Must-haves for a boatbird..

3 Sep

Totally top of this boatbird’s list of must-haves is a working wood stove in winter…

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And sometimes not necessarily just in winter. Call me a wimp but I don’t do cold so the trusty hot box was fired up earlier this year. In July ffs.

On a more seasonably warmer day when the burning cupboard wasn’t required, I heard the unmistakable sound of the door popping open. Odd; especially as I was nowhere near it and neither was anyone else. Spooky.

And, annoyingly, it would not stay closed. Consensus is that old age and heavy use (allegedly to the point of blistering the external paintwork) had worn down the latch…IMG_20170903_154704

To the point that it won’t… latch that is.

The baffle plate also needed replacing, the flue pipe needed re-sealing where it enters the stove via the collar, chimney needed sweeping and the whole lot would benefit from a stiff rub down and re-paint.

Given the chilly evenings, it needed to be pretty soon.

I’ve been onto Jones Boatyard, my trusty chandlers, who were as usual most generous with their time and knowledge, helping me with the diagnostics. They may be in Cambridgeshire – an hour’s drive away these days – but still top of my pops when it comes to a bit of old-fashioned service.

They’re here

They agreed that it was a wear and tear issue and ordered a new latch, to be delivered to them the next day. I tootled off up to St. Ives on receiving their call to collect this and other parts I’d ordered – and pick their brains some more.

I took the door assembly with me because I could not see how the hell to remove the old, dysfunctional latch, let alone fit the new one – even drew a blank on You Tube. Their boat-dwelling stove expert took one look and declared it was welded in by years of heat and gunk, would need to be punched out and (big thanks to the river gods) that they would do this for me if I could leave it with them… of course I could.

Perhaps predictably, was the phone call a couple of days later to say that they had broken the glass. Whilst they’d be happy to fit a new one free of charge, the door was so corroded that it wouldn’t ever seal properly and – long story short – I needed a new door.

Yeah right, I hear you say and my initial thoughts too, but I trust these guys. Whilst I didn’t have spare cash for this, or particularly want to spend unbudgeted £100’s, it was a no-brainer. As sure as metal will rust and wood will rot in this watery world of ours, a poorly sealed stove will kill you.

So, I may be a little poorer but have a beautifully functional stove door, complete with glass that’s cleaner than I can remember my stove glass ever being. The baffle plate is fitted, chimney swept, flue pipe sealed and all is now repainted and smarter than smart. And, most importantly, is safe and good to keep me warm and toasty for years to come.

If you’re paying attention, you will have spotted that I now have knobs that don’t match but, fear not, I still have the older round one and may or may not swap it back. The look is important to me but the newer more cylindrical one does seem to have more leverage, so we shall have to wait and see which will win out – aesthetics or OCD.

Now, as the season changes and all our thoughts turn to making winter as comfortable and bearable as possible, I must build the coal mountain…

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And amass wood…

WoodPile

Keep warm and stay safe boatie folk.

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I can feel a fire coming on…

 

Here and There..

28 Jun

I did promise you I’d get out and about to take some pics – better than those in my last post. I don’t make many promises but never let it be said that I don’t keep the ones I do.

One of the ways I spend my time these days is to act as companion to a lovely lady in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She’s great. She’s a happy soul, laughs a lot…

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Karen.

Does arty crafty stuff…

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And of course, I get to play too…

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She enjoys gardening, wildlife…

IMG_20160902_124512IMG_20160705_160815 (1)And loves to walk in the great outdoors. This is good for me because it makes me do these things too.

We’ve had some lovely walks along the river…

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Through Hatfield Forest and around local parks, days at the seaside…

100_3019100_3020100_3021100_3023IMG_20170407_163830100_3022 Frinton-on-Sea, don’t you know.

We’ve visited the likes of RHS Wisley butterfly house…

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100_2981100_2968100_2963Damned difficult to capture these flutterbies.

And RHS gardens at Hyde Hall…

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100_3038100_3039100_3030100_3026100_3055We’ve painted by numbers, done colouring in, sang and danced to Buddy Holly (her favourite) laughed together at the smelly tele, had pub lunches and afternoon teas…

IMG_20170407_155706 It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.

