It was still dark outside as I was driving along Vijfstraten on my way to the abattoir.
Vijfstraten is a small one-lane road meandering through the leafy little village of Keerbergen where we live.
It was still early in the morning and my red bull had not yet had the desired effect.
I was not paying particular attention to anything. After all, I had been driving this same road for the past 9 years and apart from squirrels and an occasional cat there was nothing really to watch out for.
But, driving along I felt something was not right, something had changed somewhere.
I stopped, reversed, looked ....
And there it was! A brand-new traffic sign
that had not been there yesterday?
I sat there looking at it and could not quite make out what it was that I had to heed or watch out for but then I looked closely at the picture on the sign and it dawned!
Frogs! I had to watch out for frogs crossing the road!!
So, no sooner back home and onto old faithful and onto Wikipedia.
Not much to read there really apart from the fact that it's Frog Breeding season and at that time of year Frogs think more about sex than cars.
Mmmm .. that makes a lot of sense.
It's more about having some fun really, I think. To be quite honest, if there were so many frogs crossing I should have seen at least one cropped body (or a live one) the past month or so.
But no. Not even one!
Ah well, this is Belgium and this is the country where we stop for ducks and squirrels and doves and chickens and so on and so on. It's all very nice I think.
You can sometimes sit in a queue on the road simply because some car, way up front, in front is waiting for a couple of Donalds and Minnies to get to the other side.
And can they dawdle! (the ducks that is ;-)
As you probably gathered, it's spring in our part of the world (hence the frog warnings) and you can just feel and see the whole world coming back to life.
The trees and the bushes are full of blossoms.
The gardens are full of crocuses, hyacinths, tulips and bluebells and too many other spring flowers to even mention.
Everywhere it is just one kaleidoscope of colours.
Everything is kind of breathing a loooong sigh of relief
Winter is over (again)!
It's good to have some warmth back in our bodies after yet another lengthy winter.
Lucky for us we had a whole month break in December when we went to South Africa .....
December was the first time we went back in 9 years.
The first week we were in Jo'burg meeting up with old friends and I spent some time meeting with some our suppliers and customers.
It was great to meet so many of the people I have been dealing with for such a long time and never really met.
Fernando, Malcolm, Liekie, Sandra and Charlie at Crown National, Shane at JJ Airfreight, Anna at Apak, Joe and Roland at Heneways and Avi and his staff at the factory.
Being in Jo'burg it was like we had never left.
I brought Susie (my GPS) along but did not really need her.
Of course there were changes in the road systems and a lot of new buildings had gone up but for the rest?
Everything was just the same!
Especially the braais!
My goodness no-one in this whole world can put together a braai like a South African!
And it simply did not stop for the whole month!
We soon winged our way down to Cape Town and, via the Klipdrift distillery at Robertson (of course), drove down to Knysna to spend the rest of our holidays there with our eldest son Derek and his family at their magnificent place right on top of the "Heads" on the Pezula Golf estate.
On the right is a picture taken from the 14th hole. Click to see it big. Isn't South Africa's coast just incredible!
In fact the whole family was together. Even Tony, my son who lives in Holland, came over with his whole family. An incredible effort and surprise!
Gwendy my daughter, now living in Cape Town, drove down in her magnificent 1960's restored VW Beetle! (What next will she get up to?)
It was great to have everyone together for the first time in many years.
I am not going to bore you with my thoughts about the country. Whether it has changed or not changed or waffle on about the security situation etc. etc.
I have my thoughts and will keep them to myself for while. But, it is still one of the most beautiful countries in the world and it is blooming cheap to live there!
I could not believe the prices in the restaurants and supermarkets. Even the house rents and prices.
But, especially the restaurants! And we went to many.
Where in this world can you get a full-on breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and chips etc. for just €4.00?
Or a full-on seafood platter with 12 prawns, chips and all the sauces for just € 8.00?
And that was not just at Derek's restaurant but all over!
Come on!! Fish and chips (and a HUGE piece of Kingklip) for € 1.50! (No, this is not a typo!)
If you're ever in Knysna please visit the Swing Café
, Derek's restaurant/nightclub. Good vibes, good food and good music!
Well, it has been a long time!
A lot of water has gone under the bridge and life has changed for many of us.
Hopefully for the better.
Why the long absence?
Well, I am not going to make any excuses. Priorities changed and something had to give.
In this case our newsletter.
I must be quite honest in saying that I missed putting it together every month; it was always such a lot of fun.
And then of course the feedback we received, the contacts we had with South Africans all over the world and the interaction we saw between expats everywhere. We were really global!
Somehow I feel that Biltong is a kind of universal "language/link (whatever you want to call it)" that binds most South Africans together.
They may be anywhere in the world and not even knowing each other, but .... just mention "Biltong" and all walls seems to disappear and people are instant friends.
This is the one reason I have done this newsletter.
The other reason is that I just had to listen to the many, many people who are still writing to us asking for a new newsletter. We even get calls at all odd hours (perhaps they're forgetting the time zones ;-))
People send us their email addresses just wanting to make sure that we have the correct one because they are worried that they had not received a newsletter for a while.
When in South Africa in December so many people asked; "When is there going to be another one?"
Well, here it is.
I hope that you get as much fun out of it as you did all those years ago and as I have had doing it.
It took a while because I did not realize how "rusty" I had become!
I would love to do another one after this. It's been so much fun. But, I would need some help and input.
That is, after all, what this is all about. The interaction between the so many South Africans who live away from their home land.
So, if you have enjoyed this one why not put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and let's hear from you!
Hopefully till a next time!
Isn't it always that when you drop a piece of toast on the floor it always lands butter side down and a cat always lands on its feet.
I wonder what would happen if you buttered a cats back and launched it off the balcony?
"Hi honey - I'm just having my last beer. I'll be with you in 20mins. If I'm not back - read the sms again"