Garden club Christmas party


On Thursday 6 December, 26 members of Aberdeen’s Garden and Social Club got together for a wonderful year-end Christmas lunch at the Aberdeen Club.

The function was organised by outgoing chairlady Estelle van Wyk with David Millar and Meredith Kraut, and the attention to detail that the trio has shown throughout the year was brought to a fitting conclusion with this meticulously-planned event.

Guests were welcomed with a choice of two fruit punches, and Estelle’s festive rustic table decorations were set off beautifully by the black tablecloths. Christmas carols played softly in the background, adding to the atmosphere.

The business part of the event was dealt with swiftly at the beginning, as Estelle gave a summary of events through the year. In her bilingual report, she was proud to add that the club is one of the few that comprises both English – and Afrikaans-speaking members. She was pleased to report that the club is in a healthy financial position, and was able to sponsor the venue hire and meat for the Christmas lunch. After thanking those who had helped her throughout the year, she in turn was thanked for all she has done for the club, and especially for her willingness to step in and take over at the last minute.

As Estelle was not available to stand for 2019, nominations were taken for the post of chairperson, and votes were counted whilst the guests tucked in to the tasty range of starters. It soon became clear that nobody was prepared to take on the reins on their own, so a committee, consisting of Judith Dardis, Jadre Lategan, Marianne Meijer, David Millar, and Sonette Muller, was tasked with combining their skills and energy to produce a programme for 2019. As one member was heard to remark,  ”Estelle will be a hard act to follow”!

Members were treated to little gifts, handmade by Jadre Lategan and Sonette Muller, and some lucky draw prizes were handed out.

The socialising and eating then began in earnest, and the varied selection of meats and salads, followed by festive desserts, reflected both the care in choosing the menu, and the willingness of all members to contribute a specified dish towards the feast.

Planning is already underway for next year’s meetings, with confirmed dates for a visit to the pop-up Ginger Beer Garden restaurant at Aberdeen Self Catering on 17 January, and a farm outing to Oudedrift on 14 February. Prospective members are welcome to contact Judith Dardis on 084 591 7301 for more information.

Revive Aberdeen project

An exciting long-term project is underway in Aberdeen to revive the town and attract visitors to this treasure of architecture and arts and crafts.

The driving force behind it is Aberdonian Roelof van der Merwe, who after many years in the pressured business world in Gauteng has moved back to his family farm in Aberdeen with his wife Lucille. Many local residents already have cause to be thankful for van der Merwe’s foresight in bringing Usave to the town in the restored and renovated Verspreiders building, and early next year the couple will be opening their Varsgepak store, offering an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Revive project is a collaboration between van der Merwe and talented local artist Cornelia Cronje, with strong support and backing from many local businesses and residents. Cornelia first fell in love with Aberdeen ten years ago, and spent many extended holidays here before finally settling in the town just over two years ago. One of her early projects in the town was painting Aberdeen scenes onto metal drums, which were placed as rubbish bins in prominent positions around the town.

The first major project undertaken in this exciting revival has already attracted a great deal of interest in the town. Van der Merwe bought a derelict patch of ground in the centre of town, next to the municipality, directly behind the new Varsgepak store. As this was cleared up, the initial expectation of residents was that it would be just the parking area for the shop, but it has already become so much more, and is now a tourist attraction in its own right.

Cornelia’s daughter Anje, an architecture student at the University of the Free State, is also an exceptionally talented artist. Van der Merwe approached Cornelia and Anje with his idea for an attractive mural on the wall of the parking area, and various ideas for designs showing the heritage of Aberdeen and the farming community were discussed. Anje brought up the idea of an interactive panel, where people actually become part of the artwork. Inspired by a mural used in street art in Penang, Anje composed a design of a Karoo farm boy, complete with veldskoene, squatting down and peering through a magnifying glass. The proportions are such that people can stand next to the wall and appear to be “under” the magnifying glass, and as far as is known, this design is unique in South Africa.

For just over a week at the end of last month, a group of students from Bloemfontein, under Anje’s leadership, spent untold hours creating this masterpiece in the centre of Aberdeen, watched with growing interest by local residents. The image was first projected onto the wall and sketched in place, before the painting could start.  In preparation for the work, Cornelia had spent a total of 72 hours the previous week mixing all the base colours with tints, and this advance work allowed the mural to be painted in sections by different students, with all the skin tones matching.

Various problems were experienced during the painting, mostly relating to the weather. The high daytime temperatures meant that the paint dried very quickly, and to overcome this, the students often worked in the very early mornings or into the night. On one or two days the swirling high winds also blew so much dust around that it was impossible to paint without incorporating some natural Karoo sand!

