I’ve been asked to pay the hosting fees to renew the fredhatman.co.za blog with Hetzner, who have looked after me extremely well for the first year of my blogging life.
Wowness. A whole year! Now, usually at this point, people like to look back and review the past year, pinpointing their highs and lows and generally boring me to within an inch of my life with what has gone before.
I’m not a fan of looking back. Give me today. Carpe diem. And then let’s grab hold of the future. So, what does the future hold for your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog? You’ve got me there, Hatpeople. You don’t mind me calling you Hatpeople, do you? Good.
Just as I don’t analyse the past, so I don’t like to try to prescribe the future. That’s never worked for me. Visualise a best-case scenario, yes, make decisions around it, no. What will happen will happen. What’s the point of planning for the unknown? “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” said John Lennon. He was sharp, was John. So all I can say is, that for as long as I write this blog, its central theme will be one that is “SA-positive”.
It’s the way I’m wired. To be positive about my beloved country. South Africa. It’s purely instinctive, my great love affair and affinity with my country. And I instinctively write with passion about the things that make South Africa the best country in the world in which to live.
Wave the flag, wave the flag...
So, if it’s all the same to you, that is how we will continue on this blog. What I am doing, however, is bringing a bit of structure (did I hear cheering at the back?) to how I deliver to you my blogposts. Yes. I need to do that.
It’s been a bit all over the place, hasn’t it? Loyal followers of fredhatman.co.za (and I thank both of you for lasting a full year) have never know when to expect to find some freshly-laid waffle to read. There have been days I have kept you waiting. There have been days, especially during this post-World Cup cold turkey slump, when I gave you diddly-squat. I’m sorry. No, really. I am.
So, today’s previous post will give you a hint of what you can expect to find on any weekday. First up, in the morning, a fascinating fact about South Africa, delivered with a Hatmanesque twist. You’ve told me you like it. So I’m sticking with it. This start-your-day factoid is called “Know The Beloved Country”.
Then, later in the day, you’ll be getting something – it could be anything – which generally will show off our uniquely beautiful and intriguing country in an “SA-positive” light. You know where to go to read the bad news. And you know to come here for the good stuff.
Cool. You’ll get that before home-time. Unless, of course, you’re skiving off early for a bit of how’s-your-daddy. And that’s fine by me. You’re probably over 16. You have choices. Far be it for me to judge. Good golly, no.
OK. So you should, by now, know that not only am I lucky enough to live in South Africa, I’m seriously blessed to live in a particularly gorgeous part of it. Stanford. Third best-preserved Victorian village in the Western Cape. In the Overberg region. Twenty-three kilometres on the R43 beyond Hermanus going towards Gansbaai, to be precise.
Yes, we’re sandwiched between South Africa’s “whale-watching capital” and our “shark cage-diving hotspot”. Lucky fish. That’s us. It’s a largely undiscovered rural gem, is Stanford. And a village that has a vibe that is impossible to describe. “Hugely spiritual” will have to do.
Stanford: a spiritual experience
I’m going to be doing some writing about what it’s like to live here in Stanford. The amazing people it continues to attract. The strange goings-on. The headless horse which gallops through the roads of Die Skema by night. The seven leylines which run across our land. The annual far-too-hotly-contested giant pumpkin-growing competition. Weird stuff.
And I’ll also be updating you on the exciting campaign to position Stanford as the gateway to the fast-developing biosphere that is blossoming around the Agulhas National Park, right here on our doorstep. How we are growing towards becoming a hugely attractive nature-based tourism destination. But more, much more, on that later.
You might remember The Heart and Sole Tour, a crazy 2,000km unicycle jaunt from Durban to Cape Town earlier this year? Well, there is to be another unicycle marathon starting in November… and this time three unicyclist friends of mine will ride off-road (almost all the way) from Umhlanga lighthouse to Mouille Point lighthouse to raise awareness of a an excellent cause that is close to all of our hearts.
This mammoth undertaking is still in the planning stages but I will be writing a great deal about this as it unfolds. Prepare yourself. It’s going to be another rollercoaster adventure, babies.
What else? Oh, ja. You’ll want to read something after you’ve got home. Once you’ve put the TV to bed and before you slump on to the sofa to watch the children. Something like that. So I’ll be posting a wee taster about how it feels to me to spend another day in paradise. A rumination about life in a small country village in South Africa. Stanford. I might call it “By A Country Smile”. We’ll know by tonight.
And, if you’re really unlucky, I might start posting reports of my “Weekends with The Beast”, adventures down the dirt roads which lead in every direction out of Stanford and into the magnificent Overberg. But that’s only if you dare to visit me on a Monday…
How beautiful is The Beast?
* If you wish to receive updates of all of my blogposts, please join the Fred Hatman group on facebook or follow fredhatman on Twitter. Should you want to be updated only on Stanford-related posts, join the Stanford Alive! group on facebook. For updates on posts about the “mammoth off-road unicycle ride”, join The CounterBalance Project facebook group. Whatever you do, stay SA-positive!
