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!

Sometimes the Wheels Come Off!

 
Thursday 4 October 2012: 6 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD
 
Last Wednesday was the first time that I felt like calling Lance to cancel my talk show. But I did not want to disappoint so many listeners, so (feeling quite miserable)  I went ahead with it any way. Yvonne Anderson took me there and then dropped me off at Grey High.
 
It was the Cadet Retreat Parade and the announcement of Student Officers for 2013. Phillip was appointed as the Student Officer of the E squadron, so congratulations and well done to him on his “military”  promotion.
 
Thereafter, I went for a haircut and started packing for my next trip to Graaff-Reinet on Thursday.
 
Early rise on Thursday and then Pera dropped me off at school at 7h15. Warwick Dickie was going to Graaff-Reinet to deliver generators for the Karoolusfees and he was giving me a lift.
 
With one ton behind us we travelled at 100km / hour and were just approaching Graafies when all hell let loose. The double cab shuddered and shook and I thought a tyre had blown until I saw a wheel speeding past us and down the national road. It veered to the left, jumped the fence and ended up in the Karoo Veld.
 
The bearings had ceased, the axle of the generator trailer had snapped and the wheel came off. 
 
We were lucky! So many things could have happened, but they didn’t. Indeed, we were lucky!
 
And the hospitality and kindness of the REAL people of the Karoo stepped up to the plate. Within an hour, help came from all corners, the generator had been put onto a flat-bed trailer and was on its way to the festival grounds, and I was dropped off at Arno Bouwer’s house where I was staying for two nights.
 
Then more Karoo kindness. A fire had raged through seven farms north of the town on Wednesday afternoon and night. Especially the farm Grassdale was ravaged as the fire destroyed hectares of veld, the sheep sustenance, telephone lines, electricity lines, kilometers of fencing and plastic pipelines.
 
But the community stepped in and within an hour we were heading for Jean De la Harpe’s farm with bails of hay piled on the back of the bakkie. it was but one of many truckloads that would arrive from concerned friends and neighbors and strangers. Assistance of all kinds would stream in over the next few days and weeks. More Karoo kindness …
 
Thursday evening we spent at the Club and had supper at Coldstream.
 
On Friday, I went with Gordon and Rose Wright back to Grassdale. (Gordon is coordinating the relief effort from town.) Food for the humans and food for the sheep…
 
As we drove back into town, dark black clouds built up overhead. The heat of the day changed to cold and some snow fell, and the first drops of rain. Food for the scorched land …
 
Friday evening was back to the Club for the R4000 draw (not won) and then supper with the Wrights.
 
Saturday was a lazy day round the pool. Pera and the boys arrived from PE at about four, we watched the Boks beat Australia (for a change) and then went to the Cape Schools Cricket Week steak braai at Union High School.
 
The sounds of the Karoolusfees permeated the quiet night of the Karoo. Pera was not feeling well so Sean took her back to the Andries Stockenstrom Guest House where we were spending that night.
 
The boys and I decided not to go to the Fees. Instead we drank cuppachino at the Spur and then also headed to bed and to sleep … to the sound of Kurt Darren singing Meisie Mesie to anyone in the Karoo who wanted to listen! Loslappie …. !
 
After breakfast on Sunday morning, Pera went shopping for provisions and we watched a bit of Grey playing Rondebosch in the cricket festival. Then it was a short 30 minute drive to Tandjiesview, the farm of Helen and Graham Harris.
 
Together with the Wrights, Graham’s parents and the Harris’s, we were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary which had taken place on the Ogilvie’s farm Doorndraai. I had played the organ, Pera had done the hair and Tommo’s music equipment was blown by the generator!
 
Steaks were prepared by master chef Gordon Wright … And after a restful afternoon spent on the stoep looking out over Tandjiesberg (hence the farm called Tandjiesview), we headed for our next port of call.
 
Springbuck Lodge on the farm Klipfontein, the home of Ed and Margie Parkes, was our next stop. It is south of Graaff-Reinet and the view is of Tandjiesberg from the side, looking northwards.
 
Ed gave Sean and Phillip a motorbike each and a rifle, and they headed off to the veld. Pera and I had a lovely day of just doing nothing – a restful day of sloth rounded off with a magnificent braai as the Karoo sun set in the west.
 
