Monday, July 30, 2007

Hey Dax...Welcome...

A new reader of my ramblings appeared over the weekend, and it's a warm welcome to Dax, an ex-pat from my part of the world.

Dax was good enough to leave me a comment on one of my postings...

"Hey Steven,Stumbled on your and fishmans blogs by accident. Absolute pleasure, bud. Stayed down the road from you in Midrand from when it was still halfway house,rode the Quarry and the river below Buccleuch. Done Sani and Lesotho umpteen times, some in snow on Scramblers, some in low range. Millstream and Dullies , (sigh) Thanks for a call back the past moment.Quietly sitting here and remembering the Himeville arms,Dullstroom Inn and all the pubs around you in Woodmead and Midrand. Regards Dax in Ireland"

Well Dax, I'm sorry to say that you'd no longer be able to ride the Jukskei River area below Buccleuch as it's all been fenced off for the Gravy Train...oops, sorry, the Gautrain. It's basically cut Buccleuch off from Midrand and has gone right through the middle of the conservancy between the two areas. It's done an, as yet, undetermined amount of damage to the wildlife in the conservancy but then the governmoont doesn't care about conserving anything, does it? We used to hear jackals as early as 8pm while sitting outside having a braai, but now we're lucky if we hear them in the very early hours of the morning, usually around 3am.

As for being in Ireland now...where about are you? My sister's in Dublin and in the last couple of years, I've been over twice. Fuckin' brilliant place, is Dublin. It's one of the places we're considering moving to if we ever leave SA.

Dax, are you going to publish your own blog? I tried to view your profile but Blogger told me it wasn't available for public viewing. Come back regularly and see what else is happening around here...

Friday, July 27, 2007

So Tomorrow is Fishman's birthday...

and we're getting together at his house on Saturday night for a few cups of tea and some scones around the campfire, to sing "Koombayah" and talk about the weather, shopping, babies, and so on. The typical things that one does at these occasions, right?

Not a fuck...we're going to Fishman's house, to eat great big fuckin' steaks, chops and piles of ribs (no poofter salads for real men), drink his wine collection, talk about past fishing trips, plan our next fishing trip, raid his pub, talk lots of shit, burn big fuckin' patches in the lawn with the sparks and embers from the brazier, piss and puke in Fishwoman's rosebeds, piss the neighbours off with loud music, and just generally make his life a living hell for a few hours until we've either passed out or had enough fun at his expense and tell the wife to "Take me home, Betty" while her name is really Steph.

I could pull a nasty and publish his address here (or even a map), making it one of the biggest internet-initiated street parties of all time, but that would be a friendship-limiting move, wouldn't it?

For a price, maybe...    :-)

"Dad, you're a blithering idiot...

and you don't know what your're talking about"...or at least that's what my daughter, Tamlyn, implied in her comment to my last post.     :-)

Ok, so I like a good bit of rock music but she, being 21, knows better. I wrongly attributed "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" to the All American Rejects and, without mincing her words, Tamlyn corrected me and advised that it was, in fact, Good Charlotte, who created and performed the song. Clicking here will take you to their website.

Sorry babe, I bow to your superior knowledge of things musical...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And the Voyager Miles are piling up already...

In addition to going to Charleston next weekend, it's also pretty much concluded that I'll be going to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) around the middle of August. Every time I think about the travelling I'll be doing, the song by the All American Rejects, Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous keeps playing in my head.

As part of my new job, I'll be doing quite a bit of travel to places where local teams either cannot cope, or where (like in this case) they have fucked up rather badly.

In this case, the cuntsultant on the job decided he didn't want to do it anymore, transferred to another division, and left the project in the lurch. Fine by me...gets me some more Voyager miles in Business Class and eventually I'll be taking Steph off for a holiday without having to pay for flights. Win-win situation...

The only difficulty I have with going to Riyadh is that my dad came back from a six-month stint there recently and when he heard where I was going, said "no son, stay the fuck away from the place" (almost verbatim, in fact). I'll see how it goes though, and make up my own mind.

