Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's a Long Way to Tipperary...

as the song goes. It was also a fuckin' long way back to Shit Towne on Sunday morning after our trip to Sani Pass for the weekend. It was supposed to only happen in 3 weeks time, but we had been called to say that the house was no longer available over that period, but if we still wanted to go, this weekend was open. This was on Tuesday, so we didn't have much time to get organised.

The trip started on Friday morning around 11am, just after picking up friends Patrick and Laura and their son Aidan, who were coming along with our ex-neighbours Brian and Jana and their two kids. We are all good friends, having stayed in the same neighbourhood for the last five years or so. This trip was just something we'd spoken about for a while and, now given the opportunity, decided to follow through. Jana knows someone at work who has a house in the little town of Underberg, about 20km from the world famous Sani Pass and we could get the house for only R600 for the weekend. With eight of us on the trip, the house was more than big enough and cheap to boot.

Steph had decided to stay at home, or rather I was leaving her there, as she was going to the stage production of The Lion King on Saturday night. I have no desire to see the show and I wasn't passing up the opportunity of going to Sani Pass. On top of it all, the show was a work function, which gave me more motivation to disappear.

The highway to Underberg was a long one, in total around the 550km mark. Laura and Aidan were restless passengers, grumbling about cramped spaces and having kept too much luggage on the back seat of the Ranger with them. It was their own fault and I was hearing none of it...I had warned them. I'd volunteered to pick them up in the Ranger as they only have a sedan and this was going to be a serious 4x4 trip. We could also share the fuel bill which was a bonus for both of us.

We get to Underberg, find out that it is big enough to get lost in, call Brian to ask for directions to the house and within fifteen minutes have our first drink in hand. Early indications were that this was going to be a rough weekend. A quick SMS message to Steph to let her know we'd arrived was answered with a terse "Ok, take care". Oops...cold weather, and now cold shoulder...

It was quite cold, with temperatures in the lower single digits, so we ended up sitting in the lounge enjoying our drinks with a fire in the hearth. This was followed by a dinner of soup, then curry, at about 7pm after which we retired to the lounge again where it was warmer. A few more drinks and everyone retired to bed by about 11pm, except for the two boys who chatted until the wee hours.

The room I was in had a big double bed, big, as I was alone in it. There was a cold draught blowing down my neck too, which came from the cold air sinking from the narrow window above my head. Not too much I could do about it though, so I pulled the pillow in closer and headed off into LaLa Land for a pleasant sleep.

Up at about 6h45, into a lovely hot shower before the rush, dressed and through to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and to help pack the trucks for the day's outing to the Pass. We left the house at about 8am, once the rest of them had got organised.

The road to the Pass is about 40km long, mostly on good dirt road, but once you get to the border post, it's pure 4-wheel drive from there onward to the top. The daft thing about the border is that, here, unlike the Caledonspoort border post, you need a passport to get through. At Caledonspoort, all you need is a SA ID book...the difference, you tell me. It is Africa, after all.

We find a secluded spot and set up for a fried breakfast and coffee. Brian and Jana do this sort of thing regularly so they were all kitted out for the event. I had offered to bring any camping requirements along too, but was told not to bother as they already had everything organised on that front. Between Jana and Laura, they'd organised all the meals. Seeing as Steph wasn't going along, I was told not to bother contributing toward the accommodation too. All I needed to do, was bring along my booze (how come then the back of the truck was full?).

After a hearty breakfast, we pack up and move onward toward the top, stopping on occasion to admire the view. Even though it's winter and the veld is brown from frostbite, the scenery is still amazing and it's worth every stop we make. On top of which, every stop we make is for a beer, so there's a few.

Only for the last kilometre or so, is it necessary to shift into low range four wheel drive. The gradient is extremely steep, probably forty five degrees at points, with tight hairpin bends and loose rock and gravel in abundance, making progress difficult and slow. Eventually we get to the top, just over two hours from when we set out from the border post. At the Lesotho border post, we hand our passports in and straightaway get stamped into, and out, of Lesotho...lazy bastards. We also get rushed R8 for "the car road tax", and we wonder how much of that will get declared by the guards and how much will disappear. Needless to say, we don't get given a receipt.

