Friday, 31 December 2010

The book thing

With moving home this past week I've given a lot of thought to books and stuff in general.

On the whole, I don't have a lot of stuff. I don't hoard; I delight in trashing (or passing on) stuff I don't use, keeping only things I use with a degree of regularity. But, when you're packing and moving boxes, it does seem like a lot of stuff! Then again... my hairdresser said that he recently helped a friend to move - she had over 300 packing boxes, 36 of which were shoes! I've got 18 boxes (small to medium in size) plus some race crates.

My mom helped me with some packing during the week and she commented on my abundance of extension cords, plug adaptors (multiple slots) and two-prong plug adaptors (at least one or two for every adaptor row). At my mom's place, plugs have always been an issue. No matter how many my mom bought, I was always moving two-prong adaptors around everytime I wanted to plug something in; and then there wouldn't be enough sockets for regular plugs and then the cords wouldn't reach... Ja, how we grow up affects us later ;)

The book thing has really been on my mind too because I think it is silly; and yet I can't part with my books. My collection of mountaineering, polar exploration, trail running, expedition and adventure travel-type books is pretty cool and I've been buying them for over a decade. I have very few fiction books as I read them and pass on, not caring to keep them. But my adventure books...

Now, the strange thing is that I don't like to lend them out because inevitably they do not get returned - so I'm not sharing them. And, I rarely read them again (although there are a number I'd like to read again - it has been years since I read those tales of adventure). Yet, I don't want to let go. An even funnier view is that, with the books currently in boxes in storage, I don't miss them because I know where they are - and they're still mine. I find this really silly because I'm generally not sentimental - I toss out race medals and trophies and gifts that I don't use. But these books...

In discussing this with an avid-reader friend, he reasoned, "But, they're your friends". And he's right.

I've crossed the Antarctic with Ran and Mike; travelled to the North Pole with Pen and David; circumnavigated the Artic with Mike; climbed mountains (and have fallen off them) with Jon, Steven, Joe and others; gone back to the age of exploration with Cook, Nansen, Scott, Shackleton, Burton, Darwin... Yes, we've been through some gruelling adventures together.

That the people in these books are my friends and companions makes the most sense to explain my attachment to these adventure-genre books, especially as I'm able to discard with ease and detatch myself from so many other things. Nonetheless, I think it is silly.

Would an iPad remedy my desire to free myself of the material tie-downs? Mmmm... not sure. Fiction, fine. Non-fiction... I'll think about it. For now, I prefer my 'friends' to be tangible paper and ink.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Blood blog

Over the past month or so I have been encouraging people to donate blood in December. It's a holiday month fraught with car accidents and blood supplies, understandably, dwindle.

18-months ago I made an effort to become a regular donor again, after a few (too many) years where I didn't donate. I have maintained my regular donor status (at least three donations each year) and will continue to do so.

This morning Sarah joined me for her first donation. Our local Bruma SANBS clinic was busy (yay!). Two dudes donated at the same time as us - the one making his second donation and the other, his fourth. I've sent them pics of me, Sarah and the other dudes for their wall ;)

I've also received photos from Darrell (a regular donor for many years) and Garth.

There's loads of space on this blog so make a plan, between now and year-end, to donate. And, remember that your intention should not be once-off but to become a regular donor (this is important because all blood components are used from regular donors).

Darrell had a 'family bleed' on Thursday in Port Elizabeth.
He was accompanied by wife Evie and son Greg.

Me. I think this is my 22nd donation. I'll hit 25 next year ;)

Garth Flores in the Southern Cape.

Sarah joins the blood donor family - her first donation.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

After the sand

Flew in from Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge early Friday morning - only made it through one movie and I then slept about 5 hours! Completely comatose. It seems crazy considering that ADAC is a staged race where we generally get enough sleep.

Always nice to be home; but within hours of getting on the plane to return home my mind is working on ways to get my butt on another plane. This travel and racing bug is a nasty itch that I've had for almost a decade. Trips don't scratch the itch; they make it flare up even more! Post-race blues don't help either. I suffer from them after races, waiting for them to subside over a few weeks. Finding new events and travels helps ;)

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge
We finished up 39th out of the 49 starters; a result I'm quite happy with considering that the race was more difficult than last year and that, unlike the other participating teams, our team is selected for inexperience, not performance.

Steven, Lisa, Zelle and Lizelle
Wonderful to have THREE South African teams participating.

Teams Cyanosis, and Mzansi
Even though I kuk off in the desert just like everyone else, I still love it and this open expanse of dunes and crusty pans remains one of my favourite-favourite places.

