28 September 2021

Everesting: for a tree?

A sunny Heritage Day 2021 ended with a cold craft beer was two years in the making for me. However, when Adrian Gardiner says, "I like it, we will do it best", you take your time and do it best.

The full report is also in the making and I'll post it here when it is done. In the meantime, consider supporting our #GreeningTheCommunity project and #AdoptATree at www.ccfa.africa. Trees fight climate change, provide shelter, food and greenery in dusty brown townships. They also provide the possibility of economic security in times to come! The best time to plant a tree... is now. 

Here is the Strava activity to which I refer: https://www.strava.com/activities/6012198283

And a photo from Richard Pearce:

01 August 2021

Volunteers - call to action

Have you ever been up Everest? No, neither have I!

The highest mountain I've climbed was Thabana Ntlenyana (Lesotho) at 3482m above sea level. I made it there at midnight. It was minus nine degrees C. I'll never forget it. And on that "run" I accumulated approximately 6000m of elevation in all. 

On Heritage Day (South Africa, 24 Sept) I am attempting an Everesting; 8849m elevation gain in a single activity without sleep. 

And we've been granted a road closure, which means there's a need for a few marshals to volunteer... well, I'm hoping you'll be one of them. 

Actually I'm hoping for a surplus of hands to wave cars slowly by (or get them to pause as I come by)... Will you put your hand up for a 2, 3 or 4 hour shift? 

If you're keen to be part of this unique event, please contact me via my social media, via a comment here, or get my number off of that image above. I'm going to need those motivations and friendly faces and bad puns as the hours tick by. 

Perhaps the best worst pun of the day will even win a prize from me! 


And lastly, as a reminder... this is for the CCFA #GreeningTheCommunity project in which I so believe. When you #AdoptATree, you change lives; properly. 

Read more here... and consider another tree, please. 

25 July 2021

How long is your shadow?

We'd spent the day climbing. The trees far below seemed small. The stolen clementine had been a sweet treat with which to start the trek. And a tot of sherry was a sweet way to end the day as the sun set over Plettenburg Bay

Albert Einstein  If I could see further than others, its because I stood on the shoulders of others.

Our position is not ours alone; it is through a few things we attain our position:

  • our forebears
  • hard work and learning (of our own and our past)
  • some luck/accident/fortune;
  • Or laziness and we stagnate or backslide.
And so, standing on top of the greatest peak in the Tsitsikamma Mountain Range, Peak Formosa, I ruminated thoughts and feelings... how atoms so small are integral to the outcome of this sentinel of the Garden Route in South Africa. I thought how small a life is, but how much influence it may have on our Earth. My life.
  • A tree can be groomed as a dog can be trained. 
  • A tree will form rings in its trunk as it grows and weathers the years. 
  • A tree uses its instincts, its genetic coding, to produce flowers and fruit; and it learns which years to produce more and some less. 
  • A tree allows the soil and the weather to choose how sweet its fruit is born.
  • A tree provides shade and food to friend and foe. So should we.

This community led, community supported project requires privileged support (people who have enough giving to those who don't). It will mean the unprivileged require less support in a few years... and so the education spreads and food security leads to economic security leads to prosperity for another small community (and yes, we know that is not a straight line... but all Long Freedom Walks begin with a single step {apologies to Mandela & Tzu}).

After sleeping the night on the mountain we descended to the trees for shelter from the sweltering sun... and nourishment for the souls. 

18 July 2021

Nelson Mandela Day 2021

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”  Nelson Mandela

What does it take to build? To rebuild? To rise again, phoenix-like?

Adopt a tree now at www.ccfa.africa/everesting
Nelson Mandela will tell you that Freedom is a Long Walk away... and others will tell you that every destination is reached by taking the first step (and not stopping).

Sometimes freedom actively divides conspiracy theorists and coup plotters one from another. 

Peace is like freedom... it is not passive, it must be worked for. Worked for like trees divide soil, but bind it close as the best ally.

Look to the trees. The feeder of bees through their flower, the grower of birds through seeds and fruits. 

Look to the trees that bind soil and rock and direct water to the skies. 

