Fork the Veld

  ©2013 Edward C. Lunnon Sunday 15 September 2013: 7 years on … Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED It’s been quite a week – the week that was! On Wednesday evening I attended the St Francis Hospice AGM. If ever there was a group of caring people, there they are. If ever there was a group of deserving people, there they are. If ever there was an association that you, one day, may also need to assist you, there they are. They assist families and patients who have to deal with life limiting illnesses – cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB, motor neuron disease …If ever there was a group that needed your financial assistance, there they are. They have had to retrench staff members this year because of a lack of funds! For just R100 a year you can become a member of St Francis Hospice. This entitles you to voting rights, a newsletter, news on forthcoming fundraisers and a chance to win R2000! An email to kerry@stfrancishospice.za.org with your personal details and an EFT deposit of R100 into St Francis Hospice, Standard Bank Rink St, account no 080 260 349, branch no 050 417 00 will make you a member of the Hospice. It’s so easy – just do it now – and HELP HOSPICE HELP me and so many other people who have terminal illnesses. Thanks so much for doing that now! On Thursday evening Pera and I attended the Grey Junior “Music the Grey Way” concert. The concert was great but the seats we had were terrible. Initially we couldn’t see much, so we changed seats at half-time. Then I was boxed in and my leg started cramping. It was the most uncomfortable three hours that I have spent and I think I aggravated my left side. Since then, I have been really eina! I need to remember to ensure when we go somewhere that I have to be very specific about the seats we sit in or the rooms we book. That’s a new learning curve for me! And Friday morning I was off to Graaff-Reinet to the launch of Gordon Wright’s first recipe book – Veld to Fork.  (See all my previous blogs regarding Gordon Wright. You can just enter Wright into the search box – the one with the magnifying glass – in the right hand column of this blog.) Two and a half more hours of uncomfortable sitting! But I had a lift with Roche van As – Gordon refers to Roche in the foreword to his book as a “brother from another mother”! We had lots to talk about and the trip was over before it started. We arrived at about two and sat at the poolside of the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse sipping cold white wine and Windhoek Lites. Then at four we headed off to the Graaff-Reinet Men’s Club (now ladies too!). The Club was filled with all those wonderful Karoo people – some there for the weekly draw, most there for the book launch and all there to share in the friendship and hospitality that Graaff-Reinet provides. We downed the sun and were treated to snacks made from recipes in the book – each plate being numbered with the page number of the recipe in the book. Gordon Right (as the Weekend Post spelt it in their article – maybe they know more than we do!) sat as pompous as ever behind the table signing copy after copy. It must be a great feeling to see such a wonderful book finally in the printed form. Gordon wrote in my personally autographed copy – YOUR TURN NEXT!! I can’t wait for that feeling so I guess it’s time to get moving. My book doesn’t even have a name yet! Later in the evening we headed off to Gordon’s Restaurant for supper, snorts, skinder and song – ala Karoo style! So after EFTing your money to the hospice as per above, maybe you want to go to Exclusive Books and buy your copy of Veld to Fork. If you talk nicely to me, I may even get you an autographed copy. After all, I know the author personally! I was planning to come back on Sunday (with a lift organised by Gerrie van Rooyen), but when I woke up on Saturday morning, Roche was still there (he had planned to come back very early on Saturday!) My left side was very eina by now, and so I decided to come back to Port Elizabeth with him. So after breakfast at the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse – where we had slept over – we headed for home – again, so much talking, that Ravelskloof, Jansenville,Wolwefontein, Cockscomb, Holwil, Kirkwood, Uitenhage and Despatch sped by. We were back in Port Elizabeth just in time for lunch!  Unfortunately, we weren’t staying in Graaff-Reinet for the big meeting later in the week where farmers and landowners will be discussing the fracking that seems now to be inevitability in the Karoo. And if you have more money left over, after HOSPICE and COOKBOOK above, then maybe you want to donate something to the STOP FRACKING IN THE KAROO fund. If you don’t help, they are going to FORK the VELD and destroy the hospitable Plains of the Camdeboo. No more people, Club, food, hospitality, visits, chats, drinks … to write about! “If anything, we don’t own the planet and the planet doesn’t own us. The planet belongs to our children and we are merely stewards keeping watch until they have their turn to do the same.” In the meantime, I feel like I have been forked too. My left side and left hip especially remain eina, despite more anti-inflammatory tablets and pain-killers. Roll on Monday morning for my weekly massage … (And in the early hours of Sunday morning I received a BBM from Rose Wright to tell me that Gordon’s mom, Briar, fell and broke her hip and dislocated her shoulder in the middle of the night. She is currently in the operating theatre at Greenacres Hospital. We wish her a speedy and successful recovery.)            

