Cheers to a good friend in quaint Kaapsche Hoop, Newsline


WE WERE still well within the Tshwane District boundary when I spotted the first juggernaut rumbling along in the opposite lane of the N4.

Different context, I know, but I immediately thought of that anti-Ku Klux Klan song that Joan Baez sang at Woodstock, Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man.

There were many more trucks to come when we were on our way to the tiny and scenic village of Kaapsche Hoop in Mpumalanga to take in some country air… and some ale.

We went there along with friends, sisters Minky and Pinki Wessels, with Minky doing the driving. I get a shiver down my spine whenever I see these huge lorries hurtling down towards the vehicle I’m in. Of course, they perform a key role in keeping the country’s economy going and there seem to be more and more of them, but hey…

I remember when I lived in rural Sussex in England some years ago, there was always this debate going on about the issue of trucks. “Freight on rail and keep death off our roads,” was the main debating point of numerous parish council meetings I covered.

Anyway, to get back to our Mpumalanga trip, a friend and former colleague of mine of many years ago, De Wet Potgieter, moved to Kaapsche Hoop recently. Upon leaving the somewhat stressful world of journalism earlier this year, he decided to pursue his other dream – opening a rural pub.

This happened about three weeks or so ago in Kaapsche Hoop and, in keeping with his antecedents, he dubbed it Nagkantoor. Nagkantoor refers to what is essentially the late-night newsroom where the front four or five pages of the following day’s newspaper are produced.

It’s usually staffed by seasoned journalists, including the sub-species called sub-editors, the ones who design and lay out the pages and check the copy for grammatical and spelling errors. They also have to, invariably, cut the volume of wordage to make the copy fit into the space allocated for the story.

As such, the subs are often not the most popular of people among reporters, as no one enjoys having their purple prose hacked.

Having been both a reporter and a sub in my time, I understand the point of view of both sides.

The worst is, of course, when a sub errs when he or she tampers with the prose and especially, heaven forbid, when an error is made in the headline. Once again, it’s a case of mea culpa here and, man, whenever there’s a time that you want the Earth to swallow you up, this is it.

Funny how the following day, the very first thing you spot upon unfolding your newspaper is the error in question. “How in heck’s name (and that’s putting it mildly) did I miss that,” is invariably the first reaction when the self-flagellation commences.

Nagkantoor is situated in the aptly named Kantoor Street. It’s early days yet but it’s already buzzing with plenty of locals and visitors – mostly from Gauteng – rolling up to sample the variety of liquid refreshments on offer.

Other than the bar area, there is also a lounge with easy chairs and a sofa, along with a TV on which the Bulls-Sharks match was shown. Kaapsche Hoop also has a number of craft shops with pottery, art and glasswork available. The village is, of course, well known for the wild horses roaming around freely.

Alita is also involved in the Scootours business, which involves hiring a scooter and freewheeling along a path down the scenic mountainside.

So, thanks De Wet and Alita… here’s to more power to your elbow for the years of pouring – and scooting – ahead. Cheers!