Do not try this at home!

Penny’s house looks like a bomb has hit it.

I think I should give the warning that everyone hears on TV when they show people doing dangerous things : Warning – do not try this at home!

Here is a synopsis of the last few months :

October 2011 Preven and  I, sitting chatting one sunset, decided let’s just do it. Let’s set a date. Now! May wouldn’t be too cold in the Dargle, nor to hot in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. And that was that.

Then the realisation of what we had undertaken really began to dawn – I had to make contact with all the landowners and communities along the river!

Days of pouring over maps and finding farm boundaries, sub division boundaries, appeals to local organisations, tracking down names and phone numbers…….. and then the telephoning began – and went on and on. Ask each person who their neighbours are, what the terrain is like, how long to walk their stretch of the river. Marking them all on maps, endless notes – it was like a giant jigsaw puzzle slowly being put together. And then cam the costing, budgets, proposals, and the emailing and explaining and meetings and presentations.

I announced my mad plan at the DUCT AGM in November – and I had no idea at the time how big this little stroll down our river would become.

Early planning and brain storming took place once a week in Mike’s bakkie as we drove around Howick taking water samples from the river. I would sit with a note book and pen whilst he drove, writing furiously as we talked and came up with ideas, people to contact, things to do, stuff to take along. And then Pandora somehow heard of it, and asked to see me. I started telling her about the walk, and she suddenly interrupted me “I’m coming along, all the way, source to sea” she announced, and the rest as they say, is history. She planned an education program that some doubted could happen because it was so ambitious – 200 schools within 2 kilometres of the river. She met with people, wrote to people, even took the Greyhound bus to Pretoria to meet with a Government Department official. Her energy knows no bounds, and her enthusiasm has rubbed off – and her education program is on its way. Emails used to come in & go out between the two of us all day everyday with the planning, now I only get them at night – she has spent the last few days going into the Valley of a Thousand Hills each day from Pietermaritzburg, meeting with schools and realising her dream.

In  a short email yesterday she stated “I had such a wonderful day in the Valley but then got home very late as had no windscreen wipers in the pouring rain in the slippery valley roads– also my phone was flat!  Going with Sithembiso tomorrow to Isitumba area. I had the most blessed day ever – it was beautiful in all respects down in the valley and meeting the schools.”  Today she wrote to me : “I am awestruck by the beauty of the valley! I went with Sibusiso today to visit five schools – Wow! What a wonderful experience”

Now, just a couple of days before we get to the source, the pace is hectic – has been for the last month or so – kit lists, equipment lists, blogging, press, the mammoth task of making sure we are all kept fed, liaising with people arranging the logistics below Albert Falls, the plans for the last days activities at Blue Lagoon. Support crews and itineraries, film makers, donors. Shopping lists, checking that shopping is done, contacting hundreds of people to arrange this and that. Piles of equipment in my home. And most of it stalled until about a month ago due to lack of funds – then BOOM everything suddenly could be done! Oh yes – and in between still do my normal DUCT work.

I have worked till between 10pm and midnight most nights for the last couple of weeks, catching up on all the days emails that I ignored through the day because they weren’t  urgent. By the time I go to bed at night, every night, I think that ok, I am on track, and then the next day it starts all over again. 56 emails came in at 09h00 this morning, and 41 went out from last night – and that’s average! I haven’t seen my dining room table in months what with all the maps covering it, and my dining room wall has maps all over it too – that’s why I never got the walls painted!

So as I said, don’t try this at home!

And how did it get so far at all? With the help of so many people, folk with big hearts who have donated accommodation, meals, equipment, helped with planning, made suggestions, given support – bless every single one of them, who, like a daisy chain, with one of them missing this would not be where it is, and I would be planning to bring in my firewood for the chilly May evenings  in Howick.

To each and everyone who has helped us – our sincerest thanks, we honestly couldn’t have got even this far without you.

PS: 16h30, Friday pm. Preven is here – making me curry for supper, washing dishes, sorting the maps. Emails have reduced from a flood of over a good couple of hundred a day to a small hand full, phone has stopped ringing, dining room full of assorted stuff…

Getting there!


About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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One Response to Do not try this at home!

  1. Bridget Ringdahl says:

    way to go! and I mean that literally too. Just go …. and you will discover that everything will fall beautifully into place – the expected and the unexpected just molding into this fabulous adventure that is about to unfold… looking forward to it!

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