. It turns out, though, that meat is somewhat cheaper at the local shop than in town. So from time to time we got some really good steaks to grill on the coals.

One morning my wife went to buy steak, but she was advised by the lad manning the power tools there that he cut his hand, and there will be not further meat cutting for the day. Which is probably not a bad idea. I also thought one might want to wait a day or two before you buy meat again. Just to be sure, you know.

Some 7km away is the Stoepsit restaurant pretty much in the middle of nothing. That turned out to be a rather nice hangout. The kids went there for a dance on old year’s eve.

My neighbour does afval potjie (tripe) but swears by one butcher only from whom he sources his afval. I don’t do afval, although I have to admit his end product looks rather appetizing.

Christmas dinner with the family at Montagu is an elaborate affair. It actually starts with the previous evening’s dinner with a braai. Having the meat still simmering on the coals by 22h30 is not strange.

Christmas dinner consisted of chicken, leg of lamb, mustard jelly, cucumber jelly (no, really) roast potatoes. The previous evening’s Casata ice cream is equalled by grandma’s trifle and ice cream.

Ok, I guess you know what this is?

Basis

Yeah, I …

HOLIDAY SEASON 2014 – part 1

Wednesday, 7 January, 2015

Getting the wheels ready

Last year my holiday ended with my whole rig and my family being delivered at our house by a tow truck.

Travelling in style

The thing with these little discomforts is that it normally makes for good reading. Afterwards.

After our rather peculiar mode of arriving home, I was under pressure to have the family transport upgraded to something that the family would perceive as more reliable. My seventeen year old vehicle with 290 000km’s on the clock just did not do it for the family any more. I was not yet convinced that a replacement was called for.

But I was overtaken by events. Our second set of wheels (also older than a decade) suddenly needed acute repairs that simply did not seem worth its while. So I had to replace those wheels. And thus, I still have my trusted bakkie.

But in a bit of de ja vu I started experiencing mechanical problems on my bakkie just in the month before departure. With three weeks to go and all moving parts in the starter circuit already replaced with new ones, I still had a problem getting the bakkie to start when hot. My auto electrician then performed an experimental repair that he believed would solved what turned out to be a voltage drop.

Problem is, I would only finally know whether it worked when the bakkie travelled a bit. Which would mean that only on the first leg of my holiday travel would I know. So just to be sure we decided that the second set of wheels has to travel along as a back-up vehicle. It did remind me of the mechanic to whom I spoke shortly after I acquired my bakkie many years ago. He said of course I can go do heavy offroading in Kaokoland with said bakkie, as long as the tow truck went along.

The departure is the now well known drill, ie getting the caravan out without taking bits of gutters, gates, walls and bougainvilla along. After doing this for ten years, we now seem to have got the hang of it.  We now get it right without the shouting and the cursing that the neighbours used to complain about. There is just no replacement for experience.

After the pit stop at Worcester it was with trepidation that I started my bakkie again. And walaa! It started! It seems like my autolec actually got the problem fixed! I am happy to report that, in the end, the bakkie gave sterling service.

Off to sea

At Gouritsmond’s annual library book sale I buy two books for the quiet moments of the holiday. Robert Ludlum’s Matarese Circle, and Geoffrey Archer’s Eagle Trap. I’m not sure either of these gentlemen would be happy to know that their works of art are being sold for the equivalent of the princely sum of some 17 British cents (R3) each. But then again, with the strength of the Pound Sterling one never knows. I certainly got a lot of value for my money.

Holidaying at the sea, of course, makes it mandatory to go to the beach.

On day one I accompany my 12-year old just to check on him. When his older boet was that age the two of us got swept away by a strong backwash that came close to turning out tragically. So I prefer to keep an eye on the chap.

Gourits strand

For the occasion I don my brand new garish red trunks. It seems to hit a nerve on the beach. I cannot help but notice the people taking cognisance of me. Some even openly point at my larnie swimming trunks. Although I profess to be a humble man I have to confess that I do have an ego. Which ego took kindly to the attention of especially the girls on the beach. So I put a bit of a …