So far, looking at the websites, it seems like a nice enough city even though it's in the middle of a rather large sand bunker (maybe I'll take my sand wedge along for some bunker practice) and the only REAL difficulty I have with the place is that it's a "dry country". Nothing to do with the desert, there is absolutely no alcohol allowed!! Now, ordinarily I would turn down an opportunity to go to such a place, but my contact there is another Scotsman and, I'm told, the ex-pats who work there have taken to brewing and distilling their own hooch. So it may not be so bad after all...we'll see...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Well, I'm leaving on a Jet Plane...

don't know when I'll be back again"

Or at least that's how the old John Denver song goes, but I know when I'll be back. On the 4th August, I'm off to Charleston for a week or so, for a bit of education and a team building meeting with my new "Geet" team mates. I'll be back in Shit Towne on the morning of the 11th.

Now, compare this to the team building we had a couple of weeks ago and it's easy to see that these guys in the States do things a little differently to the local bunch of clowns. The team is coming in from all over the world as some of us are on projects in the Middle East, Far East and Europe, as well as the US itself.

And the best part of it all? I'm travelling Business Class...fuck this "cattle class" nonsense. We have a blanket approval in the Geet that, for any flight over 8hrs in duration, we travel Business Class.

If you look closely at the photo below, use a bit of imagination, you'll see me waving from Seat 7A...knowing my luck, right next to the sweating towel-head mumbling "Allah uAkhbar" to himself over and over (What's that bulge in your breast pocket there, Mo? Kinda small for a bomb, isn't it?).

And just to rub it in a bit more, here's where we'll be staying for the duration...

Charleston Harbour Resort & Marina

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Doh! Homer Painting Upsets Pagans

From Sky News...I think it's hilarious, but then I'm not a Pagan...

Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away cartoon character Homer Simpson after he was painted next to their famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant.

Pagans have been reported to say, 'It's very disrespectful'

The 17th century chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

Many couples also believe the 180ft giant, which is carved in the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, is an aid to fertility.

A giant 180ft Homer Simpson brandishing a doughnut was painted next to the well-endowed figure in a publicity stunt to promote The Simpsons Movie released later this month.

Me...I think it's one of the first recorded pieces of pornography...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Breaking News...

on Sky News says that 20% of UK residents feel "unsafe in their houses" and have some form of instrument to use in the event they're attacked/robbed.

Is that fuckin' laughable, or what?

Bring the 20% over here to SA and we'll show them what it's like to be afraid at all hours of the day, never mind just the night time, never knowing what is in store for you, day after day, night after night, whether you're going to have a rude awakening to disturb your already fitful sleep, always vigilant at a stop street or traffic light in case some fucker shoves a gun through your window, or some other fucker smashes your passenger side window with a spark plug and fucks off with your wife's handbag or your cellphone that's being kept handy in case you need it, wondering whether the banking hall at the mall you're walking through is going to get hit in a cash-in-transit heist, whether you're going to get shot at through the dining room window while you're having some quality time with your family over dinner, whether your dogs are going to lie poisoned at the bottom of the driveway killed by some fucker who's going round the neighbourhood scoping it out for a string of armed burglaries, whether you're going to come home and find the front door smashed open and some of your stuff lying in the driveway cos the burglars dropped it on the way out with the TV, whether some fucker is going to knife your kid for his bicycle in the street, whether some fucker is going to knife your kid for his cellphone and R2.50 in change, whether your baby is going to get raped and killed then dumped in a sewer, whether you're going to be working from home and a gang is going to come through the door and hold a knife to your 20yr old daughter's throat in case you have the balls to defend yourself, whether you're wife/girlfriend/mother/daughter is going to be home alone to find her door kicked in, raped for hours then driven around a township in her own car by the same bastards only to be dumped in some god-forsaken shit hole and left to defend herself..........THE LIST IS ENDLESS...

And 20% of UK residents are afraid? What the hell are we then? They don't know what it's like to be REALLY afraid...

Monday, July 16, 2007

With all the debate going on about crime...

racism, politics, and so on over the last couple of weeks on various blogs (mostly linked from my own) I thought it necessary to add another "iron to the fire" so to speak. After all, it's my blog and I'm opinionated, so I can...

