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.



Wadjemup 1

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:

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




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.)


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.

The King of the Sky Comes to Perth

A couple of weekends ago the world’s biggest aeroplane came to Perth. Thousands of aviation enthusiasts flocked to the airport to catch a glimpse of it. Not even a two hour delay in Kuala Lumpur before the last leg of its journey to deliver a 116 tonne generator for a mine, deterred people.

My husband and I were equally keen to see it. When we lived in Dubai our house was under the flight path of busy Dubai airport and we loved watching the planes take off one after the other, quite often only about 90 seconds apart. It became a regular pastime especially when we were in the pool with the kids, to watch and identify all the planes.

This plane is in a league of its own though, and none of us had ever seen it. The Antonov 225 was built in Ukraine in the ‘80’s to carry the Russian space shuttle. It has since been converted to carry cargo weighing up to 250 tonnes.

When I told Child No 2 that Ironman and I were going to try and see this plane, she shook her head and said: “You have to be old to think that’s interesting”. “I’m not old!” I replied, taken aback. She only raised her eyebrows as if to say: “If you say so!”

Old or not, we didn’t feel like waiting for 4 hours to see this plane so we decided on a different tactic. All morning my husband watched the Perth airport flight tracker to check in which direction the planes were landing and worked out a perfect spot to see it right under the flight path. We drove there, parked the car and I took some practice photos of other planes coming in overhead. We were quite close to the airport and had avoided the throngs of people and traffic jams and generally quite pleased with ourselves.

Thirty five minutes before the Antonov was due to land, a plane suddenly took off in our direction though, meaning the wind direction had changed and the Antonov would be landing from the opposite side. Our hearts sank. Getting to the airport at that point was out of the question due to the traffic, and getting around the airport to the other side to wait under the flight path there would take much longer than 35 minutes. We weren’t ready to give up yet, we’d come all that way and it was still something we badly wanted to see. After swiftly planning the fastest way to get around to the other side of the airport Ironman said: “Let’s go”. We jumped back in the car and took off.

Twenty minutes later we’d nearly got there when we got stuck in traffic. I sat ready with my camera in hand. We had minutes to spare and we pulled off at the first possible opportunity just as Ironman spotted the Antonov in the distance. It was truly as impressive as we’d thought, even though we weren’t as close as we’d hoped to have been. To see an 88 metre long plane with 6 engines, 7 sets of back wheels and a wing span of 84 metres glide effortlessly through the sky had us in awe.


Our first glimpse of the Antonov 225


The Antonov 225 coming in to land at Perth airport

Within a few seconds it had disappeared from our view but we were happy that we’d gone. It was going to be at Perth airport for another day and a half (it took 12 hours just to unload the mining generator through the front of the plane that lifts up). Like true (old?) enthusiasts we went to the airport the next day to see it where it was parked in front of the international terminal. It was massive, but the true perspective of its size only sunk in when a Boeing 737 taxied past and you were able to compare the size of the two planes.


The Antonov 225 at Perth airport


The Antonov 225 at Perth airport

But we still hadn’t seen the king of the sky fly overhead so the next morning we left home at 4:30am to try and be under its flight path as it took off at 5:30am. We were there by about 5am, with one other hopeful person. We got out of the car and stood chatting to the friendly gentleman in the dark and chilly early morning. We desperately hoped we were in the right spot this time. Plane after plane started taking off and flew straight overhead, most of them taking fly-in-fly-out miners up north. We breathed a sigh of relief, but still worried that the wind might change again and leave us stranded in the wrong spot. The gentleman we’d been chatting to said drily: ”This is as good a spot as you’ll get. I might move 5 feet that way.” By this time there were about 30 to 40 other cars parked there as well with some people still in their pyjamas.

Around 6am we heard another plane take off in our direction, but this was very distinctively a much louder and bigger sound than all the previous ones. I didn’t bother with my camera since it was still dark but had my phone ready to video. It didn’t disappoint. It came straight overhead, and away it went, its first visit to Australia having proven a very popular one. My husband wasn’t videoing and watching it with the naked eye he was struck by the fire in all 6 engines in stark contrast to the dark sky. We were all spellbound by the sheer size of it and the engineering behind getting a machine of that size and weight to take to the skies. It was worth leaving home at 4:30am and standing around in the freezing cold for about an hour. I didn’t get the photos I wanted though and neither does the video do it justice so I suppose these two “oldies” will go and see it again if it ever returns to Perth.


Z is for Zebra. During our visits to Etosha National Park in Namibia we were lucky enough to see plenty of them around. On both the last two occasions the park had been experiencing good rainfall and there were little puddles of water everywhere (even in the middle of the road) where they’d drink from. We saw so many that we in fact became spoilt. During the first couple of days we stopped whenever we saw anything of interest and took heaps of photos but after a few days of seeing so many zebras (and no elephants yet), we didn’t stop to take any more photos of them, instead opting to keep going to try and see animals we hand’t yet seen.

