Welcome to my office…

As stated in an earlier post today, I had a wedding to officiate this afternoon. This is  the wedding venue, built on a cliff, overlooking a beautiful valley.  Remember- this is winter around here, and yesterday was the coldest day I felt in a long time!

image

My view from my “pulpit”…

image

And the view the bride and groom sees when they overlook my presense…

image

Some days I really love my job! Today was difficult though, because I only met the groom an hour before the wedding and the bride when she walked down the aisle. I usually love to spend more time with a couple and get to know them better, to make it a more personal experience for them. But I still tried my best today…

image

Decoration- Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/07/11/decoration/

Ok, I know I am stretching it a lot today… but I wanted to share this with you guys anyway. Just outside our town there is this venue, Castle de Wildt,  where a yearly Exotic Game Auction is held- it is going on at the moment.

And when I and some friends walked through the pens where the game are kept, we came across the most beautiful of all the antelope in Africa, in my eyes…  Just look at the decoration in the form of horns on this Kudu bull!

Now THAT is decoration in my eyes. I don’t know yet for how much this bull has sold, as I had to leave early, I am marrying a couple in two hours time.  A friend let me know that a Sable bull just sold for ZAR 800 000, that must be about US$ 75000!

But dear friends, relax- these animals are not sold to be hunted. They are worth so much more as breeding stock- they will have a very safe and relaxed life ahead of them, just eating and sleeping and breeding… now that sounds like the life to have!

PS- I would have preferred to see this bull in it’s natural habitat, and shoot it… with my Canon 400D and a 55-250iS lens!

Got to hurry now to get dressed and get out to the wedding venue…

Relics- Weekly Photo Challenge (II)

Http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/relic/

How many memories has this old ’48 Chevrolet Fleetline brought? How many miles did it travel to loved ones? How many broken hearts did it transport?

_MG_0610

 

_MG_0605 _MG_0616This old Chevy’s heart is broken, rusting in peace… May be one day someone will find it and rescue it,  like it’s brother in Knysna…

IMG_2248 IMG_2254

 

 

In celebration of the Wheel- Relics from the past- WPC

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/relic/

In our country’s history the ox wagon played a huge part. Today a lot of old wagon wheels can still be found, mostly as garden decorations.


_MG_1075 _MG_1127 _MG_1161Relics from our past…

But then, being somewhat of a petrolhead myself, I could not resist sneaking in some other old wheels as well- usually relics  from our farming heritage…

_MG_0720

_MG_0711

_MG_1039

Yes, wheels brought mobility and progress, not always a good thing, me thinks…

 

Flower Friday- Geranium in winter…

_MG_1059

Last weekend I bragged about how warm it still is around these parts in winter. Well, nature did not like my words. We are being hit by a cold front, and as I am sitting here in my study, my feet are blocks of ice…  So no riding today.

Today’s flower, the Geranium (Pelargonium) ,  is one of the flowers that spread around the world.

This Geranium was braving the cold with such cheer that I thought I would share it, while all the northern hemisphere bloggers are showing off their summer gardens…

I see different flowers are called Geraniums. These are the kind I know: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/flowers/hgic1164.html

 

A Good Ride, and a bad Experience…

This morning, we had another beautiful winter’s day on the BMW…

We just do winter in style around here! It is a friend’s birthday. So we decided to have a surprise breakfast run for him.

In our region there is a world famous bird watching resort- Nylsvley– a Ramsar Wetlands area with over 280 different bird species. It belongs to the National Parks Board.

IMG_2516

The ride there was a beauty, blue skies, about 11 degrees Celcius, not too bad dirt road for the last 7 km.

The first indication of trouble was when we arrived at the first gate. The security guard wanted us to park our bikes there. Then the restaurant is about 100 meters further on, before a second gate before you enter the conservation area, where the birds and the antelopes play…Bikers don’t like to walk in riding clothes.  Fortunately someone more senior came out and said we could ride to the restaurant. I promise, my Remus Titanium exhaust will not disturb any birds on the other side of the second gate. We later wished they just stopped us at the gate.

