Getting ready to grow.

About 20 meters behind our main cottage is a strange-looking circular  structure built out of stone.  It looks like a round cottage without windows or a roof.  This is what is commonly called a boma here in South Africa.

A boma used to be built as an enclosure for livestock to keep them safe from the wild animals.  Traditionally it was built out of branches of thorn trees.  Nowadays, most homes in our area have bomas for a completely different purpose – it is an entertainment and braai (BBQ) area closed off from the bush for safety (in area’s with dangerous animals) and protection from the wind.  Our boma is built-in a really peculiar place – its way out behind the house where all my braaing and the pool and entertainment area is in front of the main cottage.  I decided that I would convert it into something else. My first thought was to put a roof on it and use it as a store-room or a cheese factory, however, I have finally decided to use it as an enclosure to protect my veggie garden.

If I planted my veggies in the open they would all be eaten up over night by buck, porcupines, warthogs and baboons, so I need to enclose the patch.  Also, because of the heat here, it’s better to cover your veggie patch with some shade cloth.  Plans are now afoot to get my veggie patch going and the next step is to erect a cage and shade cloth over the roof area

and then lay out and prepare raised beds ready for winter when I will grow most of my veggies.

I am playing around with different layouts right now and have the assistance of a real life veggie farmer who will be helping me.

I have traded a whole pile of old fence posts with this farmer for his help.


Marula Jelly

As promised here is the recipe for Marula Jelly that I made this weekend.

Marula jelly is routinely served with any type of venison, but can be used with all types of meat.  It is delicious with cheese and biscuits or just on a slice of toast for breakfast.  It has a subtle flavour slightly reminiscent of honey.

  • Collect your marula fruit, wash them and cut or pierce the skins. Place in a large pot and cover the fruit with water and boil for 15-20 minutes.  Tip: It’s good to include some green fruit as they contain more pectin.

  • Strain the contents of the pot through a cloth (muslin or cheesecloth are good but I guess any type of clean cloth would do) and retain the water/juice

At this stage the juice looks just like fresh orange juice.

  • Wash out your pot, measure your juice and pour it back into the clean pot.
  • Add white sugar – volume for volume ie: 1 cup juice – 1 cup sugar
  • Heat gently while stirring to melt the sugar

  • Add the juice of 1 lemon per liter of juice
  • Boil rapidly for about 20 minutes or until gelling temperature has been reached (check by placing a drop or two onto a cold saucer, allowing to cool and then pushing it with your finger to see if it wrinkles)  I found I needed to boil for another 20 mins as I had a large pot of juice.  Tip:  Make sure you have enough space in the pot as the jam bubbles up very easily and you need to keep it bubbling ( I lost at least 1 bottle to “overflow”)
  • Bottle the jelly in sterilised bottles ( I boil mine)
  • Water-bath your bottles if this is your routine when making jams ( I don’t)
  • Allow to cool, label and store in a cool place until opening
  • Store open bottles in the refrigerator

I used about 5kg of fruit and this made 8 small bottles of jelly.

I love going shopping in Belgium..

well, my version of shopping in Belgium anyway.

When we moved to Hoedspruit from Belgium we stored our furniture and boxes in an old farm-house on the game farm where I was purchasing my piece of the farm.  For a few months we lived in a caravan and then in a small tented house on the farm.  During this period I was not working yet, so most of my time was spent in the bush and it was very, very hot so I dressed accordingly, mainly in T-shirts and shorts.  The way I dress here is very different to the way I dressed in my corporate Belgian life so my boxes of clothes pretty much remained all boxed up in the farm-house and I started a small collection of more casual clothes.

Because of my choice to live more frugally, I very rarely purchase any clothes and my wardrobe is small.  I used to love clothes shopping when I was richer but I have found now that I get so much more pleasure out of the small gifts of clothing I get occasionally from friends and family.  My sister brought a big bag of skinny clothes for me when she came to visit as I had lost 9kg’s after my relationship broke up.  It was like Christmas for me, firstly to have so many new clothes and secondly because my sister has always had such lovely taste in clothes.  I am pathetic at buying clothes that suit me and my dress sense is not good. This way I have some really nice garments without going through the angst.

