This e-mail was sent to me by my mate Manuel Ferreira who recieved it from his friend Des Buurman and with his permission i have decided to post on the Blog.

By Cmdt Burmam (former 32 BN) Posted in 32 BN's forum:
"Hi guys I wrote this letter to my kids to try to explain the issue of materialsim and that money is not everything in the world.
You might want to tell your kids the same.



Hello Blake and Chris,
The story of Mark Pond.

The moral of this story concerns life and materialism. Never forget this story.

I have never met a soldier who has disregard for life or is materialistic. The reason for this when you are killing people and taking lives and trying not to be killed there is nothing in this world that is more important than life. Soldiers cannot dress properly, pick their clothes, care for expensive things, need money or try to climb the social ladder. The reason for this is your clothes are all the same every day, its either camouflage or camouflage and it the same every day and you don’t have to pick.Their home is supplied by the army, the food, the medical, the boots, the ration packs, the guns the ammo and all the rest so we don’t care a shit for anything else out there except possibly a better weapons. All soldiers are fixated by weapons. This is their tools and this is all that counts.

They are all generally good survivors in ANY world.I will never be materialistic and actually don’t care a dam what other people think of what I wear or how I live etc. Also, very few soldiers have to prove anything to anybody, they have done it all. When you have to kill people, try to survive and avoid been killed and look after your mates nothing else in the world is important. Life is the ONLY important thing and you can loose it VERY fast.It is IRREPLACEABLE!!! Everything else in this world is not worth shit – it can be replaced!!

So what has this to do with Mark and what is the lesson. Its simple, Mark was killed at the age of 19 whilst under my command. He had 40 days left of the army and then he was out forever. He was the only son of a great family and the only soldier that I ever lost in almost 20 years of almost continuous combat operational deployment.

When Mom and I were giving in South West Africa- Namibia and I was in the army in Rundu I was a Captain in the Special Forces tasked with some complicated operations. I worked in one of the military sectors called SECTOR 20. There were in total 10 Sectors in the country. My sector was the second worst for enemy in the area. My job was to collect information on the enemy in that area then using small combat teams of no more than 5 people find them and eliminate them.These operations were called small team operations and we often ran into very big groups of enemy. The team consisted of troops that I had rained from my old battalion 32 Battalion and captured enemy. Whenever we captured enemy soldiers, we tried to “turn” them to our cause as soon as possible and use them against their own people. We were about 90% effective with this. My team consisted of half South African black soldiers and half captured enemy soldiers. Each team had two whites. This was myself and one Non commissioned officer, usually a Sgt. These were always national white servicemen who were in the army for two years and after that were finished with the army. Any national serviceman with 40 days or less in my team I tried my best to keep out of the combat zone.

In 1986, we had a large infiltration of enemy into our sector and all units were deployed and operational. We had just captured an enemy soldier and although he was wounded, we are able to find out that the rest of his team were to meet at a specific place in the bush. I had my team but could only use Sgt Mark Pond as all the other NCO,s were deployed.

As usual, we were dropped about 5 Kms from the area where the enemy were to meet. This was done by chopper and usually at sunset. We walked to the location where the enemy were to meet. We always had heli gunships available if we had a contact and fast support if we needed it. My team at that stage was 6 people including me and Mark, the only whites.

As we approached the kraals, village where the enemy were to meet we heard taking close to us in the mealie field we crept closer and one of the captured enemy confirmed that he knew the guy talking and that he was an enemy soldier. I wanted to attack at that stage but was not able to able to as there was plenty of dead dry laves on the ground and that made a noise. The enemy soldier was asking one of the heard boys is there were any South African soldiers in the area. The guy then disappeared into the mealie field.I knew that the rest of the enemy were on their way to the meeting spot and that the meeting would possibly take place at the kraals / village or in the village.

After dark, we approached the village and went into ambush positions. At that stage we were quite safe and in control of the situation. We were well equipped with night vision headsets and telescopes on all of our weapons so we were able to fight in the dark.

We waited all night for the enemy group to come to the village as they usually do. By early morning, they had still not arrived.At first light we moved out of the ambush position and out of the immed area to the bush line approx 200 meters from the village. On the way to the bush, we captured a young boy with some goats. He told us that the enemy were located in the mealie field under a very big thorn tree. I knew that Mark had 4 days to go and I decide to keep him out of this firefight. I worked out that with three guys I could attack the group of enemy under the tree by crawling through the mealies up to the tree and then engaging them. I also realised that if there were any left alive they would run for the tree line. I sent Mark out of the area to the tree line to kill any enemy who ran from the tree to the bush. I assumed that they would be safe. We were not sure of how many enemy were there but assumed it to be around 6 or 7 and we could handle that.

