Hogsback Winter Celebration Programme

This year we will be holding a ten day #Winter #celebration to celebrate snow, warm hospitality and the wonderful winter ambiance here in our mountain village.

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An overview of Hogsback online

Hogsback- paradise

A social media summary of Hogsback and it wonders…..

Storified by Maggie Verster· Wed, Apr 10 2013 03:54:39

Every time I come back to Hogsback I realise how blessed I am to be the custodian of a little piece of heaven on earth! I miss this place terribly when I am not here. I would love to get the weird and wonderful creatures here in Hoggies to tweet more about whats happening  and post photos and inspirations from a very special place… So here is a summary of what others are tweeting, facebooking, youtubing, and posting on social media about Hoggies…

If you tweet/post/blog about hogsback, please remember to add the hashtag #hogsbacksa to the tweet/post/blog to make it easier for me to track online. 
Hogsback – when God creates so much beauty, all u can do is stand in awe with smiling satisfaction.Cherise Fourie
Sunrise over HogsbacksStarways Arts Centre
#hogsbackjonnylechtman
Away With The Fairiesrobertschrader
A frameRaymond Marzo
068-Hogsbackaudiman61
Here are some tweets and links to blog posts of what our visitors says…
"@hogsback: Lovely blogpost+ photos of our little paradise here in #hogsbacksa @hogsback goo.gl/NqlvV #lp #ttot Hidden gem!EasternCape
RT @leavyrdailyhell: PHOTOS: Away with the fairies in mystical Hogsback, South Africa – goo.gl/5bu0bhogsback
This photo of the ecoschrine has basically gone viral on twitter for the last year or so it keeps popping up on twitter. 
Hogsback, Eastern Cape, South Africa (Hogsback Eco-Shrine) bit.ly/WiRPM8Craig Walenta
It would be great if visitors could get a better sense of the weather on an ongoing basis as it can change every second…..So my aim is to get the hobbits in Hogsback to tweet whenever the weather change… Could keep them busy!
@hogsback what’s the weather like in hogsback this morning. Hogsback weather station Is showing a temp of 2.7degC!SA Storm Chase
Freezing cold here in #hogsbacksa. I feel like snow…. @hogsback @hogsbackinfo pic.twitter.com/jtwctdDcvuMaggie Verster
@maggiev *Obligatory beyond-jealous-of-that-view tweet* @hogsback @hogsbackinfoTim Keller
@storm_sa If you don’t mind me asking… Where do you get your forecast info for Hogsback? I’m always on the look out for snow falls there.John Erasmus
Some news and requests for outreach projects here in Hoggies. I have already got a few promises for computers. The power of twitter to reach a small magical community! Ps we need MORE working old computer (not older than pentium pls)
We need computers for our community Jikani project in Hogsback. If you have any WORKING ones standing around waiting for a good cause, …Maggie Verster
And then there are great videos about Hogsback….Check this one out!!
Breezing through Hogsback fb.me/JbA9uw8VHelen Richter
The people here are amazing, zany and just incredible. Someone said that it is basically an open air asylum…..
@maggiev @hogsback Thats where the Great Mr. Trevor Webster lives nowadays. I learned a lot from the legend.DA FOSTER
Some interesting events happening on an ongoing basis….
A wonderful cycling tour coming up in Hogsback. slowriding.za.com pic.twitter.com/EP5AEXRvj9Maggie Verster
The slowriding bicycle ride link is actually slowridingza.com #hogsbacksa @hogsbackMaggie Verster
Jeffrey Mauer the owner of Cycle Torque in Beacon Bay East London has jumped at our SlowRiding experience and is sponsoring the following prizes for our SlowRiders.Early Bird Entries from East London – the first 15 SlowRiders from East London who sign up to join the Tour and pay their booking deposit before the end of March 2013 will win: A water bottle with a free Cycle Torque Service Voucher valued at R100 insideEarly Bird Entries from anywhere around the country – the first 10 SlowRiders from everywhere who join the Tour and pay the full Tour Fee by 5th Apirl 2013 will win:A Front LED Light valued at R200 each plus an 18 Function Multi Tool value R200PLUSEarly Bird Entries from anywhere around the country – all entrants who book for the Tour and pay their full Tour Fee by the 5th April 2013 go into the BIG LUCKY DRAW to win one of our two fabulous prizes:An Avalanche MTB bike – sponsored by Cycle Torque value R 2 100.00ORA Tour Discount Voucher – R 2 100 cash back – sponsored by SlowRiding ZAFor 2 lucky Weekend Post Readers – in conjunction with the Weekend Post, we are offering a free entry to the first SlowRiding Tour taking place from the 27th April to 1st May 2013.WE HAVE A WEEKEND POST WINNER – Congratulations to Shona Bell and her partner.We hope you are going to enjoy the most Awesome Adventure!Group Discounts – For those who book as a group and pay their deposits by the 10th April 2013 – minimum of 4 or more – SlowRiding will pay a cashback discount of R250 per person in the group – so rustle up your friends and family, and get some cash back towards the cost of your fuel for the trip up to Hogsback.For those who don’t win one of these prizes – don’t worry – we have a stack more prizes that will be revealed as we countdown the days to the SlowRiding Tour.Slow Riding South Africa