We came to the restaurant. And it is a beautiful building, made from rock walls in a very traditional style…

Really impressive buildings at Nylsvley, the government has really pumped a lot of money into this place. We arrived at about 9h20 on a Satudray morning, with a booking made the day before. And… we were the only people there. On the bnsiest morning for breakfasts in our part of the world.

The inside of the restaurant was beautiful, although a bit confusing mixture between local nature and Asian exotic decorations all over.

IMG_2517

First problem: no one else there, and no music playing.

Second problem- our waiter really, really had a hard time understanding the most basic requests. By that time, after our first part of the ride, we really were looking forward to a decent cup of coffee. And yes, they do have filter coffee. On the menu. But they only have Ricoffee available- an instant brew made of chicory. We should  have walked out then…  We decided to order tea.  That might have been the only thing in the pantry anyway.  But the waiter patiently asked our orders for our meal, getting a rare steak confused with well done a few times in his writing on his notebook.  We waited about 20 minutes. And then the waiter reappeared, and told us no, there is no steak available. We were 5 people, they had enough provisions to help 3 people with an English breakfast. No more. After we booked, it turned out they did not have anything available to make a breakfast.

And that is one of the problems of the New South Africa. A lot of money is pumped into certain areas, and then there is just no customer service. The waiter, and the cooking staff will get a salary for today. But all they sold this morning was 5 cups of tea. And nobody sees anything wrong with this system. While they are at a very special wildlife place, which has the potential to be a huge, selfsustaining tourism success story. So, we left.  And we will not be back to the restaurant. And we will tell all our friends about our bad experience. And next Saturday their restaurant will be empty again. Not because of location or facilities. Because of BAD management, and someone in charge who does not give a (word that is frowned upon when pastors say it…)

And went to Euforia, a privately owned beautiful Golf Resort about 20 km further on. We arrived just too late to have breakfast at their restaurant. The waitress there told us that the kitchen is closed, and there is no more food available on the entire resort. After our experience, and hunger pains slowly killing us. She saw our faces drop, and started laughing, it was just a joke. It is a Golf Course, and downstairs they do have another restaurant, which provides the halfway stop for the golf players. So we went downstairs.

I had a steak and egg dish with french fries. The steak was beautifully cooked, medium rare just like I like it. And it had a good pepper sauce.  The view, on a winter’s day, is still so clear and beautiful- not like our friends are experiencing at the moment in Cape Town at all…

This is how we like our winter days! Sorry Cape Town friends, the winters here are much better than yours! But we hear there is some cold coming soon…

So this was today- a very good ride with good friends, a BMW R 1150 GS and a Triumph Tiger 800 on the open road.

And yes, Nylsvley is beautiful, but they DO NOT have a restaurant anymore… they just don’t know it yet.

And Euforia has a much better experience to offer. In South Africa, dear tourist, go for the privately owned experience every time. Government just don’t get it…

 

TEDx- Which country does the most good for the world- my version

Barefoot Medical Student  (what an excellent Freshly Pressed awarded Blog!) introduced me to the wonderful world of TED. And one of the favorite talks there is Simon Anholt’s talk on the country doing the most good for the world…  For a transcript see here…

Excellent talk, Simon! Thanks! Been to Ireland, have an Irish Sister in Law, love the place and it’s people… but  I don’t think that it is the Most Good Country…

Here is my earthquake inducing answer to the question, dear Simon, with my reasons…

The best country in the world, doing the most good for the world is… no, not the USA.  Or China or Russia. Especially not South Africa, Julius Malema singlehandedly sunk our chances for that one… If you do not know Julius Malema, thank God and move on…

Zapiro is an AMAZING cartoonist in South Africa, hated by the politicians, and loved by the rest of us good people… http://www.africancrisis.org/Article.php?ID=65289&

 

 

The Best Country in the whole wide world, doing the most good for the world, is… BOTSWANA!

Only about 160 km from my home, to the west of us.

