A place to stay: Kestell Hotel and Guesthouse

by Maretha Langenhoven

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future” – Corrie Ten Boom

What seemed like just another building in this small town actually turned out to be a real gem filled with character, old world charm and lots of antiques. This hotel has been renovated and the owners did a very good job of preserving the “feel” whilst at the same time giving the property a new lease on life.

Rumours has it that on the opening evening a bit more than a hundred years ago, the second floor burned down and it was then decided not to have a double story building. The original owners are not known, as the deeds cannot be found.

This little hotel and the town (almost the same size) is very central and just a short drive from “Golden Gate” and “Clarens” so we treaded off on a site seeing trip and enjoyed the beautiful mountains and scenery.

While relaxing in the foyer next to the fireplace we met some very interesting people and as you know us, started chatting to Dr. André Kruger, his wife Monica and their daughter Annie from Hoogland Health Hydro. They were travelling with Dave Barr, a remarkable American man who lost both his legs when his Jeep hit a landmine in Angola while Dave was the legendary colonel Jan Breytenbach’s machine gunner. “Dave Barr’s Rough Riders” are touring South Arica on motorcycles raising funds for Cheshire Homes. Annie organised this entire tour. You can follow them at www.chutzpah.org.za.

Lesson learned: “I have learned that the biggest disability any of us may ever face is our own attitudes.” – Jeffery F Walton

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A place to stay: De Hoek Guesthouse

by Maretha Langenhoven

A belated writing but certainly not a reflection of the hospitality we received from Frankfort (a little town, south of Villiers in the Free State).

On 6 May 2014 we arrived at “De Hoek” guesthouse where we entered a world of beautiful lavender bushes, sprawling passion fruit bushes, calming water features, a fusion of farm and French style décor and most of all a world where we met a warm, friendly and smiling Magda. She is truly an amazing woman as she single handedly ensures that her guests are welcomed, comfortable, feels at home and that they don’t go hungry (dinner and breakfast were simply fantastic) or without their caffeine fix for the day J. She graces this beautiful old renovated house with her flair and it is visible in every aspect of this old charming building and its gardens.

We stayed in the family room and had everything we needed. All rooms have a fridge, coffee station, microwave and let me not forget the extra blankets and the wall mounted heaters that keep the cold nights at bay.

If ever you pass through this small little town in the Free State, be sure to stay at “De Hoek” guesthouse, as it is truly a home away from home.

As you all know Hanno had a painful Achilles tendon and we decided to look up a physiotherapist in Frankfort, this took us to the practice of Johan Taute and made us experience yet another warm, welcoming and generous side of Frankfort. Johan sponsored Hanno for two treatments and was at the same time great company and clearly little Marhané’s favourite person of the trip so far.

As the 7th was voting day we decided to make our mark count and proceeded to the voting station in Frankfort before leaving for Tweeling. We voted nationally and although there was no cue it took us twice as long as it would because strangely we were not allowed to take Marhané in with us so we had to take turns holding her outside.

Lesson learned: its ok to ask, otherwise a yes will never be possible…

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The Journey: Day 6

What a day. The morning started gloomy, windy, cold, and the expected early. After getting everything ready to go, say our thank you and good byes to our awesome hosts at Lekoa Lodge, we set off to the start point of the day’s stage.

I felt amazingly good considering the distance I have covered since the 1st of May. So after the now customary photo at the start of the run I set off in the direction of Villiers, still a little behind schedule but ready to catch up even more during the morning.

Then I made one of my mistakes of the morning, I ran like any good citizen would, against the flow of traffic. I was not only challenged by a cold wind buffeting me from the front but also the substantial wind cushion coming with every passing truck. This combined with the blisters on my foot sufficiently changed my stride to have a very real effect on my Achilles tendon. After 9 kilometers my steady pace was reduced to a walk.

 Luckily Maretha was waiting another 8 kilometers down the road and after a little more than an hour I arrived at the first mark of the day. Here I had to make the hard decision to stop walking or running for the day to try and get a sore leg resolved. So we buzzed through to Frankfort, checked in to our stunning accommodation for the night, De Hoek Guesthouse, and went to look for a physio.

Frankfort delivered in style. We met Johan Taute at his practice and he quickly assessed the problem and went to work. His calm manner resulted in me agreeing for some dry needling, and that takes some doing. The result is that I need to rest two or three days, allow the blisters to heal up a bit and the Achilles to recover and then I can head out again; once again Johan, thank you for your care.

The sad part is that I am most likely going to miss a few kilometers on the road. This is unfortunate, but necessary if I am going to line up for Comrades on the 1st of June. So watch the space, I’ll let you know how it goes.

For now, remember, stay on the road and just keep on going.

Sometime the tool is desperately needed but not a pleasure to use. My feet after a few days of minimal shoes.

Sometime the tool is desperately needed but not a pleasure to use. My feet after a few days of minimal shoes.

 

Physio Johan helping to sort out a little case of inflamation of the Achilles tendon

Physio Johan helping to sort out a little case of inflamation of the Achilles tendon

The Journey: Day 5

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Today was the start of a new week and the second running week. Day 4 were spent at home resting with the rest of the gang and enjoying Janno’s company. The morning started out a blur; the final cleaning up of the house, dropping Janno at school, packing, buying a few last supplies, dropping the house keys (how lucky can one get with a friend like Alexandra, we are so grateful), dropping the last dvd we tried to watch from the video store, before we finally headed out of Jozi and onto the open road at elevenses.

