28th June 2013: Second Half


The moon put on a special show for the winter solstice this year – big, full, and exceptionally beautiful.  Time marches on, the solstice has come and gone, and suddenly we’re in the second half of the year – the days have started lengthening and the sun is slowly climbing a little higher in the sky each day. It’s so easy to lose touch with nature’s cycles when we’re busy and one working day simply blends into the next. Celebrating nature’s annual cycle is a wonderful way to put us back in touch, and it has been suggested that we should hold an annual winter solstice celebration here in Clarens.  What a wonderful idea. Should you feel the same (or not) please leave your comments on
the Clarens News facebook page. 


Unfortunately, “fire season” is part of the annual cycle throughout much of the Freesate. The Working on Fire team based here in Clarens is however well prepared.

Working-on-fire. Clarens-Conservancy

Rodney Wainwright writes: “The Clarens Fire Association have been busy with the Working on Fire team and municipality preparing strategic fire breaks to protect our village. The attached picture shows the preparation of fire breaks above Hill Street to lessen the chance of a wild fires getting into the trees and streams on our southern boundary. The veld is already very dry and the fire risk is increasing as humidity drops and winds increase. Please be on the lookout for veld fires and report them as soon as possible. Early reporting of a veld fire can mean the difference between timely containment or a runaway wildfire. Refer to the list of important telephone numbers for contact details.” Click here to see the list on the Clarens News website.

Editorial Comment: 

Last week’s editorial comment “Bumper weekend in Clarens” prompted some unhappy response, and not everyone is convinced that Clarens is on the up and up. There has been some discussion on the “type”of tourists that visit Clarens. Well, as far as we at Clarens News are concerned, we welcome all tourists: each and every one of them deserves a special thanks for continuing Clarens on the map even with the prevailing difficult times in our economy. It is however probably time that we did some research, looked at how Clarens is marketed, and came up with a strong strategy to take Clarens forward.


The Clarens Village Conservancy: 

Letter from Damien Coulsen:  Head ranger, Clarens Village Conservancy
Illegal harvesting of wood on Clarens hiking trails and reserve

The Village of Clarens is blessed with a wealth of natural assets – beautiful mountain scenery, quaint streams complete with trees and an abundance of birdlife, a spacious nature reserve for adventurous spirits as well as carefully maintained hiking trails. Whether enjoyed concurrently or individually they offer an escape from everyday issues and help to bring about a sense of peace that helps to generate both a love and deep respect for nature. Nature is a wonderful caretaker and given sufficient time is capable of healing itself.
Unfortunately many anthropogenic (manmade/man induced) activities transpire at a rate that often exceeds natures ability to repair itself. The natural assets that have been endowed on Clarens are simultaneously the same that make it prone to certain human activities – such as wood harvesting. Harvested wood is commonly used for fires, furniture making and house building by many of the township residents. Whilst it is accepted that this resource is complementary to the survival of these residents it is not sustainable in the long term (in its current form). Currently wood harvesting in and around Clarens is uncontrolled and uncoordinated. Wood is being chopped from indigenous and alien vegetation indiscriminately, resulting in a boom in vegetative regrowth in the more vigorous alien plants (think of Black Locust with its razor sharp needle like thorns), and a die-back of beneficial plants that provide shade, nesting places for birds, act as carbon sinks and are aesthetically pleasing. Wood harvesting occurs on a daily basis in both the reserve and several of the hiking trails. Woodcutters are particularly partial to harvesting throughout the length of the Spruit trail due to the obvious abundance of wood.   Read more

Damien Coulsen has found another interesting plant in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve….. and there are lots more.  (See the sidebar or go directly to the page on the Clarens News website.)
Everyone is invited to enjoy the Clarens Village Nature Reserve – and I think it’s really special that we can take our dogs with us when we go walking in this beautiful environment.  Cyclists must however get a permit (available from Clarens XTreme) and quad-bikes are not allowed.  Trail Maps are available at the Bibliophile, The Old Stone Bottle Store, and The Village Grocer. You can also phone Toni on 082 4492 082 to order maps for your guesthouse, restaurant or shop.
I know I wrote this last week (and the week before) but since illegal dumping of rubbish in the nature reserve is an on going problem, all residents and guest houses are once again asked to delay putting their refuse out until well after dark the evening before collection or just before leaving for work on the morning of collection.  (Not just this week, but every week.)  Read more.

