2012 December – A much needed festive season break.

IMG_0313IMG_0305December is my 6th month on McNicklebee farm and as this is a worm farm, I thought it high time I actually make a proper wormery for the kitchen. I’ve built many different kinds of wormeries over the years, and once again I built this with what I had on hand. 20l bucket, bit of shade cloth and an irrigation tap to tap off the liquid. very simple, but very effective.

DSCF7958Proceeding the success of my hydroponic vertical garden I thought I would do a self irrigating seed tray. Running a organic vermiculture farm comes with a few perks, one of these being a large supply of earth worm vermileachate commonly known as worm tea. This nutrient and microbe rich liquid fertiliser works great as a hydroponic plant food. The design is simple, sump tank is a bucket, filled with water and worm tea, fish tank water pump controlled by a manual timer supplies regular irrigation to the polystyrene seed tray that sits in a plastic lined tray that directs the nutrient under the seedlings and back down into the bucket, Again very simple and again… very effective.

DSCF7966 DSCF7967 DSCF7970 DSCF7973The eye sore that was the varnished natural stone clad internal low wall is now gone, Hip Hip Hooray. With the help of my nephew Don, and a few beers, I finally got round to knocking out that monstrocity. The lounge now flows nicely into the dining room and is the first stage in a more open plan design for the house.

DSCF8029 DSCF8065 DSCF8076 DSCF8081Following the completion of the new water park here in Nelspruit came the official launch organised by my sister in-laws company Find-it Promotions. Armed with my camera and a violently protesting liver, I joined in the fun with free drinks by the pool, to help out with the photography.

IMG_0331The latest garden to be added is the right hand side long garden running along the fence line. Previously a dust patch under the Wild Fig tree doused in shade, the new garden now lines the new circular front driveway and should provide some much needed privacy from the neighbouring house and block off the view of their tools and storage piles. Wild Fig trees have enormous roots that will happily protrude above the ground like octopus tentacles. I used soil from the emptied swimming pool to fill in between these as the new drive goes right over them.

IMG_0336 DSCF8100Last project before the holidays began was my nice new pond. In front of the house and a blight on the landscape, was an old garbage fire pit used by previous tenants, to burn all kinds of rubbish and brush. Being right in front, I decided rather than filling it in, to convert it into a pond. I cleared out the ash and left over branches and trash, carved the hole and shaped it to form a sloping left side, flat bottom and plant shelf around the rest. I lined the hole with plastic, filled with water and did a neat surround with bricks to finish it off.  All she needs now is some water plants and some fish.

Here in South Africa, I replaced cycling the streets of London on my road bike with bombing around on my mountain bike. With a lack of good asphalt and skating tracks in the area, I’ve found running a good replacement for skating. Well to be honest, there is no replacement for skating, but I sure am enjoying the running.

Out at Night is a  group that organise monthly trail running events in White River, a town down the road from Nelspruit. Leaving in the early evening, you take a torch and run an 8km circuit starting at sunset and arriving back in the dark. With evenings as beautiful as they are here, it’s a great evening out. Escape into the twilight,  past farms and through orchards of orange trees, simply beautiful.


To kick off our holidays, we headed to a place in Waterval Boven called Tranquilitas.

About an hour’s drive from Nelspruit they offer chalets or camping and a multitude of activities. There is cycling with a bunch of single track routes to choose from, some of the best climbing in the country, cliff top trails for a bit of trail running, and an awesome swimming pool complete with a climbing wall overhanging it. Needless to say I maxed out on all the fun stuff and also met the owner Mike, who Dave and I joined for a ride. A special route, through adjoining farm lands, past trout farm lakes, though forests and streams, some lovely single track, some technical patches, heavy accents, right up into the hills and popping out on top of the world. After all of that there is nothing better than sitting under the shade of a tree on soft comfy grass, reading a good book.

DSCF8179 DSCF8182Christmas eve for most people is probably something along the lines of, friends, family, food and all washed down with copious amounts of booze. We opted for the next logical option which was of course tickle torture by feet scouring Thai Garra rufa fish…naturally. The Sudwala caves in Mpumalanga are a well-known South African attraction. It is no longer just a  cave system to explore though, but also offer a restaurant, gift shop and  aquatic peticurocity.

DSCF8198 DSCF8205Christmas was great with lots of good food and family and a South African Christmas past-time that you just don’t get in Europe, beer in the pool!

DSCF8210Cutting the grass is a chore and not fun or relaxing holiday behaviour, so having neglected cutting the grass in a place where it grows so fast you can actually sit and watch its progress with a cup of tea, it is clearly not a good idea. Along with the long grass comes all the exciting creepy crawlies that come with living on a farm. So walking down my passage, just before New-year, I found a cute little Mozambican Spitting Cobra taking a wander elated to chance across such a comfy new spot amongst all this long grass, needless to say I had different plans for his ass and think I stressed the poor boy out while trying to catch him as he regurgitate his lunch, the slower of the frogs we have hopping all over the farm.

DSCF8226 DSCF8244 DSCF8294 IMG_9455 IMG_9473I kicked off my New-year by heading back to the small town of  Waterval Boven. I joined my Nephew Donovan and stayed in a very cool backpackers run by Roc and Rope. We saw in the New Year with a great bunch of people from all over, ranging from JHB South Africa, to Mozambique, France and Israel.

Having climbed them since he was a kid, Don is an experienced climber with an extensive knowledge of the Walerval Boven Crags. It was nice to get back into it and spend my first week of 2013 climbing on some of the best rock I’ve ever seen.

All in all it sure has been an eventful year, let’s see what 2013 has in store!

Happy New-year everybody!