1st BULAWAYO (PIONEER) SCOUT GROUP (Zimbabwe)
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...and weekly news of Scouting in Matabeleland can now be found at GP News.
Paul Carlsson 1 Dec 09
Now resides in England and is currently undertaking a degree in mechanical engineering.
Leon Wuyts Appears in a Pioneer article
1 Jan 2009Leon has returned to Zim and is happily settled in Bulawayo.
1 Feb 2008 Having finnished with school, Leon has taken a "Gap Year" & is currently on a working holiday the UK.
7 Dec 2007 Hi there,
'A warning to all hikers, gold-panniers, illegal immigrants and lost Martians in the Chimanimani Mountains, a pack of unruly, misbehaved, loud, belligerent, verbose, somniloquent (and sometimes somnambulant too,) Scouts has been sighted (smelt first though) prowling the Mountains in search of un-suspecting tourists. These Scouts are presumed to be highly dangerous, contagious, infections, and may cause unwarranted side-effects such as headaches, insomnia, insanity, and eventually death. All members of the public (privates too!) are warned not to engage in any form of conversation (fruitless anyway) or even sign-language (thought to be provocative to the said Scouts) or enter within a five kilometre radius of any out-parties, raiding parties, base-camps or refuse dumps. If, however, contact is engaged in and an innocent bystander (or bysitter) is injured, immediate medical attention is required, and urgent evacuation is necessary. Anti-Scout Kits are in the process of production, but these cannot be relied on fully. For more information contact the Anti-Scout Society (ASS).'
The above was nearly broadcast on ZBC the other night, but we were able to stop them!
Yes, you guessed it; weíre off to Chimís again!! We leave on Sunday, this Sunday, and come back the following Saturday. The route is going to be much the same as last year, though weíll spend one more day in the mountains and probably (fingers crossed) climb Binga (also known as Queza) the highest mountain in the Chimaniís.
Donít you just wish you were here?
Weíll be going in the big landy, which has just been pulled apart and put back together, the engine at least, in order to be spick and span for the trip. There are six of us going, including me and Norm, and it will be three of the juniors first time.
Right, Iíve exhausted myself after that spurt of literary prowess, so Iíll leave it at that, and give you a full run-down when we get back.
Otherwise, all things here run in little circles, as the prices continue to rise, and the sun Ė unfortunately Ė still continues to rise in the most glorious sunsets imaginable, setting the sky on fire when it sets. Lifeís tough in Africa...
Anyway, I need a rest after all this verbiage before I sprain myself, so Iíll end off with a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
Cheers for now,
PS. Sorry, I canít resist this last jibe: the Park is looking wonderful now, green everywhere, and weíve had some massive thunderstorms rolling down on us from Shumba. Everything is really looking wonderful!!
25 Aug 2007 Hi there,
This is just a quick e-mail to say weíve survived the Join-in-Centenary Camp (click here to read all about it), things went really well, everyone has finally pushed off and left us to some peace and quiet. With my school career coming to an end, Iím in a bit of a quandary as to what to do/become and am off looking for some good old-fashioned advice from my elders (Iíve decided Normís brand of advice: ďSo when the waters started to rise, we all shoved the animals inside two by twoĒ is a bit out-datedÖ)!
Right, speak to you soon,
2 Aug 2007Hi there,
Just a very quick letter to say hello: things are moving at the rate of knots down here with the Centenary Camp coming up, so I donít know when Iíll next write.
Have you got any news on the Jamboree? All we know here is that there are about 40,000, including girls. Down here, weíre moving quickly towards our camp. I donít know how spectacular itís going to be, weíve got a provisional number of 600 coming in total from around the country.
Weíve got some issues: no fuel to pump water, not enough water (only 2 full tanks for four days and 600 people!!!) and no fuel for them to get to the Park. Also, we have very little equipment with which to do much, as itís all been wrecked by Scout Leaders with no knowledge or training (you would absolutely do your nut!!!)
Normís still very optimistic, and hopefully heís proved right at the end. I promise to write a nice long letter once itís all over, 2 weeks yet, and for now, hope youíre keeping well: nice and warm, whilst we are still freezing here.
Right, speak to you soon,
2nd July 2007 Hi there,
Hopefully my hands will thaw out as I write this letter, and my teeth will stop chattering and sending the few brain cells that havenít died off from hypothermia bouncing around my head. Here in the icy snowfields of deepest, darkest (though tropical) Zim, I am thoroughly freezing to death! Yes, the depths of winter have finally struck, and with snow bearing down from Joburg, weíre all rapidly buying up provisions to last the long haul (though it wonít be too bad, as we canít worry about going without electricity, water, food and the like, as those are already non-existent!!) when we batten down the windows and amuse ourselves playing charades.
Iím not going to horrify you with the stories I can tell of how a typical Zim winter is, suffice it to know that whole days without water, three or four times a week, 10 hour long power cuts, and a mad scramble at the shops to grab whatever luxury items (such as bread and sugar) are available, are all considered quite normal and acceptable. Though no bullets are flying through the air, we feel like weíre living in the middle of a war-zone, though whoís going to win we really canít tell.
Otherwise, life continues on at its alarming, breakneck speed down here in the farthest reaches of civilization. A lot has been happening lately though, and Iíll fill you in as the thoughts pop into my head:
First things first though, the editor of the Pioneer Trail thanks you for the pocket money, and promises to trundle down to Eskies before they are closed to buy the biggest ice-cream available (a not altogether impossible occurrence, the closing I mean, as the new government tack is to close and commandeer all companies and shops that sell services or goods for more than the government price - a case in point that will shock you: the local Spar had itís entire stock of beef 'kidnapped' and sold from within the shop, for $90 000 a kg. This may seem a lot to you, but the actual price that the shop was selling it for was $300 000 a kg - a few more times of this, and theyíll simply close, as it is, the beef racks are empty...) Seriously though, thanks a million, it is much appreciated, both by me and the Troop.
Talking of the Troop, things seem to be going well. I donít know if you've been told, but Pete Tiplerís son has been invested, along with Decklin Fitzpatrick, at the last Parentís Camp, and Norm being Norm made it quite an experience: being invested in a Centenary Year and all. They both look to be good additions to the Troop, though we desperately need older guys, but it seems the pace and interests of life have moved on, and none of the guys my age have any interest in anything except computer games. Enough preaching, but it will be a problem at the end of the year when I leave.
The weekend before last was our exeat weekend at school, so me and Dale (tiniest little lightie you could imagine, only 11, talks the hind legs off a herd of donkeys, but a tough little blighter) and I went on my Sable Award Expedition: a cycle tour originally planned for Fort Mangwe and Kezi and GP (dig out your old maps and have a look... J) but we changed the route half way through, and went down the Badja plateau instead, down Van Hendrickís Pass and close to Njeleli, and then up the Natisa Road to Maleme and GP. It was four days of hard riding, and we were absolutely knackered at the end of it - though Dale really showed his stuff, and though he had some bag problems he just kept going. If the whole world was like that, Norm would be out of a job.
All in all, it was a magic experience, being out on our own and doing our own thing. It was our first cycle tour, and we had some hitches, but weíve learnt now, and having been given the taste, I think this might take off. The weather was absolutely freezing, with frost even, not enough to make a snowman, but frost none the less. As always the local people were friendly and polite, always helping us find our way, giving us water, and even walking with us to show us the way to go once. It was all something I wonít forget in a hurry.
Hmmm, what else? Well, exams have reared their ugly, disgusting, revolting, menacing, unnecessary, worthless, vile, despicable, insidious heads again (as you can see, English Lit is first!!) and Iíve been swatting for those. Theyíll be finished by next week luckily, and I get a couple of days off school - yay!! On the downside, I havenít been to the Park for a whole 10 days, and am starting to feel withdrawal symptoms... I go to sleep at night counting off the number of days left of school, before Iím free, free, free!!!!!!
Right, well that seems to be the sum total of what I can think up to say, and as this letter has already sat in Drafts for about a week, I suppose I better send it before the weather changes and the whole thing become absolutely and completely useless (howís that for a bombastic, verbose sentence? As Norm would say: how do you like that for big fancy words? Even bigger than marmalade.) Right, speaking of marmalade, Iím now getting hungry, so Iím definitely going to say cheers:
28 May 2007 Hi there
I havenít written for quite a while - so much has been happening down here, not the least of which is the fact that my dadís computer went kaput again last week, and with all the power cuts and so on, thereís not much time to get onto the computer.
By the way, perhaps you could send us some anti-freeze stuff, and advice on how to survive in the Artic, as this last week we had a cold snap straight from Snow-Land, which froze the thermometer at 23' Fahrenheit (about -5' Celsius, I think...) anyway, it was very cold!!
Otherwise, nothing much has been happening here. This last, May, Chapel service, I was awarded my G.P. Hat Band by Norm, donít know if he told you or not - quite an honour and not too sure I deserve it, but... Oh, and Iím working steadily towards my Sable Award, I will be doing my expedition soon, over my exeat weekend, and the incident journey soon too. Events as concerns Province have fizzled out, with no courses being held at the moment.