There were some zebras on my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in the Kalahari at one stage but it’s  a very sandy area which meant that the zebras’ hooves (which are shaped like those of a horse) didn’t naturally wear down because the sand was so soft. They used to catch the zebras and cut their hooves to help them because if they didn’t the hooves would keep growing to the point where the animal wasn’t able to walk properly. It was quite an experience doing this for a wild animal.

Z, being the last letter, also signals the end of this challenge. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, I’ve really enjoyed interacting with all of you and reading your A to Z posts as well.


Y is for Yellow-throated miner and Yellow-billed spoonbill. The Yellow-throated miner is a medium sized honeyeater  and we always see them when we camp at Coral Bay. We’re usually there in October which falls in their breeding season and we’ve been swooped a few times (when they feel threatened if someone gets too close to their nest) and sometimes they can be a bit cheeky, trying to get to our food.


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay

The Yellow-faced spoonbill is a large white waterbird which we haven’t seen very often. The only photo I have is one I took in Albany a few years ago, which isn’t very clear unfortunately.


Yellow-billed spoonbill (on the left)

Y is also for Yanchep National Park, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Perth. We’ve been there a number of times for a picnic, a little walk and/or bike ride and to visit their Koala sanctuary. There are beautiful sweeping lawns, lots of trees and barbecue areas.


The lake at Yanchep National Park

Finally, Y is also for Yallingup, south west of Perth, close to Margaret River. Yallingup is a popular holiday destination with beautiful beaches and also because of it’s proximity to the wineries and tourist attractions around Margaret River.


Yallingup, near Margaret River in south west Australia



X is for X-ray which Child No 3 had to have a few of last year when she fractured her wrist. We ended up at Perth’s children’s hospital during what seemed to be rush hour for sporting injuries on a Saturday afternoon (I wrote a previous post about it here). All in all she received great care at no cost to us whatsoever. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the x-ray but I do have a much more interesting photo of the cast complete with artwork by her best friend.


Another person in our family had to have an x-ray last year. Ironman had a really bad fall off his mountain bike one Saturday which resulted in 7 hours being spent at the public hospital to have x-rays (which were inconclusive) and in the end a CT-scan. Thankfully nothing was broken but the fall was quite bad and he was on crutches for a few weeks, struggling to walk. This, however, didn’t stop him from still taking part in two (easy, he called it) stages of the four days of a mountain bike race in the south west he had planned to do with some mates. It did require one of his mates helping him onto the bike and giving him a little push-off (or hupstootjie as it’s called in Afrikaans) and again waiting at the finish line with the crutches. Needless to say I wasn’t there or I would have put a stop to it! We definitely didn’t need any more reasons to go for x-rays!


W is for Western Australia. It occupies the entire western third of and is the largest state in Australia, and the second largest national region in the world. It measures 1500 kilometres from west to east and 2400 kilometres from north to south and has a coastline of 20 781 kilometres. A large part of the state is arid desert and the population is concentrated in the south west. Below is a map of Australia to try and give some perspective on the size of the country (France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Ecuador would roughly fit into Western Australia).



Some of the different regions in Western Australia

We have visited quite a few places mostly along the coast of WA. This post is taking you on a (shortened) virtual road trip through the parts of WA we’ve been to. Some of the photos will be familiar as I’ve used them before. Starting in Perth we’re heading south west to the winery region around Margaret River. The area is also famous for its forests, surfing beaches and caves.

From there we head further south east to Denmark, Albany and Bremer Bay. Along the way we’re making a short detour via the Porongorup mountains and the Stirling Ranges.

From Bremer Bay we head further east along the coast to Esperance  – which is 800 kilometres from Perth via the most direct route – and past Esperance to Cape le Grande National Park, and also hopping over to Woody Island for a day trip. Woody Island is one of 105 islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago south of Esperance.

From Esperance we’ll head back towards Perth driving through some vastly beautiful wheat belt (farming) country past Wave Rock, stopping at a working farm to see a Kelpie (an Australian sheep dog) at work and detouring via Kalgoorlie – a gold mining town which is home to the Superpit – Australia’s largest open cut gold mine.

Back in Perth we’ll go to Rottnest Island (about 40 minutes away by ferry) for a day trip.

Then we’ll head north to the Coral coast, Ningaloo Reef and Coral Bay (about 1200 kilometres), stopping at the lookout to Shark Bay and Monkey Mia on the way. In Coral Bay we can snorkel and go on different glass bottom boat tours to see turtles and manta rays.

From Coral Bay we’ll head another 1200 kilometres away north east up to Broome in the Kimberley region, known for its beautiful contrasting colours and red (pindan) sand. In Broome we’ll swim at Cable Beach, do a sunset camel ride and take a helicopter trip up to Willie Creek Pearl Farm.

North of Broome and the rest of the Kimberley is one area (of WA) our family hasn’t explored yet and are planning to do as soon as we’re able to. From Broome our virtual road trip will head back to Perth which will be a two day trip of driving 12 hours each day. Towards the end of the first day we’ll pass Karijini National Park and the Hamersley Ranges, another spot to visit on a different trip. There are beautiful gorges and rock pools there.


Edge of the Hamersley Ranges, Karijini National Park, north west Australia

Back in Perth we’ll stop to visit a local beach, see the sights and sounds and go to the city.