Sunday, 11 February 2018

Quarry swimmin'

For the past few weeks I've had the pleasure of running with my friend Karen and her dog/s Rocksy and Skally - and of course my Rusty - to a local spot where we get to enjoy a swim in a quarry. The water is cool, clean and clear.

The first time I took Rusty there, she got into the water without too much enticement and she swam towards me. She didn't go too far from the bank but seemed very comfortable. She got in and out three times, taking short swims each time.

Her friend Rocksy is a very good swimmer and she goes out a good distance with Karen. Rocksy's hips have been troubling her. She loves to play with the visitors at Karen's place, who gladly throw ball for her. At about 12 years old, all the running and playing takes its toll. So the swimming is really good for her hips and back legs.

The second time we went, I took my mom and our friend along too. When my mom called Marianne earlier that afternoon to ask, "Do you want to come swim in the quarry?", there was initially silence on the other end. Marianne took a deep breath, banished thoughts of monsters-of-the-deep from her mind and was at my mom's house two hours later with her towel.

Mom and Marianne on the trail.
Rusty only got in twice for short swims. She was too busy looking for dassies in the surrounding rocky cliffs.

Mom and Marianne in the foreground. Karen and Rocksy making ripples in the background.
On Saturday evening we went out with Karen and Skally - young-and-playful imp she is. Rusty got into the water ahead of me and she had four swims with me - one of them a bit further out than usual. She swims beautifully! Skally isn't very keen on water so she didn't get in. We're hoping that she will in time.

It really is a treat to break our run, in the current hot-and-humid conditions, with a refreshing swim. The dogs are full of beans for the run home. While the weather is still hot and the water temperature is blissful, we'll keep swimming every week.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

I'm postponing Forest Run 2018 (but you can still come run with me on 19 May)

I have decided not to present Forest Run in May this year. As you know, in March last year I started a new company YOLO Colours. Our main product is the fabulous YOLO Compost Tumbler. The first few months were slow (as expected) and then it picked up after Decorex in August. I’m thankful that January has been very busy. I’m doing Homemakers Expo in late Feb and so things should go up another notch. Plus, I’m involved with project #2, which has a tight deadline.
I am already sleeping too little and I just can’t see my way to having a week to cut and mark trails before the event much less the many, many hours of organising, coordinating and admin ahead of the event.
By this time next year my business will be more established and, I hope, will free me up to play in the hills of the Vredefort Dome. I had all kinds of plans for this year, like a new shorter 8-10km route, but I’m just not getting around to it.
I’ve had five consecutive years of Forest Run and so this break is actually well timed.
Even though I won’t be presenting Forest Run on 19 May 2018 as planned, I would like to invite you instead to join me on a dirt-road run just outside of Parys town on this same day.
We’ll start with our Parys parkrun (5km) at 08h00 (I’m the Event Director here) and then we’ll drive to the airfield (5km outside of town), park there and then run what we call the ‘Vaal Eden Road loop’ (25km). OR, start running from parkrun (about 35km for the loop).
(You don’t have to do parkrun and you can start running from town or from the airfield. I’ll send out a map.)
No charge. No entries. No RSVP. Just read my instructions and show up.
I’ll post details here and on the Forest Run FB page and website.
Bring your own hydration pack and snacks. You can run at your own pace (route is easy to follow, terrain is uncomplicated and scenery is great). Your friends/partners who don’t run are welcome to join on bicycles.
I hope to enjoy your company on 19 May 2018.

Monday, 29 January 2018

The best tomatoes e.v.e.r.

I've gone quite minimalist with my garden in that I have three 1mx1m raised beds, a few plants in a small section and a strip along the back wall. I decided to primarily grow edibles in the boxes. For pretty there are some flowers, all of which have actually self seeded.

In my boxes I have tomatoes (all but one of the four plants must have self seeded from last year's attempts), parsley, mint, basil (growing crazy), two chilli plants and three brinjal plants.

Along the back wall I have five cherry tomato plants, one full-size tomato plant (gifted to me by a friend), some grasses and a standard iceberg rose.

On Sunday morning I spent some time staking my tomatoes and marvelling at how amazing they are looking. Strong, healthy and with an abundance of tomatoes on each plant - both the cherry tomatoes and the full size ones. I've never had much luck with full-size tomatoes - these are magnificent. I'm also quite surprised about the plants that just came up. They could be from my attempt last year at growing some of my old seeds for some heirloom varieties - I'm not quite sure what I have there.

I've done some veggie gardening in years past and cherry tomatoes always faired from ok to good. These... they're my best e.v.e.r.

I totally put it down to my compost from my YOLO Compost Tumblers. For the first time I have an abundance of nutrient-rich compost on hand and every time a shell of compost matures, I toss it into the beds.

Without a laboratory analysis I know that my YOLO compost is better than bought compost because it has so much more added to it than grass and leaves. All of my veggie cuttings and trimmings go into it as well as things like egg shells (calcium rich), coffee grounds (from Celliers), tea leaves (from me) and odd bits of fruit. It comes out dark and rich and, evidently, tomatoes love it.

Take a lookie...

The marigold self-seeded too. It is one plant that is COVERED in flowers - like I have never had before.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A beautiful tree identification app

Identifying things like birds, trees, plants and flowers has never been my strong point. I'm making an effort to improve my bird knowledge - my dad is a keen birder and my friend's 11-year old son is an avid spotter with 550 species on his list already! I love trees but I rarely know what they are.

A friend told me about a new smartphone app that helps you to identify trees. It is appropriately called 'TheTreeApp SA".
"There are full colour artworks of leaves, flowers and fruit, and black and white twig detail drawing, as well as in-depth textual data and specific distribution maps for each species. TheTreeApp has a superb Location function that in a split second reduces the 1 114 trees loaded, to the exact number that can be found at any selected spot in South Africa. This can be through specific map-spot selection, current location or by the name of any of the 1,400 Reserves/conserved areas that are mapped on the app. Included are 979 indigenous species and 135 aliens – mostly invasives."
The design, layout, drawings and images of this app look well thought out and have been created with people like me in mind - people who enjoy trees, are interested in them but who just don't have a clue.

My current phone is old and slow and barely handles making a phone call, much less running apps. When I replace it, this app will be on my list of useful apps to add.

TheTreeApp is available for R499.00 on The App Store for all Apple smart devices and on GooglePlay for Android devices. They have a website at and they're on Facebook ( and Twitter (@TheTreeApp)