Hello Nelspruit!

The city of Nelspruit (newly named Mbombela)

It’s quite a change moving from a tiny town to a city again, albeit a small city.  I am not a city girl so I am glad to say we have found a house to rent on a farm about 10 km’s from the city where we don’t hear traffic and still get to hear the occasional African Fish Eagle call.  We decided to get a small place so that we can save our pennies for our farm. And so we found Tiny House.

Tiny House

 It’s really very tiny but steeped in history (built in 1946) and has lovely Oregon pine floors and high ceilings. We have a stunning view over a sloping pecan nut tree orchard to the mountains and hills in the distance. What is also great is that we are still near the Kruger National Park so I can get my fix of wild animals and the game reserve.

This area has a fantastic history of a gold rush, a tragic war, trade routes and of course Jock of the Bushveld, Tsetse fly, malaria and sleeping sickness all played a roll in hindering development for a long time.

We have spent this last weekend unpacking, but will be out exploring from next week. I can’t wait.  

 

Farewell Hoedspruit

LeavingThe 29th of August was exactly five years to the day that I arrived in Hoedspruit.  By pure co-incidence, it is also the day that I packed good old Cleo into the car and we left again.  It was bittersweet.  This town has been amazing and the people have become such close friends.  When I was a city dweller I never knew as many folk as I got to know in this wonderful little town.

These five years have been life changing in many ways. I learned to live a simple life. I learned how to live all on my very own, and I learned a huge amount about myself and how I function. I also learned about what i value and what I want from life.

Yet I still leave with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. You see, I am off on a new adventure.

It’s been a while since I last posted and many things have happened. Most importantly I met the man who asked me to marry him last weekend. I said yes.

The result of this is that I move 3 hours away from Hoedspruit to another province called Mpumalanga to the capital city of Nelspruit (Mbombela).  Luckily I am marrying a farmer so we get to live on a farm a short way from the small city and we are also going to be looking to buy our own farm in the area.

I am hoping to blog again on a regular basis about our new adventure and about discovering Mbombela.  Wish me luck!

 

The Bean’s Big Birthday

Today is bittersweet for me. My little girl turns 21 years old.

Happy birthday to you Bean. May life bring you the most wonderful surprises and may you be blessed with love and laughter all the days of your life. You have certainly brought it to mine. I love you.

Setting up a business in a small town

We are currently setting up a business manufacturing small steel / wrought iron decor items as well as making awesome lights and other steel work like balustrades and gates.  It’s been a roller coaster ride so far because it’s really difficult to source items when you live out in the bush.  Slowly things are really starting to look good and we have quite a bit of interest in our products.

One of our big stores here in Hoedspruit, that stocks pretty much everything that we need, has such a difficult system to work with that I avoid it at all costs trying three or more stores before having to go there. The system is such that you are unable to walk in, pick up what you want and go to the till. One has to find a sales attendant to help you. They are all so busy packing stock and doing online quotes and helping clients over the phone that they do not have time to assist customers in the store so they avoid eye contact as much as possible. After hanging about for 30 mins one gets frustrated and starts begging for assistance. You are told they will come now but they don’t often come back and when they do the help with one item they then disappear again. Also, some prices are marked quite high and your sales assistant is allowed to give you quite large discounts. So one has to be all sweet and kind even when getting bad service otherwise you don’t get your discount. It seems to be at the salesman’s discretion whether you get discount or not. These are good folk – the system just sucks in my opinion. Yesterday after 45 mins in the store – I walked out in frustration and got everything I needed in 10 minutes at another store, one item in particular being 50% cheaper than the listed price in the big store. Guess where I am going next time?

Here are a few pictures of what we are making.

As soon as I have some pictures of our stunning outdoor wall lamps I will put them up for you to see.

Mr A

When I first moved to Hoedspruit my life was all planned and organised – I knew what I wanted and how I was going to get it. At this time I met Mr A. He was an estate agent (and a lawyer and an insurance broker) and he showed us a farm that we fell in love with on the spot.  The negotiations on the property were prolonged and difficult and during this time my relationship with my partner shattered. Mr A was just always there helping me along, getting the property sorted out once I decided I still wanted to buy it and he also started to introduce me to art lessons and poetry groups etc to get me socialized. Always such a strong supporter and promoter of this blog. If I needed anything he knew who I could contact and he had their numbers. He seemed to know EVERYONE in our area and he slowly introduced me to so many of them who are still wonderful friends. He instinctively knew where I would “fit” and helped me along till I was back on my feet. As time passed Mr A also met someone special and I was so happy to watch him fall in love and find such peace and happiness within himself. It shone from him and it attracted people to him. Children especially loved him and he ALWAYS had time to listen. And he really listened…… .

Sadly Mr A passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this last weekend. He was with his love and many of his friends when it happened.  Our whole town is in a state of shock and mourning for this wonderful man.

We are really going to miss you Mr A. RIP my dear friend.

Memorial service: van Rensburg hall – Hoedspruit – Sat 28 Sept 10h00

Sincere condolences to Bianca, his love, Henry and Emma,his children, and to the rest of the Smith and Wiggill families.

Rest

One of my friends here in Hoedspruit, Sarah, is involved with two charities mainly working with impoverished communities and children. Last week she was introduced to the Khutsong Center in Acornhoek  – just down the main road from our town.

Khutsong means “rest” in one of our local languages, and the Khutsong Center is just that – a place for 13 elderly people from rural villages to rest for their last days. It’s an incredibly poor project with a ramshackle hut that houses the eleven women and two men who are being taken care of. One of the aged is disabled and many are bedridden.