@maggiev @hogsback slowridingza.com attractive site. On which Eastern Cape are the tours? Home & contact page don’t say.Linda Aragoni
Some general tweets and facebook bits………
Proper night out in HOGSBACK last night..saw the most amazing sunrise of mylife! Off 2 the waterfalls 4 dops & a braai with the crew nowWesley Thomas
Hiking in Hogsback # goodlifeVuyo Vuyokazi
Lost in Zingnuka #hogsback #trailrun @RunTrailcoza @DOITNOWMag @GetawayMagazine @gomulti yfrog.com/moul7sljJacques Marais
Hiking in the Hogsback forest pic.twitter.com/jte4axmI61Mahalia Gadlela
Welcome to HogsbackUngena nje ubuliswa ziimfene ezikhuthuke impundu, amabhadi!Olwetu ????.??????
@VayaMzansi heading for Durban early June. And Hogsback for Christimas in July.BERYL
@ACollocott yes – leaving EL – head for N2 to KWT and then lto Alice (R463?) – stop-go in place and then turnoff to Hogsback – c u soonJenni Bessesen
@oliverwhyte in the #forest #hogsback #roadtripping #easterweekend instagram.com/p/XokyntMgkO/Saul Lipchik
@OR enroute to East London then onto Hogsback for a wedding going to be an amazing couple of daysAndrea Collocott
Eastern Cape Road Trip tomorrow!!!!!! Cannot wait to shoot Bernard & Natacha’s engagement shoot at Hogsback!!!! Yeeeeepa!!!!! <3Aglow Photography
An awesome weekend with the family in Hogsback pity that it was so short.Melvin Kent
Gooooood Morning! A rather chilly one but looks like it’s going to be another glorious day in Hogsback so why not pop in at Butterfly’s. We have our awesome MEAT FREE TUESDAY DEAL = 10% off all vegetarian meals….. includes our delicious breakfasts, pizza, pastas & a whole lot more.Open 09:30 – 20:00 (kitchen closes 19:45)See how one meat free day a week can make a whorld of difference!!!Butterfly’s Bistro
back from AMAZING!! Lesotho trip.. ate mequenyas, drank maluti beer and spent 3 days with hippies in an eco-village high up in the Hogsback mountains, stunning!Oliver Wetmore
Ooh wat a nice day we had!- at Hogsback, HobbitonThabisa Masiba
Hogsback today. Hoping for a freak snow storm. I have faith in global warming.Lisa Weideman
In Hogsback now. where the hell are the hobbits.Michael Way
So….?? who opened the freezer door? It’s 7 degrees in Hogsback right now…about to start a fire….definitely a duvet day, and isn’t it just so nice when you can….to all you hardworking friends out there…here’s to me right now…hahahaha!!! Have an awesome day and keep warm everyone!!Serendipity (Hogsback)
All 3 tickets booked guess we will be having an African Xmas !!!Desray Fry
Hogsback great, back to reality! oh poo!Heather Summers
Morning walk in#Hogsback forest then breki then airport#EastLondon and home!Goodbyes are :(Rhonda Savage-Julie
planning a Hogsback adventure with Maryke Pretorius!Melvin Iverson
HOGSBACK!!Nick Bronkhorst
@rhondastours: Now that walk in #Hogsback was just awesome!Took some amazing pictures!#willbbackRhonda Savage-Julie
On our way home from Terra Khaya,Hogsback. Looking forward to electricity and dryness. Had an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience with good friends. Love the eco-friendly,hippie way of life,but much more aware of all our modern blessings xxKerry Winn
Thank you to all the special girls in my life in Hogsback for a stunning evening. MwahRene De Lange Vorster
Wow we saw the stone circle, some cool arts + crafts and 39 steps waterfall. Had a port tasting and gonna get ready for the wedding in hogsback soon. Wet but beautiful!Roelien Parkin
So…ideas on wedding venues?!!?Donnay Nel
It is rainy days like these, that I miss Hogsback and lying in front of the fire. Only thing better, would be 2 in front of the fireLee-ann Schwartz
Hogsback!!!! Whoop whoop can wait!Roelien Parkin
So, there’s this small matter of a wedding, a 50th birthday, and a gathering of friends to ride and run a few trails in Hogsback. Pretty chuffed.Jacques Marais
This time tomorrow, we’ll be on our way to Ashfield-on-Hogsback. Rain, kathemba’s, mushrooms and forest fairies:) Happiness Conrad Hanekom<3 See you there Amy & Jason – topless bar? ^^Tash Nel
Some youtube videos about the lovely accommodation options here…
Breezing through HogsbackeTGskKyfMpah1H8AavkXaQ
Hogsback Christmas in July 2012riekdog
"HOGSBACK!!! Bring on LOTR" Rachemurphy’s photos around Hogsback, South Africa (hogsback lotr)tripadvisortripwow4
Fly Fishing in Hogsbackjustinandersen
Adventures in Hogsback, Eastern Cape- South Africabrunitogg
Hogsback chapel restoredddispatchonline
Little Hogsback chapel turns 75ddispatchonline
Away with the Fairies Video Tour Hogsback, South Africamattis10000
Then there is the snow…..
Snowfalls at Hogsback in June 2010bubidave
First winter snow in the Hogsbackddispatchonline
Prayer Trail, St Patrick’s chapel, Hogsbackelsasteyn
Spring in Hogsback_0001.wmvelsasteyn
Some accommodation options….
King’s Lodge Hotel : Hogsback, South Africa2570saplaces
KINGS LODGE HOTEL accommodation in Amatola Mountains Hogsbackscatterhub
Hogsback Inn : Hogsback, South Africasaplaces
Hogsback Accommodation – Hogsback, South Africa www.hogsbackcottage.com – Bookings: 076 1111 951hogsbackcottage
Some of the issues in Hogsback….
Hogsback 6multizute