Once Mark was out of the area, we attacked the enemy under the tree. In the process, we killed 4 of them. The rest ran for the bush but not in the direction of Mark. After the contact, I called Mark on the radio and told him to meet me at the tree. He was to walk directly through the mealie field to me and not through the bush as the enemy had ran into the bush. I waited under the tree.

Mark decide to walk some distance along the tree line and then through the mealie field to me. I waited for him. Not long after he had started to move, a heavy firefight started in the bush line. I could not make contact with Mark o the radio. We advanced to the tree line to area where we heard the firing. As I walked into the bush in stumbled upon a body on the ground. The face as really white and initially I could not work out who it was. I grabbed one of the troops that were with Mark and asked where he was. They told me that he ad been shot and was on the ground close to me.

A wounded enemy soldier had crawled under a dead tree trunk and as Mark walked down the path at a range of approx 5 meters has shot him in the chest. I ran back to Mark, saw his very white face and he looked bad. I had to find the wound fast as it seemed that was loosing blood fast. I had to take off his thick jacket to find the bullet entry point. I did that and only saw one bullet hole in his chest but vey little blood. I called for the first aid kit and a drip. I could see that he was dying but I was unable to work out why. I then turned him over and saw this huge puddle of blood underneath him. I realised that the bullet had hit one of he main arteries in his chest. I immediately wrapped a bomb bandage on that and connected him to a drip. He was losing blood so fast that I had to squeeze the drip o get the rip solution into him. I went through a litre of drip in max 3 minutes and put another one up. We had called for a chopper and there were armoured vehicles on their way to us (Koevoet).

I was kneeling over Mark, calling his name, and shaking him to try to “get him back”. As fast as I as pumping the drip into him it was running through his system and out. After about 5 minutes as I was working on him and kneeling over him I looked into his eyes which were very blue and very open. He seemed to be looking intently at something in the sky and at that point I literally saw him go out of his body through his eyes. It all seemed as if he knew where he was going and he was on his way to something in the sky. I even looked up to what at was what he as looking at.I was shattered when I realised that he was dead. I really lost it. I have never lost any soldiers of mine killed in contact, even after so many years in that war. I always managed to save them somehow. This was the first, he was white and only had 40 days left, and he had been in the team for almost 12 months. I was devastated!!

Very soon after that the chopper arrived and the armoured vehicles with trackers. 3 of the enemy had escaped including the one who shot Mark. My team with dead Mark were all loaded into the Puma heli and taken back to the base at Rundu. The armoured vehicle and the trackers followed the rest of the enemy and killed them later that afternoon.

I arrived at the base after approx 45 min in the chopper with Mark dead on the floor at me feet. The chopper aluminium floor was covered with blood, it dripped onto to skids of the chopper.
At the base, I had to report to the Commander immediately and make a report of the contact and the death of Sgt Mark Pond. I did this in detail. I also told the commander that I was finished with small team operations and needed to have break as I as suffering from battle fatigue and some traumatic stress. He said that he would consider this, which he never did as I was back in operations a week later.

After the debrief I went o the sickbay to talk to the doctors who were doing an examinations of Marks body. I needed to know why he had died as I had tried everything. They did a post mortem and the Doc confirmed that the bullet, the only one had totally cut one of the two main arteries running below the heart to the rest of the body – the aorta. They informed me that there was absolutely nothing that I could have done bar cut a hole in his chest and physically clamp the artery with my fingers. The aorta is approx 1.5 cm thick.

I then went home and tried to explain to Mom what had happened to Mark and me. She could not understand it. She never could understand it when I tried to explain a serious situation I had experienced in the bush. I remember lying in the bedroom of that mobile home that we had and wanting to either run away from it or drink myself to death.

A month or to later I was sent on a course in Durban - NATAL. Possibly to chill me out. I knew that Mark had come from Natal and decided to find his family. I tracked them on to Pietermaritzburg approx 100 Kms from Durban. I contacted them and told them who I was and requested a visit. I did that and had the chance to give a full description of how Mark was killed to his mother. He did not have a father, he had been killed in a car accident few years before. He was the only son and child. The mother was extremely grateful and we kept in contact. The army NEVER tells the whole story. I was also pissed off that I could not attend the funeral as I was on operations in the bush.

