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The beach was Beezus' happy place - Onrus

Goodbye Beezus… my happy little Wolf… (2011-2020)

Beezus died in my arms early on May 7, 2020, his 9th birthday.  He had led the most extraordinary life and has been described as “legendary” and with every superlative one can think of, but Enid Vickers of Corporate Image coined it in her February 2020 email to me: “Beezus is officially the cutest little dog I have ever seen. He is also the friendliest and calmest.”  He was loved by everybody and I became defined by Beezie, as I had been by Akela the wolf before him.

I wrote Goodbye Akela & Kenya in 2012 the night before they died, partially as way of saying my final goodbyes.  Today is one month since Beezus died, and I have been struggling to finish this because his death was so unexpected.  There are over 9,000 photos of Beezus, each one a memory.  So I am putting this up as a Draft and, for the next few weeks, I’ll edit and add to this content.  And add captions to all the photos.

"See what big teeth I've got"
“See what big teeth I’ve got!” Baby Beezus with Akela the 13 year old wolf.  For his first 18 months, he was raised by a wolf.
Read More »Goodbye Beezus… my happy little Wolf… (2011-2020)

When conventional medicine and vets fail us

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One Saturday morning about three months ago, Beezus was diagnosed with heart failure and acute congestion of the lungs as a result.  I had taken him in for a precautionary checkup because of a a very slight dry cough that occurred once a day at the most.  I was shocked!  The local Stanford vet — who had been seeing Beezus to prepare him for his Pet Passport — was very worried and got Bergview Vet Hospital in Hermanus to see him immediately for x-rays and a second opinion.

Beezus

Beezus!

They confirmed the diagnosis, prescribed meds to strengthen the heart, another to reduce blood pressure and a diuretic to empty the lungs, and said they hoped I had a vet on 24 hour standby because they didn’t know if he would make it through the night!  I didn’t have one, unless I drove back to Hermanus…

The local vet had said that she had a Sunday morning appointment and I should bring him in.  The sedation for the x-rays had really knocked Beezus out and he slept through Saturday afternoon and night, but we were waiting at the vet at 9am on Sunday morning.  His lungs were much better and it became a matter of keeping him quiet and waiting for all the meds to kick in.  The prognosis was that he could live a long life but would be on meds for the rest of his life.  (That’s about R500 a month.)

And Beezus slowly became a little of his old self, but tired more easily and needed to be carried after a while on long walks.

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Martin Hatchuel — SA tourism’s muse has gone silent

Martin Hatchuel has been known by thousands of subscribers to his email newsletter, This Tourism Week. Its publication was sometimes erratic, but has now ceased completely.

Martin often used This Tourism Week to stir controversy wherever he thought he saw injustice or just plain stupidity. And he didn’t pull his punches. But in real life, he is far gentler, far more reflective.

Martin Hatchuel and his faithful companion, Tommy, an elderly Belgian

Martin Hatchuel and his faithful companion, Tommy, an elderly Belgian Shepherd

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Stanford Revisited

There’s an apocryphal story about a neighbour who wasn’t too happy with his new German neighbours on the Wortelgat Road outside Stanford.  But the German neighbours invited him nonetheless when they opened their new restaurant… and he accepted.

Springfontein Eats

Springfontein Eats

During the long lunch at Springfontein Eats, he had a phone call from his daughter, concerned about the rising level of the Klein River which passed right in front of his home.  He told her he couldn’t worry about it now, he was enjoying the meal too much.

His daughter called again half an hour later to say that the water was at the door.  Again, he said the meal was too good to leave.  Her next call was to let him know that the water was up to knee height in the house.  He told her not to worry, the house was insured and the meal was truly exceptional.

Yes, Springfontein Eats is that good.  And although it opened five years ago, it’s still producing some of the most memorable gastronomic experiences you’ll get anywhere.

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Fancy a gypsey caravan?

There are always unusual things coming out of Stanford.  Like the gygpsey caravans Howard Dunbar builds.

