(Black) key found for Blue Crane

Next to the Fish Eagle (high skrewl) and Burchell’s Coucal (water-from-bottle gurgle), my favourite bird call – as I sit here in my caravan on the edge of my patch of Overberg fynbos – is that of the Blue Crane.

“Sounds like somebody blowing through a Kreepy Krawly pipe,” said a friend as we drank a beer under my wobbly sail and watched a 12-strong formation of these beautiful creatures flying home towards Hermanus the other evening.

I thought that was a rather apt description of their haunting call. She is after all a most adroit writer and a master of descriptive verse.

Then, just a few minutes ago, while listening to that marvellous internet radio station Radio Paradise, I heard The Black Keys warble out Turn Blue.

Somehow, these boys have incorporated the call of South Africa’s Blue Crane into the background of their track. I muted Radio Paradise to listen to these graceful birds “grottle” over my caravan.

But the “grottling” was only to be heard on the radio. Weird.

The Black Keys had found the key of our Blue Crane in Turn Blue.

A true blue note.

Listen in… the Blue Cranes are in on this from the start but only really drop in loud and clear towards the end.


That is synth-cronicity in full flight, no?

I trust that this aroused you as much as it did me.




My ‘Phenomenal Artwork’ just got more phenomenal…


In a previous post on this blog I told of the conceptual photography artwork I wanted to create, illustrating the story of two young girls who lost their father six years ago.

Ruby and Sara are now 12 and 11 and they have travelled an unimaginably (to me) painful and tortuous path since Richard took his life. I won’t expand on that because two people much, much closer to him have told their personal stories in books and I will later direct you to places where you can find out more, if you so wish.

All I wanted to do is create a triptych of photographs that might illustrate, in simple terms and at least in the realm of my imagination, the spiritual journey Ruby and Sara have had to undertake to get to where they are now — the sweetest, most affectionate, openly love-expressing young children one could be privileged to meet.


Down at the Waterfront, the wheel turns… and turns…

Cape Town called. Again. As she does. DJ B McG’s 40th birthday gig (a la Track & Field nights of yore) upstairs at the Kimberley was majestic and the tunes laid down by the boys sublime. Tequila. Too much. Folk chick vibe? Admirable.

Two days later, after an almost suitable recovery period, I went down to salivate uncontrollably on the floor of the Ben Sherman shop. Their threads are simply non pareil. Trying not to file the image of that shirt I couldn’t afford in the filing cabinet at the back of my brain marked “Shirts For Which I Would Happily Sacrifice A Testicle But, Actually, I Still Require Both Of Them”, I sought respite among the all-consuming throng wandering around in a retail daze.

Bored, I snapped a picture of a seagull almost scoring a direct hit on the head of a stout German. And then I saw this.

The Wheel, Cape Town, 2011 Pic: Hatman Photography


The saving of Khayelitsha’s Warrior dog

It doesn’t say much for humankind when a stray dog is buried alive in the grounds of a school. And when this cruel act was carried out on the orders of the school’s principal, one wonders what message this sends to the children being educated under the supervision of that principal. Who then sacks the school cleaner who dared to alert an animal welfare organisation to the plight of the dog.

It does, however, say a lot of the compassion of Bukelwa Mbulawa, the humble cleaner and sole breadwinner of her family who is in sufficiently in contact with her conscience to blow the whistle on her heartless colleagues.

And it says a great deal about the good works of Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha that they are doing everything in their power to heal the crippled body and traumatised mind of Warrior. Hats off to Jane, Gemma, Daryl and all of the others at Mdzananda who perform miracles daily with limited equipment to save countless township dogs which don’t enjoy the comforts of your or my lucky Fido.

My friend Helen, who has volunteered to help Mdzananda, and I went out to Khayelitsha yesterday to give some assistance… and to check on the progress of Warrior, the brave dog which has thrown the spotlight on how animals are often treated in the hard environment of South Africa’s townships…

This is Warrior. She's now in very good hands... but she is in bad shape and has a long way to go. She barks in terror whenever a stranger approaches her cage...

Let's zoom in on the eye of a Warrior. I'm sure you will see the distrust, the pain, the fear of a dog which was buried alive. Simply because its presence annoyed a man in power, a man who is a role model for the children he is responsible for educating.

