Aliens ?

Where to go  ?  Wandering aimlessly now that Augrabie's been reached… The only other "wanna do" anywhere in this area, is to see, visit if possible, the Square kilometre array in the Carnarvon area of the Karoo. Other than that, I simply want to explore this wonderful, alien (to me) land.
"Just GO", says "the Gypsy"
"That's easy for you to say, but I have to turn this bloody big wheel"… Oh my God, now I'm arguing with myself !

NORTH… Kgalagadi, we might not come this way again. 

Okay, Kgalagadi it is,  but via Upington, they'll have number plates there.
My dear departed Mother used to say, often, "There's no fool like an old fool". Whilst at Douglas, I discovered, to my horror, that when Nyati was officially "put back on the road", a new registration number was issued… I hadn't noticed & driven all this way on the original plates… "Yes Mom, I know".

20 Kilometres outside Upington, I thought aliens had landed…across the veld stood a seriously lekker bit of experimental technology… Check out the pic… I'm told that they're magnifying the sunlight (plenty of that around here) to superheat salt (that too) into a liquid, store it in the tower, producing steam, & the end product is electricity fed into the grid… I love it… Cheap electricity I hope… More power to them & to our wonderful, adventurous, robust nation.

Upington on a Friday is bloody busy. Chaos,  but, if its possible, orderly chaos. People appear friendly… I like the place, it's pretty clean & much bigger than I'd ever thought.

The plates appeared quicker than it took to drink a couple of Fanta oranges. So I filled up with diesel, found the main drag out of town & set sail for the Kgalagadi.

A little way along the arrow straight tarred road is "spitskop".A camp site with nothing going for it except location. Perfect, I stopped there for the night.

Dawie & his lovely wife, they're from the Eastern Cape,  told me to just turn around & forget about getting in to the park without a booking ! ! 
Well, they ARE from the Eastern Cape, so I discounted their very well meant advice.
However,  they sounded like genuine, experienced, people, & I decided to indulge myself in a little "off the beaten track" adventure that would, if I made it, get me to the park gate after the unofficial long weekend holiday.

Augrabie Falls

“Here we go again”, I thought… Nyati’d crested a rocky ridge & there it was…dejavu… On the left devastation, on the right, the Olympic Emblem, but in bright variations of green.
The centre pivots of Kakamos.
Again, the vines, citrus & lucern fields shone in the midday sun, streams of diamonds sparkling out of monstrous irrigation machines for miles in all directions. Who would be a dry land farmer when you could have THIS  ?

Nyati’s path had returned us to the banks of the Orange.

This was as far as we could go North West in this part of the Republic.  Across the river was Namibia, & a few kilometres ahead was the Augrabie Falls National Park, home to the famous waterfalls, run by The South African National Parks & the only destination I’d punched into Nyati’s GPS,  way back then, in Natal… I held my breath.

Oh no… “Don’t do it, please don’t do it”…

I’d read in the newspapers, that Zuma was the philanderer, with uncountable offspring spread across the country. Well looking at it from here, it looks like the other one, the one who sat in jail for so long while his wife, “the mother of the nation” reportedly cavorted in the jacuzzi with the bodyguards, throwing Stompies out of the window. The leader who, history tells us, refused to refute the use of violence, in return for his release. While members of his organisation planted bombs in shopping centres & exploded a car bomb outside the crowded Magoo’s nightclub.
How could he be responsible ?  He was safely tucked away.
Eish… From monster to Messiah at the stroke of a pen.
Yup…That one, he might have travelled this path… SO MANY look just like he did around here, except for the size & the toothy “come here, let me eat you up” smile.

“OH NO”. She did it… “Oh my God, why  ?
Corporate training, I suppose”.

A huge, happy, welcoming smile, as wide as the Augrabie canyon itself…
Everything in the front… gone…empty North & South.
Blue gums shining…
The perfect passion gap.

“Oh shit, don’t show any fear.”
She’d looked a lot like him, & filled the female uniform better than he would’ve…
Hee, hee,  this was a BIG Girl… Oh yeah.

Nyati’d caused quite a stir at the park gate & had to be inspected by several uniforms. It was all very good natured, & their sense of humour was infectious I breathed a sigh of relief, relaxed & knew the next few days would be fun.

They were.

The Augrabie Falls National Park’s a treasure. Very well set out, built, maintened, administered & run… Hats off to everyone working there… Not for long though… Those bloody midges will eat you alive.