As some of you may be aware, a good mate of mine, Wreckless, was robbed on a beach recently and between his postings and some heated blogments (derived from "blog comments", I just made it up) from visiting blogmentators (made that up too) accusing each other of being racist, intolerant, et al, living in South Africa gives you a different perspective and adds a different dimension to things black and/or white.

Yes, the anonymous person who hasn't the bollox to post a name (at least so that we can see it's the same person every time) is going to cry foul again, but so be it...that's opinion that he/she's entitled to.

What I'm about to discuss, I call "subjective conditioning". Others might call it something else, probably will, in fact. You don't have to have, but if you've lived in SA for as long as I have (or longer, maybe) you may understand what I mean. A lot of what we see and hear has its origins in the "bad old days" of apartheid SA, but it is by no means restricted to good old Arsezania. "Subjective Conditioning" has been around for centuries, across both the "civilised" and "uncivilised" worlds. You may have heard of a guy called Pavlov, who had a dog, which he conditioned to get fed based on condition of certain actions. Let me explain my reasoning behind "subjective conditioning"...

Scenario 1: A group of (typically) brash, loud, extrovert louts walk down an otherwise quiet, suburban, street. Every single dog (even the stoepkakkers) in the neighbourhood, never mind the quiet street, goes ballistic, straining to get out of the yard or even be allowed to get their heads through the palisade fence, to bite chunks out of the noisy fuckers' legs.

Scenario 2: A group of (typically) brash, loud, extrovert louts walk down an otherwise quiet, suburban, street. Every single dog (even the stoepkakkers) in the quiet street comes to the fence to see what the commotion is, then retires to their favourite spot in the sun without uttering a single "woof".

The difference between the scenarios? The first bunch of louts are black, the second, predictably, are white.

Now, Anonymous might start calling our dogs racist and maybe they are, but they're just dumb fuckin' animals, right? Wrong...they're behaving as a result of "subjective conditioning". Past generations of the dogs' parents had, during the "dark days", been conditioned to bark and bite at everything black, even white visitors who were stupid enough to wear black trousers. Dad (particularly, seeing as he is the protector of the household from all things bad) is the protagonist in this scenario. Usually, the dogs are "dad's" (like unruly kids are "mom's") and dutifully follow dad around the yard, go along for the ride in the back of dad's bakkie, sit at dad's side next to the pool while dad sips a brandy and coke, get fed the bones from dad's braaivleis plate, and goes with dad to see what the commotion in the street is about. Naturally, with dad shouting at the louts to "shut the fuck up", this is going to provoke a reaction from the dog, usually in the form of loud barking and straining to get through the palisade fence to bite the noisy fuckers. And through the generations, the condition becomes second nature and passes from dog and bitch to puppy. They're only doing what their conditioning is telling them to do.

Next, take human South Africans. In many cases they have been forced into similar "subjective conditioning" that their pooches have (except that I doubt they'll have had to wait for dad to give them a bone from his braaivleis plate, but you get my point). It's purely natural that the kids are going to get conditioned, at least at some point in the 18-odd years they live at home with their parents. Mom does a lot of the car-pool-picking-up-the-kids-from-school stuff and, unwittingly perhaps, has a conditioning influence on the kids in her Chrysler bus (swearing at taxi drivers, parking attendants, etc, mostly blacks in SA). And it's not just her own kids she's conditioning, but the friends as well. Hell, kids even condition other kids. What may not be right in a lawful sense, is seen as "being kewl" and has a conditioning effect on the other kids who may want to try whatever it is themselves.

Use another scenario which, applicable anywhere in the world, but because of circumstances is based on SA experiences and statistics. More than ninety percent of the SA population are black and it is therefore safe to assume that most crime is perpetrated by black people. In fact, I have yet to hear of one South African citizen, black OR white, who can say that they have been robbed or mugged by a white person. Yes, there are crimes committed by whites too, but those are mainly more "specialised" in nature than commonly experienced in SA. White people do occasionally murder lovers or their families and then commit suicide, white people do commit "white-" and "blue-collar" crime at work, and commit a fair other number of crimes, but the overwhelming majority of crimes that affect the majority of people in SA are perpetrated by black people. The statistics prove it.

