Astrophotography & Camping at Theewaterskloof Dam

The Road to Theewaterskloof Dam

A few weeks ago I had stumbled upon a stunning photograph of the Theewaterskloof Dam on instagram. I never realised that the shores of the dam are spotted with the carcasses of so many dead trees. The quick history goes that when they flooded the valley in ’76 many of the trees were just left to die & rot away. Suffice it to say, they are still around and now create some spectacular visuals. I recently bought a good tripod and have been eager to break out of the city lights and get a photograph of the Milkway and decided that these trees would make the perfect foreground to any starry night imagery.

The Theewaterskloof dam is situated about 1h 29mins (107km) outside of Cape Town. Climbing up Sir Lowrys Pass, instantly draws you into a landscape with fascinating similarities to Norway. You pass the Steenbras Dam along with pine tree plantations. The landscape is spotted and shaped with jagged rocks protruding from the ground. It is not long before you find yourself in Apple country and on the outskirts of the Elgin Valley. The valley is famous for its apples, as it produces 60% of the South African apple crop.

We decided to stop and have lunch at the renowned Peregrine Farm Stall. The farm stall dates back to 1964 as one of the first farm stalls in the western cape. To celebrate 50 years the farm stall launched a stunning new restaurant that dishes up, amongst other things, amazing pies & gravy along with delicious coffees. The farm stall is your first opportunity to try some of the fruit the valley has to offer. I suggest the Pink Lady Apple.

Sunset Over Theewaterskloof Dam
Peregrine Farm Stall

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12 Months in 12 Square Meters

What fits in 12 Square Meters

Its true my flat, if you can call it that, is a total of 12 square meters. Its a 4x3m room! The kitchen is 1.5×1.5m, and so is the bathroom. The kitchen connects onto a 3×2.5m lounge, dinning room & a bunk bed above my couch. Its a small space, with everything I need, except an oven. I have a bath/shower, normal sink and toilet along with a full size fridge in my kitchen. Its a cozy space although I do not think I could go much smaller, certainly not as small as the Apartments in Hong Kong.

Photo Credit: Jakob Montrasio - Flickr

Photo Credit: Jakob Montrasio – Flickr

A Tiny Revolution

I guess you’re asking yourself why? Why would someone live like this? Well for me it came as part and parcel of my goals to travel the world. I needed to optimise my life to the point that I could save as much money as possible. A small apartment comes with a small rent bill, and when you compare average rental prices here in Cape Town I have scored a serious deal. This past year living in a small space has sent me down a fascinating path of discovery, finding I am not alone in a global Tiny House Revolution. If you have the time try to watch the documentary below.

Its so amazing to see how happy and simple these people are living their lives, debt free, financial freedom, etc. I truly believe that this is the housing model of the future, and one day I will own a small space of land with my very own tiny house. In the meantime though, I rent this small apartment and put over 50% of my salary into savings each month. I will write about how I do that in a future post! Its all part of a new way of looking at & living life, spend you money on experiences, not things. A new generation is here, where assets and the giant family home are not the main objective of life. The pursuit of happiness has been redefined and the internet certainly has changed the way we do business and therefore the way companies employ staff.

Photo Credit: Tammy Strobel - Flickr

Photo Credit: Tammy Strobel – Flickr

I love my tiny house, its the perfect space for me. Why would I need more? Its the perfect lock up and go when I take a week off work and go exploring. I run all my lighting and soon more devices entirely off a solar system I was able to install myself. So its cheap to run. Its keeping it simple, and I am all for simple! So here’s to a few more months in my current tiny house! My travel funds are nearly ready to take me on my next adventure weather that be South America or the parts of Asia I am yet to explore! Since my last trip to South East Asia & India my heart yearns to return and sound tracks such as these don’t help!

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Hydroponic Grow Update

Considering this is my first hydroponic grow, I think it is doing incredibly well. It has been an interesting 8 weeks, from planting seed to having 5 incredibly happy plants and, well, 1 very unhappy ‘read: dead’ pak choi. :) The leaves are strong & crisp and the roots are clean and matted. I think the two unhappy plants have been over shadowed by the front plants and are battling for sunlight to be honest.