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Ellie’s reflection on a Hogsback Christmas 2012

Photo: 25 Desember 2012Kersfees, en soos gebruiklik bevind ek my in die misterie van die onsigbare dorpie Hogsback. Weg van die gejaagde lewe van inkopiesenrums wat uit hul nate bars van mense wat koorsagtig aan die shop is om vir oulaas die kersfees vreugde, voedsel en nodige (of dalk heel onnodige) laaste geskenk wat nog onder die boom gedrapeer moet word, te vergader....Weg  van die state wat  telkens onverwags roekelose ietwat alkoholies gestremde mense voor jou kan laat opdoem en wat  aan die betekenis van Kersfees net ‘n vae gedagte toelaat…Weg van enige iets wat my daaraan kan herhinner dat die verdien van ons daaglikse brood eintlik in die sweet van ons aangesig verdien moet word…Hier op die berg, waar die rus en vrede so stelselmating vanaf jou aankoms dag vir dag jou gebeentes indring totdat die ware vrede wat verwesenlik word deur die geboorte van Christus, nie anders kan as om deel van jou gees en wese te word nie.So het Kersoggend dan ook aangebreek met die welkome mis wat  stadig van onder van die vallei  af instoot, al ho?r teen die berg en tussen die woudagtige boomreuse deur totdat dit voel asof jy omring is met ‘n snoesige wasige kombersie…. Wat mens onwillekeurig laat dink aan die liefde van Jesus….Siende dat die mis vandag gepaard gegaan het met dreigemente en spore van  hemelse waterstrome, is die Kersdiens verskuif vanaf die arboretum waar eeue ou bome na die hemel uitryk en boomstome van gesneuwelde reuse as sitplekke dien , na die St Patrick klipkerkie  gelee in ‘n  soortelyke geskikte sprokiesagtige omgewing.En voordat die Christusfees gesels amptelik kon begin, het ‘n donkie die binnekring van die klipgeboude plek van samekons binnegekom om soos lank tevore die blye boodskap af te lewer . Dit  het die gebeure  laat ontvou van ‘n Christuskind, gebore in ‘n stal, met engele wat sy koms besing en herders wat  sy koms met eie oe kom beskou.  Maar ook van ‘n donkie wat hom weer moes  help wegdra na veiligheid as die mensdom in die vorm van ‘n aardse Koning dink hy kan die Jesus kind se koms ontken. Die gedagtenistog na die offer wat die Jesuskind uiteindelik vir ons moes bring, het my weereens in verwondering gelaat oor die blessing wat ek kan beleef om deel van Sy verlossingsplan te wees.En toe ons die klipgebou uitstap saam met mede verlostes, vanaf oorspronge ver wyer as die grense van ons geliefde land, het die lowergroen uitsig, vars en helder en skoon daaruit gesien. So asof  dit ons daaraan wil herhinner dat die koms van die Jesuskind en Sy offer vir ons aan die kruis ons ook weer skoon en vars teruggee aan die wereld om die skoonheid van Sy verlossingswerk aan die mensdom te vertoon.En daarmee wil ek aan al my facebook en ander vriende ‘n Geseende Kersfees toewens en 'n nuutgevulde geesteservaring  wat julle ook skoon en vars aan die wereld sal laat vertoon!!Groete uit die skoon en vars Hoggies!!!

