In the great African tradition of auspicious rain for special occasions, the Midlands Summer Celebration last week was suitably wet. The Cairn of Old Kilgobbin Farm is right in the mist-belt, beside the forest, a wonderful venue whatever the weather.
The drizzle did little to dampen the spirits of those who headed off on a forest walk.
Barend Booysen greeted everyone in his usual charming forest-side manner. Sharing a little history of the area and explaining why the forest is called ‘mist-belt’ (even though it was pretty obvious!)
The rain hardly penetrates the canopy, so there was no rush to get back.
A gentle afternoon spent smelling Clausena anisata leaves, collecting yellowwood seeds, hugging the really big trees and puzzling over some species. Dineo Dibakwane of SANBI commented: “I enjoyed the walk, Barend is the best! It was nice meeting other people who share the same objectives regarding conserving our planet.”
Other guests began arriving, settling down beside the fire and wondering where the forest walkers were. They were obviously enjoying themselves, despite the drizzle. Jessica Dreamtime of the MMAEP said “I’ve never given much thought to networking but I saw and felt its power on Friday.”
Then they emerged through the mist, and were welcomed warmly. Tshepiso Mafole, SANBI said “It was great to be part of the inspiring and refreshing world of conservationists.”
The red wine went down particularly well, but there was also plenty of Notties beer and homemade lemon and mint cordial too.
Many Midlands Conservancies were represented at the gathering and lots of local environmental organisations too. Janet Snow of Environmental Learning and Teaching observed: “It was inspirational to see the projects conducted with such enthusiasm. It is a true indication of the community of practice in the area – something to be proud of.”
Hugh Temple of World’s View Conservancy, especially enjoyed the fireside conversations “What a wonderful afternoon.” he said smiling broadly. Tutu Zuma of Mpophomeni Conservation Group thought that the best part was the walk in the forest. “An enjoyable networking and learning day.” she said, Nkanyiso Ndlela of KZN Crane Foundation, echoed her thoughts.
Everyone tucked into yummy food that The Farmer’s Daughter had made – split pea and asparagus salad, roasted sweet potatoes and butternut in balsamic reduction; and tomatoes, pesto and cream cheese. There were hand made relishes, a selection of just baked breads, fresh organic greens, local cheeses and fruit too. Kevan, Karen and Hannah Zunckel thoroughly enjoyed themselves “What a wonderful afternoon with a lot of special people.”
Then Judy Bell, Chair of MCF thanked everyone for coming and especially, for all the work that volunteers do to protect the Midlands ‘water factories’ – the ecosystems on which we all rely. Judy acknowledged Barend Booysen’s incredible contribution to inspiring, motivating and challenging so many people with his walks and insightful discussions along the way and presented him with a Mad About Chameleons certificate to thank him.
Eidin Griffin of the MMAEP also thanked Barend for his kindness and generosity in leading two school groups recently and introducing them to the Kilgobbin Forest magic, saying “The children wrote about their experiences and all of them had an amazing and inspiring time.” She read a few of the children’s delightful comments from the Eco-Schools portfolio they have compiled.
Local press gives environmental stories lots of coverage so we were thrilled that the Meander Chronicle and Village Talk joined us too. Phillippa Gordon editor of the Meander Chronicle said “Thanks for a fab interlude on Friday. As usual – great people, great venue and a sparkly spirit giving it kick!”
Judy concludes “It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to people, to hear their tribulations and successes and, especially nice to be able to welcome the newly formed Rosetta Nottingham Road Conservancy. Everyone works so hard, so it is good to have an opportunity to just relax and celebrate our efforts. Thanks to Dargle Conservancy for sponsoring the food to go with our drinks and everyone for participating with such enthusiasm.” Long may the Summer Rains last.
See more photos of the celebrations on these Facebook pages: