Cape flora is everywhere in retreat

How no-man’s-land is now everyone’s problem: the renowned Cape flora is everywhere in retreat as runaway pine invasions.

The renowned Cape flora is everywhere in retreat as runaway pine invasions transform the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains
by Richard Cowling, Brian van Wilgen, Tineke Kraaij and Jonathan Britton..

The attached article (PDF) submitted by Shirley Cowling, was written way back in 2009. An interesing read.

Download PDF – Pine invasion in Garden Route mountains

Original article


Lessons to be learnt

Lessons to be learnt from recent events

Waking at 3:00 yesterday morning and seeing the news of the huge fire in London’s Grenfell tower block seemed almost surreal. Visions of the horror of 9/11 were immediately brought to mind and the scenes on TV were as if there was a rescreening of the movie Towering Inferno.

Watching as the fire engulfed the tower one could only hope and pray that those on the upper floors of the 24-story building were able to escape the inferno. As of this morning the death toll was only being reported as 12 but with many more people as yet still unaccounted for, one can only imagine this figure will rise significantly as firemen access the upper floors which are still burning this morning.

Those who witnessed the 9/11 twin towers disasters on TV will undoubtedly remember scenes of people jumping from the towers and facing certain death rather than be consumed by fire. Although similar scenes were not seen on TV footage yesterday, similar scenes were reported by bystanders. One of the most amazing reports was of a mother dropping a child from the ninth or tenth floor being caught by a man on the ground below. Miracles do happen in times of disaster.

But out of disaster comes human spirit and kindness which has been so visibly displayed in all of the fire disasters that have headlined our news in the past seven days. In each and every one of these catastrophic events it has been not only the bravery of the firmen and women fighting the blazes but also the generosity and caring of the surrounding communities that possibly deserves mention. Although not directly affected our own community came together to help whether it for food, water and medical equipment and supplies for the firefighters or food, clothing, bedding for those most affected by the fires including animals. As with our community so it was in London where it was reported that aid was being turned away so generous were the donations received within hours of the disaster.

With the Garden Route, Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay still so fresh in our minds another fire, even one so far from our own shores, is a grim reminder of the speed at which fire devours all before it, sparing nothing and impossible to arrest. It therefore bears time to reflect and to ask the question, how prepared are YOU should fire strike close to home, YOUR HOME?

Fire Extinguishers

  • Do you have fire extinguishers at home? An all-purpose extinguisher (one that combats both grease and electrical fires) should always be kept in the kitchen. You should also keep one in the garage and anywhere else where something combustible could start a fire.
  • If you do have fire extinguishers, and you should, when did you last check the expiration date on the fire extinguishers?
  • With winter upon us and if you have a gas heater, have you had it serviced before the onset of the cold? If not you should do so immediately. Bob Miekle offers a gas heater service facility so make sure you call him today to service yours.
  • Precaution should be taken with any heating device and here are some suggestions you should pay attention to even if they seem like common sense.
    • Have a one-meter pet and kid-free zone around all heating devices.
    • Never leave any heating devices unattended.
    • Make sure fireplaces have screens to prevent sparks setting the house on fire.
    • When burning any heater except an electrical one, make sure there is good ventilation in the room.
    • Never leave heaters on when you go out.
    • Never put anything on top of a heater – even when it is switched off.
    • Make sure there is nothing that can catch fire within a meter of the heating device.
    • Check electrical wiring on heaters and don’t use extension cords, multi-plugs or any device with frayed wiring.
  • Ensure the bush around your home is clear and does not present a fire risk
  • If a neighbouring plot is overgrown insist that the owner clears the overgrowth or report it to the municipality so that they can have it cleared.
  • Keep all your important documents in an easily accessible place where should a threat arise, such documents / belongings can be quickly recovered if you have to evacuate your home.

There is little doubt that the experiences of the past week, both in South Africa and abroad, will be the subject of a debriefing by the St Francis Disaster Volunteer Group (SFDVG). Certainly we are fortunate not to have multi-story buildings in St Francis but we do have other possible challenges that need to be identified and planned for. If you haven’t yet joined the official dsaster management Facebook portal you do so for in the event of a local disaster it will be where accurate information will be posted to keep the community up to date with information.


Why is it not a law in South Africa that every home /  building is not required to have fire detection equipment installed? Surely it should be an absolute requirement as important as, if not more so than an electrical certificate and certainly more so than a borer beetle certificate.

State of Disaster

Statement by Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen:

The Kouga Council will be holding a special meeting at the Council Chambers in Jeffreys Bay at 2pm today (Monday, 12 June). The purpose of the meeting will be for Council to declare a local state of disaster in the wake of the destruction caused by fire to large parts of the Kouga region, its communities and infrastructure over the past five days.

The declaration will follow less than two weeks after the Kouga Council also declared a local state of disaster (on 31 May) because of the prolonged drought that has been crippling the area.

Council’s plea to residents is that just as we stood together in the heat of the fire, we now have to stand together in rebuilding, in the same spirit, our families, our infrastructure and our Kouga.

