This year started off well, with a wonderful holiday in Cape Town. Apart from spending time with people, some of the highlights included climbing Table Mountain in the mist, and climbing Lion's Head in the late afternoon, watching the sun go down, and descending by the light of the full moon. We also had an early breakfast at the Two Oceans restaurant at Cape Point. Somehow, the holiday set the tone for the year, and made sure that we lived life to the full, with lots of family outings during the year. These included a visit to the SABC television and radio studios, Coin World at the SA Mint, and to Shades of Ngwenya glass blowing factory. We also enjoyed a couple of sunny winter afternoons listening to music at the outdoor concerts at the Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens, including our favourite guitarist, Tessa Ziegler. The All Africa Games in September were very enjoyable, and we went to watch gymnastics (and sat only a few seats away from Juan Antonio Samaranch of the International Olympic Committee, and Sam Ramsamy), basketball, and athletics.
The school Climbing and Hiking Club had some very memorable outings and events, including abseiling off the school walls, hiking the Moreleta Spruit trail, boulder hopping in Tonquani Gorge (Magaliesberg), visiting an old gold mine, a trout farm, and the Wonder Cave at Kromdraai, rock climbing at Strubens Valley, and hiking at Kings Kloof in Rant-En-Dal, Krugersdorp.
It was also a year to celebrate birthdays, starting with Deb's birthday at Mountain Sanctuary Park (Magaliesberg) - hiking and swimming in rock pools. We spent Sarah's birthday at Gold Reef City enjoying the historical displays and even more the funfair rides. David's birthday was spent watching the performance and live filming of the Gladiators television programme. We also took him to see the film of Star Wars Episode 1. My 40th birthday was celebrated with a very enjoyable dinner at home with friends - quite an event! It seems that this year is the year for turning 40, as we have also attended a few other 40th birthday parties of friends.
Apart from the happy events of the year, there was also a particularly sad event, with the death in February (from complications following a heart transplant) of Trevor Ellis, a schoolfriend only one day younger than myself. Our condolences go to Janet and their two boys, as well as to his twin brother, Roger, and the rest of their families.
We have moved churches this year, from the Kingsgate Vineyard Church to one closer to home, called the Valley Vineyard Church, pastored by Alexander Venter. One of our first opportunities to get to know some of the people was at a raspberry-picking picnic at the church-run Southfield Farm. The children have settled quite nicely into the children's church, with David's group undertaking the Junior Alpha course during the year. Another event that had a major impact on Deb and me this year was our attendance at the Emmaus Walk - a wonderfully touching experience of God's goodness and generosity to us. It was great to be a part of such joyful worship.
David (11) and Sarah (8) have both done very well at school this year. David was pleased to come first in his Grade 5 class and to receive awards for creativity. Sarah also did very well in Grade 2, and received an award for her scholastic achievements. David had some of his artwork exhibited at a schools art exhibition at Fourways Mall. Both children participated in the Randburg Eisteddfod, and David brought home a diploma for sight reading, and Sarah was given a certificate for her prepared poem. David and Sarah both ran very well in the school's inter-house athletics day. The annual 'father and kids sleepover' involved sleeping in our tent on the school playing fields, along with dozens of others, and was enjoyed thoroughly, especially by the children. Sarah has had to say goodbye to two of her closest schoolfriends this year, with one moving to England, and the other to Durban.
Our border collie, Bardy, now thirteen years old, is starting to show his age, and now accompanies me only on the first few kilometres when I go running on the weekends. Talking of running: in November, I ran the 15 km part of the Soweto Marathon, and was very pleased to do it averaging just over five minutes per kilometre.
Debbie has remained very involved with Lifeline this year, not only counselling but also with facilitation of training courses for counsellors. She has done a lot of work for the Randburg Trauma Centre too. She has taken three (of the required six) courses for her Honours degree in Psychology this year, and is preparing to write her exams in January.
We have had another extremely busy year at Mintek. Apart from developing a new process for platinum production (and writing a review article on platinum smelting in SA), and assisting with piloting a process for zinc recovery from waste materials, I have also been extensively involved with designing a furnace for recovery of cobalt from a huge slag dump in Zambia (should be producing cobalt this time next year). During October, I gave an invited lecture on thermodynamics at the University of Pretoria. I also spent a couple of weeks this year as acting Manager of the Pyrometallurgy Division. I have very recently returned from a two-week trip to the USA and Mexico (a fascinating place) to attend a conference and visit furnaces at two steel plants.
We have managed to get away for a short break as a family a couple of times during the year. In April, we spent about a week at a friend's holiday home adjoining the beach at Elycium on the south coast of Kwazulu Natal (about an hour away from Durban). It was a working holiday for me, and I got a lot of computer work done, and was also able to spend time playing on the beach and swimming in the lagoon and sea. At the end of June, we were given a holiday for a few days at Kiara Lodge, bordering Golden Gate in the Free State. We had a wonderful holiday, walking among the impressive sandstone mountains (and climbing the large Brandwag formation), looking at bushman rock paintings, and exploring the nearby picturesque village of Clarens. The evenings were cold, and we enjoyed the log fires very much. We also spent a day driving on the Roof of Africa road in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. We went as far as the skiing village of Oxbow, and although there wasn't very much snow, there were some spectacular frozen waterfalls.
We are now looking forward to a quiet holiday season at home, and hope that all of you have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
Rodney, Debbie, David, and Sarah