At the same time that the students were busy, a group of local schoolchildren were creating their own masterpieces under the guidance of Cornelia.  Each of the three primary schools was asked to send three children, identified as artistically talented and showing enthusiasm and commitment -unfortunately due to exams no children from Aberdeen Secondary were able to be part of the team this time. Their project was to repaint some of Cornelia’s original “Aberdeen scenes” rubbish bins which had become faded and damaged over the two years.

On the first day, Cornelia taught the children the basic theory about primary colours and working with tints, and their first task was to clean up the damaged metal drums and add the base coats. Each child artist was given a large blue t-shirt with their name on to use as their overalls, and this helped to create a team spirit amongst the children from the different schools.

For the first drum, the children did not use brushes, but only their fingers, and the resulting colourful creation can now be seen outside Pep Stores, with each child’s handprint on the inside of the drum. On the second day, they were allowed to use brushes, and they created some magnificent designs on the drum that is outside the municipal offices. A third bin will be repainted in January.

This is definitely not going to be a once-off project, and Cornelia’s plan at this stage is to work one afternoon a week with children from each of the schools. Those she has already trained for the first drums will be her assistants, and the plan is to gradually incorporate more children so that they can feel a sense of ownership of the art work, and take pride in their efforts. Her team will also help educate others to respect the work, and already are fiercely protective of the drums.

Whilst all the painting was in progress, MAQ media came to do a video shoot of the art work, as well as most of the Aberdeen small businesses and surrounds, which will be used in a promotional video for the town. MAQ sponsored the camera work, and all the businesses contributed towards other costs.

On the students’ final day in town, a spit braai was held at the Aberdeen Club to thank them for their efforts, and the sponsors for their donations.

Although van der Merwe is responsible for kick-starting the whole Revive Aberdeen initiative, he has received tremendous support, and financial backing, from many local businesses and individuals, interested in promoting the town. He would like to thank the following for donations: Graaff-Reinet Hardware, Build-It, SSK Aberdeen and Colleen Ogilvie for paints and quality brushes; Blue Door B&B for providing free accommodation for the students; Aberdeen VLV, Foodzone, Aberdeen Self Catering and Lucille van der Merwe for daily meals for the students; Hantie Marx, Deli-delicious, Johan Lategan, Christo Lategan and Rabie Gericke for meat; and MAQ, Adri Krige and Andrew Barret for camera work.

Student artists Anje Cronje, Ané Meyer, Lunelle Greyling, Lodewyk Meyer, Rohan Cloete, Altus le Roux and Schalk van der Vyver all gave of their time and talent for free, and a long-term plan in the project is to offer other students the opportunity of a working holiday in the Karoo in the future.

The schoolchildren involved are very proud of their contribution. Niel Pienaar, a teacher at Kamdebo Primary, helped to select those involved, and he confirmed that all three schools are very excited to be part of the project in 2019.

Bambinos party


Aberdeen Bambinos, a child care and education group in Lotusville, Aberdeen, recently celebrated its second birthday, and organisers Jane Saayman and Leonie Bedaar decided to combine this milestone with the children’s Christmas party.

The Aberdeen branch of the WAA has been very involved with the Bambinos, and this year five members of the WAA joined the Bambinos for the Christmas party, which was held under the trees in Jean Watermeyer’s shady garden.  The children, accompanied by their leaders, walked together in a neat crocodile from Lotusville, and were impeccably behaved.

Lea van der Vyver welcomed the children, and explained the programme for the afternoon. The children opened the proceedings by singing the Lord’s Prayer, which was very touching.

A Christmas book, donated by Bargain Books, was handed to each child and Annalie Lategan told the story (in Afrikaans) while the children listened and followed the story in their own books. Although the lift-the-flap book is really designed for younger children, it is in English, which is not the children’s first language, and for many of the children it is the very first book that they have ever owned. There was great excitement as each child very carefully looked behind each flap to see the hidden picture as the story progressed.

Lategan also read the Christmas story from a Children’s Bible.

Afterwards WAA members shared out the beautifully decorated cupcakes they had brought for the appreciative children, and they all enjoyed a slice of the birthday cake baked by Saayman with their cooldrinks.

The Bambinos ladies are very grateful to the WAA for their continued support, both in arranging events and for regular donations of groceries, meat and vegetables for the children. Jean Watermeyer has really been a driving force behind this involvement, and she herself rarely returns from a Graaff-Reinet trip without a boot full of donated yogurts and other almost-expired goods that have generously been donated by Pick n Pay.

According to their constitution, the Bambinos group is not just about feeding the children healthy food, but also aims to promote the importance of education and instil discipline and respect for themselves and others. Several members of the WAA have commented on the excellent behaviour and discipline of the children in the group, and congratulated the leaders on their valuable work.

