This is a pretty and singular town; it lies at the foot of an enormous wall, which reaches into the clouds, and makes a most imposing barrier.  Cape Town is a great inn, on the great highway to the east.

Charles Darwin, from a letter to his sister Catherine, while anchored in Table Bay, 1836

Earstapper, Writer and Storyteller David Bristow in his natural habitat and favourite place on Planet Earth.

Earstapper, Writer and Storyteller David Bristow in his natural habitat and favourite place on Planet Earth.

What's in a name?

DURING HIS INTREPID LIFE David has amassed several monikers; Dee to his parents, Show-off to his siblings, BD* to his journalism colleagues at Rhodes University, Deebee to his friends, Oscar to his partner (“and the Oscar goes to….!”), while his colleagues at Getaway travel magazine dubbed him the Walking Enviropedia.


But the most lasting, and he would argue apt, is the Eardstapper*. He started travelling seriously at age 14,

hitch-hiking from Joburg to Cape St Francis, home of the “perfect wave”. After that he stuck a large road map on his bedroom wall and filled in his travels year by year. Then along the road of life he became a travel writer and photographer. There are few people who know those roads – including byways, 4x4 routes, cycle and foot paths – better.


Should you go there, you’ll find this is also his e-mail alias. The name would a fitting a fitting epitaph, he contends. Although another strong contender for the writer in him is “No regerts!”.


(* BD comes from the football playing character in the wonderful Doonesbury comic strip that was serialised in the university’s rag Rhodeo in the late 1970s. As a literary detour, the BD who is the subject of this website, is extremely proud to count himself among two of his literary heroes, Tom Wolfe and Tom Robbins for having been the sports editors of their college newspapers, they both at Washington and Lee, VA, USA.)


Writers' block

Skeleton: “What do you mean, you have writer’s block!”

* Eardstapper is a name derived from Old English (Anglo-Saxon). Its first known use was in an epic poem thought to have been composed around the year AD 600. The warrior-hero is identified as Eardstappa, from eard (earth) and steppen (to step out, or walk).


After the Norman invasion of England in 1066 the spelling changed (as with almost all older Anglo-Saxon and Viking words) to the more recognisable form “eardstapper”. It was used variously to mean a wanderer, an exile, a pilgrim or “one who seeks a meaning beyond the transitory meaning of earthly values”.


This theme of wandering influenced many later works in English including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Pilgrims Progress, Gulliver’s Travels and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.