Kersfees, en soos gebruiklik bevind ek my in die misterie van die onsigbare dorpie Hogsback.

Weg van die gejaagde lewe van inkopiesentrums wat uit hul nate bars van mense wat koorsagtig aan die shop is om vir oulaas die kersfees vreugde, voedsel en nodige (of dalk heel onnodige) laaste geskenk wat nog onder die boom gedrapeer  moet word, te vergader….

Weg van die strate wat telkens onverwags roekelose ietwat alkoholies gestremde mense voor jou kan laat opdoem en wat aan die betekenis van Kersfees net ‘n vae gedagte toelaat…

Weg van enige iets wat my daaraan kan herhinner dat die verdien van ons daaglikse brood eintlik in die sweet van ons aangesig verdien moet word…

Hier op die berg, waar die rus en vrede so stelselmating vanaf jou aankoms dag vir dag jou gebeentes indring totdat die ware vrede wat verwesenlik word deur die geboorte van Christus, nie anders kan as om deel van jou gees en wese te word nie.

So het Kersoggend dan ook aangebreek met die welkome mis wat stadig van onder van die vallei af instoot, al hoer teen die berg en tussen die woudagtige boomreuse deur totdat dit voel asof jy omring is met ‘n snoesige wasige kombersie…. Wat mens onwillekeurig laat dink aan die liefde van Jesus….

Siende dat die mis vandag gepaard gegaan het met dreigemente en spore van hemelse waterstrome, is die Kersdiens verskuif vanaf die arboretum waar eeue ou bome na die hemel uitryk en boomstome van gesneuwelde reuse as sitplekke dien , na die St Patrick klipkerkie gelee in ‘n soortelyke geskikte sprokiesagtige omgewing.

En voordat die Christusfees gesels amptelik kon begin, het ‘n donkie die binnekring van die klipgeboude plek van samekons binnegekom om soos lank tevore die blye boodskap af te lewer . Dit het die gebeure laat ontvou van ‘n Christuskind, gebore in ‘n stal, met engele wat sy koms besing en herders wat sy koms met eie oe kom beskou. Maar ook van ‘n donkie wat hom weer moes help wegdra na veiligheid as die mensdom in die vorm van ‘n aardse Koning dink hy kan die Jesus kind se koms ontken. Die gedagtenistog na die offer wat die Jesuskind uiteindelik vir ons moes bring, het my weereens in verwondering gelaat oor die blessing wat ek kan beleef om deel van Sy verlossingsplan te wees.

En toe ons die klipgebou uitstap saam met mede verlostes, vanaf oorspronge ver wyer as die grense van ons geliefde land, het die lowergroen uitsig, vars en helder en skoon daaruit gesien. So asof dit ons daaraan wil herhinner dat die koms van die Jesuskind en Sy offer vir ons aan die kruis ons ook weer skoon en vars teruggee aan die wereld om die skoonheid van Sy verlossingswerk aan die mensdom te vertoon.

En daarmee wil ek aan al my facebook en ander vriende ‘n Geseende Kersfees toewens en ‘n nuutgevulde geesteservaring wat julle ook skoon en vars aan die wereld sal laat vertoon!!

Groete uit die skoon en vars Hoggies!!!

