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My Otter Trail Hike (February 2017)

The Otter Trail hike is one of the more popular of South Africa’s many hiking trails. It is a five day trek starting at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp and follows the coast for +/- 45km (+/- 28mi) towards the Groot River estuary at Nature’s Valley.

Situated entirely within the Tsitsikamma National Park, the Otter trail is  both beautiful and challenging, definitely a worthwhile bucket list hike and worth the one year waiting list.

My Otter Trail experience was during the week of 13th to 17th February 2017, and what a wonderful experience it was. The weather was great and the hike, while challenging (Day 3 hurt me the most), very rewarding.

Here is a selection of my Day 1 to 5  in pictures:

A night looking at the sky

Last weekend past I went out on a single night camping trip at the Bushtrail holiday camp past Magaliesburg for an evening of stargazing hosted by The Exploration Society of Southern Africa with the assistance of The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa.

Bushtrails was selected for its distance from Johannesburg (or any other town), the fact that they had camping facilities , an open rugby field to set up the telescopes for the evening, as well as the fact that nearby neighbours were kind enough to keep their outside lights off during the night.

The stargazing actually started at around 4pm when the first astronomer setup his solar telescope and pointed it at the sun (the most obvious star in the sky :-/ )

Solar telescope with astronomer Chris explaining the detail we are seeing

The sun was being relatively active on the day and it was great fun looking through this heavily filtered telescope to view the solar prominences and solar filaments (solar flares & sun spots) in real-time.

The other telescopes for the regular night sky stargazing were all set up by time the sun set and it was very interesting to note that most of the guys has very large home-made reflecting telescopes.

Home-made telescopes – more economical to build yourself and work just as well.

Evening viewing

The early evening was spent focussing on the Spica, Saturn, Mars set with Saturn being the main focus the rings around Saturn being in clear view even when using the weakest of telescopes available that evening.

Spica, Saturn, Mars

Spica, Saturn and Mars (early evening) – Original

 

Late night sights

The rest of the night (from 19h00 to 04h00) had various smaller astronomical sights to view, the rise of the Andromeda galaxy, Uranus, various globular clusters, a faint comet and a couple of shooting stars an educational and fun evening all around.

Camping in the cold!

The evening was a chilly one, and I discovered that having a good sleeping bag (rated correctly for the cold) is very important. Not having one for the evening (my current sleeping bag is old, worn and definitely not sub-zero rated) left me fully clothed, in a tent, in the sleeping bag, shivering without stop – one of my most uncomfortable camping nights ever! Lesson learnt I will be getting a new sleeping bag next week.

Welding – A new hobby

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serenitbee/6812020407/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serenitbee/6812020407/

A few months ago I needed perform some minor repairs to a metal railing which in turn required the use of the welding machine that I had acquired from my dads’ dusty store room.

I managed to fix the metal railing but the result was not very neat or very strong (the repair fortunately does not need to take load)

A couple of weeks after the railing repair a colleague at work was discussing general home renovations and he suggested we both try to improve our dismal welding skills by going on a welding course that he had spotted online.

The course offered was a half day introduction to stick welding; Starting with a short introduction to the theory of welding, types of welding, welding equipment and welding safety.

Once all the theory was covered the training moved out to a little workshop where the students could try our hands at actual welding first on an angle iron to get the feel of how to weld (with the instructor on hand to inform us on what we were doing wrong with our technique), then on to two pieces of metal to work on our joining techniques.

After we all had a go and most of us were comfortable with the equipment we moved on to the project of the day  welding together a beer can chicken holder.

From Wikipedia:

…beer can chicken, beer butt chicken, dancing chicken or chicken on a throne) is made by standing a prepared chicken upright on a partially filled can of beer and cooking it slowly in a barbecue or oven. The can goes into the opening of the chicken so that the beer evaporates and permeates the cooking chicken…

The result of my effort; a functional and relatively neat beer can chicken holder is below (it is amazing what a little bit of grinding, sand paper, elbow grease and a lick of paint can do to finish off a job nicely)

P.S. I have used my holder twice since I made it to great success on my Weber Grill.

Website/Blog/Life – The updates

Nasty little bugger

I have managed, after much fighting and arguing, invited the flu in for a visit – as per usual the chap is going to stick around for a week (or two), then leave without so much as leaving a thank you note.