Otherwise, things are tough here, as prices rise literally by the minute, particularly fuel, where if you just drive around the block, the price can shoot up. Things are progressing towards the elections next year. Fuel, food, power and now water are all hard to come by, and rationed or simply cut off in several places.
The Government has made frantic efforts to get a winter wheat crop in, but as so little land has been prepared, with most of it now belongs to scores of 'war veterans'. As most of these new farmers donít even have tractors, let alone any meaningful irrigation, I can only wonder what the food story is going to be like next year.
But that is all side-stuff. We ignore what we can, and try and highlight the good things we go through, though they be few and far between. The Park has lost its Spring coat, and now adorns itís Autumn wear, with the rusty Kirkias in full colour. The grass has grown well this year, and weíve had to mow several times, unfortunately, as the fuel is very expensive. We are restricted to simple, uncostly maintenance, and even replacing the Lodge doors is too big a project to embark on lightly.
Weíve been seeing quite a few animals recently, mainly the klippies, and havenít seen a rhino for close to a year anywhere near the Park. This could be just natural migratory cycles, but we always fret that it isnít, and they have simply been all shot out.
The rainy season has basically ended, and we donít expect any more, and according to the figures, it was a good season here, with over 20 inches. But the drought is still on over most of Matabeleland, with the water a big problem, as the cityís supply dams have no pumps, and more is probably wasted through broken pipes than is actually pumped out of the dams.
The Troop is doing well, numbers are stabilizing. Some of the guys are just not campers or hikers, and we have some hassle's going on camps and hikes with them. But they will learn, as Norm definitely runs a camping/hiking Troop, and doesnít take lightly to differences.
Talking of that, the Troops Parentís Camp is the weekend after next, at which Mike Tipler (Peteís son) and Decklin Fitzpatrick (John and Moiraís son) will be invested into the Troop. Theyíre lucky theyíre being invested in the Scouting Centenary Year; talking of which, still no money or movement from Province to do anything about that - looks like itíll be very low key (though I may be doing a magazine/newspaper type thing for it).
The Pioneer Trail will be out soon, before Friday I hope, as Iíve been procrastinating over doing it for a while.
Right, Iíve absolutely exhausted everything Iíve got to say, but will hopefully speak to you soon.
29th April 2007 Hello,
So sorry for not writing for so long: Iíve been rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. Last time I spoke to you was ages ago wasnít it? Well, nothing much has happened, except that the country has dropped even further into chaos than ever before, Trade Fair has opened, and brought swarms of people to Bullies, oh, and weíve been on a hundred kilometer hike.
Norm decided to do the 100kilometer Challenge hike. Which we did, last week, with two juniors, Brendan and Dale, who if I may add are not even 12. The hike was simply wonderful, went to so many places, but Iím not going to bore you with the ďand thenĒ details now Ė read about it in the magazine, soon. Anyway, you should know that the two lighties did just fine, and Iím really impressed with both of them. Theyíre shaping up to be good youngsters, and theyíll keep the Troop going once Iíve gone.
Anyway, just wanted to check in, Right well, have to dash, will speak to you soon, probably next week, as Tuesday is a holiday, and weíll be out at the Park until then.
Wed, 14 Feb 2007 Hi,
Just a quick note before I go to bed to say hello, and tell you about the past two weekends. The weekend before last weekend was quite nice -- though it didnít work out at all as I planned - that is the tree planting ceremony to commemorate Norman Scott's 30 years of being Gordon Parks Camp Commissioner: the phones were down citywide it seems, and so I couldnít get hold of anybody to get them out to the Park; the tree I wanted wasnít available, there were people coming out to the Park anyway, and Norm had to work and take a tourist tour on the Friday instead of the Saturday!! So the whole thing fell apart really - still, we planted the tree, on the training ground, close to the table by the steps to the Chapel (test your memory!) It isnít a P. Mapreunefolia, but is a Pterocarpus Rotundofolia (Red Mukwa - I think - hope...) So anyway... Norm was pleased, so all was well that ended well.
Last weekend was quite nice too - BP Camp and Parade. Things went relatively OK, besides Cyclone Flavio, which luckily waited until yesterday to hit us, so we never got drenched. The rain is still hanging around though, and Cyclone Ganmede is on his way as well. The Camp was a success as far as some people would think (read a whole book into that if you will...) with a whole five activities, most of which damaged what little equipment we have left. The Park was left in a complete mess, litter all over the place and trees and bushes just pulled down. All the big brass had a meeting on the Sunday - talked for hours - on the Park and funding and what not. Adam is getting paid tuppence whilst the 'Leaders' who come out once a year expect to be paid for everything they do (just incidentally - theyíre asking more for one nightís catering per person than Adam gets to feed him and his family for the entire month!! And no-one seems to see anything wrong with that!!).
The BP Day Parade was nice - done by Father Benno, who really put a lot of thought and effort into it. Oh, and before I forget, Mr. Crockett received the Silver Eagle Medal as well. Talking of which, Iím looking at it while Iím writing this - itís really quite impressive. It takes so long to connect to the Matabele Website - (not your fault) - that I can write a whole page in the time it takes to load a webpage!! Iíve been trying to look at the Scout website videos for a while, but I donít have the correct plug-in or something stupid, and so will have to download the plug-in - however, Iím using my dadís machine, and he doesnít like new things, so will have to be very discreet.
What else has happened? Nothing much that I can think of. Right, will speak to you again when I have something to say - shouldnít be long...
Wed, 14 Feb 2007 Hello,
Got back yesterday from a absolutely hectic weekend at the Park: it was meant to be our termly Parent's Camp, and the parent's were meant to arrive at about 5 on Saturday. Before that however, we had a memorial service for Ken Harmer, which was meant to be at 4. At about 3 the heavens just opened, and we had a huge downpour!! Mrs Harmer had arrived to set things up first, and so we huddled under the shelter waiting for the storm to abate, which it didn't. Eventually people started arriving, and we had to shuffle them on to the Lodge.
It was very hectic trying to arrange teas and the rest for all these people, but we eventually sorted everything out. The Parent's Camp we just cancelled, as trying to huddle under canvas would have been a real experience. It was just as well, because it drizzled a bit during the night.
The next day was the Service (Father Benno) which was great, though the clouds were beginning to build - before they too came down later on (3 o'clock - right on tea time!) and so everyone huddles under the shelter at the kitchen again. Luckily the rain didn't last long, and everything turned out OK. Mrs Cavil, a friend of Norm's, had made a most beautiful (and delicious) cake for Norm to celebrate his 30 years of running the Park, with icing flowers on top and all. So we all had a lovely tea in the pouring rain.
All in all, it was quite hectic, but quite enjoyable.
Right, I better go have some lunch - just got home from school! Will speak to you soon, and I hope you don't get heat-stroke!!
Sat, 3 Feb 2007 08:53 Boo!!
No, don't look that surprised: it's not that scary - just me, at long long last writing you a letter. I have been very very rude in not writing to you before, and I haven't much of an excuse, so I'm not even going to try and make one up. But, I better warn you, this is going to be a tome and a half, so you better dig out the old moth eaten sleeping bag (if you still have one :-)) and brew a couple of kegs of coffee to keep you awake through it. Else, just skip to the important bits down at the bottom (I.e.: goodbye) an send me a letter back saying how interesting it was and how unfortunately you "accidentally" pressed delete and then "accidentally" pressed "yes" and then "accidentally" pressed delete again and then "accidentally" pressed "yes" again and deleted it from your computer - "accidentally" of course.
Right, well, first things first: the Senior Scout Adventure - Cedarberg 2006/7. I'm not going to give you a "and then we did this and then we did that" sort of debriefing - try reading the next magazine for that (if I can work up the energy to write it!) so I'll just give you the brief overview of what happened. Firstly, and most importantly: it was absolutely fantastic!!! I mean it completely!! It was such an unbelievable experience, one I will simply never forget.
The flight down to CapeTown was very nice - a very enjoyable experience flying! Getting through the airports was no problem, just followed the big yellow signs. It was quite different though from the Bulawayo "hanger" to a huge complex like they have down in Johannesburg!! I met another Scout going on the Adventure at Joburg - I was in uniform, so he came up and said hello - I met him a couple of times on the adventure as well - nice guy. My stay at my brother's farm was also quite nice - we went down to Hermanus for the day, and I got to swim in the sea for the first time ever - interesting...a bit salty, but interesting.
However, I was bursting with excitement on the 28th (it was a Thursday wasn't it? anyway) so we drove in to CapeTown quite early in the morning, as he's about an hour's drive from town, and when we got there, there was just a handful of people there! It turned out that a message had been sent to "everyone" to say that the busses would be leaving early - but they never got through to me so luckily one of the busses had a problem and they had to get another one! So I got on board and began the three hour drive into the Cedarberg mountains.
Four and a half hours later - we finally arrived at the mountains. It was an interesting ride up, the scenery was very different, especially when we got to the mountains. At the camp I had a bit of trouble finding the other guys in my patrol, as I was on my own, but they eventually worked out who I was because I kept wandering round and round - and one of them noticed my funny uniform. The patrol I was with was really great - they were really fun guys, both the German's and the Namibian's, though we had some interesting experiences later on. But they were really super guys. The German's were real German's who go to the German school in Joburg, and they spoke German most of the time between themselves, though they could speak excellent English and Afrikaans.
