Pages

Monday, 1 March 2010

New blog

Hi everyone,

I have migrated to my new blog site! It is very much a blog in progress, so I hope you will be patient with design disasters and stuff. But if you want to keep reading, you can now find me at

southafricanseamonkey.co.za


I hope to see all my bloggy friends over there!



UPDATE: Ok that blog domain has come and gone, I now blog at http://southafricanseamonkey.wordpress.com/. Am missing Blogger, to be honest.

Friday, 26 February 2010

DON'T CARE!


I think I wrote somewhere, sometime (not going to link to it because I am ashamed) that I was trying to cut down on coffee because of health reasons blah blah.

Well I am back to drinking a million cups of coffee a day. Because it actually lifts my mood. I don't know about scientific data proving that caffeine is an antidepressant but it is for me, probably because I'm an addict. If it gets me through this winter that's fine, I just hope my liver holds out.

I've realised that I am no longer able to distinguish when things are going well or badly at work. I think I reached a threshold of despair, and now I feel bad all the time, even though things are ok. I am miserable at work at the moment, and this extends to home where I just sleep and eat, and... sleep.

But not to worry, because this is all clearly down to SAD and if I hang in there and don't scream or throw something or say what's on my mind to anyone at work, then I will survive and winter will be over and I won't go insane.

And I even had an extra dose of sun over January!

Oh dear. When does it get warm here again? I remember people always talk about the good week in April. Bring on the good week in bloody April.

I have scientifically calculated that Northern European winters are bad for my health (sharp hey) so we are planning to move to South Africa round the end of next year.

I hope you realise how scared I feel writing that down in my blog. I never announce plans in my life ever, because things go wrong, and people change their minds, and things don't work out, and things get delayed, and things are not meant to be. But we are hoping to move back next year, or sometime. I am so superstitious that writing it makes me feel like I have jinxed it.

Oh ja, p.s. don't tell my Dad. My Dad's tactic of persuading me not to go back to South Africa drives me insane and involves him shouting the word "Australia" to me at random intervals. Oh Daddy, you never learned did you; if you want your stubborn daughter to do something you must tell her to do the opposite. There is now no way in hell I will ever move to Australia, just to go against my Dad.

Yes I am a brat.

Right now I don't care what anyone says about South Africa.

  • Malema wants to nationalise everything -> don't care
  • Malema is annoying -> don't care
  • The ANCYL declares a state of war every time someone looks at them -> don't care
  • SA is crime ridden -> don't care
  • Zuma wants to shag everything and have a million babies -> don't care
  • I spent my whole life in South Africa in financial difficulty -> don't care
  • people keep saying farming is doomed and SA will become Zim etc etc -> don't care
  • SA doesn't have iTunes or cheap and easy internet -> eeep I may care about this
  • Steve Hofmeyer lives in SA -> don't care


These are the reasons people give for not going back, amongst others. Well, I DON'T CARE!

I do care obviously, I care very much, but I'm going home damnit. I want to care there rather than here.

There must be reasons for me wanting to move back other than weather, but ... well, the weather is a major factor. Yup, how lame is that? And it's time for a change, BFG and I are stagnating.

Never underestimate the power of irrationality, frivolity and whim when it comes to making huge life decisions, that is my advice for the day.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My little blog is growing up!


I was having a pretty dismal Monday until I got an email from Briget of becausican.

If you didn't know, she won the Nerdies 2010 award, and much deserved! This is a South African award for the shecksiest blogger/tweeter spearheaded by by the blogger Shebee (who also runs Nerdmag) and it also donates to charity. This year they donated to the Wet Nose Foundation.

Anyway, Briget won some awesome prizes and she decided to give one of them to me! I am touched. She is giving me twelve month's hosting and domain registration by Eighty Six.

I must admit I am not entirely clued up to what this entails, but I assume there will be some changes around this little corner of the internet. This blog is nearly two years old so maybe it is time it took a step up the food chain.

Apparently the domain is a co.za one, which makes me feel a bit weird since I am not in
Dotcodotza land at the moment. But trust me, if my life plan goes according to... plan, I will be there, sometime in the forseeable foocha. Not that anything I have ever done has gone according to plan. But it has to now, it is written in the blog!

Thanks so much B, you definitely deserve your crown. And thanks Shebee for organising such a wonderful event, and thank you Eighty Six for your generous offer!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Robot angst

Sheesh, sorry for the distressed outburst on Friday, but it felt so good to write that post. I can't exactly freak out and swear in the lab but I did feel like throwing something at the wall at one stage.

