Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Wheels to harness makes for meaningful walking experience

Debby with Rotem.
An invention that could enhance the lives of young children with disabilities worldwide will soon be put for sale on the market. Debby Elnatan, a mother from Israel, was told the devastating news that her son at 2 years old with cerebral palsy, would not be able to walk. This led to the creation of the Upsee.

After she had come to terms with the diagnosis that her son would be wheelchair bound, she got to work on coming up with something that would allow him to be able to explore the world not from wheels but standing upright. After several attempts at creating different forms of what is now the Upsee, she was walking with her son, Rotem up until he was 7 years old. Rotem is now at the age of 19. 

A child who on their own cannot stand will be given the chance to walk with the help of an adult and the Upsee. The belt is fitted around the waist of an adult, the child is put into the harness, and they both wear a set of special sandals. When the Upsee is fitted, the adult and child can then walk together in harmony with hands free to perform other activities. 

This meaningful invention will be on sale wordlwide from the 7th of April 2015. It will set someone back around $540 plus shipping. The Upsee can fit children between the young ages of 3 and 8 years old.

It offers a great opportunity for children who are wheel-bound to experience and explore the world standing upright. Although this invention is only a short tem solution, it will leave both kids and parents delighted after being able to experience the wonders of a walk together. 


Thursday, 26 March 2015

The stunning Silvermine Nature Reserve - Part 6 of the TMNP series

Silvermine Nature Reserve forms part of the spectacular Table Mountain National Park range and is situated among the slopes of the Capes’ Deep South. The river of Silvermine which runs from the reserve through to Clovelly where the Silvermine Wetlands can be found. Originally named Silvermine in 1675 when shafts were built as it was believed there was silver hidden within the reserve; this turned out not to be true but nonetheless the name stuck.

It was declared to be a part of the TMNP back in 1998 and is divided into 2 parts by the curving road of Ou Kaapse Weg, meaning Old Cape Road.

Just a mere 20 minute drive from the city centre of Cape Town it offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Why not go triumph one of the various hiking trails on the mountain or relax with a lovely picnic around the reservoir? There are also mountain-biking trails to be braved.

The Silvermine Circuit around the reservoir.
Some of the well-known hikes, but not limited to, are that of Peers Cave Hike where there was the famous discovery of a large skull which can be traced back to be about 12 000 years old, the cave is situated above the sand dunes of Fish Hoek. The 3 hour hike to and back from Elephants Eye cave can be reached from either Silvermine Nature Reserve or from the forest area of Tokai. The Noordehoek Peak circuit is a hike taking 3 to 4 hours to complete, offering views of the Atlantic and Hout Bay.

There are braai areas for the South African family and friend tradition of cooking meat over flames. People can also take a dip in the dark-water dam, or feed the little fishes bits of bread, which is very cute to watch!

A popular spot for bird watching and to check out the indigenous flora of the Cape. There are an estimated 900 species of Fynbos to be seen on the reserve. Dogs are more than welcome to enter the reserve accompanied by their owner.

A boardwalk which offers accessibility for those in wheelchairs or babies in prams is in place for a wheel about or walk around the dam’s edge. It is an easy 20 minute stroll which circles around the family friendly reservoir, appropriately named the Reservoir circuit.

The reserve is open from 08h00 till 19h00 everyday to explore and there is a small entrance fee which goes towards the conservation of the area. Ample parking for cars can be found, at both of the 2 entrances into this magnificent reserve. 

A fire broke out in the month of March (2015) and spread throughout the Southern Peninsula leaving parts of the Silvermine Nature reserve burnt. The extravagant Silvermine tented camp was left damaged. The Capes indigenous Fynbos however will recover from the fire as the plants greatly benefit from being burnt. 

Enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of the Silvermine National Park. 

Protea found in the Silvermine Nature Reserve.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

South Africa's very own para-athletes

The South African flag.