The Kouga Council wishes to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance with rescue and relief efforts in our region over the past few days:

  • Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for trying to get Thornhill’s electricity on this afternoon (Sunday) soonest.
  • MTN for jacking up the signal booster to improve communication in the Thornhill area.
  • Sarah Baartman District Municipality’s leadership and Disaster Management teams
  • Farming community and staff, who offered amazing support in spite of their own properties also being under threat.
  • SAPS for continued support
  • Longmore MTO, Working on Fire and fire-fighters from nearby districts.
  • All donors and volunteers from all over Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay. All donations are managed strictly under supervision and control.
  • Kouga Municipality’s Social Services Director Japie Jansen, Kouga Fire Chief Dewald Barnard and fire-fighting teams, all Kouga staff, councillors and anyone else who dedicated time and effort for the people of Kouga.

We say thank you!

We further wish to express sincere condolences to the family of the couple who Van der Riet family This was a severe tragedy of our disaster.

We are also sad to have heard about farm houses that were partly damaged or burnt down, loss of staff houses, livestock, implements and outbuildings.

Expedition Port Elizabeth

The only other reason to cross the Gamtoos would be to visit Port Elizabeth

The recent Expedition Africa was motivation to cross the Gamtoos River for the first time in over two years. The only other reason to cross the Gamtoos would be to visit Port Elizabeth and quite frankly cities were too much part of life for so many years to find any joy other than visiting through necessity.

So having to travel for a very early medical appointment in Port Elizabeth last week saw me crossing the Gamtoos river for a second time in a week. Not wanting to add to the stress of a very early morning drive in the dark (old eyes don’t see too good in the dark) for what was already promising to be a stressful day, staying overnight in Port Elizabeth seemed the only sensible option. Certainly staying with a friend would have been preferred but inconsiderate so the choice was either a hotel or B&B.

Having become a ‘true St Franciscan’ supporting anything St Francis will always be uppermost when making decisions on where to shop, stay or dine so the decision was easy knowing that Cape St Francis Resort has in its stable, a B&B in Newington Road on Richmond Hill, aptly named Newington Place. Having lived in PE way when this area really was in rather bad repair and it was certainly a revelation to see how beautifully these historic, Victorian homes have been so lovingly restored.

Newington Place

Newington Place a beautifully restored Victorian Home

In the mid 70’s I purchased a settler cottage (circa 1864) in Ivy Street on the hill when it could only be described as a slum. A few pioneers’ snapped up these little cottages (I paid R8500 for a two bedroom with an outdoor toilet) and so the area was gradually upgraded. Being young and energetic I soon had the cottage restored into a rather quaint little ‘yuppie’ pad and yes it now had an indoor bathroom.

But back to Newington Place!  Set on a large (double) stand on the corner of Newington Road and Dickens Street with a huge garden to one side filled with leafy green trees and colourful bushes and certainly a bird paradise. At the rear of the house, well away from the road frontage is a lovely and sunny garden with a sparkling pool, a built in braai and el fresco bar for visitors to enjoy as well as a newly built deck overlooking the garden, a perfect spot to chill out after a long journey or day in the city.

Newington Place Pool

Newington Place private garden and pool, a perfect spot to ‘chill’

With five bedrooms in the main house, a self-catering cottage and another self-contained unit in the garden, Newington Place is certainly worth considering if you need to stay in the city the night or for a few days. All the rooms have garden views and most of the bedrooms have flat screen TV’s but the common area with its large comfy couch is a far more sociable place to ‘hang out’ and chat with fellow guests or watch TV. Wandering around the passages there are some interesting pictures including what appears to be the original deed of sale. There is no doubt that care has been taken to retain the house’s originality whilst installing modern conveniences.

Newington Place en-suie bedrooms with beautiful period furnishings

Richmond Hill has benefitted hugely from the SRA (yes that word that seems to scare a few locals) and no better example of this is Stanley Street which is a short drive or taxi ride from Newington Place. Rather reminiscent of Florida Road in Durban there is a wide choice of places to dine and I chose a nice little pub that was really reasonable with a good draught beer at a very reasonable price.

So if you have an early flight out of or a late flight into PE and don’t want to risk a drive in the dark or for whatever other the reason you may have to stay over in the city, staying over at Newington Place certainly is worth considering. Nothing in Port Elizabeth is said to be more that a 20 minute drive away and Newington Place is certainly even closer to most, particular the hospitals and some great dining choices.

NMMU String Quartet to perform Haydn’s 7 Crosswords

NMMU String Quartet to perform Haydn’s 7 Crosswords on Easter Sunday

A string quartet from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University will be performing Haydn’s 7 Crossword especially composed for Good Friday at 12 noon on Good Friday (April 14th).

It is a privilege to have this string quartet made up of lecturers at NMMU play in St Francis so come and enjoy an hour of moving and magical music.

Venue: St Francis United Church House, Cnr St Francis Drive & Walton Road on Good Fridayy at 12 noon. There is no charge for attendance!

NMMU string quartet to perform in St Francis



Power outage in CSF

Power outage in Cape St Francis

It really would be interesting to get to the bottom of why Cape St Francis so often suddenly goes dark on a Sunday evenings. A couple of weeks back it was the whole of St Francis when wind blew something onto the power lines but there have been several occurrences that have gone unexplained. It always is just before 7:00pm just as Carte Blanche is about to be aired. Surely this cannot just be a coincidence.

One almost has visions of some disenchanted electrician sitting at the municipal switchboard taking great glee in switching the ‘Cape St Francis Switch’ to off. Only kidding but it would be nice to why it happens so regularly.