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Follow Nick Norman on his Geology off the Beaten Track roadtrip

Follow Nick Norman on his Geology off the Beaten Track roadtrip

Struik Nature have recently published Nick Norman's new book, Geology off the Beaten Track. It follows on the success of Nick's earlier Geological Journeys (co-authored with Gavin Whitfield), which has sold more than 20 000 copies in the last 6 years.

This new book helps readers understand and interpret the geology along SA’s regional and other less-travelled roads. It features 13 detailed routes across the country, taking in geologically interesting areas such as the Richtersveld, Cape winelands and the Valley of Desolation near Graaff-Reinet.

The text is richly illustrated with photos and explanatory diagrams, making it suitable for armchair travellers too. Maps for all the routes indicate key geosites, with GPS readings to pinpoint their location. This is a must-have handbook for travellers in the region, or for anyone wanting to know more about our rocks and landforms.

Nick is currently traveling the routes covered in his book and you can follow him on his road trip. Visit www.randomstruik.co.za/geology to see the route map and click on your area to RSVP to one of the events.

Nick is also blogging along the way, keeping us up to date on his travels and explorations. Here's his first blog entry which coincides with his 70th birthday!

Nick Norman's first week highlights | 09 November 2013

So far on my Road trip I have had launches in Montagu (Monday 4th), Patensie (Wednesday 6th), Port Elizabeth (2 on Thursday 7th, one at a Rotary lunch meeting and the other in the evening organised by Fogarty’s Bookshop at the Bayworld Museum) and East London (Friday 8th), plus a signing at the PNA bookshop in Oudtshoorn (Tuesday 5th) were all well-supported, with good sales.

Attendance varied from over 50 in Montagu to about a dozen in Patensie, with good geographic representation at the latter, enthusiasts showing up there from as far as St Francis Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay. Patensie is the closest village to the spectacular and increasingly popular Baviaanskloof (Chapter 4), and though some (including me at times) might have wondered about the inclusion of a place most South Africans could not place on a map, the talk there was a festive occasion with a high proportion of sales. Anyone passing through Patensie en route into or out of the Baviaanskloof should call in at the tourism centre of Tolbos, where both Geological Journeys and Geology off the beaten track are stocked, among a huge array of other useful merchandise: or just stop for a bite or a cup of cappuccino. (Post script – 10th November: an urgent e-mail from Tolbos ordering 15 more copies of Geology off the beaten track, having sold the first 5 they ordered – in 4 days. Sorry, Toska, for ever doubting the inclusion of Tolbos in my itinerary.)

In Knysna, asked to sign a book I had given away, I wrote “Thanks for avoiding those vultures!” John Stanford smiled as he read what I had written. He remembered as well as I did when we had last parted ways in early 1968. Decades before the advent of Google Earth, long before laptops even, I had asked John, East Griqualand farmer, cousin of the cousin I was staying with as I did the fieldwork for my M.Sc, and newly licensed light aircraft pilot, to fly me around the mountains which were the subject of my thesis, mainly Mount Currie, overlooking Kokstad. Understandably John was nervous, particularly as he had seen Cape vultures circling around Mount Currie, and he had to deal with my frustration at not being able to eyeball key elements of the geology from a few metres away. At 23 I was young and reckless, now I am grey-haired and glad to be alive, M.Sc safe in the safe. It was wonderful to see John again after so long, now farming near Knysna.

Today, as I entered my 70th year, I was taken to lunch by the ornithologist of the East London Museum, Dr Phil Whittington, and friends. The museum had arranged my East London launch at the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve, and when I expressed regret that the museum was not open on a Saturday (explain that if you can!) they offered to show me around. After all, can a geologist come to East London and not see the coelacanth, caught in a fishing net so many decades ago just off the Eastern Cape coast; close cousin to a fish thought to have become extinct about the time the dinosaurs met their end, and displayed in that museum?!

After a church service in the Tsitsikamma in 1968, on the same day I was introduced to the girl who would become my wife, I had met Marjorie Courtney-Latimer. That name may not resonate with readers of these musings: anyone who has followed the story of the discovery of the coelacanth, though, reads it in awe, for it was she who recognized the importance of ‘old fourlegs’, as the coelacanth would become known. It is furthermore hardly an exaggeration to say that ‘Marje’ pretty well ‘made’ the East London Museum, and a great museum it is. I missed my family, but it was a good birthday!

Incidentally, two excellent bookshops along the Sunshine Coast, worth stopping at if you are in those parts, are Bookends, just across the street from the Tourism Information Bureau in Port Alfred; and, in Kenton-on-Sea, the Kenton News Agency, also across the road from that centre’s Tourism Bureau. Marilyn, at the latter, and Justin and Crystal, in Port Alfred, are friendly and helpful, a pleasure to spend a few minutes with.

I’m driving on to Smithfield (12th November), Bloemfontein (13th November) and Pietermaritzburg (14th November) next.

Go to www.randomstruik.co.za/geology to see my whole route.
Must hit the road again now, will be back blogging soon!

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User Comments:
Re: Follow Nick Norman on his Geology off the Beaten Track roadtrip - by Jim Linsell
December 29 2013 08:37:28

The Tulbach Skurweberge rockfall occurred at the beginning of this year as observed by John Acland (ex de Beers) who farms now at GrooteVallei, Tulbach. Probably weakened by the earth quake!
I am enjoying your book.

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