The beginning parade was delayed by an hour and a half - because we were waiting for 6 people - and they had their whole route and itinerary plans mixed up completely, so they had to redo the whole thing!! We also had our food mixed up, so we had too much food whilst others had too little, so we just got together amongst ourselves, and sorted it out. The planning seemed to be a bit lacking in most things though I'm sad to say.
Anyway, we began the actual bases the next day, with our first base, electronics, which was great - we made a clock and thermometer, which we used for the rest of the hike (highest recorded temp: 53 C lowest 3 C :-)) That day we began our hike by hiking down to diving, which was freezing cold, but fun. Then we carried on to Pizza, where we slept the night. Pizza was very nice, where we got to make our own pizza's and eat them - the important part.
The next day we climbed our first mountain range - the Wolfberg. This was quite a climb, and as we got a bit mixed up (the PL was a bit of a dopey chap, so) we climbed straight up over and down the range, and ended up hiking along the road back to where we were meant to be, which was ecology. Ecology was a nice gesture, and might have been interesting if it was done a bit differently. As it was, we spent two hours on the one day looking for bugs caught in "bug traps" and then two hours the next day doing the same thing. We were all absolutely bored after ten minutes, so four hours was torture!!
The next day we hiked the whole day to a cave where we slept the night, a nice cave on the side of a ravine. That night was New Year's, and we were joined by a rowdy bunch of townie's, who obviously wanted to stay up and see the New Year in in grand style, which we just ignored and went to sleep!!
The next day we climbed Taffelberg (I think that's how you spell it - got to check) which is apparently the second highest - where we did rock climbing and abseiling, and also climbed to the top of the mountain. It was quite an experience, I've never done rock climbing before! It took us about two hours to climb up, and two hours to climb down, all for 10 minutes of rock climbing and abseiling - a bit of a let down...
We climbed down the mountain and hiked on to Aids Awareness - which they added just to get funding for the Adventure - a real let down, as it was very boring - we sat there for 10 minutes and then were given a lollipop!! Headquarters was next, where we spent the night, before Water Base the next day, which was really nice - water skiing, tubing and parasailing.
After water base, we came to the highlight of the whole thing to me - we climbed Sneuberg - the highest in the range. We climbed halfway up late at night, and camped close to the mountain hut about halfway up. The next day we spent climbing up nearly to the peak, and at about half seven, when the sun was just setting, we climbed to the summit to watch the sun set. It was truly magical.
We slept on an natural ledge just below the summit, which was quite nice.
The next morning we climbed down the mountain and hiked to Astronomy, where we arrived about 7 hours early, so we hung around for the whole day! The base was very interesting though. The next day we had Marksmanship, a long long process, as we had to wait for a long time to use the guns, before Archery, which was great fun. The next day was the final day, so we prepared to go back to HQ, as we had to make out own plans, as the transport plans were not done at all well. We arrived at last though, and hung around for the day until the final camp fire - which was rather dull and strange, as they had set up a disco afterwards - which I felt was a bit out of place. People didn't stay long though, and they were all soon asleep. Me and my guys had gone off when the whole disco thing started, and camped away from the noise.
The German's left really early the next morning: about 3 o'clock, so they missed the final parade. And then finally the Adventure was over, and we packed all our stuff away and prepared to go home. We waited for about 4 hours for the busses though, even though we were told they were to be there on time, so we got back to CT a bit late.
The rest of the stay was fantastic. The home stay fell through, so I spent the week with my brother on the farm, spending most of the time on his ATV, which was really super, zooming around the farm. He also taught me how to ride a motorbike - small one, which was really cool. We went shopping a couple of times, and went to the Waterfront for dinner one night, and then, the climax, I climbed Table Mountain, which was really awesome. I climbed Patterclip Gorge, a really steep ascent, and came down in the cable car, which was really great.
All in all, the most memorable three weeks of my life. In years to come, I'll think back on this, and remember what a difference it made. I really mean it:
Right now, this has taken three days to write - quite sporadically - so I think I better end here. I will be sending you another e-mail when I get back on Monday, as I'm going out to the Park today - got a hike on - in which you will hear more - if I can still get my stiff fingers to move after this volume!! (By the way - got tonnes of mowing to do - absolute tonnes, so if you don't hear from me on Monday, it's probably because I left my hands glued to the mower!! :-))
Right, enough is enough,
Speak to you soon,
Hweugh, it's over at last - you can go to sleep now!
26 Oct 2006 Hi there. Right, you can climb back into your chair now, from which youíve just fallen, no doubt, from the shock of seeing an e-mail from me... things have been so hectic down here, this is the first time Iíve touched the computer in about a week. Exams are coming up faster than they legally should, and my trying very hard to imagine they donít exist is not wielding results!! Not for lack of trying though, I can assure you! My first exam is next week on Wednesday: Geography - probably the hardest out of them all. Anyway, Iíll do all right, hopefully.
I just thought Iíd give you an update on whatís been going on down here: Parkís still there, still as glorious and beautiful as ever it was, finding it hard not being there now - banished to my room, studying (or trying to study). Anyway, last week was our Parentís Camp at the Park: four new guys were invested: all little cubs from the 8th. They should do all right. So, update to the Troop:
Eagle Patrol: PL - Leon Wuyts
APL - Dylan (was promoted this parentís camp)
Dale (first little sprog)
Brendon (second sprog)
Cheetah Patrol: PL - noone
APL - Keiran (also promoted at Parentís Camp)
Liam (another lighty)
Shaun (last little one)
Right, so that brings us up to a very tidy 14, which is fuller than we actually want, but we can handle it I think. The Parentís Camp went off very nicely, as it was preceded by Father Odiloís Memorial Service. This was one of the most spectacular things Norm has ever done, not because of its exuberance or splendour, but because of the pure love and dedication it showed the memory of dear Father O. It was a candle-light service, at 8 oíclock, with candles lighting the steps up to the chapel and lighting the chapel itself. Father Benno and Father Kevin took the service, and dedicated a plaque to Father O next to Stevensí and Wilcoxís. It was all very magical, with about 100 people at the most. Before and after we had braai fires down on the Training Ground, and it was here that the new guys were invested, with all Normís ceremony and tradition. I think they were all very awed, and every one thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Not a very good description of it though, but it was something that you just had to be there to experience!!! Hint hint... Anyway, today was JOTA/JOTI, which we held at NUST. This was really fun, we managed to get through to quite a few stations throughout Africa, and Iím going to go back tomorrow and see who else we can find. The JOTI side wasnít as successful though - had trouble connecting, but anyway, all the little Scouts enjoyed themselves...
Norm hasnít been here for the past half-week though - heís been up in Mutare for Ken Nortjeís birthday. Norm pitched up on his doorstep on Friday, Ken had no idea at all Norm was going to be there. Anyway, just finished speaking to him - Ken was overjoyed, he received a whole hob of cards from old Scouts.
What else? Well, I got a Global Challenge e-mail from Luke , and replied, but Iím not sure what kind of an image heís going to get of Zim Scouting, considering my biased mind. Anyway, I said he should go look at the website for more info, and hopefully heíll do that.
Umm, canít really think about what else to tell you - Zim still continues, barely, to survive. Things arenít all gloom and doom, though some people like to see it that way. We will all survive, so long as we stop thinking in purely civilised First world terms.
Anyway, got a whole truckload of swatting waiting for me - arrrrrr!!! But, it must be done. I will try an e-mail you before Christmas, but if I donít: Merry Christmas!! (hmm, better make that a New Year too, my brain may just go on holiday after all this unusual work).
Right, better go.
5 Oct 2006 Hi there,Sorry, but I literally have three seconds to write this:I will make the hardest effort known to man to get down at the computer and send a long e-mnail, but life is flashing past at the rate of knots here,school's nearly out - study leave and then exams! Yay! Anyway, I've finished theMay - August edition of the Trail, and sent it, so you should hopefully receiveit sometime today.
Expecting rain here too sometime soon, though the people above don't seem to betoo optimistic about this year's season. Shortages everywhere -food, basic stuff, but I can still go and buy the latest DVD player, or 25 inchplasma TV, if I've got the millions. Oh yes, because they revalued our money, sothat what used to be billions is now millions - isn't that nice of them? Butanyway, we continue to survive, luckily we have our own veggie garden, and socan pretty much live on veggies if we absolutely need to. So one good thing He'sdoing - turning us all into vegetarians!!
Anyway, must run - late for school...
28 Aug 2006 Hi, At last I have some time to talk. Life in Zim continues, barely. With an inflation rate in the 1000ís, we laugh ourselves stupid to hear of all the other countries in the world freaking out at their high levels: US: 3,something %; Botswana: 11,something %!! Anyway, the government has just introduced a whole set of new bills, and they dropped three zeroís Ė so what used to be a thousand dollars is now 1 dollar, however, prices are already up in the thousands Ė as things used to cost millions Ė and so half their new bills (50 cents down to 1 cent) are completely and thoroughly obsolete Ė but that doesnít stop the shopís from handing you a wad of 10 cent notes, amounting to about 2 bucks. Police and Armed Forces have been very quick to... You are not permitted to carry more than 100 million of the old money on you at any one time Ė if you do, they say you are hoarding it (or in other words Ė being rich) and then they take it away from you. But with petrol costing close to half a million a litre...
