Destination: Mikey’s Fontane

I’ve never had a formal Afrikaans lesson, but I’ve lived here long enough to (as with my German and French) learn just about enough to not quite get by.

We’re heading into Mikey’s Fontane today. That’s what the locals call Matjiesfontein, when they’re not calling it home.

With a name like that, you wouldn’t expect that the town was founded by a Scotsman, but it was. He wasn’t even called Mikey – he was James Douglas Logan. In fact, Matjiesfontein means the fountain (or spring) of the little reeds: the sedges used by the original inhabitants to make mat flooring for their huts.

Steeped in colonial history, it’s allegedly like stepping back in time, back to the days when it was a popular Victorian spa town, and sprang up mainly as a stop off on the main railway line across the Cape.

The town also has connections to the Jameson Raid and the Anglo-Boer War.
Plenty to fill our eager minds, then.

About next week

BEAGLESITTER REBOOKED!

It’s road trip time, and there’s a busy weekend between us and it, with birthday parties at opposite ends of the age scale. And those will be a lot of fun, not least because a lot of planning and organisation has gone into them, but there’s still loads to sort out before we head off out and about, around the Western Cape. A scary amount.

(And then don’t even mention the punishing 5 day trip up North the following week, which makes this road trip look like a quick visit to the local shops.)

But I’m looking forward to next week. I’m not taking a laptop, so expect
a) some pre-written posts, plus whatever else I get the chance to fit in.
b) the occasional unedited photo, and
c) plenty of instagramming.

I know for a fact that there will be a couple of days where I won’t have wifi or cell signal, but I can’t imagine that there will be a lot in many of the deliberately chosen, sparsely populated dorpies and nature reserves we’re planning to visit.

Night skies? Hopefully.
Freezing temperatures? Obviously.
Some proper family time? Surely, yes.

Bring it on.

Fair warning

Back from an amazing long weekend in the Karoo and I have (about) a billion photos to bore you with.
Stuff like this:

image
The process will begin tomorrow.

I’ll see you then.

Faces of Resistance

More fracking protests, this time in the UK. Despite the fact that the democratically elected government has researched the subject and their independent experts have come to the conclusion that things are ok and that fracking should go ahead, some people have decided that they don’t think fracking should go ahead, because… “stuff “, and they’ve organised a campaign of “civil disobedience”.

And who better to spearhead this campaign than these perfectly reasonable characters as introduced to us in the Grauniad’s “Faces of Resistance“.

‘White Rabbit’, 35
Activist from London

Balcombe frackingRabbit says he has been involved in WikiLeaks revelations and, as a result, cannot reveal his identity. He says he is protesting in the West Sussex countryside because fracking and Balcombe have become a central battleground. “One issue is that extracting shale gas is just speculation. I mean, it’s creating an artificial bubble. How many more bubbles do we need?”

 

Seraphina ‘Angel’, 31
Spiritualist from Notting Hill, West London

Balcombe frackingCamped by the side of the road for a fortnight already, “Angel” said it was her destiny to protest at Balcombe. She said she felt compelled to travel to West Sussex to register her disapproval against the hegemony of the “new world order”. She added: “I am here as an awakened rainbow warrior from the Maya calendar whose prophecy states that you’ll come back to save the Earth. Here I am.”

I think that it’s pretty clear that  Cuadrilla will immediately cease and desist their perfectly legal and acceptable plans to extract  shale gas from West Sussex. Jonathan Deal and his local loonies will surely now be looking for “awakened rainbow warriors from the Maya calendar” as this is obviously key to preventing fracking plans in South Africa.

Carbon dioxide emissions in US drop to 20 year low. Why?

I mentioned this article from Slate.com briefly yesterday, but it’s worth putting on here as well as it does rather poke a bit of stick into the ribs of the local environMENTALists currently going nuts over the SA Government moratorium on fracking being lifted.

Carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped to their lowest level in 20 years. Estimating on the basis of data from the US Energy Information Agency from the first five months of 2012, this year’s expected CO2 emissions have declined by more than 800 million tons, or 14 percent from their peak in 2007.

The cause is an unprecedented switch to natural gas, which emits 45 percent less carbon per energy unit. The U.S. used to generate about half its electricity from coal, and roughly 20 percent from gas. Over the past five years, those numbers have changed, first slowly and now dramatically: In April of this year, coal’s share in power generation plummeted to just 32 percent, on par with gas.

It is tempting to believe that renewable energy sources are responsible for emissions reductions, but the numbers clearly say otherwise. Accounting for a reduction of 50 Mt of CO2 per year, America’s 30,000 wind turbines reduce emissions by just one-10 the amount that natural gas does. Biofuels reduce emissions by only 10 megatons, and solar panels by a paltry three megatons.

All of which further demonstrates the benefits of shale gas, not just for the South African economy, but also for the environment. And with Eskom currently building the  largest dry-cooled coal fired power station in the world at Medupi in Limpopo, which will burn through almost 15 million tonnes of coal each year for the next 40 years, it would be nice to have a safer, cleaner, more efficient yet viable alternative.