Hydroponic Seedlings

So what have I been doing?

It all started with carefully creating holes in the rockwool cubes and placing 2 seeds into each hole, one on either side pushed into the side wall of the hole. Left to germinate and grow for about 3 weeks simply with the base of the rockwool sitting in my home made hydroponic solution (post coming soon). This tray was left fully exposed to the sunlight whilst the seedlings were young and eventually algae began to grow on the base of the cubes. Continue Reading →

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Experimental Aquaponic & Hydroponics

Aquaponic History

In February 2013 I did a small experiment with Aquaponics, growing Basil above a home 20 litre fish tank. It was all done on a whim, without much research or understanding of the plants requirements. It was simple enough, a plastic box set on top of the tank with the filter pump (filter removed) pumping the water up into the tank and then allowing gravity to bring the water back to the fish. It was created after seeing these appear on a kick-starter project I believe.Home Aquaponics

I jumped at this awesome idea, and thus created this much simpler and far more home DIY version.Aquaponics Experiment 02/2013

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Victoria Falls on a Budget

Sunrise over Victoria Falls

The captain comes on over the intercom to announce that we have begun our decent towards Victoria Falls, he mentions that we will soon be making a right hand bank and will approach the runway from a westerly direction meaning that we should be able to see the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ from the left hand side of the plane. Its not a busy flight and so immediately we grab the opportunity to switch seats hoping to glimpse the falls from the air. The airport is a typical dinky toy airport slap bang in the middle of the african bush, situated about 20kms from the falls itself. Our FlyAfrica plane is one of three sitting on the tarmac and one looks like its been sitting in the same spot for a few years already. This certainly is a low tech airport where the baggage is just popped onto a table through a garage door just behind immigration. Its in the throws of an upgrade which is possibly a good thing because the toilets had certainly seen better days. However the excitement is high with a large Welcome to Victoria Falls sign reminding you that you are just kilometers away from some of natures greatest works.

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Muizenberg Tourist Map

Its done, and the first edition has been printed and delivered to Hostels & Restaurants in and around Muizies. I’m so excited and have been getting a really positive response from the first few people to have picked up a copy.

Muizenberg Tourist Map

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Inspiration, Motivation, Concentration

I don’t know about you, but I think I can safely assume that you know or certainly feel like you have something big in you. A something that you know will make you happy, make you feel fulfilled with the life you’re living right now, or when this ‘big thing’ happens. I sure know I do! I feel I could go in a few directions, become a photographer, finally write that photographic travel journal, or lets think even more crazy here! Since traveling through South East Asia I know how amazing my own beautiful country is, South Africa. I know we have huge tourism opportunities in the country and I would love to be a part of that process. I have have a few ideas lurking up my sleeve :)

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8 Noob Tips for Adobe Flash

Welcome to Flash

I have been working quite intensely in Adobe Flash for the last 3 months, so I am by no means going to call myself a pro or expert. I can however offer some advice to a newbie who is busy trying to wrap their heads around the bizarre world of Flash. I won’t lie, its a terrible program, with archaic methods for animation and all the standard crappy bezier handles that adobe love to dish up in their CS Suite. However flash certain has its place in the world… I have honestly taken a step back at shock when it just does something thats freaking amazing. It certainly is going to be around for a while. Anyway, I have kept a list of small tips that might just help you get up and running a little quicker.

Take some Shortcuts

So lets assume you have used a few other Adobe apps before. I would hazard a guess and assume you have used Photoshop? Great, so ‘Cntl+0′ right? Super useful shortcut… well lets set that up in Flash quick. Sadly flash doesn’t have the exact same functionality and so you will actually need to set two shortcuts to achieve the same result. Start by going to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts:

  • Zoom to All, otherwise known as ‘Show Frame‘… set that to Cntl +9
  • Zoom to 100%… and set that to Cntl +0

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