Trekking Arangieskop

(Video of our trip below story)

Some time ago Fiona had planned another great adventure. To mix it up a bit she had decided to do the Arangieskop two day hiking trail in Robertson. Without thinking it through properly I eagerly agreed to take part. I later found out that this is also affectionately known as the “Kilimanjaro of the Western Cape”,  (I distinctly remember making a “Hmmm” noise when I was told this).

Normally when facing the unknown I like to prepare a bit if possible. I  was told by a friend who had done it a few years ago that we should make it, however I wanted to a bit more tuned so I would at least be fit enough to enjoy the views and vistas, not staring at my boots while gasping for air. Not fun by any stretch of the imagination.

A little while before I would be forced into exercise by the impending departure date, life had other plans. My mom fell ill and subsequently past away. In a way that I would not wish on anyone.

Truth be told nor Fiona or I were particularly in the mood to focus on training of any type but before we knew it we were settled into our room ready to depart at sunrise.

With lots of apprehension and heavy hearts we set off. Once we had been walking for a while the weight on our back seemed to ease and we started to appreciate the spender of it all, even when going down hill to cross a valley only to find out we would need to hump up another higher hill. We both really enjoyed every moment. We reached our base camp in what seemed like a blink of a eye.

We did however meet up with a large group of hikers from a club. When I first saw them coming up the hill behind us, I will admit I did say to Fiona that we should prepare for hell. I will be honest I don’t really play well with others, especially large groups of super excited chatty people. I am sure some of  you know what I mean.

Well I had a few head shaking moments at times BUT we were both blown away by how accommodating and welcoming they were. Friendly, respectful and all round great people in their own respect. We will be seeing them in the future. I am very sure about this.

We both had a really great nights sleep, far better than I have had in 4-star establishments. Even though some 0 degree wind,rain and hail tried to infiltrate our sleeping bags during the night I would not change a thing (okay maybe just a bit of snow, just to add to the experience). It was very strange to think that people in the valley below were suffering through 28-30degrees (well maybe not suffering).

I woke up fresh, lit the wood fired geyser (hot water donkey) and settled for a great coffee and an oaty breakfast from the comfort of my sleeping bag whilst looking through the frosty window at the vistas below. Its times like these mornings when I really enjoy a great coffee and a simple meal.

All packed up, we set off for the summit. It was almost anti climactic as it would mean we would be making our way down soon. Down kinda sucks. Beautiful, breath taking, awe-inspiring but heavy on the legs and feet. Well for me anyway. We both agreed we would do Arangieskop again tomorrow if we could. With this in mind we have planned a return trip for next year.

If I may be so bold I would like to offer some advice to those readers who would care to listen. We have all heard the cheesy sayings like, Life is short, One life live it. My favourite version is….

Live each day like its your last but bare in mind you might make it till tomorrow.

Unfortunatly each and every one of us will see the day where we meet our maker, we will all die. We cant really choose how that happens but we can take steps to choose how we live.Time is the most valuable commodity we posses and it only gets more valuable as every second passes. If we are very lucky we only get 70 trips around the sun so, surround yourself with good solid people, try avoid the noise and drama assosiated with modernaty. Life is a series of moments. Do things while you can. Strike while the iron is hot and make it your own.

Thanks again to Merridian Hiking Club for being as accommodating and helpfull as you all were. Also a big Thank You to Henk for a lift from the finish to our car in Robertson. We were not looking forward to an additional 10km walk along a road.

Thanks for reading our story.

Dan

Simplicity is the key

Dan & I came back from Cape Agulhas last week. It was a much needed getaway for the two of us & great weekend away. 

I am amazed at how each vacation we do together is kept incredibly simple with regard to planning, packing & our exploring. We do what we feel as we feel. The amazing thing about all of this is we always seem to have the best times together and the best holidays I have had is with Dan. 

Reason being… life and all that surrounds it is kept very simple. No extra drama or fuss. That is truly the key to less stress when it comes to enjoying yourself, the company you in and the environment that surrounds you. 

Dan & I aim to keep our lives as stress free as possible, not in a weird sense but quite literally life is far happier without all the stress.

Fiona

Thankful …

20160707_112114

Have you ever found that one amazing person whom you are able to love exponentially  & unconditionally experience life’s adventures together, share secrets, be outdoors together,  cry together, laugh together, fall together, be quiet together & continue to embrace all life’s challenges together. A person who is quietly as tough as nails but who is always willing to extend a gentle hand to anyone who needs it.

A dictionary doesn’t contain a word that would describe the type of  person who I share all the above & so much more with.

I am so grateful to have a person who doesn’t see everything the same way I do, doesn’t always think the same way I do and teaches me about different points of views, while continuing to remain open to learn from me too.

