Braai and social at Midmar Dam 15 May 2021
Report: Penny Purchase, Photos: Kostya Zloschastiev, Rebecca Wakeford, Charlie Guiot, Penny Purchase

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

It turned out to be the most perfect autumn day at Midmar Dam. We chose a fairly level area at Eikedal under a large cluster of shady trees, some evergreen, some deciduous, with lovely autumn colours. It was conveniently opposite toilet block no 2 which provided us with clean ablutions. We created a ring of cars around the area to claim our territory.

It was a festive day with many new members, and plenty of the old, enjoying camaraderie, the scenic outdoors and the warmth of friendship. This social cum braai was an adaptation of our indoor social evenings held at the Church of the Ascension hall in Hilton. We can't hold these because of the Covid 19 restrictions on large indoor gatherings. There was a fantastic response, despite the Members Only condition: 54 members of the club and 1 toddler, Mayalee, daughter of Katy and Charlie. This indicates the popularity of an outdoor social event rather than a night time indoor event. But with such a big group Penny had to use her hiking whistle rather a lot! Thanks go to the MHC committee for help in arranging this event under Penny's watchful eye.

Early arrivals were there by 9, enjoying a cycle around the dam. By 12 o'clock, there was a large, thirsty group, eager for the wine, fruit juice and snacks which club funds provided. Our array of wines couldn't match the rose petal gin with strawberries, blueberries and clinking ice, which Ali and Rebecca laid out on their picnic table! This gin was a trophy from the Sungazer Historical hike just completed by 10 members of the club in the E. Free State. Good things come from hiking. Libby's well designed and crafted picnic box was also a talking point.

Just after 12.30 Penny blew her whistle for people to gather closer for the talk. Este Shearar started her show and tell presentation on Crystals and her expeditions with the Gem Club of Johannesburg. Este was a maths and music teacher but her best credential is that she is an enthusiastic hiker and a very seasoned one too. Este handled her talk very well considering the large, spread out audience. Crystals, polished and unpolished, were passed around with Margret Kirsten following them around the group. There were 4 lucky draw prizes for 4 polished amethyst stones, with Mayalee, the smallest at the social, winning the biggest one!

The 3 items on the Hiking Gear Sales table were all sold: Carolee's friend’s Korea made boots sold for R200 , Sue's big backpack went to new member, Gareth, for R400 and Patricia's "Safari Cooker" went to Kate B for R700.

Braai Master, Chris Dobson, had the fires already by the time Este's talk finished. The braai units and charcoal were provided by the club. Thanks go to Chris for organising all this. Braai-ing, eating, drinking, chatting to like-minded people in lovely autumn weather - nothing nicer! Debbie Giles' group... and a fewer tasters - enjoyed her chicken potjie. Some were active after the braai. Katy, Charlie and Mayalee, went off paddling in 2 kayaks on the calm dam. Liezel de Kock's group went off to jet ski. Libby collected together a small energetic group to go for a walk towards Blackhurst and the Morgenson camp site. While the lazy lot left at the picnic site enjoyed relaxing and socialising with full tummies and sinking ever deeper into their camp chairs.

Mid afternoon, some drifted off home, satisfied after a full day. Others lingered longer enjoying the superb weather. As the sun started sinking at 5 pm, they began to pack their bags. The end of another tough day in Africa with hiking friends!

Photo credits are indicated in the captions - thanks to all those who contributed

1 Este Shearar giving her fascinating talk on crystals and rocks (Kostya's photo)
2 Este (Kostya)
3 Este's captivated audience following her show and tell on crystals (Charlie Guiot's photo)
4. Katy listening intently, with Mayalee (Kostya)

5. Drinks time (Kostya)
6. Ali's sparkling Free State gin and unpolished crystals (Rebecca)
7. Time for rose (Kostya)
8. Braai Master, Chris Dobson (Kostya)
9. Mielies and braai meat receiving careful attention(Kostya)

10. Mayalee is already to go... come on mum and dad! (Penny)
11. They're off, enjoying the calm water (Penny)
12. The stillness of autumn, a perfect time for a paddle (Penny)
13. There's Charlie and Katy on the water .... but where's the baby? have they tipped her out? (Kostya)

14. Mid afternoon, after the braai, the wine is getting low.(Penny)
15. Autumn glory at Midmar (Penny)

16. A bronze beauty (Kostya)
17. Libby's picnic box, well designed and crafted by Ozzie, her late husband.(Penny's photo)