It is often said that if one enjoys your job, you never work a day in your life? I certainly love my chosen vocation, and never cease to be amazed by the variety and challenges it presents. Clients engaged me to join them at Manyoni Rhino Reserve to share a story about Shackleton, and visit the Tshaneni/Ghost Mountain battlefield. Having been at Manyoni area a month earlier, the region was parched. Well, for my next visit it practically never stopped raining! For 4 days and nights it rained, around 160mm in total. The roads were impassable for game drives, and the ladies opted out of visiting Tshaneni – those red and black cotton soils are like grease when wet. I became the group ‘entertainer’. Eventually doing 4 talks which seemingly were appreciated by the audience. My car was covered in red clay and took some cleaning when I got home.
A friend from London lost her best friend in a bicycle accident last year. With their birthdays two days apart, they chose to remember Jess with a Zoom session and story on the evening between their birthdays. The atmosphere was fantastic, we laughed, we cried, we remembered. Most poignant was Jess’s father holding a photograph of their beautiful daughter. On the back lie the words “Jess, we think about you all the time, and the hole you have left in our lives. A hole we walk around all day, and collapse into every night.” Tragic.
It was also an affirmation of the connections available, albeit virtually, across the globe. There was talk of this becoming an annual event – I certainly hope it does.
My old friend Wayne Coetzer is the new MD at Vergelegen Wine Estate (ex Oyster Box Hotel). Wayne asked me to come down to Vergelegen to learn a little of its multi-layered history, and share this story with some of their clients. A road trip is a fine way to reconnect with our country, in my opinion. We stayed over in Beaufort West, and were in Cape Town by 11 the following morning. Meeting Karen’s new grandson was most special, before moving to Vergelegen. This 320 year-old estate has an entrancing history, situated far away as it is against the Hottentots-Holland Mountains. We had a fantastic 5 days, in glorious weather amongst wonderful folk. Even an aggressive Puff-Adder on a bicycle ride was not enough to spoil our week in any way. It may have, had the front wheel not deflected its strike!
Lady Florence Phillips spent 30 000 Pounds in the 1930’s on a 26 hectare dam. As a result Vergelegen never wants for water, and the estate is beautiful beyond words, including 320 year-old Camphor trees established by Willem Adriaan van der Stel around 1700. Very interesting to ponder that it was the wealth of a Randlord Lionel Phillips which restored Vergelegen to its former glory between 1917 and 1940. The project practically bankrupted him…The Barlow family owned Vergelegen between 1941 and 1987, when it was purchased by Anglo-American. I would urge you all to visit this exquisite place, one of South Africa’s oldest wine estates.
Having travelled down through the Karoo which had received good rains in parts, our return was starkly different. The temperatures ranged between 35 and 39 degrees Celsius, and the area looked parched once again.
Someone in Cape Town mentioned making meals out of snacks, the inevitable result of Coronavirus, Lockdown, travel restrictions and a vastly reduced economy. With dinner/talk events, a Farmers’ Conference, battlefield tours and Patreon story recordings still to come this month, we feel abundantly blessed.
We trust you and yours are finding this a time of regeneration too, as we adjust to a markedly changing world?