Should we feel guilty if we have no load shedding?

Brian and I live in a weird paradise at the moment?
We listen to the news and can even watch TV, now that our 1993 solar system has been upgraded to Rolls Royce status. And we feel sort of guilty. Because on the one hand we feel as angry and frustrated as all South Africans do –  to think that the present state of Eskom’s affairs has even affected the game of cricket, and our country’s international image – resulting in our downgrading!

But on the other hand, we are unaffected!  We haven’t had a moment’s inconvenience (load shedding), our lights are on at the flick a switch. We have just watched  the incredible movie “Life is Beautiful” – all 3 hours of it. And Brian cooks up a storm whenever he feels like it –  On our wood stove, that is.

Being off the grid has physical and emotional perks – ask us. We have just welcomed our guests from Jo’burg – Roshna and Jay Morar, and we can honestly guarantee NO load shedding for their 4 day stay on Paardeplaats. We showed them how to light the wood stove, gave them our  WIFI code and showed them our latest luxury – a USB plug point in each room for cell phones and laptops.

To be honest, we don’t revel in others’ misfortune. We’re so grateful  that we are not affected by the dismal state of affairs inflicted on our entire country. Grateful to our son Arno for the brilliant upgrade design of our present solar system, and to Arthur Zonneveld for the perfect installation!

On Paardeplaats we lead a rather simple existence – close to basics, one could say. (Or as Brian refers to it – “what we have is elegant simplicity”…) We cook on a wood stove, or we braai; this very wood stove makes enough hot water for our shower, limiting our use of gas for showers. Our gas fridges  all have been replaced with eco friendly electric ’AA’ fridge freezers. Our electricity and lights are solar and through good discipline we turn them on and off as needed. We even do our washing and ironing through our new system!

But overnight our basic living has apparently turned into ultra luxury. This is so ironical! We wish we could share this with all off deprived South Africa.

Go solar (green) guys, it pays – sooner than you think! Come and try it out, for a weekend on Paardeplaats Nature Retreat!!



“Holism is the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts, through creative evolution…”  – Jan Smuts


A Thought provoking question based on the above:

Why is it that Albert Einstein was so impressed by Jan Smuts and vice versa?

They both lived in the same era,  they were both great, deep thinkers! They were both greatly affected by the painful circumstances of their times,  and they both loved nature! Both Einstein and Smuts left deep inroads in the lives we all live today.

Einstein was totally absorbed by his theory of Relativity and Jan Smuts by his thoughts on Philosophy and Holism.  Relativity and Holism have many common overlapping similarities. There is plenty of common ground, in the two ‘theories’.

Albert Einstein had a lasting input in science. We all know that!
Jan Smuts, after his personal, painful experiences of the ‘Boereoorlog’ and then the Great War,  drove the initiative to form the ‘League of Nations” (The Commonwealth of Nations – the bigger picture to bridge the differences between the nations of mankind – the Holism of mankind!

Jan Smuts warned the world (America) during the Peace Treaty of Versailles that the terms were unfair, and that there would very likely be another war!  There was! Together with Winston Churchill, they were the driving force behind the formation of a homeland for the Jews – Israel.

Neither Albert Einstein nor Jan Smuts were politicians, although Smuts by allowing himself to ‘drop to that level’ burnt his fingers, and was ultimately largely rejected by his own people, due to selfish, shortsighted ignorance on their part!

These two people, through their love of nature, their ability to see the bigger picture, and their deep unselfish thinking, made a difference in our world and in all of our lives!

Through nature, it is important to endeavour to understand the Holistic picture! – God’s creation.

Please feel free to comment!

Trout, the darling fish of weight watchers

Dullstroom and the Mpumalanga Highlands, with its close proximity to Gauteng, has been dubbed Trouteng with good reason.


Trout has become synonymous with fly-fishing as a recreational activity. Areas with pristine waters have become popular tourist attractions. Leisure farmers, guest lodges and numerous tourism enterprises are luring outdoor lovers to their establishments.

Salmon and Trout represent the backbone of aquaculture worldwide and South Africa is no exception. Trout started reaching the South African food market in noticeable volumes by the mid-seventies. It was first introduced around 1890 when brown trout ova arrived on a sailing ship from Scotland. The first fingerlings were hatched at a Cape Town brewery where Newlands is today. Few people realise that trout pioneered aquaculture in South Africa.



Fish consumption has globally increased more than five-fold in the last fifty years with aquaculture becoming the fastest growing sustainable food producer in the world. The world’s food requirements are expected to double over the next 35 years to sustain the planet’s population of 9.1 billion people.Natural fisheries cannot meet the demand and aquaculture, with its green economy, has become a lifeline in food production.