Anyway, life otherwise goes on Ė the Park is still there at least Ė an island of sanity, but we did receive a sort of testing-the-waterís lease, which is so funny - the whole thing is addressed to a business, so we are allowed to travel at 40 km.p.h! and, we must have a trained hunter/guider chap with us each time ďclientsĒ come out to the Park and the rent is still an exorbitant price really, for a welfare organization!
But otherwise, havenít been doing much: not much lawn to cut, but we have been doing some roadwork before the rains come. The valley still hasnít burnt, though the grannies are in there almost every week cutting grass Ė theyíve amassed quite a pile of it, and these huge trucks come along to pick it up. The sad thing is that we barely see any game anymore, very small herds of impala, wildebeast and zebra by Rowallen (which has been completely wrecked by the way Ė by the Guides themselves Ė gates gone, doors gone, toilets, even the piping from the bathrooms, electric cables, everything Ė and what hasnít been taken has been smashed Ė windows broken in nearly all the rooms Ė the cottage has been completely abandoned and thereís some sort of animal living in it now, could be a cow Ė lots of those in the Park these days. Itís quite sad really.) We have seen rhino a couple of times, but only a few, and mainly outside the fences. We see waterbuck down by Sandyspruit quite often still, and thereís an impala herd that lives just outside the fence there.
The First is doing great, the boys are really improving, though some of them still need a lot of work. Very few of us come from full, whole families, most are single parent families, usually with the father missing. But they are getting better Ė not giving Norm such a hard time anymore. At Province level however, itís a bit of a different story Ė Norm gets annoyed every now and again Ė Weíre the only Troop that hikes, or comes out to the Park Ė this year thereís been two other Troops out, for camps. Things are quite tough for them, finding transport etc, weíre really lucky to have Norm as our Scout Leader - itís going to be hard to copy when Iím grown up Ė if I grow up!! Norm always says itís a miracle I havenít been wiped out already Ė something about natural selection?Ö
Exams are beginning to loom Ė well not really, but I want to get started early, so Iím not hassling at the last minute. Holidays still though, relaxing and sleeping in late (a skill old Norm hasnít seemed to pick up in his lifetime Ė up at the crack of dawn!! Brrrr!!) though I have been pretty busy with the special edition of Pioneer Trail Ė for Father Odilo Ė and the normal edition, which should be out soon. I visited the web site recently, it really is super Ė still parts I havenít seen before!!
Normís laptop is doing alright now, it gave a bit of trouble with the keyboard again, but Norm threw his all powerful muti Ė Meths Ė all over it, and it was so stunned, it gave up and just worked normally. But the hard-drive is working fine now. also, I just got a flash drive, so I can transfer stuff very easily now Ė as I stole a USB port from another computer my dad has Ė I donít think he knows yet but anyway Ė so I can download the pictures with great ease. When Iíve got time, Iíll send a whole hob of pictures to your g-mail address.
Talk to you soon,
18 July ... anyway,I've finished my exams, and gotten all my results back, which were, out of foursubjects: one A, and three distinctions (A+). I came top of my class for twosubjects, and not far behind for the other two, so I have sufficiently satisfiedmy parents, and can now forget school proper for a while! Yay!!!
The Park is doing well, been out this weekend, but the security situationdoesn't seem that good. We can't be certain anymore just how safe the Park is,as several things have gone missing when no-one else has been around (rope fromthe flagpole being one). Anyway, there is supposed to be a Parks Patrol watchingthe Park this week, so we'll see if they find anything... Otherwise, things areas usual, great. I feel uplifted and inspired every time I go out, and returnrefreshed.
Otherwise, life goes on as usual. Inflation is still a headache, we can'tsurvive without counting nought's each time we go shopping, 3 nought's is athousand, 6 nought's a million, but hopefully we don't find too many 9nought's... But prices continue to soar, so who knows. I won't even try to saythat such and such cost so much, it really wouldn't mean anything, but pricesare extraordinarily high, and a million is becoming a standard figure.
Anyway, enough about the gloom and doom of Zim, we're still alive, and makingthe most of what we still have.
(Wed 17 May 2006) Just to let you know that Norm has finally re-entered the technological world, and his computer is now officially fixed. However, he probably has 500+ emails waiting for him when he logs on, so he might just chuck his machine away altogether... Don't be surprised if you receive a 50-page book from him, as he has been dying to write for so long.
If you could post that on the website, for the simple reason of increasing Norm's waiting e-mails from 500 to 1000 (they will probably all be: "We have been trying to get through to you for so long..." - I can't wait till he opens up... cue blood-curdling screams of anguish!).
Anyway, I've gotta rush, mountains of homework to do...
(Tue 16 May 2006)Thank you to everyone who got the hard-drive to us, I have installed it, but I'm working on a way oftransferring all his data across now. Thanks for the advice on FX/Fastwire, my dad doeshave a cable, which he made himself, but we have tried both serial and parallelconnections, and it either doesn't connect at all, or else it cuts out afterabout half a minute. If you have any advice, or if you know what's wrong, pleasecould you help us??
School is getting to me already, and it's only been a week, but I will persevereand see if I can't force myself to pay attention. I actually have tons of workto do, which I should probably have done already, oh well; I'll do it afterthis. Mostly it's copying out notes from a textbook, which in my mind is theentire reason why I bought the textbook to start with, but teachers are funny fellows.
Anyway, things are looking well down here, got a competition coming up in acouple of weeks: Colin Turner, and Pioneer Trail will be out soon, just waiting for a couple of articles.
I just had two questions:
Do you pay at all for your angelfire website? Emphasis on the "at all" part...because if you do you might want to look at a website we use at school for yourstuff: www.freewebs.com. We use it at school because after a certain period oftime, you can change your address from www.freewebs.com\youraddress towww.youraddress.com, and they will still sponsor you. I'm not sure on the sizesyou can use, but if you want to look at it? We use it at school because it'stotally free, and the name is a bit shorter, but otherwise, I doubt it will betoo different.
The second question is a bit less mundane, in my e-mails; do you actually seethe colourful background? Because some people do and some people don't. The colour is a sort of lightish purple.??.
Cheers for now,
P.S. I've got a picture I'd like to send you, but it's pretty big: 600 andsomething KB's. Is that all right, or should I try and compress itmore?
(Fri 5 May 2006)Never, ever, ever will I forget last week's expedition! It was without a doubt, the most uplifting, awe-inspiring experience I have ever experienced. I don'tknow if you have ever spent any time in the mountains, but they are, there arefew words to describe them. Without sounding poetic and philosophical, seeing atowering mass of rock rising from the mists before you, knowing in the back ofyour mind that that monolith has endured the ravages of time for eons, andstanding atop that same mountain, looking out over an endless expanse of, notwide open land stretching to the sea, but cloud, towering forms of cloud,standing above the world... it makes me wonder, it really does.
In simple words, our expedition was wonderful. We saw a lot of interestingthings on the ways there and back, but the real glorious part of the expeditionwas the hike, and the time spent under the shadow of the mountains. The hike wasextremely good, with the mists surrounding us the entire first few days. Only onthe last day of the hike did the mist begin to clear, and we had our firstglimpse of the real mountains: Binga and Peza, and in the far distance, The King, Queza.
Anyway, the full report of the hike will be out in the next Pioneer Trail. Thatwill be written by all the guys, each one doing a day's activities. However, Iam also in the process of writing my own log of the events, which will besomewhat different to the one published in the Trail.
Nonetheless, you can be assured that we all enjoyed ourselves immensely, and aredeeply indebted to Norm for forking out as he did and for generally looking after us.
Some interesting news of the trip: I had the immense pleasure, after our hike,to be acquainted with none other than Mr Ken Nortje, and was able to enjoy adinner and a night of camping with him. It was a great honour to meet him, and Ilook forward to seeing him in the future. He joined us for our after-hike dinner, which was at the Chimanimani Hotel, and we really enjoyed his company.He asked how you were, and he asked me to tell you that he is now on email, soyou can if you are so inclined, send him an email or two. This is his address.
We have yet to find out where Norms new hard-drive has got to, but I havemanaged to resurrect Norm's old hard-drive, by cutting it in half (ie: formatting it to a 2 gig) because it seems that it is failing in the lastclusters. (ie: 75% and above are gone). So I have got something working, but Ido not know how long it will last. I have installed 2000, and Office, and haveput on the oldest backup of his e-mails and address book that I have, which isunfortunately rather dated. What I will do, when and if the new hard-drive arrives, is to take the old one out, and keep it as a back up, in case his computer should fail again.
Whoo. Quite a mission. However, the problem remains how we are going to get thepictures from his camera onto my machine, which I think I have solved, as I havejust been given a DVD burner, which I will use to burn the pictures from myother computer, which does have a USB port, onto my computer, which doesn't. This is all very complicated, and really, you are asking a lot if I can evenwork out how to get one thing to work, let alone all of them. So we will have to see if I can get it going.
