It is for a good cause. Cluny Animal Trust really do good work. And if you do not play, go watch.
The Cluny Animal Trust (CAT) is a non-profit veterinary welfare organisation that was established in 2011 to serve the needs of animals owned by impoverished residents of the Eastern Free State and further afield.
CAT stems from Dr Katherine Barker’s sterilisation programme established in 2004 and it is currently run from her small veterinary clinic in Fouriesburg and her satellite practice in Clarens.
The sad reality is that there is a growing number of animals who receive little or no veterinary care and/or are victims of neglect, abuse, poor living conditions, lack of socialisation, dog-fighting or other forms of animal cruelty. Most recently, the very real problem that has now come to our attention is puppy-farming – which is seen as an opportunity to make a ‘quick buck’ with puppies being offered on the town square in Clarens on a Saturday morning. The poor economic climate in the Eastern Free State remains a barrier and significantly affects the ability of many pet owners to properly care for their animals.
The Cluny Animal Trust aims to:
End the needless suffering of animals by providing veterinary treatment
Educate owners in proper animal care, feeding and preventive treatment
Sandstone Estates is a large commercial agricultural enterprise covering over 7,000 hectares, located on the border with Lesotho in South Africa’s Eastern Free State province, close to the Maluti Mountains and a mere 55 minute drive from Clarens. It is a hub of transport preservation.
The farm was built up by the Wille family from the 1830s, who were originally German missionaries. Today it is part of an international agri-business that produces wheat, soya beans, maize and sunflowers. It has been 100% organic since 2005. Like many farms in South Africa, it had no narrow gauge railway to transport produce direct from the fields to the main shipping ports.
As steam enthusiasts, in the mid-1990s, the Sandstone owners were approached by Alan Clarke of Transnet Heritage Foundation, who realised the foundation did not have the resources to rescue the collapsing Midmar Museum in KwaZulu-Natal. The collection formed the basis of what became the Sandstone Heritage Trust. Today, the trust’s main collection is still based around the railway transport of Southern Africa, but also covers an extensive global road transport and military vehicle collection.
The “Stars of Sandstone” 10-day event held in March, April or May attracts thousands of visitors, 70% of whom are from overseas. This year the event is to be held from the 4th – 14th April 2019.
Bookings can be done via the Stars of Sandstone website – http://www.starsofsandstone.com/. Visitors to Stars 2019 are welcome to bring a genuine classic or vintage vehicle which will allow them to follow the trains on the farm roads. For any enquiries, please contact Dave Richardson directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Whether you have booked or are still deciding about it, Stars of Sandstone 2019 is not to be missed. Have a look at their newly released videos of what this event holds in store. You should not miss it! You also have the opportunity to travel in style to the show on the iconic Blue Train, check out the details below.
A very exciting feature for Stars of Sandstone 2019 will be the arrival of a special charter of The Blue Train at the event. The Blue Train will be departing Pretoria on 3rd April at 09h00 and will be spending 2 nights at Sandstone Estates, departing on 5th April at 18h00 for arrival in Pretoria on the 6th April at 10h00. Early booking is essential and you could be one of only 52 passengers to share in the experience.
This is one of the great luxury trains of the world and has the advantage of providing its passengers with a comfortable environment, excellent food, and of course the ability to hop on and off a 2ft Narrow Gauge Railway which would be operating on an adjacent siding. Many years ago when we planned our railway, we specifically created a siding next to the Main Line Vailima siding on the National Railway Network Branch line between Bethlehem and Bloemfontein. That is where this special train will be staged. The siding is being extended by Transnet, for which we thank them, because this type of excursion would not have been on the agenda of passenger trains running between the two centres in the past. In fact, there was not even a railway station at Vailima, it was purely a commercial siding where wheat and maize FZ trucks were dropped off and collected on a regular basis. Indeed, in Sandstone’s early days, we used to load up to 1,000t of grain a day on the siding.
Most luxury trains are enjoyed for what they are, namely a trip on a train, but ours has the added advantage of spending 2 days at a world class event where there are any number of additional things to do. When the passengers have had enough, they can go back to the Blue Train, relax, sit in the lounge and watch the trains go by. They can on a whim jump off and join a passenger train about to embark for the mountains or returning to the main complex which will be a hive of activity.
There are only 52 berths on this train, so we do commend it to everyone who is considering coming down to Stars of Sandstone 2019 but who may be concerned about the lack of 5-star accommodation opportunities in the area.
We believe it will be very attractive to our international visitors, particularly those who have time constraints.
Due to the various configurations that exist, we will quote every one of our guests upon request.”
On Monday, Feb 11, in an attempt to prevent a nationwide blackout and total collapse of the grid which would require days to fix, Eskom implemented stage 4 load shedding after seven generating units tripped. The stage 4 load shedding cut 4000 megawats from the national grid which means we will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a four day period for two hours or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time. The frequency of load shedding increases as stages increase. Each time period has an additional 30 minutes added to allow for switching of to prevent damage to the power system. The actual stage in use at the time will be displayed on the main Eskom website.
Eskom had to cut this much power from the national grid, more or less 3000 to 4000 megawats, in 2014 and 2015 which fell under stage 3 load shedding. Eskom assured South Africans that stages 5-8 is highly unlikely, but Eskom and the country’s energy supply are now in unchartered territory.
SA has an installed generating capacity of about roughly 47000 megawats but not all power generating units function at optimal capacity due to age, and lack of maintenance.
How long will this load shedding period last?
Nobody really knows. Eskom is unable to service its debt, R419 billion, and it does not make a profit from selling electricity at the current price levels. SA President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in his State of the Nation address that ways of supporting Eskom’s balance sheet will be made in the upcoming budget speech.
What does this mean for residents and visitors in Clarens? What is the impact on businesses, the economy and investor confidence?