Trout aquaculture is a good choice for a variety of reasons.

•              Talk trout and you talk minimal carbon emission with an infrastructure footprint that relatively small in relation to production.

•              T trout is not a consumptive water user and has little impact on river health.

•              Trout are cold-blooded and do not require energy to maintain body temperature. Their feed conversion ratio is 1.2 to 1 which compares favourably with other farmed animals.

•              Trout is accordingly SASSI Green Listed.


Trout has become a popular alternative to weight watchers and health-conscious consumers.

It is known to be:

•              High in Omega 3 & 6 oils

•              Recommended as a healthy way to reduce risk of heart attack, stroke or heart disease

•              Ideal for weight loss

•              0% carbohydrates

•              0% trans fats

•              High in Vit D and Vit B-12


Although trout appeals to the health-conscious and the general fish lover this fish has also become preferred cuisine to people with cultural or religious preferences.  Suitable for breakfast, lunch, dinner and functions, many caterers use it as an affordable salmon replacement. The processed products make for convenient, easy starters and canapés.

Suitable for breakfast, lunch, dinner and functions, many caterers use it as an affordable salmon replacement. The processed products make for convenient, easy starters and canapés.

Cool Cuisine caterer Bevvie Marais from Kook, lists filled pancakes, crostini’s, mousse and trout pies amongst her popular catering favourites.

Saucy Chef Brian Whitehorn’s Trout with lemon and herb butter accounted for 40% of his sales in his awarded Dullstroom restaurant,  Die Tonteldoos Bistro. Brian served trout for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Source: Lunsklip Fishing





Schedule of Church Services held at Paardeplaats Cross on “Jesus Hill”

Services to be held on the “Jesus Hill” at the Cross for 2013:

Note: Please park down at the gate, for all functions or services.  Vehicles cause serious erosion(We will make arrangements  for all those who can’t climb the hill to the cross)
Services are  non denominational , and are open to all. Please bring along your own Bible, walking stick, blankets, cushions, coffee etc, and dress warmly!

  • Easter Sunday 31st March 2013, 06h00 “Sonrise” Service –at the cross.
  • Ascension Day Thursday 9th May 06h00 – Short service at the cross, for those who need to get to work.
  • Global Day of Prayer  Sunday 19th May 2013 – Start your day up at the cross.
  • Carols by Candle Light. Date and time to be announced later in the year. This will be a family picnic type gathering, in the late afternoon, early evening, to enhance the true message of Christmas.
  • Watch this spot for any future announcements or information, about services, through the year.
  • Pastor Andre Hanekom  of The Full Gospel Church in Lydenburg, is the contact person for all functions or services to be held at the cross.
    Cell Number: 084 688 5007


Rescued girl (7) enjoying family holiday

Rescued girl (7) enjoying family holiday


LYDENBURG – The seven-year old girl who was found unhurt after being missing for 13 hours on a nature reserve near here is fine and enjoying her family holiday.

Ms Sanlie Middelberg, the girl’s mother, said on Monday that the experience still felt unreal to her, but her daughter was her usual self.
Elizca Middelberg, from Potchefstroom in North West, had gone missing on Friday evening on the Paardeplaats Nature Reserve where her family were staying over on their way to the ATKV-Eiland Spa Holiday Resort in Limpopo.
She was found on a neighbouring farm on Saturday, which was also her sister Karin’s sixth birthday.
According to Ms Gerda Whitehorn who owns Paardeplaats with her husband, they never thought to look at Nooitgedacht next door because of the fence separating the properties.
Elizca climbed through a hole in the fence, ripping her dress a little.
On the other side, she found a goat herder’s hut where she spent the night.
“I think she probably walked in the dark for only an hour before she found it,” Whitehorn estimated.
On Sunday, they went for a drive and the little girl pointed out the places where she had been.
She had passed near ruins of old gold mines on the property that she could easily have fallen into in the dark.
“We just did not think that she could have gone that far,” Whitehorn said, still incredulous at the distance the little girl had covered.
Capt Pottie Potgieter of the White River Diving Unit, said they also thought it unlikely that Elizca would be in the dam, which is 8m deep in places.
“So we walked and searched instead,” he said.
This paid off when a member of Phoenix Security, who was searching for her by car, found her about 1km from where she was last seen.
She had been playing with the Whitehorns’ dog, Joji, and ran off after him.
“He knows the walking trails very well and probably thought it was a game,” Whitehorn said.
Rescue teams were called in when it became dark. The dog later returned without Elizca.
The search party comprised members of the White River police’s diving and dog units, Off Road Rescue Unit (Orru), Phoenix Security, volunteers from surrounding farms and Conrad, her father.
They started searching at around 20:00 on Friday.
Their search of the hills and streams proved fruitless and it was called off for the night at around 01:00.
When the search resumed at first light, she was found unharmed.