Recently, we went along to Audley End. It’s only about a twenty minute drive away but I’d never, in all my seven years here, ventured there. There’s a miniature steam railway there so, wanting a ride on the puff puff, I headed that way first. We hadn’t even got out of the car (luckily) before it chucked it down – a thundery downpour that came from nowhere – so we made a dash for the tea room. Like you do.

We emerged when it was over but, by this time, my charge has lost the will to accompany me on the chuff chuff and wanted to go home. Well, the seats would have been wet anyway. I’ll be back someday soon for a ride and a listen to the toot-toot,  with boatbloke maybe, who loves steam engines and stuff…

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As you can see.

By the time we’d walked a few steps, Karen had clean forgotten she wanted to go home so we crossed the road and entered the grounds of Audley End House. Being the muppet I am, I’d brought the National Trust cards – it’s an English Heritage site – but the young girl on the gate let us in anyway. Without the card it’s £19 odd each, with it it’s free, so thanks again that girl.

Karen has been here before and went romping off up the drive…

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Before I had chance to re-stow the wrong cards in my purse. She’s a fast walker, unlike me, so I have to work hard to keep up. Story of my life.

We were fairly late arriving so didn’t do the house; instead wandering around the grounds…

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There’s various different areas…

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A smart henhouse…

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With handsome occupant…

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And interesting buildings…

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Housing stuff like this…

Sadly, we didn’t complete the tour because Karen’s new shoes were hurting. I’ve been there (often) so we retraced our steps…

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Back to the car and home.

So there’s the here and here’s the there…

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South Africa. There’s snow on those mountains…

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Oh yes there is.

Safe in the knowledge it is cold there, I can bear being here, enjoying the heatwave. Well I was.

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John has flown south – people to see, places to be – but has sent a few images. Stunning as ever.

There’s been nasty wild fires at Knysna…

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Just when he was staying with his friend there. 150 properties were destroyed but fortunately Rudi and his property were undamaged, despite it getting uncomfortably close.

Back at the bus…

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John is maintaining his usual levels of luxury and technology…

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To be fair, he did fit the whole bus with LED lighting the other year. Annoyingly, this has has been nicked while John’s been in th UK, making him very cross. Hence the candles.

I’m glad to say he has installed a wood burner…

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For heat and cooking. Needs must.

Beats the before picture…

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He’s driven the long road to PE a couple of times to see his dad, 91 next month, and doing just fine.

That’s the here and there then.

Where to next?

I vote for a boaty mc boat post. See what I can do.

 

 

Hooray Hooray…and a Bit of Banksy

1 May

Hooray hooray the first of May, outdoor sex begins today!

A lovely little ditty that was told to me back in nineteen hundred and frozen to death by a little, wrinkled old lady who used to frequent my pub. She looked frail but boy had she lived. Still drinking/smoking/swearing hard – way into her seventies – she was possibly my favourite punter.

And I couldn’t resist sharing this with you on this first of May, or Beltane if you prefer.

Of course, May 1st follows April 30th, which you may or may not know is my birthday. It’s a tradition of mine to book a few days off around this time because, depending which days it falls on, gives me lots of time off without spending too many holiday days.

Clever eh?

So I am slothing for a few more days and loving it. It’s a good time to take the boat out…well it would be if boatbloke hadn’t buggered off to South Africa. Lone boating doesn’t appeal to me; I find the locks hard work and it just isn’t so much fun somehow.

Never mind, plenty of other mischief I can get up to…

I love a bit of Banksy, don’t you?

100_3057

100_3059I saw this calendar (the only one left) just as I was leaving the local craft shop in December and thought what an excellent stocking filler it would make for someone.100_3060

But you know how it is when you really like something you’d bought for someone else and it just sort of doesn’t get wrapped up and ends up becoming yours?

Don’t lie to me now, I know you’ve done that too.100_3062

Anyway, being a new month, I turned the page in anticipation this morning…100_3063

May: my favourite month. It’s like the start of a new year for me, being the day after the birthday, nature is performing well and the weather is usually on the up.

That said, I like anything new. New shoes. A new day; a new month; a new season; a new year.

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OK, so my indoor photography is a bit shite but you at least get a flavour.

