Beauty to behold

I visited a beautiful piece of the earth recently and found myself trying to take it all in. Cape Town is a city at the most southern part of Africa and is truly beautiful. I was there to run a race which gave me the opportunity to view the bay of Hout from a different vantage point. On foot. Walking up the road on Chapman’s Peak is an unusual occurance and I felt honoured to be given the chance.

My  friends live in the city and the flat table top mountain is visible from most areas, clouds permitting. I asked one of my friends if she has become used to seeing the big piece of rock. Does she still marvel at it’s beauty or has it become a taken for granted landmark? She conceded that sometimes the beauty is less visible but more often than not, she appreciates it.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen some beautiful places over the years but have always lived in kind -of -grim towns, visually speaking that is. Industrial towns aren’t usually aesthetically pleasing. I started thinking how I would feel waking up to a view of the city, sea or mountains.

What I have learned to do by being visually deprived is look for the beauty in smaller things. A rose my mum groomed with Rooibos tea, an autumn touched oak tree, a sunset setting clouds on fire, a twinkle in someone’s eye, a smile of relief on a resting worker’s face. I learned to look deeper into people’s faces, hearts and minds and I always find beauty.

I am looking forward to one day waking up to a view. To open my door and let beauty flood my senses but until then, I am grateful for my gift of sight and I will continue to look for the beauty.

Ocean Oh Ocean

On Easter Saturday I ran (mostly) 56km. Writing that sounds crazy and a part of me still feels surprised that I do such things. But it is fun. Sore, hard and far but yes, mostly fun. I had a particularly good run even if I ended up being too slow for an official finish and medal.

The race starts in the early morning shadow of Table Mountain and snakes down towards the ocean. The Indian Ocean.  This part of the route is busy and noisy with the few thousand of us chilly, eager and bunched together trying to find our pace. Having my feet clipped a few times by other runners, had me cautious, but as the time stretched out so did the space between us.

We ran towards Muizenburg where we caught our first glimpse of the sea. Crowds had begun to gather to cheer and were warmly dressed against the early morning chill. Music played and a festive feel greeted us, as sister and I hung on  (sometimes unsuccessfully) to our hats with the blasts of wind between the buildings. Debbie was a few steps ahead when she turned excitedly around waving. I immediately looked for dogs or sights when the tune of my youthful ‘crush’ band found my ears. ‘Taximan’ almost resulted in tears of joy as I tried to find a dance move in my running. What fun.

Just as I turned away from the sea towards Fish Hoek I felt my body shift. Not physically but mentally.


I lost Debbie but was relieved as she needed to do her own race and I needed to face whatever rubbish this was, on my own. Thoughts of getting in the rescue buses were rampant and I scanned my body for reasons why. I was feeling fine but this train of thought happened once before while running early on in a Comrades marathon . Although there was this underlying urgency to stop, I really wanted to see Chapman’s Peak. So I debated that I would just go to there. Many runners passed me by but I didn’t care and for about 8km I kind of disappeared.

My first glimpse of a road sign saying ‘Chappies ahead’ seemed to flick the switch again and I started trundling up towards the magnificent view, this time, the Atlantic Ocean.

I chatted with some foreign runners about the view, their race and some details about other journeys, discovering a shared love of train trips.  The climb increased and the wind blasted at us from behind. The runners got quieter as the effort increased and I continued to focus on the view as well as finding the flatter part of the road. Being on a mountain, the camber of the road can be quite severe and painful.

Nearing the 40km mark, I felt myself slump again and tried to manage my internal thoughts. But I only managed to snap out of it again on the next major climb up Constantia Nek. By this time I knew a finish medal was very tight but I felt positive inside and that means more to me than an official finish. I shortened my steps, greeted spectators and smiled a lot. In fact, this is how I ran the remaining 12km. I felt incredible and it obviously showed because spectators seemed surprised.

I passed many limping people, runners looking for somewhere to sit, people leaning over from exhaustion and I offered a word of encouragement as I (probably irritatingly) ran by.

Support tables were being packed up but some helpers remained cheerful after their long day. I tried to thank them all, and joked with others all as a means to keep me positive and it worked.

I thankfully entered the finish stadium and some remaining spectators gave me a special welcome home because by this time I was sprinting. The lack of runners meant my name on my number could be easily seen and cheers of ‘ go Cathie go’ brought tears to my eyes.  I felt like a winner and I am one.

I won at joy!

Thank you beautiful Cape for the love, the weather, the views and the welcome home.

High (veld)land games

Every once in a while it is good to return to places of my past. The comfort in the familiarity of a place so known makes me feel secure even if some of the buildings have changed. I know the direction of the river, the different angles of the sun, the feeling of the breeze on my skin. It is physically comforting and safe.

Today was exciting because it was the gathering of the Vaal Highland. This meant that from the moment we (sister and I) stepped out of the car till our return, we heard the sounds of bagpipes.  A large competition with pipe bands travelling long distances came to my old home town to compete.  I was duly impressed by the amount of youngsters playing or dancing dressed in the garb of my motherland. The sounds of a land many thousands miles away echoed through the stone amphitheatre and deep into the hearts of many.

The bustle of people, many familiar but not, made for a nice atmosphere where the Scots accent was praised and a different culture, my culture,  was appreciated. Many friends welcomed me ‘home’ for a brief moment and we marvelled in the growth of their kids and grankids while time stood still in the lines of ours faces. Bonds made last century, still allow the ease of a shared history yet the current worlds seem far apart. I relish in knowing that my life is still shared and known to some by means of our Star Trek technology with the marvels of the Internet and Facebook. I love seeing all the non-blood aunties and uncles with some ‘cousins’ who are part of this tartan history of mine.

As the sun baked down with an unusual-for this time of year- rage, we chased the shade in order to save our rooinek skin from crisping. Conversations with shade seekers were struck as commonalities were discussed while sword dancers competed their way through the same song on repeat.

Irn Bru and square sausage found, it was time for us to bid farewell and head up the relatively short road north.  A lovely day out and my heart full of good feeling, I am grateful once more for the adventure of life.

You tak the high road….

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