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Edition 107. July 2011 What’s inside? All your favourite regulars! Lots of articles about fantastic people and places in the midlands Pictures of beautiful people and places Just click on the page....


Make Every Day Mandela Day!

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ikers for Mandela Day donate 67 minutes of Monday the 11th of July, and reached the capture time at the Mandela Capture Site site at 11h00 on the 12th of July. The initiative is part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Mandela Midlands’s commuters will notice that the Day activities for 2011. Included in the group of Mandela Capture Site has been given a face lift. riders were businesspeople, professional bike ridBetween the 11th and the 18th of July, along a 2 200 km route, a large contingent of celeb bikers ers, and celebrities – among them 5fm’s DJ Fresh; stopped off at seven rural commuSurvivor SA: Maldives winner and BinnerTake Action, nity projects to donate 67 minutes Inspire Change. landers actor, Hykie Berg; Actor Darren of time as part of Make every Day a Make Every Day Kelfkens (7e laan and Isidingo) and Zelda Mandela Day. One of the extraordiLa Grange (Mandela’s Executive Assistant a Mandela Day. narily special stops was at the Manof over 17 years) of the Nelson Mandela dela Capture site on the R103 where Foundation who spearheaded the initiative. the riders revamped and tidied the Bikers For Mandela Day is an integral part commemorative attraction, creating a garden of of the annual Mandela Day activities – a call to ac‘Mandela Gold’ Strelitzia at the site where Nelson tion for individuals everywhere to take responsibility Mandela was captured in 1962. for changing the world into a better place, one small Between 23 & 26 riders and 15 support staff step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did. Take Action, set off from Montecasino in Johannesburg on Inspire Change. Make Every Day a Mandela Day.


“The activities which will be undertaken by the bikers provide a good sample of what people can possibly do in their own communities in order to better the lives of others. We hope people along the route and those following the ride will take inspiration from this example and live the Mandela Day ethos before and beyond the 18th and thereby help Make Every Day a Mandela Day.” Quote: ‘Nelson Mandela in The Long Walk To Freedom’: “At Cedara, a small town just past Howick, I noticed a Ford V-8 filled with white men shoot past us on the right. I instinctively turned round to look behind and I saw two more cars filled with white men. Suddenly, in front of us, the Ford was signaling for us to stop. I knew in that instant that my life on the run was over; my seventeen months of ‘freedom’ were about to end.” It was from that moment that Mr Mandela was incarcerated, eventually spending over 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid regime, many of those as prisoner number 466 / 64 on Robben Island. (www.mandeladay.com)


FIT FOR A PRINCESS

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ith Royal weddings the rage in Europe and UK over the past few months, KZN experienced Royal marriage magic too with the presence of Prince Albert of Monaco and her Serene Highness Charlene of Monaco, for the South African wedding celebration party. The Oyster Box Hotel, a sparkling jewel, in the plethora of Umhlanga beachfront establishments, was the venue of choice for the “African Princess”. Prince Albert married Zimbabwe-born, South African swimming champion, Charlene Wittstock in Monaco on the 2nd of July. The Meander Chronicle enjoys a good fairy tale, so the opportunity to interview Oyster Box GM Wayne Coetzer so soon after THE party was almost too good to be true. It gets better though - what many people possibly don’t know is that this GM who has charmed princesses, shaken the hand of presidents and been instrumental is resurrecting an iconic KZN Hotel, is in fact a Howick High School old boy. Forget the Princess – it’s the Coetzer man we want to speak to! Despite the fact that Coetzer’s average working day is a gruelling one, the wedding party preparations and visit coinciding with the preparations and visit of many VIP’s attending the IOCC conference taking place in Durban, Coetzer is relaxed and charming, and although it’s an off duty night, is the epitome of Oyster Box style, with the signature red accent in the tie. Wayne Coetzer: Born, Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, 11th August 1972. Primary School: Merchiston, Pietermaritzburg. High School: Head Boy, Howick High, Class of 1990 Post Matric: Rotary Exchange Student in Texas, USA. Lived with four families, with