Look to the trees that dance in place bending with the whistling wind and lit by sun and stars and moon and lightening. 

Your ancestors saw that. Today's oldest trees today were planted then. Seedlings then saplings then teenagers bearing young fruit now full of years, ancient memories and no voice. 

Yet still they sow fruit for us and oxygen. We breathe and live because of the trees. 

Suburbs have treasured the healing of body and mind... and ripped trees from the townships and pavements. 

Now we must return to "simpler" things by planting and adopting not our future, but the future of our planet, our children, our children's offspring. Now we must be Greening the Community, not just ours, but all.

We're litter in winter now. Let's create spring... so that summer may bloom again.

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”  Nelson Mandela. Be the change. 

Adopt a Tree now. www.ccfa.africa/everesting

11 July 2021

Significance: Saints and Sinners

Adopt A Tree or Cluster of 10 Trees Now

There are a few ways to measure things... money, happiness, support (clearly not a comprehensive list). 

What's your favorite measure? I like 100 miles ;) yes, its a running measure 

Spiritual writings often talk about angels falling (that is, they're now demons), sometimes about demons rising (that is, they're now angels). I wonder how much mythology plays a role... After all, our Creation stories started with oral tradition (i.e. word of mouth). Facts never stand in the way of Truth.

History gets told in different ways; but we actually live it now; its active, we don't just "live in it", we act it. And so we must live into today's decisions in one of two ways (a form of death by logic, if you will):

  • what I/we do makes a long term difference (even Eternal) (let's call this "good")
  • what I/we do is transient and matters only for immediate personal pleasure (lets call this "evil")
Of course there is a whole line of rainbow colors between those two end points of good and evil... and often actions have a measure of both good and evil in them, as do our intentions. 

Do I go out strong and hold on for the other 99 miles? Or do I try to maintain a moderate but consistent effort throughout. Only you can make that choice, and that choice is made with what effort you have left now for the rest of your race... the rest of your life.

I think we can agree, though, that unless you're purely evil, there is a measure of goodness to be attained by investing in others and our positive/progressive relationship to the other. That is: "do no harm", "do unto others...", and all the rules we intend to apply religiously.

And this is why the acknowledgement by Mr Zuma of (at least some of) his error regarding the Constitutional Court of South Africa has some significance this week. He was a key figure of positive change in the late part of the struggle to free South Africa and bring equality; he was an angel of sorts. Like some other significant leaders, he fell foul of greed; some of many charges he remains to face in court. And so an angel fell... but may have at least risen a little again. A phoenix?

So, for the good of this country he has handed himself over (willingly or not). He will throw every trick in the book to evade consequence, just like the old Apartheid leaders did... and it is their privilege to still walk free. 

My (our/your) choice is to worry about how we encourage our leaders to "come clean"; and to come clean ourselves. Yes, like Zacchaeus of the Biblical story, repatriation of resources to the victim's coffers may be part of the complete resurrection. This may be true of Mr Zuma (and others accused of State Capture). How far back do we go in addressing this? This is a serious question because a strong nationalist sentiment is asking it. The Truth & Reconciliation focused more on forgiveness than consequence. Maybe now is the time for more consequence? But willing consequence... not a "sorry", or a free gift to some cloud, but a personal and direct investment in relationships that grow you, the other, and our communities. Be a mentor if you have the privilege. 

It is sad to see trust betrayed, like we have seen with state capture. It does not mean that we should not trust again. It means we need to be more clever with our trust... 

Response needs a level head, and that is best available on a full stomach, in warm clothes, from a safe place. This is not a capitalist ideation. It is the ethos of "good".

Creating this space for all our country's citizens by our everyday actions, making it possible for all who so desire to achieve this space, is vital. That is, we need to remove barriers, build relationships and circular economies; respect our mutual spaces, on the road, in the workplace, in our fair payment for goods and services. And this has to move through our lives as humans to other animals, plants and even the rocks and water and air we breathe. Respect.