No Turkey at this Thanksgiving

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 10 June 2013: 6 years 9 months on …

Game: ED

Yes, we had no turkey!

But we did have Karoo mutton and lamb and chicken and eggs and chops and pizzas and red wine and Guiness and Castles and …. in fact, we had far too much.

However, this is Karoo hospitality and whilst we had too much to eat and drink, one can never complain about the Karoo hospitality that one experiences when visiting Graaff-Reinet! There is so much of it that one must be careful not to drown in it.

So this weekend resulted in a very unplanned and hurried visit to Graaff-Reinet. We haven’t been for a while, so it was great seeing the Karoo Clan – the Harris’s and their whole netball team of daughters (thanks for putting us up and for putting up with us!), the Wrights, the Bouwers, the Prices, the Beaumonts, Pieter and the guys at The Graaff-Reinet Club, the people at Polka, etc etc …. And apologies if I have not mentioned your name! (Please add it in a comment below and I will rectify my omissions!)

The reason for our hurried trip was indeed a thanksgiving: to give thanks for the life of Richard Clarke who died in the most bizarre set of circumstances on the national road between Graaff-Reinet and Aberdeen last week.

I first met Richard “online” when he started commenting on the blogs that I had written about fracking in the Karoo. Then, one day, we met face to face at that rather hospitable Graaff-Reinet (Mens?) Club where there always seems to be a reason for saying thanks and for saying “Cheers”!

Richard and I discussed numerous issues – he liked that and so did I, and sometimes it was necessary to have just another ale in order to cool down the intense debate!

And whether we met at the Club or on the street of Graaff-Reinet, there was always that blue-eyed smile and those deep words of discussion!

It was only later that I “discovered” that Richard was my radio interviewer, Lance du Plessis’s, cousin.

So it came as a shock last Wednesday, just as we were about to go on air, that Lance informed me of Richard’s death.

My sincere sympathy and condolences go to all his family and friends.

I shall miss his sharp intellect, his fine debating skills and that blue-eyed smile. I shall have another reason to drink an extra Guiness when next I visit the Graaff-Reinet Club.

Despite the sad circumstances of this visit, it was really great being back in the Karoo and seeing you all. And it was great to experience the drop in temperature from 22 to -2! (just a little exaggeration!)

A little of Richard’s writing:

SWEET TORQUE

People supporting fracking Shell for jobs should beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I attended the meeting on fracking at the Graaff-Reinet Town Hall on Thursday 18 April and I did not hear anything new from Shell. It is almost two years ago that there was a massive meeting at the same spot and Shell still have no answers to the questions about water and about jobs.
There are no guarantees about jobs or water. There is no certainty that there will be jobs and no certainty that the water is safe and won’t be contaminated by chemicals used in the drilling process.
Shell SA is a part of Royal Dutch Shell which as a Multi-National Corporation is there to make money, otherwise it does not exist. Shell is not terribly worried about whether people in the Karoo get jobs or whether they can continue to drink their water.
There is shale gas in the Karoo and that can be turned in to money. This is the bottom line in any calculation or analysis by Shell. The same arrogance and even contempt for the Karoo locals was on display yet again as we were told that people concerned about chemicals are being “emotional”.
At question time this lack of respect was shown in the contempt with which one of the Shell delegation fobbed off a question around the recent article in the National Geographic about the ever present dangers in mining and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The presentation itself has not altered much in two years and Shell simply speak of job possibilities in the “multiple 1000’s” like a lottery which of course means that they are not sure and don’t want to be caught out.
The local community has become split over fracking with some irresponsible people encouraging the split along racial lines with whiteys anti because they don’t need jobs and blacks pro because they want jobs.
This is simplistic and done purely for political gain. The reality is that both of the groups should be together pressurising Shell to come clean on these issues of jobs and water.
There is no guarantee that there will be jobs and no guarantee that the groundwater will survive this Shell onslaught.
We have an elected government in this country whose job it is to protect the citizens of South Africa against this kind of invasion by a Multi-National Corporation that is richer than many countries.
An elected government that should controlling and monitoring the process by which rights to mine are granted. Controlling and monitoring the process that Shell seems to running on its own.
Shell at this meeting looked like a player in the game and the referee as well.
There is still a long way to go in this fight and people that support Shell and fracking because they believe it will bring jobs should beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 richard

RIP Richard Clarke

richard1

PS >>>>> Happy birthday John!

