Archive for May, 2016

Ballooning at 40

Posted: May 28, 2016 in Family
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Nicole wanted an experience rather than a present for her 40th… So I figured, I know exactly what to do. 

Air Ventures meets at Kloofzicht in Muldersdrift. An early start had us arriving there at 05:30, being greeted by friendly staff with coffee at hand. About 20 very excited people, families and couples, piled into the transport vehicles and off we went to the field … 

2 massive balloons lay in their side, with the seemingly small baskets dwarfed alongside them. 


The hot air started pumping into the balloon, expanded it…. 


.. And finally majestically rising up… 

Both balloons finally up and ready, we boarded.. Each basket contained 4 compartments for passengers, with the middle section allocated for the pilot and 4 huge gas cylinders. 
With bursts  of 1500 degrees Celcius flames, we began our ascent. 


Catching the air currents, our pilot made his way to the gorge, explaining that the cold air flowing down there will push us through at a decent speed… Very interesting watching how he assessed the currents, at times dropping us just above ground level.. Heading into the gorge, we were blessed with a beautiful sunrise 


And then we ascended to 5500 feet above sea level 


Making our way back was entertaining.. Having no control over the direction, our pilot kept directing the ground crew to where he estimated he could land, a few times having them turning them around , then back again… 

We landed very gently on a field nearby Kloofzicht, and when the ground crew arrived, he had 2 people from each side of the basket climb out.. Nothing happened.. Then 1 more each side, and we began to ascend, and landed perfectly onto the trailer. 


Ended the flight, we had champagne and orange juice


Before being whisked away to an amazing breakfast. 

What an unforgettable experience !!

And to wrap up the morning, we each received certificates having “the courage to defy gravity and soar above the earth in a hot air balloon , the oldest form of flight know to man” 


Farewell to a gentleman

Posted: May 4, 2016 in Masonic, Poem

Today was a very somber day indeed. It was one where I said goodbye to a dear friend, Brother and mentor. 

The very first Lodge I visited after being initiated into Freemasonry, 11 years ago, was Phoenix Lodge.  My Father-in-law, Keith, (and my proposer) was a long standing visitor of Phoenix and had become very good friends with the Brethren there.  Whilst being introduced to the various Brethren, I met an extraordinary man that evening. An average sized man who projected a presence that seemed to attract the attention of all the Brethren. With a kind friendly face, silver hair, and welcoming demeanour, he walked to me and introduced himself. Little did I know then, the role Worshipful Brother John Malone would play in my Masonic journey.  

Every month from then on, I visited Phoenix Lodge, and eventually had the honour of being made a Star Boarder. Being a close friend of Keith’s, he naturally took over as my mentor and guide in Masonry when Keith passed on, and stood by my side through my Second Degree and becoming a Master Mason. The following few years went by very fast, with John always being around, offering words of wisdom and advice, both from a Masonic perspective as well as a personal one. 

Now, when a Mason is installed as the Worshipful Master of his Lodge, he would generally have three masons who played an important role in his life, to present the 3 respective Working Tools. When I asked John to present the 3rd Degree Working Tools, he was thrilled and immediately agreed to do so. 

Hearing the news of John’s death, hit me very hard. There are very few people that have played such an important role in my life,  and John was one of them.  

His funeral was surreal, with a large contingent of Masons all expressing their grief, and recalling their respective memories of John. And every single one, including myself, all agree on his most dominating quality. 

John was a true gentleman! No matter what was happening in his life at the time, he stood upright, always smiled and shook the hand of everyone he met, and offered anecdotes of advice for every situation. John shows the ultimate respect for everyone he met, never had a negative word to say of anyone, and even in the moments before Phoenix Lodge shut its doors in South Africa, and their charter moved to Mauritius, he remained positive for his Brethren. 

I recall one time I visited him in ICU, after being knocked of his motorbike, he just smiled at me, laughed at himself and proceeded to help me with my Masonic workings.  To me, I’ve always had the impression John’s sole purpose in life was to project a positive image to others, to uplift his fellow man.  

So today, I said goodbye to a gentleman, scholar, friend and Brother, and wished him well on his journey to the Grand Lodge above. Masonry, and my world, will not be the same.  


I came across a beautiful poem, which I feel is fitting to share

By Brother David Barker(1924) 

Brethren of our mystic order,

 Bound together by a tie,

Olden, sacred and enduring,

Come and see a Craftsman die.

Watch like angels round my pillow,

Till the ransomed spirit flies

To its Excellent Grand Master,

In His Lodge above the skies.

Oft we’ve met upon the Level,

Let us part upon the Square —

Perfect Ashlers in the temple,

May we meet together there.

Let no stranger’s hand entomb me

Underneath the tufted sod,

None except a brother Mason

Should consign my dust to God.

Heave no formal sigh of sorrow

O’er the ashes of the dead,

Only plant the priceless symbol,

Freshly blooming at my head.

When death’s gavel sound shall call you

Off from Labor unto rest,

May you, Craftsmen, find Refreshment

In the mansions of the blest.