100_3067They might not be his most famous ones.100_3068

But I find myself looking forward to seeing what’s next100_3069

100_3070And that’s what passes for excitement on the good ship Hobo.

OK, I promise I’ll get out and take some proper photos for the next post.

Out of Hibernation..

1 Apr

Clocks on, longer days, sun out and temperature rising. All of which make Hobo and me happy bunnies.

And of course, Mother Nature has a thing or two to say…100_3004

This is what I see as I come home. Dogdirt Alley at its best.

Not just the daffs, but the May blossom in the distance is marvellous.

And on the way out…100_3005

These ‘fried egg’ ones are my favourites…

And – keep it under your hat – I’ve nicked a few for the inner ship…100_3011

John found these on his travels…IMG_20170330_095115551 (2)

A chocolate box shock.

Magnificent Magnolia…IMG_20170330_100333106 (2)

And a bit of everything in Upwell/Outwell…IMG_20170313_161245684

I’m never sure which is which.

Not that it’s been a bad winter, but the onset of spring always fills me with joy and energy. I feel like I’ve been bundled up and shut away for months.

So I’ve started to tackle the giant cleaning task that is Hobo post winter – inside and out both being grimy. Sleeping under a tree means she gets a coating of green on her roof and cabin sides…100_3008

As you can see here.

Though the lovely Emily is doing her best to distract you…100_3007

Isn’t she gorgeous? Also needs a clean.

A stove that burns 24/7 leaves a smoky/sooty film inside. Everywhere. Call me a lightweight, if you will, but I’m not quite ready to stop this yet. I don’t do cold. Time is near though when I will let it go out and find those firelogs brilliant in the interim…100_3018

You simply toss the whole lot in the stove, set fire to the packaging for instant heat that lasts about two hours, so perfect for those chilly evenings/mornings. They are available in all the cheapie shops and only £1 each (funnily enough) from the pound shop.

In any event, it will have to go off soon so I can clean and paint it!

And just about everything else needs painting too. It’s not that I’m at all houseproud or anything, and more than happy to turn a blind eye to a bit of muck; bugger I’d be forever cleaning otherwise. Life is way too short and, besides, I hate cleaning.

It is a little harder to ignore though, now I’m sporting spectacles full time, I can actually see it.

It’s a job to be tackled in bite-size pieces – the hardest part is making a start. Like a lot of things. And, like the proverbial banging your head against a brick wall, it’ll be good when it stops.

Shame there isn’t a floating car wash type arrangement. Or an army of offspring I could bully into helping.

I’m not the only one getting stuff done…100_3015

Smart new gates for the yard.

My neighbours are back…100_3003

Dinkeys. Bit manky looking but really friendly, nice creatures.

Talking of donkeys…100_3016

My smart new butch barrow, which is more than good enough for carzy carrying and, indeed, pretty much anything else. Good investment.

Apart from the change of season giving me the will to get things done, I swear I’m walking differently too. More upright and shoulders back – now unecessary to hunch against the bitter wind and/or rain.

I expect its not so different for the house dwellers among you, although I doubt you have far to walk to your car from your home… out the front door and straight onto the drive, mostlike. Whereas, I for one, have a field and a muddy yard to cross before reaching mine – also thoroughly grubby and muddy inside and out.

And those of us who cruise continuously will, more than likely, be faced with the towpath trek with all its associated hazards… but that’s another story.

We boatie folk are more in the line of fire from the elements but, you know, that’s fine by me. In my view, a whole lot better than the alternative.

Nene-course it will

Each to their own.

Reflections..

27 Dec

100_0886Good name for a boatie blog.

But this isn’t that; it’s just what I do at this time of year – me and millions of others I suspect – reflect on the year that’s passing.

I hate to be negative but 2016 hasn’t been a great year, one way or another.

I lost a brother.

Countless celebrities lives ended – we lost such a lot of talent in 2016, many of whom were great inspirations of mine. I suppose we tend to see them as immortal.

Several of my friend’s husbands have been unwell, some having received that diagnosis we all dread. Another friend has suffered throughout the year with infections that the antibiotics struggled to kill. They eventually manage this and now he has to face surgery for renoval of lumps from his chest. And a very dear friend of mine is sruggling with hairloss – most distressing.

