Enjoying day 7 Covid-19 lockdown – Thursday

On the last day of the first week of the first Covid-19 lockdown my Lovey and I went for a game drive to our local water hole after lunch. We saw a duck, pheasant, hippo, buffalo, and more.
It reminded me of our last trip to Kgaligadi in 2016, especially the 14th Borehole near Mata Mata. What a place.
Full of life but silence too.
Pauses, when ostensibly nothing is happening (sound familiar?), but actually a myriad of life is buzzing, being and watching. How I would love to be there right now. Flask of tea or coffee and rusks with a back-up beer and biltong in the fridge. Absolute bliss. Taking pictures of big and small. Getting a good picture of a bird in that light is inordinately difficult, although the birdlife is astounding in variety and numbers. If you have never been to the Kalahari that is perhaps what will surprise you the most.
In the evening the antics of the meerkats and mongooses will give you joy. They are so busy living.
There is time to take out your sketchbook, but no time to get that picture when a cheetah suddenly bounds past your car intent on supper. First a blur, then a cloud of dust.
On a completely different note, if your car is gathering dust during the lockdown you should take a few simple precautions to keep it happy and purring. It is a good idea to drive it even a few metres and turn the steering wheel this way and that, apply the brakes and so on. Just get everything working including the tyres. If it is going to stand a while disconnect the black electrode or terminal of the battery making sure it does not touch any metal parts. Modern cars never completely switch off unless the battery is disconnected. Protect the inside with sunshades or cloth and leave a window or two about a cm open, if safe and practical. Find out now already who has jumper cables and knows how to use them.
Tomorrow, Friday 3 April we start week two of the lockdown. Some experts say it is the most dangerous week. Stay home folks, especially if you have a lung issue or any other medical condition.
Gesundheit!

Staying In – Siege Day 4

Jacob was right all along – a good wash or shower will wash away all your problems. The WHO says so. Remember that incident between our ex pres and the daughter of a friend. Old showerhead has had the last laugh. That military doctor of his and Shabir is a bit of a miracle worker. Just look how long the Shaik has survived past his best before date and how sick our friend Jacob was just the other day and how good he is feeling now. That doctor should be put in control of our national coronavirus efforts. We will all live to a ripe old age.
Speaking of which.
This enforced practice for retirement is showing me just how difficult it is being old. My dad, bless his soul, always said being old is not for sissies. You were so right dad. I am so glad you could enjoy the garden right up to a few months before the end.
We began our day, Lovey and I, at the Café Sombrero sitting partially in the sun and enjoying the garden, the mealiepap (with honey, cinnamon, butter and milk) and the coffee and Kani Bran rusks. Excellent way to start the day. We topped it with a little stroll through the garden, picking some lemons along the way. Not a bad start to a Monday morning.
I have not checked the latest Covid-19 news and stats yet (never mind the Rand). That is all too real. The enormity of the situation only hit home last night. A bit of a slow learner you might say. Its just that although you know the theory – it is different in life. So, slightly sober this morning. We so love to look at the negative we often miss the bright side. It seems 90% + have light symptoms and recover fully. Our chances are actually quite good to make it through this. The glass is nine tenths full. Just don’t spill it or knock it over. And do not kick it.
I am loving the sounds of the children on their bikes and Mr D our trustee in charge of the watering busy with the sprinklers and struggling with a recalcitrant pump. I think that was a Spanish word or two I heard. The pleasant sounds of life.
Not hearing the cars and trucks going past is blissful.
Enjoy the peace while it lasts.
Viva Café Sombrero!