On Tuesday we left Springbuck Lodge and headed north towards the mountains that we could see from the lodge – the Sneeuberg. Some thirty kilometers of gravel into the valley brought us to Asante Sana Private Game Reserve, complete with its magnificent lush green cricket oval in the midst of the Karoo vegetation! (Grey had played there  and lost last Saturday to Westville.)
 
It is the home of Richard and Kitty Viljoen and their sons who are at school with Phillip. It would be our home for the next two days too.
 
In the afternoon the boys skied on the dam and we went for a game drive … Buck, bat-eared foxes, giraffe, rhino and even footprints of long extinct dinosaurs.
 
Our cottage overlooks the cricket oval and when we returned there after supper, two rhinos on it front lawn glimmered silver in the light of the bright full moon!
 
That was nothing – when I woke in the morning and peered through the bathroom window there were two rhinos eating right outside the window… And four more grazing on the cricket pitch!
 
The sun was just starting to rise over the eastern mountains … The start of yet another exciting day in Africa. It was also a special day … It was Pera’s birthday.
 
I did my radio programme from the house and then we went up to the lodge halfway up the mountain. Later in the afternoon another game drive followed – elephant, rhino, buck of all kinds …
 
And this morning, after breakfast, it was time to head home for Port Elizabeth.
 
As the notes on the bedside tables at Margie’s Springbuck Lodge say:
 
“May the memories you make in this special part of Africa be happy ones.”
 
Our grateful thanks to everyone in the Karoo who made this wonderful trip so special! You are all truly very special people in your community and in our lives!
 
Asante Sana … thank you very much (in Swahili)
 
(Pics to follow!)

KKNK*

Monday 29 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

(* Karoo-style Kindness, Neighbourliness and Kinship!)

A year and a half ago, in January 2010, I wrote I Was So Glad that I had Come!

It was about a trip that I had made to the striking Karoo, and last year’s SA Town of the Year, Graaff-Reinet, in order to watch Sean play cricket. I hadn’t been back since.

However, that changed on Thursday afternoon last week.

I had asked Gordon Wright if he was coming to PE in order for us to have a reunion of the previous weekend’s rugby celebrations! Instead, he invited us to Graaff-Reinet in order join in on the last hunt of the year (before the end of August signalled the end of the 2011 hunting season).

But Pera had a teachers’ conference on Saturday, Sean had a rugby braai and Phil had school commitments, so they could not go.

Gords suggested “come by yourself then”!

But I couldn’t drive by myself – Gords had a lift for me!

But I’ve never been a hunter (not  before and not since the one and only springbok I shot and wounded at Doorndraai at dusk, and then found and killed the following morning, led to my having to eat warm raw liver and having my face blooded!) –  Gords suggested “just join in for the walk and the atmosphere”!

But I’m ill – just park that in the garage for the weekend!

So within minutes my schedule for the weekend was arranged.

And after having coffee and croissants at Vovo Telo with Annette Jones and Liz Findlay on Friday morning, it was the packing procedure, which for me has become quite stressful:

Bag – check

Undies, warm socks, shoes – check

Pyjamas – check

Warm shirts, jeans – check

Warm jacket – check

Scarf, gloves, beanie – check

Toiletries – check

Wallet, wine, cell phone, charger – check

Pills, pills, pills, pills – check

More check and more check …

And then we were on our way – headed north on the R75: destination Graaff-Reinet. We being me and the newly acquainted Neville (at the wheel) and Lee-Anne Jones and their two sons. Before long, I discovered that Neville was the uncle of Craig Jones who was at Grey and played rugby with Sean – small Eastern Cape world yet again!

We arrived at the Wrights at about five pm– the ‘we’ now being some more couples staying the night and some delivering children to be baby-sat and collected, and just what appeared to me as a railway station of people arriving and leaving!

I was going to be sleeping at the Wright’s Andries Stockenström Guesthouse just down the road from their own home, so we off-loaded my bags there and then returned for drinks, dinner, drinks, discussion, drinks, discourse, drinks, dessert, drinks, drinks …

Plans were put in place for Saturday’s hunting excursion. Drinks.

