Remembering our Comrade 674

Tomorrow almost 20,000 runners will once again gather at the start line in the dark early Pietermaritzburg morning to run the roughly 89km of the Ultimate Human Race.

The Comrades marathon was probably the biggest event on my husband’s exercise/events calendar and even though he’d added Ironman and the Rottnest Channel Swim to his calendar in more recent years and completed countless other marathons and races, the Comrades was always in his blood. It is totally captivating to those who’d run it as well as many others.

Since I can remember it’s always been the race that stops the (South African) nation, and also brings the nation together. Brave runners from all walks of life come together from near and far and display the true spirit of camaraderie while spectators from all walks of life line the 89km long route to cheer, admire and support them and the imaginations of thousands more at home are captured. I’ve always had the utmost respect for Comrades runners and endurance athletes, it takes something special to do this.

In 2012 our beloved Ironman completed his 10th Comrades marathon and in doing so gained himself a prized green (permanent) number. We were living in Australia by then and the kids and I were in Albany for the long weekend. After doing the traditional Elleker 10km race that morning we rushed back to our cabin to be there for the start of the Comrades in South Africa and live track our Ironman. We were listening to Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire on repeat in the car, emotional music, picturing him on the start line with all his brave fellow runners.

He made his way past the Comrades Wall of Honour where he’d had a plaque installed in honour of his dad who’d run the Comrades in 1959 and had passed away a couple of years prior. Little did we know that the 10th would also turn out to be his last Comrades. On Sunday I will be live streaming and watching the race as we’d done for years, but for the first time I will do it without him. I’ll be listening to Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire and I’ll be reflecting on all the times he’d stood on the start line as these songs were being played, and gritted his way to the finish, from the silver medals of his youth to the slower times in later years. I’ll be following the runners as they make their way along the route and past the Wall of Honour where there is now a plaque in his honour as well.

I’ll never get the chance to cheer him on at the start line together with thousands of other runners as Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire are being played and then make my way to the finish line to welcome him there wearing his green number, as we’d hoped to be able to do one day, but I will always honour his memory on this remarkable day especially. His indomitable spirit was that of a true comrade and he was such an incredible ambassador for every race and event through his energy, enthusiasm, passion and devotion to all events, to friends and strangers alike, but with races the Comrades was his first love.

Through Comrades many friendships have been forged over the years, in South Africa, Dubai and Australia. One of these good and long standing friends went to the Wall of Honour the other day and kindly sent me some photos of Ironman’s plaque. I’ll be cheering all the runners tomorrow, I admire you immensely, and for those who knew our Comrade and Ironman please wear the Comrades beadies he loved so much. I’ll be wearing his.

Twenty Seventeen

The last day of 2017, a hard year. Sometimes you hear comments along the lines of “the new year can’t come around quickly enough” and that’s okay. We each have our own battles to fight. This time around I don’t share that sentiment though.

Saying good-bye to 2017 is another inescapable line in the sand of the year we had. In August our world got turned on its head when we lost our beloved husband, father and Ironman brutally unexpectedly with no warning while he was doing something he loved so much – a mountain bike race in the forest with a good mate. My strong, healthy, tough and invincible man lived life to the full until life decided otherwise. Four and a half months later it’s hard to move into a new year because it’s symbolic of leaving something behind that can never be left behind.

The hands of time ruthlessly wait for no-one though and neither can we control its passing but a whole new year is daunting, so there remains but one thing: to live this day. To live this day in a way that would have made our Ironman proud, to honour him and because it shows our respect for the man he was, because we love him and are so proud of him and since he’s no longer around to do it himself.

His are big shoes to fill.  He’d touched many lives, as has been evident in the love, care and support shown to us by family and friends near and far. His never-ending zest for life, passion with which he did everything, energy, sense of humour, spontaneity, generosity and love have been lessons to us. His spirit was indomitable, literally meaning “not to tame”, it was impossible to subdue or defeat. Always adventurous and pushing the boundaries, no challenge was insurmountable to him, and the greater the challenge generally the better. His sporting and athletic achievements are too many to list and professionally he was very highly regarded and well respected. The memories we made are rich and plentiful.

He always encouraged myself and the kids to do things we enjoyed as well as try new things. He loved this blog, he was my most loyal reader, biggest fan and editor. The name was his suggestion and no piece of writing was ever published without his input, and I valued and respected that input greatly. I sat down today to write something in his honour and we will keep doing things in his honour, be adventurous and set ourselves some challenges. We will keep his memory alive, do our best to follow his example as our own lighthouse and hope to make many more memories.