Nothing in the world is more important than life and when you are in a situation when the life blood of one of your mates and comrades is running out of his body into the ground and you cannot stop that and you seem him die in front of you, then that is serious. I always say that you never have a problem unless someone is about to die, then you have a huge problem. Life cannot be replaced, bought, brought back, fixed etc when it is dead.

The moral of the story is that NOTHING in this world s worth anything except life. To hell with the rest. After that comes FREEDOM. If you have those two things then you actually need bugger all else!!! Everything else is materialistic and can be bought and replaced!! Anything that does not have life is not worth shit, it can be replaced. So never, forget this story as it is the basis of freedom, courage and a healthy spirit. So the world can throw ANYTHING at you and you should never worry as it is all temporary and replaceable. YOUR LIFE, your spirit and your freedom ------ that, they can NEVER touch!!!!

Sop en Dop

I was sitting “thunking” alone at home on Tuesday night and………………….. well just read the e-mail I sent to Tania, Gabby, Mark, Kath, Gordon and Marcelle, Lawrence and Sherri, Dave and Barbara you will understand

Sitting here all alone, Gabby and Tania have gone to cell group and i cant go and visit Mark and Kathy because i can hear the dogs barking themselves hoarse "this means they are out":-))

So anyway as I said i was sitting and thunkking that Dop and Chop season is gone, "verby" and no more, this due to the fact that when the sun crosses the yardarm the degrees from the sun drop exponentially and this means its not nice to Braai anymore.

So i say to myself "SELF" how do we go about replacing the dop and chop system with another that includes food to suit the season and ensure that a tipple or two is also enjoyed, then it hit me like a scream mask in a Kodak moment, (see photo from last Blog posting) and this is brilliant even if I say so myself "in fact going to patent and copyright the idea"

instead of a dop and a chop night we can have "drum roll please" BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

A DOP AND SOP evening (and we can mention the S word, because even if it rains or snows we will be inside anyway, "am i a genuise, geniuse, genie, "clever or what"

We all bring a soup and of course Fresh bread/ rolls etc and "if you really insist a dop"." Yes i insist"

When you ask: Well I thought what about this Friday night after happy hour

Where I hear you ask: well this is the interesting part, the last person to respond to this e-mail telling me how AWESOME I and my idea are we will end up at their house.

“I look forward to hearing your prompt responses”

Oh yes if that works the next evening will be Spuds and suds (suds being American slang for beer) so here is the challenge think of winter evenings where we can get together and enjoy food, alcoholic beverages and what can i say AWESOME company.

I was going to call this Blog “Have a drink on me” It’s a ACDC song from their 1980 album “Back in Black”. ACDC is perhaps, “no it is my favourite rock group” Well these days their music is called “Classic Rock”, “Oh boy I must be getting old”.

But when I was a rough and tough 50cc riding “lightie” in standard 8, ACDC was Heavy Metal. How I started to listen to this Australian iconic band happened when a mate gave me a ACDC album to look at “it was called “Back in Black” and was the first LP that they had made since the untimtimley death of Bonn Scott, he had been replaced by Brian Johnson a fellow Geordie “so this was perhaps also a factor in me taking the LP home to listen to”. I have to tell you that until then my music tastes leaned to ABBA and Donnie Lonegan.

I put the LP on the record player “some of you may remember what one of those looked like” for those that done it was sort of like a Lazy Susan with a motor. I put the LP on the turntable with some trepidation but from the melancholy sound of the bells that introduce the song “Hells Bells” to the upbeat and head banging “You shook me all night long” I was hooked. For me there was no transition from Abba to ACDC, no middle of the road music that eventually had me air guitaring all over the house mimicking Angus Young in his school outfit (he’s the lead guitarist). For me it was “Boom” Mary Poppins to Slut Barbie with no Martha Stewart in between. I went out and bought all there LPs, I was hooked I went from Mama Mia to “Let there be rock”

I still have a sweat shirt with ACDC patches on it that I wore in std 8, “its shrunk” must have been washed to many timesJ. Did you wear it ? “I know your wanting to ask”, “You Betcha” Did I look ridiculous ? “You Betcha” did I feel 16 again, well perhaps not 16, but as I let my 2 brain cells drift away a wry smile passed my lips and took me back to when I had hair and my whole life lay in front of me.