“They were incredible, with some of them searching through the night,” Whitehorn said of the search party.
Middelberg said she spent the night praying.
“Elizca is not usually an adventurous child,” her mom said.
“She has been asking us to get her a dog all year. I think now we will have to because I never want to live through another night like that.”

CSIR Water Governance Research Group visit Paardeplaats

They came, they saw and – they’ll be visiting Lydenburg and Sekhukune again – to research water affairs in this area.

A glorious, clever and oh so young group!! Fabien Chalbos, al ze way from Montpellier, France, studying water engineering, dr Richard Meissner, international politician, Cebile Ntombela, water governance researcher, Shanna Nienaber, busy with a master’s degree in political science, dr Marius Claassen, ecologist and group leader, Karen Nortje, social anthropologist and Nikki Funke, political scientist.

Watch this space…

Flyfishing at Paardeplaats

OK we know, it’s a small dam – but don’t be misled – it’s not that easy to catch your rainbow trout in the Paardeplaats pond. Lucas Nkuna always gets it right when other fisherfolk give up. And he is always handy to help you cast your fly.

Stocking the Paardeplaats trout dam

Lucas Nkuna and Piet Mokoena stocking the trout dam

Lydenburg Accommodation – runners stay over

OK, so it’s not every day that we have celebrities check in at Paardeplaats Nature Retreat! All the way from Middelburg, came farmer Piet Schoeman and bean counters Chris du Plessis and Charmaine van der Merwe. And not light weights, these three. The Sudwala marathon on Saturday 5 May was just one of the regulars on their running menu, in preparation for Comrades. Piet did the Longtom Marathon in March – Chris and Charmaine couldn’t come because they were trail running elsewhere.

Brian and Gerda had a look at some of their crazy runs through tough country – Rhodes, Golden Gate, you name it, they’ve done it!

Paardeplaats, they say, would make a good trail running venue, they say. What with it’s 25kms of tractor paths and its high altitude. Good for the extra oxygen in your cells!

Runners at Paardeplaats

Piet Schoeman, Chris du Plessis and Charmaine vd Merwe at Paardeplaats Nature Retreat

Easter Sunday “Sonrise” service April 2012

We expected the same handful of last year – 20, 30 odd people gathering at the cross on the Jesus Hill on the Longtom Pass on Easter Sunday just before 6 am. Brian and I had to rush from Dullstroom because the guest house was booked with Easter guests and we were kicked out to our Dullstroom home.

“Be there at 05:45. we told all and sundry from Lydenburg. Because the sun rises at 06:05 prompt, said Virgo Brian,” who knows.

The week before, Brian and Lucas put some hay down  – belonging to the wild horses – at the foot of the Cross. For people to sit on during the short communion service. The memory of last year’s service in bitter cold and mist, made us think up contingency plans.

God thought – let us make this man late, for his own good. Dullstroom’s petrol pumps were slower than normal. We drove the 60 km in a hurry. What if Lucas didn’t open the gate? We had to make sure that things would go well, show people where to park, be masters of ceremonies.

We forgot that it wasn’t really our show. We were merely the facilitators, the layors-down-of hay at the foot of the Cross.

On approaching we saw a large white spot. Not the hay, something else. Cars – lots of them, 40 at least, had made their way up the hill. And a long chain of people of all ages was snaking up the hill, armed with scarves and blankets and flasks and chairs as we told them two.

There was magic in the air, mixed with thick emotion, as we all approached the cross. Young, old, back, white. Anglican priest Kgosi Hendricks welcomed all to the Sonrise service. It was much much lighter than last year, and perfect weather. Kgosi said The Lord be with you – and we all knew it was true.

Doug and Sheila Starling arrived with the service booklets – way too few for the crowd. We shared in fives, and the love multiplied like bread and fish.

Anybody who want to share anything with all of us? Kgosi invited. Yes, said a young man. God has brought me here to share that I judged others – and that I should not.

God wants us, said a young young woman from Mashishing, to praise him at a higher level every day – higher than last year, higher than yesterday.

The sun lifted its head and shone on our group of possibly over a hundred people, from the east. Peace be with you, we all shared, holding hands. And we stood in two nicely disorganised queues to take communion, celebrating the rising of the Son.

Christ has risen today. Next year, there will be more of us trailing towards the Cross. Goosebump stuff. Worth way more than all the Easter eggs in Mpumalanga.

See you on Ascension Sunday at the Jesus Hill – at 06:30 on 27 May 2012.