This is what Sarah says “……….. their gentle smiles have really tugged at my heart, and I would love to be able to make them feel, just for one day,on Christmas, that the world has not forgotten them………………………”

So what we are going to do is put together thirteen Christmas hampers for these wonderful old folk.  We need to include basic items such as tooth brushes and toothpaste and soap, a facecloth, some Vaseline, a blanket, something nice to make them feel good like a scarf or clothing item and then a few treats like biscuits and crisps.

If you would like to contribute in any way we would really appreciate your help.

Please contact Sarah at sarahdawnbergs@gmail.com if you can assist with any of the items.  Financial contributions can be made to  :

Paypal donations can be sent to nourish.org.za@gmail.com

OR

Bank details : nourish NPO, First National Bank,  account 62321718324, Hatfield branch number 252145. Reference OLD AGE ( and ur name ) or email a proof of payment to sarahdawnbergs@gmail.com

Photo’s courtesy of Sarah Bergs.

I will write another post on this center when we go to hand these folk their Christmas hampers. I can’t wait to see their faces!

On foot in the Kruger National Park

One of our friends is a safari guide and his company, Dry Seasons Safari’s, among other trips, does guided walks in the Kruger National Park.  In order to lead a guided walk in the Kruger Park one has to be highly qualified. This last week our friend Ian had to undergo an assessment in order to be able to be “lead gun” on walking safari’s within the park.  He invited us along.

A question that is frequently asked is: “What do we do if we encounter one of the Big 5 while on foot?” It is a reasonable question and likely to come up on any bush walk.

The term “Big Five” was originally coined by hunters to refer to the five African game species which were quite likely to kill you if you made a mistake. They are the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. But the Big 5 aren’t the only dangerous animals you can encounter. Hippos are reputedly the most dangerous in  Africa killing more people than any other animal – well, besides mosquitoes! Crocodiles are also notorious and swimming in any pool or river in the bush is strongly not advised. Ostriches can deliver a nasty sweeping kick and during the breeding season the males are particularly aggressive to perceived threats.

Of course there is no definitive answer to “what to do” if you encounter a dangerous animal as every situation is different. However, there are a few basic rules to follow.

Unlike hunters, where the end result is the shooting of the animal (or the attack on the hunter!), tourists want the encounter to be non-confrontational. A sighting where the animal doesn’t even realise you are there is paramount.

It is not the best idea to sneak up too close to dangerous game. If they spot you from a distance they will merely keep an eye on you and may even continue with whatever they were doing. If, however, they only become aware of you when you are within their “flight or fight” zone you can rest assured that there will be a sticky situation. Each animal has its own flight radius and it also depends on the circumstances. If you do get too close and the animal is left with no option of flight, it may attack. It is therefore very important that your guide knows how to approach dangerous animals.

It was our aim on this day in the bush to approach as many dangerous animals as possible on foot.

Here Ian is giving us strict instructions on how to behave and respond to his hand signals.  It was a stinking hot day so this added to the ambiance :)

Serious discussion and concentration

A elephant, some zebras and impala getting some water under the unrelenting sun.  It must have reached 36 degrees Celsius in the shade by this stage.

Ellies

Kori Bustard – the heaviest living animal capable of flight.

African Wild Dogs – quite a rare sight.

Needless to say, Ian passed with flying colours.  His assessor was Sean Pattrick. He is the author of “Game Ranger in your Back Pack” and also a great wildlife photographer. It was super to meet him.

Speaking of great photographers, Ian himself is a brilliant photographer. You can see (and buy) some of his work here.

If you are interested in going on a walking tour in the Kruger National Park it is worth contacting Dry Season Safari’s to find out more. You won’t regret it!

Thanks Ian for a super day!

 

 

 

Roots of Rhythm

Yesterday we were invited to attend a new show in our area. It has been set up to complement the lodge and safari industry in our area.  Tourists can now visit a beautiful cultural village, get a guided tour of the village and ask lots of questions about local culture and then watch a stunning show by the Roots of Rhythm Tribal Dancers depicting the history of our local indigenous people.

Nyani village promises to be a prime tourist attraction.

After the tour of the village one gets a chance to practice stick fighting or to consult the Sangoma (witch-doctor)

The Sangoma

Then the drums begin to roll and everyone moves towards the show area where we are dazzled by the dances, songs, humour and pure showmanship of the Roots of Rhythm artists.

And then everyone gets to dance

A wonderful morning out and well worth a visit.  Our tour started at 11am and the show at 12.45 although there are many different time options available to tour groups. There is also a restaurant and bar on the premises.

Please visit their Facebook page for more information.

For bookings please see the contact details below.

Flipping

Today I went for a ride in this tiny little gyrocopter.  Another first for me.

and I took this photo of Jackal’s Den.

We even got to see a giraffe when we were flying over the reserve.  It was very hard to keep the camera still enough to take pictures. We only flew for about 20 minutes. It was hot and windy and we bounced all over the sky.  I was not too nervous but did feel a little green around the gills by the time I got my feet back on the ground.  I would like to do it again sometime but probably early in the morning on a cooler day :)  Still, it was a wonderful opportunity.

 

Pretty in pink

This beautiful lily pops up just next to one of my cottages every year in Nov or December.  For the rest of the year it looks like two or three shriveled leaves.  It’s commonly known as a veld lily or river lily and is one of the Crinum lilies.  I am still arguing with all my sources as to which one it is.  Depending on the book or source, my crinum changes names.

I think it may be a crinum stuhlmannii but one of my books disagrees.

Anyone have an opinion?