We last connected from Nieu-Bethesda, whilst cycling the Sneeuberg Trail. It would be fair to say that the Rupert family have transformed the old Drodsty Hotel in Graaf Reinet, along with assisting in maintaining the charm of one of South Africa’s oldest towns.
For all of us, November will however probably best be remembered for momentous events over the Limpopo in Zimbabwe. After Mbeki’s utterances on Zimbabwe, and Zuma’s strong support for Mugabe, these events just a month before the ANC conference must be creating some consternation within, and without, our ruling Party? Time alone will reveal whether ‘the Crocodile’ really can create positive, long-lasting changes in that beautiful country…
We attended a ball locally, raising funds for disadvantaged folk affected by diabetes. Extreme cold water swimmer, Ryan Stramrood, spoke about his epic swims – the man has swum Robben Island to Blouberg 74 times! Ryan’s utterly captivating and incredibly interesting presentation enthralled the audience, and a thoroughly good evening was had by all. Almost R70k was raised.
I was able to secure tickets to World Rally Cross, held for the first time in South Africa, at Killarney in Cape Town. To provide some perspective, these 600bHP cars with 4-wheel drive accelerate from 0-100 in little over two seconds – faster than any Formula One car. Being able to watch Sebastien Loeb, Peter Solberg, the Hanssen brothers and others flying around the gravel and tar track live was a dream come true.Twenty four thousand petrolheads shared the excitement over two days. A stunt driver drove the All-new Discovery right around the track on two wheels – it was mightily impressive. I already have tickets for 2018.
Diageo, the local agents for Johnny Walker whisky, amongst many other brands, hosted the British Chamber’s end of year function, at their Waterfall venue custom-built for entertainment. The Chamber kindly invited me to speak on lessons from history. I thought it appropriate to sneak the Shackleton Whisky story in, surrounded by top-class tipple. Trying to imitate the 7-foot high, slender statue of Johnny Walker with his stick created much amusement – his physique and attire a far cry from my own.
An Irish businessman, soon to become my client, googled speakers on Shackleton, and thankfully my name appeared. The IT company he represented invited me to London, to address their conference on the Race to the Cloud, and comparing it loosely with the Race to the Pole one hundred years earlier. Flying to London for one night, in the rear of the plane, is exhausting to say the least, but the entire trip was awesome. I opened the conference sans PowerPoint, to the utter astonishment of all present (bear in mind this is an IT audience), and my presentation was hugely successful. Being at The Barbican afforded me opportunity to walk the old one mile square of London City itself, the old Roman wall still visible in places. The weather was cool and dry, but being October most Londoners were dressed in a manner probably more appropriate for the Race to the Pole. My shorts and open neck shirt drew considerable attention, as did my stick.
Die Ou Pastorie in Scheerpoort, Magaliesburg hosted a luncheon/talk event upon my return from London. Despite good rain all day, the event was very well supported and a fine afternoon was had by all kind enough to attend. I presented my African Odyssey, regarding South Africa’s history prior to 1879 and the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War. One wag in the audience requested me to sing “My Sarie Marais”, which brought question time to a very speedy conclusion.
I leave shortly for Antarctica, and shall be posting blogs daily on behalf of the ship. Le Lyrial. November has been a stand out month for me, who has always measured Life by way of experiences. Our cups runneth over.