Enough for all if we don’t steal from the ocean 

Stephen's Scribble

I was sitting on the beach the other morning with my vegan friend I could see these were old hands at this … A couple of guys were absolutely smashing the Shad in front us…. putting back the smaller ones and keeping some beauties. As the one guy was reeling in a feisty one, I was thinking how delicious a pan fried Shad would be to take home for breakfast and cursing myself for not bringing my rod with me. It was just then when she turned around to me and said, “Don’t you think they’ve got enough? Those poor fish!” I was a little lost for words actually.

Stephen's Scribble - Fishing in St Francis

Having worked with passionate marine conservationists over the years I am well aware that our oceans are in big trouble. We should never lose site of the fact however that there is a BIG difference between commercial fishing and recreational fishing. Both have boundaries and codes of ethics. Some legislated, some not. At the heart of this lies the individual that is doing the catching. When it comes to sustainability it is the character of those individuals who can make or break things.

Here in the greater St Francis region there are a LOT of fishermen. They’re a huge part of our culture and history. It’s more than an institution or sport …. I would liken it more to a religion.

Packing one’s gear the night before. Gently informing the missus and telling her what time you’ll be back. (more or less). Checking the tides. Scoring the bait. The weather. The sea temperature and visibility. The early wake up. The walk to the spot you’d found recently. Baiting the hook and casting out as the sun creeps over the horizon. That feeling as you stand with your finger on the nylon as your mind finally goes into neutral. The anticipation as you feel that “duk …duk …duk” on the line. Then the “graggadukdukduk” knowing you’re ON! The rush of the fight and the thrill of landing a ‘Boytjie’!

It’s epic stuff. But let me not leave out the best part. Later on … your family and friends around the fire telling fishing stories and enjoying a delicious freshly foraged meal. Questions like “So where did you catch this one Mike?” Answers like “There on the other side my Bru” …. Don’t for one moment think that a fisherman is going to give away secrets that easily! Gotta love the fishing banter around a fire …..

Fishing subculture runs deep. It’s been written into folklore for centuries. I believe most of our fishing fraternity DO respect the ocean and understand what fish are okay to catch and which are less so. Developing that consciousness can only enhance ones love and respect for the ocean and it’s continued (localised) abundance. Every now and again it’s good to ask oneself, “How can I fish more responsibly?”

We have much to be grateful for, lets not take things for granted. Here’s to all the locals who regard Mother Ocean as their church. This stuff runs deep for many of us and is worth honouring. A special shout out to those are helping fight the battle against the devastating exploitation further offshore … Massive respect to you! I have visions of the “St Francis Sea Shepard” … no doubt there’ll be no shortage of crew members.

Back on the beach, as I sat there pondering my vegan friend’s question, (and the bigger picture) it got answered right before my eyes. I looked up and checked the ‘Ballie’ we’d been watching thread six fat Shad onto a nylon rope, rinse them in the sea, pack his bag and head off down the beach. Enough for the braai later with some friends…. and a few (carefully edited) stories. With renewed enthusiasm and a little stoke for the Ou I retorted, “He’s got the perfect amount and they’re nutritious and delicious!” …. She just rolled her perfect, deep brown, militant eyes at me …. “Oh look” I said … “There’s an Oyster Catcher over there!”

Stephen Praetorious

Article by Stephen Praetorious

Our Beautiful Flowers raise their heads once again

Article by Yvonne BosmanYvonne Bosman

Brunsvigia gregariaAll around St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis one can see the beautiful pink flowers coming out of the grass from the canals alongside the pavements of both villages. This is the Brunsvigia, which belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. They are fast disappearing from the Kouga area due to ignorance, and is worth saving for its great beauty. Plant lovers and botanists are concerned that it will die out if people, new to the area, are not informed about it and they would like to encourage people to protect this very special plant.

The Brunsvigia plant has a large bulb with a particularly beautiful inflorescence. The latter consists of about 20 to 30 pink, to deep pink, or crimson flowers on a stalk rising straight out of the ground, without any leaves being visible. Occasionally one will appear in white, but this is most unusual. The flowers usually appear above ground in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around the veld like tumbleweed.

If you rescue these flower heads to make into unusual indoor decorations, please ensure that any seeds that are left in them are planted in a safe spot. The plants can be propagated by planting the seeds.