The Bean and I have now found a great past time which we call “going shopping in Belgium”.  About once every two months we go to the old farm-house and go through our old clothes from overseas and fish out an item or two that we can still use.  It is great fun and brings back so many memories from our old life. It also saves me a fortune.

The next logical step for me is to get a sewing machine so that I can start altering our other Belgian clothes that are now just too big for me and too small for the Bean. I think I may just cut some up and start making new garments with the material.  I will also use some to trade and barter with friends here.

It still amazes me how my mind-set has changed and how comfortable I am with the choices I have made.  If you had told me a few years ago that I would be using recycled clothes and living a frugal life I would most probably have laughed in your face.


Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

~ Henry Ward Beecher~

I love reading. It’s my passion. My greatest spending weakness.  I am doing so well in not being a big consumer but when I get into a bookshop I lose all self-control.  I am now trying to curb and control my book buying habits by only buying books that I can reread often and use as a source of reference.  For the more relaxing stuff I am starting to borrow books and have joined the local library.  I have tons of books that I now lend out to friends who like reading and in return I get to read their books. 

The Bean has also inherited my passion but is so stingy with her books. She doesn’t like me reading them because when I take a break I lie the book down open and it really FREAKS her out!  She doesn’t even open her books wide when she reads so as not to wrinkle the spine. What have I bred? She is manic….

Here are some of my favorite reading quotes:

Beware of the man of one book.
~Anonymous ~

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up
its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.
~Joseph Addison ~

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison  ~

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
~ Mortimer J. Adler ~

That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~

When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature. 
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted;
nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested:
that is, some books are to be read only in parts,
others to be read, but not curiously, and some few
to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. 
~Francis Bacon ~

The printing press is either the greatest blessing
or the greatest curse of modern times,
sometimes one forgets which it is.
Sir James M. Barrie ~

The wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen,
is that you can take it to bed with you.
~Daniel J. Boorstine ~

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend,
a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter.
By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently
divert and pleasantly entertain himself,
as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.
~ Barrow ~

I am currently reading three books.  I don’t often read more than two at a time – one heavier reading one light reading.  Right now though all three take loads of concentration so it’s going to be a long process.

The first I am reading on recommendation.  The author was recommended for another of his books but fate stepped in when the book I was looking for was sold out, but they had an earlier book of his which I bought.  I am really glad it happened that way because with hindsight – I really needed to read this book first.

I bump heads with this book a lot so I need to read it in little pieces and then come back to it.  Initially my problems related to terminology which I am now coming to terms with.  I thought he was saying one thing – which I disagreed with, till I pushed on a bit and “got it” – you need to push through with this book.  It’s worth it.  Click here to read more about it.

A lot of this book is about thinking – which I do a lot of, and love.  He says its bad – that got my back up of course, but after really looking at what he is saying, and understanding how he classifies “thinking” and how he puts this process into past, present and future, that I agree with him.  It is really eye-opening.   Here is a review by Carter Phipps.

Aptly titled, the book is a meticulous and detailed deconstruction of everything that inhibits our ability to see beyond the confines of our own minds into the power and beauty of life lived in what Tolle calls “the Now,” or “Being,” or “Presence.” At first glance it might seem like just one more in a growing genre of books full of tips on how to be more mindful and awake in our daily life, but Tolle’s clear writing and the obvious depth of his experience and insight set it apart. Enlightenment, according to Tolle, is simply a “natural state of felt oneness with Being.” And being, in Tolle’s teaching, is defined as “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” It is also, as he goes on to explain, “deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. . . . When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of ‘feeling-realization’ is enlightenment.”