And the result of these crimes and statistics? "Subjective conditioning". We're conditioned to react to the situation based on our experiences (seen, heard, or read). We're all open to "subjective conditioning", all our lives. What we decide to do with those influences is, however, up to ourselves. We can choose to mimic the reactionary influences or we can decide "fuckit, that's not for me" and not bother with it.

The problem is that, like our dogs, it's very difficult for humans to change our conditioning, particularly where personal insult or injury occurs, and it will take a superhuman effort to change based on current experiences. Just Saturday, another friends' house was black people, caught on camera.

You gotta love his way of thinking...

In the sunday Times yesterday, Bullard posted this article...brilliant...

Click here...

Say no more...or hear no more, or speak no more...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Diagnosis: Type 2 Medial Collateral Ligament injury

Fuckin' Oooowwwwww!!!

It all happened at Action Drinking last night, but on the pitch before the real drinking part started. The guys had asked me to fill in for one of the usual team members that couldn't make the game and I was quite happy to do so, needing to have a hangover on Thursday morning.

The game only started at 19h40 so I stayed home until an hour or so before it was due to start, and had a drink with Steph. I arrived at the arena about 40mins before the game started so we had time for two drinks. Nothing like going onto the cricket field in a mild state of inebriation.

As a team, we'd batted reasonably well, hitting 127 runs (I think) and thought it a defendable target. Things were going well until about the 9th over when I took a low catch and felt my left knee buckle inward, immediately sending pain seering into my brain. I got up and limped around a while, thinking it would sort itself out but the pain persisted.

We ended up winning the game by a huge margin and retired to the bar for a few rounds. All the while, the pain in my knee remained constant until the muscles and ligaments cooled down, then it got very sore and I limped out of the arena around midnight accompanied by Fishman and Corner.

I stopped off for a sandwich at a fuel stop and was just getting back into my car when Corner phoned to say that there were cops and a roadblock on my route down to the highway. Luckily he had seen it and approached slowly and was waved through. I decided to take an alternate, longer, route home just in case. It would give me time to eat my sandwich anyway.

At home, I limped in and didn't even have a shower. I was starting to feel some serious pain and just wanted to curl up and pass out into oblivion. As it happens, I had the most uncomfortable night imaginable. I couldn't get the knee settled into a position that I couldn't feel it and tossed and turned the whole night long, even waking Steph up a couple of times. From around 4am the pain was so bad, that I didn't sleep for the rest of the night.

Up at around 7h30am, I phoned the doctor's offices at 8am and got an appointment for 9h30. After showering, I got onto the web and did a quick Google on knee ligament injuries and had a suspicion that the Medial Collateral Ligament had gone. The site I found even gave the different types of injuries, how long they could take to heal (3 to 4 weeks in my case) and the treatments required (very seldom requires surgery).

In the doctor's rooms, I found that my usual doctor is on leave and I would have to see Dr Mphutha (yup, you guessed it...papvreter). What the fuck, I knew what was wrong and just wanted confirmation and a prescription.

Then I discovered that the good doctor is a woman. She poked and prodded at the knee and confirmed my diagnosis, gave me a Voltaren shot in the arse and wrote my prescription. All in all, I was in there for five minutes and...KACHING!!, came out R320 poorer.

Over to the chemist for my anti-inflamatories and a knee brace and back home, where I am now keeping the leg rested. I've also cancelled my meetings for tomorrow as I am going to milk this opportunity to have a rest.

Incidentally, it was the first time I'd flashed my arse at a black chick...and hopefully the last...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Is the Grass Greener on The Other Side?

I've started seriously looking for answers to that question since yesterday. What brought it on was a chilling couple of tales related to me by friends.

The first was of our new neighbours who, not a month in their new house, were hijacked a few kilometres away from home. Along with their Merc went the house keys and remote controls to the gates. They haven't been home in the last week (waiting for the locksmith to change all the locks and remote codes) fearing that their home might be invaded (quite easily) and they might lose their few possessions there in addition to the car, or worse that they might be physically harmed. They got off lightly in the hijacking (no physical harm done to either of them and their baby, luckily, was with one of the in-laws at the time) and to perhaps endure a second attack, at home, might be seriously damaging to their psyche's.

