Archive | December, 2011

Rust in Peace

31 Dec

I like cars. Always have. New ones, old ones, fast ones, classic ones, foreign ones, shiny ones, rusty ones. All sorts. I’ve driven lots since age thirteen. I’ve bought them, sold them, coveted them and crashed them.

All in all I prefer the older ones. You had to be able to drive them; nothing was automatic, not even the choke, no syncro on the gears or power steering. In-car entertainment – you’d have to fit a radio and aerial. Traction control – what’s that? Navigation was by roadmap – satellites were the stuff of science fiction. And ABS? To stop quickly meant standing on the brake pedal. They were individual, had character and I could recognise the make by the headlights in my rear-view mirror. Try that today…

But never have I seen a more interesting collection of clapped out, shabby old bangers than on the roads here. They are often suicidally overloaded, kept going on a wing and a prayer and held together with gaffer tape and string. Bald tyres are the norm, despite the fine being more than the cost of a new one, and there’s a few specials about where the wires poke through. Also frequently seen broken down on the shoulder. But they  fix them, somehow manage to keep them going – out of necessity I suspect. At least you can work on older vehicles though. No computer scanner nonsense. Even I could strip down the carburettor of the old Minxie, my first car, blow out the jets and re-assemble.

They would never get through an MOT. But they don’t have to. No annual checks here – just  a one-off roadworthy certificate on change of ownership. Explains a lot.

That’s just what you see. Many of the cars on the road have have engine implants; indeed few bear their original innards. There are big cars with totally unsuitable, under-powered engines to satisfy those with a need to look cool yet hope for economy, and small cars with monstrously tuned jobs – real wolves in sheep’s clothing. And you should see some of the workmanship – varying from the awe-inspiring to the downright terrifying and ramshackle. This is a country of extremes.

And I love them all. It has become my latest photographic fixation and am in search of the best worst example. The sad thing is, three of the vehicles I have been riding in are contenders (two on the road and the other – engine out waiting for a donor).

Like I said in a previous post, we’ve been keeping off the roads so not much photo opportunity. Yet. Expect to see random shots of suitable specimens popping up in future posts, just when you least expect them.

For now, I give you three Fiat (Fix It Again Tomorrow) Unos, with their proud owners. These cars are known hereabouts as kannie dood – meaning immortal. A bit like the old English adage – Old Fords Never Die.

Les and his blue one-John and his red one-Robert and his white one

Red-Neck Christmas

31 Dec

We made a conscious decision to stay away from everything this silly season – the shops, the roads, the people. Even the pub. Traffic cops will be out in force and tend to sit in gaggles, five cars strong,  just where you don’t need them – en route of the pub and the bus  is a favourite. Everybody drinks and drives here so not only is it damned dangerous if you get in the way of a bakkie full of boozed up blacks,  but the penalties can be awful if you get caught doing it yourself. And I don’t fancy an African jail. At all. You don’t get bail and  have to stay banged up till the magistrate comes off holiday, which may be some time. It’s not so much Bah Humbug as self preservation.

So here we are at the bus on an isolated farm. It’s like the world has gone away. Really.  We are pottering about, doing exactly as we please without a care for usual traditions/Family Commitments/The Christmas Dinner/Present Buying. None of that commercial crap. Couldn’t be better. T.J. has loaded music and movies onto the little craptop so we are sorted in that department and right nice it is too.

I know it’s still out there though as e mails from distraught friends who are caught up in it all depict all too clearly. My heart goes out to you.

Over the holiday, John has been gently but steadily converting the bus lights to LED and/or engaging in a little landscaping. The results of both are brilliant and, in the case of the latter, surprisingly instant.

Newly converted Deco fitting

New terrace and planting above shower

I’ve been having a crack at painting, having acquired some cute little reseal-able plastic pots of water based paint and a brush. (They came in a kit which included a model horse, which I’m sure John will enjoy putting together at some point). And John produced a sketch pad from thin air. I’m pleased with my efforts, not bad for a first attempt, and I have started a gallery on the bus windows. I think it might be worth pursuing and look forward to splashing out on some proper tools for the job.

Painting kit

We didn’t quite get away with it though. On The Day itself, John’s tenants invited us over for the evening… “You both come eat with us?” Well, be rude not to. So we abandoned the fire, which was just about ready for the steak, and I fridged all the trimmings I’d been lovingly chopping, grabbed all the beer we could carry and wandered over.

There’s quite a bit of serious drinking to be done before we get a go at the food. Let me tell you, these people can really drink. We sit on the stoep, amid assorted white goods (mostly defunct), bits of machinery, bags of rubbish for re-cycling, empty bottles, a compressor, boxes, the odd straggly plant, a propeller mounted over the door and a parrot (also likes a drink) with washing lines, complete with pegs, zig-zagging overhead.