It’s the TNT’s (tiny noticeable things) that make the Oyster Box an indescribable hospitality experience. Wayne Coetzer GM of the Oyster Box,

whom he still communicates, and all have been to the Oyster Box. Married: To Tanya, English lass who decided to follow her heart, marry her South African love, and then persuade her parents to follow her here. Tanya is a decorator and she and Wayne have two young boys, Jack and Tom, and 10 and 5 respectively. Live: A stone’s throw from the Oyster Box. Coetzer’s was destined to have a career in the hospitality industry. He eats, breathes and sleeps people and hospitality, and has done so for as long as he can remember. On his return from the States he started studying Personnel Management at Pietermaritzburg Technikon, a course which left him less than enthralled so he responded to an exciting sounding ad in the local paper for a Hotel job in the Berg. It turned out to be a dream job – Entertainments Manager at Champagne Castle Hotel, under the watchful tutelage of Connor and Molly O’Hagan-Ward. Granny Mouse Country House and Game Valley Lodge (where he met future wife Tanya), the Royal Hotel in Durban and the Hilton Hotel in Durban make up the local contingent of establishments on this GM’s impressive CV. Fate intervened when Wayne met Tanya, an English visitor to Game Valley Lodge, and Wayne found himself working in the UK for an enriching period, opening the Covent Garden Hotel in Soho, and Dukes Hotel, part of the Savoy group, in St James. It was in fact while in England, on a bridge in Marlowe that Coetzer got chatting to a gentleman who was to eventually offer him the job that he now has at the Oyster Box, and to coin a cliché, the rest is history. Coetzer was an integral part of the multimillion rand makeover, and has been with the establishment for 10 years.


“I love what I do, and where I get to do it,” says Coetzer. “The Oyster Box is a place that cannot be described adequately – it has to be experienced, whether it’s with a night’s stay, a cup of tea, a fine dining experience, or simply a quiet moment on the pool deck looking out to sea, with the lighthouse at your side. Words cannot do the Grande Dame justice. Pay us a visit – you will not be disappointed.” On the Midlands: “I love the Midlands and escape there, whenever I have the opportunity. Lords of the Manor and Hartford House in Mooi River, feature on our list of spots to visit. For the best t-bone steak I have ever eaten, head to Rawdons.” On the Princess: “Preparations for the party took about four months, with a lot of it left to the last minute! Behind the glitz and glam, and Royal protocol, she remains a Durban girl, keen for a party with friends. She remembers the Oyster Box fondly from her childhood, with picnics on the beach near the lighthouse. The South African wedding party took place here, and the Royal Party spent four nights at the hotel, hiring 38 rooms, with the Princess occupying the Buthelezi Suite. The Samsung President was in town for the IOCC event, and the wedding, so he had the Presidential Suite, and 25 other rooms.”


Cat Simoni …Making Music In The Midlands

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atherine Simoni, internationally renowned singer, songwriter and pianist, recently entertained guests to an evening of song, in the exquisite Netherwood venue, in Nottingham Rd, KZN. The occasion was to raise funds for the Midlands Community College, which celebrates it’s 30th anniversary this year. A full moon, a velvety Midlands night sky, and the voice of an angel made it an evening to remember. The hills of Nottingham Road are certainly alive with the Cat lady’s music, and The Meander Chronicle was curious to find out how the voice chose to be in the Midlands. MC: Nottingham Road? How? Cat: 3 children, 20 steps down the road from the Grandparents! MC: Where and when did the music start? Cat: In the womb! It has been a lifelong journey for me, School Choirs and Natal Youth Choirs and Wind Bands, piano, church organ, violin, sax, Jazz Bands, rock bands, Sax quartets, Durban City Orchestra, Singer’s studio, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and funerals! All your entertainment needs!! MC: You’ve entertained in some illustrious spots. Some of the highlights? Cat: Performing at the Liverpool Empire for an Orchestra 2000 concert with Boy George, and playing a solo slot at a huge Coronation Street birthday party in front of George Martin….very special. MC: What brought you back to SA? Cat: My Children. The night working life of a musician does not tie in very snugly with 6am starts! Also we needed the children to experience the benefits of the SA weather, the grandparents, the open spaces, and the freedom which I had as a child and which my husband never got the chance to experience growing up in the Lebanese civil war. MC: You have a young family, and a husband who’s followed you to SA. Are the Simoni’s in a happy place? Cat: We are not the Simonis, we are actually the El Chamaas, and I have kept my maiden name simply because my business cards and passport still display this and I am too lazy to change it now, 9 years later! The El Chamaas are in a very happy place, hubby travels backwards and forwards to the Emirates to work, and I manage to fit shows and performances into my child-care schedule which is often times relentless. We are raising the kids in a beautiful, clean, and safe environment…what more could you ask for? MC: The future for Catherine Simoni’s music? Cat: The future involves getting younger, auditioning for idols and making a lot of moola from my music, but seriously…continuing to play everywhere and for anyone who will listen. I enjoy it so much and so do the audiences, we seem to feed off each other’s love of music. If I can provide a warm fuzzy feeling for anyone in the crowd or get the rugby coach to shed a few tears…job done! MC: Where can the public hear you next? You have recorded a CD – where can the public get hold of these? Cat: The next show is at Barbz Café, possibly August 20th TBC - and we run a monthly supper club/ theatre there, info can be obtained by contacting Barbz or e-mailing me on catsimoni@gmail.com or calling me on 07222 42 44 7. The CD’s can be bought directly from me after each show, or I will mail them out, special delivery. They are R100 each and contain a huge cross section of work I have performed and written from 1997 – 2010.

