Fish Hoek Fires – March 2015

It’s been a torrid three days for the False Bay Valley as fires roared across the mountain ranges.  From Muizenberg to Constantiaberg, from Clovelly to Chapman’s Peak, from Tokai to Hout Bay, massive flames lit up the night sky and a great billowy streak of smoke could be seen from space…

Satellite pic compiled by Peter Johnston

Satellite pic compiled by Peter Johnston

Certainly the worst fires I have ever witnessed in my 32 years in Cape Town. In 2000, there were some pretty intense mountain burns, but these have been worse. Tintswalo Atlantic boutique hotel in Hout Bay was razed and 5 houses were also reported to have severe damage. Residents of Noordhoek Manor were hastily woken in the early hours of yesterday morning and evacuated. They spent last night in various parts of Fish Hoek, some having to camp down at a church hall in the area.

Photographers have been hard at work, capturing magnificent images that caught the ferocity of the flames and the devastation caused. The images tell their own story.

I first saw the fire on Sunday afternoon when I took my brother to the airport. There was a spot on Ou Kaapse Weg and huge flames on the mountain above Stonehurst…

Westlake side of the mountain by Tania Robbertze Sunday afternoon

Photo by Tania Robbertze on Sunday afternoon

By Sunday night it had roared across the Hout Bay Mountain range, becoming an inferno of note, being fanned by a strong south easterly wind.

Photo by Charles Mercer - Hout Bay yacht club Sunday 1st March 2015

Photo by Charles Mercer – Hout Bay yacht club Sunday 1st March 2015

Charles Mercer produced some brilliant images…

Chapmans Peak toll plaza Sunday night Charles Mercer

Chapmans Peak toll plaza Charles Mercer

And so did Gale McAll…

Gale McAll photography



Heroes…Saving tortoises

Gale McAll photography 2Lots and lots of concerned residents took photos..

Lauren du Preez - above Lakeside Sunday night

Photo by Lauren du Preez Above Lakeside

Monday night above Muizenberg…

Photo by Wayne Turner

Photo by Wayne Turner

As night fell last night, Chapman’s Peak lit up and the fire could be seen from far and wide…this is from Kommetjie…

Photo by Sue Zoltner-Forbes -

Photo by Sue Zoltner-Forbes -

Loads of people from the community got involved, including Don Sayers and his family…

Don Sayers and crew

Photo by Don Sayers

Apart from the heat and the smoke, there were some other hazards to be avoided…

Hazards of firefighting - Don Sayers

Photo by Don Sayers

When Ou Kaapse Weg had finally been opened, the magnitude of devastation was clear to see…

Photo by Gavin Finlayson

Photo by Gavin Finlayson

Photo by Gavin Finlayson

Photo by Gavin Finlayson

While loads of photos were taken of the fires, all the time, there were hundreds of unsung heroes…

Volunteer firefightersAnd back at the service centres, were loads of donations of food…

Donations of fruitAnd shifts of volunteers to feed and water everyone…

Kitchen ladiesIt’s amazing what happens when a community gets together and all works towards one common goal – Put out the fire.

Right now it is still burning. Helicopters are still water bombing Chapman’s Peak. Clovelly Mountain is still alight, but over all everything is under control.

THANK YOU to our amazing fire department. THANK YOU too to all those who contributed in some way.

And THANKS be to God for no loss of life and only very minor injuries.

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

Hopefully, the fire will be completely out by tomorrow.

Keep the smile going.

God bless you.

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)

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5 Weeks Later – No Arrests in the Van Breda Murder Case


It’s been 5 weeks since the van Breda family were brutally attacked in their home in a residential golf estate outside Stellenbosch.  Martin and Theresa van Breda and their older son, Rudi, were killed in the attack. There were two survivors, younger son Henri and only daughter, Marli. They have been kept apart since the attack. News reports say Henri is not allowed near the hospital as it may be too traumatic for Marli to see him.  A doctor who examined him said his  injuries were self-inflicted. Police are keeping quiet about what is going on. No arrests have been made and no identikits released. Police also are not saying whether Henri has given an official statement to police.