This is why I have chosen to support Indalo Indigenous Nursery as they seek to fulfil their mandate of #GreeningTheCommunity where they live, KwaNobuhle in Nelson Mandela Bay. They are being supported through the coordinated efforts of Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) and their #AdoptATree campaign. Help us plant 600 trees before Christmas... and maybe 6000 before I attempt another silly little run up a hill.

It is my way of getting you a simple way of getting involved as an angel... making a change now that lasts forever. Be an angel: #AdoptATree

04 July 2021

Get lost once in a while

Every good story meanders. Sometimes it even means something to someone.

When life is hard, breathe. 

When sleep is rare, breathe. 

When understandings seem more missed than stood on, breathe.

Breath brings a perspective being busy never will. And life is centered on air.

No signal was no problem, although on our Saturday walk we missed a clear path as we wandered up a kloof (gully/rocky valley) - and that could have been a problem. There are some lessons here, some meaning from our meandering!

We didn't make the top, although we were really close! #LancasterLovely and #LancasterLight are not mountain practiced. When it got really steep (40+ degrees at points) then #BansheeBeastDog was also less than happy - four paws or not! I carried him over some hairy obstacles a few times.

These last 6 months have been frenzied with a change of job and job spec for my wife and I respectively. We haven't really had a breather like this in a while... and we could have walked more, but really a 2-turned-4 hour exploration of Springlands Farm and Self Catering Cottages was great time together extending our family lore, and (almost) surprisingly good training for my exploits for Everesting and The Tusker later this year.

Always take first aid... we got scratched and jabbed by multiple bramble bushes, sharp rocks and dead wood. 

Always take clothes for all kind of weather; layer! You're in the mountains and you never know what could happen.

Always take emergency gear: I had a space blanket, a whistle, and emergency rations of food. 

Once I knew we had missed the path, and because I am experienced/know my limits, I stopped eating and drinking, but surreptitiously fed the dog, the son, and the wife. And then not so surreptitiously; "you will eat this now"! 

In the end we missed the top by about 300 meters, (but it may have been a little further considering there was a gully in the way, too). However, we scrambled down and laughed and cried and saw some friendly dogs at the Mountain Cottage.

We stayed at the River Cottage... and nearly booked it again soon. Maybe when its warmer :) We have, in fact, already booked our next stay. It helps that it is an animal friendly accommodation as I've been rather insistent on taking dear Banshee with on our adventures.

There are 4 cottages from which to choose - and a host of activities. Have a squizz at Springlands Farm Self Catering Cottages and their Facebook page. Maybe book a weekend... 

Then go explore... and maybe get lost a little ;) 

PS: Go on, adopt a tree and help change the world by getting some folk just a little more green in their 'hood. I'm going to "climb an Everesting"... you don't have to, but you can help motivate me. www.ccfa.africa/everesting

27 June 2021

Circles Concern Imagination Intent

Covid-19 has plagued too many. This week last it touched us. We've always been as careful as we can with the circumstances we've had to face. But it found what we all assumed was our most reclusive link! An aerosol virus is difficult to predict.

How do you react to adversity? I read a Stephen Covey book many moons back, possibly 25 years ago. One of the key take outs for me was the Circle's of our lives. He spoke of the circles of control, influence, and concern.

We should be interested in all the world has to offer; it feeds our imagination. And of course the goings on in our world affect life as we know it. The world and its happenings should be of concern (some more than others). This is our Circle of Concern.

, we can only control our actions. Have you ever tried to tell your toddler: "don't touch the sweet!"? How did that work out for you? We can control picking up the sweet and putting it properly away... our Circle of Control. 

Sometimes our influence works, and sometimes we need to attract others of influence to make a broader change together... a kid will listen to a teacher where they won't listen to their mom or dad. Ironic. 

Here's my take out: work where you're effective, and don't sweat where you're not. You can't change the world, but you can plant or adopt a tree! 