Today I have a varied taste in music but have to admit that I still love to hear groups like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Whitesnake and Metallica. “Yeah I know if you play them backwards your supposed get satanic messages”, luckily enough I was never clever enough to do that, I must have destroyed hundreds of Sony C90 tapes trying to get it to play backwards. Can you play music backwards on CDS? Or was it only on LP’s and tapes? “Perhaps that is why they moved to CD’s”? I have to admit that I never took that seriously and I was in the dog box when I made a 4 hour compilation tape for Tania of ACDC to show her my undying love “yes I am aware that love songs would have been more appropriate, but hey I was 16 had a fifty cc motorbike, cut the sleeves out of my t shirts to look cool, “but kept losing my cigarettes”, was cultivating that mullet and hey they were the best. I wonder if you had taken Bles Bridges LP’s and played them backwards, would you have gotten Potjie kos recipes ?”

I have found something more rewarding and makes you happier than winning the Lotto, that’s to go to town visit two banks, the municipality as well as the traffic department and not “I repeat not” stand in a queue and be treated with courtesy and efficiency. Its heaven and I suppose like being hit by lightening the chances of it happening are 1 in a million, “probably more”

Andre Espach (local painter) and his daughter Landie are leaving the village on a Road Trip and we will miss them. Andre has had a hard life and we know is going through some hard and painful times at the moment. Andre all I can say is that the time you will be spending with Landie will be special and precious, Please know that we will be thinking of you and will hopefully see you in the not to distant future.

So the Blue Bulls destroyed the Chiefs 61 to 17, what a game, we had a few” ok more than a few” beers and enjoyed the company of some real rugby fanatics “including player 24”. The atmosphere was Awesome and I know that Kathleen and Mark only got home in the wee hours of the morning, those older folks decided that enough was enough and slunk home.

New local magazine is out “eventually” the Mothers day (10th May) Indaba issue (8th-12th May) hit the streets on 28th of May. I wonder what the advertisers must think. I read it and yes I know I am biased due to past history, but I have to say its not the best issue and hopefully it will improve now that the previous editor left, that person really made a mess of a once bloody good magazine.

Mountain Post should be coming out again soon, always seems to be a buzz when a new edition is coming out, sure that this edition will be as good as the last two.

I see that in local newspaper Vrystaat that there is going to be a huge Tourism expo to be held in Bethlehem in September 25th-27th it seems that its going to be organized by that well written, edited and National tourism magazine To Go To, so I am sure that it will be a huge success.

So Newcastle United (my home team) got relegated, “well I suppose that’s what happens when you only win 7 games the whole season”

Gabby had a gymkhana this weekend at Schaaplaats, she looked so grown up in her jolpers and jacket and did very well in her jumping with 1 second and 2 fourth places, this against older and more experienced riders, so as you can imagine I am very proud of her.

Have had flu most of the week and not felt that great at times, hopefully this coming week it will go.

Book on Clarens slowly but surely coming along need to start getting those people who will be contributing photographs together to advise what I am looking for

Well that’s about it for this week, have a great week and a great June


The Village idiot.

Pimp my jacket

It must really be crappy to say that you have no friends, especially if you live in a small village, imagine going around and you are just tolerated, people feel sorry for you. Or just turn their backs and walk away. I don’t now what I would do, would I leave the village? Would I try and buy my friends, or would I just pretend that it was not happening , “that perhaps you can do if you have a REALLY thick skin”

I must say the last couple of months I seem to have been conversing with a number of Clarenites that I would not usually have spoken to, I spoke to Mark about this and he agreed that since we had disassociated ourselves from the negativity and cynicism of a certain individual we seem to be accepted and made to feel welcome in circles that in the past we would not have been. I also find myself looking at people that I believed were not nice due to that influence and thinking to myself, “hey they are not the Ass------es that someone tried to lead us to believe.

There was a CDA (Clarens development association) meeting on Monday at the NG church hall, meeting was very well attended, in fact I cannot remember when I last saw so many Clarenites at a meeting like that, there must have been 120+. The committee have really done well with assisting in keeping the rates to acceptable levels and many of us left feeling that we need to support the CDA more than we have in the past.

