Category Archives: Exploring the Cape

Bodhi Khaya - a spiritual home

Are you dreaming? Or are you awake?

This last weekend, we attended a “Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep Retreat” with Charlie Morley at the tranquil retreat centre of Bodhi Khaya, outside Stanford, just past Hermanus in the Overberg.

We had previously attended other retreats at the centre (see Finding Peace and Tranquility and A Tribute to Chef Nina at Bodhi Khaya), including two/three previous lucid dreaming retreats with Charlie, and were really looking forward to spending some time in those peaceful surroundings, marveling at the beauty of Mother Nature, and soaking up the teachings of an inspiring spiritual teacher.

Charlie recently (last year) published his first book, Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream & Sleep, with Hay House; it is a brilliant guidebook for any aspiring oneironaut (lucid dreamer) who wishes to learn how to be more mindful, more aware, and more kind, in their waking, sleeping and dreaming life.

(If you are an aspiring oneironaut, please feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments!)

Bodhi Khaya - and beyond!
Bodhi Khaya – and beyond!

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Toys and games for the young patients of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

I attended an event this morning that reminded me again why I love to support the Cape Town Rifles (Dukes), a Defence Reserve regiment in the Western Cape, and worthwhile causes like the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Rondebosch, Cape Town.

A couple of weeks ago, the Dukes appealed for donations of toys and games, which were to be handed over to the Hospital at a small ceremony to commemorate Youth Day on 16 June 2014. The initiative is part of the Regiment’s ongoing social responsibility programme.

On the morning of Wednesday, 18 June 2014, five boxes of soft toys, pretty dolls, stimulating board games and card games, colourful puzzles and learning games, and helpful items of clothing, all donated by members and friends of the Regiment and the South African Legion, were handed over to David Stephens, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association (FOCHA), and his assistant Janine Heuvel. The Dukes were represented by Lieutenant Colonel Francois Marais (the new Officer Commanding), Captain John Manning, Captain John Dorrington, WO1 Daantjie Prins (the Regimental Sergeant Major), and WO2 Mike Cairns.

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The Animal Communicator – an extraordinary movie


A couple of years ago, I attended an interspecies communication workshop with Anna Breytenbach (her website).

Anna is a professional animal communicator with more than 12 years experience, having worked with both domestic and wild animals around the world.

She has an almost uncanny ability to tune into the unique spirit of each animal, and to establish a connection with it, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Her aim is to enhance the relationship between human beings, animals and the natural world.

A movie – “The Animal Communicator” – has recently been made about Anna and the work she does. It is absolutely beautiful. It will bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat.

Do go and watch it as soon as possible, as it may not be available online and for free very much longer:

An inspiring morning tea with Premier Helen Zille and the Children’s Hospital Trust

On 22 October 2013, I had a thoroughly inspiring tea with the Premier of the Western Cape Province, Helen Zille, at the elegant Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel on the Foreshore.

Well, sort of. The tea with the Premier bit, I mean.

To be honest, I sat at another table at the far end of the room, and never had a chance to engage her in a probing analysis of how to foster peace and prosperity in South Africa, nor even to exchange some light-hearted social chit-chat. But – we still had tea… and assorted sandwiches, scones and confectionary. I was attending the function with Glynnis and Max Schutte, the multi-talented duo who produce the marvelous Pinelands Muse community magazine every month.

Delicious sweet and savoury snacks
Delicious sweet and savoury snacks

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Charon the Ferryman – and his spooky friend – are floating on the Black River

Two or three weeks ago, a blue-green boat with a strange cloaked figure sitting inside it suddenly appeared on the Black River, just north of the bridge where Raapenberg Road goes underneath Kromboom Parkway (or the M5).

Initially, I thought it was a fisherman, which struck me as rather peculiar: our urban rivers have become so severely polluted and toxic with chemicals in recent decades, that I’m not sure it would be safe to eat any of the fish living in those waters! When the figure was still in the same spot a day or two later, I realised it wasn’t in fact a live fisherman but some strange sort of artwork.