I wish them all well for 2017 and good luck with their treatment

And I received a dodgy diagnosis of my own: something called Scleroderma or Systemic Sclerosis – a rare auto-immune disease – which is incurable and needs careful monitoring and management. At least it’s nothing common! Rare = interesting to the medical profession, so at least I’m getting plenty of attention.

It probably won’t kill me but then again it might.

Then there was the trip to South Africa, which saw me in hospital for three days on intravenous antibiotics to treat a nasty chest infection – picked up on the aeroplane I suspect. Not quite what I had hoped for and competely putting the mockers on the holiday. That said, I haven’t smoked since so some good came out of it.

And on coming home, to add insult to injury, the wheels really fell off…

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The wheels bloody well fell off my carzy carrying trolley. Bugger. However, I should soon take delivery of a new, improved and generally much butcher version. Pics on next post.

Then, the chimney I’d ordered (partly to cheer me up and partly as a Christmas present for Hobo) didn’t bloody fit…100_2935

Double bugger. My fault of course – being a girl misinterpreted the measuring instructions. Easy mistake-a-to-make-a.

Still, the lovely man I ordered it from will replace it (even thought I’ve used it) with the right size for just a small fee and the cost of postage. It’s a company called Smokie Joe’s up in Derbyshire and they produce some pretty spectacular chimneys and cowls – IMHO. First seen on another boatie blog – thanks Steve.

Will post pics of the correct chimney and cowl, once received and fitted… you’ll be impressed, promise.

2016 has been a funny old year, politics in particular: Brexit. Trump. Corbyn. Strikes.

But my friends, be happy and look to the skies…100_2928

Keep the faith.

Seasons Greetings..

25 Dec

from Hobo…

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Wishing you all the very best this Christmas time. May peace and joy be yours.

BB xx

 

 

Homeward bound..

8 Nov

Time is coming when we must make another move and our thoughts turn to how the hell we’re going to get back to Cape Town and the airport.

Normally, we’d have a longer stay – three times longer. Normally I wouldn’t have got sick. Normally we’d have spent more time at the bus and liberated the car from storage. Normally we wouldn’t have spent a small fortune on car hire. But it’s been a funny old trip.

However, I’m not complaining. And what is normal anyway..?

There’s been some definite high spots and we did get to spend time with friends and family. John’s Dad is doing just fine and he and his welfare were after all the main purpose of our visit. And I will be travelling home under my own steam and not in an urn, as John at one point feared.

So… how are we going to get back to Cape town?

There seems to be a couple of options:

  • Cadging a lift to the bus with Geoffrey and Minerva as they are – sort of – heading that way at – sort of –  the right time. Then it’s just a matter of getting a ride over the mountain (an hour’s drive).
  • Splashing out more cash on car hire and travelling many, many miles to visit a virtual friend of mine up at the Pilanesberg National Park and possibly even run in a visit to John’s other son, Conrad, now at a private game reserve near Hoedspruit, at the same time.  Time would be tight but it is just about do-able and I’d really love to meet Tony for real, as would John.

Naturally, the latter is the most appealing, even if it is not the most sensible. We have a prolonged shall we?/shant we? moment, then decide to check if it fits in with Tony and…

It doesn’t – our dates being the only ones when he can’t accommodate us, already having visitors then. Bugger.

Decision made then. Shame, but that’s timing for you. We’ll make a plan for our next trip for sure. And that’s a promise.

Here we go then…100_2888

This is the transport they – tactrac – use to ferry their victims trainees around and, now they’re all dropped off, there’s plenty of space for us two.

Do click on the above link to see what they do. Very interesting.

We break the almost 500 mile journey with a stop at Paradise Beach, where Minerva’s parents have a place. Here, John gets to go a’hunting for and removing those nasty bad snares, with Geoffrey and co, while I chill out with the girls.

And Jasmine…100_2885100_2822

Aw..  a gorgeous Miniature Schnauzer. Seven weeks old.

We overnight, once more, at Rudi’s who is conveniently placed around the halfway point.

There is an ulterior motive…100_2887

John wanted to buy the kids one of these for their lovely home. And we managed to utilise it on the journey.

We’ve done this trip loads of times but I never tire of the view…100_2899100_2897100_2906100_2894

Ostrich…?