Otherwise, things are rather hectic down here, trying to put together the nextedition of Pioneer Trail, which should be out already... trying to get ready forschool, which starts next week... and trying to get ready for a big rotary thingthey want to hold out at the park this weekend. We'll be going out tomorrow tofix the place up, but there is so much that needs doing, I don't know if we'll get through it all.
Nonetheless, life goes on. Norm is still alive, barely, as at his age(150-something) it's quite remarkable that he can climb out of bed, let alone climb towering mountains. (No, seriously, he really enjoyed the hike, and especiallymeeting Ken again. And really, Norm's fine, he might spend a bit longer restingthan he used to, but he's still as sharp as ever...)
Otherwise, how are things on your side? I heard Mr Francis has been trying tosend you the previous editions of Pioneer Trail... not to butt in or anything,but he said that each page was 2,5 megs?!? It sunds like it isn'tcompressing too well...??? I don't know, but I do know that I can compressthe whole mag into less that 0,5 megs, pictures and all... If it is the picturesthat are giving you hassles, can I recommend a super program I found on the net?It's called "Pix Resiser" and you can download it from: www.bluefive.com. It isreally good at shrinking pictures, as it did one picture for me, which was 2,2MB before, and 56 KB after, which is really impressive. So if you want, trygiving that a try.
I have been meaning to visit the website for ages, and well, I'll have to go toan internet cafť, because phone charges are just unbelievable... However I didmanage to set up an email address for Pioneer Trail. And I'm sorry to say I useda hotmail address, simply because I could pay less at the Internet cafť that anyother address. For some reason, they let you look at your hotmail emails for acheaper price than other addresses. And the time expiry for Yahoo is fourmonths, and Hotmail is three, but the Trail needs to be out every four months,so I will have to visit it a couple of times a month anyway.Anyway, the address is PioneerTrailMagazine@hotmail.com. I have just sent all the info I have on this machineto that address, but the maximum storage is only 2MB, which is a bit of aproblem. I may have to create a storage address to store the actual magazines.
Right, I think I've exhausted you sufficiently that you will have a good nightrest.Anyway, I better dash, got quite a bit to do before lunch.
Cheers for now...
(21st April 2006) At long, long last I have finished the extra edition of Pioneer Trail... Youhave no idea how much work goes into it!!!! I hope you have received it by now,you should have, and I hope you have read it, you darn well better have, and Ihope you like it, though if you don't, don't even dare tell me... it's quite a story, isn't it?
Well, so much has happened since I last e-mailed you I don't know where tostart... I am currently, aswe speak in fact, trying to set up a hotmail account for the magazine, somethinglike: pioneertrail @ hotmail. com would be quite nice, as then the From field inthe e-mail window wouldn't be my address, but that one, making it look a bitmore efficient and professional. I also don't particularly like the idea of mye-mail address being sent to 50 dozen people all over the world.
The next important thing which I'm not sure you know about, probably but anyway,is that next week, from Sunday 23rd April till Friday 28th we will be on expedition tothe Chimanimani Mountains for our annual hike there. So we have been rushingaround like chickens with our heads chopped off trying to get ready for that.Fees are absolutely ridiculous, as is costs in general. Today I have spent justclose to 4 million dollars on food alone! For ONE week! Only. Imagine having tospend that every week! 16 million dollars a month! And that's just food. Anyway,we can only persevere...
I am so looking forward to next week however; as this will be my first (andprobably last) time to go hiking in the mountains with Norm and the otherScouts. Hearing all the stories from the times before has made me so excited. Weleave on Sunday afternoon, after the St Georges Day Service.
Right, what else is new? Well, I have spent so much blissful time out at thePark; I never want to come home again when the weekend is through. However,Norman is a hard master, and makes one pay recompense for the beautiful viewsand idyllic times. This last weekend I spent laboriously hauling the 10-tonmower around all 250 acres in order to mow the grass, whilst Lord Scott sat idlyby (hanging in his hammock under his Psudolacnostylus Mapreunefolia - in otherwords his umbrella...) commenting on how many spaces I had left and how slow Iwas... However, he does work hard, as you have no idea how hard his main job is:drinking as many cups of tea and coffee as he can - all lovingly and speedinglyprepared by yours truly...
However, seriously, we both killed ourselves this weekend, mowing grass, pumpingwater, trimming trees, filling in trenches and generally fixing things. So, wedid not feel guilty having a mid-week party, as Father Odilo and his "WalkingGroup" came out for a relaxing afternoon and dinner, which they thankfullyprovided, as Norm's idea of dinner is somewhat less civilised than that which weended up having. (Kidding - Norman is a master chef, when he has the inclinationand the resources...)
Thankfully there was no service this weekend, as we managed to get more workdone, but there was a service two weekends ago, which was very good, as they allare... A wonderful excuse for a free braai and plenty of company. It was rathersurprising as no one came out this Easter weekend. Most probably the exorbitantentry prices to the National Park are keeping everyone at bay.
Oh, something else has just popped into my mind: another thing we did lastweekend, and a few weekends before that to, was searching for "THE LEAK" in thewater system at the park, as we had been losing huge volumes of water... we haddug and dug and dug, and made twice as many holes in the pipes as was probablythere, as every time we dug anywhere we seemed to make a hole in the piping.However, it seems that we have finally discovered the leak, as on Wednesday whenwe checked, we had not lost any water at all. At all!! However, the other tanksare seeping a lot, almost 3 centimetres a day on one of them!! Which is a lot ofwater... Anyway...
As Norman has been unable to e-mail you, I doubt if you have heard of anyupdates on our lease situation. It seems that ... -- -- which is a lot of money even so....
Norm's computer is still out of operation, as I have been trying some of thehard-drives I have here, but to no avail. I have been running around like alunatic however, and so have not been really able to work on it. However, itdoesn't look like I will be able to recover his old e-mails or his address book,which was the main concern. Do you have any ideas on how I could be able to getthat info off, as neither my dad's computer nor mine is able to read hishard-drive. Any help??
Also, a clarification... is it true or false that any laptop hard-drive will beable to work on his machine, so long as it is a laptop hard-drive?? I have heardtwo conflicting stories as to that question, as some people say that it willwork, and others say that it won't. You are the expert, so expertize and tell mewhich is the correct answer. As far as I know, any laptop hard-drive will fit;just as any desktop hard-drive will fit in any desktop machine. But I may bewrong, so could you please enlighten the situation.
Um, what else have I got to say? -- -- Oh, you are awake... Sorry.
Right, that's been my 10 000 word essay, now where's yours? Neither Norm nor Ihave heard any conclusive report from you for quite a while, are you still... -- -- How is life over there, if you... -- --!! SoI am expecting a long speedy reply, though if it arrives after Sunday, which itprobably will, you will have to wait a week before I can reply.
So, I will be thinking of you as I huff and puff up Queza and Binga next week,and I will most definitely think of you as I crawl gratefully and thankfullyinto bed on Friday night, nursing my exhausted muscles and tenderised bones.
Chow for now...
(Mon 20 Feb 2006)We've just got back from this year's BP Camp, which was a lot of fun, though somewhat different from the actual camp programme. Norman did his nut severaltimes, with new scouts not only damaging ropes and chopping down trees, but also manageing to bash down a tap!! Luckily no pipes were broken. Anyway: the 1st Pioneer persevered and I think we had a lot of fun.
The reason for this was that I was doing one of my tests for my Chief ScoutAward, which was to build a tree house in a 10 metre tall tree where extremelydangerous animals are known to have devoured people, and to sleep in it for anight, cooking a two course meal for 10 and breakfast for 200 Scouts!
Quitesimple really, though surprisingly it decreased to an un-named height (a coupleof centimetres), the animals are "wild though not necessarily dangerous"(however I had 200 Scouts just down the road: very wild, and Norm just up theroad: very dangerous, so that was OK) and I only had to boil a cup of water(which was harder that expected, as the logs kept catching fire...)
Anyway... I did eventually complete it, with a whole hob of gum-poles and about100 ropes, just to be sure that I wouldn't roll out, and along with anotherScout (leopard bait - or sacrifice) we spent a night up in the tree -surprisingly uneventful.
Then, in the morning, we had to light a fire and boilthe cup of water, as I said, light a fire...umm, a fire? In a tree? We might need toreplace a few of the poles, or rather... charred piles of ash... Lucky for usthere are quite a few gum trees growing by the pump-house - Just don't let Norm findout!!!
This was followed by the BP Service, which was extremely moving, done by FatherOdilo. He puts so much into everything, it just makes it so special. Oh, andbefore I forget, perhaps you could add a small tribute to Mrs Wilcox, as shewill be leaving for England in a few months time. Mr George and Mr Glenshaw bothgave very moving tributes to her, and Father Odilo gave her a hug,halfway through the service. It was quite sad, Norm was quite cut-up.
Oh, and I have Norm's computer, as half his hard-drive is cooked, though I shouldbe able to fix it, but he might not be in contact for a while. So no, he hasn'tfinally had enough of you and broken diplomatic relations, so don't send 15dozen irate messages to him asking where he is.
I have now exasperated all I have to say, and sorry this has been so broken up,I've been trying to do 465 different things at the same time.Update soon, with pictures if I can get my machine up and running - stupidcomputers...