Warrior barked in terrible fear when I went close to her cage. Vet Gemma says she doesn’t trust males…

... but Helen, who has a beautiful way with dogs, had a chat and managed to calm her down.

Warrior is, of course, not alone. Countless dogs lose limbs after being knocked over by cars in the township. And this little guy is just one...

Geordie, a pointer-ridgeback cross, is another who was run over. He faces life on three legs but has a gentle temperament and loving nature.

Gemma tells me that is almost impossible to rehome dogs with just three legs. There is a stigma attached to owning dogs that don’t have the full complement of limbs.

Go on. Say it. "Aaaaah..." And, "ag shame!"

So, when Helen was done doing a full makeover of the clinic’s charity shop and I had held dogs firmly in place while Gemma treated their wounds, we went off to do a “mobile” at a squatter camp. There we helped with giving the community’s dogs their routine injections and rounding up those which are taken away in a cage-trailer for sterilisation…

Helen fell for this cutie-pup...


... while my job was to squirt two shots of deworming muti into the mouths of a legion of hounds.

All the while, we were watched intently by the children, happy that their pets were being kept healthy…

And I somehow knew that this little character would provide us with a comedy moment…

And he didn't disappoint!

This is how caring for the health of animals in townships looks…

And Helen and I can’t thank the team at Mdzananda enough for allowing us the opportunity to help in some small way… it was a humbling and rewarding experience.

They - and the animals they treat and save - need your support...

Please help our unsung heroes.








Some more pics today… in a SA+ way

Since so many of you liked the pictures I put on here of my Cape Town sojourn, here’s some more…

Fences, stairs and shadows


Helerassic Park

Man on a Manhole


Bumblebee, Vergelegen



The pub at The Kimberley was open...

... and I had a "Gem" of a lunchtime. All pics: Hatman Photography

When I arrived at the Kimberley, a public hostelry I far too infrequently visit, I raised my first pint to a late friend who loved the personality of the place. And drank there on numerous occasions. A sudden gust of wind blew through the pub door, knocking my hat off.

Cheers, Richard.

Some Pictures every so often… in a SA+ way

As wondrous as Stanford is, stealing lemons from the neighbours and flogging them down the Saturday Morning Market doth not many boxes of Ouma’s Breakfast Rusks buy. So I went to Cape Town to reintroduce my being to work. W.O.R.K. Heavens to Betsy! My village mellow was well and truly destroyed. But it did give me the chance, inbetween nocturnal enslavement at The Argus and shards of sleep, to photograph things other than sheep, rivers, mountains, birds, butterflies, children running barefoot and freely in paradise and the most beautiful woman in the village. You might want to check these out…

I hear Seth Rotherham has a pair on order. But Aubrey got there first.

Love the dresses, love the hairbunches, love the little girl...

There was this incredible woman on the train. She looked like a prima ballerina who had fallen on hard times. I thought her shoe and rose worked well together...

There was music in the air...

Sometimes you only have to look up...

My friend Helen has this bunny in the window...

Back to the train... and the best of British.

I wonder where they took their kitten for the day?

Sleep Purple

Another railway sleeper...

I followed Cape Town's yellow tile road to the Open Book Festival...

... and, on the way, I thought this late-afternoon sliver of light quite poetic...

... until my ears were caressed by the exquisite prose of the mercurially wordful Isobel Dixon.

After all that, light relief...

So it is. So it is. Pics: Hatman Photography

I’m so looking forward to delivery of the redesigned “SA-positive blog”. Then I can do this picture thing much more effectively for you. Until then…

Wayne Rooney is caught smoking and gets six of the best from the Daily Nail!

Smoking gets a bad press. England footballer Wayne Rooney gets a bad press. Put the two together and what do you get? You get the sickeningly sanctimonious London Daily Mail, desperate to flog more papers, frothing righteously around its grubby mouth.

Somebody saw Rooney smoking and, allegedly, urinating in public while on a night out with wife Coleen McLaughlin and, bang, our whole world has come crashing down around us. Never mind oil spills, earthquakes, floods and general pestilence around the world, a Manchester United striker’s slightly indecorous behaviour is the headline act.