Using a question and answer format throughout the book, Tolle weaves his words together like a carefully constructed net designed to catch and constrain all the objections of the mind and ego to the freedom of being he is pointing to. His basic message is simple: disconnect from the thinking mind, shift your attention from “mind to Being, from time to Presence.” Indeed, time is the enemy in Tolle’s teaching, and the mind is the enemy’s tool. We must reject them both, abandoning our psychological attachment to the past and future, realizing that a mind-identified condition is “a form of insanity.” “Be so utterly, so completely present,” Tolle tells us, “that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you. In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.” While he never strays far from this basic point, Tolle parlays his message into a wide-ranging discussion of such diverse spiritual topics as freedom from thoughts and emotions; the student/ teacher relationship; death and dying; the human ego; our physical body, sexual relationships, and gender issues; and even the design of human evolution. And through it all, the “power of Now” serves as a sort of universal “portal” that can always take us (or bring us back) into a state of presence, providing access to the “unmanifested dimension of life,” and freeing us from anything and everything that would interfere.

The next book is a borrowed one. 

This book is written by a South African – Ian McCallum 

Ian McCallum is medical doctor, psychiatrist, naturalist, writer and former rugby Springbok. He has written a book that is timeous, urgent and with profound implications. We know that the modern world’s increasing distance from nature has left us impoverished, floundering in our search for direction and the will to right the ecological ills of our planet.”  In this optimistic work, McCallum explores the relationship between human beings and nature, from both a biological and poetic perspective. He argues that understanding and reinforcing the evolutionary bonds that interconnect us with all life will lead to a greater sense of proportion and of our place in the world.

I have just started this book but it promises to be interesting.  I have read a few reviews of the book – some positive and some negative – I’ll let you know what I think. So far, I find his writing good although his beliefs are different to mine.  Any book that deals with evolution tends to get rather controversial reviews, and although most of the book is not about evolution, per se, he does strongly push his view, which I guess, is why many people write books.

And finally book three,

At first glance this book looks like a normal yoga book that just shows you all the movements and positions – which is what I was looking for when I found it, however, it is just so much more.  Sarah Powers is known for her unique approach – Insight Yoga – which combines traditional yoga with the meridians of Chinese medicine as well as meditation.  In this book she tells of her journey of discovery, how she developed her approach using and combining  ancient practices. She has a lovely writing style and this book leads you along her pathway – until you reach the various yoga positions where each position is explained in detail, showing you why and where it works even down to the detail of which organs are involved in each movement.  She covers how you can use the positions to improve various ailments and finishing with an introduction to meditation and mindfulness techniques.  I am loving it.

What are you reading right now?

Weekend round-up

The braai (bbq) on Friday night was great after a few hiccups.  My phone battery went dead and I missed my meet-up time, but after a frantic drive into town and with the help of Kyle at the Wimpy, I managed to get my phone plugged in and arranged to meet up with Mr A (our Handsome Estate Agent has asked for a new identity) who got me to the braai in the middle of the bush.  Met some great new people and ate really good food.

On Saturday I spent the day at the Sustainable Living Festival. 

It didn’t start off too well because the first thing I wanted to attend was the “stop smoking” hypnotherapy workshop which was cancelled at the last minute.  Unfortunately the man who was running it  had an emergency in Johannesburg.  I spent quite some time looking around the stalls – there was so much to take in.  Solar power seemed to be very popular.  I found a really nice stall run by Sylvia and Nipper Thompson.  They have an organic farm near Haenertsburg (about  an hour and a half from Hoedspruit) and make all their own cheese in an old copper cauldron.  They have tons of other products too.  I picked Sylvia’s brain for ages because she has so much knowledge that I still need to gain.  The photos of the farm look gorgeous (just like in the movie ‘Babe’) and I can’t wait to visit the farm.  They offer cheesemaking tours, cheese platters in a rustic atmosphere, forest walks and group tours of the farm.  The farm is called Wegraakbosch Organic Farm (click for more details)

Another stall I loved was from a shop called Live Naturally situated in White River (also about an hour and a half away from Hoedspruit).  They stock a wide range of products that we are not able to get easily here – organic, whole and vegan foods, natural remedies and supplements, cold pressed oils and honey, organic and environmentally safe cleaning products as well as organic and vegan make-up (gosh I didn’t know they even make stuff like this).  I am interested in their seeds and grains mainly because I want to do sprouting and also make humus etc.  Their prices don’t look too bad and they are even considering a once-a-week delivery to Hoedspruit.

