Blog

Who goes there? Part 1 We all have unbelievable dad stories to tell, but I’m betting very few of you have dined out on a “remember when dad was chased by two rhino?” tale. By goodness. It is the stuff of legends! There he is…intrepid Irishman now living in a small Zululand town, with my adventurous Irish mother. The ‘wilds of Africa’ are literally across the fence and life could not be more different. He’s no longer gliding about fancy hotels in...

Interview with pilot, Steve McCurrach. Steve McCurrach is a blessed man. While the rest of us lovers of wild spaces experience the bush from car window level, Steve has a view most of us can only dream of…the sky. I met Steve while gathering information for my novel, Down at Jika Jika Tavern. I was looking for someone who had experience working in the field of anti-poaching, and Steve kindly responded to my request. In the novel, rhino poaching was a driver of...

There she goes; woman of the sky. My name, Ashling, is of Irish origin (Aisling is the original Gaelic spelling). The name means ‘a vision’ or ‘a dream’. It wasn’t until I learnt of my name’s meaning, that I came to love it. As a child, I’d have appreciated a ‘normal’ South African name, like those of my friends, instead of an unheard of oddity of a name. Now I know that my name represents, if not, shaped, who I am as...

I recently read the most depressing article entitled, Why writing books, is not really a good idea*, by author, Ellie Griffin. Had I read this article when Down at Jika Jika Tavern was a mere mote of dust, wafting on the eddies of my mind, I likely would have abandoned the project. Griffin reveals that during 2020, just over 2.6 million books sold online. But only 268 of these books sold more than 100 000 copies! That’s right, 2.6 million titles only sold...

When people ask me what I do for a living, I often feel quite panicked. Do I focus on my non-profit work, my writing, or painting? If I mention them all, I might come off sounding a bit unfocused, or indeed, flighty, but each area of work is equally important to me. It was great to share my work with Bronwyn Forbes-Hardinge from Get It Magazine, and discuss how each interest can be used as a driver for social change. For a...

The Case of Dumisani Gwala Just like the fictional town of Mevamhlope featured in Down at Jika Jika Tavern, the town of Mtubatuba is small, a little bit grubby, but overflowing with energy and life. It is the gateway to the town of St Lucia and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a world heritage site. So it is fitting that the trial of Dumisani Gwala, alleged rhino poaching kingpin of Zululand, was to take place on the doorstep of a large conservation...

Excerpt. © All rights reserved. Down at Jika Jika Tavern (Prologue) A terrible mistake 29th November 2012 The driver parked the old Nissan Sentra in an informal layby between the dirt road and the railway lines; the cut of the tracks, thin and bright, in the dark fabric of the night. A sudden gust of wind blew in through the open windows but did little to mask the varying odours of unexpressed emotion inside. For within the shoddy interior, two men, and a boy...