After the few obligatory photos at the top, and looking down, we head into the warmth of the hotel for a drink. The kids go looking for snow which is lying in patches around the rockfaces, throwing chunks of snow and ice at each other until their gloves are soaked or their hands are burning from the cold. Brian disappears for a walk and ends up right at the edge of the cliff looking down toward where we came from. When he returns, I decide it's my turn for a walk and make it to about halfway to the point, before deciding "fuckit", taking a few photos and heading back to the hotel. A thermometer on the wall shows that, somewhere inside the hotel it's 2.5degC and outside, due to the wind chill factor, it's -8.9degC...and it certainly felt like it.

Because there's rugby on at 3pm, we decide around 1pm to make our way back down to the little town Himeville which we passed through on the way to the pass, to watch the game in the Himeville Arms pub. It's a slow-ish decent, but Brian drives like a lunatic at times, often ending up a good kilometre or so ahead of us. We decide to take the slow train down as it is, aside from steep, also a pleasant drive and we make the most of it. At five minutes to three, we park outside the Himeville Arms and head inside to see if we can get a table, but the place is packed out with Springbok supporters who, by the look of the bottles and glasses on the tables, have been there a while.

The ladies and the kids decide they don't want to watch the rugby and Brian, Patrick and myself bid them farewell and settle down to a few pints of the local ale, called The Whistling Pig. Yummy stuff, can't remember the last time I had such a good pale ale. All told, Pat and I must have had a good four pints each, while Brian slowed down a bit and only had three. The 'Bokke' ended up losing in what turned out to be a gruelling, physical match.

Out of the pub, we drove the Ranger up to a hill overlooking Underberg, supposedly to look for firewood to fuel the bonfire we would have later. We ended up having another beer while watching the sun go down, eventually deciding it was too cold to stand around in our shirtsleeves. Back at the house, we found some firewood at the bottom of the expansive garden and brought the braai into the middle of the lawn. Embers from the fire wouldn't damage the lawn any further, which was already burnt brown by the morning frost.

It turned out to be a long night. With our bellies full of steak, wors and a little potato salad, we settled down in front of the roaring fire and talked the night away, having a good laugh over the day's events plus more. We killed the fire at just before midnight and made sure everything was packed away for the night. We wanted to be up at 6am to get an early start as we'd decided to give the highway home a miss, settling instead to drive back the "scenic route" through Lesotho past Katse Dam and out at Caledonspoort border post. It was to be a llooonnngggg day and will be covered in the next posting...

Here's some of the other good pics...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

At Thirty-three minutes past Midnight...

I was awakened by Big Bastard (otherwise affectionately known as Duke) whining...

And that was when I heard the rumble of thunder. End of June? Thunder? I was amazed. I staggered through to the dining room, moved his bed to a secluded area so that he wouldn't be frightened by the lightning and staggered back to bed, cold and tired. I happened to look out of one of the windows next to the front door and what do I see?

It was fuckin' SNOWING!!! I shit you not...snow in Buccleuch in June. A first for me...

Back in the bedroom, I looked out the window onto the lawn and saw a layer of the white stuff a couple of milimetres thick on the grass and showed it to Steph who, by now, was also awake and wondering what the soft noise on the gutters was.

And to show that I was't dreaming, this morning the snow is still lying on the roof of our lapa, as well as next door's thatch's the pics...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Guy Walks into a Bar...

A guy walks into a bar, notices a very large jar on the counter, and sees it's filled to the brim with $10 bills.