Then, as I walked around my eyes fell on these  (please excuse the really bad photograph)

What, you may ask, are they?  These are worm farms for vermiculture.  I have been interested in getting one for ages but the prices have been so prohibitive – well not excessively so, but they just sounded more expensive than they should be. Hesitantly, I walked up to the stand to enquire and I was pleasantly surprised.  Ashley Anderson of Wormsgalore explained that her worm boxes are locally manufactured (another plus) and are therefore really well priced.  She was very helpful and took her time to explain and answer all my questions and by the time I left her stand, I was an owner of my very own worm farm. I must say that as I was making the purchase the heavens opened and it poured down so I sat with Ashley and her husband for a few hours and really got to know a bit more about the workings of her business.  This is a truly local product and is available in Johannesburg and Cape Town and Ashley will also post her products to you wherever you are.  If you have a moment you can visit them at Wormsgalore. I am going to have some very happy veggies in my garden.

I also attended a ‘Internally Healthy’ workshop that focused on issues that we can change and issues that affect us including dealing with our own health on a physical and emotional level.  It was presented  by Lisl Bennet and Maureen Lahoud from our local yoga/wellness/ Tai Chi Center.  They are both excellent presenters and we even learned a few new exercises that can help focus the mind and oxygenate the body.  I’m giving them a try and will let you know how it goes.

I left the festival before the evening entertainment but the Bean attended and thoroughly enjoyed the band and party.

There was plenty to see and do.






As the Bean was sleeping over at a friends house, on Sunday I slept in really late – one of my favorite things to do, and then made myself a good breakfast.  I don’t often cook if I am alone so this was an exception.

My breakfast for one – it was really yummy.

Then I set up my new worm farm – buts that’s for another more detailed post.  I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

Sustainable Living

Today I am going to be doing some advertising.  It is for something very close to my heart – sustainable living. 


Every year Hoedspruit hosts a sustainable living festival.  It is held at the Bean’s school and runs for three days.  I think I’m going to be there as much as possible because I still have so much to learn.  People from all over South Africa come to this festival so if any of you are interested in coming along – I do have a guest cottage you can use. It will be held from 30th of April till the 2nd of May

Basic Concept

The basic concept behind the Sustainable Living Festival will be to establish a central platform to create and spread awareness of the different methods and options available, as well as to develop interest in, the various methods of sustainable living from making use of renewable energy within the home, recycling, waterwise and toxin free gardening to biodynamic and organic agriculture and many other new and innovative concepts and ideas

As the concept of Sustainable Living is very closely linked to the Biosphere Concept as set out by UNESCO in their MaB Prgramme (Man and the Biosphere Programme), the festival will also be used as a tool to further promote the concept of the Biosphere (and more specifically the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere in which we sit) as well as to promote the various organizations within the region that are involved in biosphere related projects or developments.

Daily Breakdown

The festival will be held over a 3 day period from Friday 30th April until Sunday 2nd May 2010.

All 3 days will see exhibitions and showcasing of the various products, services and projects related to Sustainable and Biosphere Living.

In addition, to this a number of workshops will be held each day to further enhance the transfer of knowledge and ideas in this regard as well as enable and encourage active and productive dialogue amongst different community sectors as regards developing thought processes and practical applications related to this globally developing concept.

Corresponding Activities

A number of corresponding Activities will be held over the 3 days and they include:

  • Workshops

There will be a number of workshops held throughout the festival – this year’s workshops will focus on aspects relating to the home production of bio-diesel, the low-carbon footprint form of construction such as Sandbag construction, the benefits and applications of Nature Farming®, organic gardening, a national biosphere seminar, the establishment of the Schools in Biosphere’s programme, a tourism speed marketing event and much, much more.


  • School Competitions

The inclusion of many schools in the greater region will focus high on the list this year, with the inclusion of a number of inter-school events, such as a debating competition, a recycled fashion show, an entrepreneurial competition (all items produced by schools must be done so from recycled materials), a music festival and many more exciting and relevant activities.