“Forget about Jan”, we have player 24 living in Clarens, his name is Gordon and he is the owner of the local franchise Engel Volkers, He is a Bulls supporter and he wore a tight Blue Bulls jersey for the Bulls/Cheetahs game as he walked into Friends restaurant, Mark “as quick as a flash” said Gordon give back player 23, so we now call Gordon player 24. (see picture 1)

I don’t know about you but I agree with Tito Mboweni that banks should be more competitive as well as that bigger fines should be given for those companies caught price fixing. The latest being Sasol who will get a R250 000 000 fine (now or you and me that’s a huge amount) however for a company like Sasol making Billions it’s a mere slap on the wrist. And while we are on the subject of Sasol, I want someone to explain to me how their petrol price can be that same as Caltex, Shell etc when the fuel is made from Coal and is produced here and has no landing cost, it’s no wonder Sasol shares are through the roof.

Kingsley Holgate was in Clarens on Tuesday as part of a 4-month Tran frontier park educational trip, I got to meet him, “what a nice guy” took a few photos. Not many other Clarenites bothered to come and see why he was in the village (see picture 2)

Also on Tuesday, “my day off” we harvested spinach, carrots, parsley and beetroot and sold them to the local restaurants, seems that this little venture may just work. “lets hope so” (see picture 3)

Lawrence, another friend who lives in Larola had a jacket party on Monday for his birthday. He owns a business that brings in jackets from overseas and he sells them here, while we were all fighting over the jackets that we wanted to buy we also took some time to have fun with dressing up in the jackets, all we needed was some platform shoes, a fur hat and a pair of pimp glasses and we would have really looked the part. (see picture 4)

If you look at the picture (number 5) of Mark , myself, Katleen, Tania and Andre with the Clarens banner this was our going away (sorry GO AWAY) party photo for T.L.M “aka” HGT, as they say in the classics ‘Elvis has left the building” Lawrence and his wife have now taken over the bottle store and soon we will again have 2 fully stocked, operational bottle stores in the village. Good luck guys we are sure that you will make a HUGE success from this venture. Oh by the way the banner is the one that was “confiscated” from the Clarens market because it was felt by TLM that it was not erected properly, it had a big childish fit called in the “Handlanger” it caused such a rumpus over nothing, well “we have it back”

I rode to Bloemfontein on Tuesday to go and see some agents regards the Clarens Mountain Estate, as usual the ride was fantastic and took the opportunity to take some photos, I seem to have a thing at the moment for railway siding and tracks. After the last Blog I decided to check Bethlehem station and see what state it was in, well it’s just as bad as the ones in the country a sad indication of the rail system in the country. In Bethlehem there used to be a number of old steam locomotives that stood at the back of the rail yards, they have also gone, probably sold for scrap.

I know we have to work in fact there are not many people that do not have to but I think the trick is to try and balance your work and leisure life and lets be honest that’s not easy. With the stresses of today, especially now with the economic slowdown, we seem to have lost track of where we are going, read this perhaps it will put the world into perspective.

Isn't it amazing that George Carlin - comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write something so very eloquent...and so very appropriate. A Message by George Carlin:The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete... Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Looking for a new school for Gabby when we move to PE and may have found one, it has horse riding as a school sport so it was not that much of a hard sell to Gabby “or Gabriella as she wants to be known when she goes to high school. Wow she is growing and while I am sure she will be embarrassed if I read this

As I told you in the last Blog I have decided to do a book on Clarens so what I will do is keep you updated on its progress. I have started it and have the chapters sorted and will hopefully get stuck in soon.

Watched the Bulls/Crusaders game with a few friends, “including player 24” at Friends, great game and an even better atmosphere, must be one of the best Super 14 semi’s that I have seen. While not my team, I am hoping that they will win the Final next week.

I don’t know if you have ever seen the e-mail that shows how animals, people etc have spoilt a Kodak moment, well here is one that was taken in Clarens recently. (see picture 6)

Also thought I would share a photo of “the sleeping beauties” (picture 7) two gents that were supposed to be working at the tunnel, shame must have worked hard for at least 10 minutes

Have a great week

The Village Idiot

Freedom of Speech

I don’t know why, but when I am riding a motorbike through the back roads of South Africa, I really feel content with life, in fact the weight of the world seems to just disappear, its also during these rides that, I tend to reflect on life and the world around me.

On my latest trip to Gauteng the trip up there was not that great, I left early and forgot to put on winter gloves, so the only thing I was reflecting was what my hands would look like without fingers, as I seriously thought I was going to get frostbite. Villiers One-stop delivered scant relief as it was colder there than driving through the numerous dips that had caused my hands to lose feeling. I don’t know if you have ever had parts of your extremities get so cold that you cannot feel them, while that’s bad enough its even worse when the blood starts to flow back in the fingers or toes and feels like your skin is being pricked by a million needles.