SA para-athletes

South Africans’ amazing para-athletes are set to be showing what they are made of at the Nedbank National Championships for Physically Disabled, in the city of Johannesburg. It begins on the 29th of March and continues through to the 2nd of April this year.

This eight day event which has been running since 1992 will showcase eight different sports such as; athletics, boccia, cycling, football, goalball, judo, powerlifting and swimming. 

It offers a perfect platform for both newcomers to sports for people with disabilities and the leading para-athlete stars.

South Africa is one of the leading nations in the world for disabled sports with a variety of talented athletes to be proud of. They are known to often bring home many medals which were won due to their immense talent, dedication and hard work.

South-African Para-athletes

Natalie du Toit.

Natalie Du Toit born in Cape Town, now a retired swimmer is well recognized for what she had accomplished during her competitive swimming years. Her left leg was amputated due to an injury caused in a scooter accident. She qualified as an amputee and took part in the 2008 Olympic Games which were held in Bejing that year.

Ersnt van Dyk.
Born in Ceres without both legs Ernst van Dyk went onto become one of South Africa’s well known para-athletes. He is a dedicated wheelchair and hand-cycling racer. Ernst has won the Boston Marathon, a highly respected wheelchair race, an impressive 9 times.

Fanie van der Merwe.

Fanie van der Merwe has cerebral palsy but has managed to become a track star. He is one of the country’s top para-athletes having won numerous gold medals.

The next Paralympics will take place in the exciting city of Rio in 2016.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A magical place of flora and fauna - Cape Point, Part 5 of the TMNP series

~ In memory of Hendrik Marais who tragically lost his life as a pilot during the Cape Point fire. ~

Cape Point

This magnificent nature reserve lies within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve which is a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom; a declared World Heritage site. It is the most south-westerly tip of Africa, adorned with many plants and is home to different animals. Just 60km from the city of Cape Town, the drive along the Deep South or over Chapmans Peak is a beautiful trip. There are 3 stores for you to check out and collect souvenirs to remind you of your journey to the impressive Cape Point.

Chacama baboon.

Nature and animals

It covers 7750 hectares of diverse and rich land including a varied selection of flora and fauna. There are 250 different species of birds found here, and 1100 indigenous plant species. Fynbos covers the Cape Point Nature Reserve, which is an √©lite type of vegetation epidemic to a small part of the Western Cape, and is the smallest of the 6 floral kingdoms found in the world. Bucks, ostrich’s, baboons and Cape Mountain zebra can be seen roaming this incredible landscape. There are also beaches to visit within the reserve which are often used by kite surfers and perfect for picnics, also sometimes visited by animals.

Flying Dutchman funicular.

The Flying Dutchman funicular

The Flying Dutchman funicular is named after the legend of the Capes' very own Flying Dutchman, a ship that had sunk during stormy weather while rounding the point of the Cape in the year 1641. It has since been said to be seen as a ghostly ship that now sails the Point glowing red under the cover of the night.

It can carry 40 passengers and is also suitable for wheelchairs. The ride takes just 3 minutes from the car park to the top to see the old lighthouse and the splendid views of the two oceans. The route can otherwise be walked on a path that takes you up the slope through indigenous Fynbos.

Diaz beach surrounded by cliffs.
Return trips:

Adult – R52

Children and pensioners – R22

Children under 6 ride for free.

Two Oceans Restaurant

An excellent restaurant with phenomenal views and delicious food, this restaurant is a must if you are visiting Cape Point. They are experts in dishing out flavoursome seafood and sushi. Awarded a certificate of excellence for 10 years running by TripAdvisor, you would be missing out if you didn't grab a bite to eat while exploring the Capes’ Point.


There was a fire that broke out in the heart of the reserve in March of 2015. Hendrik Marais, a pilot who volunteered for Work on fire, tragically lost his life in a crash landing while fighting to contain a flare up on site. He will forever remain engraved into the memories of all affected by the Cape Town fires and by all firefighters and volunteers alike.