“While the rest drank £250 bottles of vodka, Rooney disappeared out of a back door with some of his friends to smoke rolled-up cigarettes [sounds like a lekker doob to me – FH] in the street. Hardly the way a Premier League player who will shortly become United’s highest earner on £130,000 a week should be preparing for the new season. He was even pictured relieving himself against a wall behind a bottle bank when, one would hope, his aim was considerably better than in South Africa where he failed to score a single goal.” huffs and puffs the Daily Mail.

I’m a Liverpool supporter and therefore not Rooney’s greatest fan but I’m fast warming to him. Despite the best efforts of the hypocritical and morally bankrupt British press and his hardcore coaches, Capello and Ferguson, the lad keeps showing us he’s human. Nice.

So he took a swazz in the street. No problemo. We South Africans do that all the time. What, he’s smoked a few fags during the off-season? So what? The legendary French fullback Serge Blanco got through 30 Gitanes a day and he out-ran everybody in the international rugby arena. Legend has it old Serge used to enjoy a good gasper at half-time.

And here’s further proof that “Roo” is in good company…

Dimitar Berbatov may be a completely crap footballer but he looked pretty cool in that, didn’t he. Like a modern-day James Dean. OK. So the video ran out of footballing Italians and South Americans, virtually brought up to smoke, to show and had to fill in with various coaches and old Maradona’s love for a good cigar… but it makes its point. Some footballers smoke.

Big deal. I have a friend who insists on smoking while doing yoga. She calls it “smoga”. I got roped into a five-a-side on Stanford’s village green recently and enjoyed a puff out on the left wing. “Smoccer.” Who says playing sport shouldn’t be fun?

But the Daily Mail got itself into a right tizz over a normal oke doing what comes normally to an oke. Like losing his rag at the England fans who booed his team for playing like a bunch of wet lettuces during the 2010 World Cup (remember that video I gave you here).

Leave the oke alone. He might be just a Manchester United footballer… but he also has a right to live.

* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!

This World Cup has absolutely no chance of winning me over, says Helen Walne

My dear Hatpeople, may I have the privilege of introducing you to writer Helen Walne. I am even more of  a fan of Helen’s left-field writing style than I am of Simphiwe Tshabalala’s left-wing artistry. And that’s saying a lot. Here, in a guest post for fredhatman.co.za, Helen insists that, regardless of how beautiful our World Cup might become, she is to remain unmoved. Please stop blowing your vuvuzelas for a minute and enjoy this…

Two weeks into this World Cup and I am proud to announce that I haven’t fallen for it. Amid the vuvuzelas, the soccer pizzas, the side-mirror willy warmers and the flags, I have remained as unmoved as a parliamentarian with a mandatory gym contract, as a 4X4 enthusiast at an instant lawn demonstration or as Posh Spice at a laughing yoga convention. You get the picture.

Indeed, being unaffected by hype has always been one of my more admirable qualities. When everyone at school huddled on the steps watching their slinkies coil and uncoil their way down to the bottom field, I bit into my egg sandwich and admired my collection of eucalyptus leaves. When the other kids dashed into a flutter of flying ants, squealing and chewing, declaring that they tasted like peanut butter, I went inside and drew pictures of dwarves. And when Knight Rider came to the Southgate Shopping Centre to sign autographs next to the Biltong Den, I refused to go.

So when it comes to resisting a silly ball game, it’s a piece of cake. Besides, I haven’t been interested in soccer since Dean de Beer played goalie for the under-15 Maritzburg Lions. He wasn’t the sparkiest boy on the bus, but he had a nice mole on his cheek. Anyway, according to the wisdom of Colour Me Beautiful, I’m a summer and look bad in yellow – like a jaundiced custard slice, or Homer Simpson after too much vindaloo. And I refuse to be brainwashed by advertising.