I have a strong minded person who isn’t afraid of their emotions, but isn’t as emotional as I am, so that we act as each others balance. Acting as my voice of reason that saves me from drowning in my own seas, and I hope to believe that I am the gentle rain that saves him from his own fires.

Somehow we have the amazing ability to communicate without speaking at times & how silence can also bring a sense of comfort and contentment.

I have someone in my life who knows what its like to build a life from the ground up starting from scratch, to loosing it all and then finding the strength to build it up again. An enduring strength that I am unable to find in anyone else.  A person who appreciates the great moments even in the bad ones!  Our relationship hasn’t always been rainbows & butterflies but I certainly have grown along the journey and  from all the experiences we have shared together.

I love this ambitious soul of a person. Sure, we challenge each other and butt heads at times because of it – but as long as we have the same kind of heart, we’ll fight through the hard times and survive them all.

A “soul mate” relationship doesn’t necessarily mean both partners always share the same views, but that our overall goals and ambitions match. I think this is the most fabulous part & I am so happy to have found a soulmate in Dan!

Love, laughter & a positive attitude  is key to a happy healthy life. Well this is my opinion anyway for what it is worth. Through everything in life, Dan & I continue to strive towards living a happy loving and positive lifestyle with everything we do.

We continue to be our own identity yet we conquer life as one team!

Now days it is so seldom that you find a person that is so willing to take a back seat so that others may succeed,  for these reasons I decided to post this blog and say, Thank You.

Here’s to many more great & unforgettable adventures that lie ahead!

Fiona

Graduation Day 2016

Parents with me on Graduation Day

Graduation Day 15 June 2016, I received my Bsc Environmental Management & Zoology degree through correspondence studying at the  University of South Africa (UNISA).

I didn’t think the day would ever arrive.

5 years later studying part time, 30 subjects passed, 93 assignments submitted and many exams written. I was presented a single piece of paper in my hands  with a conferring ceremony symbolizing I had completed the degree. What an amazing & yet unreal feeling it was … in fact still doesn’t feel real.

Through all my years of studying for it I battled and conquered my nemesis (Chemistry)  and have shown commitment to work independently and all round dedication to complete this degree.

I am grateful for the massive support I had from my parents, my mother in particular who edited and checked numerous assignments before submitting, making sure everything was corrected and best as could be. Her endless support, motivation and forgiveness  as well as understanding of times I couldn’t attend something with her because I had to study was always noticed and appreciated.

Lastly not forgetting Dan who continued to support and encourage me, when I thought I had nothing left within me to carry on. Always seeing a solution with every obstacle I faced and motivating me to see the wood through the trees. His comforting words always re centering me and giving me a new head to face my subjects with. Never forgotten.

Mom, Dad & Dan you have earned an equal share in this degree with me as you all have traveled the long road along side me. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without all of you behind me, cheering me on when the crowds had left! I can’t thank and express my appreciation enough but know I am eternally every grateful.

Fiona

McGregor Meander …

I love exploring the small towns within South Africa. I am making it my mission to travel and explore them as much as I can, now that I get a long weekend every 3 weeks.

With this in mind, Mom & I recently visited McGregor (with our two ‘yorkies’ in tow).  It was our first time to the town of which I have heard so much about and it certainly lives up to its name, such a peaceful & fabulous get away so close to Cape Town.

On the Friday morning when we left Cape Town we took a casual drive through stopping at all the local farm stalls, wineries  & sights en route (as I always seem to do on any road trip)! I had a terrible cold developing but certainly didn’t let that stop me from having a wonderful getaway! We stayed at a fabulous self catering house called Willow Tree Cottage located within the small town (http://www.tourismmcgregor.co.za/PearTreeandWillow). The dogs were able to explore the garden while Mom & I soaked up the Winter sun relaxing. Not many restaurants are open on a Friday evening & those that are generally require a booking in advance as they tend to get booked up on weekends. So after a bit of improvising we had scrambled egg with salad & vegetables! Perfect for a stress weekend that followed suit.

Saturday morning we awoke with cows that were grazing on the boundary of our garden, what a great alarm clock as oppose to waking up in the city with cars, hooters & in my case naval base going’s on. In the morning browsed the town with all its shops including the Saturday morning market. It has a wonderful charming atmosphere to it that I cannot put down on paper. We  then ventured out the town & had lunch in Robertson a much bigger town nearby with various facilities & amenities. There was quite a buzz & hustle among the streets, which created a wonderful atmosphere when walking around the town on a busy Saturday morning.

