Tag Archives: book

A little Arctic Adventure

Sitting on the Inlandsbanan somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Swedish Lapland and heading south, I am saving my legs a good thousand kilometers of riding through forest and wilderness. A pity perhaps, but sometimes time, although elastic, is of the essence and choices have to be made.

Inlandsbanan in Gällivare

Crossing the Arctic Circle

But let me start at the beginning – of which I’m not exactly sure where to find it. Where did the idea come from to start the northern section of my European bicycle adventure in Tromsø, the so-called Paris of the north? I think it had to do with a book, as usual. In this case, if I remember correctly, it was one of Judith Herrmann’s short stories that was set in Tromsø in “Nichts als Gespenster” or “Nothing but Ghosts”.


And, I wanted to start at a place north of the arctic circle, from where i had access to the islands of northern Norway, and from where i could reach Kiruna. Because that original plan of riding from Kiruna to Cadiz was still bouncing around in my head.

So at the beginning of August I found myself on a plane from tropical Berlin via cool Oslo to chilly Tromsø – and immediately liked it. I loved exploring the town for a day, finding the treasure trove the Perspectivet Photographic museum is and dodging hordes of German, Dutch and Swiss tourists released from the Hurtigruten Cruiseship. The following day I set off. Around Tromsø island, over the first one of those impressive bridges that link a lot of the northern Norwegian islands, across to Kvaloya. Called it a day early when I came across a most pleasant place to stay, where I was treated to some local Norwegian wisdom and hospitality. And the waffles were just delicious!


An early departure the next morning lead to an hour of heavenly cycling. The sun was out, no cars in sight, just some arctic vegetation, chirpy birds and spectacular views.


Onto the ferry to Senja, which now has become one of my favourite cycling destinations. It just doesn’t get much better. A different, more spectacular view around each corner, blue skies, white beaches, arctic ocean, high cliffs and impressive mountains.


And then, of course, there were the tunnels. Oh my word, the tunnels. Although i was equipped with lights and a reflective vest, although there was a button to push at the entrance, which then would alert drivers to a ‘cyclist in the tunnel’, and although the traffic was minimal and mostly very respectful, i felt my body tense every time I had to enter one of the dark mouths in the mountainside. Some were narrow, others dark and the worst went uphill for two kilometres at 8%! But they say it’s good to face your demons and challenge yourself at times…

Tunnel vision

The reward – a sunny evening in picturesque Gryllefjord.


Thank you Senja!

Finally done and dusted…

Peppertreechronicles proudly presents:

The HEALING RHINOS AND OTHER SOULS audiobook!

Experiment/adventure/challenge #1 for this year has been concluded! And after much sweat and tears this labour of love is ready to hit the shelves…


Hardcopies are 100% locally produced and available on CD in MP3 or Audio-Format.


To make the 2 MP3-CDs presentable was relatively easy, but what challenge to find a way to package the 8 CDs in audio-format!


I count myself extremely fortunate to have found a superb co-narrator with exactly the right voice to read Walter’s part and an exceptinally professional producer who was prepared to put excessive amounts of time and effort into this production.

 A HUGE THANK YOU TO BOKKIE -THE VOICE-


and to FARAI from CABIN AUDIO in Prince Albert.

And now? What’s next?

I’m still not 100% sure how to go about the digital publishing. ACX seem out of bounds at the moment, since they are only available to authors in the US and UK – and more recently apparently in Ireland and Canada.

Does anyone have any experience with Author’s Republic or any other audiobook distribution site?

What do you think of perhaps serializing or podcasting the book?

I have heard (thank you Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn!) that some more changes are expected in the audiobook publishing scene?! And I am a little reluctant to sign up with anybody for 7 years, it seems a terribly long time. Any thoughts on that?

Let me know what you think! Would love to hear from you!

Adventure #1:The Idea

***Release “Healing Rhinos and Other Souls – The Extraordinary Fortunes of a Bushveld Vet” as Podcast and Audio book. (Just let it go! It’s been ready for a while, but my old friends, Ms Perfectionism and Ms Procrastination interfered… )***

audio-chair

How are ideas born? Where do they come from? Why do they sometimes linger for a while, before they raise their heads and demand attention? Do they have a life of their own?