As if to prove the small world theory, I bumped into a lovely Kloof couple, Reg & Vivi Taylor. They’d been given a heads up on Nyati by Dave Woodley & the Highway Mail article.  Note the “midge keepers” hat lifted to one side to chat to Dave…

Imagine what it’s like here in summer… It’s only September, Spring time now, & the Mercury’s touching 40c… The granite rocks crack… Yes, crack, in the heat. I took lunch & wandered out for a nice leisurely midday picnic watching the water… Yo, yo, yo.
Luckily I found a very smelly, but shady cave for shelter… The picture tells the story.  Blistering sun, soothing shade, midge swatting device, AK4.7 (anti baboon weapon) & lunch.
The falls ARE as spectacular as advertised, with a great network of viewing points connected by well constructed walkways. A fun, touristy place.
I stayed an extra night because I enjoyed falling asleep to the distant sound of the falls.

Live From The Field

Well, after the rugby debacle, I'd travelled far. Now, parked in the scrub, on Hendri's farm for the night, I found myself surrounded by some rather tempting, up market (yes George, upmarket) sheep… Look, I've had mutton dressed up as lamb before, more often than I'd care to admit actually, but THIS, this was pushing the limits… Even for the Gypsy in me… 
Thank God, nobody, not even the unseen ones, here, was of New Zealand farming stock,  neither did Nyati hide any gumboots.

In the Bo Karoo, night arrives in a rush of rusty red colour & silence.  The sky glows brightly, the soil too… & the thorn scrub… It's reminiscent of "the war of the world's", or Nyati's logo, then quickly DARK…  & SO quiet.

Baa baa baa… Stop it.

Utter silence, complete darkness, & a thick carpet of stars overhead… Kinda scary.

Just as abruptly, the sun climbs back up into place & we're off again… Another perfect day in far away, high country… a harsh alien land.

Nyati seems to relish rolling big wheels across these dirt track roads. We're deep into real bushman country now, truly beautiful, mesmerising in its absolute desolation. I LOVE driving Nyati through this. I wish everyone could feel my thrill.

Miles away from any sign of habitation, the gently flowering thorn trees suddenly stop & scrubby ground cover takes over… No outward sign of why.  It just stops. Everywhere. Like that.
Hundreds of kilometres on, & again, with no rhyme or reason, mountains of tossed rocks loom on the horizon. Colossal scattered pyramids.  All sizes, shapes & colour of loose rock. Giants playing marbles. What the hell happened here ? 

The billiard table had quickly become a broken mountain. The road now climbed steeply, picking it's way through a geological train smash. I smiled in appreciation of the engineers who came here & built this road. Why would they do such a thing  ? It wouldn't be gold, diamonds perhaps  ?

I was starting to irritate myself now. I couldn't keep my jaw up, & continually pulled over to the side of the road shouting, "WOW, WOW, WOW ".


From the start, the land had shown itself to be desperate for some good rain. Midmar, Hazelmere, Albert falls, all of them, suffering very low water levels. The Free State only got worse & now the Northern Cape’s looking like landscapes from NASA’s “Curiosity”.

So imagine my surprise when I took a dirt track (Nyati’s trying to tread the path less travelled) to Vallus, not shown on my map, & rolled straight into centerpivot central. There was water spraying EVERYWHERE. The Vaal river snakes through this valley which produces all manner of crops, vines, citrus, cattle feed, in fact there’s so much irrigation, centre pivots pivoting right & left, that anything you want to plant, grows here.
But, oh my God,  the efficiency.  I didn’t see ANYBODY walking around… Well you know what I mean, walking. You’re sure to have seen our legions of “workers”… Here, nothing. The only people I saw were driving farm implements… In the fields. Maybe it was tea time. 😉



All this water being taken out of the Vaal to service just this one tiny,  huge actually, but in the context of the country, tiny, farming community. I had to see how much was left, so I turned at the sign showing a fish & there it was… Sluggish, wide & brimming up to the perfectly manicured grass banks

Apparently immune to the dozens of 150mm pipes pumping non-stop on both sides, the Vaal slowly headed for the Atlantic… Fat & full as a tick

Why doesn’t it soak away into the desert ? Hell, the Tugela, Umfolosi & all our East flowing rivers are practically dry… You can walk through them

There must be a hellova clay layer, or rock perhaps.  I asked a local where all this fucking water came from,  he said, “The Vaal dam”…
“Okay”… 😕

Regardless of the origin of the Vaal, (I know some smart arse’s already googling) it produces a narrow ribbon of “paradise” right through the country’s harshest landscape.

