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February 7, 2006The other day on the way back from Saarbrucken in Germany I found myself in the mountains of the Ardennen some 130km south east of Brussels. It was early in the evening and the mist was hanging low over the road. It was getting dark but not dark enough yet to see something of the town.
On top of the hill I saw the remains of an old castle or fort and the town itself was built in amongst the hills with a little river running through it.
It was one of the quaintest towns I had seen in a long time and, once back home, I immediately set out to find out more about this beautiful place.
This is what I found out.
Taking advantage of Roman decadence, the Francs invaded Belgium during the 5th Century. In the 8th Century, under occupation of the Francs, Pépin de Herstal turned the small fort into a hunting manor. The first castle was build in the 9th Century, and had its time of glory from the 12th till the 17th Century.
In the 18th Century under the attack of the French, the castle became a fort.
In World War II, the town suffered severe damage. Having been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, the town was recaptured by the Germans in December, during the Battle of the Bulge. The subsequent Allied bombing raids resulted in the town being liberated once more in January 1945, but left much of the town destroyed, and many residents dead.
I do a lot of traveling and I find it so amazing to, time and time again, find myself in places like La Roche where there is so much history.
*An Oppidum was Latin for the main settlement in any administrative area of the Roman Empire.
It is February already and we are (here in Belgium) on the last stretch of winter. Another two months and we will be able to switch off the central heating and start getting a bit warm again. With that of course comes the weekly gardening. Oh, how I miss Polite (my old gardener) at times!
But, we’ll be able to sit outside again and enjoy a braai and those lovely long summer evenings. We are looking forward to that.
In the meantime it is still winter and bitterly cold at the moment. Not as cold as it has been in Moscow lately though at -51°C! I heard that at such low temperature your breath will crystallize and tinkle to the ground. I was wondering if the whole town just “tinkles” along the whole day. Must be one heck of a racket!
Here it has only been around -6°C at least, where we are. During the day it is still bearable at 0°C. No temperature June would say.
It has been a nasty winter so far. I don’t mind the cold as long as there is nice snow and some sun!
That’s enough about the weather. It does not help complaining. Just grin and bear it.
Please keep the mails coming. We have readers in all parts of the world so why not sit down and tell us about your life, wherever you may find yourself, as a South African in a foreign country or as a citizen of your country.
We would all like to hear from you!
That is it for this month.
So, from me, take care and till the next time!
Most things that end up being urgent didn’t start out that way. Most urgent matters, had they been addressed when they first came up, would not have to be rushed.
Putting off a difficult task until later only makes it more difficult. To truly make your life easier, go ahead and take care of the hard stuff as early as you can.
When you put off something that needs to be done, you don’t get rid of it. You merely make it more burdensome than it otherwise would have been.
Each time you procrastinate you deny yourself the opportunity to get the work done calmly and carefully, at a comfortable pace. Instead, you push the work to a time and place where it must be hurried.
That ends up creating needless anxiety and reducing your effectiveness. The far better choice is to go ahead and get it done before the need for urgency sets in.
What could you take care of today that would prevent you from having to deal with an urgent matter later? Go ahead, get it done, and bring more peace and positive purpose to your life.
My cousin Matthew and I used to sit next to each other in the first grade and often shared school supplies. One day I asked to borrow his eraser, and when he turned to hand it to me, he was holding his pencil in the same hand. The wound healed after a few days, but I was left with a visible half-centimeter-long piece of pencil lead in my hand. I’m sure my mother called the doctor to find out about the possibility of lead poisoning, but the doctor probably said not to worry because pencil lead isn’t really lead, it’s a nontoxic mixture of graphite and clay.
The connection between graphite and lead stems from the days of the Roman Empire (and likely before that), when lead rods were used by scribes to write on papyrus. Both graphite and lead leave a gray mark on paper, although graphite is a bit darker. Graphite didn’t come into widespread use for writing until after the 1564 discovery of a very pure graphite deposit in Borrowdale, England. At the time, graphite was thought to be a type of lead and consequently was called black lead or plumbago.