Explore the wonders of the continent’s most southern westerly point... Cape Point.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

One of the Worlds' brilliant minds - Stephen Hawking

Theory of Everything

Movie poster of Theory of

I watched this movie two weeks ago and have been raving about it ever since. I found it to be a mind opening and remarkable story as I watched in awe as it unfolded on the screen. Based on the memoir – Travelling to infinity: My life with Stephen, Jane who was Stephens’ first wife wrote it to reveal the relationship between them as well as the decline of his disability.

Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for best actor this year for portraying Stephen Hawking. ‘’This Oscar, this belongs to all of those around the world battling ALS It belong to one exceptional family: Stephen, Jane, Jonathan and the Hawking children- and I will be its custodian.’’ – Eddie during his acceptance speech.

The movie is a romantic and dramatic true story based on one of the world’s brilliant minds still alive today. It is a must see.

Stephen Hawking

‘’Life would be tragic if it were not funny,’’ as Stephen Hawking so wisely put it. He was diagnosed not long after his 21st birthday with ALS and was given just 2 short years to live. This brilliant scientist celebrated his 73rd in January this year despite what he had been told by doctors.

The eldest of four siblings, Stephen was born in 1942 in Oxford England to parents who were academic themselves. From a young age he always had a keen interest in maths and how things worked.

Stephen and Jane at their wedding.
He decided to study physics at Oxford University as maths was not offered as a major. Stephen afterwards went on to study Cosmology at the famous Cambridge University where he met and fell in love with Jane Wilde. He was diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, ALS shortly after falling for Jane, they were then soon engaged and Stephen described their engagement ‘’as something to live for.’’ Stephen and Jane married while still young and had 3 children during their marriage. They sadly divorced many years later, with both Jane and Stephen going on to marry other people. Today they still continue to be a part of each other’s lives.

Stephen spent 30 years as a professor of maths at Cambridge University and has accomplished much in his life. One of his major achievements was being a part of coming up with the theory that the universe has no boundaries. Stephen has been given many awards along with distinctions, and racked up 12 honorary degrees in his life. He also wrote a children’s book with his daughter Lucy, which they called ‘’Georges Secret Key to the Universe.’’

‘’Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.’’ Just some of the many wise words that Stephen Hawking has shared. He appears to be a wise, appreciative and kind, smart man. A true inspiration and role model to all.

Stephen Hawking now at 73 years of age.

‘’My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.’’ – Stephen Hawking

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Boulders Beach, home to an African Penguin Colony - Part 4 of the TMNP series

Some penguins waddling up the beach.
Also known as Jackass Penguins due to the loud donkey like sound they make, read about the African Penguins found here in the Deep South of Cape Town.

Situated on the edge of Simons Town is Boulders Beach, which is home to almost 2000 endangered African Penguins. They can be seen waddling up and down the beaches wearing their 'tuxedos', and entering the water to catch some food.

The TMNP part of the beach has 3 unspoiled beaches, 1 penguin viewing area and 3 walks which are in good condition for wheels. While tourists are not able to go on the beach where the penguin colony live sometimes a random penguin is found on the other beaches. I have often spotted the flightless birds on the other beaches. Once I was picking up shells I lifted my head and came face to face with a bird in a ‘tuxedo’, I let out a scream!
Penguin chicks.

Boulders beach offers excellent snorkelling conditions as the beach is protected from wind due to the big boulders as well as having calm waters. A great family beach to have a swim, catch some sunrays, pick up seashells or have a picnic.

There is a conservation fee to get onto the wheelchair friendly boardwalk at Foxy Beach which overlooks the penguin colony. Free entrance for those that hold a Wild card.