It’s so very cool ???? relaxing here, on the river bank, in the busom of Mother Nature herself. Yesterday,  in the space of only 3 glasses, I saw 2 pairs of pigeons nestbuilding, 1 hen already set on her eggs above me, &, to me, a strange thing.  A single, big old spurwing goose flew over head leading a whole formation of sacred ibis. (Thank God Alan wasn’t there)  😮  I’ve not seen that before. Another lovely sight… The swallows have arrived, skimming along the mud banks, millimetres above the water they make everything else, the duck, geese, cormorants all of them, look cumbersome in flight.
Even the ostriches’ve got Spring fever… I photographed one today, she had eggs scattered out in the sun, all around her…Can’t they count  ?  There again, any Girl passing a nest full of those, could be excused for being somewhat confused. 😮

So while I’m on the subject of birds, I heard a classic today. Nyati’d happily rolled along the road between one end of nowhere & somewhere else in the magnificent Bo Karoo. We were approaching Marydale, about 10 km out,  when the little organism (careful with the spelling) sitting somewhere deep in my cerebral subconscious  suggested I turn off, here, NOW… Naturally I did.
We’re almost at the bird thing.

Now I was on Hendri Greonewalts farm… Enough to say he casts a very heavy shadow. Once he’d given me permission to park Nyati amongst his sheep. I asked how secure it would have been to overnight in Marydale.

Now the birds.

DSC_0970He laughed, & by way of explanation, told me this story… He said that recently he had some Germans arrive in a hellova state dragging a big complicated looking trailer behind them.  They were flying racing pigeons back to Knysna & had stopped overnight in Marydale. Imagine, in the early hours, they found that the locals had stolen & eaten most of the birds… Feathers, bones & a few leg rings were all they recovered. 😮 😛

Hey hey… Africa… Ya gotta love it. B-)


The geo-tag on the photo says "bo-karoo". A sign that Nyati's pushed through to the edge of wild country. It's actually the confluence of the Orange & Vaal rivers, & like any untamed natural river bank, a bit grubby.
Grubby it might be, but the geographical & historical importance of this spot is almost tangible. It's an easy place to sit quietly and let your imagination run.

They'd built a few attractive stone & thatch amenities here, but they've been vandalised, stripped of anything reusable in the squatter camp down the road.
This's Africa. Perhaps "places of interest" like this should never have "improvements" or facilities built around them unless surrounded by razor wire & guarded 24/7.
They very soon become unusable… A sad, unsightly blite, cover for raggedy, wild eyed, aggressive young beggar creatures, unsteady on their feet.

Douglas is a small farming town that sustains this remote area. I stocked up with the essentials (beer, meat & charcoal) required to celebrate the much anticipated start to our Springboks' 2015 World cup campaign, & located a nice, secure camping site on the banks of the Vaal.
The giant who runs the place was going away for a while so, "Ag, sommer make yourself at home Man. You know the daily rate, just leave the money in this jar when you leave. I'll get it when I come back". 
"Eish, what about the vagabonds" ?
"Ag,  no problem Man. They don't come here… They know what  happens… They can't swim".

There it was again, two cultures, two startlingly different mindsets. Lifestyles running completely opposite to each other. One built on  productivity & trust, the other on handouts & pilfering. I wonder what anthropologists will make of the development of Homo Sapiens in this area, in a few hundred thousand years from now.

Louis & his lovely family were already there. It turns out, he knows everything about everything. So I turned the English commentary up very high & we settled  around a lekker braai in eager anticipation of a monumental score.

Kimberley Adieu.

Kimberley, the groot gat, call it what you like, I was glad to turn away from it, to see it receding on the rear screen. I tramped on the vacuum brake… Burp burp… Good bye.

Ahead lay the vastness of the Northern Cape… Thorn scrub stretching to infinity… Big, very big, & dry country.

There's really no excuse for the way some people are living along the N12, on the Northern approaches to Kimberley. I felt my soul retreat inward at the thought of living like that… here.

I'd been here once before, a particularly low point in my life. Perhaps this was a poisoned, residual effect from that time, lingering in my head, distorting my view, but I dislike this place…  A lot.