In 1779, Swedish chemist Carl W. Scheele determined that black lead was actually a form of carbon; in 1789, German geologist Abraham G. Werner reportedly gave it the name graphite, after the Greek graphein, meaning “to write.” Inks were already widely available and were usually applied to paper with a brush called a
Graphite from Borrowdale originally was used in chunks called marking stones. Because graphite is softer and more brittle than lead, it requires a holder when carved into pencil-shaped sticks for writing. At first, sticks of Borrowdale graphite were wrapped with string, and the string was slowly unwound as needed as the writing core wore down. Later on, graphite was inserted between two slats tied together or into wooden sticks that were hollowed out by hand to create the first wood-cased pencils.
The Borrowdale deposit was pure enough to use without modification. But lower quality graphite needs help to keep it in a usable form. Various binders mixed with graphite powder have been tried, such as gum, resin, or glue. Sulfur also has been mixed with graphite, which results in writing cores most like pure graphite. In 1795, French chemist and Napoléon courtier Nicolas-Jacques Conté invented a process to mix graphite with clay and water, a process that is still used.
Today, graphite and clay are crushed into a fine powder in a rotating drum containing large rocks. Water is added and the mixture is blended for up to three days. The water is pressed out of the mixture, leaving a gray sludge that is air-dried until it hardens.
The dried sludge is ground into a powder, water is added again, and the mixture is blended to form a soft paste. Carbon black may be added to increase the darkness of the lead. The paste is extruded through a metal tube to form thin rods that are cut into pencil-length pieces–called leads–that are then dried. The leads are heated in an oven to 1,800°F (about 1,000°C) or higher to make them smooth and hard. The ratio of graphite to clay can be adjusted to vary the hardness of the lead: the more clay, the harder the lead; the harder the lead, the less graphite comes off onto the paper, making a lighter line.
Pencils are made by cutting blocks of wood into slats that are machined to form a groove (two to nine per slat) to place the leads. A second slat is glued onto the first, sandwich fashion, then individual pencils are cut from the sandwich and sanded smooth. The pencils are next painted with five to eight coats of paint, and a recess is cut for the ferrule–the metal ring that holds the eraser. The ferrule and eraser are crimped into place, and a metal stamp is used to press a label onto the pencil.
Various types of wood have been used to make pencils over the years. Red cedar from Kenya and the U.S. was an early favorite, but today nearly all pencils worldwide are made from incense cedar, a species that grows in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first pencils were unlabeled and unpainted to show the fine grain of the wood used. But by the 1890s, manufacturers started stamping their names on pencils and painting them.
The latter tradition got started when a French merchant-adventurer named Jean-Pierre Alibert discovered very pure graphite along the Russian-Chinese border in the mid-1800s. Alibert later developed a mine and began shipping the graphite to points around the world. Pencils made with high-quality Asian graphite were painted yellow to indicate the source of the graphite. Although there are several domestic and international sources of graphite today, about 75% of the 2.8 billion pencils manufactured annually in the U.S. are still painted yellow.
Many of the names stamped on pencils are manufacturer’s model names or company name, but these generally have historical significance. For example, the Ticonderoga, made by Dixon Ticonderoga Co., is named after the Revolutionary War fort in upstate New York, which is near one of the purest graphite deposits known, 99.9% pure carbon.
Here are some pencil facts: Laid end-to-end, the number of pencils made annually in the U.S. would encircle Earth about 15 times. In 1858, erasers were attached to the ends of pencils for the first time; most pencils in the U.S. have erasers, but those in Europe do not. A pencil lead or a line drawn by a pencil will conduct electricity. Colored pencils are made from chalk, clay, or wax mixed with binders and pigments.
Way back, sometime in the last century, when Kel first started making what is now know as the “BILTONG BUDDY”, he did not realize how much joy his invention would bring to thousands of people around the world.
Today people all over the world make their own Biltong in countries that you would seldom hear of in the daily news. Countries such as Greenland, Alaska, Peru and Tajikistan. Or, how about Biltong in Turkey, Japan, Singapore or Iceland?
With the introduction of Rockey’s New Age Home Biltong Maker even more people became interested and very nice little home industries started to develop.
All these people will tell you that making your own Biltong is as easy as 1-2-3 and that it costs but a fraction of what you would pay in a shop. That’s if you can get it in a shop.
One of the most important factors is that you don’t have to rely on others to make your Biltong. You can make it just the way you like it!
You too could be making your own Biltong in a very short space of time.
