Humorous anecdotes from exploration geologist

Book review

Going to Ground by Nick NormanPublished by The Franschhoek Press

Nick Norman has led an extraordinary life and in this, his fourth book, he weaves threads of geology and history into what are basically short stories of events during his career as an exploration geologist.

As he takes us around the world, it’s clear that the search for diamonds and gold is not always glamorous. From gorillas, chimpanzees and gold diggers in Gabon to trekking through the Pakaraima virgin rainforest in Guyana, ending up on a jet boat negotiating small rapids, his thrilling adventures unfold.

Nick, 75, is also an amateur botanist. In 1996, as a geology student he and friend George Zaloumis spent three weeks travelling 7 000km in an 850cc Ford Anglia on a miserly students’ allowance. Heading for Mozambique and the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) they crossed the Zambezi to arrive in Blantyre, Malawi to climb the country’s highest mountain, Mulanje, in search of a rare Streptocarpus plant.

Years later and between assignments he tried his hand at farming fruit trees and mushrooms in Franschhoek.

He also taught himself how to build a dam and a house, though with crooked windows.

Nick and wife and landscaper Sue still live there.

Through his travels, farming and writing, emerges Nick’s spiritual awakening.

It is this love of God, Africa and his family that will leave an enduring memory of these humorous anecdotes.

Nick is the author of best-selling popular geology book Geological Journeys, Geology off the beaten track, Box of Rocks and The Extraordinary World of Diamonds.