[This post was reposted with permission from Facebook- thanx Ellie]

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Hankering back to Xmas in July 2012

It is almost time to get ready for the real Christmas in December and I have not even had a chance to reflect on Xmas in July!! Thankfully Elrieka reminded me about it by posting her little video that she made when they spent time with us at Ilifu. So thankfully a picture (and in this case a video) says a thousands (or more) words. So here it is.

 

The young ones sleeping in layers

This was a glimpse of what the young-ones were up to. There were very many of them (I stopped counting) and they were sleeping in layers all over Ilifu. The noise levels scared away any hope of catching a glimpse of Knysna loeries and send all boomslangs slivering into hiding.

The golden oldies (Me, JD, Roy, Mittie, Lorentz and Hilda) took a far more sedate view of the occasion. My new out-laws displayed their magnificent cooking prowess and hand-cooked pasta and all kinds of other delights which were very much appreciated by all. JD spend the entire time in his pyjamas watching rugby and we darted in and out at the various celebration events in the village. The sub zero polar bear swim was well attended by blue looking humans- hopefully I will get that video uploaded before next Xmas in July. The celebration dinner at Ilifu was a joyous affair and all the cooks and table decorators have to be commended.

Thank you to everyone who made it such a memorable occasion and shared the time with us in our paradise abode!

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Hogsback Xmas in July 2012

Wow. Cannot believe that it is that time of the year again.

Here is the provisional programme for Xmas in July. It will auto update as new things are added. Now to plan the meal and get Ilifu dressed up for party time.

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Snow, more snow and snow theft…

It is always a hit and miss situation to try and catch the snow scenario in Hoggies. It comes either before I get there or after I have gone. I did manage to catch a glimpse of it twice (see Magical Christmas in July) but there were barely enough snow for me to do a decent snow angel without hurting mother earth. And I now want you ALL seriously to picture me doing a snow angel. Seriously.

View from  my roomThis time it did not mess around. I went to sleep and I woke up as a frozen Popsicle in a snow white winter wonder land.

I instinctively grabbed my camera  and desperately tried to catch the whiteness and the quietness in an instantaneous Facebook-twitter photo stream. But nothing  can capture the absolute serenity. I just gawked and listened to the soft flakes falling and stood in awe of how great God is.

My bed in front of the fireplaceOkay now for the sake of transparency: Snow is not all shiny white flakes and roses. After the initial jippeee-jayness, the electricity went off which mean no power,and no power means no water and no gadget charging. And then the sun went off, and then my electrical gadgets started going off one by one until I sat in the dark, all my myself.  Not being able to twitter or facebook or talk to hubbie or read my kindle books made me realise how uncool snow actually is. So I made myself a bed in front of the fireplace and told myself how blessed I am.

 

Fortunately I am blessed with amazing neighbours (that do not go off- maybe a little -refer to no water) and we huddled together braai-ing up defrosting meat in a snowbraai. One thing I realised is that magical moments need to be shared with those who like to make magical moments. Snow or no snow. So I dished out snow slippers and we shared food around the fire, dogs and all. Thank you guys! And thank you to the Eskom guys who worked tirelessly for a week to restore our supply.

Also there was the snow theft. After sneaking brief charges from my car battery, I was informed by my worried twitter and Facebook network that my snow photos (which I could not even see what they looked like as I just pressed SEND) were stolen by News24  and Radio Algoa with no reference to the pain and suffering I endured in capturing them. A Johan Lotz (dirty rotten thief) downloaded my photos and uploaded it as his own to News 24 and Radio Algoa uploaded my photos to their Flickr account with copyright nogal. I will definitely have to do an educational piece on the use of online material in a fair and non-thief-like fashion like it should be done (see how here).

We did get another light snow blessing and this time I made sure that I had my loved ones and friends around me. It was the first time that Hettie and Mitti smacked eyes on snow flakes and I had to drag them out of it as it happens to be rather cold and wet.

So till the next snow…..and please do not phone us and ask when it is going to snow. But if you want to know…DEFINITELY  on September 8. See you up here then. Book early.