Details on ROCKEY’S 5kg Home Biltong Maker can be found by clicking on this link.
You can have a look at the BILTONG BUDDY here.
This month there will be a discount of 10% on all our Biltong and Boerewors spices for orders over R 250.00
Our Safari Biltong Spice will cost R 58.50 instead of R 65.00
And so on………….
This will be an ideal opportunity to stock up on all your spices for the year!
Rockey’s New Age Home Biltong maker will still cost only R 795.00 instead of R 850.00
Click here to go to our on-line shop.
-Where can you watch rugby on TV?-
Click here to find out where in most countries!
And another one for both Rugby and Cricket.
Not so long ago I was at Champs Pub watching a game of live rugby. As I am a member of the Budapest Rugby Watching and Drinking Association ( Beer Director J ).
I met up with some Okes that have been living in Budapest for some time now as well and they told me that there is a web site called www.kuduclub.com.
Hoping this will help out a few of our S.A. Buddies all over the world.
It was brought to our notice that some people try to use a higher wattage and different shape globe than supplied with the Biltong Makers. They do this to try and decrease the drying time. Not only does this not work but it it also dangerous!
Let’s negotiate for crime-free days
By James ClarkeInspector Dlamini, you can forget it. Just because one South African police station has decided to install an alarm system linked to a security firm, it doesn’t mean we all have to.
After all, we have razor wire, an electric fence, burglar bars, floodlights, buzzers and our faithful Maltese, Bonzo – all generously paid for by our loyal taxpayers. I will not stretch their generosity further.
The station commander then crossed his heart and spat on the floor to underline his sincerity.
Besides, if the security company comes around and finds somebody burgling our station, what is it going to do? It is going to call the police, isn’t it?
And we are going to have to tell them we have no men to spare because we are out there chasing other people’s burglars.
Our best bet is to leave nothing in the police station worth stealing – a scorched-earth policy.
Yes, I realize certain elements will want to steal our files to compromise our investigations, so we’ll just have to carry our files with us wherever we go.
Why don’t we have a sentry on duty in a fortified pillbox?
Dlamini, you’ve seen how the deputy state president’s house had every fortification imaginable – plus our patrons, the ever-generous taxpayers – may God bless them (again crosses heart and spits) – supply her with 18 bodyguards and security staff.
And what happened? Three burglars nip in, nick her cellphone and Smarties. Easy as that.
Look at that member of parliament who is practically joined at the hip to his chief bodyguard, yet somebody still stole his briefcase with quite a lot of cash in it from a well-wisher.
Dlamini, we live in a nation of thieves. In fact, it seems that only half the country is involved in honest labour. The other half steal from them.
And yes, you are quite right, Inspector – the third half are employed by security firms.
In fact, we have 130 000 people in the police force at present and we spend R20-billion a year – yet still criminals run rings round us. The most sensible thing to do is for us to call a truce and get together with the criminals and negotiate certain crime-free days when everybody can relax.
A reader wants to know why we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dead?
And why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
And how is it that we put a man on the moon long before we found it to be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
And why, he asks, does someone believe you when you say there are 4-billion stars, but feel they must test it when you say the paint is wet?
Noughts for Comfort
In fact there aren’t 4-billion stars. The Milky Way galaxy alone contains 5-billion, each larger than our sun.
And, in the same vein, according to an item in the International Express last month, mathematicians in Hawaii have recently calculated that there are 7 500 000 000 000 000 000 000 (seven sextillion five hundred quintillion) grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.
So are there more stars in the sky than grains of sand on a beach?
Australian astronomer Dr Simon Driver says “Yes”.
“There are 70 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 stars in the visible universe – nearly 10 times the number of grains of sand on all the beaches.”
I had always suspected this.
This recipe could easily be done as a Potjiekos as well
When we first arrived in New Zealand
The land of the long white cloud.I arrived with my two teenaged children around 11.30pm in the night, so we didn’t get to see much on the trip from Sydney to Auckland across the Tasman Sea. We had no problems at the airport with customs; we just declared all our chocolates and bubblegum etc. It just took time to get out of the airport: we only got out at around 1.30am. Tired, but very excited we were very impressed with the sights at the airport complete with ethnic Maori carvings in wood, water running past soft wavy green ferns and bird calls echoing around us.
