Assessment of the Cradle of Humankind 21km race on 27th April 2016

Since the Krugersdorp Road Runners Club relocated their race from Central Krugersdorp to the Kromdraai / Sterkfontein Caves area over a decade ago, this race has definitely been one my favourite races. It is a genuine country run without the traffic flashing past at great speed. The undulating hills interspersed with game farms including a well-known lion farm provide an additional incentive to participate in this race. Again we were not disappointed as a liger was visible.

Main picture: Prior to the start, a hot air balloon silently floated over. All pictures by Margie Asprey Continue reading

You cannot live with them nor can one live without them

I am not referring to one’s wife. Perhaps in the not too distant future one will be able to replace them with robots but currently they are indispensable especially if one’s wife works or is invalid. I am referring to one’s maid. This blog exposes that binary condition as it recently applied in the McCleland household.

Pictures: This series of photographs is about garage doors
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The 52km Rhodes Mountain Race – Saturday 12th July 1997

The Rhodes Mountain Race has to be amongst the toughest and most unusual races in South Africa. Restricted to 80 entrants, the one aspect that makes it unique is that this is known for its snow. Run from the hamlet of Rhodes on the Eastern Cape side of the Drakensberg Mountains, at the 32km mark it passes Tiffendal, South Africa’s only ski resort. The selection of the date was deliberately made to co-incide with the likelihood of snow.

On my first attempt, I was not to be disappointed as the snow was at least a metre deep at the top.

This is the story of that odyssey together with John Mostert

Main picture: Between Mavis Bank and Tiffendal. Underfoot it was mushy with melting snow and slippery mud

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Robert Hamilton McCleland: With the Pioneer Column to Rhodesia

In line with my philosophy of using The Casual Observer as a platform to propagate my views concerning the events in the world, I also wish it to become a repository of the articles on the McCleland family. We are fortunate in having a printed family history entitled The Reverend Francis McCleland: Colonial Chaplain to Port Elizabeth 1825 to 1853. Hopefully this is the first of many such articles but for that to materialise, I require information on the family from recipients of this blog.

The first in the series highlights the achievements of Robert Hamilton McCleland who was a member of the Pioneer column which occupied Mashonaland in 1890

Main picture: Robert Hamilton McCleland from Draaifontein Collection

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My Rocket Scientist Brother and the Remotely Controlled Gun

Blaine might have been an Engineer but he has always been a designer at heart. Who wouldn’t want to be? But it requires a special temperament, a conflation of technical understanding and practical ability. Blaine possessed both in abundance. Probably because this was a tiny project, it would have been more satisfying than most as every decision was his instead of being split between a multitude of other engineers.

Main picture: US riverine naval boat of the type that was captured by Iran

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The Cars of our Youth

Style and comfort were secondary. Due to lack of money, wheels in the McCleland household during our youth were all that were required as long as they worked. Now cue in the music of The Days of our Lives all saccharin and mulchy. None would win car of the year or the street mile, but we adored them nonetheless. This is their story as told mainly by my younger brother.

 Main picture: The first car that my father owned, an Austin A70. His previous vehicle had been a panelvan which was his employer – JJ Ruddy and Sons – company vehicle. As there is no extant photo of this vehicle, the best that Blaine could do was a stock photo off the internet.

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The Fish River Canyon Hike: August 2006

As 2016 will be the 10th anniversary of this hike which from a personal perspective was noteworthy in that I hurt my back so badly on the descent on day one that it ultimately culminated in my 2nd back operation a few months later. As a commemoration, I have elected to reprint / re-issue the two blogs on this hike as one blog: The Report Back and the irreverent – or maybe that should read irrelevant – awards. Of the 9 of us who completed this hike, Walter Baumgartl has since passed on, long before his allotted time.

 Main picture: Fish River Canyon – Viewpoint at the Start. Naturally the only way down, is down Continue reading

My Rocket Scientist Brother: How the Mind Works

By 11 years of age, I was reading the newspaper from cover to cover. In addition with my limited pocket money I did not purchase comics like the rest of my friends but magazines such as Look and Learn. I was enthralled with the world that opened up. What finally caught my attention was the part work by Purnell entitled The History of the Second World War. Even though Blaine was only 9 years old, he had to listen to my expounding on all these issues – the Holocaust, the rabid racist Nazis and of course their wonder weapons. Initially it was a monologue but soon Blaine would contribute. What was fascinating partly in retrospect was how his mind worked compared to mine. This is that story.

Main picture: This Guy Fawkes was not going to have a huge straw Guy Fawkes or an even bigger bon fire. Rather being Kentron engineers, it might not be a guided missile but at least it was a potent rocket. Talk about taking work home with you.

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