Community news:

(via Eish)
A meeting has been called (for today at 10 am at the The Tshepong Centre) by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development regarding their Food Security Outreach Program. They aim to establish 50 food gardens in Marquard, Clarens and Excelsior, and are inviting attendees to assist the Department of Agriculture in identifying suitable beneficiaries of this program. Notice of the meeting was sent to Garth yesterday afternoon! Thank you for keeping us informed Garth, but I find it astonishing that powers at be at The Department of Agriculture think we can attend meetings at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, no-one from Clarens News is in a position to attend the meeting at such late notice.

Plant of the week

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Although the days are still growing colder, the rangers have been hard at work and keeping their eyes peeled for any “Weekly Plants of Interest” that they may encounter on our trails or in the reserve.
This week we introduce Amanita muscaria commonly known as the Fly Agaric or Vlieëgifswam, in Afrikaans. Strictly speaking, the Fly Agaric is not a plant at all but it is classified as a form of fungus. This species is widespread throughout South Africa (the author has observed A. muscaria in the Garden Route of the Western Cape), and occurs in combination with certain plants in gardens and even plantations. The Fly Agaric “fruits” (think blooms) in summer up until late autumn/early winter. The cap is globose to flat, with small white “dots” and an overall orange to yellow colour. The stipe is white, firm and cylindrical. Some of the uses of the Fly Agaric include:…...Read more

Ornithological Notes

As promised, some notes about the bird life of Clarens.   Well, some of it anyway.   Perambulating on my back lawn has alerted me to a strange phenomenon known in the complex world of ornithology as Bachelor Season.
Whether or not this is specific to Clarens is neither known nor reported, in spite of the disproportionate number of resident experts in all things animal, vegetable or mineral.   In a nutshell, this occurrence signals the arrival of hundreds of male birds who then pace ceaselessly up and down our gardens, in a state of testosterone overload (judging from their erratic hopping), apparently awaiting the arrival of some matching partner.   This reminds me of those endless racks of left shoes outside shoe-shops the world over, awaiting either a buyer or theft by one-legged shoplifters…... Read more



Weekend Weather

Just as well it’s going to be sunny (most of the time) as we have a busy weekend ahead of us. Make the most of the sunshine while we have it.  There are reports of snow on Sani Pass, Underberg, and the Southern Drakensberg this morning.

Clarens Country Market   

Remember – Christmas is coming – Get your Christmas “goodies”here.  To see some of what’s on offer  CLICK HERE to visit the Clarens Country Market facebook page.  Because The Clarens Country Market is where local people to exhibit and sell local produce, arts and handicrafts, here is your chance to show your support for all things Clarens. . It is held in the front garden of the Bibliophile Bookshop in Church Street, between Van Zyl and Market Streets, every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, weather-permitting.
For more information or to book a stall, contact Debra 083 765 8901 or Megan 082 469 2072.


And while you’re at the Market this weekend, have a look at what’s on offer at the car boot sale. You can of course also load up your own car boot
and turn all those unwanted items into cash.   For further details please contact Megan: 082 469 2072

8th Clarens Quilt Festival 26-28 June 2013

Quilt in Clarens is the only annual quilt festival in the Free State, and over the last eight years has grown from 7 to 261 participants.  The festival offers small classes (7 per day) and personal attention, as well as courses (both novice and advanced) in quilting, creative knitting, crocheting and embroidery. The festival offers ann ideal opportunity for all those who want to quilt in a relaxed environment.  For more information contact the organiser Alae Grabe on 082 5772232 or email quiltinclarens@gmail.com  Clarens News would like to welcome all the quilters visiting Clarens for the festival.

Fouriesburg Polar Bear Plunge

29th June  (2pm)
Meet at the Arpa Dam (at Arpa Adventure Farm S325 off the R711, 7km outside Fouriesburg
Swim 50m in the dam. Change rooms available.  Bring your own blankets!
R100 per entrant (includes a T-shirt “first come first served”- and a boerewors roll.
Boerewors rolls, pancakes and cooldrinks for sale at the dam before, during and after the plunge!
Entrance free to spectators!!!
In aid of Cluny Animal Trust.