It also takes a bit of adjusting to realize that while we are awake, South Africans are all sleeping, so there is no such thing as picking up the phone at midday to phone anyone! In New Zealand they have daylight saving, which I must say we are battling to adjust to – it throws your timing right out! Somewhat like when we landed here. I was getting hungry at 3am in the morning (which was in fact my old lunch time) and frying eggs and ham with toast and tea! It was so weird! Poor neighbours! Must have thought I was from the loony bin! I actually was for a time – ha, ha!
Falling asleep, the kids didn’t even stir with the phone ringing right next to them, such a funny sight. Blankets all over the place, arms flung wide, feet sticking out at right angles to bodies, mouths gaping at the ceiling, eyelids positively glued shut – hair all askew….. a sight for my sore eyes! And mine sure were! When my husband, Peter phoned me from Gisborne on the extreme East coast of the North Island and said hi, I knew he sounded familiar but just couldn’t place him, until he told me who he was: “this is Peter”. My exhausted mind went blank – still working out why it was so dark when I had had lunch and why at 10am I was so exhausted! I hope I am not like that again when I go back for a visit. I had heard of jetlag, but never anticipated that I would experience it in such an extreme form.
The first stop was Longbay, North of Auckland, where Peter had booked us in, which was very pretty. The next day at the beach, the sea greeted us with lapping waves like a dam (not like the wild seas of the South African coasts) and I found it amazing to see the shells through the clear water so far out and the sound of the water on the beach like a ‘fizzy woosh’ sound – really nice. The one spot along the beach we passed through was called “Grannies Bay”! Some very odd names they have here! Most in the Maori language, much like Africa, now. Driving the hired car was an experience I shouldn’t have tried in my exhausted state, as I was just not familiar with the roads and just got us lost repeatedly!
Peter came up to Auckland and we then embarked on the long car journey to Gisborne, along windy narrow roads that led us through hundreds of small sheep and cattle farms, through a gorge of innumerable twists and turns next to a 30 meter drop to a winding river. I actually got dizzy from so many ‘S’ bends.
We have found people we have spoken to in New Zealand to be totally ignorant about violence as we know it, – they just can’t imagine what we South Africans are on about when we begin to recount the hijackings and attacks, especially that people are being killed just for a cell phone. They have grown up with such peaceful, quiet and orderly lives with an abundance of everything, especially food at very affordable prices. So far they have just given us a blank vague look, so we invariably give up trying and just chat about those things to fellow South Africans. That’s when you realise that there is a big difference in our cultures.
The schools are a bit different in that although they have a uniform it is worn in a rather ‘relaxed’ way (well, especially in Gisborne). Shirt hanging out and they wear sandals (strops), long shorts, white shirt hanging in and out, in the two hot months of the year. And very varied hair styles. Very! Some are dreadlocks, some short like a marine, some just (and I mean just) like a mop, others never brush theirs, so the variety is quite endless….. all of course – if you’re cool – with hands in pockets. The girls have skirts and sandals, painted toenails, loose hair of all lengths and styles. Many earrings, toe-rings and finger rings. To top it all they are keen chewers of gum!
The Maori people seem to be of a very large type of build on the whole; tall, very well build people – some of those that my son met love to have fights anywhere about anything! The schools have the most wonderful choice of subjects I have ever seen: photography, learning how to drive, design, how to start your own business, art and painting, the usual academic subjects like English, maths, Japanese and Spanish languages, science, technical drawing and design, accountancy, geography – all in all about 44 subjects to choose from.
The kids had to get used to new phrases: for example Kiwi’s say ‘sweet’ where we would say ‘good’. They also say groovy, and yip instead of yes. (Or our usual ‘Ja!’). As well as ‘cheers’ for thanks and ‘trundlers’ instead of trolleys at the supermarkets, sneakers instead of ‘takkies’ and ‘utes’ instead of ‘bakkies’! It was wonderful to find out that at the age of just 14 you can get a job and earn money over here, but on a more frightening note you can get a learners licence to drive a car at just 15 years old so it still takes me aback to see these young kids driving around.
I think a lot of the New Zealanders over in Gisborne look like Prince Charles’ descendants long removed – very British looking. Then they get crossed with the Maori who look like Chinese crossed with red Indians, some very like the red Indians crossed with Vikings! And to top that juicy description many are covered with tattoos and earrings with long bushy wavy dark hair or dreadlocks! I wonder what we look like to them?! Actually made me get some history books out of the library and check up on the history of New Zealand!