The biggest loser in this whole dreadful story is Marli. She is in hospital and (according to press reports), under police guard with no visitors allowed. The police are hoping to get a statement from her, but with her not speaking, how long should they wait? While 20 year old, lightly injured Henri gets to stay with family, who are giving them their full support, severely injured 16 year old Marli, doesn’t. I find myself thinking it is more than unfair – it is more than unjust – I am thinking it’s cruel – inhumane even. Everything should be done to provide the greatest emotional support for Marli possible and that includes surrounding her with people who love her the most. She needs her closest remaining family members. She’s been without any loved ones for 6 weeks!  Having said that,  I am sure that, while her uncle or aunts cannot be with her, they are doing everything within their power to ensure she gets the best possible treatment. The investigation is preventing them from being with her, but I don’t think it’s right.

Family spokesperson Ben Rootman says he is hoping there will be a breakthrough in the investigation soon.

In the meantime, on a more positive note, a tree in Stellenbosch has been decorated in honour of Marli. A large Chinese Hackberry tree has been swathed in bright red ribbon. Friends and fellow students write notes to Marli and put them in the folds of the ribbon. Each day they are taken to the hospital. I hope they bring her comfort and understanding that she is much loved and not alone in this ordeal. The tree stands out as a reminder to pray and support Marli…

Marlis tree of rememberanceSources:

The support for Marli comes from near and far. Friends from across the world are looking for news – trying to find out what exactly happened. Answers are not forth-coming right now.

We can only pray for complete healing for Marli, both physically and emotionally.

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

When you think of her, pray for her.

God bless you.

In His Grip,

Helga xx

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Birthday Weekend!

It’s been the big birthday weekend at our house with Mike celebrating his birthday yesterday and David today. Mike chose a new putter. Then the family put money together and bought him a BIG surprise…one that we will all benefit one and which has been hard at work since it was opened yesterday….it’s a Breville espresso machine…

Mikes coffee machineIt makes fabulous cappuccino…

CappuccinoThe weekend was made perfect by having a lot of family around. Julian came from Joburg and Adrian & Stacey came from Swellendam. David hung out at the house for a lot of the time as well. Stacey made an amazing edible chess cake…

Chess cakeI was waiting for my specially made high cocoa, lower carb queen…

Banting queenIt was great. Last night we all went out for dinner and this morning, after church, we all gathered for a big brunch.

Lots of banter, conversation and laughter as well as walking and watching cricket and golf. Stacey and Adrian left after brunch today to return to Swellendam. Julian leaves in a couple of hours while David & Mike have some football to watch.

It was great to have a wonderful,  birthday weekend surrounded by family. That was the most fun part of all.

We, each of us, are so multi-faceted…made up of our physical lives,  our health, our exercise; we’re made up of our emotions and mental well-being; we’re made up of our social lives – our family and friends;  and then our spiritual side, that’s always there, under-lying everything else.

Deuteronomy 33:27

“The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Keep the smile going!

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)







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Banting Chippy Snacks

Sometimes it’s nice to have a few snacks to nibble on when everyone else is chomping chips or popcorn. Here’s a little idea for Banting snacks.

The next time you use a sweet potato, save the skins…making sure they are clean..

Sweet potato skinsI like to use Macadamia nut oil to stir fry at the smoking point is higher…

Macadamia nut oilStir fry the skins…and once nicely browned and crisping, add shreds of coconut..

Add coconut shredsThe coconut will brown quickly…add a little salt..

Add saltAnd voila…

Banting chippy snacksA really tasty little snack. You know where it comes from and what exactly it’s made of, what seasoning is on it and in which oil it’s cooked.

‘You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
Acts 2:28 NIV

Have a fabulous weekend.

Keep the smile going.

God bless you.