Cat in a Box:

Your favorite spots in the Midlands –To eat? Linga Lapa for big beef steaks and Barbz Café for brekkie!To chill? Chill? What’s that?I have 3 small kids! Hmmm maybe getting my hair done at Knotts Salon, or a massage at Fordoun! To play? Gowrie Farm Golf Club and Barbz To take the family? Purple Pear café, and of course The Junction, on my doorstep!


Councillor Sthembiso Nkuna - Yours, in community Service

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s a new Ward 4 councillor, I hereby wish to extend the hand of cooperation and working together as one community. I strongly believe that time has come for us to unite as ward 4 community across colour lines. We all need to put our minds together to deal with and to face challenges of our society such as poverty, HIV AIDS affected and infected people, crime, drugs and substance abuse especially to our young people who are the future of this country. I am prepared to visit organisations, business people and associations that are existing within ward 4 just to discuss and share ideas on the above issues and even any other matters of interest, with the main focus being to create harmonious relations and to help bring about the culture of ubuntu in our society.   I am seriously concerned about our youth who are lacking skills, vision and purpose about their future. We need to put our heads together and forget about our differences in terms of colour and work to promote what our legend Nelson Mandela stood for i.e. a better life for all and remember SA belongs to all those who live in it. I am planning to have a health awareness and prayer day that will bring our people together to talk about health hazard issues and to pray to the almighty God to help and lead us to this important endeavour of improving the lives of our people, whiles appealing to Him to help us fight all the evils that are bedevilling our society. I intend to use Jabula Combined School, but we also need a sizable marquee since the school and the community halls are very small. I am therefore appealing for advice, support and more ideas to make this day a success. Finally I present myself as a humble servant to the community of ward 4, here willing and prepared to work even harder to service all our people at all levels where and when a need arise. I am ready and intend to turn a new leaf in this current term of office and political affiliation should never be a stumbling block in bridging and healing the gaps that were wrongly created by our past. Please contact me on my email address sdn@vodamail.co,za and my contact numbers are 0832632228 or 033-2344019(home) Thanking you in advance, Yours in community Service Councillor Sthembiso Nkuna

Time Gentlemen Please t saddens me to tell you that Track’s End is no more. It has gone to the final terminus. It rubs up against the last buffer. This happened suddenly in May although the chalk board still says ‘Final Bash’ and ‘closing auction.’ This raises questions I can’t answer. For some Track’s End was, quite simply, the Worst Pub in the World. Dirty, Dickensian in its baseness and depravity,peopled by the most dubious of Howick and constantly hazy with smoke in defiance of.law, so thick that everything worn, shoes perhaps excepted, needed the washing machine.My brother, a fundi of pubs, kept repeating “I can’t believe you brought me here.’ For its fans it was the backdrop for its odd assortment of characters to strut their stuff.And, specially on a warm afternoon, the draft beer tasted better than any draft beer anywhere. It helped that the big glass set you back a measly 10 rands. Track’s End would get into action shortly after 3 in the afternoon when the home team arrived. They must have been a team. They all drove the almost identical bakkie. They had all done a day’s work (or an abbreviated version of it.) They wore the same khaki shorts and shirts, some sporting those blue patches near the shoulder, all covering broad backs and massive bones. Mustaches were optional but popular.Wool socks were obligatory but might be worn long or short. Afrikaans and English were lingua franca.The home team drank and smoked hard but not late. The away team was the rest of us. Occasional visitors. Wannabes in long pants with only half the beer carrying capacity of the others.Often young families came in. Once, a couple with two daughters, tenish, spent three