There are two species of Brunsvigia locally. The larger one, Brunsvigia litoralis, with erect leaves, is restricted to a very small area and is not commonly seen whereas the smaller one, Brunsvigia gregaria, is more widespread. However, both should be preserved.

The flower should be left to dry naturally so that the seed can set and then be dispersed by wind. Gardeners are advised to mow around the flower to let it dry naturally.

In winter, when the plant is building up growth for the next flowering period, the leaves come out (in the case of Brunsvigia gregaria) as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to the uninformed. Gardeners often dig them up, not knowing what they are, so a wonderful treasure is lost.

Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Margie Middleton 083 658 3472  or Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588.

Photo: A Brunsvigia gregaria photographed on the parking area near Spar and bowling green.

Brunsvigia gregaria

An inspiration to young and old

Stephen's Scribble

It’s wonderful to feel inspired. It gives us that extra zest for life. Albeit trying something new or re-inventing the way we already do something, inspiration adds flavour, colour and motivation to our existence. Inspiration comes in many forms and we are all inspired in different ways. Albeit a new idea, the wonders of nature, watching X Factor, an oil painting, a beautiful piece of music, an architecturally designed home or following a person on social media …. inspiration is at our fingertips all the time.

Recently, Dr Otto Thaning from Cape Town completed yet another Robben Island swim. A serious accomplishment for any endurance swimmer. What sets Otto apart is he’s 80 years old! Otto also holds the record for the oldest person (at 73) to have swum across the English Channel. I met him in 2018 in Dover where he was attempting to break his own record. Sadly the weather conditions weren’t favourable and Otto lost his window of opportunity, but that didn’t seem to phase him too much. As a retired heart surgeon Otto also worked with Dr Chris Barnard back in the day. His life story is absolutely fascinating yet when you meet him, he comes across as a vibrant, energetic every day sort of person. No air and graces yet when you look at the sparkle in his eyes you know that he has wonderful insight on life and how to lead it to the full.

Otto & LewisLewis Pugh another hugely inspirational character was on board the pilot boat while Otto did the swim. It took Otto 2Hrs52min. The water was 16 degrees centigrade. He was wearing a speedo, swimming cap and goggles. Think about that for second. The water locally has been cold lately, a pretty similar temperature actually. How on earth can an eighty year old man endure such cold while swimming a marathon!? It boggles the mind. I caught up with Lewis (The human Polar bear) about that experience and what it was like to witness one of his hero’s complete this epic swim.

“You know Stephen, your bodies thermostat doesn’t actually work so well once you get passed 75”, he started. “When you have a Father figure and friend that is in agony, on the verge of hypothermia and on the edge, it can get emotional. I had to remain completely calm. My job was to give feedback on water temperature, distance to go, motivate on how well he was doing and never ever lose sight of the end goal. I knew he had trained well and what what he is capable of mentally. He was very very cold …. but there was never any doubt”

On completion of the swim, (over a lovely warm drink no doubt) Lewis asked Otto what his secrets were to longevity and living such an incredibly active life. The good Doctor shared 4 of his secrets.

1. Genetics. Otto acknowledges being blessed to have be born with good genes. It’s a bit like drawing a strong card at birth.

2. Nutrition. Otto has followed a healthy well balanced diet his entire life and never been entrapped by any of the vices that are ever present in modern day society.

3. Exercise. Get the blood pumping four times a week says Otto. Learn how to push the boundaries without injury. Love being in your body.

4. Mental Health. Stress is not good but it exists. It can be reinvented through a positive healthy mindset. There are a multitude of different ways to nurture our minds. Make that part of your daily routine.

Stephen PraetoriousHaving put down the phone to Lewis, I took a moment to reflect on some of the people in my life that have inspired me. The list is enormous. In fact I was so inspired by how many inspiring people exist in my life that I feel inspired to share more inspiring stories. What better place to start than right here in St Francis where so many incredible people live. If you have an inspiring story or know of that special somebody who has inspired you, leave a comment …. these sorts of stories are so worth sharing.

Article by Stephen Praetorious

Learning to Toyi-Toyi in the land of the free

Stephen's ScribbleSouth Africa is truly an amazing country. I often wonder about what it is that connects us to this diverse and complex place. I’ve observed over the years at how my relationship with my country has fluctuated. It’s not like a love / hate relationship …. more like a love frustrate relationship. It’s been a bit like a yo-yo ….