In His Grip,

Helga xx :D

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Fair-weather Friends

A fair-weather friend is someone who is friendly with you when all is going well with you. You enhance their life. You give them good vibes. They are your friend. But when things aren’t going so well with you, they are nowhere to be found. They are not there when you need them. They are not there when you need help. Fairweather friends

I’ve had a few fair-weather friends myself. When I left my on-air radio job, I lost a number of fair-weather friends. They were only too keen to know me when I was a so-called “someone”, but the moment I was off-air, they weren’t all that interested in me or my life!  I wasn’t offended. I was more just amused!

This morning, I commented to Mike that we were being only ‘fair-weather friends’ to the Proteas. When wickets started falling, we couldn’t watch and I got on with something else. After a short while, I returned to check the score and what followed was probably the best display of Protea batting that I have ever witnessed!

Cricket score

This score is the second highest ever made in World Cup history. It is the highest score ever made in an ODI on Australian soil. AB de Villiers now holds the record for the quickest 50, quickest 100 and quickest 150. What a treat to watch. And to think I nearly didn’t!

We need to be more than just ‘fair-weather friends’. While the national cricket side can’t really reciprocate our fan-filled support, it’s just a good reminder for us to be real friends to those people in our lives.

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”.

There are swings and roundabouts in life. While everything in your life may be rosy and fine, your friend’s may not. But what goes around comes around and the high that you experience could, next month, turn into the low that your friend is having right now. Be there for the highs and lows and enjoy a reciprocal all-weather  friendship.

The same goes for faith. We need to have all-weather faith, trusting God in the good times and the bad. He remains the same.

Keep the smile going.

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)

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God’s Generosity and Extravagance

You don’t have to go far to find signs of God’s extravagance and generosity. If you want to see evidence of Him, just take a walk outside on a starlit night and admire the abundance of stars He has set in place and named one by one.

I got thinking about this yesterday when I heard about someone who had planted the seeds from a granadilla….

GranadillaThe seeds from just one granadilla yielded 70 plants. Each of those plants would have produced dozens of fruit, each one capable of creating another 70 plants if given the opportunity to do so.

Yes, God is extravagant and generous. He knows what it takes to feed the population He has created.

Many years ago, in about 1993, we planted two vines, one on either side of French doors. The image is grainy – a photo of a very old photo, but you get the picture…

The vine planted in 1993Behind the little toy motorbike (David’s – he was about 2) is the second vine. They started to grow…

Vine starting to growAnd today it is abundant….those pots in which we planted them (having taken out the bottoms) are split and broken. These days we never water the vine. All we do, every winter, is prune it. It has taken over the entire pergola….

The vine todayAnd grown up to the balustrade on our balcony…

Shady balconyYes, God is generous and extravagant. To think that from just one grape seed, can come  this…and a whole lot more…every year, for decades…

GrapesAll of these things take place under our noses – day in and day out – we pass God’s enormous creation, often overlooking the magnificent intricacies of His creativity…

Younger family member chameleonIt’s good to stop and smell the roses…

Roses at the LCH…and appreciate all that God has given us. It all comes from Him and it just keeps on coming, from sunrise…

Sunrise…to sunset…

Sunset over the AtlanticAll gloriously given for our pleasure and enjoyment. He cares for us.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 are worth a read…

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

You are important to God. He knows your needs. Trust Him today!

Keep the smile going.

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)

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Switching From Margarine to Butter – Here’s Why

We’ve heard that we can eat fat. But not all fats are created equal. The very worst of the fat family are trans fats. What all the fuss about?  This is the problem:

Most trans fats are created through an industrial process during which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, making it solid at room temperature.

Why do that? The reason is to lengthen a food’s shelf life. When a partially hydrogenated oil is used, it lasts longer. So if a restaurant uses this kind of oil in their deep fryers, it doesn’t need to be changed as often.

Once hydrogenated oil is made, it is used in dozens of products that are found on the shelves of our pantries and fridges.

But before I get to where you will find trans fats in the food you eat, let me first outline why it’s bad for you.

Too many trans fats will cause weight gain, particularly around the waist which is the most dangerous place to carry weight.