(Mon 13 Feb 2006)I have just returned home from the Family Camp for the 1st Pioneer Troop. It went verywell, as did the Serivce afterwards, which I did as a Scout's Own. Nearlyeveryone in the Troop was there, and the three new guys were invested with agreat deal of Norman's obscure traditions, such as camping. I think they reallyenjoyed it as much as I did mine. Quite an experience! Two other Scouts wereawarded their Discoverer. I was also awarded my Advanced Badge, and made PL ofEagle Patrol. The new guys are the three Daly brothers, youngest to oldest:Shaun, Martin and Peter. Shaun and Peter are in Cheetah Patrol, Martin's withme. (Three more slaves to build things with out at GP... say Squash Courts below the Chapel?? Golf Course between the Bowl & River?? Tennis Courts below the Stables/road?? Tar the road?? Street Lights up to the Bowl?? -:))
This weekend is the BP Camp, looking forward to that. It's really getting hectic here, with Norm having so many hassles with... people asking for money for food and transport to GP, working out which Troops that are active or not, etc. It looks like he'll have to go out during the week, sharpen his sickel and sickel all the grass, as despite our efforts we just haven't got around to cutting the training ground, nor the parade ground... which was cut a little while ago, but with all the rain it no longer looks like it was cut. Ahhhh...
Before I forget, herewith the 70th Anniversary Logo for the park, unfortunately Norm downright refused to allow me to add any symbolic reference to the usual International Space Station, Statueof Liberty, nuclear fusion, etc... What I have to deal with...
Also in this letter are two pictures, I forget what of, I think of the Park. One I think is the mountain next to Shumba Shaba - Shumba-Sham in the mist, (makes an excellent Desktop background for your PC) and the other might be the Mike Jagger's painting of B-P hanging up in the Justine Ralph's cottage. Your request for pictures of Scouts "IN UNIFORM" for the main webpage are forthcoming, as we need time to remember what exactly our uniforms consist of, our minds being firmly entrenched in shorts, T-shirts and no shoes. This might reflect poorly on the image of us Matabele warrior's in the Cradel of Scouting, so I have been given the task of Quality Assuring the pictures. In other words, you might need to waita while before Norm figures out that he does have a uniform, and then a while longer until he sees how to wear it.
What else happened this weekend, well not much, at least not that I canremember, except that two people whom Norm has been pushing me to meet were at the service, that being Barry Duploc (I hope that spelling's right) andPeter Tipler. And so they stayed after the service and had a cup of tea at theStables, and Norm mysteriously brought up the subject of water divining, and cajoled Mr Tipler into divining along the road to find a site for a new borehole, which another chap had done earlier.
So, off went Mr Tipler and found a stick, walked along the road, and justpointed out: "Oh, there's a stream here, about 18 feet underground, drill here,drill there..." It was soooo amazing how this stick he was holding just started to move and the far end bend, and there was absolutely NO way in which he could have moved the stickthe way it was bouncing/moving/bending/twisting!
Oh, and unbeknownst to anyone I think, I managed to procure the stick (its spooky! It had an unbelievable mind/spirit of its own!) that wasused as a memento, and so don't be surprised if the next edition of the PioneerTrail has an article on Water Divining!
Right, so I think I've blocked up all internet and air traffic control's airways with this lengthy email, for Zim anyway, and itshould take you a while to read through this little treatise, so, you can go now, with many sighs of relief, to rest your wounded, exhausted brain and recuperatefrom that, and I'll speak to you again in 2 months, well, make it 3 - because I sent some pictures this time!! :)
P.S. Thank you for the info on the dam, and it is definitely in the pipeline,the only problem is in getting a front-end loader all the way out to the park.But it is definitely going to get done...
(Dec 2005)Hi there.
... I was showing Norm the Matabeleland Website this afternoon, who, despite all he pleads to the contrary, still needs agentle pushin the right direction when it comes to the PC. Don't worry, I'm workingon him, at least he can switch it on and off! But he really does want to learn,and he's always asking about the short cuts and things that I use when I'musing his laptop. Unfortunately, using his laptop has becomequite frequent, as the only way I can get the pictures off his camera is with his computer, so he therefore has to sit and watch anxiously as I disembowelhis computer to get his hard-drive out in order to copy them across to mycomputer... But he is getting better! Oh, one last thing in the technological vein,Normasked if you could please add the picture of the pick to our scarf on thewebsite, it goes right at the apex, with the head away from the point. Hesay'she'll e-mail you sometime, but as I currently have his laptop to downloadsome pics for him, he asked me to ask you.
Scouting has really got a hold on me, which is strange, because not manythings do. I only wish that I could have become a scout earlier in my life, as I don'thavemuch time to enjoy Scouting proper nowadays. Needless to say, Norm is piling bookafter book on me, on Scouting and Baden-Powell, and random musings of his own. Whichis great because I love to read, so I really appreciate that... The troopis pretty low on people though, so the three prospective guys about to joinare very welcome... As Norm might have said, I have absolutely fallen in lovewithGP, it is so beautiful there, and depending on the size of the pics,perhaps you might want some of the park as it is now. It is sooo green after the rainswe've had. Absolutely magical. Norm talks about you a lot, along with the other"old Scouts". I think he's really lonely, but I'm doing what I can to make him happier. He's a great person though.
Oh, and as a quite aside, a couple of weekends ago I was out at the Parkwith Norm and a couple of other Scouts, and they suddenly appeared at thekitchenwhere Norm and I were having a chat, asking for shovels and awheelbarrow, asthey were, believe-it-or-not going to go and fix the hole in the dam wall! As you would know what's involved in building the dam, I thought that mightamuse you. Oh, and two hours later they returned, rather disappointed, I thinkthey were hoping to have finished it that day. Regardless, we have decided that construction will commence once the lease on the Park is sorted out, well,I have decided... It may not be construction of the wall, but something willbe done, maybe something heroic and amazing like new toilets... inpreparation for the 2007 Join-in Jamboree, something I'm really looking forward to.
Well, wow, believe-it-or-not that is the longest letter I have propablyeverwritten in my life, and sorry if I overloaded you. Well, I better begoing,thank you for reading thus far, and I hope to be in touch more, perhaps...
Maurice Click here to read Maurice's Troop article
Now living in New Zealand (North or South Island?)
Jonathan de Jong
Now on a gap year in England.
Mark Perry Click here to read Marks Troop article
Now studying in Germany.
Norman Scott Appears in a Pioneer article
June 2008 - Norman's Weekly news of Scouting in Matabeleland can now be found at GP News.
26/6/07 A few months ago, I was asked if we could hold a seven year old's birthday party out at the Park. Well, Saturday the 16th came and so, I along with Leon and Dale went out to the Park after Scouts on the Friday in order to set up a commando course early on the Saturday for Ian and his friends to play on.
When they arrived at 10.30, Dale took them through Pigletts to get them warmed up for the big event. I pushed off up to the Bowl marking out a trail for them to follow as I went. Leon amused them with a story until I was out of sight and then put them on the trail to follow.
The first obstacle was the "Fire-station", where they had to climb up onto a tower and then slide down the three metre pole to the ground. They enjoyed this, so much so, that they each had several goes, including one mum. Then off they went up into the Heany Rover site, following a "secret path" that nobody was to know about. Up onto a little rocky outcrop and there was an aerial runway. What fun they had zooming down into the Rover campsite. More than once I may add. Again a daring mum, who had never been on such a mode of transport, also joined in the fun. From here the trail led to a commando bridge, which they felt was rather tame, and soon got bored with. Then, off through the tyres again a bit boring, before heading into the 1st Pioneer campsite where a fire was burning under the stove plate. Whilst the mothers cooked lunch the intrepid adventures had a pillow fight on a beam and also they went kopjie climbing to release the extra energy they still had before it was grub time. A delicious lunch, and then back to the foofy slide and fireman's pole for one last go.
Back down at the Stables it was time to cut and gobble up the birthday cake, drink gallons of juice and run amuck before climbing aboard the pick up truck and head for home.
It was three very exhausted impies that fell into bed that night. However, it was really great to see eight little seven year olds having the time of their lives, all the more so, because it was out in the bush, away from the video games and jumping castles, which usually dominate birthday parties..
Sunday was clean up day. Another weekend in the lives of those who dare to face the rigours of Gordon Park and its mystic inhabitant.
7/5/07 Hi Guys,
Thought that you would be interested in this account of the hike that I and a few of the Troop went on. It was firstly to prove that the hike I had set for the GP Challenge was possible and secondly an activity to mark the 100th year of World Scouting. An article from the Scouts will appear in Pioneer Trail, which is being finalised this week, so hopefully it will be sent out soon.
I trust you are all well, now sit back, and take a trip through the Matopos. There will be a few photies in the magazine.
Subject: The One Hundred Kilometre Hike
I had to cut my last letter short as this monster of a machine was skipping more letters than it was recording. Anyway, Dr Scott made a plan by pulling the beast apart, peered inside, didn't know what the heck he was looking at, but after several attempts, the monster computer reacted and whalla, all the letters responded. Bag closed, smiled sweetly and begin to catch up on the effort of answering mail. Now to eat your heart out. If attacked by dreaded homesick bug, close immediately.