Staying Alive – Day three of Covid-19 lockdown #1

It’s proving to be a long start of a really long weekend. Peaceful, “rustig”, pleasant and relaxing it has been so far, but… for how long?
A cool breeze is pointing to the possible early onset of autumn here in the Cape. We were all hoping the warmer temperatures would chop the virus off at its suckers as was suggested early on in the episode. Not so sure about that any more.
Our garden is looking really good except for the patches of grass where the nineteen guinea fowl who reside with us in the complex have been decimating the lawn. My neighbour above me has had enough. Yesterday he grabbed a red towel and in his pj’s charged them like a matador. Confusion was the order of the day. They slipped back while we weren’t looking though. Tough fowls, these. Real survivors. I see a duel developing. With very fit guineas and a very fit neighbour.
My Lovey is spending a lot of time on her phone. This led me to think, what would we have done pre smartphone? The radio would have been on all day and we would have been on our phones whether cellular or landline talking to people, hearing their voices feeling their emotions. Now we seem more cut off than ever, as if it is a Survivor Virus reality type show. Don’t you feel its all a little surreal? Even dreamlike? As if we all discovered magic mushrooms at the same time. I find communicating via text is just not the same as talking to someone. Just chatting.
Lovey and I have just come back from a walk around the complex gardens which are quite spacious as the developer was generous with the space between buildings back in the day 30 years ago. We met a neighbour jogging and exchanged pleasantries at the two metre gap as required and chatted to another neighbour who was sitting in the sun reading. A real village feeling. A lucky village, as we have enough space, fair security and it is well kept.
On day three; puzzle number two. It is a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle of a dachshund. At least we know all the pieces are in play.
We have an issue with tiny ants which invade our house before rains or when their moisture in the air. Nothing is sacrosanct. As a result we now have ant flavoured cookies amongst other ant infused delicasies in the house. It s an acquired taste, but interesting. Wonder if this is a business opportunity. Ant infused gin. I mean, you can infuse gin with anything these days and make a buck.
Hang in there.

Running home – Day two of siege

Running home – Day two of siege

Made it painlessly through day one of the first SA Covid-19 lockdown. I expected the country to do it (easily) as we are experienced in stay-aways and strikes. Should have been a piece of cake. And it was, except for a few contrarian hold outs in traditionally revolutionary areas. Viva! Viva? Mmmm.

Looking back to Thursday and my experience of it, is interesting.

It hit me at about lunchtime on L-Day -1 that I could be short of my most important meds. We charged down to Clicks and Tops. My wife to find out about a Flu jab and me to stock up on a whisky, a couple of shumba quarts and a box of the sweet pink stuff for my Lovey. Mission possible, even went for a de-fleecing at my barber.

On the way back from filling up our water bottles at Oasis we noticed crowds of people queing up to get into the cash and carry. More than a hundred people with absolutely no social distancing whatsoever.

Really?

My Lovey was given a thousand piece puzzle of a typical Parisian street scene, complete with paintings on easels etc. We launched into the build with great enthusiasm. It is fun to build a puzzle together. Until you realise the reason the puzzle was given to you is that at least 10% of the pieces are missing. Bummer. So watched a bit of Bourne Supremacy for a while. For the third time, I think. The thing is the basic plot is good and the execution brilliant, both the acting and the cinematography is top class. I see all sorts of detail on the second and third viewing. Respect.

Speaking of viewing. Some of our local coverage of the whole “gedoente” is more than a little dodgy. Can our editors not train the junior reporters a bit before sending them out? As for the editing and programme construction. The less said the better. Some of the reportage is very good. Daily Maverick is doing an astounding job. They are curating the flow so as not to inundate the reader. That is good news management.

I did my parkrun 5 km this morning round and round the outer perimeter of our complex, on the inside if you know what I mean. A bit slower than I thought though. Strava does not lie. All of 36 minutes later I staggered into the flat for my second cup of Antigua French Roast. What a reward.

I decide mealiepap was just the thing for breakfast. Last week I had bought a packet of mealiemeal at Pick n Pay. A house brand of theirs called Livewell. I liked the packaging. Now I really should not be swayed by pack design. I have a degree in communication science and supposedly know all about the influence of design, packaging, colour on consumer behaviour, or should. No different to Iwisa. Dollied it up with a blob of butter and squirt of honey. Best survival food ever.

Its just as quiet here this morning as yesterday was. There is quite a plump cloud over the Dome of the Helderberg and a gentle breeze cooling the morning down. The doves are cooing and every now and then you hear the flutter of their wings. I am loving it.

I feel so sorry for the 1170 who have tested positive and their loved ones. With over 28 000 tests done so far it seems we are still below the curve.

Hope it stays that way.

#parkrun #root44

VW Polo GTi

An amazing pocket rocket has just been launched.
Volkswagen call it the Polo GTi.