Found dog reunited with owner


This beautiful friendly little dog, obviously much loved, was found wandering the streets of Aberdeen at the end of last week. A kind soul is currently showering it with love, but somewhere there must be a frantic owner searching for their beloved pet.

The notice above, with a photographer of a little black miniature Yorkie, was posted on the Advertiser’s facebook page last Tuesday morning. Just half an hour later, Aberdeen resident Natasha Groener saw the post, and phoned the contact number that was given. After being given the third degree in security questions to identify that it was really her dog, she was able to collect her beloved Zulu that afternoon.

It appears that Zulu, an “inside” dog, had somehow got out of the house, and wandered off in the direction of Lotusville. He was found by Sr Beulah Vermaak near the Masikhane clinic, who contacted Maureen MacAndrew of the local animal welfare group.  As no reports of a missing dog had come to MacAndrew’s attention, she asked local animal lover David Millar to look after the little dog until his owner could be traced. The dog was wearing a smart harness, and had recently been groomed, so was clearly not a stray.

Millar had some flyers printed, with the dog’s picture but no other identifying details, and was busy distributing them locally when he received the call from Groener. She was very relieved to locate Zulu, and is extremely grateful to all involved in the chain of his care, as well as the Advertiser for posting on facebook.

Although Zulu had been spoiled rotten during his brief holiday weekend, the ecstatic welcome he gave Groener when she went to collect him left no doubt that he was reunited with his rightful owner!

WAA Christmas function at Aalwynhof

The ladies of the Aberdeen branch of the WAA treated residents of Aalwynhof Home for the Aged to a delightful morning of entertainment and treats last Thursday, 29 November.

WAA members Estelle van Wyk and Annalie Lategan read a poem and the Christmas story respectively, and Tiané Lombard shared her magnificent voice, performing two songs. Stalwart Gina de Beer played the piano and led the residents in singing along to old favourites, which is always greatly enjoyed.

Delicious eats prepared by the WAA members and special friends were served with the morning tea, which was a real treat for the Aalwynhof folk and the other invited guests.

After Lea van der Vyver delivered the closing, Frieda Strydom thanked the ladies of the WAA on behalf of the residents. Each resident was given a bookmark and slice of Christmas cake as a parting gift.

APK street sale

Despite the rather wild and windy weather, the APK Street Sale in Aberdeen was a great success, with all the food being sold out.

Customers and the church volunteers were at times almost engulfed in swirling smoke and dust, but this did not deter the hungry customers who were very appreciative of the group’s efforts

Art exhibition and Celebrations at Georg Restaurant


On Saturday 1 December Georg restaurant in Aberdeen celebrated a double event.

The first, in the afternoon, was the opening of the exhibition (Water-) Colours Of The Karoo by Curt Marthezé with 14 exquisite new water colour paintings, beautifully presented in stylish framing by the artist himself.

Curt has drawn pictures and made paintings from an early age, and counts himself as a traditional artist. He still has his first few efforts! He grew up in Windhoek, in the days when it was a small town, and moved to Aberdeen about four years ago. His work was first hung in a public gallery in Graaff-Reinet at the Sense of Place group exhibit in 2016, and later at the same venue as part of an exhibit entitled Colour.

He has had formal training in the past from other artists, and now makes the most of the immeasurable professional and current learning environments online. He is inspired by the small town of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, with the ever-changing subject matter, and loves nothing more than to set up his easel and work in the dusty veld near the mountains.

Curt’s works are enjoying increasing recognition for their vibrant luminous colours and capture of the essence of the unique landscapes and people of the Karoo.

He lives and paints in Aberdeen, painting mostly in plein air. His style is a classic realism with fine detail and a sure sense of colour that catches the essence of the Karoo ingeniously.

The opening was well attended by art lovers from Aberdeen, Graaff Reinet and the wider surrounds, who enjoyed discussing the works with the artist. Two pictures were sold on the same day.

Thereafter Georg celebrated its one year anniversary exactly to the day with a party and live music provided by Ross MacLennan and Georg Ritschl, the owner of the restaurant.

The waiters and kitchen staff excelled themselves throughout the events, keeping the food and drinks flowing.
It turned into a jolly celebration that went on late into the night.



NGK Carol service


Members of the worship group of Graaff-Reinet’s NGK visited Aberdeen and joined the local congregation at the town’s NGK on 25 November for a wonderful evening of Christmas carols and dramatic presentations.

After a short video and song, the Graaff-Reinet group started their performance with a dramatic presentation by Ds Ben van Tonder. His tale of the composition of the much-loved Christmas carol Joy to the World led into a rendering of the carol, with alternate verses in English and Afrikaans.