Trans fats cause an inflammation response in the body, which can result in a lot of health issues, the most documented being hardening of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke. But there’s more. A study has been done on more than 18 000 participants over a seven year period. During this period 1500 of the participants died. Those who had diets highest in the amount of trans fats had a 25% increased risk of death than those who ate a diet with the least amount of trans fats. When examining the questionnaires of those who died, it was discovered that the participants who acquired 3.5 to 4% of their daily energy from trans fats, died as a result of a variety of diseases, including cancer, stroke and diabetes.

When it comes to trans fats, you want to eat as little as possible. They are found naturally in some meat and dairy products. Let that be your total consumption.

They are found artificially in dozens and dozens of foods that line supermarket shelves. Read labels and avoid all processed foods.

Here’s a list:

1. Anything with pastry – this is made with margarine which is a major culprit in the trans fat market – buying a pie from a fast food outlet, you are going to be consuming trans fats. Anything made with shortening, so that includes biscuits, crackers, mince pies, ready made dough, ready made icing.

2. Fried foods – any food that you buy that is fried will contain trans fats – french fries – fried chicken – fried fish. These foods are fried in oil high in trans fat.

3. Chips and their flavouring – all regular packaged chips contain trans fats, whether they be corn, tortilla or potato.

4. All frozen pastry or dough will contain trans fats, frozen pizza included.

5. Margarine is probably the biggest culprit- read labels to find out how much trans fat is in margarine – most margarines contain a whopping 15g of trans fat. You may have heard that margarine if bad for you.

MargarineNow you know why. Make the switch to butter today.


6. Coffee creamers – dry milk substitutes or artificial milk. These contain trans fats.

7. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Read the list of ingredients on the packaging of the food you buy. If it contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, know that it will have trans fats in it.



Let the rule be that you eat the most natural food that you can lay your hands on. Make your own snacks by lightly stir-frying sweet potato skins in a little macadamia oil. Macadamia nut oil has a higher smoking point so you can fry without causing the oxidization process. Towards the end of cooking, when the skins are getting brown and crisp, toss in a few coconut shreds for a healthy filling snack. At least when you do this, you know what you are eating.

Healthy chipsThey’re very good!

Matthew 6:26

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Healthy body and soul.

Keep the smile going.

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)

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Egg on my Face!


Today I went and bought eggs. I got them from Foodlovers Market, Longbeach Mall…

FLM eggsFLM didn’t have free range chicken pieces so I went to look for one at the next closest grocery store and that was Woolworths. When I was there, I walked past the eggs…

Woollies eggsI just spent R11 more! They didn’t have chicken pieces either, so I had to walk to the other end of the mall to PnP, where I walked past their eggs too…

PnP eggsR18-09 less than FLM!

I was less than happy, but I thought I would buy those as well, seeing as we go through a lot of eggs. The sell by date of the FLM eggs is end of March. These are in 14 days time, which probably accounts for the special.

I comfort myself in the RRR that I have saved in buying other stuff at FLM that usually sells for much more at PnP. I guess in the end it’s swings and roundabouts. And I got my piece of free range chicken or Mike’s lunch tomorrow! :-)

At least we can walk into a supermarket 5 minutes away from where we live and buy fresh produce at a reasonable price. I’m thinking of my friend Lynne, in northern Zambia. If they want fresh chicken for dinner, they’ve got to go and catch it. If they want fresh bangers and mash for dinner….yep… ewww….they go catch the pork first! Far out of my range of ability to even consider what that must be like. It always humbles me thinking of it.

Here’s a couple of verses I am memorizing right now. I came upon them at the end of last year when I was reading Revelation. They struck a chord with me and I have passed them on to several people. Now I pass them onto you.

Revelation 3:7-8

These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my Name.

Keep the smile going!

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)




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All Reports Point At Henri

It is with some sadness that I write about this topic again. It’s not a pleasant one and one that I wish never happened.