Besides tampons, cable ties and haemorroid cream, I don’t think there’s a single item that hasn’t been given a World Cup spin. From crisps and koejawels to soap and sosaties, the advertising Beelzebubs have positively dived, sprung, vaulted and jumped on the bandwagon. Last week, even our work canteen was flogging a Wayne Rooney chicken-something, and I’m almost sure our local tearoom is selling Bafana nasal sprays.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if, over the course of the past year, we haven’t been subjected to subliminal World Cup advertising. Maybe that nice couple with the Bible who came round last week were actually secret soccer agents, burning messages into my brain with their eyes: Thou shalt wear yellow. Thou shalt paarp those plastic trumpets. Thou shalt bow down before the beautiful game. And perhaps the bitterness of the soup I ate last night was not due to a batch of dodgy lentils, but a clutch of evil Fifafia pellets designed to turn me into a polyester-wearing freak. And right now, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that with every flap of their wings, the clutch of hadedas clattering overhead is disseminating subliminal pay-off lines: You will support Bafana. You will develop an interest in hamstring injuries. You will learn the names of all the players.

Pity they’re wasting their time over my house. I’m as immune as a turnip, as a Cape Town waitress is to the outside section of a restaurant or as a taxi driver is to solid lines. You get the picture.

"I have resisted the drama of the World Cup and continue to take the Drogbas for a walk in the park"

Nay, my dear readers, while the rest of the country are waving flags and swopping vuvu viruses, for me it is business as usual. Untouched by the hype, resilient to all forms of brainwashing, I will continue to go about my days with the composure of a Cumbrian tobacconist. I will take the Drogbas for walks in the neighbourhood, ignoring Joey’s penchant for peeing against every Lampard he can find. I might try my hand at baking again: rock buns, Bafana bread, scones and chocolate Rooneys.

On weekends, I will not be at the Beckham call of big-screen games and badly dressed commentators Blattering on about balls and bicycle kicks. Instead, I will go for Fabio walks in the forest, and later perhaps will throw some Coles on the braai and tuck into hunks of free-range Lahm.

At night, I will not be hanging with the Pepes at fan parks, throwing precious Silva at the bar for warm American beer in unmarked packaging. Instead, I will make myself a nice cup of warm Kaka, put on some soothing Capello, snuggle up in my Thierry cloth robe and dive into a good book. And on the days when our team takes to the field, I will take advantage of the empty shopping malls, cruising electronic shops for all manner of Dudas and claiming a Booth with ocean views for a spot of sushi and a glass of French Pienaar.

See, my little soccer suckers, how easy it is to escape being plunged into a Dunga of football delirium? Witness how simple it is to avoid going Gaxa over a silly game? Say thank you and Siyabonga for presenting an alternative way to surviving the next 30-odd days. It’s as simple as a tackle on a wounded midfielder, as a pass right in front of goals or as a header into the top left-hand corner. You get the picture.

Mmmmm, I don’t feel very well. I think I’m coming down with something. Something yellow and weirdly contagious. And since our Bafana boys bowed out so bravely against the French the other night, my condition is only deteriorating.

Viva, Bafana, Viva!

* This article, one of Helen Walne’s excellent series of Human League columns, was first published in the Cape Argus. Helen’s writing has been published all over the show and she is currently writing her first book.

This is a blogpost about Bella, the Forrest Gump of the animal world

I’ve always said that I would blog about anything as long as it didn’t involve cute kids or pets. Too obvious. Too easy. OK, so forget that… and meet Bella…

Bella... in classic pose. You should see what her tongue has to do to make way for three tennis balls in her gob

Right. What comes to mind? “The lights are on but no one’s at home”? “Not the sharpest tool in the shed”? It’s OK. You’re spot-on.

I chose Bella (or “Golden Glow” as she was known 12 years ago because of the shade of nail polish painted on to her claws to differentiate her from the other eight of the cutest Lab puppies you ever did see) because of the way she looked at me. She was trying to make a connection of sorts. She seemed to be saying… “You are quite smartly dressed. You look fairly responsible. You’ve probably got a good job. Take me. I fancy some top-quality grub and a swimming pool in the back garden and you look the type who could give me both.”

I couldn’t argue with that. I paid my money and put her in a box on the passenger seat. She squealed and cried and yelped all the way home. She had clearly been possessed by a premonition of what was to come. But, at first, all was well. She joined another new arrival, Benson the swarthy-black Staffie, at Coz Cottage and, indeed, was well fed and watered, walked and swum. In fact, the “cuddle puddle” at the back of my Victorian cottage was claimed as her own by Bella and I often had to drag her out so that I could swim on a hot day.