He guesses there must be a few thousand dollars in it.
He approaches the bartender and asks, "What's with the jar?"
"Well, you pay $10 and if you pass three tests, you get all the money and the keys to a brand new Corvette Z06."
The man certainly isn't going to pass this up. "What are the three tests?"
"Pay first, those are the rules," says the bartender.
So the man gives him the $10 and the bartender drops it into the jar.
"OK," the bartender says, "Here's what you need to do: First - you have to drink that entire litre of pepper tequila, the whole thing, all at once and you can't make a face while doing it."
"Second, there's a pit bull chained-up out back with a sore tooth. You have to remove the tooth with your bare hands."
"Third - there's a 90-year old woman upstairs who has never had an orgasm. You've gotta make things right for her."
The man is stunned. "I know I paid my $10, but I'm not an idiot! I won't do it! You have to be nuts to drink a gallon of pepper tequila, and then do those other things.."
"Your call," says the bartender, "but your money stays where it is."
As time goes on and the man has a few drinks, then a few more, he asks, " Where ez zat tequila?"
He grabs the litre with both hands and downs it with a big slurp. Tears stream down both cheeks, but he doesn't make a face. Next, he staggers out back where the pit bull is chained up and soon the people inside the bar hear a huge, noisy, scuffle going on outside. They hear the pit bull barking, the guy screaming, the pit bull yelping and then . . . silence.
Just when they think the man surely must be dead, he staggers back into the bar, with his shirt ripped and large bloody scratches all over his body.
"Now," he says . . . "Where's the old woman with the sore tooth?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm all for a bit of Etiquette...

especially in something as peaceful as Fly Fishing.

Too many times I've seen anglers not giving a damn about other anglers and the environment and it, quite frankly, pisses me off at times.

I found a great article regarding angling etiquette, so any of you anglers out there can have a look if you're interested. Click here to view the page.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Shit Towne Weather Report, Part II...

Just how fucked up is this weather????????????? ...and it's STILL hailing...ok, it's stoppped....nope, it's started again...Oh, for fuck sakes... The old Crowded House song "Four Seasons in One Day" comes to mind...

You may have noticed...

that I've been posting a whole lot more recently than I have in the recent past. Well, that's cos someone (I suspect at Blogger) has done something right and fixed their network or server capacity problems. I'm no longer getting messages that tell me Firefox can't find the server or my connection has been closed. I've done nothing to my network settings, so it must be somewhere in Blogland... Good to see it's been fixed tho...I just pity you lot that now read all the crap I post...

The Shit Towne Weather Report...

How fucked up is the weather? It's well into June and we've got on the image to get a better idea of what I'm talking about...

Here's to Feeling Down...

So my mate Wreckless is feeling a bit of a downer today. You can't blame him really as there's a few things (that I know about anyway) that could do that to him, or to anybody in fact.

Look at his latest post and you'll see there's a few reasons there to start with. On top of that, the weather is shite today (see my next post) and really fucked up. We had a full-blown thunderstorm last night and it is still raining at home this morning. For those that don't know South African weather, the Shit Towne rainy season usually ends late in March and we're already into June. As I type this, it's thundering and raining outside again!

To change the focus of the posting a little, however, it's not only Wreckless that gets that down feeling now and then...we all do. Let's face it, I've had my own downers lately what with the Dark Prince fuckin' me around and a couple of other bits, the latest of which is my rods being left on the grass in Dullies {sniff}.

There's a whole load of shite (or is that "Shiite"?) going on in the world today that is enough to give Cuzzin Ross's Grand Whazoo a headache and throw his hands up in space in despair (let's face it, if he's already up there, it would be pointless to throw his hands up in the air, wouldn't it?). I have a TV monitor in my study where I'm sitting now and Jesus - oh wait, it's only Bono - is on the box trying to save the world...wanker.

Getting back to the topic, we all have our trials and tribulations with work issues, salaries not being what they should, managers being damagers more than anything, colleagues not pulling their own know the story...