We would be going to the Harris’s farm Tandjies View to hunt. Graeme and Helen Harris (nee Watermeyer) have been friends since I first moved to Port Elizabeth in 1984. Helen is Colleen Ogilvie’s sister (Dickie and Colleen farm at Doorndraai in the Aberdeen district) and it was at Helen’s house in Port Elizabeth many years ago that I swallowed the 20c piece in a game of quarters that subsequently became stuck in my intestine! To this day I have the X-rays of that meddlesome 20c piece! Drinks.

The Estimated Departure Time would be eight am! That meant that I would have to get up at six thirty so as to ‘defrost’ my body and get the limbs moving. Gordon was put in charge of phoning me to wake me up. Drinks.

Peter and his wife were only staying the night before heading off to New Bethesda on Saturday. But when he heard the plans being made, he decided to stay and hunt instead. Then, later, he decided not to go.

Well an early start to the morning required an early ‘go to bed’ – so after just one more drink for the road, I headed off to the Guesthouse round about 1am!

At 6h45 I received my “wake-up” call. I missed the “Wakey wakey, sunshine!” SMS at 6h16 because I had put my cell phone on ‘Phone calls Only’ sound mode and therefore did not get a beep from the Blackberry at 6h16!

‘Quick’ shower, tea, and I was collected at eight and ready to go … off to Tandjies View in Gordon’s Jeep known as the Man Van. Peter was there – he had changed his mind and was to hunt after all.

The hunters gathered at Graeme’s hunting lodge, a yet unnamed newly-renovated Italian prisoner-of-war built stone house with a magnificent view over  Spandauskop, the Tandjiesberg and Camdeboo. In sharp contrast to the brown and aridness of last year’s ‘in the drought’ visit, the Karoo is the greenest I have ever seen it. In some places, it looks like a lush green carpet that has been thrown out over the land. And put that with the bright orange of the flowering aloes, then what you have is a postcard picture of the glorious Karoo that the oil companies now want to frack-up in their exploration for gas!

 

 

Whilst the hunters did the hunting thing, I was given the more genteel version of breakfast with Helen and Graeme and their four daughters, Carmen, Lee-Anne, Michaela and Christine, and two of their boyfriends from Port Alfred. Then followed a bakkie tour of the farm, offloading of sheep, checking of water troughs and dams, windmills, and snacks and drinks.

Then back to meet the hunters at the lodge and drinks. Then we got a phone call to inform us that Peter’s wife who was coming to fetch him to head off belatedly to New Bethesda had experienced a mishap – the sump of the car had been “holed” on the gravel road. (They then had to stay with the Harris’s, and arrange to be collected from Uitenhage on Sunday and for the car to be towed to Graaff-Reinet on Monday to be repaired.)

At dusk, we headed back to the Guesthouse for drinks and dinner, prepared by Gordon, who within minutes had changed from hunting guide to sous chef and from camouflaged hunting gear to a white chef’s outfit! Gordon calls it “from veld to fork!”

Beetroot soup, drinks, kudu steaks, mutton, drinks, dessert, drinks …

Then at midnight we headed for the Graaff-Reinet Men’s Club (now also allows ‘ladies’!) for post-dinner drinks.

There we met up with the stragglers from a Club soup evening that included Helen’s cousin, Julian Murray, and Johann Minnaar, optician in town and father of Henry Minnaar who was Sean’s room mate at Grey’s hostel last year and is now an engineering student at the University of Pretoria. Drinks.

And, slowly the party got smaller and we returned home. Drinks … and Gordon disappeared and it was only Neville, Lee-Anne and I left – discussing the world, and life and religion and the purpose of life and God and a drink to Life and just one more for the road.

 At four am I had my midnight pills and then got into my heated bed at the guesthouse … and slept till ten!

Then breakfast, then back to the Harris’s for drinks and roast lunch, and at three thirty, we headed south for Port Elizabeth.

The James Blunt and Elvis Blue concert was due to start at 20h00 at the indoor sports centre of the Nelson Mandela University. I disembarked from the car at 18h45 and re-embarked ten minutes later after a quick change and a hamburger.

The Marriots from Queenstown had invited us to attend the show. And what a show it was:

“And this is what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is gold …”

Life is surely gold … and for this weekend’s fun, games, laughter, friendship and kindness, kinship and neighbourliness, we owe such a big thank you to the Wrights, the Harris’s, the Jones’s and the Marriots.

“For food, friends and fellowship, we thank thee O Lord!”

Raise a glass to Priceless Moments!