Live Music

Thursday 20 June
Street Cafe: Shamrock  8pm onwatrds
Friday 21 June
Street Cafe:  Slipstream (8pm onwards)
The Grouse and Claret:  Grumpy Old Men
Saturday: 22nd June
Friends:  Bendover  (8pm onwards)


Rugby, Rugby, Rugby!

Vodacom Super Rugby is back on our screens and I’m sure everyone in Clarens will be out to watch the Cheetahs game as they take on the Stormers in Cape Town: a must-win game for the Cheetahs.
Stop in at one of the many pubs in Clarens to enjoy the atmosphere.  It’s almost like being at the game. Rugby fixtures for tomorrow:
29th June:2013.

British & Irish Lions 12:00 Australia v British and Irish Lions Docklands Stadium, Melbourne
Vodacom Super Rugby 09:35 Highlanders v Crusaders Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Vodacom Super Rugby 14:50 Sharks v Blues Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Vodacom Super Rugby 17:05 Bulls v Southern Kings Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Vodacom Super Rugby 19:15 Stormers v Cheetahs DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Bethlehem Kine

School holidays have started.   To see what’s showing at the Bethlehem Kine this week  Press Here

Mid-week wining and dining

Monday saw another very successful Clarens get together. Thanks to Warren and Amanda for hosting at Mosaic Pizzeria.
This week (1-5 July) we welcome back Manic Monday (at the Phatt Chef) and the Wednesday Winter Warmer (at 278 on Main.)


1st July: Clarens Square

Wine  Tasting:
6 July 2013 :  Mont D’Or
With Winemaker Wynand Grobler from Rickety Bridge Winery – Franschhoek
Limited seats available.  To see the menu and make a booking CLICK HERE

Chrismas in July Weekend
12 -14 July right here in Clarens.
Those of you who can’t wait for Christmas will be happy to know that it’s only a month away.  (I will have to ask the Twitcher exactly how many shopping days until then, and will let you know next week.  And of course, there are going to be Christmas Carols – and lots to eat and drink.  Warm fires, great company, and if you’re lucky there may even be a present or two under the Chirstmas trree.
The Tourism Forum are working on a varied program: caberet, music, huskies, tavern tours and lots, lots more. To see the draft program PRESS HERE

The Clarens MacNollie Challenge 
12 October 2013
Based on the famous Royal MacNab challenge the Clarens Macnollie is aimed to stay true to the spirit of the original – but with an interesting ‘green’ twist  Participants will compete against each other as corporate teams in three disciplines i.e. hunting a Reedbuck will be replaced by shooting an Impala target on a shooting range (best grouping), the Trout fish will be replaced by a Bass (catch and release) and the shooting of  Grey-wing Francolin will be replaced by shooting clay pigeons (electronic laser system). All three disciplines still to be completed in 12 hours. The event being a prestigious one, only corporate team winners and second place winners will be eligible for the Clarens Macnollie Trophy and Macnollie Shield respectively. Our main sponsor NISSAN Betlehem, NISSAN Welkom and UD Truck Division Welkom challenges you to the Macnollie. Click here for the NISSAN challenge invitation. For any inquiries contact Johann Lehman on 083 447 9925 or email spf@macnollie.co.za  or visit their website: www.macnollie.co.za.  All funds rasied will go to the SPF.(Sector Police Forum)

Afriski – Lesotho
July 11 – July 14
A ski slalom and giant slalom race 4 children , juniors, seniors and masters. For accomodation and details contact Stephan at Gone skiing 0861754669
Ski racing is a fun way to improve your skiing.
BUT WHY WAIT until then to visit Afriski, when you can have fun in the snow NOW.  Phone Dean of Maluti Footprints: 072 133 9615/082 921 3894 to arrange a trip in the Maluti Footprints bus (which is equipped with snow chains, a satellite phone and all the necessities (including back-up) to ensure you get there and back safely.   Should you wish to drive there yourself please be advised that the Lesotho Traffic Department requires that each vehicle has two triangles and one fire extinguisher. You are also advised to check the road conditions before you go:  ice covered roads can be hazardous.
Remember to bring your passport.