  • Cycle Race

Saturday morning will start early in the morning with a cycle race that is fast becoming a favourite on the annual cyclists calendar – with the unique concept that the majority (95%) of the race is conducted on private roads through the adjoining wildlife estates of Raptor’s View and Zandspruit.


  • Evening Entertainment

Friday night will showcase a cultural event that will encourage participation from all participants – for example, last year a drumming circle was held and this year we are in the process of lining up an event that will be just as spectacular and well received.  The evening is also initiated by an organic cheese and wine tasting event.

Saturday night has become established within the region as we host a live performance by one of South Africa’s leading artists – preferably with international reputation and success. 



Exhibitors that have been invited to exhibit at the festival will include the many aspects involved in sustainable development as well as the various activities related to the Biosphere concept.

Potential Exhibitors will include:

  • Sustainable Design Architects
  • Methods of Sustainable Construction
  • Forms of renewable energy
  • Solar Water Heating Systems
  • Solar Cookers
  • Waterflow Systems
  • Biodynamic Agriculture Association of South Africa
  • Organic Farming Organisations
  • Suppliers of Eco-friendly Garden/ Agricultural Supplements
  • Suppliers of organic health products
  • Developers of Herbal products
  • Locally produced arts and crafts
  • Biofuel technologies and biofuel products
  • Hybrid Vehicles
  • Research Projects
  • Community Development Projects
  • Social Investment Projects
  • Government Departments
  • Municipalities
  • And many other festival related stalls and activities.

Our Yoga Center is also very involved and will  be doing ‘quick’ therapies in the Healing Tent. They are also presenting a workshop on the connection between your health and that of your environment.

For the full programme click here

I am interested in attending the following:

  • Stop smoking hypnotherapy workshop ( yes folks I have fallen again)
  • Waste and recycling
  • Dealing with Malaria naturally
  • Organic wine tasting (of course)
  • The masculine and feminine aspects of farming
  • Creative cooking
  • and finally the evening entertainment looks really good although I may give the rugby a skip.



I believe the key reason for so many problems in the world today is the fact we no longer have to see directly the repercussions of our actions. The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that people are completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering involved in the production of the food and other “stuff” we buy. The tool that has enabled this disconnection is money.If we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today. If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we wouldn’t waste it so freely……………………..

– the cashless man


Ideally, to live the life I dream about, I would live without money.  However, in this big bad world, money is still a necessity.  What I want to attempt to do is to use as little of it as I can, rather bartering and trading wherever possible.  For instance, when guests come to stay in our guest cottage, I do not want to charge them cash.  I would much rather they bring things to trade with, or even pay with goods (my friends tease me about asking for wine as a rental).  I also want to attempt to make as much as I can from scratch – not buying prepared foods, and then pushing that thought further – to make our own soap etc.

I know that I will not be able to grow and make everything  initially – it is all going to take time and tons of learning.  This then forces me back to needing some cash to pay for things I can not grow or make, as well as for water and electricity.  I don’t think Eskom is going to be open to trading a few bunches of carrots for power somehow.  We also have to pay a monthly levy to the conservancy where we live for the upkeep of the game.  We may even be able to trade for that levy and are already in discussions about us doing game ranging on the reserve as well as keeping the reserve fencing maintained, filling waterholes etc.

So the plan then is to trade with friends and family in exchange for guest accommodation, ask for cash from strangers for guest accommodation (or a combo of trade and cash).  We will also be building a tented safari camp in the future for more accommodation.

Be that as it may – I still need money now – so it has been off to work for me.  Working for a boss is not part of my long term plan but right now, it fills a gap.

I have searched for a position that would not take me away from my home for extended periods, where I would not be taking work home with me, where I will not be puzzling problems at 2 am. Basically, an easy-peazy job without stress.

I am now gainfully employed on a farm that has a fruit packhouse for mangoes and citrus.  It is very different to the international pharmaceutical marketing field, but offers me what I need right now. I am in charge of stock control and I also do the payroll.  Here are some pictures of my work:-

So far, the people seem very nice, and although the work can get a little hectic, it’s at a pace I can enjoy.