South Africa Notes 2015

28 January 2015

I’m on the National Express bus from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Cambridge, via Stansted Airport, the final leg of my journey home from Swellendam. It has been a good two weeks or so, achieving that rare balance between work and leisure, family and friends, activity and reflection. In Joburg, I delivered six 3.5 hour MBA lectures over the course of 4 days at GIBS – tiring but rewarding. Happily, my contract as Transnet Chair of Sustainable Business has been extended for another year, and plans to create an African Centre for Sustainable Enterprise were given another injection of energy.

Besides work, I had the chance to spend time with Richard Combrink, first to work on the Ubiquity University course on Finance and Management Accounting that we are co-designing, and then for a movie (Mr Turner) and dinner. Richard was one of my first role models, when he was my maths teacher in high school, and I still have great admiration for him. His positive attitude and perseverance are great strengths, which I have no doubt will reap their rewards one day, despite numerous setbacks over the past 10 years. I also had dinner with high school friend, Clinton Bacon, and his wife Bev. We live very different lives now, but it was wonderful to catch up and know that he is still the warm, funny guy I knew 20 years ago.

Indira flew directly to Cape Town a few days before me. On the morning I arrived, we all went for lunch with my uncle (Dad’s brother) Jim and aunt Sue at their home near Muizenberg. Their son Anton and daughter Vivienne (with 8 month old twins), both of whom I haven’t seen for at least 25 years, also popped in, so it turned out to be a nice family gathering. We also took the opportunity to ask Jim for a few tips about setting up Whispers of Africa, drawing on his vast entrepreneurial experience. We then headed to Kirstenbosch to check out the new Boomslang aerial walkway through the forest canopy, named for its snaking, ribbed design. After meeting my friend Dale Williams for tea, we drove the 2.5 hours to Mountain View Swellendam.

The next two days, Indira and I drove to Witsand, where we swam in the tidal pool, sunbathed (at least she did, while I hid under the umbrella and read my book) and climbed the giant sand dunes. We ate at the Anchorage restaurant and the Breede River Lodge and watched kite surfers zipping up and down the bay and river estuary. We also went with my parents to the Blue Cow tearoom in Barrydale, overlooking a dam broiling with masses of hungry catfish. On Indira’s final day, we took a leisurely drive to the airport, stopping to explore the Stone Age Klipgat caves near Gansbaai (which we discovered by accident). We also swam at Grotto Bay (with its leg-achingly icy water), had lunch in Hermanus and enjoyed tea in the gardens at Houw Hoek Inn. It was a fabulous few days of contentment, brimming with joy and love.

Yesterday, I drove with Mom to the airport. We took the N1 route, via Bonnievale and Robertson, with their scenic vineyards flanked with bougainvillea and canna flowers, and Worcester, where we stopped for tea. En route, we talked about art, spirituality and the power of resonance. Mom also shared some interesting meditations and dreams she has had. We met my friend Sean de Bruin for lunch at Tygervalley Mall, then Mom and I watched ‘Into the Woods’, a fun twist on some classic fairy tales (Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood).

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