Two penguin soul mates.
Adults – R60

Children (under 12) – R30

Info about African Penguins

These African penguins are aquatic birds that mostly eat small fish found swimming on the top layer of the sea. They live together in their colony and breed for life with a soul mate. Those that roam the sea after penguins as a meal are sharks and the Cape fur seals. On land penguins have to be on the look-out for mongoose, domestic cats, caracals and big birds who steal their eggs and snatch up their chicks. If not caught by a predator African penguins can live up to 27 years. Be warned though and watch out for bites from their razor sharp beaks. Ouch!

Head to the tourist attraction of Boulders Beach to check out these comical birds.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

An eye-opening experience

Charl wearing his eye patch
As Charl Fourie, a 30 year old who lost his left eye in a malicious attack says ‘’there are always 2 sides to a story’’ and this is his. A story of how a fun night out can quickly escalate with life altering consequences.

Four years ago during the cold winter of July in 2011 while leaving the car park from a bar in Kalk Bay harbour, his vehicle stalled while attempting to cross over the train track. The vehicle behind him collided into his rear bumper which set off a chain of reactions that will leave Charls’ life changed forever. Before he could even pull the handbrake up he was violently assaulted through the open window by a young man. He was unable to start the vehicle due to the cold engine. Being attacked and unable to drive away, Charl had no choice but to get out the car and defend himself from the oncoming bombing of attacks. There was a brawl before things calmed down for a short while.

Charl with god-daughter Kiana.
The two parties evaluated the damage between the two vehicles and found none which was visible. Things again started to escalate into which would leave Charl with an altered life. The friend of the man who had punched him, was still sitting inside the car, then climbed out and verbally confronted Charl. One of the two perpetrators pushed him onto his car and Charl head butted him during the scuffle. A steering lock was brought out of the attacker’s car by the driver and Charl was brutally attacked with what he recalls being hit three times. He ending up with a broken forearm, head and facial injuries, loss of visibility, copious bleeding and while left unconscious in the road, the attackers had fled the scene over the railway crossing.

With his blue glass eye.
After the attack of the steering lock he doesn’t remember what happened. Next thing he knew he was passing the local BP petrol station through Fish Hoek. He amazingly managed to drive himself with the bone protruding through his arm and having limited visibility to his parent’s house. After arriving at his parents’ house his father then rushed Charl to False Bay Hospital for immediate trauma intervention. The damage to his head was evaluated and stitches were attempted. He was transferred to the trauma ward in Groote Schuur Hospital by the CMR, who are the local paramedics. Charls’ skull had been cracked, his left eye torn and a bone was sticking out his arm. Emergency operations were performed to minimise the damage where possible. Unfortunately he was told a few days later his left eye had to be removed due to severe damage which was not repairable. ‘’I pleaded if anything else could be done,’’ Charl sadly explained. Surgery was done on the eye he was to lose, and after a long recovery, followed a facial bone and facial reconstruction surgery.

Today Charl still needs to have three operations done on both his arm and eye socket. He can be seen wearing his eye patch which he and his dad made themselves. Beneath that eye patch is a striking glass eye, a replica of the colour of the eye that he is left with, which is kept hidden from others. At first he had been fitted with a random blue eye while his glass eye was being made.

Charl who produces psytrance can sometimes be seen playing for the crowd at those parties, and is also now in the process of trying to start his own freelance business in web development and graphic design.

Playing at a psytrance party.
Loved ones were left feeling shocked and highly concerned once they had found out the news about what had happened to him. Charl had woken up to see his brother shedding a tear, and ever since vowed to be a better brother. He explained to me that because of what had happened he ‘’found out who true friends are.’’ He is godfather to his best friend Laurence’s daughter Kiana and a proud uncle to his baby niece.

Charls' answer to my question of what was the hardest thing to deal with was ‘’what it did to my family. Seeing my parents helpless and concerned for my life.’’

His greatest fear in life now is losing his only remaining eye and succumbing to total darkness. This fear had made him a lot more cautious he explained.