For once it wasn't even my fault, technology was rebelling against me but it was just the limit. I can only take so much. I had to throw something away and have to start again this week. Whatevs.

I am feeling so much better. But lets be honest, I wrote this post on Sunday night, after lots of sleep, food and exercise. I thought it would be best to write it then rather than Monday because I assume after about 5 minutes on Monday morning I will be freaking out again.

So lets go with the happiness vibes.

BFG has been coding robots to destroy each other all weekend. His first robot committed suicide by bashing its head repeatedly against the wall, instead of blowing other robots to smithereens.

I just thought you would like to know.

Friday, 19 February 2010

don't bother reading this.

I don't think this month could possibly get any worse in terms of work. I have had it up to here. I want to swear. Alot . So I shall.

Fuck this shit. Seriously.

Am swearing a lot more in my head. I have been back from holiday just over a month and I need to go on another one asap before I have some kind of meltdown.


I hate everything right now. Sorry.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Crying without tears


I know I am not the only person who suffers from tear duct constipation, it is surely a symptom of emotionally repressed people everywhere. Anyone else with a complete inability to cry?

Firstly I am one of those people for whom crying is a trauma. If I cry in front of someone else, anyone else, I feel like I am dying. Don't know why. So I don't do it. Also I can't even really cry alone. It seems to cause me pain even then. If it does happen it is more like I am being torn apart for a few seconds and then no more tears come. This happens about once a year.

It is quite inconvenient. There are many occasions that call for tears, as a kind of pressure release, and it makes you feel much better afterwards. If you let them build up and up.. well I think there lies the path to nervous breakdowns and stuff.

This all stems back to the wars between me and my father years ago. I realised that when he was angry at me, I vindicated him by crying. So I forced myself to stop crying, no matter what physical or verbal punishment was being metered out upon me. It was hard because I was scared but eventually I succeeded. And it enraged my Dad, who couldn't seem to figure out why his punishments weren't working any more. Score! Ok the punishments became worse, but I scored a psychological point.

Yeah I was quite a brat.

Anyway I can't cry no more. The apparatus she ees broken. Except when people die, then I can cry.

Please, no one die, I don't want to cry that badly.

But even when terrible terrible things happen, if no one dies, then I can't cry. I don't think this is healthy, it leads to this build up of emotional tension and sometimes I think I could explode.


My driving test is in 5 weeks and I feel like I should cry about this at some point, or at least vomit (although I have vomit constipation too, a whole other issue) because it makes me feel sick just to think about it. But obviously this isn't going to happen. If I can't cry at terrible things, I am hardly going to cry for something as menial as a driving test. But man it would feel so good.

So I am hoping that someone for whom the eye juices flow freely will donate me one or two tears, not too many, just so I don't feel so scared and crap. Any offers?

Just shed a little tear for me,
forever and ever you'll stay in my heart
and I will love you,
forever and ever, we never will part..

Ok how disgusting is it that I would actually wish for someone to cry? I don't mean it. Don't cry for me (Argentina), this driving test will have to be performed with dread in my heart and dry eyes.

Are there such things as crying lessons?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives...


When I delved back into my posts from this time last year, I found that I was writing about Biology being a bitch, and me being a sad Po, because my experiments weren't working.

Hello, am I on some kind of time loop here? Is February the month of doom? Will my life play out like this again and again like the science fiction boomerang of bad luck?

Well I am happy to say that some time last week (much the same time as last year) my little white strips started putting in an appearance or two again. Finally. For no particular rhyme or reason that I can make out.

I love me some little white strips.

I have a feeling only a certain set are working and the others are still fucked, but we can live in hope. Baby steps.


Just in case you didn't read it last year: Biology is a bitch, and don't you forget it.


Just a side note: to whoever it was who wrote the code for our PCR machine (the machine that runs my little DNA factories):

Was it really necessary, when warning me that I had forgotten to set a minimum temperature, to write a pop up that went something along the lines of

you have forgotten to set a minimum temperature!!!!!

That level of punctuation seems more in line with:

if you don't set a minimum temperature in 5 seconds this machine will explode and you all shall die!!!!!

Whereas what is called for is more along the lines of:


By the way, you have forgotten to set a minimum temperature, which could inconvenience your experiment. Which will be a bit of a bugger.