Pigs, Guinea Pigs, Pork, Karoo Lamb and Cold Turkey

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 1 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Advantage ED

New Year’s Day – my 56th one!

I have not been very good at keeping my blogs up to date over the last few weeks. It’s not because I have been busy. On the contrary, life has been unusually quiet during this time.

It’s just that I haven’t felt well, haven’t been able to type, haven’t had the urge or inclination to write, and most of all, just haven’t been able to sit down for any periods of time. Try writing standing up!

Whoever would have thought that the CBD would have taken the act of sitting away from me too! All this time we have spoken about when time would come to sit in a wheelchair – now the very act of sitting would seem to preclude that from me, too!

My short-term memory is also becoming more problematic. However, for the record (which these blogs – “weB LOGS”) are supposed to be) let’s try and fill in the gaps of the last few weeks.

 The rugby test in Port Elizabeth in August this year set in motion a chain of events that resulted in my visiting Graaff-Reinet a number of times over the last few months.

There was the initial “hunting” weekend I spent with the Wrights when I came home with Charlie Jack Russell from the Harris’s. Life has changed dramatically in our household since then (… for better or for worse! …)

Then we went back for the Karoolus Fees. That resulted in me meeting Ed and Margie Parkes and being invited to speak at the Graaff-Reinet Cancer Society Christmas Dinner and the St James Anglican Church Men’s Breakfast Group. Then, I spent a number of days with Gordon, Rose, Graham and Helen and their families both in town and out on the farm. I was planning to stay longer, but had to return to Port Elizabeth for a public meeting at the University regarding the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) process that the oil companies have applied to government to initiate in many parts of our country – including our beautiful Karoo!

That very next weekend saw us return and spend the Saturday evening with the Harris’s (lovely braaied pork from their piggery for supper) before we attended Jean Margaret Watermeyer’s 80th Birthday Luncheon at The Aberdeen Club, and got to see the Ogilvies and the Watermeyer’s and many other people that I have met in the Camdeboo region over the last 26 years that I have been privileged to have been able to visit here in the Karoo. (The Karoo is traditionally sheep and goat country – and some farmers also run pigs (herds, litters, droves …?) that appear to help with the cash flow in tough economic times, such as are being experienced of late.)

A few months ago, I had also been invited by Howard Sheard to spend time at their farm Weltevreden just outside Nieu Bethesda (a hamlet just 30 minutes north of Graaff-Reinet). So when my niece Michelle and her husband Sebastian told me they were coming to visit for Christmas, I decided it was time to take Howard up on his offer and visit Nieu Bethesda.

In between all this travelling I had been experiencing increasing problems with the ongoing spasms down my left side. It has especially been making sitting down problematic and life quite uncomfortable.

So, desperate times called for desperate measures. I started seeing Dr Fanie Smit (and with the input of my neurologist) I started becoming a bit of a guinea pig! First we would try cortisone. I would also go for hydrotherapy (water exercises) with biokineticist Christelle Smit.

At one stage I was taking twenty five tablets a day (my daily Carbilev, Lyrica, cortisone (Prednisone), Norflex and Lexamil. I call my medication my Polyfilla – none of it will stop the progress of the CBD, slow it down, reverse it or stop it completely. It only helps to cover up the symptoms and so, like polyfilla, is just a cosmetic assistance to make things look good – “but you look so good” is what so many people say to me. Yes, I do look good – thanks to all the pills.

I program the pill times into my Blackberry so that I don’t miss a dose! Heaven knows what it is doing to my insides, and whilst I may look good, I certainly no longer feel all that well – and sometimes I wish I felt as good as I look!