Eventually, after idling past the last speed trap on the city limits, just as "the Gypsy" stood on the pedal, a vista I couldn't have imagined, opened up, right there in front of me.  Everywhere, further than the eye could see, the thorn trees were flowering… Nothing bright, or loud. It's beautifully subdued, understated,  but quite magnificent & overpowering in it's simple, quiet vastness.
Yes, my breath WAS taken away. I had to pull over. WOW… Now THIS is different. This's what we're looking for. Of course I'd known about the Namaqualand spring flowers, still more than a thousand kilometres distant, but THIS ? this is something EVERYONE should experience… Kinda like the full moon, but once a year.

Someone, undoubtedly residents from the place behind me,  😉 had taken the cables from all along the road. The poles remain &, true to this amazingly big land, birds've claimed them & built their own massive nests. I don't know why, but I like it. I feel very happy ???? for them.

Nyati sailed along nicely, contented, real slow & easy… There's so much to savour.

Happy Gypsy.

To say I left with a heavy heart is a serious understatement… De Rust had a lifestyle any fire loving, beer swilling nature boy would find addictive.

Today's Die Nagdigters birthday, but what with a big film crew moving in bringing all their traditional drama & egotistical, "Oh, this's really not up to the standard I'm used to", crap, he's got his hands full. Imagine keeping a bunch of Somalis, Pakistanis, Boerjies & Yanks together & happy… Oh ja, not to mention they ALL traipse back & forth past the AWB bowhunters caravan, early & late … Someone should start digging Man.

Something that has always irked me is retracing my steps… The gypsy didn't care… Open road… Crank the sucker up. So it wasn't until we got onto the Kimberley road, & into the Northern Cape proper, that I felt Nyati relax & start enjoying new scenery.  Flat as a bloody pancake, nothing to break the horizon for 360 degrees, all round.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm the last person to criticise where you want to live, but, why, why, why does anybody hang a "home sweet home" sign here  ?  I was told that they had a crocodile farm up the road, but as the story goes, they all died… Too hot. 😮

Nyati rolled into the caravan park beside the Big hole in a cloud of dust… Drunks scattered, like mullet from a stone, only to stagger back towards Nyati as the dust settled…JUST like mullet. "I wish I had a cast net ", I thought… ("Or a fokken bow")…Jesus Man, Kabous's 300km away. So Kimberley's caravan park's become a no go zone. 

I could stay in this spot,
I might even like it,
But not a lot.

Eat your heart out Nagdigter.

Well, it turns out that this is as good as it gets here, in Kimberley, if you're in a caravan. Fortunately, I'd mentally logged a potential bolt hole on the way in… Like you do when you walk into Black rhino country,  you're continually scanning & assessing the climbability of every available tree.

Check out the pic… It's not De Rust, but It's got GREAT take aways, & tonight, it's home.

Wander lust.

There's a feeling, hesitatent, insidious, irritating in its own unique uncompromising way. It's got time on it's side, & knows it.

Nothing else shows any sign of awareness… The springbok, waterbuck, duck & geese havn't changed their routine. The nightly oversized bonfire, beers & braais roll on… Wonderful companionship.

Still, I notice how the blinds are now rolled up, washing's all done, loose stuff's stowed away & the wheel nuts are being tightened, checked & double checked.

I don't want to leave here, it's so comfortable, so safe, I've got friends… "Fuck that, there's an open road beckoning, & the days are growing long… Pull yourself together". There it is, not so hesitatent now. A horny gypsy inside of me that hasn't been laid in a while… Irritated… Oh yeah.

10th September, 2015.

Birthdays come & birthdays go, but this one felt different, special somehow.

As I slowly awoke to the unmistakable sounds you can only hear in the early morning, in the African bush, I thought, "I must be dreaming". Through the years the kids have always presented me with a birthday card… More often than not, the card featured sailing boats & wild ducks… Imagine my surprise & delight, as I opened my eyes to be faced with a very vocal yellow billed duck waddling along the dam wall not 3 meters away from Nyati's window. It seemed to be looking straight at me & calling, as if inviting me to join the early morning stroll around the dam… In my dreamy state, I took this as another sign, a sign that this was destined to be an exceptionally good birthday… Hee hee ,  how right I was.

Nyati & I were still parked at the De Rust game farm. I'm finding it difficult to leave this little gem of a place.  Lazy afternoons are spent lurking in the bush beside a small, but busy, watering hole visited daily by hundreds of different buck, geese, duck, guinea fowl, owls, cranes & storks to mention just some of what I remember. After sunset, which is around 6 pm now, its a short stroll to the boma & bar to settle around the fire listening to hilarious stories which get more & more believable as the beers go down.