Save the multiple exclamation marks for personal use, if you don't mind, don't foist them on unsuspecting lab rats, they give me bad karma. No wonder my experiments haven't been working.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Moggy



You know how if you have cats, they go mental when there is a change in weather? From what I remember from when I was small, if the weather changed from the normal Durban humidity to a crisp chilly day, my cat would go insane. He would tear up and down the passage and attack me like a banshee. He loved me really. And my sister's cats turn into fruit loops when it snows here. You don't want to be a moving target on snow days. It's best to just stay in bed. Safer.

I think the term is: "moggy". Because they are cats and all, right?

Anyway, the weather here has made me go moggy too. It was pretty warm (ie above zero) and rainy and then all of a sardine it became icy and alternated between sun and snow. And I am going insane.

I seem to oscillate between jubilation and despair. But mostly hysteria. For some reason everything is vastly funny to me. And I want to run around the room and do cartwheels and go catch snowflakes on my tongue.

I spend most of my time alone at work because my colleagues work in an office and I am in the lab. I have no one to tell my hilarious jokes to. The other day I was giggling to myself for about 15 minutes about the word "soutpiel*". I'm not sure I want to be explaining about penises dangling into the sea to my superiors anyway. People are deadly serious around here.

As I have no one with which to share the intense hilarity that is life, I have started hosting conversations in my head where I explain to imaginary people how funny it all is. Also I keep grinning manically and snorting. I think I am scaring the post doc who does wander into the lab on occasion. And when anyone does come near me I start prattling until I see their startled faces. Then I start giggling again. It would be best if they all just stayed in bed, really. Safer.

I have finally cracked. It is true what they say, if you spend too much time alone, you will start talking to your pet weeds and their little fly friends.

At least they talk back.



*Afrikaans word for English speaking South Africans, meaning "salty penis". Because they have one foot in England, one in South Africa, and your sausage** dangling in the sea.


**white boerewors!***


***pity it will be so small and shriveled.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Preserve our elders


Someone I care about recently got conned by a person with a fake internet identity. He did not manage to get any of her money but he dragged out a relationship over many months and took from her a huge emotional investment and precious time. She had no money to give him any way, all she had was love, which sure as hell was wasted on him. I want to kick him in the nads and wish him a plague of aphids.

But that aside, we need to protect people of the older generations. They who come from the days of morals and verified information that came from books. They who are not always very good at using computers.

They don't seem to realise that it takes a person roughly three minutes (depending on your bandwidth) to create a believable fake internet presence. One minute to google "American white army officer" (or whomever you wish to be), one minute to download a photo, one minute to upload the photo to whichever profile, and you can start preying on vulnerable women.

Many older people I know could not do any of the above in three days, or ever. So they seem to believe that people are who they say they are.

And who are the ones that send on those interminable email forwards warning of the evils of canola oil and aliens in your boot and tokoloshes learning how to get past bricks? Ballies, that's who. They believe credible sounding information because in their day information was more reliable.

All of the forwards I have bothered to read before deleting sound like they have been sucked out of a 15 year old's bum thumb . But if you throw in some words like "genetically modified" and "statistically vulnerable" and "police reports recently show" then it seems many ballies will fall for it every time.


We need to protect our elders. The times have changed, and they need educating. They don't take to it kindly but it is for their own good. They are just too good and honest and gullible. They need their nasty, cynical, scheming, lyingkids to teach them a thing or two.

*parents and general old timers

Monday, 8 February 2010

The shame


I have to hang my head in shame but I am about to admit one of those things that are probably kept off the internet and away from the eyes of many.

I have started drinking Rooibos.

It is disgusting.

When I was a lass people in Durban did not drink Rooibos, they drank normal tea. We were simple folk.

When I was about 15 I tried my first cup of coffee, and since then I have been an addict. I have a dangerously addictive personality, which is why I avoid drugs like the plague. I drink far too much coffee and always have.

When I moved to Cape Town I was introduced to the tea snobbery that is drinking Rooibos. Nowadays everyone in SA drinks Rooibos and it is hugely popular in the UK too (Redbush). But back then it was like you were on a higher plane of existence (the Capetonian plane by the Mowwwntain) if you drank Rooibos. And it is disgusting. I cannot emphasise this enough. I have never been able to like it, no matter how eager I was to fit in.