He’s built about 16 caravans over the past four years, mainly in two sizes — 5.4 metres and 3.6 metres.  A fully kitted caravan — with complete solar power system, pumps, fridge, fitted kitchen and bathroom — costs between R135,000 and R175,000.

Howard Dunbar and his 5.4 metre gypsey caravan

Howard Dunbar and his 5.4 metre gypsey caravan

Read More »Fancy a gypsey caravan?

The social hub of Stanford

Stanford Hills Estate has become the de facto community hub of Stanford.  It’s child-friendly… and has one of the best kids’ playgrounds anywhere.  It’s also pet-friendly and dog walkers from the village take to its hills every day.  If you don’t have a dog to walk, one or both of Peter & Jami Kastner’s Ridgebacks will happily take you for a walk.  And you might come across the weekly art classes, the weddings and other functions… and the music events.  It’s a friendly, unpretentious and… to use a word Peter and Jami use often… rustic place to relax, stay, play and and enjoy good wine and food.  Peter and Jami really do enjoy people enjoying the place and they make an effort to make sure that locals feel part of it.

Jami & Peter Kastner

Jami & Peter Kastner

Stanford Hills has grown organically.  Unlike many wine estates, there was no corporate budget to support the farm.  It grew as and when finance became available.

Peter and Jami never set out to be farmers.  Peter had a restaurant in Hermanus and Jami a flower exporting business when they bought portion of the old Weltevrede Farm, which they bought for its flowers.

Then one self-catering cottage became two, AfriCamps was added with five luxury “tents”, and the Manor House was converted to cater for larger groups.

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Southernmost Tip of Africa iconic site

In 2002, the then municipal manager of Cape Agulhas municipality, Keith Jordaan, asked me for ideas to improve the area for tourism.  I gave him three ideas:

  • Create a world class, iconic site at Cape Agulhas to celebrate it as the southernmost tip of the African continent and where two oceans meet.
  • Napier was a dry and boring little village then with a largely ugly main street, so I suggested removing half of every third parking bay — which are rarely used — to plant an avenue of trees. (The sidewalks were too narrow for planting.)
  • Restore Bredasdorp’s old railway station — the southernmost on the African continent — and get tourist trains running there… steam trains preferably.

I discussed these with my old friend and respected colleague, David Jack, on his farm outside Napier over breakfast one morning.  There are few people whose judgement I trust more.  He was enthused by the ideas, and started telling me about the work of an American landscape architect he had seen recently, which would be so appropriate for Cape Agulhas.  We spoke about a competition for designs and a possible champion, when we discovered that the then-CEO of the WWF had a house in nearby Struisbaai.

For Napier, Dave asked me to tell the municipal manager that he would donate the trees!  I did, and at a subsequent municipal meeting I was asked to repeat the offer.  The official responsible for services said he couldn’t allow it because it would mean raking up leaves!

In 2014 I became aware of a competition for the design of an iconic site at Cape Agulhas.  I read the competition document and found it a bit wishy-washy, so I called one of the judges — the late Fabio Todeschini.  He wasn’t aware that he was one of the judges and hadn’t formally accepted any invitation!  So I wasn’t going to hold any high hopes…

Then Bernie Oberholzer, a landscape architect I’ve known and respected for decades, recently asked if I had been to see the iconic site.  He sent me information about it… and I started looking forward to seeing it with eager anticipation.  Might they have just got this right?

It’s against that background that I visit the so-called iconic site.

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General Dealer Museum at the Stanford Hotel

“It was originally a general dealer, then a men’s bar, a wine bar, a place to buy picnics, a function space — but it never quite worked. Then it occurred to me that Stanford didn’t have a museum — so I turned it back into a general dealer — as a museum.”

A compulsive collector since the early 1990s, Penny van der Berg, owner of the Stanford Hotel, has had so much fun with this corner-store museum, sourcing goodies from across the country and describing it as, “A little bit Selfridges, a little bit Stuttafords, using my own poetic licence.”Read More »General Dealer Museum at the Stanford Hotel