Interesting titbit: Apparently it has over the years snowed here in Hogsback every month of the year except for February……

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Xmas in July (Hogsback) 2011

The provisional programme for Christmas in July is as follows: (will update as I get more info)

All Weekend:
Tea Thyme: Port and Sherry Promotion & Art Exhibition Gail Cousins
Starways: Silke Heiss exhibition

Friday Evening
17h00: Bonfire at Butterfly Bistro
Ha! Man, Stutterheim Melodic Voices
Official Opening
Pub Meals at Kings Lodge

Saturday
All Day: Meals and refreshments at restaurants
Attractions:
8h00 Champagne Breakfast (Kings Lodge)
9h00- 16h00 Tourism Centre, Craft Market, Ox wagon rides, Interactive Craft demonstrations, Workingdog demonstration by SAPD
9h00– Nkonkobe Youth Soccer Tournament (Sports Field)
9h30-15h30
Feathers: Fresh Produce Market, including local producers, Baddafords, Farmstall, Manor House team, CATA Communal Association, Border Rural Community
11h00 Tourism Centre: Guided Nature Walk (Cata guides)
11h00-15h00 The Rose: Bow workshop with Prof B Bleibinger and J Ncozana
12h00: Kings Lodge Tri Nations Australia vs SA Pub meals
13h00: Kings Lodge: Magician Show, Face painting, balloon sculpting, colouring in Competition
14h00: Hobbiton Open Day R 10/person/activity
16h00: Kings Lodge Magician Show, Face painting, balloon sculpting, colouring in Competition
19h00: Gala Dinners (Bookings Essential)
Hogsback Inn; Kings Lodge; Tea Thyme; Nutwoods; Feathers
20h00:Kings Lodge: Niven Live Music

Sunday
08h00-10h00: Kings Lodge Champagne breakfast
08h45 Tourism Centre:  Interdenominational Church Service
09h00: Tea Thyme: Port and Sherry Tasting & Art Exhibiton by Gail Cousins
Sports Field: Nkonkobe Adult Soccer Tournament
10h00: Hobbiton Open day R10/person/activity
Tourism Centre, Craft Market
10h15: Tourism Centre Zondernaam
11h00-15h00 The Rose: University of Fort Hare Marimba Band
12h00-14h00:Kings Lodge Sunday Lunch Carvery
Arminel Sunday Lunch
12h30: Tourism Centre: Centre Stage

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Christmas in Hoggies 2009

What can I say? Christmas has always been a stressfull time for me. In the past I did not cope well with the materialistic demands that it seems to be steeped in, the bells and wistles, the empty music, the running around in crowded stuffy shops trying to buy the perfect presents that invariably turns out to be expensive dissappointments. As I also have 2 children birthdays in December, financially it turns into a depressing time.

Then came Hogsback. And somehow the magic has sprinkled back into Christmas. This year is my 4th Christmas here and yet again we ended up spending Christmas eve around the fireplace with thick mist floating around outside. If you squint your eyes, it might just as well be a white christmas with a european backdrop. Yet again, magical setting for a magical Christmas.

It also happened to be the biggest Christmas so far. We were joined by my sis and her children, her sidekick, Robbels the robocop, the whole lot and lots of Wredes, the Borstens as well as Lientjie, escaping from the heat in Durbs by the sea. I was ready for the invasion this year. I drew up a spreadsheet allocating groceries, menus and sleeping facilities in a orderly fashion forgetting that I am dealing with the family who never listen to me very closely in any case.

We originally planned a garden Christmas day meal, but after perusing the weather forecast, decided on our normal Christmas eve celebration. Everybody were allocated something to do, cook or concoct. The turkey, lambs and gammon gallopped into the kitchen and I even tried my hand at baking, with a pumpkin pie. Thaai’s Christmas salad needs special mention as I am now consuming spinach, something I have always enthusiastically avoided. The younger ones transformed the lounge into a fairyland complete with crackers, candles and tinsel and the stage was set for joyous family and friend time.

We ate and ate and ate some more and talked and babbled and ate some more. The presents were a simple occasion but we had quite a glam father Christmas in the shape of Markus who handled the stresses of trying to see what belongs to whom whatsoever in a witty and willing fashion. As we did his and her draws Oumie ended up with a snazzy new shaver and we had to do a very quick swap. Next year I am planning to have a Christmas with second hand goods, entirely eliminating Christmas shopping altogether. Nobody will be allowed to buy anything new and we will recycle all the kaggel kakkies wrapped up gorgeously of course. Remind me please.

Christmas day was a quiet (ish) day and we were treated to a beautiful message of what Christmas really is actually about, in the arboretum between the trees and birds. As I watched my family and friends and fellow Christains sitting on tree trunks and listened to the sound of joyous Christmas songs I couldn’t help but think how truly blessed I am.