When I first met the BFG he would offer me tea and I would say yes and ask for milk, assuming it would be normal, and he would being me milky Rooibos and I would drink it. One day while doing this I had a flash of clarity: this is disgusting. I shall never drink this shit again.


Yes, I also tried the non-milky version but it still tastes bad. Coffee all the way.

Until now, when I am starting to worry about my liver and the fact that I get the shakes and that if I can't have coffee I start to panic.... this needs to stop.

I need the stuff in the mornings and it does not have any bad effects on me then, but if I have it in the evenings I am a wreck. So I have started drinking Rooibos in the evenings to become all healthful and serene and decaffeinated and free of radicals like the Mowwwwntain people.

It's still disgusting though. This must be growing up.

Friday, 5 February 2010

the birds and the bees... and Po.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated trees* do it... It's not that hard to have nookie is it?

Wrong. Plant sex is the most difficult thing I have ever done. And, erm, that is not as dodgy as it sounds.

It is a well known fact that plants have sex via the air, with the help of wind, bees, flies, etc. Right? Some plants prefer to self pleasure instead and mate with themselves and that seems to work well for them too.

The plants I work with prefer themselves and get it on very well and we are all happy. Until we need to mate one plant with another to study gene interactions... that is when our plants need a facilitator. And it would appear that the facilitator is now me. Oh joy.

The fertile bits of the plant are in the flower bud. Now the flower bud I am working with is about the size of a ... flea? Maybe if if you split a rice grain in two along the length, then take one of the skinny bits and chop it into about 4 pieces, then that would be about right.

The bits of interest ie the male and female bits, are much smaller. I cannae see them, Cap'n!

Basically you are supposed to take a pair of fine forceps and dissect the bud pulling back a petal, (which looks like a white speck) taking out all the male bits (basically invisible) so they don't fertilise themselves, and then take a flower from the daddy plant and rub its pollen all over the mommy plant. No problem.

So far in the week that I have been introduced to this torture I have decapitated about twenty plants and produced no crosses of any worth whatsoever. I am not a surgeon. Even a surgeon would struggle to perform surgery on a speck, right?

Someone very kind is now trying to teach me how to do this horrendous process with a microscope to ease the heinousness. But my boss told me to do it with the naked eye. If I do, there will be no plants alive at the end of it.

Will it help if I wear a bee suit?


*artistic license

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

FML

I am in quite a state at the moment. For some reason my body's reaction to work stress is more in line with what is usual when someone dies or some other tragedy happens. Which is ridiculous. I can't go into a catatonic state of depression so easily, I need to conserve my energy for when something really terrible happens, and in my experience that can happen at any time.

I just can't hack this daily torture of blank DNA gels. Sometimes I do hundreds of PCRs in a day, and every single day they just do not work. Where are the little white strips, seriously? Even after I corrected my idiotic mistake, things just are not working. I came back to work eager to shift the long To Do list, and here I am not able to begin. I can't take this constant failure. It is squishing me.

Then there are other things, other forms of torture going on at work that are just the limit for my small sense of self confidence. I shall write about them soon. They involve plant nookie. Dear God. Is that not what bees were invented for?

I am of no use to anyone in this state. I am too dejected and feeble. And just last week the BFG and I were scheming life plans. Now I feel too afraid to scheme life plans. Will my boss put up with this nothingness for much longer? I doubt he could fire me that quickly, there are probably laws against it, but at this rate I will be quitting soon. You can't make life plans about the future when you think you could be fired every day.

The only way I have not broken down into a puddle of tears is by mainlining music. Where would we be without music? Music has probably saved more suicidal people than any other thing. It is the only thing that can make me feel better.

My discovery of the week is Mumford and Sons, who are very successful in the UK. I was previously obsessed with some American boys from Vegas who try to imitate Brit pop and indie.
Now these Mumford guys are from London, but they are going for a full on hillbilly folk sound, replete with banjos and half-American accents. Who could not love a bunch of English banjo-boys?

Hooray for the banjo-boys, I think they may have saved my life this week.


Banjos aside, FUCK MY LIFE.



Monday, 1 February 2010

the trip of awesomeness part 4: Western Cape


On Friday last week, at about 5pm, I figured out why my work stuff wasn't working. This was not a Biology Bitch effect. This was a "Po is a complete and utter plonker" effect. I am so ashamed. I am hanging my head. I wasted a whole 7 days with a mistake so dumb I can't even believe it is true.

And with that, I shall continue recounting my holiday to South Africa.