I do not normally get sick – I may get a sniffle for a day (during which time I am the worst person to be near because I am a ‘carrier’ of said sickness) the next day I am healthy and well but every other soul within a 5km radius has the full blown flu.

For me to get properly sick (as I am now) I must have completely ruined my immune system by doing something stupid, and in this case it was overworking the brain – behind the computer screen – without rest for the past 5 weeks.

Busy Worker: The Office
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The difficulties of writing


Go Away. I iz writing my memoirs… Image credit: misshepeshu

The difficulty of blog writing

Maintaining a blog does not usually come easy, most of us in the blog space need to work really hard to maintain our blogs outside of our regular work, and with the need for regular and interesting content updates, the odd blog/website design change, replying to comments, and managing your online persona in general – all while attempting to win one of the categories in the next Blog awards – Suddenly having a blog may seem more work than it is worth.

For some (including me) blog writing is not our main talent, words do not seem to flow as easily as it does for those that place beautiful prose on the web with little to no effort.

Suggested writing inabilities aside, even if you have the most wonderful and interesting stories to share; should you forget to post on your blog one too many times (the biggest bloggers sin I am guilty of) you will watch it die a slow and often painful Internet interest withdrawal death. Should you allow this this fatal blog sickness to pass, reviving your blog to its former glory will be one of the most difficult online things you may ever do.

What I am doing to repent my blogging sins

The final result? Unsuccessful blog that will remain obscurity or Successful blog revival – I will investigate, and hopefully find, the root cause within myself and my daily/general habits that lead me down the path of the “once every three month post” blogging style my own blog is now following. A studied choice which will offer me one of the following result options:

  1. Should I keep this blog and maintain it properly (an all round improvement) OR
  2. Permanently archive my blog (maintaining my current “Odd occasion and blue moon posting” habits) OR
  3. Remove my blog entirely – let Twitter be my blog

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50 Things – A meme

Compliments of Heidi I have been tagged (for the first time mind you) to fill in this 50 question internet meme.

So without further ado:
OJ Coffee Ice Water
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

1. Do you like Blue Cheese?
I dislike the smell enough to have never tried blue cheese. Will let you know when I do.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin?
Nope.

3. Do you own a gun?
Nope, and doubt I ever will… Went shooting at a range with some friends a few months back – Guns do way too much damage way too easily.

4: This number is missing.
Nope. See.. number 4. is right there, just a little left of “This”.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?
Not since my first HIV test 10 years ago.

6. Real or fake nails?
I save the fake ones for special people on special days – I will tell no more.

7. Favorite Christmas song?
I worked in retail for 5 years. There are none that I still enjoy.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Orange Juice (the fresher the better), Coffee, Ice Water – In that order, and preferably all every morning.
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Not New Year Resolutions

As the first month of 2009 draws to an end, the dust on most of the New Year resolutions is settling, I start to re-look at all the goal lists I have made in the past, review what I have completed, and add the items I want to do going forward.

I don’t call these lists “New Year” resolutions because they often have longer time requirements to complete that a year and I don’t always start at the beginning of the year (Some are added in July).

So without further preamble, here is my current TODO list:

  1. Increase my gym attendance from twice a week to 4 times a week.
    This relates to losing some of the weight I have gained over the past few years and needs to be done in conjunction with following a healthier diet plan. Healthy eating and healthy lifestyle got me  partway there, will revise this under a new goal with some specifics soon. (August 2012)
  2. Get my Honours Degree out of the way.
    This requires starting it (currently in July 2009) and finishing it in one to two years. New company with new changes, may revisit degree options in future, but currently I have updated a few of my Microsoft certifications (January 2012)
  3. Get one business off the ground and start another one.
    This is half done with the start of Devmaxis (in partnership with three colleagues) and two business contracts secured. I would just like to have some more options outside of that businesses scope and therefore need to push for Darwinshome into its own niche markets.New Job, New responsibilities, New goals – Will revisit this one in 5 years  (November 2009)
  4. Do more for my online and offline communities.
    I’m sure, subconsciously, that this is a refection of one of Barack Obama’s statements working its magic. Doing more for my community (real life socially and in a Web 2.0 sense) is a broad way of saying I have many little plans that I just need to finish. This should help kick the brain into gear if I forget.
  5. Pay off my car.
    Some changes in work circumstances has placed me in a position to settle my car a year to a year and a bit early. So following up on actually doing that before August 2009 is a must.Finally paid off in January 2010
  6. Purchase a new high end personal laptop.
    I am still unsure as to what machine I want, and I have been looking very seriously at the new MacBook. But this is where spare cash comes into play – I will make this a goal to complete before the end of November 2009.New job gave me the laptop in November 2009
  7. Develop one application outside of work.
    Be it a twitter application, a Facebook application or a custom built web application. This serves twofold in that it helps expand my own skills and it could also be used to either benefit my business or social goals.
  8. Save enough spare to cash to take my wife overseas.
    USA would be nice, but my wife has her heart set on Europe – can you blame her? Italy here we come. Visiting Australia to see an old friend in October  2010 (Europe can wait another year)