I wrote to you about the G.P. Challenge and how disappointed I was that the guys had not completed the 100 kilometre hike. Well, just to prove that it was possible, I invited Leon, who is seventeen and two juniors, Brendon and Dale who are only eleven years of age, to join me on the G.P. Challenge 100 kilometre hike.
We started at the Matopo Mission , old Gwanda road at 5.30 pm on Monday 16 April. A quick climb to the top of Mwazi, which is the highest point above sea level in the Matopos, and then off to Morning Glory farm, (your boys know where that is), where we camped the night. About 6 kilometres.
Next morning we set off down into the Mtshebezi valley, passing the dirty great massive of Siloti. Down river for about 8 kilometres, where we turned off to the west up the Mashashasha river to the falls. We spent four hours here over lunch, frolicking in the water, sliding down the water slides and had our lunch in-between. Having had a good rest, we donned our packs and headed for our night camp some eight kilometres away passing Silobni BC on the way. Our campsite was on the banks of the Mazhowe river. Cool, clear water running over beautiful clean river sand. A perfect campsite in a glade. no wind at all, so the flames of our campfire just reached up for the stars. A warm night, but no moon.
A perfect dawn on the Wednesday. A morning wash in the gently flowing river, followed by a great breakfast, before we headed in a southerly direction down stream. We were greeted by the most fantastic scenery that the Matopos had to offer as well as fabulous water falls and rapids. Walking along the river bank was a real delight, as the cattle had kept the 'lawns' trimmed to perfection. It is the Matopo Communal lands. On reaching the final rapids just above the confluence of the Mazhowe and Tuli rivers, we called a lunch stop of three hours. Again, huge pools to cool off in. I had my customary snooze, but the guys played in the water all lunch time, coming back for a bite every now and again.
At three o'clock it was time to move as we had about eight kilometres to go before night fall. Tovi, a huge kopjie was to be our next stop. We found another perfect glade in the thick forest, with a stream a few metres away. Again a perfect evening, no wind, warm and silent. Having had a great supper, we washed and fell asleep with the fire burning gently, again flames reaching straight up to heaven.
Thursday started off with a climb to the top of Tovi. Unfortunately, cloud beat us up, so that although we could see for miles, the absence of the sun resulted in there being no contrasts for photies. Our next destination was mount Silorswi, the highest Kopjie from the valley floor to the top. It stood out, formidable but enticing to our west. The ten kilometres to Silorswi, proved extremely difficult going. Although there were boundless cattle tracks to follow, we entered into sickle bos (Dichrostachys) country. Very thick, very unpleasant. The going was not made any easier when we had to cross the Toghwana river. It was a marsh and densely reeded. We eventually followed down stream for a few kilometres to a much easier crossing. We finally reached Silorswi at One pm. By the time we had lunch and a rest, no water this time to play in, it was too late to climb the kopjie as had been planned. We left our lunch stop and headed at a fast pace for the Maleme River to a point about twelve kilometres down stream from the dam. We reached the river just as it was getting dark, and fortuitously at a water fall. Again the most perfect campsite. Once again a perfect evening.
Friday was our last day and we had twenty-five kilometres to get to Gordon Park, the end of our hike. We followed the river up towhere a track crosses. Following this track we ended up at the Maleme National Parks compound, and then followed the road back to GP. There was no point in bundu bashing as the road is the most direct route.
We got in to GP at twelve thirty, in time for lunch, having covered one hundred and two kilometres. So, you see I am not a nasty old Oom, as you stated. We all had a fantastic time. The juniors never gave the slightest moan, in fact they were so energetic they never even rested at our stops, but carried on exploring until it was time to go. I am very proud of the three of them. They are made of stern stuff.
Now you can read all about it in the Pioneer Trail - how the Scouts saw it.
28/2/07 The meeting on the future of the Park was held yesterday out at G.P. and it was decided in an effort to try and raise some funds, that we will market it on a selective basis The big problem is that I will have a lot of work to do, and there was also a suggestion that one of our unemployed Scouts gets to work with me.
The price of fuel was $5 700 a litre last Friday - when I bought it to go out to the Park, and it will no doubt be up this week. I will contact Pete and ask for a few dollars from him to keep things going.
B-P camp this weekend was well attended by 180 Scouts and Guides. The Guides have joined us as they have relinquished Rowallan Park owing to the high rental National Park's want. This weekend they left Gordon Park in one hell of a mess, and ran the water tank that I had allocated for the camp, dry. Wasted a lot of water even though Bulawayo is on tight water rationing. They do not care.
At the B-P service, George Crockett and John FitzPatrick were each awarded the Silver Eagle and Leon was presented with his Chief Scout Award and he won the Mike George Hike Project for 2006, a handsome cash prize and a certificate.
The weather for the camp was great, despite the threat of an approaching cyclone. Well it hit today, rained all day. I have stayed in the house the whole day and used the time to good advantage, as this computer's keyboard gave up the ghost last week. Today I pulled the thing apart, peered into its gizzards, fumbled around, looked as if I knew what to do, and then put it together again, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. Well, it seems to be working now, so I must have done something right. And we are all happy together.
30/11/06 Update on the GP Challenge Expedition:-
- We've purchased 280 litres of diesel and 60 litres of petrol, which is just as well, for the price of fuel went up at most garages today. The fuel is for the electric generator and the water pump. Ken is really excited and will drive down from Umtali, and pick up Fionna Wilmot in Harare - if she can make the Challenge.
- The catering team has already bought some of the rations, even though they did not know the numbers, as items are already in short supply, especially as Christmas gets closer. We have a runaway inflation, NO it is galloping. Meat doubled in price yesterday. So heaven knows what the end of December will look like. I have not listened to the budget that was presented in parliament this afternoon, so I live in ignorant bliss until tomorrow.
Result, events have moved very fast, and in no small way. The fees from the participants should be coming in from tomorrow. Guest staff have been approached and all are willing to help. Next I have to have a forest of gumpoles cut at the farm where we will be building the rafts, and then I have to get drums out for buoyancy and decking aswell as they will be spending the night afloat. Quite a lot of running around to do, but there is still time on my side.
Anyway, the Woodbadge "Mapping and Compass course" out at Gordon Park went well last week, with nine participants, who were all mature and well behaved.
Murphy's law did it again. Did Sunday morning dawn bright and cheerie as Saturday did? Not the case. It was overcast with a slight drizzle, so I didn't get to see the new Double-decker Airbus fly over GP, if it came over the Park at all. I did hear a few planes at the time I thought it should come over. My brother phoned to say it landed at Jan Smuts, he works at the aircraft factory on the otherside of the runway to the terminal, so he and the family had a grandstand view. He said it is huge. They were allowed to take pictures of it, as it landed on a side runway right in front of the factory.
24/11/06 My machine has been in hospital once again, this time it was the screen. It looked as if every second line had decided to go on holiday, which made reading letters a bit difficult and as for photies, well not so hot. Anyway, I was told to pension it off, as to fit a new screen would have worked out to be more expensive than buying a new machine. The alternative was to plug in an external monitor. Word gets around fast, as I was offered a monitor before I even asked. So, now I am back into operation and at no cost thanks to some very kind folk.
As a very last minute decision on my part, I am going to put on a G.P. Challenge, and as the year is running out, there is only one chance left. Leaving it to the end of the year does have an advantage as it will spill over into next year and so it will also count for a Centenary year event. Funding was one reason for me leaving it so late. Any sponsorship is greatly appreciated, thanks. I was not going to ask for any junior staff to apply, as the costs are already quite high for the participants and even then, I am still sponsoring them.
The decision to hold the challenge was prompted by uncle Ken. He turned 80 on Friday 20 October 2006. I went to Mutare by train, that's a story in its self, arriving Friday morning to be collected at the station by his nephew, Shaun. Well, Ken could not believe his eyes when I walked into his house and asked, well no, demanded tea and buns. Then it came round as to why I was there, so I said that I had come to have tea with him and then go back to Bulies. I didn't let on that I knew that his nephews were taking him out to dinner that night and they had invited me to join them. Well, he said that I should at least stay for lunch before going and in any case he was going out to dinner. "Oh, that's fine," I said, "I come six thousand miles and you push off for dinner." Well, he didn't know what to say, so invited me to dinner & a grand time was had by all. The next morning, I decided to take a kuku bus back home, the journey only taking the day.
Whilst I was with Ken, he wanted to know if I was going to put on a G.P.Challenge. I said that it would be too expensive. However, on my way back home I thought about it some more and decided to go for it. Entries closed on Monday 20th and I have seven. There is a chance that there may be some in the post, so I will accept postal entries if they were posted before the 20th. This year, apart from the usual training activities, we will be building a raft on a dam at Shumba shaba Lodge where I sometimes work. The Lodge is near the Matopo Mission on the Old Gwanda road. The 100 kilometre hike will start from there and end back at G.P. I have invited Ken and he is looking forward to coming to G.P. again, this will be a great opportunity.