We weaned me down from 8 cortisone tablets to one daily. But whilst the eight definitely made my life much better, the one tablet was not so successful. And Dr Smit says the side-effects of the cortisone vis-à-vis the relief it gives does not warrant taking such big dosages. So on the last visit to him, about three weeks a go, we stopped the prednisone. Next on the list would be quinine – just two a day for two weeks – let’s see what this does. (Whilst quinine is used to combat malaria, its use as an over-the-counter medicine has now been banned as a result of strange side-effects that it sometimes presents.)

At the same time Christelle (my biokineticist), together with André from Knights Orthotists, have been working on a device to assist with my errant left leg.

Let me explain: as my brain loses control over my muscles, they contract (like elastic bands that go from a stretched to an unstretched position) and hence my limbs fold up leaving me in the foetal position.

 So when I stand, my left leg bends at the knee and comes up like the leg of a flamingo, with my left foot at my right hip! Therefore, they have devised what I call my scaffolding – it’s a metal brace construction that prevents my knee from bending and at the same time gives me strength to put weight on that leg.

Besides a few teething problems and slight modifications, it works well (other than making my leg much weaker when it’s off as the leg becomes dependent on the support that the brace gives). I have been able to put away my walking stick for a while!

 

With all these various treatments at the same time, it is difficult to say what exactly is stopping the spasms and making it so much easier to sit. Is it the exercise, the brace, the medication …?

Anyway, it was the week before Christmas when we headed off to Nieu Bethesda, this time with Charlie who would visit his mother and siblings for the first time since moving from the Karoo to the coast. I had just started my dose of quinine.

Tuesday, we spent visiting some of the historical places of interest in Graaff-Reinet until a violent Karoo thunder storm put an end to our walk ‘round the town.

Then out to Tandjiesview, and our six, together with Graeme’s family, his parents and his cousin and his family of four, sixteen of us sat down to our first Christmas Dinner of the season!

Wednesday morning we moved on to The Valley of Desolation and a trip through the Camdeboo National Park. Later, we went onto Nieu Bethesda for lunch and then out to Weltevreden (meaning “well-satisfied/content”), some thirteen kilometres west of the hamlet. The rest of the day, as the travel brochures put it, “was for exploring at your own convenience”.

What a beautiful farm at the base of the tallest mountain peak in the Eastern Cape, the Kompasberg (the Compass Mountain). There we had Lisa and Miemie, farm domestic assistants to look after us, and in the absolute stillness of the evening, we sat down to our first braai of the week, and watch Miemie’s family of pigs stroll across the beautifully manicured front lawn!

However, day two of our trip was also day three of my quinine tablets, and they started doing strange things – upset tummy, nausea, ringing in my ears …

I have learned to push on … so Thursday was spent exploring the hamlet: art galleries, pottery shops, The Owl House, the local Brewery and Cheese producers, the cricket oval … and still so much more to see. A return visit is a must for the New Year!

Friday morning, all too soon, the Ridgeways headed back via Aberdeen and Beaufort West to the Western Cape, and we returned to Port Elizabeth. By then I was really feeling miserable and had also broken out in a red rash all over my arms and legs.

A visit to Dr Fanie brought to an end the quinine experiment, and so after a week, the quinine tablets were stopped, and with that, almost immediate relief from some of the side-effects. For the next week, this guinea pig will not be taking any additional medication, and so now I am in that period of cold turkey. Let’s see what happens and we will resume trials in the New Year!

Saturday was Christmas Eve, so some last minute shopping preceded our family-of-four Christmas Eve dinner, lamb and gammon! Sean returned from St Francis Bay, where he has been working at Cob’s Cove, and we spent a quiet evening together, and opened pressies on Christmas morning. It was the first time in many a year that we were not attending the Christmas Service in the Bowling Green Hall in St Francis Bay. I missed that! It seemed impossible that a year had passed since our last Christmas service there!

Anyway, we move on … through what Lance calls the Twilight Zone – the week between Christmas and New Year. I lose track of days at the best of time now. Add to that public holidays, and more public holidays (the government created an extra one this year on the day after Boxing Day … Tuesday, I think that was!), and I lose track of time completely. Sean returned to work in St Francis and Phillip headed off with friends to Bushman’s River.