For any budding artist or anyone who has an appreciation of pottery & the work that is in involved with it, a must see in McGregor is Mill Stone Pottery (http://www.millstonepottery.co.za/millstone/index.php). Paul is a fascinating potter (together with his wife – make a great team) with many years of experience. He is willing to share his ideas, inspirations and works of art with you whilst you browse the calm creative space around you.  I learnt so much about the intricacies of pottery & before we knew it we had spent 2 hours here just absorbing the wonderful surrounds. Mom & I needless to say walked out with a clear mind & hands full of pottered items!

We had a fabulous dinner at Tabaldis (http://www.temenos.org.za/#!restaurant/c5lv), which is the centre of the town and is open throughout the week with menu that change according to what is in season & availability. Temenos is on the same property as Tebaldis & they have beautiful gardens,which make you feel like you are lost in an enchanted garden. It is a retreat where you can escape the race of life and make you feel as though you are a million miles away from the rest of the world. Our weekends days were filled with warm Winter sun whilst the evenings we quite chilly, so made getting into bed with a book after dinner all that much easier!

IMG_2405

Donkey sanctuary outside of McGregor

The Eseltjierus Donkey Sanctuary (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)is a great place to let your children or in our case our dogs out to play or walk around the farm, whilst the donkeys are kept in the paddock. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. They are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment. Was a great stop and experience in conjunction with a fabulous lunch out on the deck in the sun.

Holidays are always too short & before we knew it we were packed & in the car en route home. We couldn’t resist a final stop at this fabulous farm stall which its great selection of pumpkin! Mom thought it was a simple procedure of choosing a pumpkin however before she knew it the shop lady was out to give her advice on just how to choose the right eating pumpkin as oppose to pumpkins which are dried out & kept as ornaments/decorations.

Finally we were on our way home with 2 humans, 2 dogs, a pumpkin & many great memories all round.

Cheers Fiona 🙂

Survival

survival

Most of us have seen the survivor type programs on TV. If not let me explain. Its a show that has a host (normally ex military) with a supporting crew of around 15 videographer’s, sound, safety and catering crew that embark on a “single handed” struggle for survival in some remote location, that is normally just off some easy access dirt road. In this Show we will see how the host fights the effects of various environmental challenge’s between takes. Forging dangerous ravines and canyons  (that you would normally walk around) and for viewer entertainment the unnecessary eating of a myriad of creepy crawlies, rambling on about the essential fats and protein from each animal.

All these types of programs are steeped in the “what should you do type scenario”. With around 70% of the worlds population living in urban areas and the balance very seldom finding themselves shipwrecked on some desert island. I don’t see how these types of programs are still relevant.(Honestly I am getting a bit tired of seeing a guy whittle two sticks thus miraculously making a boat to find rescue). I would be hard pressed to leave a island with shelter and fresh water to spend my last days drifting around sun burnt, sea sick and sleep deprived. Then again, that’s just me.

I have always thought that the toughest survival challenges we face today are in fact more urban based. With this in mind, how long would a guy last if he was dropped in some foreign city with nothing but his wits? No passport, ID book or qualifications, nothing to his name. Homeless, alone and without employment how long would it be before you walked passed him curled up in a gutter, hopeless and desperate.

Somewhere in our vast history of evolution we made a wrong turn. At some stage we decided not to judge a man on character or virtue but rather by the coin in his pocket. Survival challenges are no longer finding food and shelter in the typical sense, more about making sure you manage to make enough money to retire. Poverty as well as lack of broad based education are the leading threats to our environment and in turn humanity. Historically we would roam in small groups, each and every person fulfilling their role in the tribe. Each member a key component to the survival of the group as a whole. Now we have thousands of over qualified people applying to the same menial position. As population densities rage ever higher each day I am surprised that the statistics for crime , domestic violence as well as substance abuse are not much higher. Then again would the harsh reality and truth of this be to much to watch in the name of entertainment.

All being said this is just my humble opinion.

Dan

 

 

Time Travel

Chopping Wood

I am a big fan of the simple art of chopping wood. Some would say its a type of meditation. There is something very simple and honest about collecting and chopping your own pile of wood, ready to warm those cold hands or cook that perfect meal. I enjoy reading the grain of the wood, the rhythmic thwacking, the sweet sound your axe makes when you choreograph the perfect blow and finally the satisfaction of a job well done.

I tend to do about a hour or two at a time, slowly working my way through the task at hand. When the urge to chop hits me I normally put on a old pair of boots, a T shirt and some shorts. This helps stay nice and cool and anyway I am not a big fan of long pants and avoid it if at all possible.

One such day I was about 3/4 of the way through and Fiona popped in to visit. She knows to let me finish as I hate to stop until I am done. Plopping herself down on a stump she proceeded to tell me about her day ,all the twists and turns, ups and downs. It was at this moment, nearly on my last piece that a sizable chunk of wood flew of the chopping stump and hit me in the shin. As if laser guided hitting square and solid just millimeters above the top of my boot.