Life doesn’t throw us these curve balls when we’re ready or prepared. On the contrary, we never know what lies ahead but we do have this day.

 

 

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Wadjemup Lighthouse, Rottnest Island, Western Australia, one of our favourite places.

Exciting Opportunity for our Young Musician

The incredible opportunity has arisen for Child No 2, who is studying at WAAPA  (the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts), to sing at the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth tomorrow night. We are so proud of her for following her dream, and excited at the same time.

The details of the show including a short biography of each of the artists performing tomorrow night can be found here: http://www.northstreetmusic.com/song-lounge-october-24th/

I’ve also included the link to one of her original songs on youtube:

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cherry On Top

Snorkelling along the Ningaloo Reef in northwest Australia in the clear, unpolluted water is an unforgettable experience. Paddling is another way to enjoy this beautiful area and all it has to offer. Coming across a shy sea turtle when you’re snorkelling or paddling is an added bonus. These elusive creatures glide through the water, seemingly effortlessly, and can hold their breaths for long periods of time. I’ve been fortunate enough to swim alongside some a couple of times when we were out snorkelling.

They only pop their heads up to breathe when they feel safe. Before they do that they come up once to check that everything is ok, duck back down and then they’ll come up to breathe. I’ve seen them do this on a number of occasions when I’ve been out paddling but I didn’t have a camera with me. They’ll only have their heads above water for a few short seconds and you never know if, when or where another one will pop up. Last year when we were at Coral Bay (read more about the trip here) we did a glass bottom boat tour and saw lots of turtles. It was beautiful. I stood ready with my camera in hand, but with no idea where to look or focus. When one did pop up I literally had a second to turn, zoom in, focus and shoot. To be able to capture them was the absolute cherry on top.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

This week’s photo challenge is to show what’s happening above us. Once again I couldn’t resist doing a little gallery (some of which photos I’ve used before). Looking up to the bird life, treetops, clouds, a lighthouse, a mountain top, The Giants at the Perth International Arts Festival in 2015 and the world’s biggest aeroplane coming in to land at Perth airport a while ago.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

This week’s photo challenge is to show opposites. Since it’s winter here at the moment and we have lots of rainy days I immediately thought of sunshine as opposed to clouds or rain. I love the drama of clouds rolling in, especially when the sun still partially shines on it, so I put together a little gallery of opposing sunshine and clouds/rain photos.

 

A Winter’s Day in Perth

In between the grey and rainy winter’s days Perth spoils us with the most beautiful weather sometimes. We are very fortunate to have these blue sky days and I love being outdoors on a day like this. If it’s over the weekend, so much the better. While I was driving the other day, I heard the radio announcer say that it’s really beautiful out at Lesmurdie Falls at the moment. I’ve never been there so I thought it would be a great idea for an outing.

Today dawned crisp and clear – a perfect day for a little drive. Armed with my Thermos coffee flask and camera I set off to Lesmurdie – about a 40 minute drive southeast in the Perth Hills. My husband was off mountain biking and the kids all had other plans for the day which meant I could take my time dawdling and taking as many photos as I like without wasting anybody else’s time.

I walked around for about an hour, taking in the beautiful scenery, enjoying being out in the sunshine and of course, taking lots of photos. The falls are in the Swan river catchment area. The views towards Perth and the coast are breathtaking, and there were lots of wildflowers out. An added bonus was that I got to see my first bandicoot (a small, usually nocturnal, marsupial) in the wild. There are a few hikes out there, which we’ll definitely go and do some time (preferably in winter because it will be too hot in summer). My husband joined me for a quick coffee from the flask after his ride, since he was close by. I had a great time, relaxed and enjoying nature and the beautiful weather with my camera in hand – a perfect day!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

This week’s photo challenge is to show a partnership – subjects that are in sync and in tune with each other.

This photo of silver gulls was taken last summer one morning when I was out for a walk. The tide was exceptionally low and it was a beautiful and still morning. I went back home to get my camera and headed back down to the beach to get some photos. These gulls didn’t mind me snapping some pics. They were happy doing their own thing – all dozing off in tandem.

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Silver Gulls at Watermans Beach

Verandering

Geskryf in opdrag van Scrapydo2 se Toeka-Tokkel: Verandering.