Somewhere in this time, we went to see the Blues Broers and Centrestage’s Extravaganza. New Year’s Eve we spent with the Clarkes at Bluewater Bay and New Year’s evening was supper with the Stapletons. The Reelers are due for supper tonight. And then it’s back to normal – whatever that is!

ED is in EDen (part 1)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 6 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

Exactly a week ago, last Tuesday evening, a switch was thrown at 23h00 by Dave Tiltmann, the MD of AlgoaFM which increased the broadcast area of our local radio station to include what is known as the Garden Route in the southern Cape of South Africa.

Reception on this, the southernmost coast of the African continent, is now obtainable “From The Garden Route to The Wild Coast” (and all broadcast from The Boardwalk Casino right here in Port Elizabeth.)

Previously, when going westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, AlgoaFM reception was lost somewhere between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Now, you can pick it up all the way to Riversdale and Still Bay on the coast, and inland as far as Oudtshoorn!

This part is arguably one of the most beautiful areas of our country and it is not known as the Garden Route for nothing. The municipal area is purposefully named the Eden Municipality.

No account of my life’s journey would be complete if I did not write about this area. Just as the Camdeboo and the Karoo have been a part of my life, so, too, have the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and the Garden of Eden.

I will describe the area from west to east along the southern coast.

Stilbaai (Still Bay) is at the mouth of the Kafferkuils River. It consists of two pieces, West and East. Just recently we spent time with the Wusts in Stilbaai West on our way to Cape Town (see The Cape of Good Hope).

But it was Stilbaai East that I first came to know as a High School youngster. Our neighbours in The Strand, Ds Bombaai van Rensburg and his wife (known to us as Aunty Dominee) and 5 sons – three of whom were born on the same date a year apart from each other! –  had a holiday house there. We were contemporaries and became good friends, and I spent many summer holidays with great memories with them there.

One summer holiday (circa my Std 9 year, I think) was rudely interrupted when I ended up in the Riversdale Hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. They kept me there for a week, as the doctor would not let me go back to the holiday village to recuperate! (Nowadays, I think it’s a one day in and out op!)

My Uncle George Lunnon and Aunty Irmela lived in Riversdal (Uncle George, ironically, worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the SABC, and was responsible for the erection of many of the tall red and white FM broadcasting towers that now dot the South African landscape.) I recall him taking me to see the one outside Riversdale during my convalescence period. It is situated in the foothills of the Langeberg and at the base of the mountain known to all in the area as The Sleeping Beauty. You can see why when you drive past Riversdale why they would have named it that!

 Despite having family there, my mom single-handedly drove the then four-hour trip from Cape Town to come and look after me!

Up the road from Riversdale (CCC vehicle registration) is Albertinia (named after one Rev Albertyn).  No drive through this town would be complete without having Sunday luncheon at the famous hotel or a purchase of some of the many medicinal products processed here from the sap of the Aloe Ferox plant.

Further westwards, about 15km from Albertinia, is the 65m high Gouritz River Bridge. It was here that the company Kiwi Extreme introduced the concept of bungi jumping in South Africa in 1990.

(The bridge swing and bungy have currently been suspended awaiting the outcome of an investigation to determine if the bridge structure will allow the continuation of such activities. A much higher jump is now available from the Blaauwkrantz River Bridge further eastwards along the N2  on the border between the Western Cape and the Easter Cape)

About 35 kilometers to the east along the N2 National Road is Mossel Bay. Before that you get to see the orange glow of the burning flame of the chimney of the SASOL Oil refinery (now called Petrochem, but originally called Mossgas when gas was discovered in the Indian Ocean south of Mossel Bay and was billed to transform the economy of this area from the depressed state that it was – what happened, I wonder? Big stories and promises like the fracking of the gas fields in the Karoo?

The gas pipeline runs from the ocean bed gas field south of Vleesbaai (where I have visited student friend Piet Immelman) to the refinery right next to the main highway, and a few kilometres from the Mossel Bay 1 Stop Service station and Engen garage and the obligatory stop for a meal at the Wimpy. (I remember as a student hitchhiking from here back to Stellenbosch – a trip that took two days!)

Mossel Bay itself is the start (going eastwards) of one continuous mass of wall-to-wall holiday and permanent homes built along the sweeping coastline where the white of the sea-sand merges with the darker blue of the sea-waters of the Bay, and the lighter azure blue of the sky and the horizon.

