In his heyday, I recall Bruce Fordyce declaring in his non-dilettantish almost boyish way that once the cosmos appeared, winter was nigh and it was time to peak for Comrades. His fragile figure belied his steely determination, his steadfast conviction and his obsessive focus on the minutia of winning the Comrades. Moreover with his urbane charm, he bewitched the South African public and seduced a nation with his self-deprecatory charm.
On the other hand, for me it was not the sudden emergence of this herbaceous perennial plant which made an impression but rather it was the annual RAC 10km run a week before Comrades. Almost like a cathartic release, it signalled the end of the Comrades taper but more importantly, a heightened awareness of the daunting task shortly at hand.
Main picture: Instead of the usual field of 3000 runners, it was a field in the hundreds which pitched courtesy of the inclement weather Continue reading
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
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
For a brief moment I was known as Mac the Knife, fitting in two respects – the incident did involve a knife and my surname was McCleland which is close enough to Mac. How did a docile 15 year old end up hospitalising his close friend by literally shafting him?
Main picture: The errant knife was similar to this one but rustier and worn
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
My initial reason for doing the Giants Cup trail last year was to ascertain whether we were fit enough to hike the Fish River Canyon this year. We only completed the first days hike to the Mzimkulwana Hut.
I re-booked the trail for this year hoping for an improved performance.
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
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
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.
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