The second tale was of a couple we know, who live 3 or 4km from us, whom we'd visited on a couple of occasions and vice versa. They were having dinner one evening, around 7pm, when "M" got up to walk into the kitchen and three shots came through the large window in his direction, luckily missing him (believed by the cops to have been due to the glass which deflected the bullets). He grabbed his pistol, which he always keeps close by, and let two shots go in the general direction of the garden, hoping to scare off the attacker(s). Another couple of shots came through the same window and M grabbed his wife and dragged her, screaming, through to the bedroom out of sight of the garden. Their 12yr old son was upstairs, watching TV or something, and he came screaming down the stairs in response to the noise. M also grabbed him into their bedroom out of sight with the wife. M heard shouts in the garden, from a different angle than the shots came from and realised there must be more than one of them, and released three more shots in the general direction of both shouts. After that, things quietened down and the cops were summoned to take reports, search the premises, and so on. It appears that M must have wounded one of the attackers as a small pool of blood was found behind one of the large plants. There was no body though, so the attacker at least made it out of the garden. Where he is now though, no-one knows. In the end, M and the family are okay, shaken for sure, but physically unhurt.

It just feels to me like "it" is getting closer to home. More and more each day we hear of people getting shot, stabbed, wounded, murdered, robbed, mugged, assaulted or abused in some form or other, and what is our wonderfully efficient police force and government doing about the ever-increasing crime statistics? ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL, THAT'S WHAT!!! At least, that's what it appears from ground level, where the South African public live and die!! I don't possess a gun, but am thinking seriously about getting one now.

Now, with me being on the global team and expecting to spend 3 out of 4 weeks overseas in the near future on projects, what will I be able to do if something terrible happens to one of my loved ones back home? Again...absolutely fuck all...

This morning I asked Steph to think about her reasons why I should stay on the GT, fearing that one day I might get a phone call to the worst while I was away, but instead of that, we ended up standing in the kitchen deliberating the topic. In the end, I said that Steph and my family were the only reasons I stay in SA. If I was single, I would be living elsewhere...somewhere a damn site more secure than here. Steph, on the other hand, does not get on well with her family and has no other reasons than my family and our dogs to stay in "Arsezania" (as Fishman and Meerkat call it).

So, I'm about to send out feelers to the management of the GT to describe my fears to them and enquire what my options are as to whether a move to Europe might be a possibility for us.

Who knows, maybe one day we'll be two more in the queue at Joburg International Airport, emigrating to somewhere perhaps not greener, but certainly a damn site safer than here.

Bush gone green?

Mandela is enjoying a hearty breakfast - bacon, eggs, coffee, croissants, toast, butter, jam, etc. when Bush, chewing gum, sits next to him and starts a conversation:

Bush: "You South Africans eat the whole bread?"
Mandela: "Of course."
Bush (blowing bubble with his gum): "We don't. In the States, we only eat what's inside. The crusts we collect in a container, recycle, rebake them into croissants and sell them to South Africa."
Mandela: "Oh Really?"
Bush: "D"ya eat jam with the bread?"
Mandela: "Of course."
Bush (chuckling and crackling his gum between his teeth): "We don't. In the States we eat fresh fruit for breakfast, put all the peels, seeds and left overs into containers, recycle them into jam and sell it to South Africa."
Mandela: "Do you have sex in America?"
Bush: "Of course we do."
Mandela: "And what do you do with the condoms?"
Bush: "Throw them away of course."
Mandela: "We don't. We pack them into containers, recycle them, melt them down into chewing gum and sell it to America."

Spongebob Squarepants is alive and well...

and living in Cairns, Australia...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Pack of Dogs Attacking a Crocodile in the Kruger Park...

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The crocodile, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented 'team work' strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack-mentality" bred into the canines.

See the remarkable photograph below, courtesy of Nature Magazine. Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the croc' preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the croc'.

Not for the squeamish!

Friday's Team building was a Yaaawwwnnn...

as expected, but it showed one thing.

We do have a team in the unit, but it's more like "team plus one", The Dark Prince being the "one". Again, no surprise there...