I got married and life got even better for Bel. We moved to a bigger house with a far bigger swimming pool. She discovered a party trick. She would slide into the pool at the deep end, barely making a splash, and dive to the bottom – at least 2 metres below the surface – locate her ball and bring it triumphantly to the top. Our guests would marvel at this feat, especially as it was produced by a dog so somnambulant that she would sleep in the middle of the lawn through the most electric and deafening of Durban thunderstorms.

All three dogs – Jo and I had added the feistiest of Jack Russells to the mix – loved having the ball thrown for them. I tried to ensure that all three had a fair crack at getting to the ball first. But Trouncer, the Jack Russell and the most competitive dog I have known, invariably won the race. Bensie would feign disinterest and find a spot under a tree to chill and look disarmingly handsome.

Bella would compete in the nicest, politest way, never once being tempted to attack the pesky little terrier which continually ran away with her ball. That’s how she was. And is. The sweetest, gentlest, most patient dog. My late mum’s favourite dog.

Then  Jo and I got divorced. I was forced to close down my arts and entertainment free sheet paper. My life spiralled. It was automatic that I should be given custody of the dogs. I loved them. I flew to Cape Town to start a new life, all three dogs panting in anxiety in the hold beneath me. It was very cavalier of me. Things didn’t work as planned and I was forced into finding good homes for the two big dogs. It was best for them, traumatising for me.

Dear old Bel fell with her great, blonde, furry bum firmly in the butter. Friends Helen Walne and Brandon McGugan took pity on her (and me) and offered to take her on. Brave. She was now 10 years old and, typical of Labradors, was being slowed down by her wonky hindquarters. Bella had always been ungainly, clumsy… and permanently itchy. She scratched, she rubbed herself against walls. Large clumps of fur would fall from her flanks. Put kindly, she was no contender for Crufts Dog of the Year.

But Helen and Brandon took excellent care of the old girl, kept her active… and gave her a new lease on life. She responded with gusto. And, as her physical facilities, such as they were, slowed to a pace at which the nicknames of “Heffalump” and “Pachyderm” were fondly delivered, she decided to fight back. In her quiet yet determined, even pugnacious, way.

She found an excellent china in Joey, Helen and Brandon’s athletic and razor-sharp Africanus. Balls were thrown in the park each evening, Joey greyhounding after them with almost effortless efficiency, The Pachyderm sloping in a very distant second.

Ag shame. But our girl felt no shame, nor displayed it. She simply continued to enjoy every second of her new lease on life.

Joey and Bel

Last Sunday, perhaps the hottest day of the year in Cape Town, Helen and a friend took the dogs for a walk in shady Newlands Forest. It was inevitable that Bella would find water. And when she did, the old Pachyderm pointed herself towards it and galloped like a pensioned-off carthorse. She had to negotiate a steep descent to get her swim. Fail. She slipped and tumbled like a ball of granite down a mountainside. a leg was ensnared in a root and she hung there in pain until Helen could find help to have her removed and carted off to the 24-hour animal hospital.

It didn’t look good. In fact, it looked terrible. A hip had been dislocated and, despite not complaining at all, Bel was clearly in pain. An operation would carry no certainty of success and would be expensive. Many vets would have urged that the old girl, at her age and in her condition, be “put down”.

But Rooies Dorland of Twin Oaks Veterinary Clinic in Claremont had previous experience of Bella’s physical woes. And knew that there was something special about this old Labby, her steely determination to continue living. Rooies had already removed tumours from Bella’s belly and knew that she had somehow survived the malignant cells that had threatened to eat her. Cancer had not killed her, so why should a dislocated leg?

After a discussion with surgeon Leone de Klerk, a decision was made to operate. It was highly unlikely that Bella’s hip bone, once returned to its socket, would remain there. The bone would be cut, fixed next to the socket and allowed to slowly knit. Surgery would take place this morning.

But the Old Pachyderm had other ideas. Last night, while the old girl lay untidily in her basket, Helen awoke to hear her give out a little yelp of pain. She checked on her. Bella seemed OK.

