New column: Zero Waste Parys

I have a new column – Zero Waste Parys – in the local community newspaper of my small home town, Parys. It comes from my ongoing mission regarding recycling, waste and composting. I have an exciting journey ahead to explore and discover my town in a whole new light by looking at ways to refuse packaging to reduce what I bring into my home and thus the waste our household produces.

Discovering locally grown vegetables

Inspired by Zero Waste visionary Bea Johnson (, I have taken a closer look at my home and lifestyle to see where I can make a difference to the amount of waste that I generate. Every week when I put my bag of recyclables (plastic, glass and metal) out on the curb for the informal waste recycling guys to pick up, I cringe at the volume of waste that our family generates. Comparing the trash bags put out by my neighbours, we are discarding less but it is still too much.

Our dump is a mess, our town is covered in litter and we’re drowning in packaging. I want to do better. We need to do better. And, our town is small enough that we can actually make a difference to the benefit of our local businesses and our ecology. My journey to discover zero and low-waste options in our town has begun.

Bea reminds us of the 5Rs in the stance against needless waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – and in this order. She explains this as “Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest”.


The place to start is with Refuse. From taking your own reusable fabric shopping bags to the supermarket – so that you are not buying unnecessary plastic bags for your groceries, to saying “No thank you” to plastic bags offered for one or two item purchases, reducing the amount of plastic waste that comes into your home is begun by refusing to accept it.

Unfortunately so much of what we buy comes in volumes of packing to make products eye-catching and attractive and to keep the contents safe and protected. This applies to vegetables too. More and more the pick-your-own-veggies section at the supermarkets is diminishing in favour of pre-packaged offerings, which are usually enticingly cheaper than the prices for picking only a few potatoes, tomatoes and onions.


David and Betty live just outside of town, on the Venterskroon road. They are growing and selling vegetables directly from their hand-ploughed lands to you. They work the fields themselves, tending to the 11 types of vegetables that they are growing. Veggies available vary according to the season and it is worth stopping past regularly to see what is available.

David and Betty lo

Even more valuable than the vegetables themselves, is the opportunity to pick your own vegetables. Take your children along so that they can learn about how vegetables grow and how to tell when onions, beetroot, carrots and spinach are ready to be harvested. Refuse the plastic bags provided and remember to take along your own fabric bags or a basket to hold your vegetable purchases. David’s prices are fair and of excellent value.

walking with onions lo

My family has enjoyed enormous sweet potatoes and sweet peas in their pods. David’s carrots are the best I’ve eaten since those my grandmother grew when I was a child – perfect in flavour and texture. The beetroot are ready for picking and there are thousands of onions to look forward to in August. His dark-green leafy spinach grows throughout the year. Look out for potatoes, green beans, cabbage, caulifower, mielies, tomatoes, radishes and chilies in season too.

hand with radishes lo

To find David and Betty, take the R53 to Potch.  After 8.5 kilometres turn left onto the Venterskroon road. Travel 350 metres on this dirt road. They are the second farm on the right. Look out for the hand-written sign on the fence that reads “PLAAS-VARS GROENTE” (farm-fresh vegetables).

veggie sign lo


Writing jewellery product descriptions

I had some fun mid-February writing product descriptions for jewellery – 63 of them!

My friend writes blog posts for an American company that makes jewellery – primarily using pearls. As product descriptions are not her thing, she asked if I could assist. She sent me a photo of a product to try and this is what I wrote:

The subtle tones of multicoloured pearls – gathered with black pearls and crystalline beads – hint at cool autumn temperatures and the coming of winter. This necklace, with its elegant clusters, is  sufficiently bold to complement floaty fabrics.

She liked and I got the commission to write another 62 of these.

Although I’ve done loads of descriptions for running shoes and sports equipment and apparel, I have never done jewellery. It was fun and I got totally adjectived out.

I was delighted to receive feedback via my friend from the client.

“She loves it. Six exclamation marks.”

I’ll be writing these regularly for her, each time her client loads new products.

Rewriting old content

Last week I finished rewriting copy for African Travel Gateway, an operator that specialises in African travel with tours and safaris. The pieces that I rewrote were on ‘Luxury train travel in South Africa‘ and focused on the three train services – The Blue Train, Shongololo Express and Rovos Rail.

Rewriting content is, to me, more than just moving sentences around. I also spend time on the web looking up information on the trains and their services to see whether I can add a bit of new and fresh to the old content. I also look at ways to say what needs to be said even better.

I found this a very rewarding commission and look forward to doing more rewrites.





TrailBlazing story

I was delighted to receive an invitation from trail runner Linda Doke, to write a story for the website of a new trail running magazine that she will be editing, “TrailBlazing”. The website goes live 1 March.

Linda describes the magazine as, “The first issue will be out in the first week of March. It’ll be an A3-size quarterly newspaper, nothing fancy at all, just 16 pages to start with, and hopefully with good growth prospects. It’ll be free, and will reach trail runners by being available at certain running stores around the country, and via race organisers at specific races.”

The contents will also be available online. “So all those who don’t get their hands on a copy at a race or from a running shop will always be able to read it online. Easy peasy,” she explains.

I have handed in my article to celebrate the website launch, which I hope the readers will enjoy. I’ll post a link once the website is up.

The best time to visit the Kruger National Park

I’ve recently been doing some writing for an old friend at Dirty Boots, an outstanding adventure activity guide that has been around for more than a decade. It comes out as an annual print DL-book and over the years their website content has developed substantially to give people the option of a print or online reference. Johan gave me a call last week to see whether I’d be available to do some writing for them as their writer has immigrated.

Dirty Boots content is generally short snippets related to activities, operators or locations and for now we’re focused on website content. I look forward to copy editing and writing content for the 2018 edition of the book later this year.

Johan’s first company and website, started some 23 years ago – long before Dirty Boots, was African Travel Gateway, which is managed by Howard. Johan connected me with Howard to write content for him too and this morning I submitted my first piece, a 1300-word article on ‘The best time to visit the Kruger National Park’.

I enjoyed putting this together as it meant time spent online researching different aspects of the park. I haven’t been to Kruger in many, many years so I enjoyed reading up on the regions, animals, birds and flora.

If you’re thinking about heading to Kruger, read my article on the African Travel Gateway website.

Copyediting fun

I was very fortunate to receive more copyediting work recently, which I really enjoy. Part of the pleasure comes not only from making someone else’s writing nice-nice, but also in learning more about grammar and structure. I often find that a quick edit takes a while longer because I make corrections but then turn to the internet to find out why what I know is correct and what the client had is not. Continue reading

Profile: CP Kriek

Back in November I wrote a profile on a young farmer for an industry publication. The article is out. Despite the publisher making a bloops with the bottom left image, which was correct in the proof, it looks good and CP has had positive feedback on the article. Words below.


Meet CP Kriek

From industrial engineer to pig farmer, CP Kriek is transforming his piggery through technology, investing in people, and by implementing methods that focus on the health, comfort and well-being of his animals. Winner of Agri Gauteng’s Young Farmer of the Year award, Kriek applies a grounded philosophy and innovative vision to his business by simplifying, streamlining, improving and removing. Continue reading