Slowly, slowly, the mystiqueness that surrounds The Bushguy is unravelling.
I’ve told you in previous instalments of The Bush Palace Chronicles about our bush-dwelling recluse who shies away from people and their cluttered, noisy lives and chooses to live quietly in a three-walled cabin deep in the coastal vegetation behind the Bush Palace.
To refresh your memories, I could add that he only ever wears a pair of navy blue shorts and shuns a shirt and shoes, even in the most adverse weather conditions. Well, as adverse as the weather gets in our sub-tropical paradise of Umdloti.
I bumped into The Film Director, the cool guy who lives in a cottage immediately behind the Bush Palace, at the foot of the steps leading up to our jungle hideaway. He had been surfing and was chilling on the steps with a Castle Milk Stout, apparently still mesmerised by the waves he had caught. Ever the nosey journo-blogger, I probed for info about our Bushguy.
TFD (the Film Director) confided that the only time he had seen Bushguy’s rustic lodgings was when he heard a loud crash one afternoon and went to investigate. “I called out into the dense bush to ask if he was OK and he said he was. Apparently, he had a fourth wall on his log cabin which operated on a pulley system so that it could be lowered on very hot days and then raised when it rained and got chilly.
“What had happened was the pulley system had rusted and that afternoon the whole contraption broke and the fourth wall collapsed,” said TFD. “He’s never bothered to have it fixed so he lives and sleeps with one side of his cabin totally open to the elements, not to mention snakes, vervet monkeys and all the creepy-crawlies that lives in our bush.”
I love this. I don’t know about you, dear Hatpeople, but Bushguy deeply fascinates me. Not least because I can see the appeal in the lifestyle he has chosen. It’s natural. It’s wild. It’s, yes, deeply spiritual.
But it got better at the weekend. On Sunday, the hottest day we’ve had in a while, I strolled along North Beach – still unfamiliar to me – looking for a gap in the rocks where I could swim. Bushguy’s coming towards me with two of his dogs and a piece of wooden panel under his arm. He recognised me and gave me that haute enigmatique smile. After he had shown me a spot in the ocean, clear of reef, where I could swim, I pointed to his piece of wood and asked him if he had been bodyboarding.
“No, skimboarding,” our man of few words murmured. “I made this out of something I found. It works really well. Want to see?” He ran off towards the waves and I got my camera out just in time to record this…
Bushguy's wooden panel from somebody's former wardrobe works a treat as he skims impressively into the ocean...
... and he's engulfed by the foamy stuff as his skimboard ride comes to an end...
... and, without so much as a 'how's your father', Bushguy lopes off along the beach back to his safe haven in the bush Pix: Hatman
Got to love Bushguy! Enigmatique or what? More on him and his life in the wild as it all unfolds…
We at Hatman Mansions are huge fans of extreme sports. Especially extreme cooking. Why, you should see the stuff that gets served up in the banquet hall of an evening. But I’m not here this evening to make you sick to the stomach. I’m here to make you forget that you have a stomach.
Which is what will happen when you see what Dean Potter does. Dean does freebasing, something that the Hatman Mansions people, as liberal as we are, usually draw the line at.
But this is different. Dean, bored with just climbing up some of the highest mountains in the world, and then base-jumping off them, free-soloing, highlining, baselining and just about anything else utterly nutty that one can do up at a height we normally only frequent in an aeroplane, has found a new rush.
Dean Potter drops in on some startled deer who were pretty much just minding their own business
Freebase climbing. What’s that? Well, I have a video full of gobsmackingness to show you just now… but it’s climbing up the most difficult side of the Eiger with only his fingers, toes and a 6lb parachute. And then falling/jumping off. Awesomeness overload. In fact, it’s even more than that. It’s spiritual. Please notice how Dean stops to meditate before falling 9,000 feet in about three minutes.
Listen to what he says between sublime acts of derring-do. He talks of how he used to associate falling with death but now it’s not about dying but flying. You sense his kinship with the cliffs, the rock-faces, that he drags himself up with just his fingers and toes. And then the adrenaline which does indeed freeline throughout his body while falling and flying thousands of feet through thin blue air. This is a seriously spiritual vibe Dean’s got going here, bru.
Come, let’s plug into that vibe…
Total radicalness or what? I’m not sure he would have the guts to conquer one of our Hatman Mansions dinners but, still, I’m quite impressed. I had such an attack of vertigo while watching Dean chuck himself off the Eiger that I had to sit on the floor for a while. But, all in all, that was nice work up there, Dean (read more about the great man here). Cool bits of soundtrack too.
So, tomorrow I’m tagging along for the last-ever construction tour of Durban’s new World Cup 2010 stadium. I’m hoping to get on that funicular which rolls up one side of the magnificent arch and leaves you standing 106 metres above the freshly-laid pitch. I’ll think of Dean Potter while I’m up there. So if you see a body freebaselining or whatever it is off the arch, you must know that Dean inspired me to get over my fear of heights. I just hope somebody will have a video camera to record it all. And that I remember how to open my ‘chute.