I instantly dropped to the floor, curled up into the fetal position clutching the affected limb. At this point I would like to mention that many people have debated if time travel is in fact possible. I think it may. Why? Because at this moment time stops, it transports you to a far away place, all one can think about is the white hot spear like pain that washes over you. You become totally present and focused. How did it happen? Reimagining the event frame by frame. I have entered the singularity.. or have I? Have I chipped the bone, it sure hurts more than when I broke my arm. Best I have a look. Oh gross…. it looks like a piece of bone, could it be? No don’t be silly it cant be. Nope its just a flap of fleshy skin with a bit of fat. Nothing some cleaning and a bit of tape cant fix, its all good. Now I end my time traveling experience and resume normal speed. As if coming to the surface the pain subsides to a bearable plateau, all I can hear is one thing.

Fiona is laughing, now when I say laughing I mean the kind of laughing that you only see in the movies or on a silly clip show. Laughing so hard that it seems that breathing is becoming a issue. Laughing so hard she is having to prop herself up. I have no choice but to join in, admittedly slowly at first. Looking back it must have looked very funny to watch this 6ft 5inch,110kg guy fall to the ground like a pile of dirty laundry. Especially since she probably saw it coming a mile off….Cheeky Monkey.

This refresher coarse reminded me of the following life lessons.

1. I cant do two things at the same time. Its a fact. Talking and chopping wood don’t mix.

2. I have the weakest most sensitive shins in the world. I must protect them when ever possible.

3. Even though it hurts something awful at the time, it will pass. Deal with it.

4. Any crash landing you walk away from is a good landing,(I could have barked myself with the axe, that would have been unpleasant to say the least.)

Have you ever hurt yourself in a silly way then laughed about it at the time or later, Have those experiences taught you anything?  If so please feel free to share your story. Thank you for dropping by. Dan

 

We Are The People

For the last two years I have been able to witness a very strange phenomenon. Winter is the time when Great White Sharks move from inshore, along the beaches, to the feeding grounds off Seal Island, South Africa, where they feed on young seal (Cape Fur Seals) pups.

Last year towards Winter they pulled a vanishing act for approximately 50 days and it seems that this year it will be the same, if not longer. Many experts have put their theories forward. The one that seems to be most accepted is that they are being harassed by a pod of Orcas (Killer whales). This seems to add up as we have seen them in the bay around the time of the last Great White sighting. Adding validity this theory there has been a spate of Cow Sharks( 7 Gilled Cow Shark) been found dead with their livers removed. I personally have seen large bull seals attack sharks and eat their livers so it makes sense to me that this is in fact possible if not plausible that Orcas are targeting the same food source. This means that the mystical Great White Shark could in fact lose its pole position as the Apex predator!

Winter is normally the time of year when I try make full use of the safer swimming and free diving conditions exploring new and deeper spots in clearer water without having to look over my shoulder all the time. However this year it really does seem especially quiet. I normally spend way to much time diving and looking at the various species of shark to the point that I recognise a few regulars. Even the spotted gully sharks are hard to find and non of the similar faces are were they are supposed to be. It shows that even now days with everything we know we still have lots to learn about our natural world.

With the governments of the world trying to screw us, souring unemployment as well as many other sad truths about this world we live in, it is all too easy to become a bit negative. Anyone who knows me well, knows, I choose to look at things in a positive light. Glass-half-full type of chap. I like to take this idea into everything I do even day to day work. We only get one life and sure not everything is a breeze, but hell why not make it fun and enjoyable as possible. If at all possible do what you enjoy and enjoy what you are doing.

This long story brings me to my point. Most people would shudder at the thought of getting out in our winter, no doubt its cold, wet and sometimes windy but I have had some really great times huddled up clenching a “cuppa” with frozen hands. Silly moments in a hypothermic stupor with a good serving of awesome company make for great times. Its so easy to fall pray to the seductive temptress known as my couch next to the TV. You cant buy real adventure and you cant experience life channel surfing. Fiona and I both know we have never regretted a cold swim, it just can be hard to motivate oneself in the moment.

I cant control nature or the government but I can choose how I spend my days. I know that if I choose to just sit back I would never have been able to put this little home video together. This is just a few moments as of late that we have managed to share between studies, jobs and general life. Each moment a great memory that we were lucky enough to share. So even though there are no real sharks in the bay, job prospects are looking frail to say the least. Just getting out when we could made all these moments a reality. Choose to live life. Choose to make the most of what you have, with what you have ,when you can.

Hope you enjoy

Dan