Last week we announced I'll be running a ridiculous amount of hill repeats to get you to Adopt-A-Tree... but this week I've been in isolation. What happens to training? (Well we only found out late Tuesday, so that meant a few days of running free; then throwing back to garden running like last year. I did sneak out one morning really early and saw nobody! And today, when allowed out I went either too fast or too short! haha

Imagine living in a village of patched houses made of iron, wood and plastic windows. Do you intend to stay there? What barriers can you see in front of you... you have none of your current friends. In fact, they probably drive straight past you standing on the side of the road. And your kids? Where are they? At school, you hope?

Imagine being able to give safe places for food to be grown... to people that will ensure the gardens are protected and cared for, that the trees will survive to adulthood providing shade, oxygen and better food security. Imagine. 

Intend to make a difference now... with what you have. With me, Adopt-A-Tree.

Adopt-a-Tree and help the "Greening the Community" project. Indalo Nursery will ensure the trees are cared for in the schools and safe places they are planted. They will bear fruit. They will change lives. It's less than a cup of coffee a day this month!

So to our Covid-19 affected family... Fortunately we all appear to be okay, in spite of contact. My small family, #LancasterLovely, #LancasterLight and I are out of isolation as of today. #FatherLancaster and #MotherLancaster have chosen to isolate longer, which I endorse: they were vaccinated this last Monday, and by Thursday should have 75-80% immunity! We pray for #BrotherLancaster, #SisterLancaster and her parents that they remain okay, too.

20 June 2021

Everesting: in the footsteps of Hilary (and van Bergen)

Of all the motivational quotes to which I have access, this one was chosen for me:

‘You don’t have to be a hero to accomplish great things – to compete. You can just be an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.’ (Sir Edmund Hilary)

And in order to stay motivated for my #BigDreamsLittleSteps moment in September I have teamed up with the Community Conservation Fund Africa and Indalo Indigenous Nursery. I'll be Everesting, they'll be raising funds and planting trees! We hope to have 600 trees for Kwa-Nobuhle township in Nelson Mandela Bay before my birthday (Christmas...). Yes, we'll be "Greening the Community". 

Click here to read more

What do all these words mean?

Everesting - pick a hill (any hill) and climb it as many times as necessary to accumulate the height of Mount Everest (8849m) in one activity... I hope to have 24 hours to do it (but that may be cut by curfew; as this event has already been postponed 18 months by said virus)

Tree planting - is all good and well, but if we don't have a safe place for these trees to survive and caring individuals and community to look after them, then its not sustainable and not worth the investment... this project is very much worth the investment.

So we have an invested community (mainly schools for now), and individuals taking care of these planted trees (Blackie and his team at Indalo). They'll be planting fruit trees (both food and economic benefit), hardwoods (shade and longevity), and spekboom (food and oxygen) in these schools. These trees will be visited on follow up occasions to ensure their survival and thriving. More will follow.

We have a connected and reputable organization collecting and accounting for the funds raised, the Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA). They were started by The Mantis Collection's Adrian Gardiner and the Accor Group's Adrian Boynton, and with such notable board members as the late Ian Player, Andrew Muir, and Mavuso Msimang, this organization is ideally placed to assist not only a community in Nelson Mandela Bay, but communities throughout Africa. 

Using programs such as these, we stabilize communities mental and physical health, as well as their economic well-being. In so doing we remove barriers that more privileged people don't have! And this creates easier access to greater socio-economic gains. 

All that I'll be doing is climbing a little hill 141 times... hopefully 20 more. Its a small effort in comparison to the number of little hills many others have to get over each day... Perspective allows me to use my privileges to highlight causes such as this, and I invite you to join me on this journey of ascent to a better ecology and safer economy for all.


13 June 2021

Of mountains... and men

It happened again. Wave. Looking a bit like that mountain... there in the distance.

Postponement. Too many Covid cases erupting... affecting us personally and directly, if not personally.

This time to The Tusker

Also... communities that have trees and plants are happier. Did you know that?

Preparation for my 2 big events these last 3 months has been tough... with a twisted ankle, and some similar humor to cope. But I was ready to head out in 22 days for more than 230 miles (370km) of trekking from Addo to Tsitsikamma, from Elephants to elephant, from Karoo dry to the place of falling waters.

