Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Valley of Desolation to Nieu-Bethesda

The sun hadn't even touched the valley floor this morning when we drove out of the Baviaanskloof and turned north heading back to Johannesburg. We took it slowly and stopped at interesting places which we would have normally just fly past.

After breakfast at Graaff-Reinet we drove into the Camdeboo National Park and up the mountain to the Cathedral of Mountains were we wondered along trails enjoying the majestic views of the towering dolerite columns and of the Valley of Desolation below us. The Great Karoo stretched out into the distance and I imagined how the early settlers reaching this area found this semi-arid such an inhospitable place.

From Camdeboo we detoured into the Nieu-Bethesda valley which was the total opposite of desolation. Although it is in the early stages of revival, tourists are finding their way into the valley. I imagine artists, photographers and sculptors retiring here hoping to irk out a living till they die. Nice place to spend the day but I am not sure it is a place for me.

Somehow the raw beauty of the Baviaans wilderness area has burnt into my heart which the Karoo can't touch.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Zandvlakte tot Uitspan

It gets cold quickly here in the Baviaanskloof under the shadow of the tortured rock of the fold mountains. At Uitspan, the ladies are playing pool and the men are preparing the braai to barbeque some pieces of meat and rosterbrood while I try to recall the beauty of our surroundings in words, impossible.

It is not easy to get lost here if you stay on the single road through the Baviaans but somehow we lost Magda on the short hop between Zandvlakte and Uitspan. Magda rode ahead while Marlene and I rode slowly enjoying the scenery and stopping at the roadside stalls. Magda had turned around and somehow drove past us without seeing us. She then ran out of petrol and was stuck on the side of the road while we continued on thinking she was still in front of us. After a while we started to get worried and sent out search parties on the single road hoping not to find her down a cliff. In the meanwhile the farmer from Zandvlakte, Pieter, found Magda and took her back to his farm for petrol.

Finally we were all reunited and back on the only road through the Baviaanskloof. They say in Afrikaans here that the Baviaanskloof is hemel op aarde langs 'n slegterige pad (Heaven on earth long side a dreadful road). It is beautiful here with the majestic tortured mountains, if you have a 4x4 or a Vespa to get through. And the stars, wow, I haven't been under so many stars for a long time. In a way I feel it is a good place to get away from it all. I can strongly recommend the Baviaanskloof as a place to stay in at least once in your life.

The stunning toughest part is now behind us and tomorrow we will start the long trek back north.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Finally the day has arrived, after we started planning a few years back while conquering Sani Pass in the middle of winter; we rode into Baviaanskloof on Vespas. Marlene on a 1979 Vespa P150X called Matilda and me on Anastasiya my reborn Vespa ET4.

After a stop at Kouga Dam we rode into the wilderness. At first the road into Baviaanskloof didn't seem so bad but the further we rode away from civilisation the worse the road became. After seeing a warning notice informing travellers to be aware of dangerous animals, I started wondering what sort of dangerous animals we might encounter. And must I stay inside the car; oh I am on a Vespa. Now there must be leopard around but surely no lions, that is when I started seeing elephant dung along the road and as we came across fresh warm elephant dung was deposited not even an hour before did I became nervous. The rest of this story will only be told round a camp fire, to protect the innocent involved. Okay with that out of the way, we were surely in the wilderness with hardly anyone around and where no one can hear you scream.

The famous Baviaanskloof river crossings at first wasn't very deep and we easily waded through them on the Vespas but they soon got quite deep in some places and the electronic parts of got a little damp. After a few blows of the hair dryer, we were on our way again. Let it be known that the two Vespas, Matilda and Anastasiya tamed the wilderness area of Baviaanskloof. Now to plan our next adventure.

Yes as we sit around the local famer Pieter and Magriet's dinner table at Zandvlakte, we eagerly chatted about our adventures past and of things to come while we hungrily tucked into some homemade boere kos. And as I write this post under a canopy of wilderness stars, it's quiet here in Baviaanskloof. It's lekker.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Soapbox to Gumtoos

Day two of the Great Baviaanskloof Adventure was the second leg of the journey down to the gateway to the Baviaanskloof, the Gamtoos Valley.

