Monthly Archives: October 2016

Back to School

What was I thinking?

Around the middle of 2015 I decided to stop travelling so much and spend my time building a new business here in South Africa.  I left Spencer Stuart in December 2015 and one of my decisions was to get serious credentials as an executive coach.  I’d already started coaching and if you are going to mess with people’s heads, you should have some idea what you’re doing.  I fancy myself as a bit of an intellectual so thinking I’d enjoy an academic programme I applied to do an MPhil, a research based Masters degree, at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.  I must have been mad.

I love the study.  I wondered what it would be like to study again at 50.  It’s not that hard.  By 50 you know how to work and deliver, so assignments are not too bad and as I’m really passionate about the subject, Executive Coaching, I do enjoy the research side of the work.

The problem is the volume.  The volume consumes vast quantities of time.  Take this weekend.  I had to coach yesterday and I badly needed to catch up on some sleep after a busy few weeks of work and competing.  I also have to submit an assignment tomorrow.  So no running, no riding.  And most definitely no social life.  Social life has disappeared from the scene.  Peter supports the study but I think he regrets that we no longer see our friends.  The problem is there is another whole year of this as I have to submit a dissertation next year based on original field research. Yikes.  By the time that’s over I doubt we will have any friends left.  They will have forgotten us.

The mountain is always there.  The flowers change with the seasons; the mountain is immutable.  We run, the dogs and I, through the wind and rain, through the warmth of the late spring sunshine.  Now that this assignment is submitted my challenge and commitment is to run every day for two weeks, to kick up my fitness and shed a pound or two.  And to spend time in the glory of nature, of our fynbos world.

Intermittent running means that although we’ve seen so many flowers the spring winds make them impossible to photograph on some days, so this is a selection of some of my favourites, many of them bulbs, as ever, caught on days that wind rain and light permitted photography.

The first is Moraea collins, I love this delicate salmon pink flower which grows all over the farm.


Another prolific flowering bulb is Aristea africana.  Brilliant flashes of blue line the roads, it seems to like growing in shade and doesn’t mind stoney ground.


Aristea africana

This is Ornithogalum imbricatum.  The pale green colour and delicate shape make it difficult to photograph on bright days – catching it in the shadow here gives you an idea of its delicate nodding flowerhead.


I’m always been enchanted that common garden flowers that I grew up with in Ireland grown wild here on the farm in the Cape.  Helichrysum is to be found on every patio and in every hanging basket in the country, and here it is, Helichrysum dasyanthum, growing all over the place, the grey leaves a perfect setting for its yellow flowers.

This little pea flower only grows on one path and there it is prolific for a spring moment. The flowers can be red or yellow and the distinct leaves lead to identification as Lotonosis, though I am not sure which subspecies.

This Aspalathus cephalotes subspecies obscuriflora flowers every year on the corner of the road that leads from the waterfall to the wier.

Pelargoniums are common here and this captures the most common of them all, none the less delicate and lovely.  Pelargonium myrrhifolium var myrrhifolium.


Exquisite Gladiolus carneus, known as the white Afrikaner, or the painted lady, covers the lands and roadsides in the month of October.