A Slice of Vrystaat

I was born in Harrismith in 1955, as was Mom Mary in 1928, and her Mom Annie in 1893. Annie thought “the queen” of that little island left of France was also the queen of South Africa (and for much of her life she was right!). To balance that, there’s this side of the family.Continue reading “A Slice of Vrystaat”

Slalom Handicap

Two Springbok paddlers were watching me intently as I nimbly maneuvered my boat through the water. As I got to the gate that they were judging I ducked into an eddy and rested on my paddle, getting my breath back and having a chuckle at how clumsily I had bashed through the last gate. AndContinue reading “Slalom Handicap”

Kayak the Ocoee

We hired a Lincoln Continental Town Car in Atlanta and put roofracks on. Dave Jones, dentist and US paddling legend and coach, put us up for the night before we headed North. Chris Greeff, kayaking legend & trip organiser; Herve de Rauville, kayaking legend; Jurie the SABC cameraman, Steve Fourie, a friend of Chris’. AndContinue reading “Kayak the Ocoee”

My Canadian Wooden Paddle

. . is a work of art. Made of Beech, Birch, Cherry and Maple wood, it has a hollow laminated oval shaft, the oval at right angles so each hand has its own correct oval. The blade is also laminated, then kevlar-clad and teflon-tipped. Bruce the Moose Clark of Gauteng and Umko paddling fame wasContinue reading “My Canadian Wooden Paddle”

Umko Trip Mpendle to Lundys Hill

I remember a lovely day, spectacular scenery, an easy river level, quite gentle, good company, lots of laughs, but very little else till near the end when we came to the only rapid we decided not to go ‘down the middle’! Among us were (as I recall) Doug Retief, Martin Lowenstein, Marlene Boshoff, Pete ZietsmanContinue reading “Umko Trip Mpendle to Lundys Hill”

Lake St Lucia and Dukandlovu

Dukandlovu rustic camp was underutilised. Parks Board wanted to increase its use and were looking for new ideas. It was a walk-in or cycle-in rustic camp and they were reluctant to open it up to drive-in access, so wanted to try other ideas first. Rustic, but splendid, it’s a four hut, eight bed camp withContinue reading “Lake St Lucia and Dukandlovu”

A Fine Spectacle

This story will be fuzzy in parts because of the long passage of time. But although some details may be slightly different, ‘strue. So I must tell the tale before those last few grey cells that hold the memory get blitzed by the box wine. It was on the Berg River Canoe Marathon that ChristofContinue reading “A Fine Spectacle”

Colorado USA

I was going to ski – we would have called it snow ski! – for the first time in my life. Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan mountains in Colorado. We’d be catching a bus from Oklahoma, driving there and staying at the lodge. Jim Patterson was taking me on a host-Dad and SonContinue reading “Colorado USA”

P Addled Brains

That Pretoria restaurant probably spiked our drinks with omega fish oil because when they finally asked us to leave we were brilliant.We wisely allowed Terry to drive my white Ford Cortina 2-litre deluxe GL while Pierre and Old Pete and I gave comments, directions, instructions, witticisms and dropped pearls – or bokdrols – of wisdom.Continue reading “P Addled Brains”

Thanks, Charlie Ryder!

I canoed the Vrystaat Vlaktes thanks to Charles Ryder, who arrived in Harrismith in about 1968 or ’69 I’d guess, to start his electrical business, a rooinek from Natal. He roared into town in a light green Volvo 122S with a long white fibreglass thing on top of it like this: I asked: What’s that?Continue reading “Thanks, Charlie Ryder!”