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hours boozing and telling each other they must go home while the young came and went and were pacified with crisps and Coke. Home or away, however, rude and dubious in appearance, Track’s End’s customers were invariably welcoming and approachable. George took three minutes before immersing himself in conversation with a man who organised fishing trips, and had to be pulled away home. One evening, my wife and our dear friend risked a visit. A pleasant local, just past sober, latched onto us wanting dear friend to dance. He called her ‘Tannie’. The name has stuck.Later, further beyond sober, our new companion must have looked sideways at someone’s girl and found himself in a fight. Punches were thrown but each was , as they say in baseball, a swing and a miss and after five or so of these, the combatants returned arm in arm to business. We saw this up close, cowering in the car. Track’s End had been the Howick Station. The waiting room, the ticket counter and the minute and effective fireplace are still there unless, of course, they went in the auction. The tracks, a few steps outside the door, will be. Will the souls of stationmasters rest more quietly or will they regret that the Final Closing has put a stop to our silliness that enlivened their patch? So there. Some other pub, in the Glasgow dockland perhaps, or in Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan, or in the remotest part of the Australian desert can now claim to be the Worst Pub in the World. Howick gives up the title. All of you who for five years spurned my standing invitation for a Friday afternoon date at Track’s End, you’ll never know what you missed.


Landrover - The Ultimate Drive At a time when four wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s are generally becoming more and more luxurious and high tech, the Land Rover Defender is a vehicle that has remained true to it’s heritage and original design concept of being a tough go anywhere vehicle, relatively basic in both creature comforts and technology. The many different variants of the basic vehicle are testimony to the Defenders versatility and practicality. However, due to the majority of four wheel drive vehicle owners having little or no intention of venturing off road, and preferring their vehicles to be luxurious and on road bias, the Defender has a limited customer base who appreciate the ruggedness and durability of this work horse. In order to expand on this customer base, Land Rover regularly produce limited edition versions of the Defender which are spruced up to appeal to the Camel man or Lara Croft image that the Defender has come to represent. The latest offering is the X-Tech 2011 Limited Edition Defender 110 which the Meander Chronicle was fortunate enough to test drive recently. The first sight of the X- Tech certainly reinforces the impression of a tough vehicle, with the gloss black 16” sawtooth alloy rims giving the vehicle an aggressive stance. The Zermatt Silver exterior contrasting with Santorini black roof and wheel arches makes for an attractive package. (The vehicle is also available in a Nara Bronze colour, both colour schemes being unique to the X-Tech) The vehicle interior, whilst very basic compared to the plethora of luxury vehicles now available, has actually greatly improved to anyone familiar with the old Series vehicles or earlier Defender versions. Leather trim on all seven seats and exterior colour matching centre console will not be familiar to traditional Defender owners. Our first stop at the local shopping centre certainly confirmed our impression of an eye catching vehicle as it attracted a lot of attention from various by-standers, all of whom had favourable comments (including several Toyota drivers). Actually driving the vehicle was a contradictory experience. Defenders are not for the fainthearted. On road they are big and cumbersome, relatively slow and noisy (exacerbated on the X-Tech by the off-road bias tyres). This is off-set by the elevated driver position which has you looking down on most other none commercial vehicle road users and gives one a sense of security and dominance. Off road is where the Defender comes into it’s own. The edgy styling of the X-Tech version does not compromise the proven go anywhere capability of the basic Defender on which it’s enviable reputation has been built, and is actually enhanced by the 16” tyres. We really did get the impression of being king off the road. The dominant lasting appeal of driving the X-Tech Defender however was an overwhelming compulsion to load it up with tents and adventure kit and head into the African wilderness. It inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and seek out the off the beaten track amazing places that surround us in this amazing country, be they near or far. An inspiration that led the Meander Chronicle this month to visit the unique Lilani Hot Springs hidden deep in a beautiful valley between Kranskop and Ahrens, where the Hlimbitwa and Mvoti rivers converge and only 90 minutes drive from the Midlands.


Secret of the KZN Midlands – shhh don’t tell anyone!!

