Missionaries of Charity
Four Nuns who belong to the Mission founded by Nobel Laureate Mother Theresa,
I have had three visits personally, always grateful for the many blessings i personally have compared to the residents here.
This missionaries and staff look after HIV_Aids Orphans and physically disabled who have been cast out of their families' homes.
Click on MAP for view of Mission which is just North on the right of the Post Office
Missionaries of Charity, Klipgat, North of Pretoria (Garankuwa)
PO Box 911-1459, Rosslyn 0200.
Tel: (012) 707 9323
The whoop of a steam train whistle
My friend, Keith, loves steam trains. He's loved them since his boyhood which is now over seven decades back. So for his 74th birthday I managed to join an international steam enthusiasts tour train. This is a specialist trip, although Friends of the Rail also offers similar trips. There are only fifteen steam train drivers left in South Africa. This is a heritage stream train.
We were to meet at the Friends of The Rail site in Capital Park (outside Pretoria) at 07:30 which meant that we had to leave Johannesburg very early on a freezing (literally) morning to beat the mad intercity traffic. When I started to dress before the crack of dawn Bugatti, my cat, assured me it was better in bed than out of doors and I landed up making the bed over him so that he had to find his own way from under the duvet.
When we arrived there as dawn was breaking we discovered that our driver already had plumes of smoke and steam streaming from our engine, Model 24, no 3664, or Jo-Anna. He'd been hard at work for hours before dawn. Frost lay thick on the winter grass and our breath condensed into a human variation of the steam on the engine. The driver invited us up onto the foot plate (the engine) to get warm, warning us that there were plenty of places to burn oneself. The fireman shovelled the coal into the furnace which gave off a lovely glow and for a moment I was tempted to take off my shoes and toast my toes. The talk on how a steam train operated kept me from this little indulgence. The engine moved the few hundred metres towards the gate so as to welcome the bus load of enthusiasts with a “show”. As they arrived the whistle whooped, and steam plumed up into the Highveld chill.
My friend and I disembarked and the enthusiasts hopped up, two at a time, to take turns on the foot plate as the train shunted coaches in preparation for the outing. Once we left the yard no-one but the designated drivers and fireman would be permitted in the engine. Both the driver and the fireman are drivers, and they take turns at driving and firing. Serving as fireman is hard labour.
The original plan was for us to head out to Cullinan Diamond Mine, but the wooden sleepers under the tracks had been stolen, either for fire wood, or more likely to be sold to be converted into highly fashionable furniture. Either way, the track was out of commission. New plans had us heading out via the beautiful Herbert Baker Pretoria Station to the Rooivaal Power Station where we would have lunch, a tour of the power station and lots of photo opportunities before heading back. Now the points at the Pretoria Station were out of commission as well. In Afrikaans we have a saying “A farmer makes a plan”. Well, the organisers of the journey also made a plan and soon we were moving along, becoming familiar with the sounds of the engine as she eased her way across the urban and industrial landscape north of Pretoria. We crossed the little stream that Winston Churchill described during his days as a war correspondence in the Second Anglo-Boer War as “the mighty Apies” (maybe he wasn't a good swimmer) and enjoyed the birds, the wildlife, the cattle and the horses who were all unconcerned about “the iron horse” as well as a host of workers who stopped the labours of their day for a moment or two to admire the rare sight of a steam train and to give a friendly wave to the passengers.
The cold, clear, crisp winter morning is warmed by the Highveld sun and layers of clothes gradually come off and we enjoy coffee and biscuits on board. The Americans whinge that these are “cookies” and “biscuits” are something else. The British protest. The Europeans and South Africans ignore the friendly argument, simply eating them with their coffee.
There is magic in a steam engine. The sounds and smells are unique. Each part of the engine moves distinctively, the engine breathes and pants, and occasionally shudders and sighs. The clickety-clack of the wheels spells out mantras. The air is filled with the smell of burning coal and the smell of the khakibos and other weeds (and there are huge quantities of ugly and even pretty noxious weeds – the Americans loved the lantana and even the prickly pears) on the side of the rails, the feed mills, farms, sewerage farms and factories we pass. The soot and oily grime form a satisfying kind of “clean dirt” and washing one's hands leaves a blob of grey soap on the basin to be rinsed away with the thought “There, washing really makes me feel clean”.
