Sunday, 27 October 2019

Vaal River Overnight Kayak Tour

Last weekend we enjoyed our first official Paddle With Us - Vaal River Overnight Kayak Tour with six clients - three adults and three teens. The river came up a bit on the Saturday and fortunately stayed up on the Saturday and Sunday.

The difference in our paddlers from Day 1 to Day 2 was significant. By Day 2 they were blasting into the small rapids and handing their kayaks with significantly more confidence - I find this immensely rewarding to watch how they improve so quickly.

This really is a lovely section of river and we look forward to more of these monthly trips throughout summer. A few snaps from the weekend.




Lunch stop on One Tree Island



Camp shower at our pop-up private campsite on the river. Bliss!

Composting toilet at our pop-up private campsite. Cover with sawdust - no odour, no mess.




Building a garden for The Joburg International Flower Show

During this past week, I was involved with building a garden for The Johannesburg International Flower Show, a new event created to be South Africa's equivalent of the 'Chelsea Flower Show'. I teamed up with landscaper Danielle Day - The Garden Girl. We'd met last year through YOLO. I love her work and ours has been a great partnership.

Dan created our design for a kitchen courtyard garden - it is charming. What I love most about it is that you'll look at our garden and think, "This is awesome, I can do something like this in my courtyard / small garden space". And you can!


Dan had a clear plan for the week starting with the layout of the site on Monday and brick laying of the pathway and perimeter to installing our wall and washing line, the planting boxes, and then the planting and finishing touches.

What was really exciting is that we use my pre-production YOLO Concrete Mixer to mix the concrete to plant poles. The one challenge we'll have in the marketing of this unit is really around behaviour change. If you've mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow for 15 years, it will take a bit to change to using something that is neater, cleaner and more convenient purely because it is different.

Using the pre-production YOLO Concrete Mixer for stand building. We emptied a 40kg concrete premix bag into the YOLO and added water. The tap was downhill - about 15m from our stand. We rolled the YOLO up to where we needed it and poured the concrete into the holes for the poles. Job done.

Compost delivery - kindly sponsored for our show garden by Stanler Farms. This compost is so rich.

Paved walkway. We used bark chips in the gaps and for the rest of our flooring.
Composting plays a big role in any garden to improve soil quality and provide nutrients to plants. The theme of our garden is "From table to garden" because all of the organic materials that come out of your kitchen as a result of meal preparation can go straight into a YOLO Compost Tumbler to create compost that can go into your garden. Less trash going out of your home and more goodness going into your soil.

We've incorporated a medium-sized YOLO Compost Tumbler in our kitchen courtyard garden.  Organic material from your kitchen and home, like fruit and vegetable peeling, egg shells, egg trays, tea bags, and coffee grounds can go straight into your YOLO. And the compost, can go straight back into your garden.

Danielle has cleverly planned our four planting boxes with plants for Health & Immunity, Digestion, Skin and Mental Health. Take a look at the plants, see what you can identify. Which colour corresponds to each health theme? Elands Nursery kindly provided the strong and healthy plants that decorate our stand.
We've got garden judging on Monday afternoon and the show starts on Wednesday through to Sunday. It should be an interesting adventure this week.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Heritage Day paddle with friends

What an awesome way to spend Heritage Day (Tuesday, 24 September 2019) - paddling with friends. We paddled the Day 1 section of our new monthly Vaal River Overnight route and it was a treat.
(FYI - We still have places open for our trips - one weekend a month in October, November and December).

With thanks to my friend Chris for planting the seed to get on the water - I'm so glad that he suggested it. Unfortunately Chris had a small op the day before to reattach a thumb tendon (a fall down Balloch Wall a week earlier!) so he and Sanet didn't get to paddle their Mazowe, but they did come to hang out - waiting for us at the take out.

Off we go. Four Vagabond Mazowe doubles. Photo by Chris.
What was really cool is that I paddled a double with my mom. She has done a bit of paddling but not much for a while. She really enjoys it and was keen to come for her longest paddle to date - 15-odd kilometres. We were treated to excellent Goliath Heron sightings, we saw one fish eagle (briefly) and also a giant kingfisher. Comrants, daters, ducks and geese were out in their numbers, enjoying this lovely day on the river as much as we were.

Orange circle shows the location of a Goliath heron. We saw quite a few. This guy just watched us pass.
Celliers paddled with his daughter Kyla, I paddled with my mom, my dear friend Allison paddled with her partner Alan and Fred, who I have not seen for too long, paddled with his partner Debbie. This was a really good day on the water.

Celliers and Kyla
Alan and Allison
Fred and Debbie
That's my mom paddling into this small rapid - I took the photo.
This is my mom again on a flatwater section. So pretty.
I received the sweetest message from Alan. He has been down the commercial section of the river - from town downstream - many times. He wrote, "I've paddled many times (mostly inflatables) but Tues was the most enjoyable paddle experience ever". That's really nice.

I took a bunch of photos along the way. A highlight for me was finally stopping to picnic on 'One Tree Island'. Karen and I named it this some time back because... it is a small island with one big gum tree. It exceeded my expectations. Great picnic spot. I always fly past it, chasing time.

Picnic on One Tree Island
What a great spot!
A really good few hours spent on the river. I look forward to tripping it again soon - with more water.

Approaching the take out. Photo by Chris.

The Hill - first running

There is a hill just outside of town that I've been running regularly this year - at least every two weeks. Sometimes I just go out there with Rusty to trot along other trails but usually I head up, up, up.

This hill is a bugger. I can't run the whole thing (yet) without walking.

From the first day that I came here, a plan began to form: to do a hill challenge event. My idea was that is would work much like the 'Crazy Kay' that I used to organise for AR Club in the early to mid-2000s on a one-kilometre stretch of road.

The participants were provided with the distance from start to hilltop (2.3km) and the gradient (150m elevation gain with a max 23% slope), and they were then asked to write down the time that they thought it would take to get to the top. Participants were allowed to run with watches but were asked not to look at the time until they pressed the stop button at the top.

There is a cement strip from 1.5km, which makes the surface easier - but the gradient is not! The route itself is not linear - it winds as it climbs.
There would be two winners: the person with the fastest overall time and the person closest to their predicted time.

A chance conversation with friends on Saturday morning led to the first running of 'THE HILL' on Sunday afternoon. What a blast!

Runners, walkers and dogs (Rusty and I were not in the photo because we took it. Celliers was already on the way up.)
Mandatory selfie - I'm at the back.

Andrew logged the fastest overall time at 15:24 and I was closest to my predicted time (11 seconds faster at 17:23).

Celliers, Ruben and Kyla came through to enjoy a walk up.
 We'll definitely have another running - maybe one each season? It is good fun and a good benchmark of one's fitness!