A few months ago we reported about the Mazda MX-5 and how it had a grin factor. You just can’t help grinning while driving it. Well, this new VW Polo GTi also has a huge grin factor. It has four modes, eco, normal, sport and individual, which lets you fiddle a bit with the settings. Put it into sport mode and the GTi snorts, howls, growls and puts you into grin mode. Only beware, the fuel consumption will soar.

Polo GTI is powered by a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine with 147 kW and 320 Nm of torque like its bigger sister the Golf, but detuned in the Polo.

VW Polo GTi

This means the Polo GTI will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 237 km/h. Fuel consumption is claimed by VW to be 5.9 L/100 km. From my experience with the car you will battle to get that figure. Depending on how much grinning you do your Polo will sip or guzzle. With enthusiastic driving expect around 9 L/100km or more.

The standard Polo GTI has sport suspension as standard but can be equipped with Sport Select suspension with active dampers as a quite expensive option.
Needless to say this little car is a gem to drive. Just the thing for a wealthy car enthusiast.

The interior is finished in either black, red, grey or chrome. Titan black accents are used to finish off the interior. The dashboard panel can be ordered in Deep Iron Metallic or Velvet Red as tested. Typical red GTI stitching is seen on the leather multifunction steering wheel, gear lever, floor mats and outer seat surfaces although the car we tested had grey stitching on the seats. The seats with the red trim costs R9 850 extra, but they are heated.

The cabin of the Polo GTi is pretty awesome and seriously well thought out with good ergonomics, and it appears really well put together. The chunky multifunction steering wheel is flat at the bottom and almost oval giving the car even more of a sporty feel. The new design and layout of the controls on the wheel and the paddles just behind the wheel are the best I have yet used. Very close to being a piece of art.

The seats are comfortable and supportive.

In a nutshell, a cosy, comfortable, classy, compact cabin.

The GTi is offered with a myriad of options, including:
Volkswagens’ latest Active Info Display. The high-resolution, 10.25-inch display can be adjusted using the ‘View’ button on the steering wheel or further configured via the standard 8.0-inch Composition Media infotainment system.
The panoramic sunroof is great, if a little pricey.

The advanced safety package which consists of parallel park assist, park distance control, rear view camera, blind spot detection and electric folding mirrors at a cost of R11 850.

You do not need a GTi, Polo or Golf, it has much more ability than you need for everyday motoring, but if you want a small high performance car, because you want one, the Polo ticks quite a few boxes, provided you do not have a large family, as it is on the compact side. It really is fun to drive… even slowly.

Pricing for the bog standard VW Polo GTI is R375 900. The example we drove is quite fancy and costs a little more, R423 900 according to the online configurator.

Additional items fitted to the car as tested: Metallic paint R950, Navigation with mapcare R12 150, Active info display R8 650, Park distance control R3 150, Light and vision pack R3 850, Luxury pack R8 650, Panoramic sunroof R10 550.
The option list is longer.

The new Polo GTI comes standard with a 3-year/120 000 km warranty, 3-year/45 000 km service plan and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.

Some alternatives will be the Mazda MX-5, Audi A1, Opel Adam, Abarth 595, Mini Cooper or Renault Clio RS.

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 Summit AT

I first drove the bigger 4×4 Suzuki, the Grand Vitara, at the Bass Lake 4×4 off-road academy.

It was a case of: Love at first obstacle. The car is just so impressive off-road.

I loved the Grand Vitara so much I bought one for my wife. A bit like the guy who bought his wife a power drill.

Fortunately my wife loves the car as well, preferring to use the GV even in town.

Suzuki Grand Vitara near the Caledon Wind Farm

Australia’s caradvice.com says: “ small-budget, mid-sized SUV practicality with big off-roading capabilities… best dual-purpose 4×4 SUV. ”

That about sums it up. I would add that it has a sort of old school charm.

Its three big selling points are:

off-road performance,

car like size and handling in town and

excellent price.

It is a neat looking slightly boxy SUV. The Summit model comes with 225/60 R18 road orientated tyres which look good in town, but I would have preferred 65R17 ATs. The gearbox in the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a brilliant 4 mode full low range 4×4 unit which reminds one of the Pajero.

Ground clearance is 200mm, but you can add 40mm spacers and arrival and departure angles are good. So although the normally aspirated petrol engine only delivers 122kW and 225Nm, the kerb weight of 1670kg, shortish wheelbase, giving a good breakover angle, and gearing allows you to go anywhere effortlessly whether cruising on the highway or crawling up a rocky Richtersveld track.