Our next stop was Montagu. I think this was my favourite part of the whole trip. Well, apart from the Owl House... ok it was a great part. I love Montagu. I think it is so beautiful there. The plants and animals are special and the town looks Mediterranean. They grow olives and grapes. They have the best Pizza place.



Real climbers would never say Montagu is their favourite, it is too popular and busy. But I love it. And we were the only people in the mountains. Again. Where are all the climbers? Either they have all left the country or they are too sensible to climb in that heat.

We saw duiker while we were walking. That was a definite first in all the times I have ever been to Montagu. But one thing I knew we were guaranteed to see in Montagu was.... DASSIES!!! Montagu is a dassie haven. BFG went from a score of 2 to a score of 12 in one day. I hit a measly 7. The reason being, the little dog that adopted us and escorted us to the climbing chased the other dassies away before I could see them. BFG claimed they were turbo dassies. Oh well. He won the dassie spotting contest because those were the last dassies we saw. Tragic.


The Cape Town leg of our holiday was jam packed with so many things I think I shall have to use bullet points:

  • We saw family and friends.
  • We went to many many beaches, Llandudno was particularly spectacular thanks to the South Easter. We watched huge waves crashing for ages.


  • Someone got munched by a shark. This was perturbing and upsetting. We went swimming in the sea the next day and I was a bit jumpy. But it was 38 degrees. I needed to cool off.
  • May I just reiterate. I swam in the sea. In Cape Town. This is a feat of great impressiveness.It was refreshing.
  • We drove along Chapman's Peak drive, and it was spectacular as ever.



  • We wandered around Kirstenbosch while melting into little puddles. I kept "accidentally" walking into the sprinklers.
  • We walked up Lion's Head. The lazy hiking option. We did not go to the 9 hour hiking place in the end. I can't say I was thaaat sorry.



  • We ate lots of cool food in funky places.
  • We went to Robben Island and saw a dolphin! That was a highlight. I liked the tour of the prison very much, seeing as I had just finished Mandela's biography. It was very fresh in my mind. They had personal stories of the cell mates to read, that was interesting. Our tour guide was very good, he is an ex prisoner and had some interesting stories to tell. The tour around the island was a bit crap though, we couldn't get off the bus. But the views made up for it. Finally I have been to Robben Island!


  • I met a blogger! My first one. We met up with Tara of Goblin Talk and her boyf and we had delicious pancakes. It was very cool considering I was very nervous about coming out of my fairly anonymous shell. But she put me at ease and was very cool. He was very cool too to meet a bunch of total strangers and act as if it was a normal occurrence :)
  • We went to the Cederberg for the weekend and it was as spectacular as ever. The stars were out in full force. We climbed up Wolfberg, we investigated the cracks, we met up with a surprise friend in the campsite and his buddy from the UK who supplied us with loads of food. We saw a snake (only a mole one, but it will do) and other types of buck. This really was a buck-seeing holiday.


  • The day we drove back it was 42 degrees in the Cederberg. Needless to say we had to have many river swimming, sprinkler, icecream and dumping-water-over-head stops. I highly recommend getting air conditioning in a hired car. Of course we never will because we are too stingy (and hardcore!), but normal people, get air conditioning ok?


Then we had to leave this all behind and make the looooong journey back. I don't like Iberia very much, and the Madrid airport people are weirdly mean. I have used that airport many times and have had similar experiences each time. I will really try to avoid using Iberia in the future.

It was an awesome holiday from beginning to end. It already feels like nothing more than a dream.

Friday, 29 January 2010

An agglutination of Agriculturists.


My intention was to finish up the enthralling tales of my holiday today but I have been in misery city this whole week. Ever since I have been back at work not a single thing I have done has worked. What a great start to the year. Blegh. All parents and future parents please write this down:

"dear small person from my loins, do not become a scientist. You will get paid very badly to fail constantly. Which kind of makes sense but is not much fun."

So I am holding back my holiday memoirs til next week when I feel perkier. I have also been getting home after 10.30pm, so I haven't even been able to read blogs properly. I have been a terrible blogger. Apologies!

I shall leave you with this instead:

How scary is the human herd mentality? I witnessed a good example of it last night. A huge herd of students were coming out of a lecture. A few started to cross the road when there was a gap, and of course the entire herd followed, even though there were cars right there having to stop and dodge them by the end.