Traffic in Gauteng is always a pleasure to ride in “yeah right” I learnt this trip if you see a vehicle with L on the back it does not stand for learner, but ‘Looking to cause an accident” Anyway I survived riding through 2 peak hours. Coming back home was a far more pleasant experience and really enjoyed the trip back “Once I had got passed the traffic of course” I took a detour off the N3 and took the Balfour turnoff, not bad at all and it afforded me some great photo stops.

While riding at a sedate 100kms per hour and listening to some great music on the MP3 I began “thunking” about a few things and in no particular order here is what I “thunk”

Family: There is a saying “you can choose your friends, but not your family” I am “as you have probably read” very fortunate to have great family and would not be able to chose a better one, so that leaves me with friends. My dad always told me that you will have many acquaintances, but you will be able to count your friends on one hand”, he also came up with the classic “I've told you a thousand times not to exaggerate”. In a way he has been correct I have been very lucky to have had many good acquaintances over the years and due to the nature of the business I was in, I met many people, as I have written in a previous Blog I have a number of good friends, some of them are more like family and I am grateful to those people for their friendship and support over the years. While I was riding back two names kept popping in to my head and I feel that I need to share with you who they are and what they have meant to Tania, Gabby and I. Dave and Barbara Green are just Awesome people and have done so much for us that its difficult to just say thanks. We will always be grateful for how they helped us and know that even when we leave Clarens that we will remain firm friends.

Writing a book on Clarens: I have decided that I need to publish a book on Clarens, I have so much information and have numerous friends who want to contribute with information and photos, so I cant see any reason for not doing it, I have spoken to Rob at Clarens Colour Copy and Print and he has given some great advice.

Using the road less travelled: am sure I have espoused in the past the joys of taking the back roads to see the county, even with potholes, for me its still better than driving on the highways. Having stopped to get a few photos of old stations and railway tracks, “some being removed as you can see from the one photo” I realised that it had been a very long time since I had last seen a train in the country, in the cities yes, but how many times have you crossed a train crossing and thought to yourself “when did a train last pass here” So why is there no usage on the railway lines that like a metal snake slither and cross the countryside. Why has this mode of transport “that will surely take pressure off our road systems” been allowed to go to rack and ruin, “it just does not make sense to me” Riding between Villiers and Reitz it would seem that Mr. Pothole Slagate is “still the minister of roads, even in Comrade Zuma’s cabinet and has much work to do. Although in his defence Sandton/ Hyde Park are also sporting some great looking potholes, in fact the one looked like it could easily swallow up a ministerial limo. Someone told me the other day that GP stands for “Groot potholes”, MP for “Moerse potholes” and the FS “F—ken Sloote

Strangers: Since I came back from the Mighty men weekend I have seemed to bump in to a number of strangers that have just cemented the fact that you cannot always judge a book by its cover and you should in fact try and take the time to get to know people you bump in to at restaurants, bars or shops.

The Perfect job: Recently a Pom won a competition for the best job in the world, that being to live on a island in a luxury home for 6 months and write a daily Blog on his experiences, while that must rank up there with jobs like mattress and beer tester, My perfect job would have to be riding the bike over the back roads of this fantastic country of ours “yes it’s a bloody marvellous country” meeting new people, writing stories and taking photographs, "what better way could you spend the day" ?

Mark and I have been helping at the local intermediate school with rugby and cricket coaching, and we are enjoying it, it also feels good to be able to give some of your time and effort to assist others.

Talking about cricket, have you been watching the IPL series, have to say at first thought it was going to be crap, but I was wrong. Its Awesome and I was gob smacked to learn that the whole event was set up in 3 week. One of the aspects that I believe has been great is the focus on education, with many children getting R15 000 bursaries and schools also benefiting from donations. Again this event is a middle finger in the face of those detractors who say the World cup in SA will be a shambles.

Must say I am Sooooooooooooooooo proud of Tania, she is really pushing Crafty stuff and I have a feeling that in the not to distant future Crafty Stuff is going to be a well known brand and that Tania will be supporting me in the luxury I deserve :-)

Perhaps the best news of the week, “Nay the year” has to be that the person, who was chosen over good mates and common sense has been given the boot or resigned, (depends on whose version you believe). But from a source very close to the action who always keeps us up to date with what’s happening says its definitely “fired” and I hear from the same source the work has not come out because “it’s the worst ever” and needs to be totally re-done. I know I am not supposed to gloat, “but will make an exception in this instance”, “I wonder what the people who wholeheartedly supported the drivel that had been put forward and fawned over the new improved effort as well as the person driving it must think now? “How the wheel has turned”, so just in case you did not get the gist of this piece and you happen to read it “Tata Hoor”, “The tribe has spoken”, “F-kof jys dof” and “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you leave the village” and if babes is reading this then you win this weeks "We told you so" award.

