6 am Swim in Port Elizabeth


And so, we are concluding the year. To me, it was a year full of firsts, but what is a year if you have not tried anything new, learned something, or pushed your limits and grow in the process. 

As the year ends, without you even realizing it, everyone turns into a metrologist, yes even you, my dear reader. Just think about it. Before Christmas, you measure the tree that needs to come up, the length of the lights that need to be decorated exactly right. Before you know it, you are working on a honey-do list that runs the length of your arm because you have time now, right? Yes, I know there is probably no science involved but measurement it is no less. Soon it is Christmas and you measure the size of your wallet, the amount of food, family, and friends you have over and finally the number of holes in your belt that suddenly sits increasingly tighter. 

What we measure

On this very specific Metrology Monday, I will just have arrived home after taking 3 flights, of which the 2nd flight was a grueling 15 hour direct flight from New York to Johannesburg, talk about quantifying that! Then it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to my home town Port Elizabeth which is in the Eastern Cape, where former President Nelson Mandela grew up. 

Measuring up over Christmas
Port Elizabeth birds eye view.

Here we measure different things over Christmas: not how many feet of snow will fall but how many feet high the waves will be for the perfect surf. We don’t calculate how thick the lake’s water has iced or when the best time will be on the ski slopes but we know the beach will be packed by 10 am for a day of sea, sun, and fun. The beach restaurants are guaranteed a 45-minute wait by 13:00, if you miscalculated the number of snacks the family will consume before the end of a day at the beach.

Hobie Beach in the Summer
Surfing in Port Elizabeth
Dolphins riding the waves


In some of South Africa’s beach towns, Santa Clause arrives on a jet ski with dolphins in his wake, thrilling the kids with ice creams, walking across the beach to his sandcastle throne (or beach chair) to hand out gifts that were prearranged by the parents of course. Every beach town and every family have their own traditions though but the fact is that you will definitely start your day with a sea swim, a beach walk, or at the absolute least, having coffee overlooking the blue waves rolling in. 

I thought of sharing a typical South African Christmas with you after seeing the shock on my colleague’s faces when I told them how we spend Christmas. In all honesty it is not that different, except for the weather that allows us to “braai” almost every night and enjoy lazy days on the beach. Spending the day playing beach sports like cricket, frisbee and touch rugby as well as hours of body surfing and most days we will end up around the fire for a “braai”.

Snow man Sand man
“The word braai, which comes from the Dutch braden, meaning ‘to grill’, is an abbreviation of braaivleis meaning ‘grilled meat’. It actually means to roast over coals and comes from the word braaivleis.”

My family is early risers, which means we are on the beach by 6 am. We start with a walk, then take a quick swim before we have our coffee right there on the beach. After that we head home for a big breakfast and getting ready for the all-day beach day. There is that one day, during our summer holiday that we will not go to the beach. For my family, the first day of the New Year, is that day. We head out to ADDO Elephant National Park to see…well, whatever crosses our path: From a gigantic elephants to a tiny dung beetle not to mention the Zebra, Warthogs and Meerkats (Pumba and Timons), Kudu, Giraffes or Nyala.

Early morning swim at Hobie Beach
Early morning swim for the locals at Hobie Beach is around 6am. This is all year round. (December 2019)
Coffee and rusk on the beach
COVID 19 regulations did not allow us to swim or walk on the beach, luckily we could still have our coffee.
ADDO Elephant National Park
The twins at ADDO Elephant National Park

measuring up over Christmas and beyond

Over the holidays the metrologist in you, yes, I do not know you but I know this of you: you want the new year to be better than the previous, am I right? And no matter where you are located in the world you are mentally trying to figure out and calculate exactly how to get that done.  And that my friends and readers, is where the science of Metrology Monday comes in. In the end we all just want to measure up. To whom, that differs for all of us: To our loved one’s expectations, to our own plans and dreams, to our bank account, or in all simplicity the happiness and contentment we are experiencing or want to experience. 

Karen Swart Cheers

But most of all we want to look back on a year completed knowing we did everything to the best of our ability to ensure the best possible outcome.

Here is to a crazy, wonderful, and very interesting 2021 and I pray 2022 will pleasantly surprise you in every good way possible.  

I am Karen Swart, the Marketing Coordinator at WENZEL America. This year I was introduced to the Metrology Industry and man oh man what an adventure it has been.

Until we chat again, when I return. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and your loved ones.