What should have been a quick five hour trip turned out to be the whole day affair. Last night I made the mistake of taking my medicine with the local water at Gariep. This mistake cause me to have a weak stomach from the get go and by end of the day in Gamtoos hopefully I can keep my supper down. Anyway the main delay in the start of the second leg was that this morning at !Gariep they held a soapbox derby down a hill into town. We couldn’t resist staying to take some photos.

Other than my weak stomach the rest of the journey was uneventful. No wait halfway there was a stop at the Daggaboer’s se Padstal which broke the dull flat scrubland. Here is Tinus and Marlene going in to see the dagga farmer. The scenery only improved once we drove into the Gamtoos Valley at the end of this leg. Now was time to mount our bikes and ride the winding roads into the valley.

By late afternoon we rode our bikes into the small town of Patensie and booked into the Ripple Hill Hotel. Although we are all very tired so far from the travelling down, the adventure only really starts tomorrow morning when we ride into the Baviaanskloof.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Let the Great Baviaanskloof Adventure begin.

I drove my Vespa Anastasiya over to Martin and Magda's home where we loaded the bikes onto the back of a double cab pickup and set out to meet Tinus and Marlene just before the Grasmere Toll Plaza.

The first leg is the boring one with a whole day of travelling in convoy down to the small town of !Gariep. Why the exclamation mark, well it is a San word for Great Water and was the original name for the Orange River on which the Gariep Dam is built on.

It was a relief to finally reach the great waters of the !Gariep. After unpacking we headed for the dam wall where we had sun downers and then went up the hill to the DeStijl Gariep Hotel overlooking the Gariep Dam, for supper. On the way there a full moon started to rise over the dam which was so awesome to watch. We ended up eating supper while this full moon shimmed over the great waters of the !Gariep. A perfect ending to a long day.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Dark Morning Fire

Winter has arrived; yes you can usually tell by the cold however for me winter is leaving for work in the dark and arriving back home after sunset. The cold weather I can dress warm for but not seeing the sun is the one thing I hate.

This dark morning while on my way to work, I saw these two chaps building a fire on a warehouse construction site to warm themselves up. Winter is not coming, winter is here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Quiet Noma

I am so frustrated at the moment with my service provider, Cell C, that it is a pity that they have lock me in a 2 year contract else I would have told them what to do with their connectivity.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Trust Noma to be calm and quiet that I hardly hear from her anymore since the company moved her and Delia to the other side of the office.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


What I don't understand are the potholes and traffic lights in Johannesburg. Somehow our municipality gets it wrong all the time. These comrades were voted in by the majority so I suppose they deserve the roads, the service, the broken traffic lights, missing manhole covers, the mismanagement of funds and the etoll gates. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class pay for a service that doesn't exist.

This photograph was taken this afternoon in Sandton, the financial hub of South Africa. I am so keen of planting some flowers in the potholes.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Space Boots

There are two people that I know that are wearing space boots, the first is a Resistance member who while placing the game Ingress was approached by two well dressed black men at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens who calmly pulled a gun on them. Fight or flight and my Resistance friend took flight. While fleeing, he had to jump down this drop and that is when he damaged his foot but he continued to run to safety.

The other moonboot wearer is Delia whose foot this belongs to. She recently had to undergo surgery to correct a previous injury. So now I know two hop-alongs. They make an effective team.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Beyond Our Universe

I stand here and proudly proclaim that I am a Creationist, and that belief was strengthened after listening to a leading astronomer Professor David Block’s talk called Beyond Our Universe – Accident or Design? Professor spoke about how finely tuned the universe is with easy to understand examples, designed rather than accident.

Another astronomer, the late Sir Fred Hoyle, once said about this finely tuned universe and our unique intelligent life form called Homo sapiens, “A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe. The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

Here is Vickers, from God First Church interviewing Professor David Block after the professor’s presentation at the El Grande Theatre at Monticasino this morning. Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Planning the Day

With new portals coming on line this morning, it was a scramble to go get them tagged blue before the Enlightened come along. Luckily it was pouring with rain and the Resistance caught the Enlightened still napping in bed. By end of the day majority of Johannesburg except in the East Rand was covered by a blue veil, nice.