I had a phone call this morning from a chap in Malawi asking me for the phone number for Christ the King church. I asked him how he had got hold of me, and he said that he had looked up on the internet for the church's number, but he could not get through. He then saw that our June issue of Pioneer Trail, the one on Father Odilo, had been posted on the church's news and some how he had got hold of my telephone number. Luckily I happened to be at home when he phoned this morning. After chatting for a while, I found out that he had lived in Bulies and that we most probably knew each other by sight, as he is only a few years my junior and he had been a parishioner at Christ the King. I then asked him if he knew Chris Ferguson who is teaching in Malawi and who owns a farm next to Shumba shaba in the Matopos. Well not only does he know Chris, but his wife works with Chris's wife, Norma. So, a small world brought together by Pioneer Trail.
Leon is really getting excited about his forthcoming Cedarburg Adventure in South Africa. More bumf arrived this week and now that his exams are over he can get his act together for his trip. He is a bit sad that he will miss the Challenge, but I have involved him in doing all the typing of the letters and he will help in setting the 100 km hike route this weekend, whilst I will be running an orienteering course for woodbadge aspirants. Anyway, I told him that he will get more out of the Cedarburg event than what we could ever hope to put on here.
I do have more to tell you, but I think that this is enough for you to digest in one go.
Keep the fox well fed at the end of the runway. Which reminds me. My brother phoned this morning to tell me that the largest of planes, the Airbus, will be landing at Jan Smuts on Sunday morning at 800am for a few days of tests. I will be above Shumba at about 6 00am so I will keep a look out for it, as G.P. is on one of the flight paths from Europe. If it does leave from your runway on the Saturday evening, you may see it taking off. A bit of trivia.
Keep well, keep smiling and keep warm
(Mar 2005)Well a quick update on what I have been up to of late. Warning this may make you homesick.
Last week or was it the week before, things move fast in Zimbabwe, I provided a backup service for eleven middle aged ladies and gentlemen who decided to ride mountain bikes along the old pioneer road from the Bots. border at Mphoengs, through the Mangwe pass to Figtree. On the Sunday afternoon, we went down to Bradnick's farm just north of Mphoengs where we spent the night. Real farm hospitality, beers, braai and good company. In the morning off down to the start where the bikers donned their gear and I got to sit behind the wheel of an almost new automatic Land Cruiser complete with air conditioner, six stack CD player and fridge in centre console. No hot, dry, dusty African veldt for me. I just had to follow behind to supply refreshments when needed. At the end of the day we had reached Earnest Rosenfelds farm where we were treated to tea and buns before wandering off into a field to watch the men inspan a team of sixteen oxen onto an eighteen foot wagon. All very organized, men and oxen, and then off we plodded for our hour long wagon sundowner ride through some splendid kopjie country of the Bulalema District. That evening, a magnificent Impala braai with salads. Another day of experiences. Another magical moment. Another late night.
Early Tuesday morning saw the bikers heading for the pre-pioneer cemetery near Lee's house, then to Lee's house and to Fort Mangwe, or rather what is left of it. From there to Mangwe dam and then to the Mangwe Pass memorial. Here Earnest gave a talk. Then it was back in the saddle, for the energetic, to follow the road to Fort Luck, where we had lunch. The afternoon saw us heading for Shashani Valley Lodge, where we saw a few lions and then finally to Sandown Farm near Figtree. Here I handed the vehicle back to it's owner for our return trip to town. A great three days in the country.
Wednesday was cleanup day, for Thursday I headed out to Gordon Park to open up for the same crowd who were now tackling the Trans Matopo Hike. They were starting from behind the Matopos game park, north to Big Cave Camp then to Gordon Park for a night stop. Then on the Friday they headed for Camp Dwala, next to Shumba shaba Lodges. A night stop here. Next day off to Zhilo pass for a night stop then back by a different route to Camp Dwala. All they carried was water and sweeties and used G.P.S's. No where as rugged as us Scouts.
And so you see, a full week of adventure, drinking in the fresh invigorating air of the Matopos, and loving every moment of it
Now, rush off to your local travel agent, book a trip to sunny Zimbabwe where adventure is a daily happening. Just think, ZW$1 000 000 will buy you five loaves of bread. Yep, a loaf of bread varies from $200 000 to $23O OOO
(Mar 2005)Just to confirm I have closed my Post Office box. Any letters can be sent to my home address of:- 37 Starling drive, Burnside, Bulawayo.
(Dec 2004) Is taking a Troop Expedition to the Chimanimani Mountains on the 6th Dec & has a new email address.
(June 2004) Now has the use of a laptop (kindly donated by John Dellinger) and can even plug it into his 'phone line and connect to email. He's a little (!) computer unfriendly so still uses Barry's e-mail as well, and is off to Michigan Camporee, USA next month.
(Dec 2003) He is turning into a real bush man! He is so excited now about his trip to Kilamanjaro. He got his new landy towed to the Drill Hall today to try toget change of ownership and he found out what red tape was all about. First he must have it valued by two garages recommended by the Tax man then they will tell him how much tax that he has to pay, after paying this he will then be issued with a sales tax clearance certificate and only then can he have the change of ownership done. Then the landy will have to be built upand got ready for his trip and he is hoping to leave on the 4 Jan. Very interesting living in Africa, no chance of getting bored anyhow. No Christmas cards this year, the post office have been on strike for the last month and they will stay out until they get 800% increase ! mind you with the prices they needit. It is now $3000.00 for a loaf of bread so youcan imagine what everything else is.
(June 2003) My present occupation is a very mixed bag. I have my Learner Professional Hunter/Guide licience, which enables me to take tourists around the country. I am repairing furniture, repairing vehicles, and tackle any other task I think I can manage.
(jan 2003) News from here is that on the Scouting scene, I resigned as P.S.C., hence no Fire-Light for the past two months and it will most probably die a natural death. If my new way of life takes off, then I may leave G.P. and even my Troop. Its all very exciting and maybe some aspects will not materialise, only time will tell. The Halls have left for the States and many more people are going, so it will become rather lonely here especially as some seven million people are strarving - no food and no rains forecast.
(Dec 2002 newsletter)Back at work today, having taken a few days off to help with the Solar Jamboree camp at G.P. The whole camp is visting the Falls and Hwange from today until they decend on the Park for the closing on Sunday - one day shorter than planned, but then they add in these surprises just to test your preparedness especially if you have made train/plane bookings. Never a dull moment in Africa. Yesterday, I abandoned the Scout camp and worked for Ian Harmer for the day as a professional guide (not that I can even spell the word) Well, I was given a Land Rover, a real Scoroscoro believe me, and told to head off for Maphisa with six Dutch lasses. All went well until one back wheel decided that it had no intention of going any further. Out came the spare, the change-over effected in double quick time and off I drove. Crunch! clunk! bang! Oops, I had fogotten to let the jack down. Oh well, a good laugh. We veiwed the eclipse at the Antelope dam along with the hundreds of other excited gaukers who were lucky enough to have found fuel to get them to Maphisa. Having travelled all that way, 140 kms. for the 79 second total blot out, but really worth the effort, we then headed for the Matopo game park where Ian had set up camp in a very secluded spot on the banks of Mpopoma dam and had brunch. The eclipse had been at 0805 hours which meant leaving town at 0500 hours so we were all a tad hungry by this time. As Ian's tour group numbered around 70 people, it meant having to eat in relays so timing was important - some would be eating whilst others went on their game drives. He really went to a great deal of trouble as it was really magical.
Now comes the really exciting bit, not that the eclipse wasn't exciting, but this is exciting in a different sense. There were three vehicles in my group, so off we tootled looking for animals. After awhile we stopped and all jumped out, me thinking that the professional hunter was going to take us walkabout." Ok Norman, I'll take my group off to the right in a big circle, you take your group plus the other group off in that direction, when we meet back here let me know if you have found anything." Gulp! So I put on a brave, all knowing experienced face, spoke in an authorative manner and headed off into the bush to look for rhino. Whew, we didn't find any.
Later on in the day we did find rhino, so I watched very carefully how the pro's sneaked up to the beasties and then took my group even closer just so that they could capture the snoring effects of the rhino on their video recorders. Hero! I guess they will hear my knees knocking together when they play their videos and wonder what the devil that sound was. A short while later we were extemly lucky to find a mother and her calf, of about three months, snoozing contentedly in the shade of a tree. We took some really good close up photies of them, thanks to them sleeping with baby resting its head on mother's foot. Then it was off to see some rock paintings, Weinna's cave, which I had been told about by Fr Odilo but had never been to. The pro. decided that as I knew the Matopos I should give the talk. Great! Anyway I was able to carry that one off without too much difficulty and cut short the questions as we were required to be at World's View at 430 p.m.- which we didn't make and so were not very popular as the scene which was about to unfold was delayed for us. So you see, I am important or on secod thoughts the clients I was driving around were perhaps the important people.
The day's activities ended when the whole group met at World's View. Ian had laid on a native dance group who entertained us for half an hour on the plateau just below the Shangani memorial. In their traditional costumes the show was really spectacular and was a fitting climax for the end of the day.The reason why he had orgaised it, was because 4 December 2002 was the 109th anniversary of the death of those of the Shangani Patrol and also it was the 109th annivesary of Rhode's first visit into Rhodesia and of course today was the total solar eclipse. All too soon it was over and I took my happy tour group back to town. Oh I forgot to tell you, Ian had given me one of his company's green shirts complete with logo, so I really looked the professional. So until my next exciting adventure here is darkest Africa,
And an interesting article...