My new desert gaiter design, which four teams - including us - wore, worked brilliantly. At the second desert checkpoint I took off my shoes to see what the sand situation was and not a grain fell out! Not a teaspoon and not even a pinch. My socks held some ultra-fine powder sand, which was easily dusted off.

I really enjoy the social aspect of the race and the cancelled paddle day (Day 5) allowed for much time to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. I'd been missing this special aspect of the race because the previous days had been long stages and non-stop rush-rush-rush from stage to transport to camp to prepping for the next stage.

My posts from during the race, photos and final thoughts on the race and female-dominated teams (still to be written) can be found on our team blog at

New home
At the end of November I gave notice on my cottage, where I've been living for almost two-and-a-half years. I'd sworn to be out by next winter because this place is a freezer but opportunity has presented for me to leave month-end. So, now that I'm back it's all about packing.

Before I left for Abu Dhabi I rented a storage garage. It's something I've had on my mind for ages because I have so little storage space here. And I also don't like living surrounded by stuff I don't use often - even if it is stashed in cupboards. I prefer a big open spaceAnd from adventure racing I've got things like tents, water cannisters, crates, banners... So, even after this move I plan to hang on to my 5x3m garage.

Part of the packing process includes working through my books - yes, they are my vice. I've got a super collection of polar expedition, mountaineering and such books that has grown steadily over the past decade; I've even got a number that have been autographed - one of my most favourite is Ranulph Fiennes' 'Mind Over Matter' on his Antarctic man-haul expedition with Mike Stroud. I pass on fiction without hesitation but tend to hang on to my adventure books.

I've resolved to put aside some of the good-read expedition books that I'm not as deeply bonded to. I've got some friends in mind who would love to read them.

Summer flower mix
I arrived home to see my front flower bed looking lush after the rains that Jo'burg has experienced while I was away. I tossed in a 'Summer Mix' packet a few weeks ago and have been waiting for the seeds to take. The flowers won't be out before I move but I'll definitely plan to run past in late January.

Cosmos on the left and general summer flower mix on the right -
this bed is going to be so pretty and colourful.
Team Yogaslackers, so named for their practise of both yoga and slacklining (and doing yoga moves on the slackline) also teach acroyoga, a multi-partner discipline that combines acrobatics and yoga. On the 'social' day they did a demonstration and then invited us to give it a try. I absolutely loved it and learned a number of fabulous party-trick moves and stretches.

Acroyoga, also known as trust yoga, is not as much about twisting like a pretzel and humming as it is about using your body weight and that of your partner in counter-balance moves. It is incredibly graceful. I've tracked down some workshops in Jo'burg for January.

There are definite strength, core and balance parallels to pole fitness/dancing, which I've been doing for over 2.5 years.

This is a video on YouTube of Jason and Chelsey from Yogaslackers working through a series of moves.

I've done the move on the left, both as base and flyer. Amazing hamstring stretch.
Images from
Donating blood
It's December, a holiday period when blood stocks are always low because of the high volume of accidents on our roads. Last month I began encouraging you to donate blood this month and to send me a photo of you at the donor clinic for a photo montage. I've only got two photos so far.

It doesn't matter in which country you are - go and donate blood. Please. It will only take you 15-30 minutes from when you walk in the door and start on the forms to when you walk out after donating and downing some cookies and juice. And email me your photo.

I'm going to my local Bruma SANBS clinic on Wednesday. Probably at about 09h00. If you're in the area, join me there. Otherwise, go to your nearest clinic or mobile unit (

Forget about spending hours in malls spending money on stuff that your friends and family don't need. Rather spend a half-hour at a donor clinic as your gift during this season of giving.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ready for ADAC

After six months of preparation with my new team, we're ready for Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. I'm racing with Steven Erasmus, Lizelle van der Merwe and Lizelle Smit.

We packed our crates this afternoon and will hit the airport by 10h30 tomorrow (Monday) morning. We arrive in Abu Dhabi at midnight and will be picked up and taken to the race hotel. The hotel is the Park Rotana, where we stayed last year. It's divine - 5 Star, friendly and stylish. What a treat!

So often friends and family confuse Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Sure, Dubai has, in the past, had more PR. But it's like getting Jo'burg and Cape Town mixed up; or New York and Washington.

Abu Dhabi is the 'sporty' Emirate. They're really working hard to position themselves as a sporting and outdoor environment destination. Abu Dhabui Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Triathlon, Marathon, Red Bull Air Race, power boating champs, tennis, cricket and, of course, Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, which is an amazing showcase of the terrain and environment.

The other two teams - Cyanosis and Mzansi - fly out on Tuesday. We'll spend Tuesday and Wednesday doing touristy things - gonna be so much fun.

I've put relevant links on the front page of to follow blog postings to our team blog ( and live tracking through the event website at

You'll hear from me on the other side. Till then... bye!