Then there's social issues that get us too. Living on the Dark Continent, arguably the poorest continent in the world (brought upon by its own inadequacies and greed to a large extent) is not easy either. Poverty is rife, disease just as widespread, and all the while life is cheap and murder and mayhem are accepted as part of "the norm". (The "norm" where, for fuck sakes???) Actually, denial is the norm in SA. Politics and crime are killing any chance for this country to pull itself out of the quagmire of self pity, cos every time the people try, some fucker knocks them on their arse again and eventually kills off the person's spirit. How many times can you try to pull yourself up before you think "Ah, fuckit"? Africa has its own set of issues and problems and until it sorts out the basics (human rights, blue and white collar crime, poverty, greed, and in fact all the "deadly sins") it is going to stay firmly stuck in the sucking mud it's in now. Sure, the rest of the world has its issues too, but at least there are structures in place (mostly) where issues can be raised and addressed, places where results are actually achieved. All we get here are fuckin' strikes and more mayhem...and no results to issues, just more downers.

Then there's the amazing human psyche that can cause a downer too. The human mind has an uncanny ability to absorb and retain some things better than others, typically the negative things. That's just the way it is, cos it sees them as a threat to survival. The mind knows the body needs food to survive so it dwells upon the fact that you haven't had a McDonalds breakfast for some time and tries to tell you you're starving. In fact, it's just a taste craving and your mind is just fuckin' with you, but it causes...a downer.

Then there's a fascinating phenomenon that some clever people call biorhythms, which are supposedly natural cycles our bodies go through all our lives. From this website, a quotation says "Biorhythm charts illustrate the principle that we are influenced by physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles. Many people report that they can improve the quality of their lives by monitoring the highs and lows of these cycles and acting accordingly." Whether you believe in it or not, is your prerogative. I personally believe I, in fact everybody, can influence my/our well-being by thoughts. If I think negative stuff, it's going to put me on a downer, but I can change it and think positive stuff to take me out of it. One of the ways I help myself is by listening to music, typically hard rock as it's got the rhythms my mind needs to let me feel better about myself. Just for kicks, I completed my biorhythm details to see where I "am" on my biorhythmic chart and I'm supposedly just coming to the bottom of my down cycle, quite possibly a reason why I'm also not quite feeling myself these days. Whether or not you believe in that stuff is, I think there is something to it.

There are so many different things that can cause us to have downers, far more than I should be fitting onto a blog entry. Each one of us has our own means of putting ourselves down, but we also have the means of getting ourselves up again.

But before we all go out and slash our wrists let's not forget, following a downer is always an upper. So why the toast to feeling down in the heading? Cos there's always that "feeling up" after it...that's why, and that's the most important part.

Welcome home dear, now go back...

and get my fishing rods...

I get a phone call from Steph to say she's outside the gate (I had all the keys and remotes) and I go out to welcome her. It's good to see her home again...until...

I open the back of the bakkie to help her unpack the car and the first thing I notice is that my fly rod tubes are not visible. Thinking they are on the back seat, I look inside the car only to be disappointed there too.

I know they're not hidden under things as they are about six feet long and would have had to be put sideways on top of the rest of the luggage to fit in the car.

It turns out Steph and her aunt had left the tubes outside the car expressly to put them on top of the luggage so that they didn't get crushed and ended up leaving them lying on the grass next to the car. How either of them didn't see the tubes before driving away is beyond me.

Now Fishman is talking about a trout weekend up in Sabie in the next few weeks and I've got to get my rods back before I can go. Luckily, Stan and Jackie go up to Dullies every second weekend or so and Millstream have agreed to drop the rods off at their house for us...

Monday, June 04, 2007

It was Fuckin' cold in Dullies...

this past weekend. I was up to see Steph, who is on a week's holiday at Millstream with her aunt, to do some fishing and catch up on the latest business opportunities out there. Steph has it in her mind that she wants to open a coffee shop (with a difference) and end up retiring there in a bunch of years time.

Anyway, our ex-neighbours, with whom we are still good friends, arrive at the gate around 15h30 on Friday to pick me up. We have a 10-sleeper croft at Millstream and they're coming along for the break with their kids.

Steph's cuzzin is looking after our house and dogs for the weekend, so they're in "good hands". I've locked the single malts away so that he can't get at them. We get on the highway at around 16h00 and after some not too hectic traffic jams, arrive at Millstream just short of 7pm. It's nippy out, but I can see we'll be going for a walk after dinner. I love walking around the estate at night, armed with nothing more than a torch and a hip flask of 10-yr old scotch, as there are herds of animals in the fields that can be viewed.