Where exactly the idea came from to experiment with audio books and podcasts, I don’t know. However, once that it was there, it seemed obvious that “Healing Rhinos and Other Souls” would be the perfect starting point. But how to go about it?

‘Things will happen when the time is right,’ my magic life-coach friend said and, as usual, she was right. After pondering for a while, things suddenly started to happen. Bokkie Botha, whom we’d later just call ‘The Voice’ kindly volunteered to read the parts of the book written from Walter Eschenburg’s point of view. The narrator’s voice, I felt, I could do myself, for better or for worse.bokkieb-1

The Voice – Bokkie Botha (©James Botha)

But where and how to do the recordings? Turns out that Farai Bloemendal aka ‘Farai the Producer’ has set up shop in town recently and is running a small but very professional recording studio. Wow! When the time is right…

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‘Farai the Producer’

A huge thank you here to Bokkie and Farai!

Things were running smoothly and production was nearly done, when we hit a serious roadblock. I had read the small print of the “Audiobook Creation Exchange” before, or so I’d thought, but somehow it had slipped my eye that in order to use their services, one needed to be a resident with an address and a bank account either in the US or UK. Dismay! How could I have missed that? And now what?

Ms Procrastination was celebrating, while Ms Perfectionism just said, “Perhaps it’s a good thing, after all you are not a professional narrator, and it’s not perfect!”

Ms Pragmatic replied, “Mmm, but what about the time? The money? The effort? The favours?”

I remember lying on the sofa, listening to this conversation in my head. “Hey, what about me, I really like it! And I want it published!”

“Do you? Although it’s not perfect?”

“Yes! It may not be perfect, but we all gave it our best! And after all it’s a memoir, and a personal book and I think people will just love Bokkie’s voice, and…”

More pondering and wondering followed.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea: Why not publish it as a podcast, serialize it, one chapter at a time!”

“Good plan; then people can listen to it for free , and maybe that’s a good thing? Then you don’t have to worry so much about it being perfect!” says Mrs Pragmatic

“Yes, and also remember, what you give is what you get,” I hear my magic life coach friend chip in, “you never know what kind of wonderful magic you are going to release.”

“Ms Pragmatic, now it’s your turn to find out how to go about it! Soundcloud, itunes, youtube…”

“Ok, Ms Procrastination, I’ll do that. Can’t be that difficult, we’ll start in the New Year…”

“And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect… Just give it your best!”

“yaa, but…”



P.S. Progress report to follow soon

A Serious Sense of Humour

Willem’s expression suddenly changed. ‘Walter, Walter, die ding word wakker! – She is waking up!’ There was more than a little panic in his voice. The truck just carried on slowly, the driver completely oblivious to what was happening behind him. From Walter’s vantage point, things looked quite safe, so he leaned out of his bakkie’s window and shouted back,

‘Hold on Willem, it’s not far now, hold tight!’ hoping this would do. …

To his delight and Willem’s dismay, he then watched how the elephant began exploring. She didn’t move anything but her trunk, but with that she began feeling Willem from top to toe. And then – Walter couldn’t believe his eyes and at that moment he really felt for his friend – she ventured with her trunk up Willem’s leg and inside his short blue shorts.

Walterrrrr, sy word wakkerrrrrrr! – she is waking up!’

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More about inquisitive elephants and other creatures with a serious sense of humour on page 199 ff of Healing Rhinos and Other Souls 🙂

 

Giraffes …

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‘Mr Eschenburg? It looks like both tendons are torn,’ the specialist remarked. ‘You should have come earlier… How did you manage to do this anyway?’
‘I was running through the veld after a giraffe and I stepped into a hole.’
The doctor laughed politely. ‘No, I actually need to know what really happened.’
‘Ja, well, giraffes are dangerous animals,’ Walter grinned. ‘How long, Doc, before I can use this blerry foot again?’
‘At least three months.’ The doctor shook his head. He’d had stubborn patients before.

Three months! But there was no other option. However, it would take more than a foot in plaster to stop Walter from tending to his business – and more giraffes…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

‘Healing Rhinos and Other Souls – The Extraordinary Fortunes of a Bushveld Vet’ is turning 1 this month!

