Travel: Heaven and Earth in Sutherland

Words and pictures by Richard van Ryneveld

It’s not often that you have a stowaway when travelling with a caravan, especially not a dog called Stoffel.

Then there was also a cast iron pot: a Best Duty No 10 from the local Koöperasie. Added to the recipe was a deboned leg of lamb and skaapskenkels (lamb shanks) from Paulsen’s Butchery.

And as always, there was a beautiful gal! We christened her “Lady in Red”.

I suppose you are wondering what I am talking about. Allow me to clarify: I was with my lifelong pal and fellow-photographer, Brian Ashley, on a stargazing voyage to Sutherland in the Karoo, and “Lady in Red” was the gleaming, fire-engine-red Chevy Trailblazer which was towing our Sprite Tourer SW caravan for the adventure.

Along the way, we picked up a lesson in astrophotography, survived a heart-stopping journey down the Ouberg Pass, and enjoyed more side-splitting, trouser-wetting laughter than I’ve had since I was a kid.

It was that good a trip.

Oh, and I’ll get to Stoffel the stowaway dog a bit later, so read on.

For numerous reasons, I believe in travelling alone. I am disorganised, non-technical, untidy, and a talker of note.

Brian, on the other hand, is organised, technical, neat, laconic, and a one-on-one person. But he has the driest, sharpest wit of anybody I know. And, oh boy, was this man on song on this trip! Interlaced with the banter was talk of photography: Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, David Goldblatt… interspersed with the Bushmen, paintings, the Boer War and our common love of steam locomotives.

‘I once went with John Craig, who worked as a stoker on a trip to De Aar to look at steam locomotives,’ said Brian. ‘I was a youngster… I certainty learnt how cold the Karoo can get, on that trip.’

We headed on past Touws River. We both regretted never stopping to scrutinise the lines and lines of locomotives that were parked next to the N1 in the old days. I was enjoying the trip not only because of the company, but also because I could share the random bits of trivia I had picked up during years of travel.

Sutherland Images

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