He ‘’loves life more now.” And doesn’t have much tolerance for petty issues anymore.  His outlook on life took a drastic turn and he doesn’t find himself dwelling on past mistakes. ‘’Grateful to be alive, not brain damaged or paralysed,’’ he said.

Charl jokes with me as we sit at our local pub, ''in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King!''

Kelly (Laurencs' girlfriend), Laurence and Charl attending a wedding.

Friday, 6 March 2015

New route for the famous Cape Town Cycle Tour

Their logo.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour previously known as The Cape Argus will take place for the 38th year this weekend on Sunday the 8th of March. The picturesque route which was traditionally taken by the cyclists would cover Chapmans’ Peak has been radically changed and shortened due to the Cape Town fires.

The new route.
The new route will now be 47km compared to the 109km route of previous years. It will take the cyclists from the city centre to the surfing mecca of Muizenberg and back. It is an unavoidable change due to immense damage done to Chappies and the danger of potential rock fall. The roads considered were Boyes Drive or Ou Kaapse Weg that both offer scenic views but were either too narrow for the expected 35 000 riders or would pose a danger due to the ash and soot along the road.

This year will hail as the ‘Show you care solidarity ride’ in support of the Cape that to date has had 5000 hectares of vegetation affected by this massive fire. This means that it will not be a competitive race and that riders are asked to ride in unity for those who were unfortunately affected by the chaos the fire has caused.

The good news now is that the cycle tour will be easier for those amateur cyclists who might have been fearing the previous 109km route. They will now be able to do the tour with more ease.

The CTCT has opened up a secure account that is held in the name of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust to donate money to both the Volunteer Wildlife Services and Sanspark Firefighting services. The money that is brought in will be handed over as the month of March comes to an end.

The account details are as follows if you wish to make a donation:

Account holder: Event Entry Admin

Bank: Nedbank

Branch: Rondebosch (123209)

Acc Number: 1232144355

Acc Type: Cheque

Reference: Name and Surname or Company Name

This years’ cycle tour will go down in history as the first route to be so hugely reduced.

Cape Town comes together in time of crisis and all the support that Cape Townians, both as citizens and as companies big or small, have put in is outstanding.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fire on the homefront

The relentless Cape Town fire has had the mountain sides above the Southern Peninsula areas of Kirstenhof, Noordhoek, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, St James, Muizenberg, Clovelly and even Cape Point ablaze.

Fire as seen behind my house and neighbours.
Out on a beautiful Sunday evening having a good time, Philip and I noticed a small orange glow about Muizenberg. We wondered if it was a small fire or perhaps one super strong torch light. To our despair it turns out that it was the Cape Town fire starting out which would unknowingly cause havoc throughout the Deep South.

Having lived with my family in the beautiful and peaceful suburb of Clovelly since the year of 2001, it feels very much like home. I have always loved the feeling of solace I find here.

On Tuesday morning my mother called me at work to tell me that the fire that had hit Clovelly the previous night was now starting to escalate. My kind boss Sabine told me that maybe I should go home to be with my mother who was alone. I arrived to find ash on the road, car roofs and on our balcony. The back garden and Fynbos over the fence were drenched from my mother spending the day watering it. We started to pack some of our belongings as we spotted the fire getting closer for just in case we would need to leave our home. As my mother said, ''be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.'' My dad left work an hour earlier to get home.

Helicopters moved in to water bomb some flames in the afternoon along with a water-bomber plane. They were only able to spend a few precious hours before they had to retreat at dusk.

Fire from our bottom back garden.
During the night the raging fire could be seen burning its way down slowly towards us. It seemed though it was taunting us with the notion that it was on its way down to abolish our quiet suburb of Clovelly. My family and I said that we felt we were in an apocalypse movie. My mother and I kept at it watering the surrounding vegetation on the other side of the fence. Meanwhile we tried to keep news of the chaos unfolding from my sister, Naomi who is in Australia. We just didn't want her to worry. Social media made it an impossible feat though.