There's a roaring fire in the hearth, and we have hot soup, pizza and a couple of Capn's Organs for dinner. Then I convince Brian and his son that we have to go for a walk. Brian's game for just about anything outdoor-sy so we get wrapped up, grab torches and headlamps, and the hip flask, and head out.

Our walk must have lasted about an hour, during which we saw the occasional Blesbok (actually, heard them snorting at us first to let us know they'd seen us) and got so close to a herd of Zebra hiding in a depression against the wind that we could have poked a stick at them.

Back into the croft and we spent the night chatting, while I got the fly gear ready for the morning. I hoped to be up early, but the weather didn't look like it was going to play along. And true enough, it didn't. There was a biting wind blowing and clouds scudding across the crisp, blue sky. I eventually staggered out of bed around 7h30 for Brian to moan about how late I was and how early he'd gotten up to go fishing. Tough takkie, I was warm in my's his fault for getting up early.

We get down to the first of the dams just after 8am and proceed to thrash the water to a froth, or at least Brian and his son do. I make sure I'm a little distance away from them as they're about as adept with a fly rod as a cow with a gun. We're both using floating lines and dry flies, me thinking that the wind riffles on the surface might bring a fish up to feed. After a while, I change tactics and rig up the sinking line and a bead-head caddis nymph fly. Brian decides that his ADHD (attention deficiency) has the better of him, that he's bored of this dam and moves off to a lower water. On my second cast, and as Brian's head disappears over the dam wall, I'm into my first fish of the day. It's a little small at around 350g, but as its gills get damaged by the fly I'm forced to put it out of its misery and keep it for the pan. Next cast and I'm into another fish, slightly bigger, but undamaged so I release it back into the cold, clear, depths. After a couple of more casts, I get another hook up and decide to keep this fish too. Steph is keen on trout and makes the best trout pies, so I have no issue with keeping these fish.
I decide to take a walk up to an area of the estate known as The Weirs, a series of inline dams. I've always caught fish here and this time was no different. I take two more fish for Steph and around 11h00 my stomach forces me to head back to the croft for some brunch. All I've had in the meantime is a few swigs from my trusty hip flask to keep me warm.

I was about to jump into the shower and chill for a while when Steph phones from town to say that our mate, Stan, who owns the timeshare we were staying in, decided to put in an appearance and was up at The Weirs throwing some line. I decide to go along and meet him and catch up as it's a while since we saw each other. Stan hangs around until just before 1pm when he goes off to lunch with his missus and the kids. I take a walk along to one of the upper dams, Lake Tintern, to see if there's anything happening up there. The wind is still blowing, but the bottom corner is shielded by some big blue gum trees and I set up there. There's a couple of fishermen across the dam from me and I hear the one say to the other that he'd just taken four fish in five casts on a Black Wooly Bugger fly. As I'd been having no luck on the Caddis until then, I changed to a Bugger as well. And a good move, it was too. Half a dozen casts and a freight train finds the Bugger. The fish launches itself out the water a few times and I can see it's a biggie. After a fight for what feels around ten minutes (I'm using 1.5kg leader, so have to take it easy), I land my personal best fish of 1.7kg and decide to hang onto it as well, partly for bragging rights.
I decide to call it a day so that I can go back to the croft and shower, so that we can head down to the Dullstroom Inn for a couple of beers and to watch England get thrashed by the Bokke again. Everyone asks how many fish I caught and I say "One, but it's enough". Then I take the fish out of my kreel and Brian can't believe the size of it. He never knew trout grew to that size.