When I worked in business, this was the westward extremity of the area for which I was the Regional HR Manager. It was here, too, that I worked my last day in that industry and where it came to an abrupt end way back in March 2002.

What one sees as one urban sprawl is actually made up of numerous different towns/villages. Those that spring to mind are Hartenbos, home of the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging), Klein Brakrivier, Groot Brakrivier (it was here that as a High School student, I attended SCA camps), Tergniet (I often visited the Appels here when I did my military service in Oudtshoorn), Eselsrus (where retired teachers have made their holiday and retirement village), Glentana, Herold’s Bay (the home of golfer Ernie Els) and a guess a few more that I have forgotten.

From Mossel Bay to George the national road is a double four lane highway – only because the Member of Parliament for the constituency of George all the years was one PW Botha, later to become Prime Minister and State President of the Republic and the deliverer of the dreaded Rubicon Speech that projected our country on a downward spiral to chaos in the eighties).    

 

Next to the highway and between it and the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, is the George National Airport, also a brainchild of the late PW Botha MP.

Then comes the City of George, the sixth oldest town in South Africa named after King George III, and the Capital of the Southern Cape. The town is very centrally situated: halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and centre of the Garden Route.

It is situated on a 10-kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. Pacaltsdorp is found right next to George.

(Part 2 next week)

 

Just Another Two Weeks in the Life of ED

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 28 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Deuce

I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks now. It’s not because I have been too ill; it’s simply that I have been too busy!

And that being busy during a time that I really didn’t have anything planned. I had said to Lance on our radio discussion that I was going to relax. I was going to take it easy, catch up on my writing, get my admin sorted out and rest a while!

Well, let me try and document the last few (restful) weeks:

Friday 11 November

I missed the Remembrance Day sevice at Grey, but attended my first hydrotherapy at noon with Christelle Smit (biokineticist) in Newton Park. She was recommended to me by Paul Woolf, who was so instrumental in assisting Belinda Walton in her recovery after her dreadful car accident.

Monday 14 November

At 11h30 I see Suna Kennedy who visits me weekly to massage my hands, arms, feet and legs. At 13h30 it’s off to swim with Christelle.

Tuesday 15 November

At 11h00 I have my therapy with Christelle. Then invite to lunch with ex-pupil and psychologist Konrad Van Staden at Cape Town Fish Market at 13h00. Over Tuesday’s half-price sushi we discuss the ongoing spasms that are increasing, the pain in my left calf muscle and the discomfort that I am experiencing. Konrad has been discussing my condition with medical colleagues and they have some ideas with which they want to experiment.

He immediately makes an appointment with Dr Fanie Smit for 14h00 in the medical centre at King’s Court. Fanie recommends that we start a course of cortisone (read my blog Woke up and Gone to Heaven when I had cortisone injections last year to treat the gout attack that I experienced!)

I then rush off for my haircut @ 15h00 with Jeannine at Hair by André in 4th Avenue Newton Park. Jeannine has kindly been cutting my hair and trimming my beard for the last few months now, since it became more difficult for me to hold the shaver and pair of trimming scissors!

I then go to Dischem to collect the new experimental medication:

  • Be-Tab Prednisone 5 (40) 8x day for 5 days with breakfast (Wed – Sun)
  • Norflex Co (24) 1 -2 tabs 3x day as needed (Relieves muscular pain) [orphenadrine 35mg /paracetamol 450mg S2]

In the evening we went to see the Gilbert and Sullivan production of “Fiela’s Child”. I thoroughly enjoyed this translation and musical production of the original Dalene Mathee’s Fiela se Kind. (I had previously read the book and seen the movie.)

 The talent in Port Elizabeth never ceases to amaze me! Donna Africa is superb in the rôle of Fiela! And it’s a fundraiser in aid of Gaby van Rooyen’s Trust Fund – Gaby has muscular dystrophy and we have discussed her on air and she has met me at Bluewaters café.

Wednesday 16 November

I commence new medication with breakfast.

