Following our drive out to Post Retief last week, I want to share some of the magnificent scenery of the Eastern Cape – a part of the country that felt so alien to me when we moved here over three decades ago; this is where my maternal ancestors hail from; this is where my heart is; this is home.

Ravages of the drought can be seen in the foreground – the sturdy aloes have all been pollinated well and are bearing full-bodied seeds – a dirt road heading off into the distance, and the Winterberg almost floating on the horizon.

How can one ever tire of scenery like this? It is dry; it is hot; it is a big sky; it is the Eastern Cape.

A closer look at the vegetation that hugs the sheltered slopes – euphorbias and thorn trees making up the Valley Bushveld Thicket.

Much closer to home is the Jamieson Dam that once supplied our town with water. If you look at the base of the hill below the wind turbine on the left, you will see what looks like a flat green lawn. There is not a drop of water in it.


We are used to roadblocks in South Africa. These could be the kind requiring you to wait for oncoming traffic to pass through a section of road that is being repaired or a police roadblock during which you are required to show your driver’s licence while they check your vehicle licence and may even make a cursory check of the state of your tyres. These days we have to be increasingly on the lookout for roadblocks caused by the Urban Herd taking a stroll around our town.

Much further afield, only 3km from the Mpofu Nature Reserve in fact, traffic was halted by this herd of cattle that had no intention of moving out of the way in any hurry at all.

Some distance further on, the road was blocked by this herd of sheep being moved from one grazing area to another. Two sheep dogs assisting the shepherd managed to escape being photographed. They were doing an excellent job of keeping the sheep together and on the move in an orderly manner.

We were deep into the farming country of the Kat River district, so it came as no surprise when traffic had to back up while this herd of sheep crossed the narrow bridge – led by three shepherds this time and a single sheepdog (which also slipped away before I could ‘catch’ it) – and made their way through a large gate into a field next to the road.

These are a lot less daunting than this roadblock though!