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have been visiting the editor’s family home in Fawnleas in the Umvoti area since 1977 and have often heard locals singing the praises of Lilani hot springs – one of the hidden secrets of the area. Finally, my little family (husband and two children aged 4 and 8) ventured out with our American friends and children, who are always game to immerse themselves into an authentic South African experience for a night. It proved to be a delightful and surprising experience. It felt like we were the first ones to have “discovered” this relaxing hideaway, and I’m going to spill the bean, but shhh, don’t tell anyone! Lilani is set at the bottom of an exquisite valley, nestled amongst the rural homes of KZN. The journey down as much part of the experience, as arriving at the destination, with a challenging dirt road, and breathtaking views. On arrival we were welcomed by host Colleen Mhlongo and we settled in our clean very neatly appointed room, with twin beds and a double sleeper couch, ensuite bathroom and outdoor shower. The chalets share a communal kitchen which has basic crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils, fridges and a deep freeze. There are a few braai areas around, and eating alfresco in summer is a must. In days gone by the natural springs wer hot muddy pools but these have been naturally “renovated” and visitors now have access to one cool pool, one hot pool outdoors, and two warm ones under cover, plus showers and bathrooms and a braai area, at the pools. The Springs have an interesting background, and various stories surround the discovery and subsequent ownership of them. Believed to contain healing properties, the local community has used them for many years. In the fifties a hotel was built and was compared with some of Europe’s best hotsprings. In the late sixties, the hotel closed and the community continued to use them. Nature took its course and it became overgrown and derelict. In the 1990’s the Kwazulu-Natal Tourism Authority received funding from the Poverty Alleviation Fund of the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for the development of the Lilani Hot Springs. This funding, together with investment from Tourism Kwazulu-Natal and the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, has enabled Lilani to develop a small tourism gem in the heart of the Umvoti district. It is now run by the Mthembu Sithole Development Trust and members of the community run and service the resort. It’s a good example of how tourism can help remote communities like this develop sustainable enterprises. What we would have loved to experience was an invitation into the lives of the local community, as part of the Springs offering - perhaps an opportunity to visit a local home, to play with their children, learn crafting skills or simply enjoy stories around a fire. The valley is lovely for scenic walks, and on a Saturday one can enjoy the pursuits of a community at leisure – a games of soccer, children bathing in the river, weekly washing, and celebratory drumming all part of the landscape. Lilani is an affordable R350 per room per night or R250 per single. To book call Colleen Mhlongo on 072 515 6236 (submitted by Sharlene Versfeld, a committed Midlands enthusiast!)


Local Food Heroes

Susi Anderson

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ane’s End Farm on the banks of the uMngeni River is absolute heaven for chickens and ducks and geese – unless the Crowned Eagle is visiting, of course. Susi Anderson lives with 120 fowls of various sorts, five dogs, four pigs, a couple of cows, three horses, three cats, four goats and a husband. It is little surprise then that she manages to produce most of their own food. Animals are an integral part of a permaculture system and at Lane’s End every creature has many functions. The chickens pick the ticks off the cows, the pigs plough up and fertilize the potato field before planting, some chickens spend time in the veggie patch keeping the insect population down and adding manure. The goats keep the weeds along the riverbank under control and Olivia and Veronica (the cows) provide manure for the compost heaps and daily milk. Everyone gets to eat the extra greens from the garden. While some chickens are reared for food, most provide eggs for breakfast. To make collecting easier, the hens have breakfast in bed and are let out at teatime once they have laid their eggs. Susi’s favourite eggs are the little speckled ones the Wyandotte bantams lay. Goose eggs make the best omelettes. During winter, with its shorter days, the chickens and ducks lay fewer eggs, so there are fewer omelettes. Fortunately, there is still plenty of bacon left from last season’s smoking session. Once Spring arrives, broodiness sets in. George the Muscovy gathers his girls and soon there are baby ducks, which will be ready in time for festive season celebrations. Summer’s bounty of patty pans, cucumbers and artichokes means meals at Lane’s End are always varied and delicious. Inspirational reading: Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen

Susi with Henrietta at Lane’s End Farm. Photo:Nikki Brighton

Literary Lines

Book Review : HAUNTED

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here’s something out there’, I shouted above the howling wind. “It grabbed my arm and pulled it”. Was this, as a teenager, authoress Sian Hall’s first experience of something from ‘another world’? What did the odd expression on her mother’s face mean? The house was thought to be haunted, in fact Sian’s mother, grandmother and herself often heard the clattering of crockery and banging of cupboards in an empty kitchen at night. Was Sian to become one of those people who can sense or experience the paranormal, or was it a fascination with this subject that caused her to write HAUNTED: GHOSTS AND SPIRITS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA? Meticulously researched this is a collection of actual recorded and reported events that were experienced in old Victorian mansions, hospitals, hotels, dark winding roads miles from the nearest homestead, river crossings and deep canyons. Keys move along bar counters, bottles rattle and shake, beer goes a funny colour and taste then returns to its original fine flavour. Furniture is moved, even stacked in locked and security-alarmed rooms, smells, and sounds of crying and laughter drift from empty rooms. Living in the Midlands, it is amazing how many places we know, visit and enjoy so much have some tales to tell of the paranormal. However Sian, who lives in Howick, did not only do her research in this part of the country, but has covered many areas of southern Africa, from coast to coast and through the mountains. Researching back into history there seems to be explanations for why a ‘ghost’ was dressed like that, why a child sobbed in his sleep, why a picture was regularly moved. Not presuming all happenings are caused by the paranormal, Sian has also researched scientific explanations, many of which do not appear to give the whole answer to why animals and people re-act to some very strange phenomena. Some very interesting photographs and interviews support this collection of fascinating and spine-tingling events. Don’t laugh at people who say they have experienced a poltergeist or spirit phantom, you may well be the next one! A recommendation: don’t read this book when you are alone on a dark night, with the wind rattling the doors and trees beating against windows, but do read it -it is truly fascinating and so extremely well written. HAUNTED is available in Afrikaans and English. Sian will be reading from HAUNTED at The Lazy Lizard some time shortly. Don’t miss this opportunity to discuss your own experiences with her – you never know she may put them into her next book! Lesley Thomson 033 330 4308


Inspector Indigenous Reporting Senecio polyanthemoides

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ees, wasps, flies, butterflies and beetles all love this little shrub, which is common in disturbed ground and is flowering now. Senecio polyanthemoides is an annual plant that can grow quite tall. It seeds itself prolifically – lots of fluffy windborne seeds are produced continually. The small, bright yellow flowers are clustered on branched inflorescences and are easily visible in the grass. Reputed to cause death in horses, it is the bane of hay farmers, but certainly makes a cheerful display in mid-winter. Senecio is a largest genus of flowering plants (2000 species worldwide) with over 300 species found in South Africa. This information (and much in other Inspector Indigenous columns) is from Elsa Pooley’s wonderful book “Field Guide to Wildflowers KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Region”, an absolute treasure trove of interesting and useful botanical information.

Learning Through Nature WONDERFUL WINTER

A prod of aloes, leaves like beaks, pecking at the sky. John Roff.

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t is easy for children to understand the full significance of winter as the changes are so obvious. We layer our clothes and cuddle up in gloves, scarves, beanies and hats, thermal underwear and boots and sometimes wear our slippers ‘til noon. Here are some special winter activities for the whole family: Walks in the winter time – admire the bare branches, shapes and silhouettes of deciduous trees and trace their naked beauty and collect leaves for leaf collages and rubbings. Enjoy the bright colours of aloes, red hot pokers and wild dagga (Leonotis) and linger at these flowers to watch the bees and sunbirds as they visit them. Enjoy the receding pinkness and blueness of the sky in early morning and afternoon heralding in the morning and night. The best time to spot animals and birds in a nature reserve is in the winter when there is little foliage to obscure your view. At home and in the garden – make a thick and tasty soup with your children; bake bread and enjoy these at supper time; warm chocolate drinks and making s’mores (toasted marshmallows sandwiched between Marie biscuits) on an open fire. Take the time at which the sun rises and sets and calculate the number of daylight hours; measure the temperature in the early morning and at noon; measure rainfall. Rake up the leaves and use them as mulch on the flower beds to keep the soil warm and moist. With the abundance of fruit make lemon juice and to scare away the winters sniffles and enjoy other citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, naartjies and limes). Observe how the plants change in the garden – have some completely hidden themselves lying dormant below the soil and has the frost burnt any of the leaves here and there? Take a closer look at your cat and dog – their fur will become thicker to chase away the winter chills. If you live on a farm the coats of your horses and cows will also become thicker and be sure to give them a warm place to rest at night out of the cold wind. For the birds - Make a bird feeder and be sure to fill it every day as the birds come to rely on this source of food. Offer a variety of food as some birds are carnivores and others are vegetarian – learn about the birds and what their special diets are and do not feed them bread. Make sure there is water in a safe place for them to drink . At night – the stars reveal themselves early and this is a perfect time to nip outside for a while to enjoy their beauty and patterns and see who can find the first star to show itself. We patiently wait for the days to get longer, the layers of clothes to become less, look out for the first blossoms and leaves of bulbs to push through the soil for the first signs of spring. Article compiled by Jeanette Stewart at “Learning Through Nature” 033 330 5980 079 184 5011 enviro.education@telkomsa.net, Website: www.learningthroughnature.co.za


Getting to Know the Neighbours

“Hey, what’s that Dad?” “It’s a Mamba boy, bring my .45” “But dad, last time you tried that stunt, You shot mum’s brother, Clive”.