I’ve been blessed to live through so many of its transitions. As a privileged white child, I was shielded by the apartheid system. Unaware of the racism and inequality my middle class upbringing in the cosy suburbs was idyllic. Apartheid was specifically designed to look after the white people. And it did. For decades. Although my parents knew it was wrong and never voted for National party, they were never quite brave enough to push the boundaries further that the official “white opposition” party. By doing anything else they would have been breaking the law. Not an option for my parents. In saying that Donald Woods lived just down the road from us in East London and later on we went to school with Molly Blackburn’s’ sons. Being an activist in those days was not for the feint hearted. Both these families experienced severe trauma through persecution of the apartheid regime.

I was shoved onto a train in Port Elizabeth in the late 1980’s and taken to Pretoria for compulsory National Service. I suppose it was only then that I got a real taste of what it was like to be part of that system. We we told about knowing our enemy, the African National Congress. We were drilled day in and day out for three intensive months of basic training. We were taught how to shoot rifles and trained to go and fight in the wars that had been raging in Angola and Mozambique for decades. The attempted brain washing didn’t work on me personally but it did on many others. I got lucky as the war in Angola was nearly at an end. Friends of mine from school had been less fortunate.

In 1990 the ANC was unbanned and a few years later, the birth of a new democracy. The celebration hope of a new future for the nation under Nelson Mandela was palpable. It was an amazing time. I can only imagine how incredible it must have been for so many non white South Africans to finally be free. Something I’d taken for granted my whole life. Such basic human rights denied for decades. To be fair the new leadership inherited a real monster. How on earth were they going to pull millions and millions of marginalised people out of poverty? Back then the unemployment rate was already high. Human rights abuses in the workplace had of course lead to a powerful trade union movement during the apartheid era. COSATU (Confederation of South African Trade Unions) had become the ANC’s biggest ally during the resistance. How to marry apartheid style capitalism to the fiercely communistic ideologies of the labour force was never going to be easy.

Personally as a young white male it was also a challenging time. I had studied personnel management. Due to affirmative action, finding a job in my field was proving nigh impossible. Like many others I decided to seek greener pastures. I was fortunate to be well educated and resourceful. So I left for a while to forage abroad. Not so easy on the “green gamba” (S.A passport) … but I managed

As the years rolled by back home, I became quite opinionated about what I considered South Africa’s demise. Nonetheless I went home every year. Each time, I couldn’t wait to get back. It was was my country, my home. The place where I grew up and where my family still resided. Clearly I needed an attitude adjustment. It was hard, nigh impossible. to be fair especially during the Zuma regime. But it never changed my deep connection with our country. If I still wanted to be here and enjoyed being here every time I came homes. I felt free yet I needed to find ways to self-determine and survive under a different set of corrupt leadership. Once I got that into my head and stopped over reading all the bad news stories, things really improved.

Of course there will always be a very challenging political and socio-economic landscape here, one in which we all need to survive. Granted South Africa is not for sissies there are very real issues but there is also an incredible spectrum of awesome people. We should always remind ourselves that the huge majority of people that live here are inherently good. I remember the British press warning of how dangerous SA had become prior to us hosting the 2010 World Cup football. At one point they were even recommending people wore bullet proof vests for goodness sake! What utter nonsense. I helped curate the music at the Fan Park in down town Cape Town. I was there every day and night during the duration of the event. Booze was on sale …. many thought it could be a recipe for disaster … yet not one bad incident. I heard that there were similar good vibes at all the other Fan Parks. Everybody just watching the games and having a blast! It’s the people that make up the Rainbow Nation after all and those colours are still very bright.

Nonetheless, we’ve all witnessed the demise of the Rand since 2010. A very solid indicator of investor confidence. We’ve seem time and again how people illegally emptying State coffers aren’t brought to book. We’ve seen the lack of service delivery. Higher rates of unemployment. The list goes on. It’s really not good

But …. and here’s the rub …. Just about every other country in the world is also in kak these days. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but think about that for second. I am gobsmacked at how naive so many people in the supposed First World countries are regarding the human rights abuses that are happening right now. This weird Orwellian prophecy is actually coming true. In the States, legislation is on the table to make it illegal for people to protest! Say what? To make matters worse all over the world people are complying … like sheep. Those very important freedoms that are at the cornerstone of ‘well advanced’ society are being taken away. London, New York, Paris, Naples, Barcelona etc etc…are no longer the same. I don’t want to go to any of those pozzies right now…why would I?