Myself and a couple of others had planned on turning the session into a "bitch and moan hour", but the way things transpired, it just didn't happen. Refreshingly, the morning focussed on positives, rather than negatives. Me, I'm convinced that the session should have been conducted at a later stage, after the planned "bitch and moan". And then, to bring the team together, have a team building session followed by some or other activity outside of the work environment.

I believe that, to show a team that you are actually interested in sorting out issues, you first need to identify, and then address, the issues at hand. Break the problem down into its smallest components, as it were. Then address each of the issues and give feedback to the "team" to show that you're not just paying lip service to the problems.

Not our management though. They seem to think that the "problem" sits within the team and not the larger corporation. Even though everyone, even the newest of staff who have only been with us a couple of months, can identify processes, tools, bureaucracy and red tape that are inhibitors to creativity and teaming, management think the problem exists with the people and that the the "wekkas" have a kak attitude (not management, they never have a kak attitude).

Anyway...we have the teaming session, which ends about 2pm. At one point, we have to rate what we perceive are each other's individual strengths, from a list of nouns. Words like "achiever", "relator", and "harmony" (among others) are there to choose from. I went through the list and tried to identify which I felt most comfortable with for myself and ended up being not too far off from what the group thought. It was refreshing to see that the team thought of my strengths as: analytical, commanding, communicative, deliberative, disciplined, focussed and strategic. I had rated myself as "self-assured" and I guess it's one word that describes all of the above together.

The joke among the group was that there were no nouns like "dickhead" and "wanker" to describe management.

And just when the Dark Prince thought he was going to get away with not being rated by disappearing "on a client call", I brought it to the facilitator's attention and she made sure he was rated when he returned. The only problem was that he rated himself, and did not pay heed to the nouns that the team had used for him. Suffice it to say, they were not the same ones as he used. Someone had even used the unlisted word "frigger" (in jest, I assume, or maybe not).

So after we walked out of the room, all chatty and feeling good about ourselves, we packed up our laptops and headed off for a game of ten pin bowling. Whoa!! This was, after all, company time and there would be no alcohol-soaked games allowed. Such activities are scorned by senior management. Fuckin' lot of self-important stuffed shirts...

Anyway, we all ended up playing two games, almost everyone complaining afterwards of sore arms and wrists, but it was quite good fun except for the cliques that formed as expected. Lack of control or team allocation saw all the usual cliques form and gather at the lanes. Who cares, I thought, we were there to have fun and we did...laughing at each other, rolling the balls down from a backward stance through our legs, cheering every time the ball went into the gutter. Natalie ended up getting a free one-year bowling membership for having the lowest score and Caroline, ex-league bowler, got a cheap trophy to stick on her mantlepiece.

That wasn't what it was about though. It was about teaming and socialising, something sadly lacking in the company. But there have been promises from the Dark Prince to hold these events regularly to maintain the sense of teaming. He forgets that one team building session maketh not a team though and it's going to take more than that to keep morale up.

Next time it'll be the bitching session, which should prove very interesting...

Father's Day in Soweto...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ok, so Now I'm officially part of the Global Team...

what's changed? So far, absolutely fuckall, that's what.

I'm still doing most of my work for the local guys (not that I mind too much, as they're over-worked and my leaving the team didn't help) and, for the GT, I've QA'd a document that was scheduled to go to SAA. South African Airways? No, actually it was Saudi Arabian Airways...we almost fucked up, but luckily cleared it up before the document went out...

So what's next on the agenda for the GT? I'm not sure, but I hope to be doing some training on new offerings, legislations, and so on. I guess it'll depend on how much I still have to do for the local guys.

Tomorrow, there's a "Team Building" session with the old team, but management has set the wrong expectation for the session, I believe. A Team Building session is supposed to be fun and we're actually getting together to talk about ways to improve the attitude of the team. Me, I want to change it into a bitching session. Not because I'm no longer a direct part of the team, but because it has to be done, otherwise the problems will never surface and get sorted out, and the team will lose a whole lot more people unnecessarily, due to an incompetent manager (in this case, a real "damager"). Without airing (too many) personal reasons, the same damager was the final reason I joined the GT.

Watch this space for the results...