Why on earth Botswana? Here are some reasons to convince you all beyond a reasonable doubt…

  •  Botswana never gave us Paris Hilton or Justin Beeber.
  • Botswana does not have an atomic bomb, or program.
  •  Botswana has less people in the whole population than the US Military
  •  Botswana produces a lot of engagement ring diamonds at the Jwaneng mine…. let’s talk about love. baby…
  • Botswana does not overfish the oceans, the oceans are too far away…
  • Botswana has beautiful sunsets, and great evenings around the tribal fire underneath the most amazing starry skies…
  • Botswana has a firm hand on crime, not like our country where the criminals now run the country.
  • Botswana does have some of the best wildlife to go and visit, the Okavango Delta is a must see…
  • Botswana does not steal farms from their farmers.
  •  Botswana still have elephants roaming wild and free in the north, just below the Chobe and Zambesi rivers.
  •  Petrol (Gasoline)  is much cheaper in Botswana than in South Africa where they buy it in the first place…
  •  There are no toll gates in Botswana
  • Botswana does not declare war on their neighbors.
  •  Botswana does not have Jacob Zuma for a President, and is not ruled by the ANC…
  •  Botswana does quite well in educating their people, and taking care of their health…
  •  There are more donkeys than people in Botswana- and no, Google did not kill one of them
  •  Botswana did not cause the world economy to fall.
  • Botswana’s secret service never made it into a movie.
  •  Their border posts are much cleaner and more effective than South Africa’s!
  •  Botswana will most certainly not cause World War III…
  •  There is no oil in Botswana, so no OPEC membership either.
  •  Botswana is much bigger than Ireland.
  •  A Tswana on a donkey drives much faster than an Irishman in a car going through Taum…
  •  Wikipedia says Botswana also shares Pap and Boerewors  in an enamel plate with us South Africans as some of the world’s best cuisine…

 

Negatives:

Another day of Fun in the Sun…

It is the depth of winter. My eldest son is out there on the sunflower fields, with a 1967 John Deere tractor, all on his own. So- while it is school holiday here and my wife is having a rest from her school, we decided to hop on our GS, and go and surprise him. We bought a 2 liter Coke, and some meat pies, and then drove all the way to the farm, and on the dirt roads to the back fields where he work. This time I took my little Powershot camera with, to take some better pictures.

IMG_2507

This IS the depth of winter around here, I suppose Minnesota does look a bit different in it’s winter time?

IMG_2511

And this is to a wonderful wife who rides my bike with me, even on some dirt roads…

I had a wonderful Friday so far!

Some primitive agricultural implements in Africa…

My eldest son has this dream to go to Minnesota to go and drive combined harvesters for Mr  Olsen.  This week he started working on a farm outside our town. He finishes school in November, and this is an opportunity for some excellent school holiday employment.

Now I am just a little worried- Africa is so primitive and we have such old technology around here… NOT!

I am so grateful to the young farmer in our church giving my son some holiday work to see if he likes it.

These are some of the beautiful tractors and other equipment on his farm.

image

No, my son won’t be driving this one yet. As it should be, he is driving the oldest tractor on the farm, dragging a huge tree stump across an old sunflower field to flatten the stalks before the next planting season.

image

As you can see, this farm does have a John Deere obsession…

image

I dropped my son off at sunrise to start his first day. Then I drove around this huge farm, looking for some warthogs. It was wonderful sitting at the edge of a huge field, drinking a cup of coffee from my Stanley flask.

image

While I sat here, I thought a lot.  In America to own a huge commercial farm makes you a good businessman and a success story. In South Africa our government brands you as a racist landgrubbing thief. If you are white.

The young owner of this farm is an excellent farmer. He takes out land loans from the bank, and grows his business bigger. He works extremely hard, and is successful in what he does.  He treats his workers very well. He is no racist and definitely no thief. He has my respect and gratitude. His farm is unfortunately on the wrong continent.

 

For a balanced opinion on land ownership in Africa- read this: http://www.sabreakingnews.co.za/2014/07/01/economic-view-white-farmers-are-not-land-thieves/