Yes you guessed it; for the third time in four I started my run around noon. With this in mind I think it is appropriate to thank Karin Wessels for organizing the very generous Annique sponsorship with a special mention of the sunscreen. And like Baz Luhrman said in 1998, trust me on the sunscreen. After three days of hours spend in the sun with very little protection other than Annique’s Rooibos sunscreen, I can say without a doubt in my mind; it works! So if you are faced by the possibility of going for an extended time in the sun, choose wisely choose Annique.

The day’s running was split into two. During the first part, with the sun beating down on me from above and the black top returning more of the same from below; I covered a little more than 17 kilometers; all of it barefoot with a different levels of comfort or discomfort. After a quick break and a late midday lunch I started the second part of the day to complete the day’s assignment and to make up some ground on the lost kilometers of the first and second day. The second run of the day took me to 27.5 kilometers for the day and 4 kilometers gained back on ground lost.

So tomorrow I will be running into and through Villiers, out of Mpumalanga and into the Orange Free State, where there are no oranges, nothing is for free and their football is in a terrible state (hat tip Leon Schuster). Maybe, as a Stormer supporter, I should keep very quiet about the latter.

The thought for the day and one that kept me busy for kilometers on an end; how often do we see the beauty next to the road we travel? The long kilometers, the slog, the hard work, and the lonely hours are easy to spot and so often fill our vision. But amidst all of that, if we are willing to slow down and take a look around, beauty is to be found.

So remember, slow down; stay on the road and just keep on going.

Why Barefoot Comrades 2014?

Why Barefoot Comrades 2014?

The obvious answer is that I am a barefooter and Comrades 2013 inspired me to run Comrades again in 2014. The initial idea was to run Comrades 2014 barefoot. This idea germinated and grew into the project which is called Comrades 2014 and consists out of two parts, the first to run from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg in the days leading up to Comrades 2014 and the second to run Comrades to complete the Johannesburg to Durban journey.

The idea came to fruition when it was decided that the project will partner with a community development partner as a fundraiser. The initial question was which partner to choose. Seeing that social and eco justice issues are part of the reason that I go barefoot the obvious type of partner would also be involved in these. It was with this in mind that the project started looking for possible partners. It was with great excitement when Reel Gardening agreed to be the community development partner in this exciting project.

But who is Reel Gardening and why them. Reel Gardening is the company that was founded by Claire Reid and works closely with their partner NPO Reel Life, headed by Emily Jones. As a teenager Claire developed a seed tape to be used in the planting of vegetable gardens. Using the seed tape it becomes fairly easy and straight forward to plant a garden. Seeds are protected in the seed tape, spaced correctly, fertilized, and the correct planting depth indicated. All you need to do is to plant the tape and keep it moist. Due to the protected space in which the seed germinates up to 80% less water is needed in the process of germination. A product and company that makes it really accessible for most people to start their own vegetable garden at home.

Reel Gardening is not only involved in the production of seed tape, but created a box with the specific goal to aid in the development of vegetable gardens in communities, at schools and orphanages, and other places where food is desperately needed. The box includes seed tape to plant a 100m2 vegetable garden with a variety of vegetables which will feed up to 50 people once a day for 30 days. However, that is only one aspect of the community garden box; the other aspect is the training that goes along with it, as well as an initial assessment of the area the garden will be developed in, equipping the community in terms of spades and forks et cetera, the training of the community and the transfer of skills via workshops, garden layout plan, information cards, as well as telephonic support and follow up meetings. Typically a complete garden developed at for instance a school will consists out of four community boxes, four training sessions, a selection of tools, information cards as well as telephonic support.

The development of vegetable gardens becomes essential in certain communities that are faced with an ever increasing threat to their food security. In a later blog I will look at the challenges faced by some communities in regards to food security and the amount of households in South Africa that’s faced by food insecurity every day. It is worthwhile to keep in mind that those who suffer most from a lack of food or limited access to food are children.

Thus the purpose of the Barefoot Comrades 2014 project; to raise as much funds as possible to develop as many as possible vegetable gardens, especially at schools and orphanages with the aim to feed children who have limited access to food.

How does it work? Every community box consists out of 280 meters of seed tape, a complete garden of four boxes out of 1 120 meters of seed tape, as well as the assessment, training, information cards, tools, as well as follow up. To implement a complete garden costs R15 600, or translated to cost per meter, R16.67. And I know you can already see the way that the project is structured. You are invited to become part of the project by sponsoring a certain amount of meters. This can be done in different ways.

  • You can sponsor a certain amount of meters at R16.67. For every 1 120 meters sponsored in this way, we can develop one complete garden.
  • You can sponsor a leg of the run, for example the run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the 89 km Comrades. The amount per meter is up to you to decide. If you sponsor 18c per meter for the distance of the Comrades, you have sponsored one complete garden.
  • You can sponsor the whole journey from Johannesburg to Durban. Once again the amount is up to you to decide. For every 2.5c sponsored per meter will implement a complete garden.
  • You can donate a fixed amount, for example R1 000. We will convert this to an amount of meters by dividing your donated amount, R1 000, by R16.67, the cost of one meter of seed tape. In the case of the example R1 000 / R16.67 = 60 meters of seed tape.

Throughout the project a seed tape indicator, on the website, will show how many meters of tape contributors have donated to the project.

Claire Reid with a few seed strips. This is where the funds are going. To plant these for schools and orphanages.

Claire Reid with a few seed strips. This is where the funds are going. To plant these for schools and orphanages.