Here is Matthew, planning out our Ingress day which ended in me becoming a Level 5.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Adolph Malan

Two of the Ingress portals are at the South African Military Museum near the Johannesburg Zoo and because it is not far from work, the portals are in easy strike range over lunch. This is what I did over lunch. The portals fell to enemy hands mid morning and after lunch I had recaptured them.

Not allowing a visit to the museum go to waste I had to stick my head inside. In the Group Captain Adolph Malan Hall are a number of Second World War aircraft displays. Here are the remains of a crashed Messerschmitt 109 and a Focke-Wulf FW 190 fighter aircraft.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Merchant Koi

It seems that I am going down the food chain lately in my daily photographs. First my dogs, then the cats and now fish, when will this end? Ingress is taking me to places other than the creative places that Joburg Photowalkers took me. This morning I found myself at the koi pond outside the Merchant Place on Fredman Drive in Sandton, South Africa's financial district.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Coming home to animals can be a trial especially when some of them are flea ridden cats. Oh that is the lover dogs in me talking. Here are Lovely, Kitty and Little Boy enjoying their supper while keeping a wary eye out for the dogs. Not to worry, my Whippet Skye won't be doing much chasing of flea infested felines as he is limping and I can't find the reason why. He must have sprained himself with all his running and jumping after the fleabags.

This post is bringing back memories of my good friend Robbie. He used to pipe "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits." Now I am getting itchy in places just thinking about it.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Angry Monster

All types of places come out of the woodwork while playing Google Ingress. The Joburg Photowalkers took me and other photographers to all sorts of wonderful places and now with Ingress I can share them with the muggles.

At Constitutional Hill is this monster carved out of one piece of lead wood. The Angry Godzilla was carved by John Baloyi and is part of a collection entitled Saluting Ghosts. And to put it all back in context it is also an Ingress portal called the Wooden Monster.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Smiling Maon

Well it is a Monday and I haven't got much to say. Not much of a surprise now is it. Well at least Maon is smiling. Other than a mundane Monday, it has been a fruitful weekend end with me progressing up two levels on Ingress as well as recruiting two new resistance members.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cards Against Humanity

This afternoon after a morning of playing Ingress, friends met at Craig's place for an afternoon of board games and a braai. We ended up around the table playing the game Cards Against Humanity. We had a whole lot of hilarious fun. My friends in the photo above are Lynda, Anika, Anel, Craig, Thabitha, Richard, Pierre and Gary.

Ingress Sitrep: This morning thanks to Thr4sh3r a L8 Resistance member I managed to reach L4.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Skye with Diamonds

"Are those pesky cats back in the kitchen?" wonders Skye as he jumps up on my chair hoping one of the cats would just run for him. "Ahhh please run, please please, just so I can chase you down. Pretty Please."

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies. Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers that grow so incredibly high. Skye with Diamonds.

Ingress Log: This morning I reached L3 after finding liberating a neutral portal. Even after been photographed on my Vespa by XFactor yesterday, no Enlightened black surveillance vans followed me nor did any unexplained abductions happen near yet so I went on out there and found two other neutral portals which were liberated for the Resistance. Later I met another Resistance member, Ilsodas a L2, and both of us easily dispatched a weak L4 Enlightened portal. With our confidence high we took on a nest of strong L6 portals and destroyed all except one as my battery ran out and Ilsodas ran out of xmp.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Rose amongst the Thorns

With augmented reality game Ingress becoming more and more ingrained into my everyday life. I met a Level 7 team member CoupDeGrace1108 and two enemy combatants Level 6 XFactorSA and Level 7 Sminto. I am MaxyJade and although I have only reached Level 2 yesterday morning, I am hoping to reach Level 3 sometime during this weekend.

But before that happens, I have to get back down to earth with lunch at Doppio Zero in Rosebank with the office. Today's photo taken at Doppo Zero is of the Rose, moi, among the thorns, Noma and Delia.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Royal Thai

Tonight is movie night as Nu Metro offers a free preview of an upcoming movie. Tonight's showing was "21 and Over" but before sitting down with popcorn and drinks it was dinner with Craig and Anel at the Royal Thai Restaurant. Although Craig was not that hungry as he had a late business lunch, Anel and I shared a tasty meal that the Thai chefs prepared for us.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Getting Along