Times really fly – and what a journey it has been… To many more exciting years and happy readers 😉

Thank you everybody for your support!

the book_3d

Healing Rhinos and Other Souls tells the story of a much respected if unorthodox vet, a family man who loved and understood nature and all her creatures, a reluctant businessman, a somewhat exuberant driver, a humble person, a great storyteller and a wonderful friend to many.

For nearly fifty years Walter Eschenburg lived and worked as a pioneering wildlife vet in the South African bushveld with its many animals and a host of weird and wonderful people. After a childhood spent in a German castle during the Second World War, a harrowing escape from the Russian army and a sequence of bold moves and fortunate circumstances, it is here, against the backdrop of the harsh but beautiful landscapes of the Waterberg, that Walter comes into his own and develops into a seasoned vet. He encounters charging rhinos, tame buffalo, irate cows and angry giraffes; he deals with snakes and warthogs, amorous elephants, cats, dogs and donkeys. He treats his patients with compassion and kindness, and his clients with large doses of humour.

Healing Rhinos and Other Souls is a story of love and life; of nature and adventures; of humour, passion and understanding. It is a story about a man who was simply himself all his life, the story of a life well lived.

Enjoy!!!

Where would you go?

Where would you go if you could travel for a year, if you could choose twelve destinations anywhere in the world to spend a month in each?

Sidney, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Shanghai, Honolulu, San Francisco, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Addis Ababa, Havana?

I have been ruminating about the twelve destinations ever since reading Meike Winnemuth’s book, “Das Grosse Los” (which unfortunately has not yet been translated into English). A 50 year old journalist from Hamburg, Meike wins half a million Euro in a German version of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’.

IMG-20140919-01164

‘What are you going to do with the money?’ they ask her afterwards.

‘What does the money want from me?’ she wonders. This amount, she feels, is asking her to do something different, something big, something unforgettable.

‘Get out of Germany, go travel for a year and live every month in a different city.’ Twelve months and twelve cities that she always wanted to see, that somehow attracted her, where she’d never spent any real time; not following any logical plans, but rather an intuitive choice.

Sidney, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Shanghai, Honolulu, San Francisco, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Addis Ababa, Havana!

An awesome journey, a fabulous read; entertaining and inspiring.

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Where would you go?

Sidney, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Shanghai, Honolulu, San Francisco, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Addis Ababa, Havana?

In no specific order I would say:

Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, New York, Zanzibar, Diego Suarez, Tokyo, Reykjavik, Lisbon, Havana, Budapest, Istanbul and Kinshasa.

Just because.

And if you were to choose islands instead of cities?

Easter Island, Madagascar, Cuba, Kilwa, Iceland, outer Hebrides, Ibo, Azores, St Helena, Tonga, Sao Thome & Principe and Cabo Verde!

Or how about these:

Patagonia, Indian Ocean Islands, Andalucia, Amazonia, the Mississippi, Greenland, the Gobi Desert, the Black Sea, Japan, the Baltic, the Arabian peninsula and Lapland

“Twenty years from now on you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

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Encounters

“I didn’t really lead an exceptional life. I mean, I didn’t invent the light bulb, nor was I ever an explorer and discovered exciting new places, nothing like that – which is what people normally write about.

But maybe there is a theme to my life. My love for nature. I suppose that’s a recurring theme that goes right through, from the early days at Juchow until today. Yes, I suppose you could write about that…”

Walter Eschenburg, May 2009, while recording his memories for “Healing Rhinos and Other Souls”

Perhaps a manifestations of this love for nature was, that Walter enjoyed taking pictures of “All Creatures Great and Small” (Thank you, James Herriot!) he encountered while doing his daily rounds.

For some reason, this habit resonated with me, and stuck. More and more often I find myself taking pictures of ‘encounters’ along the road…

like this leopard tortoise a few days ago

tortoise

Review of “Healing Rhinos…” for the Waterberg Nature Conservancy Newsletter

Richard Wadley has been so kind to include “Healing Rhinos and Other Souls” into the Books section of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy’s website. To have a look, please click here. He has also written a fabulous review for the Waterberg Nature Conservancy’s Newsletter January 2014. For the newsletter, please click here.

Thank you Richard!