Yep.

And I still love those Clarice trees. To bits.

Fast forward and we’re at the bus. Looking a bit forlorn and neglected but so would you if you’d been left alone for two or three years. Nothing a bit of TLC wouldn’t sort out.

I’m very fond of the old bus but, sadly, we’ve no time to spend here. No time to get the power or water hooked up so…100_2908

This is the way we brew up.

And what on earth sort of spider made this web..?100_2913

Some sort of mutant that I sure as hell do not want to meet. Ever.

That aside, I wish we had longer here.

Friends Rosemary and Piet, who  live up a mountain, took pity on us invited us for a braai and gave us a bed for the night. Lovely people.

Piet drove us round his farm and showed off his new venture – he’s always busy and doing something.

Holiday homes…100_2919100_2917100_2915

He and his son have got the building of these down to a fine art and they are superb. All have fine views and none overlooked. Internally they are brilliant too – sorry I didn’t get a pic. Those that are finished are booked up well into next year.

Piet’s home, that he built himself and is constantly improving, and surrounding land is lovely…100_2921

As is the fybnos there…

It smells delicious too.

Turns out they have to be in Cape Town on the same day we fly. Sorted.

John often says that things will sort themselves out. Seems he’s right.

We board the big white bird, me clutching my huge cache of drugs. I’ve even been prescribed an inhaler – just in case and only to be used in emergency.

What could possibly go wrong..?

Things can only get better..

6 Nov

While I do my time – three days and nights – at the Plett Mediclinic, John continues with a much-modified plan and sees our friends onto their aeroplane bound for Blighty. He then returns as far as Knysna (about a half hour away from the hospital at Plett) and stays over at friend Rudi’s place, just outside the town on the road to Rheenendal.

I’m due to be discharged the following day around noon so John duly pitches up to collect me. John settles the bills I’ve racked up (because I’ve managed to get my cards frozen due to consistently entering the wrong pin no – I really wasn’t well) and then I’m free to go. Free is not the best word to use here mind; my stay was actually extremely expensive. But of course I am worth it and, not wishing to critisize our wonderful NHS, I wonder if they could have cared for me so well and in such a timely manner. Besides, I am hoping the insurance will cough up (how very fitting) once I get the claim in.

So, I’m out, feeling much, much better, though perhaps a little more mortal than normal. Final diagnosis was a chest infection and not pneumonia so am thankful for small mercies.

We head once again for Rudi’s, via a pharmacy at nearby Sedgefield to collect my mega amounts of muti, which should keep me going.

Rudi is a very talented chap. He made these…100_2779100_2781

Such workmanship. Stunning.

It’s all in the detail…

As these insets show. Love ’em.

But his first love is sculpting and he’s really churning it out now. His current favourite subject being his Great Dane Ziggy…

Incredible. As ever, click on image to enlarge.

And here’s the real thing…100_2886

Ziggy, in the flesh, more a small horse than a dog.

We overnight and spend the next morning here, a great visit, then it’s off again to PE.

The ever-so-special Evelyn takes it upon herself to look after me…img_20160923_093734431_hdr

All part of the recovery programme. Also making my breakfast, coffee and biscuits and anything else I need. I want to take her home with me.

John reads about solar powered cars that are travelling from Jo’berg to Cape Town via Port Elizabeth so this we have to see. We assemble ourselves at the beachfront car park where they’re due to pitch and wait. It’s blowing an absolute hooley (typical of PE – AKA windy city) so our walk on the beach was a little worrying – I’m well wrapped up but afraid I might be blown away!

We’ve no idea what to expect but are truly blown away when they start arriving…100_2808100_2806

They’re quick!

And on display in the ‘paddock’…

100_2813This one was our favourite…100_2810

More practical, with space for two seats and panels inside…100_2812

A Polish entry.

You got to love this one though…

An old Beetle with a random solar panel strapped onto a roof rack..hee hee.

Some team action…100_2799

Re-charging…

And the innards…100_2805

Not sure about the driving position…100_2804

And these things travel on the road!

Hell of an entourage though – horns, hooters, flashy lights – real African style.

Speaking of African style…100_2785

This epitomises Africa really.