The pets are slowly getting used to each and dibbing their favourite places. Here is Skye sandwiched between Kitty and Lovely. Getting along is the key for success. I should take my cue from my pets when airing my dealings with Vespa South Africa. The service manager phoned me this afternoon after reading my blog and wanted to know why I was disappointed. Although I felt that he already knew, I told him why but I am not sure anything will come out of it. Anyway I should apologise because I suppose I should have voice my disappointment when I picked up my bike. By the way I think I did, but their answer did not satisfy and left Vespa South Africa very disillusioned.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


This is the second time that Vespa South Africa has let me down. I can't go into much detail on this blog as I might put some people's nose out of joint. Let just say that I am once again very disappointed. The first time was in preparation for our Great Sani Adventure over a year and a half ago, and this time is in preparation for the Great Baviaanskloof Adventure at the end of this month. Oh well rough waters at the start of a voyage is a good omen. Today's photo is of my Vespa Anastasiya as she came out of the wash bay. Soon my baby will be covered in dust and mud, awesome.

Monday, 8 April 2013


We have an invasion here at the Stoned Cottage. My poor Italian Greyhounds don't know what to do with all these cats hanging around. This one called Lovely is perched near my shoulder on the back of the couch while I was relaxing in front of the television.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Relaxing Sunday

I needed just a day to recover before the new week starts and Sunday is the day. My slow day started with waking up to no electricity but I had to get myself to BBC. Here are two friends, Keith and Rob, at BBC. Keith runs the Men's Group and Rob is in my Home Cell group. After the Sunday service it was time to start relaxing and the best way to start is to put your feet up. Sometimes all your body needs is just time to rid itself of stress. My relaxing day ended with taking the dogs to Kingfisher Park for a walk to tire them out before bed.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Power Bungee

I must say bungee jumping is a wonderful spectator sport as long as I don't get it inside my head to jump over 100m. On a whistle stop tour of Soweto, we stopped at Orlando Towers to watch crazy dudes and dudettes bungee jump. I lay on the grass and enjoyed a new spectator sport.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Robynne and Lynda

Friday couldn't arrive quickly enough. This past four day week has felt like forever. I am looking forward to just relax this weekend after the last one was taken up with the big move.

My quiet weekend didn't start off on the right foot as a mini party was organised at my place because someone forgot to tell me that it was Lynda's birthday. The small get together consisted of Marco, Brad, Robynne, Lynda and myself. Here is a photo of Robynne and Lynda in the kitchen, dare I say where they belong. No I think better not. Tomorrow it should only get more relaxed.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hopalong Delia

Last week Delia had a serious operation on her leg which now means that she will be off the leg for six weeks. Much like my little Jade who also has to be off her leg for the same length of time.

Here is Delia, hop alonging at work on crutches. It can’t be easy but she is trying her best juggling work and the need to be off her feet. One nice thing is that Delia bribes me by making Nespresso for me so that I can carry her cup of Nespresso to her desk. What she doesn't realise that she can just ask. Well I kind of like my Nespresso and it is even more tastier when someone makes me a cup. Uhmmmm Hopalong Delia!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Rain and More Rain

This morning I woke to the rain pouring from the heavens, bed weather. I was tempted to call in a Duvet Day but there was just too much work to do at the office. So I reluctantly crawled out of bed and onto the highway but the traffic was crawling.

This evening as I write this blog, the rain is continuing to fall. Now I am wondering if I should google for plans for an ark.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sunrise Start

Interesting, at my old place I used to lie in bed and listen to the jackals howl at night, now this morning I was woken up by lions roaring not far away, welcome to my world. My dogs were fast asleep and the lions did not even raise an ear. It is something about Italian Greyhounds; they are not guard dogs as they prefer to be snuggled under the blankets.

After the lion wake up call, it was time to get ready for work. Not knowing to how long it would take me to get to work from this side of town I decided early was best. It was still dark when I set out for Houghton on my Vespa. I had to stop to admire this beautiful sunrise over Douglasdale, welcome to Africa.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Moses New Ride

Passover is over and my friend Moses has gotten himself a new ride, a MotoMia Java 170 Sport. Moses became my second visitor to my new cottage when he arrived on his new scooter for a visit late this afternoon. With only 144km on the clock, Moses has already had his bikers first fall out of the way so now all we need is a ride out to Hartes.

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