That night a friend, Charl kindly brought us cat boxes if we would need to evacuate. Our cats had seemed they could sense something was not right, especially the youngest who had the spent the entire time hiding underneath a blanket.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning things quickly took a turn for the worse. The fire had reached the firebreak and the hot orange flames could be seen approaching fast. The atmosphere was an eerie one where the smoke hung heavy and the flames burnt patches of Fynbos, the residents of Clovelly were uncertain of what the future of the fire held for our quaint suburb. When the sun finally appeared it was like a giant red, unfamiliar globe and things looked bleak through the smoke haze.

Tuesday night fire from top back garden.
Around 6.30ish am I noticed the house that was higher than most houses which sits as though it is a part of the trees, had flames burning fiercely high right next to it. Phil and I ran up the road to get a closer look, we decided as we got there to enter the premises to see what we could do. Upon getting up the steep driveway and the many stairs, having to cover our mouths from the smoke, we saw a fireman who shouted at us, ‘’get the people out of this house now!’’ So we entered the house and helped them take what we could. 

I ran back to my house to alert my family as to what was happening just three houses down. Having only been back five minutes then we heard a voice come over the loudspeaker to evacuate the area. We had already packed our three cars as well as Phil’s with belongings, so all that was left was to set our scared cats and the rat in a car and leave our home. We dropped the animals off at a friend’s place to be housed for the day. 

After a scary two hours we were allowed back to our homes after the firefighters and volunteers had fought to control the fire. I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see my house. Upon arriving back I took a walk up to our garden and spotted smoke not far away. We went to check it out and what we found were volunteers trying to put out a small fire. I stayed to help for an hour until I ran out of energy but Phil stayed fighting the fire for many hours.

The mountain of Clovelly is rather a black heap but there are still some green bushes and trees left. The smell of burning vegetation hangs heavy and the smoke from the smouldering bushes can still be seen. They say that Fynbos benefits from the fury of fire as it helps to germinate their seeds. Given some time Cape Town’s mountains will return to their former beauty and glory. The event of this Cape Town fire will however, remain etched into the memories of the people of the Deep South.

Seen a few hours before evacuation from our property.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Cape Town fire burns through the Deep South

Fire after it broke out above Muiz.

A fire broke out above Muizenberg on the evening of the 1st of March. It has since been wrecking destruction through the Deep South, burning thousands of hectares of vegetation in its path. Several homes as well as a holiday lodge have been lost in the fire. 

Hundreds of fire fighters and volunteers are out in full force trying to battle this massive fire. An additional 250 fire fighters from 3 other provinces were brought in to fight against the fire which is causing immense destruction. The valley community have come together in offering their support and giving in donations to various centres throughout the Deep South.

A fire fighter was injured, and 52 elderly were sent to hospital for smoke inhalation. The retirement home in Noordhoek was evacuated along with a few residential homes in the area.

Fire burning on Chapmans.
Hout Bay, Tokai and Fish Hoek are the latest areas to have been affected by the roaring Cape Town Fire. The fire is currently burning its way down the mountain behind Clovelly Golf Course, where the crackling of burning trees and vegetation can be heard. Ashes are starting to fall heavily within Clovelly. According to the local fire station in Fish Hoek, ''the resources are stretched. '' Tokai is at present being evacuated. The fire is blazing dangerously close to the houses above Boyes Drive.

The roads of Ou Kaapse Weg, Boyes Drive and Chapmans Peak were closed which caused grid lock throughout the valley. A large part of the Silvermine Nature Reserve located on Ou Kaapse Weg has been severely affected. 

Combined with the dryness of the vegetation and heat there has been an increase in fires this past summer in the Western Cape. Mudslides might be expected when the rain comes. 

When the fires have been extinguished there will still be many hours of work to be done. 

I personally have never seen a fire sweep our city such as this before in my lifetime ( I was too young to remember when the fire of 2000 hit) and I hope never to again.

Peninsula burns.