Anyone living overseas would appreciate drinking beers here… At R 11.00 a bottle, & R 20.00 to a pound stirling, we use them to wash down T bone steaks & potjie bread straight off the braai… Oh ja… Did I mention, its warm & not raining here either.  😉

The state of Nyati's "house" batteries had been of some concern since before I left Kloof… One battery in each bank was being heavily over charged while the other one was, for all intents & purposes, as good as dead. A stroke of good fortune brought me into contact with Riaan, a young electrical technician, formally on the mines, now working for A & R Engineering as a quality controller.

Riaan has an old series 2 landie that he built up & is a serious off roader himself. He offered to take a look at the problem… "Oh shit", he said, "Ja Oom, now THIS is going to be a bit of a challenge". 

Anyone who's ever been fishing at night will know that "pit of the stomach" feeling when you confidently step forward & hurl your bait into the darkness, past the rocks, towards the deep water… a perfect cast, "Ah yes, that's it, right onto the fishs plate"…  Then that horrendous moment when you feel the line looping out of control, spooling off the bloody reel in all directions… Sssqwaaaak… Smack, bang, wallop… That's it…  An overwind, a birds nest.  "Oh shit, I came here to relax… Now THIS… Why, why, why"  ?

"So, Ja, Okay… Did you do this Oom"  ?
I shake my head… I know who did.
"Oh, Okay… Cos only a DOES would mix 12v & 24v like this ".
He wouldn't react at all well to that.
"Lekker,  Okay… Lets sort this out ".

A few hours, a 24v to 12v converter, & a pair of new batteries later, & the "birds nest" had been  transformed into an orderly, balanced, efficient electrical system. Working on 220v,  24v,  & 12v seamlessly,  all batteries charging & discharging in perfect harmony.  Hey hey… What a GREAT birthday present.

Nyati simply beamed… You know, like that lion must have when Daniel pulled out the thorn  ?… Like that.

During the unravelling, Riaan found the Jabsco was drawing 9 amps when pumping, & suggested I change it for a 24v unit.  "Here we go again", I thought… It had been found hellova funny,  back then, whilst wiring Nyati, that when ever I ran a tap, the radio went off… Ha ha ha… But the signs were there… Trouble in paradise… "Oh look, the tides receded way out, the cats & dogs are all running for high ground… I wonder why"  ?

With another stroke of good fortune, a willing supplier was found, & after some great teamwork between Lesley in Kloof & Natasha in Cape Town, Nyati's new water supply pump hit the road to Welkom… Who says it can't be done  ?

Baie dankie Riaan. South Africa, no… today's World, needs problem solvers like you.

It was my turn to get the T bones which I did, before driving the 36km back to De Rust. Nyati's running in & simply purring now. I'd made a stupid mistake when installing the fuel change over valve, & that had cost me dearly in diesel returning from the engine being spilt onto the road. But thats all behind us now, (literally) & we're starting to drive as a team.  To all those guys who tried to explain how driving a truck differs so much from driving a car… "My word, I think I'm starting to get it". We simply cruised back,  a great smiley feeling with us the whole way & no more glares & pointing fingers from passing, diesel splattered, motorists. 😮

What a great Birthday.

Die Nagdigter had made some special Birthday pot bread with raisins & a light sugar glazing to go with tonights T bones & boerewors… A real MAN'S meal.  These boerjies might talk funny, but WOW they can cook.

Now, there's a wonderful character, "old South African", if you get my drift,  staying here while building the new shopping mall in Welkom. He's a mad bastard & reminds me so much of my dear departed friend Babes Van Der Walt, "the Dutchman". Babes, wherever you are, I know you'll be keeping an eye on this one.  Kabous & his girlfriend, Kristina …(I'm going to HAVE to check the spelling of her name, or risk castration… Oh ja… She's another Issie Van Der Walt alright.)… travel the country, building things & bow hunting. They look good & work well together… They're doing it, they're living the life.  Tonight they presented me with the greatest biltong knife I've ever seen. One of Kabous's, I couldn't believe it.  I know I got tears in my eyes & I'll treasure this gift for life.

Charles, Die Nagdigter, then went off with the communial wrapping paper, a firelighter box… (Earlier, they'd trapped me into saying a present should ALWAYS be wrapped)… & came back with an electric mozzie killer to protect my life, & a signed copy of one of his poems that I particularly enjoyed, to protect my spirit … Man, these guys are a different breed of people… Hard, fully grounded. What a privilege to be able to spend this time with them.