It is quite a hilarious phenomenon. If you are alone, you look left and right, and if you see a car approaching slap bang where you need to cross you will not go. But if you are in a herd you don't look, you just go, because if they are doing it so can you... squeeesh. I guess so long as you stick to the middle of the herd you are allright, your friends can act as a buffer.

And the bigger the herd, the worse the effects. In a really large herd, all but the leader completely lose their minds and surrender to the hive mind, which just says "go".

It is not so hilarious when I happen to be the one to succumb to herd mentality though; then it pisses me right off. I'm thinking " Dumdeedum - wait a minute there is a car at my thigh why am I in the middle of the road fucking hell I succumbed to herd mentality again didn't I?"

This happens far too often. Down with herds, down! Although I seem to enter herd mentality in any herd greater than one, which does not bode well for my survival.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The trip of awesomeness part 3: Road trip cont.




Nieu Bethesda to Montagu.

Nieu Bethesda is only a few hours from Colesberg along a dirt road. It is a tiny dorpie that only got electricity in the 90's. I know people who spent childhood holidays there, and I am sure it is like a city in comparison to what it was, but there can't be more than 60 people living in the town itself, and apparently about 900 in the township section. The local kids there ride around bareback on horses. Everyone is so open and friendly. It is probably the safest place in the world. My statistic.

We went straight to the Owl House museum to see the art that Helen Martins had left behind in her yard and in her house. This place blew me away. I loved it so much. Partly because I have a fantasy of living far away from everyone and making funky colourful paintings all over my house.



I took about 1 million photos of the place. Unfortunately I filled up my flickr quota for the month, so will have to keep adding them later. But if you want to check them out, you can mail me for my flickr name.
























The entire interior of her house is covered in ground glass. There are so many sculptures of weird and wonderful things in her yard, it takes hours to try and look at them all. It was definitely worth the trip to the middle of nowhere.




Then we read our books under a tree, walked around the entire town (it didn't take very long), read some more, walked some more, then I had a Karoo burger at the pub and we went to sleep. Such party animals.



By the way, zoologists (Helen, Luke, EEbEE?) I need your help. We saw the weirdest animals (to me) in Nieu Bethesda. The were roughly squirrel sized, yellowish gold in colour, had tails but not quite like squirrels, much fatter and sturdier tails than squirrels, more like skinny hairy beaver tails(??) and their bodies were similar to meerkats. They even did the upright standing thing. But their tails seemed quite unmeerkatlike to me. Does this make any sense? I didn't manage to get any photographic evidence of these meerkat beavers.



On the way out the next day I saw my first dassie!!!!!!!!!!!! and a baboon. Oops apparently BFG saw a dassie in Harrismith so I lied on yesterday's scorecard.

Man that day was hot. Apparently it hit 40 degrees. And we had no aircon. Poor BFG. He drove 10 hours that day. But we stopped constantly for orange lollies, which appear to be his kryptonite. I also had him stuck on 20 questions for about an hour trying to come up with "marshmallow". He got as far as, they are man made but not an appliance, and come in herds, for aaaaages. It's so obvious, innit?!



The most memorable part of the day's driving was Magdalen. We picked up a tired lady walking somewhere along the N9 before Graaf Reniet. It turns out she was walking to a job as a domestic worker in Swellendam (about 500km)! She had been walking for 2 days to cover ground that we drove in an hour. It was Saturday and she had to be at work on the Monday. No one had picked her up in that time. She had no money, but she told us that it didn't matter because God was looking out for her. She had two kids back in Aberdeen, which is a minute farming town in the Eastern Cape.

Magdalen was a pretty cool chick; we told her that in Oxford for some reason they pronounce her name "Maudlen" and she was highly amused by that. She told us stories of her holiday in Joburg and schooling in George.

At the time we were planning to stop in Oudtshoorn, which is a far far walk to Swellendam, but she was happy for the ride. We hit Oudtshoorn at midday in full 40 degree heat and decided it was too early to stop for the day. We figured we could camp the night at Barrydale. There is some pretty spectacular scenery around there along the R62 I have to say. Love that route.



At Barrydale, we dropped off Magdalen on the road to Swellendam. BFG decided he had the juice to drive to Montagu after all, which was our hoped for destination. We sat at the corner, watching Magdalen walking slowly away...

then we realised that if we went via Swellendam it was still only about 2 hours to get to Montagu!

