The Kissing Facts

By | February 10th, 2011|Columns|

The Latin people are clever. They reserve kissing on the mouth for lovers while friends and family get kissed on the cheeks. Three reasons why they pioneered the cheek-kissing approach all those centuries ago are: 1)    Germ aversion (no spittle contact with the dubious element of relatives and friends) 2)    It created the split-second opportunity to arrange discreet meetings with prospective lovers. For example, one could whisper ‘conservatory’ while kissing the left cheek and ‘three bells’ while kissing the right. […]

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The Original Burning Bush

By | January 21st, 2011|Columns|

Harpuis is a species close to my ‘hearth,’ for one of its many species grows on our farm in the Sneeuberg mountain range on the Great Escarpment of the Karoo. Should you happen to see me running across the veld here, brandishing a burning bush, please understand I am not performing some netherworld ritual, nor trying to set the veld alight. What I’m doing is re-enacting an ancient fire-bearing tradition to see how long a burning stem of harpuisbos might last. […]

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Wild Garlic Is a Lovely Thing

By | January 21st, 2011|Columns|

An onion is a lovely thing,” he told me, freshly plucked onion in hand. He was a farm labourer and he was heading back to his cottage on the farm to make a stew for his evening meal. I have never forgotten what he said about the onion, and I now repeat it in the name of a close relative of the onion: our indigenous wild garlic. Wild garlic is a lovely thing: lovely to look at when it flowers, lovely to use for cooking, and extremely useful from a medicinal point of view. […]

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The Hominid and The Therapsid

By | January 18th, 2011|Columns|

Would you rather be a hominid or a therapsid? That is what I asked 20-year-old Barend Minnies as we stood in the Gats riverbed in Nieu Bethesda where 253-million-year-old therapsid fossils are embedded in the rocks. Not any old fossils, they offer us the best record in the world of what life was like on Earth back then, 30-million years before the first dinosaurs appeared. […]

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Find a Farmer

By | January 18th, 2011|Columns|

Man or woman, the time has come for you to find a farmer. The forum for finding a farmer is the legendary ‘Hitching Post’ in Farmer’s Weekly, that most excellent South African magazine. Simply place your advert and request all farmers to include a photo of their tractor in their reply. Many a request of this nature has been made in the past and many more will be made in the future, if Jim Rogers’ forecast is correct. […]

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Crime, Culture and Cholesterol

By | January 18th, 2011|Columns|

With all eyes upon us a smorgasbord of horror was presented to the world as ‘a day in the life of South Africa’ directly before visitors from the far corners headed this side for the 2010 World Cup. Apart from our daily fare of crime and no punishment, the international visitors were treated to footage of war-dancing, knobkierrie-wielding taxi drivers demanding to be the transport of choice to the games. […]

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