(Apologies to non-Afrikaans readers.)

Ek het nog nooit baie gehou van verandering nie. Ek weet nie of dit iets te doen het met die feit dat as kind, ons nooit getrek het nie. Ek het in een huis grootgeword, na een laerskool en een hoërskool gegaan. Wat wonderlike stabiliteit was as kind, het my moontlik avers gemaak vir verandering later in my lewe – wie sal ooit weet.

Ek raak tuis in my gemaksone en sien dan geen rede om enigiets daaraan te verander nie. Maar hierdie karaktertrek het ek eers met die verloop van tyd in myself herken. Ander mense is baie meer avontuurlustig en pak sommer maklik ‘n nuwe uitdaging aan. So het ek lang trane gehuil toe ek besef het my man was ernstig oor trek uit Suid-Afrika. Vanuit my (gemaksone) oogpunt het ek net nie dieselfe dringendheid ervaar nie. Op die ou end het hy my oorgehaal met ‘n avontuur in Dubai vir ‘n paar jaar.

Steeds was dit nie vir my maklik nie – die agterlaat van ‘n lewe wat opgebou is oor jare, familie, vriende en alles wat daarmee saamgaan – maar die gedagte dat dit nie permanent sou wees nie het die verandering draaglik gemaak. Dit het uitgedraai in ‘n wonderlike avontuur, al het ons vir minder as ‘n jaar daar gebly (of miskien juis vir daai rede, iets waaroor ek soms wonder. Miskien was dit juis so interressant, eksoties en anders omdat ons weer weggetrek het voordat enigiets kon alledaags raak.)

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Op pad na ons avontuur in Dubai met Emirates

Dit was in 2004. Die werksaanbod vanuit Perth het gekom drie maande nadat ons in Dubai ingetrek het. Ek het net begin aanpas by linkerhandstuur, bestuur aan die regterkant van die pad, vreemde winkels en produkte, nuwe vriende, skole en lewenstyl toe ek besef die Perth ding is ‘n werklikheid wat ek nie kon ignoreer nie. Dit was ‘n aanbod wat ons eenvoudig nie van die hand kon wys nie. Na baie sielewroeging (ek het net begin tuis voel in Dubai) het ek besef dat nog verandering en trek na ‘n derde kontinent in ‘n kwessie van 10 maande, onvermydelik is.

Noudat ek terugdink wonder ek watter verandering die grootste was – Stellenbosch na Dubai of Dubai na Perth – en dis moeilik om te sê. Stellenbosch na Dubai was ‘n groot kulturele aanpassing, maar vir dieselfde rede ook baie pret. Dit was die eerste groot verandering waarby ek myself moes belê. Bygesê, in my agterkop was dit altyd net tydelik. Om die tweede groot (en hierdie keer permanente) verandering so kort na die eerste te maak was nie maklik nie.

Maar miskien was dit die lewe se manier om my te leer dat dit moontlik is om êrens anders gelukkig te wees. Dat sodra ek die besluit gemaak het wat ek geweet het die beste sal wees vir my familie op die  langtermyn, ek dit sal maak werk. Dat ek eintlik enige plek kon woon, solank my familie gesond en veilig was. Dat ‘n lewe anders as wat ek tot 13 jaar gelede vir myself ingedink het beter kan wees. Ek moes net leer (op die harde manier vir my) om oop te wees vir ander moontlikhede.

Tyd het gelukkig ‘n manier om aan te stap en ons het kort voor lank gewoond geraak aan Perth as ons huis, en Perth het gewoond geraak aan ons. Ons is nou so tuis en gelukkig hier dat ons lewe in Stellenbosch voel soos ‘n veraf herinnering. Hierdie is nou ons lewe en realiteit en ek is so dankbaar dat ek die veranderings deurgemaak het wat ek het.

Tyd het my ook geleer dat verandering ‘n gegewe is in die lewe. Soms gebeur daai veranderings net meer geleidelik as ander kere en dis eers wanneer jy besig is om die verandering te beleef dat jy daarvan bewus word. So het ons kinders grootgeword en van die drie is nou net een nog op skool. Kinders op universiteit wat motors bestuur is weer iets anders om aan gewoond te raak. En net soos ek dink ek het hierdie fase onder die knie sal die volgende fase my seker in die gesig staar. Ek hoop die veranderings oor die jare het my darem ook gevorm en help groei as mens.