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Inter-denominational Christmas service

I was fortunate enough to be on the mountain for the end of year inter-denominational church service. And what a blessed experience it was! An NG dominee (trying very hard to “gooi” some english as well), a Xhosa pastor and people from all the different christian denominations up on the mountain, came together in all shapes and sizes, and in true rainbow style to celebrate our community with a service and lots and lots of food made by everybody. I sort of stumbled into this and then decided that my contribution will maar have to be to do my normal thing and take lots of photies.

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Thaai’s 50th birthday @ Ilifu

My time in Hogsback is always made up of memorable moments of bliss. I just have to report on yet another amazing happening at Ilifu! We celebrated Thaaitjie, JD’s niece (yes I am her aunt even though I am way- way younger than 50…) 50th birthday in granda style right here in Ilifu’s fairytale garden.

She pictured the occasion with long laden tables, flowers, abundant wine and champagne, not to mention beautiful people chattering over exquisite food, while music played to the sound of nature shaking the dust off her blossoming veil…Uhmmm, I think she got all that and way, way more. Someone up there must also think that she is really a very special person, and organised the most accommodating weather to make her wildest dream come true

The occasion kicked off with me and Thaai finally arriving in Hogsback on the Wednesday night after having to abandon my ailing car in Bloemfontein and borrowing my sis’s car to get us here (thanx Ellie- so much for lending me your brand spanking new baby- nobody else would have done that!) Thaai then set off to go and fetch her long-time friends, Louise and Nonnie in East Londen, two hours away. Nonnie is the Italian connection and has bravely volunteered to come and do the cooking for this most momentous day. She also brought with her ready made sauces and all her pasta making equipment as everything (all the pasta) were to be made from scratch.

We started the celebrations early and had a pre-birthday jive-dinner as it was Nonnie’s birthday on the Thursday and we had to make sure that the Italian music was going to work for the Saterday. Mitti, Roy, Cecile Dolf also arrived and we kicked off with Hogsback filet in a cream sauce and Lakoekaracha to which we had a bit of a cha-cha-cha.

Friday was the day for the baking af THE cake. And what a cake it was. More or less a hundred layers were individually created with a filling in between and a 2die4 glaze over the top. The girls truly excelled themselves. In the mean time the rest of the troops arrived in droves and Friday night was spent around the fireplace, chit-chatting and catching up on family and friends

Saturday morning we all got up nice and early in anticipation of all the preparations. It was a communal affair with the kids pitching in to help Nonnie and Louise make the ravioli and gnocchi. I sat in front of the oven to keep a watchful eye on the busty breads and Thaai and the rest of the team decorated the shed and set the tables ablaze with flowers from the garden. And you won’t believe, somewhere in between all the happy crazy-ness, Louise still managed to give me and Thaai a facial. We got covered in seaweed guaranteed to eliminate at least 10 years off our ages.

The whole day was like a celebration in itself but the actual lunch was so divine!! I have already booked Nonnie and the gang for my 40th birthday as well. Lientjie entertained us with little titbits from their childhood and all the Vissers, as per usual with occasions like these, shed bucketfuls of joyful tears. We ate Ravioli and we ate Gnocchi and we sipped wine while Italian lovers belted out Vilamoura in the
background. Who would have thought that we would survive Thaai till 50!

To finish off a good celebration, we said goodbye to to a lovely day by saluting the last rays of a lovely day disappearing over the graceful hills of Hogsback
at the lookout. We did forget the champagne glasses and resorted to sipping champagne straight from the bottle, only to find that it is an impossible task and had to content with bubbles up our noses.

All good gatherings (where the family get together) is never complete without a jubilant sing-a-long with Miranda at the piano. She braved adverse conditions on my moth eaten honkie tonk piano to provide graceful harmony to our illustrious voices. I did bring a high tech feature in by projecting some of the
lyrics via my data projector to try to eliminate some of the La-la-la’s that we always resort to. Thaai opened her presents and was particularly pleased with her card from Mark, wishing her a glamorous 40th.

Sunday brought with it peace and brunch followed by general chilling out manoeuvres. The family indulged in playing 30seconds and we were joined by farmer Brown and his fandamily. Mark treated us to a delightful supper of pasta with a Mark sauce and we can say with certainty that Thaai’s 50th were an illustrious occasion.

So thank you for allowing us all to have such an amazing time with you, Thaai. And as always, Hogsback is a place where la granda dreams are bound to come true.

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