This week was also my Brother in Law, Doug’s birthday, so happy Birthday Bro, hope you had a great day, know you had some travelling to do this week, but know why, I also would not want to miss a moment with my new born.

Had a impromptu party at The Highlander on Friday night, was really a nice time and we met a few bikers from Natal, on Saturday was Rugby and Braai time at Mark and Kathleen's and while the Stormers/Cheetahs game was like watching paint dry, the Bulls/Sharks game lived up to expectations and while the Sharks came close it was just not enough to steal a semi-final berth. So now we shout for the Bulls, lets hope that can do it for SA. Monday is a braai at Laurence's place , its his birthday and its also a jacket party. we will all be buying new jackets from his private stash.
The bottle store will be opening again soon and this time with competent management, want to wish L and S all the best with this new venture. cant wait to get the banner back that was confiscated by L M because her lard ass was not kissed and she got soooooooo upset.

Going to be starting a competition in Clarens soon, somewhat like the OFM’s recognise the face. (See picture 1) for the first person we will be trying to identify. I can’t give you a clue, because it’s so easy.

Well that’s about enough drivel for this week, have a great week and remember that we cannot make this country better if we ourselves don’t make a difference, its easy to complain, but its harder to contribute, so no matter how small, make a difference this week to those around you and your community. “Yes Ryan I was listening when Angus was talking”

Ciao for now

The village idiot

When pigs can fly

Is it just me or are there others out there that think this whole Swine Flu is perhaps just a bit over the top? Approx 50 000 people die every year from the common flu, but as far as I know its not a pandemic, I think it’s just a ploy by the pharmaceutical companies to increase revenue, what better than to create a panic amongst the paranoid westerners and Yanks and sell bazillions of tablets to ensure that they do not succumb to Swine Flu. I believe that England has ordered 32 million masks for people who live there, “Kaching Kaching” go the cash registers of the pharmaceutical companies. I bet the Muslim communities are up in arms as this Swine Flu according to them must be the deliberate attempt by the USA to get the faithful sick. I see a Jihad on the way, pig farmers better watch out for suicide bombers.

I was also told recently that a gent in the states said that the USA will have a black president when pigs fly and not 100 days later there is Swine Flu “yes its weak, that’s what I thought as well when I first heard it”

Got photos of Amber, she is cute. (As you can see by the photos)
Photo 1: “So who is this Obi 1 dude”?
Photo 2: “What do you mean wind my neck in, it’s as far as it will go”
Photo 3: mom and dad with the new toy (“don’t bother looking it does not have batteries”)

Do you do chores around the house? “I do my chores are to sweep, do the dishes, make the bed and empty the dustbin” Not a lot I may hear some of you say, well that may be true, but sometimes I think we have another family living with us and they only come out at night. It does not mater if you wash the dishes, sweep and empty the bin before you go to bed, the next morning the sink is full, the dust bunnies have had a rave and the dustbin is full.

The village has really been busy the last month with the shop owners and restaurants have large smiles on their faces, all except the bottle store on the square, that has been closed the last 3 weeks, the reason why you ask? Well this is Clarens and it depends who you speak to, but the 4 main theories are (and believe me there are many others)

1) Could not run a business properly
2) The Business was sold for a great deal of money
3) Did not pay her creditors and was being sued
4) Is an evil money-grubbing “person” (I replaced the original word with person as the one used was not very polite) but it rhymes with sore.

I have to say that to not make money from a bottle store that is situated in the middle of any village with a constant stream of visitors is like going bankrupt running a funeral parlour; you really have to be a bad businessperson to make it fail.