We saw this on the way to Sundays River mouth, which turned out to be very special indeed. We were charged a nominal entry fee – enough to keep out the riff-raff – and after a bit of a drive…100_2829

There was this…100_2832100_2833100_2834

100_2825Almost otherworldly.

Easy to think you were at the seaside…

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But no, it’s a river mouth…100_2860Special eh?

It’s a huge site with walking trails, picnic/BBQ areas, pool, kids area, holiday cottages, fishing and so much more. Probably best to let the pictures do the talking for a while…

And I adore the Prickly Pear…100_2869

Look like big flat feet with lots of toes…100_2851

Toes that burst into flower…100_2876

Wish we’d been a bit later, when in full bloom.

But needed to be earlier for the Aloes…

Just past their best before date.

A heron before John drove at it…100_2835

And after…100_2836

And this is Kudu dung..100_2875

Apparently.

Sundays River…100_2874

A great place.

This has been our transport…100_2840

An ancient Toyota Venture.

And this…100_2879

Is where I want to live.

When in PE..

5 Nov

So  why were we in South Africa at the end of their winter/start of spring and before the sun has properly got its hat on? Or indeed why did we leave a delightful, warm autumn in the UK when another couple of months would have ensured we missed a gloomy, cold winter at home and pretty much guaranteed long lazy days, much hotness and suntans?

Why oh why..?

Back in July, John’s dad, Terry, had a fall and broke his hip. Bugger. A subsequent hip replacement operation had reportedly gone well…oh, and he turned 90! John’s sister flew out there in July to put some help in place, re-jig the living arrangements and generally organise whatever was necessary .

So our visit to PE was all about seeing how he was doing a month down the line, spending some time with the old feller and doing whatever was necessary to make his life easier.

Pleased to report that he is doing just fine and came to meet us when we pitched – walking without a stick, let alone crutches, zimmer frame or any device we’d assumed he’d be needing. I think the twice weekly pilates – that he started aged 80 – has stood him in good stead and, probably, already being very fit and active, considerably aided his recovery.

To the point where he can, with care, still manage the 39 steps to the street…100_2795

Well done sir!

John did a few little practical fixes as required and desired but otherwise Terry, with the help of the lovely Evelyn who called in most days, was still fairly independent.

All of which meant that we could go and do what one does when in PE…

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Addo Elephant Park.

And…

Bay World.

We did the beach, ate out and showed our friends around the area, doing the tourist bit. The two Johns work in aviation, so a trip to the SAAF Museum was not negotiable.

And this particular John jumping into this old war bird was inevitable…100_2773

An Oxford. Go here if you  are also an aviation nut interested to read more about this and/or other historic aircraft they have there.

We spotted this at N2 City,  the local shopping centre…

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Crowd control? Mobile dentist? Inflated ego?

What do you reckon?

Since we were last there, the flamingos have moved in opposite…

John wanted to sling bricks at them to make them take to the air but I wouldn’t let him in case of injury/arrest. Would have made a brilliant photo though…flying flamingos that is, not the John being hauled off to jail.

All too soon, it is time for friends John and Jake to head back to Cape Town for their flight home, their ten day break almost over and we decide to drive back with them, along the garden route, and  put them on the plane.

The plan was to make this journey over a couple of days, with the odd detour thrown in for sightseeing, visiting friends and generally letting them soak up some more of South Africa.

And we could go see the bus on the way back. Great.

But we all know about the best laid plans..

Despite much cough medicine,  hot water bottles, early nights, paracetamol and talk of witch doctors, my chestiness was getting worse and, on the morning we set off, Boatbird was seriously struggling for breath, feeling dire and actually turning blue.

Involuntary euthanasia was considered but it was (thankfully) decided that  a doctor be found en route…

The doctors at Kareedouw – a waiting room, but not as we know it.

By now I’m panicking like crazy clearly distressed at being blue, breathless and a bloody big burden to my travelling companions.

As is John…

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Not.

Long story short, I was seen by a very nice lady doc who stuck me on the nebuliser and, suspecting pneumonia, told us to go to the nearby hospital in Plettenberg Bay where she’d organised x-rays.

Very scared now, I paid the doctor’s fee and off we popped to Plett.