The barbaric murder of three of the van Breda family at De Zalze estate, Stellenbosch, almost a month ago rocked the community, the city and the country. Sixteen year old Marli van Breda was left for dead, but survived, only just. With her life hanging by a thread she was rushed to hospital, under-went emergency brain surgery and has started a long road to recovery. She will never be the same again. Her condition is described as improving, but the reports we read in the press continue to say that she cannot yet communicate sufficiently enough to say what happened that night and there is no guarantee that she ever will. Tragic to the extreme. I pray for her full recovery. I pray for God’s miraculous touch on her entire body, not so that  she can say who did this to her family, but rather so that she can live a full and whole life, walking in God’s destiny for her. Only He can turn this horrendous test into a testimony.

Photo from FBWhile the van Breda family were murdered overnight, Henri van Breda called the emergency services only after daybreak on Tuesday 27th January 2015. The  news given in the latest newspaper report from the Times Live website all points at Henri having committed this unspeakable brutal crime. The newspaper says everything except “Henri did it.”  It says, “A doctor who examined him after the attack said the cuts and bruises he sustained on his arms were self-inflicted. It is also believed Henri was addicted to tik and that his allowance had been cut off shortly before the attacks.” And goes onto say this…

Keeping Henri awayMy heart breaks for Marli as I think of her without family comforting her, without visitors who she knows, who love her, being by her side 24/7. It is hugely distressing. I can only imagine that the person cited as ‘close to her’ is one of the nursing staff assigned to her care.

If Henri is not responsible for these murders, I look forward to more reporting that clears his name and reveals who did.  There seems to have been no ‘man-hunt’ – no descriptions of the attacker, no ‘most-wanted’. We do know that lawyers have been hired to attend to Henri’s legal needs. If it was him, he is surely going to need them. If it was him, he may plead insanity, but that won’t prevent him from having to live with himself for the rest of his life.

Luke 23:34

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


God bless you.

In His Grip,




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God Never Wastes Pain


God never wastes pain

I first heard this phrase when listening to Liz Curtis Higgs some years ago when she visited Cape Town for the Beauty for Ashes conference.

God never wastes our pain

I’ve called it to mind and shared with friends many times since.

God never wastes pain.

All of us go through pain during various stages of our lives. The thing with pain is that it hurts! Generally, we want to avoid it as much as possible. But as much as we try and stay clear of pain, it comes our way sooner or later in some way, whether it be physical pain and suffering or emotional pain. It could be heartbreak or grief.

There was once this family who suffered terribly. A husband and wife lived with their two sons and their wives. The husband died and the wife went into mourning. It was not an easy time. Adjustments were made and the sons looked after their mom. For some reason, the two sons never had children. Time passed and shockingly both sons died. Now there was just the mom-in-law (MIL) and her two daughters-in- law (DIL) and no grandchildren. It could have made for a really irritating set of circumstances. The MIL decided to move back to the place from where she originally came. She told her DILs to go back to their family and move on with their lives. There would be other husbands and no doubt, in time, children. One DIL did, but the other (her name was Ruth) refused and insisted on following her MIL back to her old home.

It was just as well she did. After all the pain and loss of becoming a very young widow, she met someone (in a grain field) and there was pretty much an instant attraction. Her MIL was really pleased and gave her some advice as to what to do. The guy she met was wealthy and had a lot of land. She hung out at the farm and was invited out by the rich, single farmer. He was very generous to her and her MIL. When the time was right, the MIL suggested Ruth make a bit of serious move on this guy. She did. She threw herself at him. He was surprised, but not unhappy. Wanting to do the right thing, he didn’t take advantage of her, but rather followed protocol and went about arranging how he could marry her.

Out of extreme pain and loss, Ruth married – finding both love and wealth. And, she fell pregnant and had a son. That son was King David’s grandfather and as a baby he bought much joy to his grandmother, Naomi.

Ruth 4:16-17

Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

You can read the whole story in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament.

God never wastes pain.

Through Ruth’s line, Jesus came.

What God has done for others, He will do for you!

Keep the smile going.

God bless you!

In His Grip,

Helga xx :-)

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