The village had a group arrive called Floor 13 and this ensemble have been in the village for a week, spreading the word and trying to tell kids that there is more to life than sex, drugs and rock and roll. They usually charge a huge amount, but have seen fit to come to Clarens Gratis. Martie and Annetjie have been very instrumental in getting them here. I must say tat I do not believe that that have experienced Clarens at its best, the local municipal manager in his wisdom would not allow them to use the Martie Lotz hall free, “even though they are doing community work”, the Police chased them of the square for playing foot ball “nice one guys” real great community spirit and when the group were performing at a local school, we had villagers going and complaining about the noise “get a life”

Mothers day is today Sunday 10th, for some like Nicole its her first, So Happy Mothers day Nici, may Amber give you so much joy over the years. Moms are very very important in a child’s life and I know that I am lucky to have 2 moms Marion, “my mom” and Loi “Tania’s mom” In fact I am going to go as far as to say that all the kids in this family are very fortunate to have great moms.

Marion Dunkley: Mom thanks for always being there for us, you have showed me that even in bad times family stick together and you know that for choosing your family over alcohol you will always be my HERO. I love you, as do Tania and Gabby.

Loi Brewerton: We may not have had a great beginning, but I know how much you love your children and I also know how protective I am going to be when Gabby starts dating some “long haired, Heavy metal listening, motorcycle riding, dude J. You have always been there for your family as well and we are very fortunate in this day and age to have family like we do.

Tania Dunkley: Tania, well my Angel what can I say, at one stage never thought we would have children and we have Gabby, you are the best mom a girl could ever want.

Karen Esterhuizen: Sis you have been an awesome mom to Christine and an example to many people, you could have gone the easy route but through your hard work and determination not only have you made a success of your life, Christine has become a fine young lady

Kirsten Brewerton: I think if u look in the dictionary under mom, there will be a picture of you. I don’t think I have ever given you the credit that you deserve for being Ryan’s wife and I just want to apologise if I have ever made you feel that you are not part of the family.

Nicole Brewerton: Your first mothers day, “awesome isn’t it”, just remember that you have big shoes to fill, but we have no doubt that you will be a mom that Amber will always be able to look up to (as do your nieces and nephew already) and we are very very proud of you, even though we hate the fact that you live in the land of the rising damp.

So Christine, Gabby, Rebecca, Michaela, Daniel and Amber you are all very lucky as not only do you have great moms yourselves you also have other role models in the family that you can look up to and call upon should you need.

The 2nd edition of the Mountain Post came out two days ago and is even better than the first one, puts the other local paper to shame, what’s nice about the Mountain Post is that it is aimed towards the tourist and has good news stories, unlike the other one that only prints negative stories and personal opinions. I mean how can you put in an article on the front page that you wanted to “slap a slut”? How is that supposed to attract tourists and make them feel that Clarens is not full of Hillbillies?

So Comrade Zuma had a giant party this Saturday, must say I am a tad disappointed that Comrade Zuma “supposedly being a man of the people” would agree to spend R75 000 000 on his inauguration when the country has far more pressing needs, as they say ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same” Lets hope Comrade Zuma does not become another typical African Leader and makes us all proud.

Before I leave you another question has surfaced in the village,” Who is princess Fiona” and who is trying so very hard to be her Shrek”?

"Not if but how much"

There is a pool going around the village at present and the bet is “Not if, but how much” I cant elaborate on this at present, but once it has happened I will advise.

So what has been happening this week in the life of the village idiot, not much to be honest, been a pretty mundane few days. I am really enjoying the Mountain Estate and really feel like I am making a difference.

This weekend there was a Potjie competition on the square in aid of the Lions at Lions rock, I think seven teams pitched up and they managed to raise R2500 from the sale of the potjies, which was a good effort. There was however grumblings as the people who organized the event and had a judge on the 3 man panel came third, now I would have thought as the official organizer you would not have been allowed to have a judge on the panel and there would have been an instruction to the judges that even if they were the best they should not win a prize, “but hey that’s just me”. So first prize went to Protea Hotel, second prize to Mountain Odyssey and third prize to The Speckled Bean.

I see that the Caledon news has re-surfaced (this time in Sepia) in a larger format, however having spoken to a number of Clarenites it seems that anything written by the editor and publisher is in fact negative, Comments have been “do they not have a nice thing to say about the village that they are trying to make money from or promote to tourists” to are they deliberately trying to get a reaction from the locals? One also has to have a laugh when at the bottom of the page it states the following “ The contents of this newspaper is not necessarily supported or the views of the Speckled Bean or the members of its staff” but most of, if not all are written by themselves (especially the negative articles) “

The 2nd addition of the Mountain post is eagerly being awaited by Clarens

That’s about it for this week, the weather is getting colder and we have had late rain so hopefully we will get some good snows this winter

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