This morning, while preparing to go to Twin Oaks for the big op, Bella seemed to be able to put pressure on her dodgy leg. Once our Bel was presented to the vets, both Rooies and Leone were amazed. They had never experienced anything like this in their combined 55 years of treating animals. Bella had somehow popped her hip bone back into its socket!

The operation cancelled, Helen and Brandon were told to allow Bella to rest for six weeks and that she should be given only “light exercise”.

She is back home and looking rather pleased with herself. Everybody is gobsmacked by her will to live. By her bloodyminded refusal to let a few setbacks drag her down.

I am so proud of The Pachyderm, my Heffalump, the dog which refuses to roll over and die. Bel is an inspiration to us all. I suspect she will continue for some time to determinedly chase that ball. And it won’t really matter all that much to her if she doesn’t get to it first.

It appears that, for Bel, it’s the chase that really matters.

"Excuse me Joey, that's my ball!"

The Heart & Sole Tour – The Last Post: Never mind the bollards!

Only now am I able to deliver the Last Post on The Heart and Sole Tour saga.

And it is delivered in pretty much the same key as Peter Sellers used to such diabolical effect in the opening scenes of The Party.

I hope that you, dear Hatpeople, will find this as funny. But I doubt it.

Because it’s not. It has taken me damn nigh a week to even begin to drain the porridge from my stultified brain and start to order some thought process about the rather epic two-month unicycle ride from Durban to Cape Town, which ended in dramatic fashion at The V&A Waterfront last Friday.

In the case of our phenomenally gutsy unicyclist, Geoff Brink, it was utter physical exhaustion which enveloped him once the adrenaline began to ebb from his body at the end of his record 2,000km one-wheeled feat. But it was the mental pressure required of us to focus on finishing our cavalier mission, amid some distracting sideshows, which led to us spectacularly falling out at the finish line.

Kim, Geoff's fiancee, joins the Heart and Sole Tour at Peregrine's Farm Stall near Grabouw on the penultimate day of the crazy ride

And only now can this story be told.

Please know that we were always mindful of the fact that the Heart and Sole Tour was about raising awareness of the awful devastation that landmines continue to wreak on the lives of innocent civilians around the world. And, of course, it should always have been about that alone. But Geoff Brink and I are only human. And very fallible humans at that. So it was that, early in the tour, when pressure was brought to bear on us from back home, that the ugly spectre of the male ego leapt to the fore. The jostling for position in the Heart & Sole roadside pod of the alpha male instinct began to permeate the high-spirited vibe of our beautiful roadtrip.

Don’t get me wrong. There were bucketfuls of banter, a chuckling stream of laughs and a camaraderie that one comes to expect of two friends combining to achieve something both mad and magnificent. In fact, many of you might question whether the flipside of our tour should be told at all. The Heart & Sole Tour undoubtedly achieved its objective and what purpose is there in hanging out the stinky unwashed laundry for all to sniff at? What goes on tour stays on tour and all that crap.

Geoff "Heartman" Brink negotiates the downhill treachery of Sir Lowry's Pass. A moment of respectfulness, please!

I’ll answer that. I have mulled over this for nearly a week. I am fascinated by the human condition. That is why I chose journalism as a career. I am equally captivated by the human spirit. And this piece of introspection – should that be “retrospection”? – is about wanting to understand how Geoff and I managed to complete our trip despite our differences as much as because of the unity we displayed when it really mattered.

I have talked with people about this since I emerged blinking into the bright Cape Town sunlight from the highly buffered bubble that was our “hard shoulder crawl” across our great country. Some have drawn comparisons with “The Long Way Down”, Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s motorcycle jaunt from Britain through Europe and down to the foot of Africa.

I must confess that I have yet to watch the whole movie. Geoff and I began to watch it as an entertaining aside to our minimal preparation for the Heart and Sole Tour but, dismayed by the showiness, grandstanding and, quite frankly, over-indulgence displayed over what amounted to a pretty easy ride, fell asleep.