I am sure there are more things to add (like “Blog More”), but for this post I think this list will do for now and actions do sometimes speak louder than words, here is the first step. I will update any on the list that I complete (if they can be “completed”).
Have a great 2009.

The small car crash I had

For those of you that either view my Flickr page you would have already seen the state of my poor car. For those of you that haven’t here are the details of the incident (as requested by friends), as well as a link to the images. (Incidentally – the car is now fixed)

Four week-ends past myself and my fiancee were on our way out of the local Shopping Mall – This particular shopping mall only has pay parking available; This incident occurred on a busy Saturday while we were waiting, in my car, in the queue to exit through one of the exit booms.

A blue Opel joins the queue behind me.
A white bakkie (pickup truck for my American friends) – with the shopping malls private security company tags on the side – screeches to a stop behind the blue Opel.
One of the security guards jumps out of the Bakkie and with a rubber mallet starts breaking the rear windows of the Blue Opel – This scares the hell out of most of the shoppers in the area as it appears to be a vehicle hijacking.
The blue Opel – in an attempt to escape the security – pulls forward (towards my rear bumper) I in-turn move forward and to the right to avoid the blue Opel from rear-ending my car.
The Security guard (still on foot) continues to chase the blue Opel.
The Driver of the Blue Opel (in apparent panic) accelerates and impacts my car on the front passenger door.
The blue Opel continues past my car, and escapes the Mall security by ramming the exit boom and an additional security Gate.

Turns out the people in the blue Opel had stolen merchandise from various stores within the mall, and the mall security had been chasing them for 5 minutes within the complex parking lot before the guys finally escaped out the gate – the Metro Police Department apprehended the thieves 10min later down one of the motorways.

The results of the impact to my door are available for view here.

New home – Work in Progress – Vol 2

I am now officially a painter, plumber, electrician, tiler (or whatever you call the person that installs ceramic tiles) and a cabinet maker.

So far these two weeks I have painted all the walls in my new place, painted the ceiling, re-tiled the shower floor, installed a new kitchen sink and counter top, fixed various plug points and light fittings, installed a new shower door, and moved in most of my boxes.

Now all that is left is to install curtain rails, paint the newly sealed bathroom ceiling, get the new carpets installed and unpack boxes and move furniture out of the corner it’s stacked in.

I will take more pictures tonight, but I have added a couple more on my flickr account.

New home – Work in Progress – Vol 1

Got the keys to my new home on Monday night and went to take a look (first time to view the place for me – I trusted my Fianceés judgement) – And I am very very happy with the place.

With a new coat of paint, general cleaning, new carpets, a couple of new fittings and our personal touch – this new house will feel like it is our new home and I am happy.

Will be taking pictures of the painting and fixing process, and the garden, when I get a chance.

Kitchen - Click to view more
Click on the above image to view more.

Weddings (No Fool)

A year of weddings it seems…

So far my life has had very few weddings, I have attended my parents church wedding (they were married by court originally), an uncles and a best friends. So for those of you counting I have attended 3 in my 26 years on this earth.

Now within 30 days I will be attending three more. Last night was the first, a good friend and co-workers. (all the best Briggsie 🙂 ) The next will be one of my fianceés extended family, and then in two weeks time will be another good friends big day. When it rains, it pours.

And to think it’s less than 5 months until my very own wedding.

Il Divo in Johannesburg

Watching the Il Divo interview on Carte Blanche last night reminded me that I wanted to post about the their concert I attended a couple of weeks ago with my fianceé.

Now that a couple of weeks have passed, I do not think I would do the group justice by writing a full review, suffice to say that it was a great performance, the guys have excellent voices, and for the Coca-Cola Sundome (known for its bad accoustics), the sound and show was great.

One of the few performances I would see again.