Postponement has been a regular in an athletes life this last 15 months. Rightly so. This one was supposed to be immune to that: all the i's dotted and t's crossed; except that some were unable to travel internationally and others contracted this undesirable disease. Too much of a risk with 4 weeks to go.

For me, last weekend was going to be "easy, but hard training... 10km on Saturday followed by some chores around the house and feet up in the afternoon. Then 36 miles (52km) on Sunday exploring Crossways and Longmore Forest. Saturday was interrupted by a distressed call from my wife... her accelerator was stuck; her car stopped on the side of a road of an affluent area of town.

For here: no details, but the punchline is this, "I traded a great phone for a hat, worn out Nike (just one, not the pair) and a 17cm blade carving knife". 

Did you answer the question above? Whether you answered or not... here's another question: 

Did you know that Johannesburg in South Africa used to be a savannah, and was almost desertified by mining and urban creep? It is now one of the "greenest" cities in the world... it effectively is an urban jungle, because there are so many trees and bushes planted; and when the city did this, the economy stabilized and crime stats dropped.

The reason I bring all of this up is that I am happy. I live in a privileged area, happy with my life (as a whole). It is a green suburb in Nelson Mandela Bay. 

The man with whom I had the unsavory transaction above lives in the opposite situation. He lives in an area that has some of the highest crime stats in our country, and we know that much of the crime goes unreported in the suburb. It is frightening.  

So, what if we made a commitment to "green" Nelson Mandela Bay, but specifically those areas that are dusty and deadly. What if we, that are able, donated a tree through a grass roots nursery (or system of nurseries) who would commit to following up on the trees planted so that our efforts were sustainable?

What if?

Would you support my drive?

Would your company support my run at this dream?

30 May 2021

The Privilege of Movement - and 1 forest elephant

Much has been said of privilege these last 15 months. Truthfully, privilege has been defined not as "easy life" and/or "collected wealth", but rather as a "lack of barriers"; a privilege of movement where others are barred at worst and fear to tread at best. 

Ubuntu is a philosophy centered around me and you relying on each other for defining our "being" through our "doing". That is, if I am selfish we both lose out on relationship; without relationship we are nothing. Is ubuntu the exclusive domain of Africans? Or even of humans or animated beings?

What do you think when you hear the word, "Zoo"? Now just a bit bigger... a game park... or even a national park. Query?

What do you think when you hear the word "farm"? Fenced. Controlled. Query?


Reportedly there is just 1 forest elephant remaining in the majestic forests surrounding Knysna and the bottom of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Many moons past elephants made migrations North East from there and back traversing through the Baviaanskloof and over the Zuurberg to Addo. This allowed other species to follow suite. Now, this lone pachyderm is paralysed and does not leave the thick forests even though there are some small corridors to travel.

Biodiversity ensues movement. It is symbiotic in nature.

What happens when "civilization" invades? Fences and roads and rails and all manner of "ownerships" were once claimed, fought over and staked out; those aggressions on movement remain ongoing, the poison of the privileged. Animals shot out the wildlife as if they were the parasites. And 1 forest elephant remains.

At worst: nature requires our action for our children to experience half of what we do, or even to survive at all. At best we can begin the healing of the land by encouraging substantial corridors of "green" (that nebulous word describing a return to more sustainable and suitable lifestyles that do not harm our remaining natural resources or each other, and intentionally look for ways to enhance the healing and restorative processes).

The Tusker... a 230 mile (360+km) "run" in 108 hours (4 and half days) from Addo to Tsitsikamma. My "B" goal this year.

It is one of only two events allowing you to contribute to this corridor restoration and the subject of the short film by Damien Schumann and Clyde Berning called The Privilege of Movement. I will be partaking in July 2021.

You can contribute to this healing cause in 2 ways:

  1. Get in touch with me to "plant a tree" through the Community Conservation Fund Africa, or
  2. Donate via Backabuddy.
We all need to do a little bit better. I call you to join me in my support of these causes, please. In fact... its almost a beg!

Everesting: for a tree?

A sunny Heritage Day 2021 ended with a cold craft beer was two years in the making for me. However, when Adrian Gardiner says, "I like ...