Then I head off to AlgoaFM studio at the Boardwalk for ED is in wED at 10h30. Veanne Falco and Loines Jenkerson kindly come to fetch me and after the show we have coffee together, kindly supplied by Bluewaters Café at Hobie Beach. We are also joined by Charles Pautz … and proceed to wax lyrical about the new I-Pads …

My therapy is cancelled today (I can’t remember why!), but in between everything, I am in discussion with the Wrights and the Parke’s in Graaff-Reinet to arrange my lift there for the weekend.

Rose Wright decides to come shopping in Port Elizabeth and drives down in the afternoon arriving at 17h30. She will stay over, go shopping in the morning and I will return to Graafies with her on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday 17 November

Rose goes off shopping. At 9h30, I have my weekly visit from Sister Gill from the Hospice, then Nadine arrives at 10h00 to help with my admin, followed by Isaac at noon for our weekly chat and then a rushed pack for the weekend. At two pm, I rush off for a double dose of therapy and swimming with Christelle until 15h00.

At 15h30 we leave for Graaff-Reinet, arriving there about 18h00. Gordon has called to tell us to meet him at the Graaff-Reinet Club for drinks, and then it’s to their home, supper and sleep!

Friday 18 November

Well, I’m here to talk so I had better prepare some speeches. After breakfast, I spend the rest of the day preparing and trying to be fancy using my I-Pad. I think getting used to the I-Pad took longer than putting my thoughts on paper – I mean I-Pad! But so we move into a paperless society.

Margie Parkes collects me at seven pm to attend the year end function of the GR and District Cancer Association. It’s billed as a Survivors’ Dinner and is attended by about 150 people in the Anglican Church Hall (only because the Methodists don’t allow alcohol!)

It is very humbling for me to speak to people who face the challenge of cancer (and those who have survived!) It is also awesome to meet so many people who “know” me because of listening to our programme. It never ceases to amaze me how popular the show has become.

Besides strangers there are also friends that I have met over the years visiting Aberdeen, Graaff-Reinet and Doringdraai. The Kroons, the Murrays, the Watermeyers  …  I wish I could remember all the names …  as my memory regresses, I will have to jot it all down in my I-Pad … I wish I remembered to do that at the time!

After a Welcome Speech by Margie, and Grace, we commenced with the starter. Then, I was introduced by “Aunty” Jean-Margaret Watermeyer (Colleen Ogilvie’s Mom) from Aberdeen.  I have known them since 1985 when I first started teaching at Grey with Dickie Ogilvie (himself a cancer-survivor.) Colleen’s brother Alec died from cancer in 1987 and that prompted their move to the Karoo and to farming, and our long association with Doringdraai  and the Camdeboo and the Great Karoo. (John Watermeyer was MC when we got married in 1990 and Dickie was one of my bestmen.)

I spoke about the positives of facing life’s challenges – The Gift that Adversity brings to us.

Then we had the main course and dessert, with some light singing entertainment in between. It was a great evening, celebrating the human survival spirit.

Afterwards, I went with Aunty Jean to Helen and Graham Harris’s town house. Uncle John was there too, and we visited a while until Graham took me back to the Wrights. There we were joined by William Pringle (the new Union High headmaster) and Gordon for a late-night single malt!

Saturday 19 November

At 9h00 Graham came to fetch me. I had a breakfast appointment to address the Men’s Club at the St James Anglican Church Breakfast Group. About twenty local gentlemen arrive and before breakfast I give them a slightly adapted version of last night’s speech. Question time delivers a large number of questions ranging from the illness to religion, faith and Christianity. I thoroughly enjoyed the quantity and quality of the questions asked. And we had an excellent breakfast!

Then back home. I was quite tired and had a short nap.  Afterwards, I walked to town for some exercise, looked at some of the historical buildings (GR, the fourth oldest town in SA, has the most historical buildings left of any town in SA.), chatted at Brian Bands to some ardent radio listeners and at The Spur to Andy Cherrington, my ex-neighbour from Port Elizabeth who has recently bought the Spur Steakhouse in Graaff-Reinet and moved there.

After a decent afternoon nap, we drove to the National Park and the Valley of Desolation, just outside the town, to have sundowners from the vantage point at the top of the Valley. What a magnificent sight to see the sun setting over the plains and leaving its coloured canvas over the Karoo and the Camdeboo mountains. The park closes at 20h00 and after our wines and cheeses, we barely made it out on time.

