2010 has been quite a year! I am so aware of the effects on so many people of the worldwide recession of the past couple of years, yet there have also been many moments of happiness during the year.
David has continued working at Dial-A-Nerd, where he is highly regarded, and there is a great demand for computer support services. He has also put some time into starting his own web-design company, and his employers are very supportive of this activity. David has a great sense of humour, and his stories often make us laugh.
We were very happy indeed when Sarah was (one of a very few) accepted for the BSc (Physiotherapy) course at Wits University at the beginning of the year. We were even more happy at the end of the year when she received her results and found she had done very well indeed. One of Sarah's favourite forms of relaxation is drawing and painting, and she has produced some lovely pictures.
On the work front, it has been a difficult year at Mintek, requiring a great deal of work to bring in the large projects that we need (but which were very scarce this year) to keep our division busy. However, there were a few causes for celebration. In May, the ConRoast Project Team was nominated as one of the finalists for the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards. Then, in August, I was awarded an Honorary Life Fellowship by the Southern African Inistitute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM). This was not something I had expected at all, and it caught me completely by surprise.
In March, Deb, Sarah, and I had a five-day holiday in the little village of Elysium on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. We really enjoyed going for walks on the lovely beach (which we had almost to ourselves) and swimming in the sea and lagoon.
The big celebration of the year was my Mom's 80th birthday at the end of May, and it was good to see many long-standing friends celebrate with her at a breakfast function.
I did quite a bit of travelling in June, stopping off briefly in London en route to the International Ferro-Alloys Congress in Helsinki. The following week, I was involved in two conferences (one on precious metals and one on nickel) in Falmouth. Having a weekend to spare between the two destinations, I was able to spend some time in Guernsey which was not too far away (more about that later). While in Falmouth, outside of the conferences, I fitted in a coastal walk and a lovely run along the coastal cliffs, as well as a short trip to Land's End and to the village of Manaccan where titanium was first discovered (and was initially known as manaccanite, but the name didn't stick).
Guernsey was a delight to visit. It was small enough for me to fulfil my long-standing ambition to do a coast-to-coast run (not quite LA to New York, but still lots of fun)! There are lots of tree-lined leafy narrow roads, and much beautiful scenery.
I spent quite a bit of time in the Priaulx Library going through ancient records that showed where my great-great-grandmother, Harriet Flight, and her parents, and their parents, were born and lived, going back to the 1760s. I also attended a Sunday evening service at the Parish Church of St Peter Port, and met some very lovely people. It was quite amazing to think that this was the same church in which many generations of my family had been baptized and married.
On my return home, I took the Gautrain for the first time (from the airport to Sandton), and was very proud of the engineering feat involved in getting South Africa's first high-speed underground train system ready in time for the World Cup Soccer Finals in June and July. The World Cup was a very big event for South Africa, and the atmosphere was vibrant for the whole month of the tournament. We went to two matches (Brazil v. Ivory Coast at the spectacular Soccer City stadium, and Spain v. Chile in Pretoria) and really enjoyed being part of this event. We also got to see a number of the other stadiums during the year (Durban, Royal Bafokeng, Port Elizabeth, as well as the local Ellis Park).
I continue to enjoy my running, and took part in the 25km Rustenburg Mountain Race in July, and the 15km ("toughest in the world") Harrismith Mountain Race (up and down the 600m high Platberg mountain) in October. In November, I finally ran on 'aloe mountain' near the Hennops River, a beautiful hill that I have admired every time I have driven past it and have often said that I will climb it one day.
In September, I had to present a paper on high-speed photography of electric arcs at a conference in Japan. Fortunately, I had earned a free companion air ticket and a lot of airmiles, so Debbie was able to accompany me. On our way, we spent a thoroughly enjoyable day in Hong Kong, where we took a ferry across the harbour, a tramway up Victoria Peak to see some spectacular views, and watched the musically accompanied 'symphony of lights' across the harbour in the evening. We also spent a day in Beijing, as we really wanted to see something of China (as this country plays such a huge role in the world, and had just become the world's second biggest economy, having overtaken Japan to achieve second place to the USA). Our most memorable experience was visiting the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, even though it was shrouded in mist and rain. We stayed a few hundred metres away from the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) and Tiananmen Square, and got to see those remarkable places too. Much of our time in Japan was spent in the northern town of Morioka (where the conference was held), but we also saw a little of Tokyo. We spent a weekend in the historical and beautiful city of Kyoto, and particularly enjoyed walking around the grounds of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakiju) and the old Gion district. On our way home, we stopped over again in Hong Kong and had a memorable sampan ride among the houseboats in Aberdeen Harbour.
SAIMM held their bi-annual Platinum conference at Sun City in October, and I was very involved in the organisation once again. One of the keynote speakers (on the subject of climate change) was Bruce Hewitson. It was great to be able to spend some time with him again.
As a gift for my Mom's 80th birthday, our family decided that I would take my Mom away on a holiday. At the end of November, I took my Mom to Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape for almost a week during which time we explored many places with historical family connections. We travelled together with my second cousin, Pat Ashington (who had visited my Mom in February, earlier this year, together with Gail Unger and Marilyn Metzer), so we had very enjoyable company too. We visited a number of places in Port Elizabeth, such as my grandparents' first home from 1920 (when my grandfather returned from World War I), and the grave of Debbie's great-great-great-great- grandfather, James Hancock, who was an 1820 Settler from Bloomsbury in London (as well as the street that is named after him). I also fitted in a run through the very attractive Settlers Park, and another along the beach.
We also visited a number of other 1820 Settler sites, including Grahamstown, Sidbury, and especially Salem where my great-great-great-great-grandparents, Thomas and Sophia Slater, are buried. I have for a long time known about a painting that Thomas Slater did of Port Elizabeth in the 1820s, and we finally tracked down the real thing at a place called Carnarvon Dale farm, about 50km from Grahamstown. This was the home of Sarah Slater, a lady who never married, lived until 101 years old, and ran a school for girls in Grahamstown where her pupils included Mary Moffat who is best known as the wife of David Livingstone.
While at Carnarvon Dale, we had a good look at the Slater family tree, which included only a little bit of information about my ancestors Juliana Slater and her husband Benjamin Rudman. I was able to pass on information and photographs of their graves from Uitenhage which we also visited.
I had read that my great-great-grandfather, William Lewis, had assisted in building a church in a very small Karoo village called Russell Park in about 1870. He was a wagon maker, and had done the carpentry work, including the pulpit. However, I could not find any mention of this village on any maps. So, it was a great surprise and pleasure to find this place, close to another small village called Bracefield which also has many family connections. We also visited RockVale farm (near Middleton) where William Lewis lived and died.
Some of the family tree research results and photographs can be found at http://www.amethyst.co.za/FamilyTree/. A lot of the older information is openly available, but if you would like access to the password-protected more recent information, please just let me know.
Deb and I remain very involved in the Valley Vineyard Church. Deb is part of the oversight team, and I assist on the finance committee. The church has a strong focus on worship, as well as on reconciliation. The church is situated between rich and poor areas of the city, and has a growing multi-cultural membership.
It has been very enjoyable to spend some time at home over the past couple of holiday weeks, spending some time with family and friends, and doing a bit of reading.
Just before the year drew to a close, Deb and I visited the De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary (the outing was a gift from David). It was lovely to see these magnificent creatures up close, and especially to watch them (the fastest land mammal) running at high speed.
We look forward to the coming year, and hope that it will be a wonderful one for all of you as well.
Rodney (and Debbie, David, and Sarah)