28 December 2016

Mutual affection - ground squirrels

When going into the drier parks such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of the Mountain Zebra National Park, one of my first quests is to find the ground squirrels. They are definitely my favourite rodent and I can spend hours photographing them and watching their antics.

Grooming time in the Kgalagadi.

One of the advantages of a big bushy tail in a hot climate, is that it doubles up as a sun shade.

24 December 2016

Expect the unexpected

When heading toward the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park it is always with a high level of expectation, from the that I will be entering one of the wildest parks in South Africa and will have many interesting and exciting sightings.

On our last trip, instead of stopping at Upington, which was the plan, we pushed through and spent the night at the Kgalagadi Lodge. It is about five kilometres from the Twee Rivieren entrance, so it meant we could get an early start to the day, and be in the Park when it was still cool.

As the main gate only opens at 7:00 am we spent the first few hours of the day relaxing and walking about at the Kgalagadi Lodge, enjoying the local bird life and then this arrived............

One expects to see the unusual when coming to the Kgalagadi.....you expect to see lions and jackals around the camps, or snakes and scorpions...........but to be confronted by something this ugly, is something else.

Who would expect to come across an Emu in this part of the world.

After the initial feelings of surprise and realising that it was not predatory, we spent some time in its company, until it wandered off.

Where it came from I do not know, but it was last seen striding down the road in the direction of Twee Rivieren.

When visiting the Kgalagadi..........expect the unexpected.

23 December 2016

Getting launched and Merry Christmas

The past month has passed with a flurry of activity and we are now in the final run up to Christmas.

If those of you who live in the Southern hemisphere keep a watch out for Santa tomorrow night, you may see him travelling through the sky with his new helpers....and they won't be reindeer. A new tradition started when Santa's reindeer came down in the South African bush with a big BUMPbecause there are now so many more children in the world to visit that they were too tired to pull his sleigh.

All was not lost, because the new helpers saved the day.

When launching a new book, it is always with a degree of trepidation, but Santa's New Helpers has so far exceeded expectations and is selling up a storm. It has provided the impetus for the following books in the series to be published.

Aside from the launch Sue and I had a whistle-stop tour around the country, promoting the book and dropping copies off at our various suppliers, old and new.

Being the people we are, Sue and I could not confine our trip to selling alone. Since we were going to be in the Northern Cape anyway, why not make a small detour (about 1,500 kms) to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park? The trip has provided some wonderful source material for the drawings for the next book, which we hope to launch about mid 2017.

We would like to thank all our stockists for their support in getting the book out into the market and to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR.

21 November 2016

Santa's New Helpers - Book Launch

There's lots of excitement in the Hoppe household tonight, because tomorrow will be the fulfillment of a dream of many years, when my first childrens' book arrives.

Santa's New Helpers is the first in the series Tales from the Waterhole. It is a fun story about how Santa, with help from a very unexpected source, was able to continue delivering the toys when his reindeer dropped from the sky, in the South African bush, too exhausted to carry on.

The book is full of the most delightful drawings done by Theresa Hardman, local artist and architect.

You are welcome to join us at the official launch is on Wednesday, 23 November 2016. See details below.

07 November 2016

Santa's New Helpers - Coming Soon

Santa's New Helpers will be giving Christmas a decidedly African feel this year. It will be on the shelves of selected book shops and padstalle, by the end of November.

It's a fun book, with wonderful drawings and will be available in three of our official eleven languages.

Alternatively keep an eye on the El Gecko Publishing website, where you can order on line.

03 November 2016

Skywatch Friday - roaring through the skies

I've been in the blogging wilderness for a while but I'm back.

Sadly the Port Elizabeth airshow has been cancelled this year, but I still have unpublished from the last one. The gloomy day combined with the smoke trails make a dramatic backdrop for the fly-by by the Mango Airlines Boeing 737 800 and the Silver Falcons team, in their Pilatus PC-7 Turbo-Trainers.

Visit the Skywatch site for more photos taken by enthusiastic sky watchers from around the world. 

Santa's New Helpers - soon to be published

It's finally happened!

After having written a number of children's books over many, many years, the first one is about to be published, through El Gecko Publishing, the new indie kid on the block. 

Santa's New Helpers is book 1 in the collaborative new series, Tales from the Waterhole, by me (Max Hoppe - author) and Theresa Hardman (illustrator). 

Over the past two years, I have discovered that books don't just happen. Writing them is one thing, but getting them published into the market is another. This one has exceeded my wildest expectations, with input from a very able and enthusiastic team.

Theresa's illustrations are brilliant, and capture the essence of the story with great style. They have added the wow factor to the book..........

The layout has been done with artistic flair by Sue Hoppe, who spent many hours poring over her computer screen, until she got it just right.

The book will also be available in three languages. Mignonne van Heerden brought her enthusiasm to the team, when she said it should not only be published in English, and translated it into Afrikaans. Soon afterwards, Mpumi Buyana stepped in and did the IsiXhosa translation.

The book should be ready for release in about the second last week of November 2016.

A taste of forthcoming attractions

Back cover - English version

02 November 2016

Time to shake off the dust

After being in the cyber wilderness for just over a year, it is time to shake the dust off  The Max Files and breathe new life into my blog.

Much has been happening with me and Suzi over the past few years as we have travelled about South Africa and abroad and in-between launched our indie publishing business. We found that trying to get our books published by the main stream publishers was never going to be a proposition, so we took the plunge and dived headlong into publishing our first book. From there the business has taken on a life of its own.

Our first hard copy books:
  • It all began with "The Climax Collection, the Secret Life of Windmills" a quirky but naughty coffee table book that looks at what they get up to when we are not looking. The books is filled with pictures of windmills taken on our travels, with captions to insure that you will never look at these iconic South African landmarks the same again. We are now into the third print run.
  • This was followed by "Travels troubles with Koos". Written by Sue, it is a fun look at our travels around South Africa in my quirky and unreliable 4x4. The book is entertaining but at the same time provides great photos, details of interesting places and how to get there.
  • We then decided to launch the Climax Collection 2. Another fun coffee table book that takes a look at what music windmills listen to when we are not around. 
  • Currently at the printers and to be launched before Christmas is, "Santa's New Helpers". It is the first children's books from the series of African stories, "Tales from the Waterhole" that I've written. The book has been superbly illustrated by Port Elizabeth artist Theresa Hardman and promises to be a winner.
Visit the El Gecko Publishing website for more information about these books and other products.