Then onto the Union – the entertainment facility at the High School where the New Bethesda Cricket Club now has its home ground. They had played Willowmore in the afternoon and were finishing the day off with a good old South African braai ( and a few beers!)

Sunday 20 November

Sunday was a lazy day – breakfast, lunch with William Pringle joining us, watching cricket (SA vs Australia with Aus winning!)

I fell asleep in the LazyBoy Recliner and woke up to find myself the only person left in the lounge. Then off to Tandjiesview to spend the night on the Harris’s farm, some 40km outside the town.

 

Monday 21 November

I took a walk on the farm whilst Graham was attending to some of the daily farming chores. After lunch, we headed back to town, and then returned to the Wrights for Monday evening.  (Cancelled swim time for today and Tuesday!)

Tuesday 22 November

Back to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday at 13h00 in order to attend a fracking meeting at the NMMU at 17h00. It was the first time that Shell Oil, Environmentalists, Geology Professor and Karoo Action Group shared a public platform under the chairmanship of University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Piet Naude, who studied with me at Stellenbosch University. Unfortunately, government did not pitch up and were conspicuous by their absence.

Overall, the general feeling (except that of Shell) was that a moratorium on fracking should be extended for at least another three years until a proper investigation under international watch-dog eyes could be concluded.

Wednesday 23 November

Loynes came to fetch me for ED is in wED. Then coffee with him and Kobus at Bluewaters café, Doctor Fanie at noon, more cortisone from the pharmacy, coffee with Konrad at 13h30, swim at 14h30 and drinks with Kyle, my financial advisor at 16h00!

Thursday 24 November

Back on to the cortisone at breakfast, Nurse Gill at 10h00, Nadine at 11h00, massage at 11h30 and then the  Parkinsons Support Group Christmas Dinner at QDotPharma (ex Paraexel) Head Office.

What a joy to see the humour, fun and enthusiasm in this group of people who battle the ravages of Parkinsons Disease!

Friday 25 November

Quiet morning at last and time to just sit and relax! But not for long, as it is swim time at 13h30!

Saturday 26 November

We attend Claire Williams’s retirement breakfast at Grey Junior. She is leaving after some thirty odd years of teaching there! (She is the fourth in a row of long serving teachers, after Pat Clarke, Jill Bromiley, and Charles Pautz – collectively some 150 years of teaching? – to retire!)

Then back to Graaff-Reinet! Pera and I left at 16h00 and drove as far as Tandjiesview, where we braaied with Graham and Helen in the evening and slept over.

Sunday 27 November

At 09h30 we left for Aberdeen, a drive of some 1hour, in order to attend, with 80 others, Jean Watermeyer’s 80th birthday luncheon at the Aberdeen Club. It was good seeing the Ogilvie clan and all the rest again. We left at 15h30 for Port Elizabeth and arrived home at around 18h00 (with Pera showing signs of tiredness and me having to drive from Jansenville all the way home!)

Monday 28 November

My internet is down – glory be … how did we manage in the past. Eventually with the help of MWEB we get that sorted out. Then swimtime at 13h30! And then I watched Joost van der Westhuizen’s Benefit Dinner on TV. He has MND (ALS) and they managed to raise in excess of R1 million for his Foundation.

Tuesday 29 November

Phil and I do some electrical work in the kitchen, then Soena at 11h00 for massage and Christelle for massage at 12h30 – double dose today! And I need to write a blog, so that takes up the rest of the afternoon (this blog incomplete as it may be!)

 

And how do I feel in all of this, bearing in mind the experimental cortisone?

Other than waking up with limbs that feel pretty normal for a change, I’m feeling pretty grotty, struggling to walk on a weak left leg, headache, sore joints, and generally just mis!

We can still try the other options … quinine, intermuscular injections, botox … let’s see how this goes …!

(And with grateful thanks to the team of people who still keep me moving every day … )

 

 

 

Tremor Caused by Fracking

Further to news reports on SKY News Thursday, read The Herald of Thursday 3 November (Tremor caused by fracking) or click on the following website:

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/exclusive-fracking-company–we-caused-50-tremors-in-blackpool–but-were-not-going-to-stop-6256397.html

More articles on these tremors may be read by googling

Tremors caused by fracking

DON’T FRACK IN OUR KAROO!