We ended up taking her to her sister's doorstep in Bonnievale. I was very happy that we could do that, because I was thinking while we were at Barrydale, imagine we bring her all this way and then leave her to walk for the next day or two and she gets raped along the way?

Now I know that the route is very quiet and the area probably really safe, but would you feel happy letting any woman you know, wife, sister, girlfriend, whatever, walk alone from Barrydale to Bonnievale (roughly 100km)? Maybe you would, maybe it is just me, but I just could not feel sure that she would have been safe. And when we drove along there were hardly any cars, so the chances of her being picked up were very slim, and then I worry about strange men driving alone...

If it was me I would have been a bit scared. And dying of heat. And she had no money. Just saying.

When she left she asked us for our cell number and we gave her our SA one. Now I feel like such an idiot because we are back in the UK and our MTN number will expire and she promised to phone to tell us how she was doing and to answer "Maudlen" but she can't. I feel really sad about that. Maybe she will think we gave her a fake number. Wah. But you know what, I actually know where she lives, so you never know, maybe this is not the end of the Magdalen files. Anyone live in Bonnievale?

Anyway, after all that we got to Montagu, where we wanted to be, BFG was toast, and the rest is for another day.



trip scorecard:

Dassie score:

BFG: 2 (apparently, including his mystery dassie in Harrismith)
Po:1

strange beaver-meerkat sightings: too many to count

awesome trippy statues: hundreds

random strangers with biblical references picked up: 1

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The trip of awesomeness part 2: Roadtrip!



The trip of awesomeness part 2a: Harrismith and the general Free State region. Also the Northern Cape.


-we loaded up our car with about a year's supply of food, including cascades of niknaks.

-we drove for 3 hours

-both of us failed to check the directions for the actual climbing campsite we were headed to, inaptly named Mount Everest resort. We used to go there when I was at school so I figured it would come to me. I also figured if you drove into the town of Harrismith and then headed for the mountain, all would be well.

-Wrong.

-Luckily some kind locals gave us directions and we made it to the campsite just before it got dark.

-We were the only people there. The campsite is around the corner from the rest of the resort and up against a mountain.

-I must say I was a bit spooked at first. I have not been around such darkness, such quietude and so many animal noises for a long time. But soon the total awesomeness of our surroundings got to me. There were so many stars! I still got spooked when I had to walk to the toilets though.

























Proof that we actually climbed.


-We got lost trying to find climbing that we both thought we would remember, but after 12 years I was blank. We found other stuff that we did recognise and climbed that. We were the only people in the mountains. That is a very special thing.






















-Um. It was very hot. BFG got very burnt. I applied sunscreen like a mental person.

-We saw at least 4 different types of buck, some Wildebeest and a mom and baby Zebra. Also some Americans, who are now running the resort.

-That evening there was a spectacular Free State thunder storm that unleashed its fury upon us. We sat in the car and enjoyed. Our tent survived, hooray!

-I remembered this place as something really special from our school trips, and it really is. I definitely want to go back.





















-Then we drove, with BFG getting reaccustomed to how you are meant to drive in SA, ie. pull over into the emergency lane for people to overtake, and try and overtake in single lane freeways with no central reservation. He managed.

-I became reacquainted with the joys of South African radio. I have one thing to say: ERK!

-While chilling at an Engen One stop in Bloem we realised one of the tyres on our Kia Picanto (poo car) was dubiously flaccid. We grew concerned. We phoned up Europcar and they told us we could just exchange cars if we came to the Bloem airport. Talk about lucky, getting a flat right in Bloem instead of somewhere in the bundus!

- Some people may argue that Bloem is the bundus. I beg to differ. They had a Pep.


Not our dream car


- BFG's dream car is a citi Golf. He has pined for citi Golf his whole life. We managed to persuade the Car lady to give us a Golf. Who was she to deny a sweet boy his dream? BFG was so happy. And the boot was twice as big. Sweet.



















BFG's dream car.

-We managed to drive out of Bloem into a full on storm, Free State attack number 2. Scary.

-We made it to the metropolis of Colesberg in the Northern Cape and decided to go no further. It was swelteringly hot in Colesberg. I slept without a blanket!!!! You have no idea how exciting this was for me!!! And I was not wearing a jersey!!!! I felt completely naked!!!! Any more exclamation marks anyone?

!!!!!!


trip scorecard:

Dassie score:

BFG:0
Po:0

thunderstorms: 2
buck seen: very many
sun rays absorbed: lots and lots
car changes: one
Times we got lost: once