2012-08-10 07:16
Isn’t it ironic that the most beautiful spot on this planet would be called Helshoogte?

When we lived abroad I often used to close the blinds, switch off the lights and put Puccini on. I would close my eyes in the dark and dream about Helshoogte and my bike.

To fully experience this amazing emotion of complete peace with the planet and just how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful country you need to listen to the opera Madam Butterfly when you are completely alone.

With my eyes closed I could actually feel my bike sweeping up and down that magnificent Helshoogte road. I promised myself one of the first things I would do when I return to my beloved land of my birth, was go ride the Helshoogte road.

But you have to do this on a night in late February or early March when the Cape isn’t plagued by the merciless winds. Do it late at night when mankind has gone to sleep so you can own the road, mountains and the music.

You must do this journey at least once in your lifetime and do it on a bike all alone.

Put on Madam Butterfly Act II, Un bel di, vedremo, and close your mind off everything you know. You will notice the last bits of smoke spiralling out of chimneys of the cosy houses of Idasvalley at the bottom of the long winding road up the mountain.

Open the bike up and work up the acceleration until you hit the Tokara bend and the purple cliffs of Banhoek tower above you majestically. Slow down and come to a stop while you listen to Puccini’s masterpiece and you look up at the purple cliffs towering above you.

To your left the vines would start to turn richly autumn. To your right the moon will light up the cliffs and shade them in purple. You would be standing in the middle of a Tinus De Jongh painting.

But as I sit here tonight in the middle of winter, Banhoek has a whole new magic no place can have. It is raining outside and the mountains stand proud like giant guards over this valley. The clouds are snugly covering the darkened crests like blankets.

The one dog is snoring in front of the fireplace. The other dog has decided the fabric of the coach and the warmth of the kids’ feet is a better option.

The kids hate Puccini, so I play it when they sleep in the hope that they do acquire a bit of culture in the subconscious moments of their busy minds. Amazing how I fought my father all these years about everything and then became exactly what he is. Terrified my kids will listen to the horror music of 2012 just as he did back in 1992 when I listened to Phil Collins singing In The Air Tonight. He hated that song and used to burst into my room turning the volume down.

I don’t know how many of you can remember recently, Cadbury’s Chocolate used that Phil Collins song and a gorilla beating some drums. I am cracking up of laughter now because I was watching television with my Dad a few months ago and the Cadbury’s ad came up and he said:

“Oh Gawd, not again. You see that gorilla? That is what you looked like at 14, a complete horror”.

He is sleeping in his reclining chair this moment and soon I will have to wake him and send him off to go snuggle next to my Mum. Maybe I must be evil just one more time before I get too old and play him Phil Collins again.

I’m sipping a little bit of Alsverloren Port tonight just because I’m so fortunate to be back here and it is as if the dark claret in the glass brings a peace inside of me I have not experienced in a long time.

The flames are dancing amber on the walls.

We are the most fortunate people on this planet. We have this great gift given to us and we should guard South Africa like these mountains guard this valley. Forever.

Good Night all you News24 addicts. See you all in the morning on another religious article so we can torment each other about whom or what created all of this beauty around me tonight.


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