Current Music: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Face Down

Current Music: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Face Down

Hey girl you know you drive me crazy
one look puts the rhythm in my hand.
Still I’ll never understand why you hang around
I see what’s going down.

Cover up with make up in the mirror
tell yourself it’s never gonna happen again
you cry alone and then he swears he loves you.

Do you feel like a man
when you push her around?
Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?
Well I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end
as your lies crumble down, a new life she has found.

A pebble in the water makes a ripple effect
every action in this world will bear a consequence
If you wade around forever you will surely drown
I see what’s going down.

I see the way you go and say your right again,
say your right again
heed my lecture

Do you feel like a man
when you push her around?
Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?
Well I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end
as your lies crumble down a new life she has.

One day she will tell you that she has had enough
its coming round again.
(repeat)

Do you feel like a man, when you push her around?
Do you feel better now as she falls to the grown?
Well I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end
as your lies crumble down, a new life she has.

Face down in the dirt she says, this doesn’t hurt she says I finally had enough..
(repeat)


I love this track right now 🙂

Coffee

I enjoy coffee, any sort of coffee really. I enjoy it so much I have a full espresso/cappuccino/filter maker and an entire shelf in the pantry dedicated to differrent imported coffees (Kenyan Coffee being some of the best).

Sometimes I do not have access to my own coffee, or I am in need of coffee on the run, when this is the case I have two standby favorites that keep me going when out and about.
While in the borders of South Africa – a Woolworths Coffee (particularly the Grandé (large) Honey-nut Latte) is the way to go. Outside the borders of South Africa (particularly while in the USA or UK) I recommend any coffee from good old Starbucks.

Coffee Heaven

This post was inspired by a recent Honey-nut Latte that just saved me and wits from certain death – Caffeine for the win!

Motorbike riding at Kyalami Race track

The company I work for has a huge interest in motorbike racing and this interest has lead to the company purchasing four ducati motorbikes for track racing and general enjoyment.

Over weekends the Big Boss takes these bikes to one of the local raceways (Kyalami, Phakisa and Swartkops being the regulars) and enjoys a day racing with other companies. This Sunday past I tagged along and and was lucky enough to get one of the Ducati bikes for a short while to enjoy a little spin around the track.

My first time around the track

For someone that hasn’t touched a bike in 10 years, it is quite a thrill getting onto a 600cc Ducati Monster, and I think if I can make it again soon, I will. Just need to get more pictures taken.

The weekend past – A tour of Soweto

With a fiancée that works in Soweto, it would be surprising if I didn’t go on a tour of the township; so last Saturday we took a tour of the township with our parents.

The tour started at my fiancée’s offices (VUKA uKahnye Africa) where we picked up one of her colleagues (a Social worker and a local Soweto resident) who was going to act as a tour guide for the day.

Our first stop of the day was at the Hector Pieterson Museum:
“Hector, 12, was one of the first casualties of the Soweto uprising of 16 June, 1976, when over 500 people were killed as they protested over the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in township schools. A news photograph of the dying Hector being carried by a fellow student, was published around the world.”

The museum was an interesting look and a very graphical reminder into a violent past of South Africa; a past that neither myself or our guide remembers since both of us were only born towards the end of apartheid. I understand the need to remember the past – lest it be repeated – so overall a worthwhile visit for anyone in the area, a grand memorial to the sacrifices of the people for their freedom.

Our next stop was Nelson Mandela’s old home – a simple abode, but very heavily packed with tourists.

Our tour then traveled around the rest of Soweto to view some interesting homes and homes of historic interest on our way to the Regina Mundy Catholic Church.
We finished off the trip with a great lunch at “The Rock” pub/diner/club/shebeen – a very popular venue for the young and trendy.

Overall an interesting, informative and fun visit to Soweto.

Now all I need to do is visit the apartheid museum.

The busy weekend

Fun weekend, a little crazy, but generally all good.

My engagement ring was finished sooner than expected, but this allowed me to surprise my girlfriend.

Yip, I am officially engaged :), it’s actually a vey very good feeling; somehow i didn’t think I would feel any different, but it feels good.

And due to some unforeseen complications with my future home (having to move in sooner than expected), I will be getting married next year May. About 4 months earlier than expected…. So suddenly finding a venue has become a priority. Strange how that happened on the weekend I get engaged. Go figure.

Birthdays and general celebrations kept me busy for the balance of the weekend (except for 2 hours at the movies with my fianceé, watched “The Lakehouse”… mmm ).