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t’s not that I’ve been getting any complaints - far from it, in fact the response to the articles has been great, thank you - but I thought that I should temporarily lay off the rather dictatorial ‘lessons from nature’ tack that I’ve been sailing recently. I’m sure that by now you’re all up to speed on what’s required of you if you want to live a rewarding life on this wonderful planet, so just for a change, I’m going to recount a few ‘War Stories’ from past experiences. I can’t recall the number of times that I’ve heard of or experienced instances where ill-informed decision making in the presence of a snake has led to unintended consequences, but the following incidents come to mind, each with their own message. A Bibron’s Stiletto snake. A distress call to an armed-response company in Phoenix last year, led to Photo: Nick Evans the temporary blinding of a member of the response team. Having confirmed that it was a snake - I.D. as yet indeterminate - the bravest (?) member got down on hands and knees and crawled around looking for the culprit. Not long thereafter, bingo - found it! From its hiding place, a pretty nervous Mozambique spitting cobra hit him right between the eyes. The snake was duly beaten to a pulp and honour prevailed. A friend recently had a taste of hospital hospitality, after picking up a “small dark snake” on his driveway, in order to avoid running it over. Good thinking Batman, but the Bibron’s Stiletto snake bit him between the fingers, as is their M.O. when stressed. As mother used to say, no matter what it was I’d picked up, “put that down dear, it might bite you.” On the subject of my dear mum, she once caught a snake with my rather questionable homemade snake grab, and put it in a pillowcase for me. Upon my return home, she proudly declared, “I’ve caught you a house snake!” I opened up the pillowcase, to find a beautiful boomslang curled up in the corner. Ignorance can be blissful. My friend Norman, once an ophidiaphobe of note, having learnt the basic rules of engagement where snakes are concerned, thereby considering himself to be bullet-proof, caught a fairly large snake and brought it into the office, telling me that the bucket in which he’d put the snake, had fallen over a few times in the car and he’d had to keep stopping and recapturing the escapee to put it back in the bucket. A finer specimen of a Vine Snake I’ve yet to see, and when I told him this, his rapid change in pallor would have done a chameleon proud. Sometimes we need to progress beyond a ‘rudimentary’ understanding before venturing forth.

© pat mckrill. 2011 herpet@eastcoast.co.za

Cell: 0833036958 / Fax: 0866128120.

Alistair Morck-Chadwick Dear Alistair, My elderly father recently suffered a stroke. Although he has limited mobility his thinking abilities do not appear to have been much affected. He has changed a lot though, and is often grumpy and/or very emotional. Is this a permanent change or is he just struggling to adapt to his new situation?

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s you know, a stroke usually comes out of the blue and brings dramatic and unexpected changes to a person’s life. When someone is suddenly transformed from being an independent and able-bodied person to being one who is unable to move one side of their body and who now has some difficulty communicating, anger and sadness are often the first response. Although some stroke sufferers quite quickly accept the new person they have become, there are just as many who do not. It may be too soon to say, but your father may fall into the latter group. In this regard, many of the following significant changes and their emotional accompaniments are likely to be experienced by your father: Coping with the change Coping with the impact of disability on everyday life makes many people feel frustrated and can cause them to be short tempered. Unfortunately, people often take their anger out on those closest to them although they do not always realise that they are doing this until later. Although the frustration may not disappear your father may find that he copes better and is less likely to get upset as time passes.   Loss of identity Some stroke sufferers feel that they are no longer the same person. Some find that their outlook on life changes completely, and many struggle with the idea that they have become disabled. (Some say that part of a process of acceptance is accepting the “new you”, learning new ways to manage the disabilities and finding new activities to

replace those lost.)  Fear and anxiety Fear of having another stroke is a constant worry for some stroke sufferers making them feel vulnerable about being left alone. Some people are fearful about the limitations of their body, particularly fear of falling, or feel vulnerable when they are out and about. Fear and anxiety can often lead people to feel less confident about doing things they would have previously done without thinking. Emotional lability Many people, and particularly men, became emotional and/or cry much more easily. Some find that this improves over time but others find that it remains and will occasionally happen when they are least expecting it. Becoming more emotional (and feeling embarrassed about it) is very common after a stroke. Those who have been told this by a health professional often find this simple knowledge reassuring.  Depression It is common for stroke sufferers to feel down especially when they realise they can no longer do something. Some, however, will eventually be diagnosed with depression. An anti-depressant and counselling can help enormously.  Things that help Whilst most people feel that a stroke has a mainly negative impact on their lives, including the changes experienced in their relationships, in their feelings, and in their independence, some will eventually say that they have changed in positive ways too. Things that help people include a determination to get better and having supportive family and friends. Many also find it helpful to talk with a health professional and learn techniques to deal with anxiety and the other difficult emotions experienced.