I was X-rayed, admitted, put to bed and stuck on a drip before you could say intravenous antibiotics; tubes delivering oxygen were poked up my nose, temperature and blood pressure measured, blood taken and  examination/interrogation performed by an eminent physician.

By now, I’m more comfortable and just happy to be being looked after. I’m in a private room, that costs £200 a night (and that’s before doctor’s fees, meds, pathology services and so on) with top class en suite facilities, regular meals, radio, TV, slaves on demand and Loads of Attention.

I  surrender myself to the expertise of the experts and the nurse’s tender ministrations. I may as well make the most, relax and accept my fate.

It is what it is and there’s precious little I can do about it.

                                                                                                                        to be continued…

Boatbird flies south..

26 Sep

It’s been a while, as faithful followers will know, since I last darkened the doorstep of sunny South Africa. Five years to be precise. So I was well ready for some sunshine and looking forward to meeting up with old friends, seeing familiar sights and generally being back here.

We (that’s me and Boatbloke, his friend/co-worker, John, and his son, Jake)  flew into Cape Town on the 9th – minus our luggage and, in my case, plus a stinking, snotty cold. So a good start..

The briefest of re-unions at the Bot River Hotel…100_2733

Not a great picture but, trust me, some terrific honky-tonk piano by the barman going on here.

And a great headline when the hotel changed hands…100_2732

Also a rubbish shot but reads: Next generation takes over the reins in one-horse town. Brilliant!

Hopefully will get back this way and spend some time, check out the bus etc).

Anyway, long story short; picked up cases the next day and headed off in our hire car to **Touws River, where John’s youngest son, Geoffrey, was busy training the latest influx of wannabe anti-poaching rangers. This is a gruelling process, involving much PE and running to the top of the mountain and back, managing their supplies (to be carried on their back through the bush) and generally following instructions.

It’s quite a facility  here and we were given the full guided tour in this…100_2735

Saw this and thought of you Graham Harris!

It was used in Bosnia by the paras, and just the job for the terrain here…

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There’s a wild animal cleverly hiding behind the rear view mirror…honest.

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But in safe hands with Geoffrey at the wheel.

Our friends, John and Jake, were even allowed to have a go on the shooting range with both shotgun and pistol – both proving very useful with both. I could have had a go but didn’t want to damage my reputation of being a useless female by out-shooting them, so declined.

Geoffrey gave us a demonstration of making fire…100_2739100_2741100_2742100_2743100_2744And I swear the braai tasted all the better for it.

Geoffrey and girlfriend, Minerva, have a lovely home here , designed by her father (and Geoffrey’s boss) Marcus. It’s a round house, is perfect, and comes complete with a herd of dogs…100_2738

Two of which are captured here.

We stayed over at the house of Marcus and Hilary; Minerva’s parents – another superb house, also designed by Marcus.

Next day we head for Port Elizabeth and John’s father, deciding to take in the odd dirt road to break the monotony of the N2…100_2748100_2747100_2746100_2745

All good fun.

One of Boatbloke’s shortcuts, even if it did add several hundred ‘klicks’ to an already long journey.

By now, I am wheezing and hacking away like a good ‘un. Anybody think I was a heavy smoker or something…

We wend our way towards PE…100_2731100_2730Spotting the obligatory baboons.

And Arriving at PE in time for a sun-downer or two…100_2765100_2764

With that glorious backdrop of the Swartkops river estuary, as viewed from John’s dad Terry’s house.

The beach is a short walk away and it’s Indian Ocean here in the Eastern Cape, so chances are it might be warm. Or not…

Spring has only just sprung so temperatures are not those of mid summer, which it has always been on my previous visits, but more like 20 something. The sea hasn’t had a chance to warm up and feels bloody cold to me. That said, the spring flowers are delightful…100_2790100_2791100_2792

Even more so the roadside blooms, which I hope to be able to feature soon. A shame we missed the aloes – looks like they are just going over.

Fires still burn in the living rooms at night, when temperatures drop into the low teens, and I’ve not had a lot of use for the shorts and flip-flops that I optimistically packed. Yet.

But I have made good use of the electric blanket. Well, I’m a sick bunny don’t you know.

**It wasn’t until I saw the road sign that I realised this was the spelling. It will be forever known to me as Toast River.