I want to stay in South Africa where people are not so good at ‘complying’. We’ve been there done that. The government knows this and understands that their capacity to enforce unjust laws is extremely limited. I’d like to believe that trying to control the general population is just not the African way. Freedom in Africa runs very very deep …. and it’s held sacred. South Africans don’t take too kindly to being suppressed and told what to do.

There is trouble on the horizon in many countries beyond our shores. In the words of Chris Hedges “It is certain that popular revolt is coming” Perhaps when that populous he is referring to finally decides to wake up they’ll turn to South Africa … the land of the free … to learn how to toyi toyi …









The German engineered Duo “P” carpet cleaning powder available in St Francis


Ursela Carpet Cleaning in St FrancisA hearty welcome to one of our latest entrepreneurs, Ursela Van Deventer. Ursela following in her Mother’s footsteps, is offering a boutique style DRYCARPET, UPHOLSTRY and MATTRASS CLEANING service in the greater St. Francis area.

The German engineered Duo “P” carpet cleaning powder removes stains and deep cleans carpets. This product has proven results in both the commercial and domestic markets. Absolutely NO WATER, SOAP or CARPET SHAMPOOis used in the cleaning process. Flattened carpet pile is also restored. Tested by Cleaning Research International in accordance with International Wool Secretariat Test Methods and is suitable for use on wool and Persian carpets too.

Recommended by the British and German allergy Foundations, the industrial strength Sebo vacuum cleaners are quiet and fitted with a S-Class filtration system.  The cleaners remove pet hair, pollen, bacteria and microscopic dust particles from carpets and come highly recommendedfor allergy and asthma sufferers. The deep cleaning of upholstery and mattresses also kills and removes mites.

URSELA’S CARPET DRY CLEAN is owner operated, giving clients full peace of mind. Attention to detail is at the cornerstone of every job. Quotesare done free of charge. If you require boutique style carpet, upholstery and mattress dry cleaning, look no further. Ursela’s friendly efficient service, very reasonable prices and excellent results speak for themselves.

Ursula Carpet Cleaners Wool approved

Time for the Annual King of the Kromme sponsored by Pam Golding Properties

Pam Golding Properties KING OF THE KROMME – hosted by St Francis Paddling Club.

This annual event will be held starting at Quaysyde at 3:00pm, Saturday 3rd April. This flat water paddling race takes paddlers up the beautiful Kromme and into peaceful waters of the Geelhout before returning down the Kromme, into the canals  to finsh where it started at Quaysyde. With tides and sand-banks to contend with the race takes not only fitness but skill to stay up with the pack in the hope of crossing the finish line first.

As always there will be the celebratory party after the race abiding by Covid-19 protocols of course where the winners of the events of the day will be presented with their trophies

So who will lift the 2021  title of “KING OF THE KROMME”!

we are hoping defending King of the Kromme champion Andy Birkett who has just won the 2021 Dusi for the eighth time  will be back to defend his title on Easter Saturday.

He will be up against top local paddlers Phil Smith, Gordon Spalding and Andrew Carter. Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate our first local winner!

It’s a beautiful 20km course up the Kromme and Geelhout, with a 12km short course, and junior “guppy” races too.

A Carbonology split paddle at a retail value of R2600 will go to a lucky draw winner.

Pam Golding Properties have sponsored this event since inception. Call Richard Arderne on 083 284 0168 for more info.

Who will it be this year? Maybe we will see a home grown winner for the first time in Phil Smith.

Some facts on the defending champion Andy Birkett published on the website of his Alma Mater (the ed is also an Old College Boy).

Maritzburg College is considered one of the top canoeing schools in SA, and the convenience of having the Msunduzi River right on our doorstep has fuelled the continued growth of the school’s canoe club.
2021 saw OC Andy Birkett claim his 11th Dusi Canoe Marathon win, making it eight wins consecutively! Andy first started paddling at Merchiston under Sally Peckett – and he and his brother “Ox” joined the College paddlers on a canoeing expedition to Knysna when they were still “Mudrats”. Andy competed in his first Dusi when he was only 13 years old.

Here are the Pam Golding “King of the Kromme” from 2009 to 2019 including some of the top paddlers in the world.