I listen with half an ear to the conversations about garrets, engines, and diesel and electric trains, about gauges and the Gautrain, but I'm lost in my own world where train travel was a part of my student days, with dining cars and sharing compartments with people one didn't know and who were often very strange. For a few moments I drift off into a fantasy world where trains are part of Victorian travel in England and the wild West of America and struggling pretty girls are bound with rope across the tracks or tracks are laid with dynamite so as to derail trains carrying loads of gold, and only the bravest heroes can and do prevent inevitable disaster.
The day moves on in friendly hospitality and photo opportunities and pleasant chat and night settles around us, dark and comforting as we chug through the cold night air, stars much crisper than can be seen from the light pollution of the city, with the sounds of crickets and frogs alerting us to the places close to marshy ponds along the tracks.
We arrive back at Capitol Park to find the place flood-lit for the night shoot, tables set for more hospitality, and a opportunity for the tourists to have an alcoholic drink. My friend and I cry off, it is cold and late and we have to head back to Johannesburg, not least of it for my friend to have a good night's sleep before his birthday celebrations. The day was glorious, but we've had enough.
I can recommend a day on a heritage steam train tour to any family, friends and enthusiasts. It was perfect.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
See one of the newest meteor craters in the world.
Just North of Pretoria lies the Tswaing meteorite crater & visitor center, site of one of the youngest large meteor impacts on Earth. Dating back about 220 000 years, the site ofers an informative museum, some marvelous hiking, and the option of a very clued-up guide to take you on your hike.
The crater area has been named as a national park, ensuring that it stays well preserved, and the entrance fee is minimal.
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Cullinan - 40 minutes North...
Cullinan - 40 minutes North East Of Pretoria to visit the Premier Diamond Mine.===This is where the Good Hope Diamond amongst many other famous lrge rocks were mined.===
Previously part of the De Beers Diamond Group=== Daily tours of the extraction process after the crushed Kimberlite rocks are brought to surface=== small charge but worth it.
It produces 25% of the entire world's production of gem quality diamonds,
A 507-carat (101 g) diamond was found in Sept 2009, sold a year ago for $35.3 million
Photos is the headgear with Jacaranda in bloom.
- Historical Travel
Pretoria Botanical Gardens
A 76 ha urban oasis is a pristine getaway a mere stone's throw away from the madding crowd.
Divided into four zones the Display area with SANBI HQ, herbarium, medicinal garden and concert stage area;
Central area with waterfall are the Aquatic, Cycad and Shade theme gardens.
Over the koppie to the succulent area on the northern side of the Garden, which is hotter and drier than the southern side, this is a rock-landscaped area – so typical of Africa.
The largest area of the Garden represents three separate sections – the African savannah garden, the natural koppie and highveld grassland areas.
this last is my favourite area, as it is typically highveld
Education is the main reason fro the Botanical Institue, since 1995 more S AFrican schoolchildren have had the chance to visit the gardesn as primary of high school scholars, thus ensuring the deeper appreciation of plants in the areas where they live and the country. so vitally important for the country's greener future as most have grown up in disadvantaged cramped 'Locations'
Good place for a picnic too, buy your provisions from Woolworths's Deli a mile East of the Gardens.
alternatively go the " Paperbark Thorn - Mohka" restaurant.
- Hiking and Walking
Before arriving in Joburg, we had promised (due to outside influences) to visit a prisoner who was doing a Life sentence for murder (he claimed Innocence). Prison authorities said we could combine two of his 40-minute visit sessions into one, and would also be allowed 'contact', so we set it up for two days later, at the end of my conference.
It was grey and drizzly as we turned up at the appointed time. A short waiting room visit was followed by a firearms check and we were then placed on a prison bus. This took us and a crowd of African visitors to the various cell-blocks before we arrived at Medium "C". Once there, after another wait, we were taken down a hallway, through a couple of doors and into a small room where we met this man for the first time.
We met an interesting man, small in stature, a former conscript SA army soldier who fought and was wounded in the Angola wars as a young man, a boxer and a diamond smuggler as well as a sensitive person, gifted as an artist and writer. We were amazed at the gifts that he had prepared for us - a Celine Dion tape for my wife and a bird book for me. During our visit, he had arranged for tea to be served, so we chose the red SA 'Roibos'. The World Rugby tournament had just wrapped up in SA, so he and I had a good laugh at how his Springboks had drubbed Canada badly - and continued on to win the championship in a great thriller with the NZ All-Blacks!