Your Share of the Pie

Bottoms up or tops down: what investment strategy works for you?

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n investor can successfully adopt many approaches and strategies. The approach must suit the investor’s character and preferences, and can rely on a single philosophy, or may use many strategies. Successful investors invariably have an investment strategy of their own. In many cases they may use other techniques as a filtering mechanism or to validate decisions already made, but they have a guiding philosophy and strategy from which they will not deviate. Investors often classify themselves as either “bottoms up” or “top down”. “Bottoms up” refers to the technique of searching for investment companies that meet the investor’s criteria and fit his or her philosophy, no matter the industry or geographical location for investment and then search for investment opportunities. Bottoms up investors regard themselves as value investors, and top down investors may regard themselves as technical or momentum investors. Value investors emphasise cash flows, net asset value, competitive positioning and management. The challenge is to obtain more assets for every rand spent – in other words, to buy shares that are trading as at discount to the inherent net asset value per share. Value investing does not only involve buying shares that are trading at a discount to net asset value. It also arises when shares can be purchased at what appear to be very expensive levels, but which are not so dear when related to forecast growth rates. Technical analysts believe a picture is worth a thousand words. They put store by studying share prices as depicted in graphs coupled with various other indicators. These analysts believe that various patterns have predictive properties and that, by carefully studying them, it is possible to ascertain the next move in the share price. The most extreme technical analysts rely only on their graphs and often use other strategies and philosophies to round off their approach to investing. Often value investors use technical analysis to time the purchase of their investments. In other words, once value investors have chosen their shares according to their criteria, they use technical analysis to decide when the short-term price movement is depressed and when the next accelerated increase is likely to occur. A technical analyst often refers to trend lines, flags, head-and-shoulder patterns and moving averages. That illustrations or graphs have certain predictive powers is probably because there are so many adherents of this philosophy that it can become self-fulfilling. The usefulness of any technique must, however, diminish when it becomes too popular. Investors must remain open-minded and flexible and never adopt blindly any one aspect of an investment philosophy. Technical investors are often traders and take short-term positions in shares, while fundamental or value investors tend to hold their investments over the long term. Short-term traders have to carefully consider transaction costs such as brokerage and sundry levies, as well as taxes. These costs are not a major consideration for the long-term investor. Even CGT can be indefinitely deferred if one never sells the investment. The contingent liability on the gains can then be considered an interest-free loan from the Receiver of Revenue. So, make sure that whatever the strategy you choose to adopt, it is academically sound and distinctively yours. And then stick to it.

Kwazulu Natal Fly Fishing Association Kwazulu Natal Fly Fishing Association launches community Project.

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he KZNFFA recently launched a project to teach basic fly fishing skills to a group of keen youth from the community of Tendele, a small village bordering the Kamberg Reserve in the Midlands. The initial two day clinic was held inside the neighboring Reserve centered around their stocked dams, where some of the KZNFFA committee, assisted by Jan Korrubel of Wildfly (also representing FOSAF) and local lady fly fisher Thalia Thain from Glengarry. Also sharing his skills at the clinic was Youth Protea angler Matt Gorlei, whom the group really connected with. The community of ten youth, aged 16 – 25, from the village were lead by Richard Khumalo, an enthusiastic well-spoken young man who is very involved in his community. The project is to be an ongoing one with more sessions of fly fishing skills, fly tying and Conservation being taught, both on and off the water. All fishing will take place in the Kamberg Reserve, strictly under controlled conditions, on a catch and release basis. The initial two days were enlightening for both the community and those involved in sharing their knowledge, but a deeper understanding of fly fishing can only be learned over many years, and through much reading, research and practice. The group involved is very enthusiastic about learning more about this fascinating pastime, and KZNFFA is committed to gradually bringing this opportunity to them. KZNFFA would like to appeal to any fly fishers out there who may be interested in getting involved in the project to please contact the secretary. Although rare in fly fishing, we are also appealing for any donations of second hand equipment, books, magazines and fishing gear that could be offered to this project. Contact secretary and project co-ordinator Linda Gorlei on linda@xis.co.za / 0836315301


Meander Chronicle Digital Newsletter July