Book Review 

Book Title

Healing Rhinos and Other Souls: the Extraordinary Fortunes of a Bushveld Vet,

by Stephanie Rohrbach. Privately published. www.peppertreechronicles.com

Whenever anecdotes about vets are mentioned, people of a certain age are bound to be reminded of the innumerable stories of Alf Wright – alias James Herriot – the author of over 20 books (beginning with “If Only They Could Talk”, in 1970) about sick animals, sick owners and their treatment in the Yorkshire Dales. Personally, I found many of those stories rather contrived, especially after the first couple of volumes, and soon stopped reading them.

Now at last comes a book about the experiences of a vet that not only seem very real, but which are also about the area in which we live – the Waterberg. Healing Rhinos (the title aside), is the wonderful story of the life of a beloved and highly competent, if occasionally unorthodox vet many of us living in and around the Waterberg were fortunate to have known: the late Dr Walter Eschenburg.

Walter was and still is regarded as having been one of those truly exceptional vets, who had an innate empathy for animals big and small, wild or domesticated; who (with few exceptions) almost immediately developed a reassuring communication with them; and who would apply his considerable intellect and veterinary skill to finding solutions to their maladies, using whatever equipment and material he had at his disposal.

But Walter was not only a fine vet. He was a remarkable person too. He loved people (including his delightful wife Topsy and their family), nature, the environment, humour, conversation, problem solving, teaching, story telling – and good food. In some respects, he was too good for his own good, too modest, too self-effacing, and there were those who took advantage of these attributes, failing to pay him for his services.

Stephanie Rohrbach, a qualified vet herself, German-speaking like Walter and an old family friend, set out years ago to capture Walter’s history and his often outrageous, even unlikely, but always amusing stories. Walter knew that his experiences needed to be recorded for posterity and co-operated willingly with Stephanie’s project. The result is this new book, published, sadly, four years after Walter’s premature and unexpected passing.

The content is a blend of first and third person memoirs, cleverly compiled, with an easy flow, if a little repetitive in places. While acknowledging the subject’s few shortcomings, like his difficulty with financial administration and his inability to drive slowly, the book is unashamedly a eulogy to a dear friend.  As the author notes in her foreword, “This is not a work of fiction, nor is it, strictly speaking, a biography. It is a life-story, a memoir, and a collection of anecdotes. It is a story told by many voices, a picture painted with words. It is my picture of Walter”.

It commences with Walter’s childhood, when in 1939, his family unfortunately chose to visit Germany from South Africa for a family reunion – and ended up having to remain there until the end of World War Two. This section offers a fascinating perspective of the conflict through the memories of a child; and his travails provide a glimpse of the strength of character of the man he was to become.

After the family’s safe return to SA, the book moves on to describe Walter’s affinity for animals on his father’s farm on the Highveld, leading to his decision to study veterinary science and to go into private practice. Along the way, he had the great good fortune – he was always saying how fortune smiled on him – to meet and marry Topsy Graham, a beautiful young farmer’s daughter and agricultural college graduate.

Off went the young couple to their first practice, in Potgietersrus (now Mokopane). And then the stories really began: wild Brahman bulls, reprobate buffalo, lucky escapes, inquisitive elephant, failed tranquiliser darts, cows in calf, a confused circus lion – and another that disappeared, escapades in a succession of clapped-out vehicles, unusual house guests, hungry (and other) snakes, ingenious improvisations and more, tumbling off the pages in rapid succession: the best fireside tales ever. Get a life, James Herriot!

The book’s title is misleading: although there are a couple of stories about rhino, there are so many other fascinating and arguably more rewarding tales told in this absorbing, engaging volume it is a pity the author chose the over-used rhino theme to brand her work. Many indeed were the souls – reptilian, avian and mammalian (including human) – that were bolstered, saved or redeemed during the course of this wonderful gentleman’s career and life, aided and abetted by Topsy and his able assistants Paraffin, Flying Machine and George, as they moved first to Naboomspruit (Mookgophong) and later, to Vaalwater.

We can be grateful for the memorable colourful thread Walter Eschenburg wove through the Waterberg tapestry. And we must thank Ms Rohrbach for having brought so many of his entertaining anecdotes together to paint an accurate portrait of his character, for the enjoyment of all of us who love the world he loved.

Richard Wadley