Well met

People told me I'd meet characters along the way. Well here's one.
Charles Van Den Heever is managing De Rust. A magnificent game farm a few kilometres outside of Welkom. Not too many people know it, but Charles has been featured on local radio stations (Radio sonder grens & Cosmo broadcasting) over many years as the popular poet and philosopher known as "De Nagdigter". His "off the cuff" style of live broadcasting made him a household name in these parts, and reading some of the fan mail he received, its easy to see that De Nagdigter threw a psychological lifeline to many a troubled listener.
Charles has a hellova lot of stories to tell,  from saturation & diamond diving, to deep coal mining & even singing in a pub in 'Toti that I remember fondly.
A generous and gracious host, supplier of the best braaied snoek in the Free State,  you can tell I'm most impressed by De Nagdigter.


Look at this picture… Can you see it  ? Can you feel it  ?   No, you can't.

We're experiencing a petrichor of biblical proportions.  Those rainclouds are rolling over the parched Free State veld, coming in from the South West, pushing that gorgeous aroma on the wind ???? ahead of it.

It looks, sounds & smells WONDERFUL.  I feel like joining the wild game running around in it… Would that make me another like Ronel  ?

Fire in the sky

Perhaps I was the typical “friend in need” but seeing all the smiling Pretorius’s waving goodbye on Nyati’s rear view screen, left me feeling decidedly empty & alone… I stuck my arm out & waved but I don’t think it was seen… They all turned & trooped inside.

There’s a holiday resort called Marselspoort just outside of town, near the airport. I decided to go there for an overnight stop… Baby steps, don’t cut the apron strings, stay within retrieval range.

What a place, exactly what Nyati’s designed to be able to stay away from. Caravan sites, cheek by jowl, each with their own chalet providing personal & private kitchen, laundry bathroom & toilet facilities… Perfectly presented & maintained by a huge crew, but today, Iike me, the place was completely empty & devoid of charm.

As I let Nyati idle down for a few minutes, exhaustion fell over me like a heavy blanket. The high levels of anxiety over the past few days were now taking their toll on my body & soul. I felt every one of my 68 years & wondered if I’d be able to drag myself out of the comfort of the pneumatic seat that was gradually deflating under me, a feeling a little like after sex, but with none of the satisfaction.

For the first time in YEARS I enjoyed the therapeutic experience of soaking in a very long, hot bath… Thank you Marselspoort, your magnificent facilities truly were a blessing in disguise.

Sunrise the next morning was spectacular, happening late, a few minutes after 7, even I was up & able to appreciate it, combined with the frantic “tooing & froing” of all the riverlife, the blaze of changing colour on the horizon, made me think of the collidescopes we played with as children… Oh Man, Life IS great !
Mmmm…feeling better, I’m not asking why, why, why ? I’m wondering where, where, where to now ?

There really is no route planned, just head towards the karoo & let each day unfold as it will. The map showed a big stretch of water about 200km to the N.West… The Bloemhof Dam, its in the right direction… It’s also in the middle of a nature reserve… Lets go. The moon will be full in a couple of nights, & I LOVE the full moonrise over water.

Oh yes, its a HUGE expanse alright, & there were several bands of fishermen camped along the waters edge. It wasn’t long before a couple of fisherkids came over to check Nyati out. One of them asked, “Hoekom Oom het so ver van die water sy lorrie gestop het “? “Jesus”, I thought, “he’s got a point there”. So, not to be thought of as a total novice at this fishing /camping thing, I told him it was full moon time, & where I came from there was always a very high tide that came with the full moon, so we park up the beach above the high watermark. Oh God, I wish I hadn’t, the kids ran back to Pa shouting that the Oom had said they should move out of the way, the water’s coming !… & nobody spoke to me for the rest of my stay there.

The greatest show on Earth happens, more reliable than clockwork, all around the world, & it’s absolutely free for ANYONE who’s prepared to stop & have their breath taken away. Forget about sprouting canines & back hair… Something DOES stir in most of us under that incredible glow though… It certainly does in me. Tonight’s full moon turned the whole place, the sky, the water, the thorn trees & the grass, a russet orange. As if in a gentle dream, I sat next to my fire crackling in the “mbaula” … mesmerised… nibbling on a chocolate bar, sipping coffee, listening to the jackals HOWL & wondering how many other people in the world had allowed themselves to be THIS lucky tonight.