The stunning beauty of Lesotho, and why when so many CHAI colleagues ask me if I like being based here I always say yes! The pictures say it all. If your a motorbike enthusiast and want to know the logistics, please refer to the map. A demonstration video of how NOT to ride very rocky terrain is attached below for your viewing pleasure.
Munich has some pretty impressive art galleries, I have visited them, and found them, well, lacking a little spice. The galleries themselves did not feel like they were making a social commentary, just providing a home. I think it is the anti-authoritarian Australian in me that finds something far too institutional in art galleries. Although they are not expensive to get into, it seems that the art in in those galleries have lost their message a little. We uphold the Arts as a precious free source of expression, and yet within a gallery it seems to lose its place in society. As if it is no longer living.
In juxtaposition to those galleries, qhilst visiting Munich these past few times, and wandering among its streets, I started to notice these little, cute, expressions of freedom. Animals, flowers and lovers in the concrete jungle.
These pictures were spotted just wandering around the North East of Munich, except the bottom right picture which is hanging on Julia’s wall! I had to include it as an example all artists can aspire to. However, if you want a more thorough exploration of Munich street art there are some route maps available on the web. You may want to check out:
The Lesotho team spent a few days in January developing a new strategy and better understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
With a combination of challenges, including rope swings, and bridges, and spaghetti bridge building, Heather got our creative juices flowing. The two days culminated with some intense brainstorming sessions which generated in excess of 100 ideas for the team to investigate back at the office.
These type of events always bring surprises and help us reset some of our basic expectations. People that you wouldn’t expect to be scared of a dog or a rope climb struggle, people you think might give up often persevere. These events help us recognise that people are dynamic, intricate and often have complex motivations for why they do what they do.
In the past, I have been lucky with an upgrade or two. This week has been a long one of flights, stop-overs, furry teeth, dry eyes, long nights, and odd sleeping patterns. Thankfully, trans-Atlantic flights are not so common for me. Needless to say, going into a 2 day weekend workshop on the back of 50 hrs flying and annual donor reporting, I have been hoping and asking for an upgrade all week.
I got lucky on the second leg of the return trip, with a seat move to premium plus economy from Washington to Zurich.The truth is though, that you make your own luck. So when we boarded late in Zurich and started to pass through a mostly empty business class, I thought a self appointed upgrade was a good idea.
I really thought I would get kicked out, so didn’t get too comfortable. Still, I figured the 30 min until after take off would secure me some precious laptop battery charge time and then they would probably discover me when taking meal orders. Not so, and the champaign, prawns, cheese platter, gnocchi and gelato came and went and I reclined my Swiss sky bed out flat for a much needed nap.
Summer is beer season, and this summer past I was able to celebrate the season by attending three boutique beer festivals! Happy days of sunshine, crisp brews, camping, brisk morning swims to clear the cobwebs, and delicious festival food. A lot of reminders of another day, and other times at the Australian Boutique Beer Festival with the boys. Speaking of which, I hear that the 10th Annual Australian Beer Festival to be held in Octob er this year will also celebrate the Australian Hotels 100th Birthday!
Of the beer festivals attended this season, the first was the Komo Caves Glamping and Beer Festival in Lesotho, the second the Sands Boutique Beer Festival in Johannesburg and the third was the very popular Clarens Boutique Beer Festival. All were good in their own way, The Komo Caves setting was stunning, facilities impressive and the partying the most passionate of the lot, with revelers dancing through until at least 2am. The Sands was convenient, being in Sandton and their was a pool, which earns bonus points all ways. Clarens was the classiest, with the most and best beers, good food, and a easy, laid back setting with great organisation. Real shame about the rain this year.
At the end of February I was lucky enough to shown one of my colleagues favorite places in Lesotho, Qulalane Falls. The only condition was that I take her on the back of the bike over the two mountain passes that had to be crossed to get to the hike starting point . We set out early from Maseru on a sunny Saturday, with two other friends joining in a car to make a convoy of it.
The pictures below show the hike in, and the falls. What they do not show is the thunderstorm that rolled in while we hiked back after lunch. They don’t show the hail, flash flooded roads, lightning and thunder. Most spectacular and scary of all was the fountains created as rain water poured down the gutters and hit piles of rocks in its path, spraying water 2 meters in the air and all over the road.
The bad weather created an interesting moral dilemma. It placed me in a position where I felt that it was an unnecessarily high risk for my colleague to ride on the back of the bike. Especially given there was room in the dry, warm, comparatively safer car, and my colleague did not have a proper jacket. My colleague disagreed, passionately, so I drove off without her, removing her freedom of choice. Was this right or wrong?
Thanks also to Max for the group shot and a few of these photos
The peach harvest has come quite late in Lesotho, in my mind, but it is here now, and I’m leaving again! Never mind, there was time in the weekend to harvest, wash, pickle and eat!
Reminded me of Peaches & Cream festival back home in cobram, which according to Wikipedia is Australias oldest festival! Shame that the only other decent reference to it dates back to 1997 on Silverchairs website!
The Drakensburg mountain range is known as the wall of spears that peacefully separated the Basotho (People of Lesotho) from the Zulu (Of North East RSA). Here are some clips from a sneaky long weekend I managed for a friends birthday thanks to a public holiday in RSA way back in the start of spring.
We stayed at the beautiful Inkosana Lodge, which is on the road to the Monks Cowl National Park, with a great view of Cathkin peak at sunset over the pool. After doing one of the day hikes to the waterfall under Monks Cowl, we headed further South West to the Amphitheatre Park, and hiked into the base of the Amphitheatre. Topped the long week of driving around a small game park which is situated at the site where the British armed forced incurred a significant loss to the Zulu.
It is a year since I first went snowboarding with Arnault at Nozawa Onsen. During January and February 2013 we made numerous trips into the deep fluffy snow on the north west slopes of the Torogi pass in Nagano Prefecture. Arnault, a university friend of Nicks’ from Singapore has been a regular at Nozawa onsen for the past 7 years and returns year on year for the ease of access from Tokyo, deep powder, often unused off-piste trails, and local, non-touristy feel that the place has. He stays at the same family Ryonkan each year, and they view him as a favoured son. Ina ddition, the town is historic, with 17 public onsens scattered throughout the tiny town, it is one of few places where these public onsens are still maintained, free of charge.
We had blue skies for 2 of the three visits, which is apparently pretty rare, and good snow. On one occasion, we had almost too much snow! Check out the gallery and two video clips I have put together below. Unfortunately, both times I went off-piste with Arnault and Delphine, I crashed too many times to make sure the camera was operating appropriately! One of those occasions I managed to get a little air just prior to hitting a tree at pretty decent speed, so a good thing it is not on camera!