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Nick Norman's road trip | Third week's highlights

Nick Norman's road trip | Third week's highlights

Nick Norman is in his third week of traveling the routes covered in his book, Geology off the Beaten Track, and you can follow him on his road trip. Visit www.randomstruik.co.za/geology to see the route map and click on your area to RSVP to one of the events.

We mentioned last week that Nick is also blogging along the way, keeping us up to date on his travels and explorations. Here are some highlights form his third week of his road trip where he passes through Durban, Nelspruit and Gauteng on his way to Graaff-Reinet.

Nick Norman's third week highlights | 27 November 2013

If any of you are still checking on the blog, I have not disappeared off the face of the Earth.  It just got more and more hectic, and even in the occasional day or two break along the way there has been a lot to do. Let me summarise the trip in bullet form:

13th November: Bloemfontein – a small gathering organized by Professor Doreen Atkinson and Anita Harmse (to whom sincere thanks are due) of the Department of Sustainable Development (?) at the University of the Free State, backers of the Karoo Development Foundation. It was an erudite gathering and the discussion after the presentation was lively.

14th November: Pietermaritzburg – a festive occasion master-minded by old school friend Coenraad Vermaak, hosted by Cascade’s Bookworld under Coleen Cook’s management and supported by Holley cousins en masse and Cordwalles old boys (thanks to Charlotte Ussher). The lack of a Power Point Presentation was not enough to douse the spontaneous flame that the mix of people ignited and it seems a good time was had by all. (The Natal Witness’s book guru Margaret von Klemperer and I chatted during the morning before the talk and I owe Margaret thanks for the generous article in the following Tuesday’s Witness.)

15th November: Kloof – the Kloof Library Hall was packed thanks to the teamwork of sister Tessa and librarians Jill and Rhona; and the PPP tour we did of the northern part of the country seemed to stir up the hoped-for interest in the subject.

18th November: Durban – the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, which had hosted the launch of Geological Journeys in 2006, was as good a venue as the first time around and the PPP tour followed in Kloof seemed to hold the attention of nephews and nieces, friends, birders and geologists who gathered. Special thanks for support should be made to ex-Geological Society of South Africa President Lesley Turner, an ardent supporter of attempts to promote awareness of South Africa’s unparalleled geological heritage. I’m sure she will turn the heaps of books she bought to good account.

19th November: Nelspruit – Bargain Books, under Annemarie van der Walt’s very professional management and ably supported by right-hand-man Daniel, arranged a memorable evening at The Olive Leaf in the Steiltes Centre in the hilly eastern suburbs of the town. Supported by Barberton-Makhonjwa Mountainland WHS driver Tony Ferrar and his wife Sandy and the local GSSA branch head Chris Rippon and with projection facilities laid on at short notice by local environmentalist Garth Batchelor (who was under the knife two days later for a heart by-pass), the event must surely have got the book successfully launched in the lowveld.

21st November (lunch): De Beers, Johannesburg – a number of key De Beers personnel, spearheaded by Tom Tweedy and Lynn Berowsky, put on a launch par excellence at the book sponsor’s campus south of Johannesburg’s CBD. We were privileged to be joined by Nicky and Strilli Oppenheimer, as well as by ex-MD of De Beers Gary Ralfe and his wife, current De Beers CEO Philip Barton and co-sponsor E Oppenheimer and Son’s Duncan MacFadyen, among many other dignitaries. Book sales went well and the temporarily hired credit-card machine proved its worth more than ever.

21st November (evening): Pretoria – thanks to less-than-perfect communication (culpa mea), the ‘event’ at the Sci –Enza science centre of the University of Pretoria campus was attended by three special people, notwithstanding which it was inspiring to see the wonderful work being carried out by the centre, under the dedicated management of Rudi Horak. (School children are offered hands-on experience of a very thoughtfully laid-out and comprehensive demonstration of scientific principles: this is a highly commendable project.)

22nd November: Graaff-Reinet – with the book’s cover depicting the iconic Valley of Desolation near the town, this was bound to be a highlight of the tour. David MacNaughton’s bookshop – a landmark in Graaff-Reinet – in the capable hands of David and his manager, Nicola, had arranged for a room to be made available in the historic Graaff-Reinet Club. Held on the evening (Friday) when the club is traditionally bursting at the seams, the event was predictably lively.

24th November: Cradock – if you haven’t already got the impression that variety is a theme of this tour, the Cradock launch should make the point. Local mover-and-shaker Lisa Antrobus Ker had persuaded David Bowker and his wife Anne (nee Collett, a big name in the Upper Sundays River valley), farmers and guest-house owners, to host a book-launch ‘luncheon’ at their home. Sitting under a massive old oak on the lawns of their most elegant garden with 20-odd of the district’s who’s who and with tables laden with the best Karoo lamb and venison, it could hardly have been a more delightful way to spend a Sunday.

Two meetings to go: one in the Geology Department of Rhodes University, the other at Glenwood House School in George; then home. More to come soon, including heartfelt thanks to all concerned.

For those of you in Cape Town keep the evening of Monday the 2nd of December free as Random House Struik and I will be launching my book, Geology off the Beaten Track at the Iziko Natural History Museum.

Go to www.randomstruik.co.za/geology to see my whole route and feel free to leave a comment below!

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