A quick shower later and we head into town, missing just the first nine minutes of the game. The place is packed and it's a great little pub to catch the atmosphere of the rugby match, particularly when the score ends up as 55 - 22 to the Bokke. Fuckin' sassenachs (Scottish pet name for the English) can't play rugby... Stan arrives just after the end of the game. He'd been back on the waters, but the weather had closed in and it had gotten rainy and colder, so he decided to pop in for a quick one on the way home. Three double Glenfiddich's each later and we reckon it's time for us to get going as everyone is getting together at Millstream for dinner.

The evening goes off great, myself and Brian out in the cold wind tanning a few tjops, keeping warm with more booze. I've never seen Brian drink as much as he has today, but he's chilling out (pardon the pun) so he's giving it his best shot (pardon that pun too). Brian's and Stan's daughters decide they want to see the Zebras so the three of us get bundled up and take a walk out into the cold night, but the pyjama'd horses aren't there and the girls are a little disappointed but glad to get back to the warmth of the croft. We end the night with coffee, port and scotch.

I wake up even later on Sunday morning, but Brian hasn't even gotten out of bed himself. turn to take the piss out of him. The wind is blowing even harder than it was the day before and we get a fire going in the hearth to keep the croft warm. I decide to go back up to The Weirs for a bit more fishing, but end up only getting one pull. Brian doesn't even venture out of the house claiming it to be too cold for his hangover.

I get back to the croft sometime around lunchtime, have a quick plate of leftover braai meat and settle down to read the Sunday Times, which is full of the usual bad news. Steph arrives back from town, having gone to have a second look at a business opportunity. I saw the place she spoke of as we drove past it on the way to the rugby the day before and could immediately see it was on the "wrong side of town". It's a tiny little shop on the upper side of Dullies, out of the main town and has no storage space in the shop for anything, let alone meals that Steph was talking about preparing for customers. Due to the weather, the tables usually set outside for customers had to be brought into the shop and just cluttered up the place. Needless to say, I think Steph's forgotten about this little venture...for now.

The ladies decide it's pancake weather and proceed to knock up a batch for lunch. I'm still quite stuffed from my meal and not much of a pancake eater, so only have two. After that, we pack the car and head back to Shit Towne. Steph is staying on with her aunt until Tuesday, so I have the house to myself for another couple of nights.

Brian drops me at home around 18h30 and I settle in for the night. It's amazingly warm in Joburg and I don't even bother lighting a fire. The dogs are snuggled up in their beds so they hardly even stir. About 23h00 I decide to make my way to bed and end up reading until I start nodding off...a pleasant way to end the weekend.

I really need to get out this fuckin' city more often...

Hotel sex isn't all it's cracked up to be...

I checked into a hotel on a business trip and was a bit lonely so I thought I'd get me one of those girls you see advertised in phone booths when your calling for a cab.

I grabbed a card on my way in. It was an ad for a girl calling herself Erogonique, a lovely girl, bending over in the photo. She had all the right curves in all the right places, beautiful long, wavy hair, long graceful legs all the way up. You know the kind. So I'm in my room and figure, what the heck, I'll give her a call.

'Hello?' the woman says. Wow! she sounded sexy. 'Hi, I hear you give a great massage and I'd like you to come to my room and give me one. No, wait, I should be straight with you. I'm in town all alone and what I really want is sex. I want it hard, I want it hot, and I want it now. I'm talking kinky the whole night long. You name it, we'll do it. Bring implements, toys, everything you've got in your bag of tricks. We'll go hot and heavy all night; Tie me up, wear a strap on, cover me in chocolate syrup and whip cream, anything you want baby. Now, how does that sound?'

She says, 'That sounds fantastic, but for an outside line you need to press 9.'

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tomorrow, 2nd June, is a Great Day...

in our family.

It's my wee sister (or "Sistur", as she calls herself with me) Angela's birthday.

I hopped over to Ireland a couple of years ago to surprise her for her 40th birthday and wish I could have done the same this year too. Sadly, finances don't allow for it this time, but I thought I'd let her know I'm thinking about her anyway.


I hope you have a wonderful day, full of the joys in life, that the weather is warm and sunny like your personality, and that you surround yourself with friends to have a blast. Wish I was there with you...Love you and miss you loads...