I don’t see the similarities. Yes, Geoff’s fiancee, Kim Millar joined us towards the end of our ride, a development that, for me, was both unexpected and temporarily gripped me with trepidation… but, such was my determined hyperfocus on getting our unicyclist safely to the Mother City that her presence in the back-up truck proved to matter not a jot. And I know that Geoff was greatly motivated by his sweetheart to bravely finish what he had started.

Mmmm. "Cape Town, 40km"? Take that!

What caused our “Skirmish at The Clock Tower” was the result of two very tired minds and one exhausted body melting down after 58 days of intense concentration and unbelievable strain. So what happened, you may ask? OK. Fair question. But I’m not saying. I have too much respect for what Geoff achieved and, yes, for what we as a team did for people who deserve a better life than to tarnish in detail the magnificent outcome of the Heart and Sole Tour.

Never mind the bollards which prohibited myself and the back-up truck from following our unicyclist – and our final-day amaonetya.co.za escort of unicyclists Alan van Heerden and Johnny Cronje down to the Clock Tower. After watching Geoff’s back for 58 days and nigh on 2,000km, a row of concrete bollards stopped me from seeing the boys home. Emotions spilled over. There were harsh words. It was unsavoury. It was, after what we had been through, almost inevitable. It happened. It is over. It’s gone. Gone, gone, gone. No regrets. We move on. We have learned lessons.

Johnny (left) and Alan (right) of amaonetya.co.za and OddWheel Unicycles escort Geoff into Cape Town and safely down to the V & A Waterfront. Awesomeness, guys!

Before we set out on December 28, 2009 on a mission which many called impossible, both Geoff and I knew that there would be challenges for which we could not prepare, that lessons would be taught that might make better people of us. And so it proved. And I am massively thankful for this gift. I remain privileged to have had the experience of supporting Geoff Brink on his incredible journey.

Crikey, what a ripper, Nige! You are a total mensch.

All pix (apart from this one): Hatman

* I will be working with Kai von Pannier of The Sole of Africa to draw up a full list of individuals, companies and establishments which should be acknowledged for the part they played in helping The Heart and Sole Tour to achieve its objective.

In the meantime, I would like to thank these people for the enormous help – and inspiration – they gave Geoff and I: John Fogarty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kim Millar, Olivia “OJ” Symcox, Rox-ann Govender, Kai and Cindy von Pannier, Mike Kendrick, Toni Rowland, Dilana, Sir Richard Branson, John L. Evans, Alan van Heerden, Johnny Cronje, Sharon Heger Basel, Steve Connor, Jimmy Reynolds, Andre Cronje, Rob Gower, Rich and Sarah McLennan, Neil and Hayley Millar, Kathy Reay, Dennis Theron, Pierre and Elise Brink, Jonny and Jane Roberts, Keith Chapman, Vaughan Raw, Warren Bartram, Donatella Pontesilli, Doc and Maggie Mears, Mama Cordelia, Martin Schroder, Toni Brodelle, Emily Shayler, Paul Chew, Janet Marshall, Marc Forrest, Mike Adams, Mandy Morgan, Fred and Yolandi Roed, Mike Perk, Clayton and Paula Whitaker, Father Matthias, Mama Zondeka, Nic Nel, Marcelle Delew-Kappen, Andreas Kappen, Brett Horner, Julie Davies, Seth Rotherham, Mike Kuttner, Jacqui Daniels, Riaan Manser, Bob Skinstad, Claire Alexander, Dave Duarte, Chris Rawlinson, Mike Saxby, Ken Taytasac, Penny Sandham, Carol-Anne Stephenson, Craig Bettridge, Vicky Nardell, Annette Oberholster, Helen Walne, Brandon McGugan, Martina Gilli, Michelle Solomon, Krista (New York), Neal Collins, Chris Whitfield, Lesley Byram, Marilyn Bernard, Wendy Landau, Dhashen Moodley. If anybody feels left out, it’s because you will be thanked in the full list to appear on both The Sole Of Africa website and this blog.

* One last thing. Both Geoff and I exhausted our savings on The Heart & Sole Tour. He’s a freelance photographer and a very good one at that. We both need to find paid work, he to finance his forthcoming wedding, I to pay the rent for a ramshackle dwelling down near the river. Should you have some paid work to slide our way, that would be completely cool. Ta!