Our time was up, so we said our good-byes and left, thinking that this really was a strange experience! 9-years later, he is still there and is still fighting through his lawyers to be released. His artwork has been 'discovered' and is now being sold to commercial magazines.
We recently learned that, after two failed appeals of his conviction and escaping prison for the 3rd time, this prisoner (after being at large for about 1-year) was shot and killed by a police sniper on April 9, 2006 after he wounded two other officers and held other people captive at gun-point.
- Business Travel
Google.Earth - an Amazing new tool
Google with its maps, TALK, etecetera etcetera have been coming up
with amazing tools
the latest which i have just downloaded, for FREE
allows me to trace my footsteps and footrpints during my many decades
in city of birth and elsewhere
Internet maps reveal Roman villa
took me to 3D-Google Earth – Explore, Search and Discover
Sun City is like something out of your dreams.
Hidden away in the mountains, Sun City boasts its own man made beach (including a water park ) which matches those of the Caribbean, 4 hotel complexes, a huge lake, various casinos and much much more!
This was such a fun day with plenty of opportunities and a never ending list of things to do.
I spent the day at the Valley of the Waves (man made beach) and in the water park, and made my way down to the lake in the Cabanas complex to sport a bit of jet skiing. Total adrenaline rush in absolute perfect natural beauty.
Kruger Lion Park
Kruger gave me some of the best experiences I've ever had. We went on a game ride around the park first soaking up the herbivore wildlife such as Springboks, before moving into lion territory to see the amazing site of lion prides within 10 or 15 metres.
After the drive we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the lion cubs in a seperate sanctuary.
It was here that I got to meet a giraffe face to face (literally) and experience my ulitimate high :o)
Marabastad, produce market
here is the terminus area for those unfortunate ones who travel from far to transfer to other trasport to get to work;
days past, shopping galore as the Shopkeepers of Asian origins were able to speak the lingua franca and 'fanagaloo';
remember apartheid or before 1949, unlegislated discrimination brought about pockets of distictly different meeting places;
a bit run down now, but there is an intersting Hindu temple;
Boom and von Weillight street is the area:
produce markets, retail and wholesale are nearby;
for the adventurous,,,
visit the area, talk and enjoy the exotic snacks
BEWARE of thugs, ruffans and petty thieves ! ! !
From Pretoria northwards lies what is know as the Bushveld. The Bushveld refers to a specific type of habitat characterised by thorn trees, broadleaved trees and savanna.
Here is a picture of a lovely broadleaf variety of some sorts situated in the middle of a wide savanna. It's not really a typical bushveld picture but I kind of like it anyway.
Around Pretoria and Johannesburg there are many wildlife reserves so you needn't drive very far to find wild animals.
Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, Borakolalo, Ditholo, Buffelsdrift, Dinokeng and Krugersdorp Game Farm are but a few.
Tswaing Impact Crater
40km North of Pretoria is a meteorite crater similar in size to the well known Barringer crater in Arizona. The crater is a kilometer in diameter with walls 100m high and was formed some 200 000 years ago when an asteroid hit the earth.
Many visitors miss the...
Many visitors miss the Pretoria zoo when they visit which happens to be the biggest zoo in South Africa. This zoo has everything in it and is well worth a visit. You can find the zoo in Pretoria central, just off of church st, however, there are signs everywhere for it.
Hartbeespoort Dam lies only 35 kilometres west of Pretoria in the beautiful Magaliesberg mountain range. The dam was completed in 1923 and has become a very popular holiday and weekend resort for Johannesburg and Pretoria. Any type of water sports is possible here. Especially over the weekends and during holidays, it is crowded at the Hartbeespoort Dam. Worthwhile is a trip with the cableway up the Magaliesberg, from where one can enjoy panoramic views. It is also nice to drive the dam on the dam wall. A special experience is a flight with the hot-air balloon over the Magaliesberg landscape.
The Hartbeespoort Dam Snake Park boasts a quite comprehensive reptile collection. In shows is demonstrated how to deal with snakes and other reptiles. A zoo with lions, tigers, leopards and chimpanzees also belongs to the park. Some of the animals are tame and trained and played in movies already.