We take Flat Kathy along to scout out the strange urban art installation on the Black River
We take Flat Kathy along to scout out the strange urban art installation on the Black River

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Walking around with Flat Kathy: An introduction to a magical world?

Flat Kathy after her Valentine's Day makeover
Flat Kathy after her Valentine’s Day makeover

It is not easy to walk around with Flat Kathy.

For all strangers, or rather, people whom Flat Kathy hasn’t yet demanded I introduce her to, she is simply a sheet of sunshine yellow paper on a stick. With a couple of buttons and some woolly hair sewn on.

She is, I freely admit it, “a bit odd”.

The looks I’ve gotten, both from people who don’t know me from a bar of soap, and those who do happen to know me (and who perhaps have always suspected that I’m a little off-centre), have ranged from the outright, full-frontal “WTF?” to the startled double-take turn-around-in-the-street, “Good grief, are mine eyes deceiving me?” to the sidelong, surreptitious, pretending-they’re-not-curious, “What is that thing she’s carrying around?”.

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Defeated by the sun-baked mountain slopes of the Swartboskloof and revived by lunch at Hillcrest Berry Farm

The baking sun saps the last strength from us
We embark on a hike at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

With Richard’s sister T, an avid hiker, visiting us last week, we thought we would treat her to a lovely hike in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve outside Stellenbosch. We ourselves hadn’t done any hiking in a long time, and honestly felt a bit daunted by the prospect of a too-long trudge through the mountains and the veld. We decided to explore the Swartboskloof-Sosyskloof trail at Jonkershoek, which is described on the handy pamphlet and map as follows:

“This easy scenic route ascends along the western slopes of Swartboskloof for about 2km, passing through a patch of beautiful indigenous forest. It then traverses along a contour in Sosyskloof before winding back to the start.”

The distances available on this circular route were 5.3km (2 hours) or 6.9km (2.5 hours) for the longer route to the lookout hut. It sounded like a nice gentle way of getting back into hiking.

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Looking back on an exciting year of being published!

Last year, I wrote and submitted a number of articles to the Pinelands Muse community magazine and the Reserve Force Volunteer magazine, as well as the Equestrian Express and the Sawubona in-flight magazine of South African Airways, our national carrier. In order to update my CV at the start of January, I compiled a list, which I thought I’d share with you, in case you are curious.

It was such a thrill to see my name in print, and I hope to have many more opportunities this year.

Here, for your reading pleasure :-), are the links and PDFs to the various articles (Updated!):

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The Pinelands Muse leaps into its third year of publication

And Richard becomes famous! :-)

Since October 2010, a glossy community magazine has popped into our postbox towards the end of each month (I wrote about their first anniversary here). Known as the Pinelands Muse, or just affectionately as ‘The Muse’, it focuses on the comings and goings in the neighbourhoods of Pinelands and Thornton, and it is a wonderful treasure chest of information about the fascinating people who live here and their unusual or exciting occupations, hobbies and travels to near and far.

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Flowering fynbos, veggie patches and quaint cottage gardens: The Rotary Anns’ annual Spring Garden Day in Pinelands

Tea and Cupcakes at the Tea Terrace

Once a year in springtime, five brave residents of Pinelands generously open their gardens to crowds of curious visitors, as part of a fund-raising event organised by the Rotary Anns of Pinelands.

This group, which is part of Rotary International, is made up of women, all of whom are mothers or grandmothers. They support various charities, which include Ons Plek, an organisation that cares for girl street children (and the only such organisation to focus specifically on young girls); and the Western Cape Care Center that works with under-privileged children at the De Waveren Primary School in Ruyterwacht. This year, about 250 people attended the event, which is more or less in line with previous years.

Since moving to Pinelands about eight years ago, we have attended several of these Spring Garden Days, and they have always been most enjoyable and inspirational. I have tremendous admiration for these residents who spend weeks, if not months or years, working on their gardens, designing the overall look, landscaping the different sections, and fine-tuning the details: adding sculptures and cute little figurines, as well as water features, bird feeders and bird baths, planting and pruning and weeding and feeding…

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