Ok, so we wanted to travel back to Shit Towne...

by the scenic route. As I mentioned previously, it was to be a llloooonnnngggg day and we'd regret it more than a little bit when we eventually got home.

As expected, we were out of the sack around 6am, showered and dressed, into the kitchen for a cup of hot coffee, pack the bakkies and head off to Sani Pass again.

Knowing the route a bit better than the day before, we got up to the top of the pass after having a breakfast of leftover wors, steak and bread rolls about midway up. The last stretch was a little more iced up than the day before and more than once I felt the back wheels slide out a little bit before they bit the rocky road again. Although uneventful, it was still a challenge to get the bakkies to the top and it was good fun. None of the ladies wanted to try it even though we'd volunteered to coax them through the tricky bits. Opportunity wasted, I say...
At the Lesotho border, we were very quick to ask the "guard" not to stamp us out as we were travelling on to Katse Dam. The look on his face, though it could have been construed as blank to some, me included, should have said he thought we were fuckin' idiots and didn't know what we were letting ourselves in for.

Brian had said he'd done the road before, albeit a few years ago when he was still a bachelor, so we accepted that he knew what he was on about. Mistake. We were all in fine spirits as we drove the dusty roads, encountering our first snowfalls not 5km from the border. At some points, there were frozen streams and more than once we considered sliding down them on our backsides like we used to do when we were kids in the UK. The fine spirits lasted, as per Brian's observation, until 11am. The photos after that don't show anyone smiling.
The road condition was shite, loose gravel and rocks trying to throw the vehicles off the road at every turn, and at times we had to slow down to a crawl to make it through some stages. There were pedestrians, goats, sheep, cows and even the odd tree we had to look out for and avoid hitting.

If anyone doesn't know Lesotho, it isn't called "The Mountain Kingdom" for nothing. The only flat stretch we came across was the surface of the Katse Dam itself, everything else is built, or grows, on a mountain. The road winds its way up a mountain, down the other side and then up another mountain and down the other side...endlessly...I'm sure you get the picture. Unbelievably scenic, but a bitch to drive.
We should have been at Katse, by Brian's extimations, at around lunchtime. We ended up getting there at a little after 4pm!! We stopped off briefly to look at the dam wall from a vantage point, take a couple of photos, then we decided to forego "lunch" and just head out on the road again. From here onward though, it was tar and we expected to fly along sweetly. Wrong again. The road wound its way up a mountain, down the other side and up another mountain and down the other get the picture again, I'm sure.
My only wish for this part of the trip was that we could have done it during the day. It was, by the time we got into the Maluti Mountains, night and though we could see the whiteness of the snow capping the mountains, it must have been a wonderful sight during daylight.

We eventually got to the Caledonspoort border post at around 7:30pm, tired and frustrated, but happy that we'd now be able to stretch the legs of our vehicles and get some serious mileage behind us and get home. At the border, I checked my little Garmin eTrex GPS and noticed that, from the time we'd left Sani Pass border post to the Caledonspoort border, we had done 427km. It calculated our average speed at just over 40km/hr. I'm sure you can now understand our frustration with the distance.

A quick stopover in Bethlehem for a Wimpy burger (the best fuckin' hamburger I've tasted for a long time, I assure you, having had just about nothing to eat all day while concentrating on the road) and we were back on the road again. I put my foot down and soon lost Brian in my wake. I still had to crop Patrick and Laura off at home, having picked them up to travel in one car on the Friday.

By the time I'd unloaded them and their gear and travelled the 10 or so kilometres back to my house, it was just short of midnight. I was tired, grumpy (more so than usual, some would say) and in dire need of a stiff scotch, a cup of tea and a shower, all in that order. Steph had been dozing in bed, but the barking of our dogs had woken her up and she came to meet me at the door. A lingering hug later, she poured me the scotch and the tea, commiserated at how tired I looked, then asked about the trip. Without going into too much detail, I gave her the highlights (and lowlights) then she went back to bed and I had a hot shower, then climbed into bed behind her. Home to mommy and into bed, or home to bed and into mommy, I hear you query...but I won't answer that and leave you wondering...

Would we do it again? Sani Pass, for sure, but the "Highway to Hell"...? Not a flying fuckin' chance...