The Graaff-Reinet group, comprising singers ranging in age from scholars to pensioners, performed in many different combinations, including a men’s choir and ladies’ choir, which added to the interest for the congregation. There were also many opportunities for members of the congregation to join in, which most did with gusto.

A variety of instruments was also used to change the pace and feel, with Ben van Tonder and DJ van Wyk on guitar, and Fredre Lategan on piano. Local organist, the church’s beloved Tineke Anderson, came out of retirement and accompanied a few of the carols, and the versatile DJ van Wyk also strummed away on his ukulele for some items.

In between the familiar popular carols was one composed by the group’s pianist Fredre Lategan, who is originally from Aberdeen. The haunting Maria se Wiegeliede was performed by the ladies in the group.

There were also readings from Aberdeen’s dominee, Abe Beyers, and Dick and Estelle van Vyk.

Near the end of the concert, an Aberdeen choir performed two items, and much credit should be given to Gina de Beer for her perseverance in getting the group together. They performed Silent Night, and a Sotho song, Salani, both of which were very well received.

One tough little hamerkop chick!


A young hamerkop chick, which fell from its nest in the garden of Pagel House last Tuesday, was given over to African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday for further rehabilitation.

The young chick, estimated to be about three weeks old, was found on the ground under the willow tree where the birds nest, after either falling or being pushed out by a sibling. Pagel House owner Lyn Dugmore rescued the young chick, but had no idea what or how to feed it, so quickly sent out messages to everyone she knew who she thought might be able to help.

The first suggestion was Pronutro, but this proved to be very difficult to get down the bird’s throat due to its stickiness- the young chick has no swallowing reflex. She was then put in touch with African Dawn, a bird and wildlife sanctuary at Thornhill, which also caters for bird rehabilitationAn expert talked her through the whole feeding process, including how to hold the chick with its head tipped right back to open the gullet and then push the food down. Lean mince, moistened with water, was the suggested food, or meal worms- Lyn used very finely chopped pieces of kudu steak, which went down a treat!

On Saturday, Lyn was ecstatic as the chick reached its next milestone, when it would take small pieces of meat from her hand. Much as she would have loved to keep the chick to raise herself, she realised that it would not be practical, and on Sunday she bid a sad farewell to young Kopertjie when he was taken to African Dawn, where it will initially spend  some time in quarantine.  In the sanctuary’s 20 years’ existence, it has never had a young hamerkop chick, so staff and volunteers there are very much looking forward to the challenge of rearing the young bird.

Three years ago, the Pagel House hamerkops were also in the news, when a record six young chicks were hatched from a single breeding pair. There were no chicks in the last two years, but Lyn thinks there is at least one other still in the nest now as the parents are active around the nest, bringing food. Normally the young fledglings only leave the nest when they are fully grown, somewhere between 40 and 55 days. Guests at Pagel House mid December may well be in for a treat!

A morning of magic in Nieu Bethesda


A group of enthusiastic members of the Aberdeen Garden and Social Club set off bright and early for Nieu Bethesda last week- so “bright and early” in fact that they actually arrived at their hosts’ home a full hour ahead of schedule!

This was no problem however for Belinda du Toit, and the guests happily looked around her Stoep Retreats property and settled in the garden with drinks while she fetched some delicious freshly- baked bread. Everyone was very keen to sample the bread, which was made from flour that had been stone-ground in the restored mill in the village, using local rainwater.

Her husband Charl, a minister, is involved in many projects in the town, and is passionate about the upliftment of the community. He is an extremely accomplished violinist, having started playing as a young boy, and also has a thriving business restoring violins and making bows. He enthralled the guests with a mesmerising rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, followed by part of the incredible classical masterpiece Czardas. Many of the visitors spent some time examining Charl’s bow in detail, and were fascinated in his description of the personal nature of each performer’s bow, which has to be made to suit the performer’s personality and playing style. An interesting fact that members learned is that wood for violins always comes from regions with a cold climate, as does the horse hair used for the bows. South African horse hair is apparently too thick!

Belinda and Charl were presented with a young lemon tree as a thank-you gift, and this was received with great delight.

After the talk, members made their way to the old mill, which Charl was instrumental in restoring. Work started about four years ago, and now he regularly makes stoneground flour to sell, and for his own bread. After sampling the bread earlier, he had several eager customers for the flour! To demonstrate the working of the mill, Charl first diverted the water to run over the mill, and then showed how the wheat kernels were put through the mill stone several times, to get the texture required. The many pertinent questions that were raised reflected the visitors’ genuine interest in the process.

Members were then free to wander around the town for a while, before meeting up for lunch at Die Waenhuis. A wonderful meal was enjoyed by all, who enjoyed not only the delicious food, but also the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. After many compliments to the chef and staff, it was time to return home, after an outing that most agreed was one of the most fascinating of the year.