Sand is a breeze. I have never felt the engine is a bit ‘pap’ or experienced a situation where the car has not had enough power. This includes a trip up to Kgalagadi drving on their 4×4 dune crossing trails.

Suzuki Grand Vitara Summit at the Tesselaarsdal junction.

Expect fuel consumption around the 11 litre per kilometre mark, dropping slightly on the open road.
In town it is as nippy as a small sedan, but with the added convenience of the height. It really is easy to drive and park. The boot is not very big when the rear bench seat is up but in the real world I found I always had enough space. When my wife and I go on long camping trips we take out either both rear seats or one of them (it has a 40/60 split) which gives you plenty of space.

Visibility forward and to the rear is clear and superb. The seats are comfortable and the driving position excellent. While the interior is not as good or modern as the Mazda CX-5 for example, it is functional and well put together. The rear parking camera is useful.

The Grand Vitara is big enough for 4 adults to tour in comfort.

It is a genuine 4×4 with a full low range transfer case. All the other vehicles of its size and price offer at best all wheel drive in normal high ratio only. The Grand Vitara has no direct competitor, but the two closest alternatives are the Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero SWB.

The GV model range starts atR369 900. Click here for prices and specs.

The model as tested, the top of the range Summit 2.4 A, is a very affordable R459 900.

The Grand Vitara is one of those models which should sell much better than it does. It is really far country capable but wieldy and small enough to be city friendly.

This Suzuki comes with a 6 year or 90 000km service plan and a 3 year or 100 000km warranty.

Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC MIVEC review

The new Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC MIVEC is quite a car.

Some will say it is a kind of weired looking bakkie, but I think its an SUV with an open boot. It drives like a car but carries like a bakkie.

Mitsubishi Triton DC

Look past the exterior with its pronounced J-line and get into the cabin. It is a different world. You can see they have borrowed a number of Pajero bits and pieces, but that’s a good thing.

Mitsubishi Triton dash

The driver’s seat is sublime, best in a bakkie, ever. Not only beause it is 5-way electrically adjustable and leather covered, it is just so comfortable, firm, gives good lumbar support and nestles you just so. Apleasure to sit in. The front passenger seat is as good, only manually adjusted.

The rear bench seat is also better than previoius bakkie benches, partly because it is not as upright as others and also has a better slab.

These bakkies drive well. Handling and roadholding, especially on gravel is exemplary. Power delivery is rated at 133 kW at 3 500 rpm with torque peaking at 430 Nm at 2 500 rpm. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 7.6 litres per 100 km in a combined cycle. I only managed 11.2 litres/100km.

“From the onset, the brief to designers and engineers was to maintain the essence of the Triton, but also to improve on aspects of ride, handling and comfort to create a truly SUV-like experience from behind the wheel. The team has certainly complied and has earned the new Triton the signature of Sport Utility Truck among owners, dealers and within the company,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager at Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.

A range of dynamic safety systems are available on the Triton. On the double-cab versions, Mitsubishi engineers have added its proprietary ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control) system, which modulates both braking and engine power to maintain the chosen driving line in slippery conditions. The range comes standard with ABS and EBD as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA).

The Super-Select II  4×4 system offers the driver the choice of four distinct driving modes from a console-mounted selector. In AWD mode a 40:60 power split used.

“Many offroad-enabled vehicles offer the option of 4×2, 4×4 and 4×4 low range when selecting a mode for your current driving conditions. With Super-Select II, the driver is given the option of a high-speed 4×4 driving mode where the power delivery between the front and rear wheels is distributed in such a way to make gravel and wet road travelling safer,” says Campbell. This system really works well. The pride and joy of Mitsubishi.

There are four doubls cab versions in 4×2, 4×4, manual or auto.

If you are looking for an elegant cabin, handling of an SUV, but the practicality of a bakkie this Triton could be just the thing for you. An important point is that it is not as big as the big bakkies like Amarok or the Ranger which do not fit in everywhere.

If more people were aware just how good this bakkie is it would be selling thousands every month.

The Triton Double Cab starting price is R479 900 and all models come with a 5-year/90 000km service plan and
3-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty. The one to get is the 2.4 Di-D 4×4 automatic at R559 900.