Something interesting when we moved into the first house was what was left for us to use. There were curtains on all the windows, everything was washed, there were plugs in all the drains, pegs on the washing line (there was even a washing line) dishwashing liquid in the kitchen cupboard, a type of Handy Andy in the bathroom, toilet spray in the toilet, kettle in the kitchen, potato masher and peeler and a few other kitchen utensils, even a shower curtain in the shower. It felt like the previous people had forgotten their stuff. But when she came back to collect her mail she said that was the house stuff. She looked at me like I was a little odd, not knowing that sort of thing! We were amazed! However, we are also still amazed at how small the houses are.
We have since moved to Auckland and have found a few wonderful South African shops to buy ourselves some familiar treats and are beginning to adapt to the small Island that we have now made our home.
It made me even more homesick than I already am!
I am a South African, working in Germany for the past 5 years, enjoying the challenge, but Oh my goodness!!! This is just not South Africa.
But it is a beautiful country and over Christmas it was indeed a Winter Wonderland scene.
I have met with other South Africans near Frankfurt and it is always a pleasure to get together and just be ourselves. Even the occasional lang-arm-dans puts a bigger smile on our faces.
I would love to receive the newsletter in future and keep up the good work.
With warm regards
Our feelings on being back in ‘the old country?’
With best wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy and peaceful 2006.
The original Computer
A keyboard was a piano
A hard drive was a long trip on the road
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived
And if you had a 3 inch floppy . . .. . . you just hoped nobody ever found out!!!
The following was sent in to us by Dave from the UK.
It is obvious that he is not a happy chappie!
I’m fit, not fat, says Smith
Bacher brokers Van Rooyen deal
As a South African orientated web site we are constantly looking to contact more and more South Africans across the world.
Not only to tell them about how they can make their own Biltong but also to give them a chance to share their stories with other South Africans the world over.So, here is your chance to help us.
If you know about a South African family or friend living near you or perhaps somewhere far away, why not tell them about us and then us about them.
If the response we receive is large enough and, directly due to your efforts people place orders with us, you could be rewarded by receiving one of our products totally free of charge.
What an easy way to perhaps get your own Home Biltong Maker without having to pay a cent for it!
You can mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
During the last month many people went to the trouble once again of submitting their friend’s and family’s names and we would like to thank all!
Now that we are already well into the new year it would be nice to get some contributions for the newsletter from all our readers.
Many people are subscribed to our newsletter and many more are joining every day. Mostly they do so because they enjoy reading it and like to hear from people in other parts of the world.
They would love to hear from you too!!
Why not put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!), and tell us about anything interesting. About life in your part of the world, what you do and how you live. Perhaps something that happened to you.
Perhaps you have some advice to give?
Of course it does not have to be about Biltong or food. Anything that is of interest is welcome!
Share it with other people around the world!
It is winter in our part of the world now and no-one will be going outside for a braai anymore (except the die-hards)
We will be making our last batches for the year shortly and suggest that you place your orders for the winter timely to avoid disappointment.
You can contact us on +32 (16) 53.96.25 or mail us at Boerewors-Benelux.
The price is € 7.50 per kg
The Potjiekos season is over for this year. No more nice sunny days to stand around the Potjie, beer in hand just enjoying yourself.
We make our “Potjie” in our size 25 Pot (see left) and you can have a choice between Beef, Chicken and Lamb.
The Chicken “Potjie” is the most popular because it is a really inexpensive way to entertain.
To book please give us a call on +32 (16) 53.96.25
(Please note that our “Potjiekos” can only be done outside because we cook on gas or coals!)
As with the Potjiekos our Lamb-on-the-Spit is also something of the past this year (unless you want one in the snow!).
Lamb on the spit is a way of entertaining as only known by very few mainly because it is thought to be very expensive.
Together with the lamb we will treat you to a big pot of curried potatoes as well as a choice between a pasta salad or three-bean salad.
Booking early is essential and you can do so on
+32 (16) 53.96.25
-May and June 2006 are almost booked out-(As with our “Potjiekos” a Lamb on the Spit can only be done outside because we cook on coals!)
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