It’s a generous verandah though and we all fit – us, mum, dad, three boys and a girlfriend. Chairs and stools for the grown-ups, steps for the kids and wobbly table for the brandy, coke and ice bucket. Two dogs, three cats and geese roam the yard where various kennels and cages abound (containing what I’m not sure and don’t want to know), more washing line, hosepipe, bits of scrap, more broken things, dog bowls and three motorbikes. (In-between drinks, the boys take off on these for hairy rides around the farm, arriving back with scraped arms and legs, covered in sand and in hysterics). Beyond the fence sits an old broken BMW car and a working (but only just – three cylinders at best and wiring to worry about) bakkie.

The talk is largely Afrikaans, interspersed with enough English to stop me glazing over, and the laughter is constant, free and infectious. These are simple folk who party hard when not working. It’s all very red-neck but charming. No signs of vanity or pretence here; what you see is what you get.

The food was eventually made available and what a spread it was. Roast chicken, salt beef, gammon, lamb, tongue with an army of accompanying salads and sauces. Delicious. Despite being full to bursting, I indulged in the pud – can’t say what is was but it was very sweet, sickly and sensational.

1 week old kitties

We had a great time. And we found the kittens.

So how was it for you?


Boomslang and other assorted visitors

23 Dec

The Boomslang

Yesterday, I was sitting with the old leg up, as per doctor’s orders, when I heard a sort of scuffling noise outside the bus. At first on looking out the window I saw Sasha, next doors’ dog, seemingly having a mad five minutes – as animals sometimes do. When I focussed though, the picture changed and I realised that she was attacking a snake. Biting it on its back to be precise.

“Snake” I yelled and John was off like a shot, grabbing his snake-stick on the way. He raced round to the side of the bus where all the action was, shooed Sasha away and got a grip of the snake with said stick.

John in snake mode

I don’t recognise snakes and am in awe of them. It could have been a Black Mamba for all I know. My heart was fair thumping and I feared for John’s safety though he did seem to be in control and know what he was doing.

Kerfuffle over, John told me that it was a Boomslang (literal translation tree snake). Whilst the venom is pretty deadly, they rarely attack unprovoked and its fangs are right at the back the mouth. They can, however, open up their mouths to 90 degrees, which may not be the flip-top head of a Puff Adder, but enough to shoot the deadly juice.

Given that Sasha was trying to bite it in half, this must have been one thoroughly pissed off pussy-cat.

Later, when John had returned our uninvited guest to its natural habitat – a tree, but far from the bus – we debated from where it had come. Seems in cooler weather, they hole up in the nests of Weaver Birds – two of which we have hanging from the tree right above the bus. If this was the case, it might well have dropped down onto the bus roof as it warmed up and from there just slithered down to the ground.

The stuff of nightmares and James Bond movies eh?

I didn’t see a single solitary snake when here last year but am still vigilant when outdoors as I have been told there are many around and about. Given that I’ve now seen two, in as many weeks, I am inclined to believe this. My eyes are permanently peeled.

On a less dramatic note, the neighbours’animals have adopted us. The afore-mentioned Sasha, together with her companion of unknown name and dubious pedigree, now run to greet us as we arrive home in the car. Sasha sleeps under the bus as if protecting us from intruders. It’s all we can do to keep her from moving in.

Our favourite black and white cat

Sasha and roadkill

Also a couple of  cats – a ginger, and our favourite black and white – come to visit. The latter has just had kittens, as yet unseen and hidden in the bush. Best it stays that way probably…

I think it’s cupboard love though. They get the scraps from the braai and the odd glass of milk. Not to mention a go at the road kill we picked up on the way to Kleinmond the other day – a guinea fowl which is destined for the pot.

Pregnant and hungry little lion

Guinea head

Don’t Guineas have amazing heads? Just look at the colours.

Up a Gum Tree

23 Dec

Crazy elevated canopy

It was love at first sight when, last year, I first clapped eyes on this particular species of Eucalyptus. I think it’s a Sugar Gum, though not sure; there are many, many species of Gum it seems. It’s that crazy elevated canopy that does it for me.

I have dubbed them Clarice Cliff trees, for obvious reasons if you are familiar with her work, and I love them to bits. As I do her stuff in general and, for that matter, the entire Deco period.

They are all over the place here and I have developed a passion for them. None is safe when I have the camera to hand.

John has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into this (probably unhealthy) obsession of mine. Car journeys are never to be the same again as we vie to spot the best specimen. It is “I-Spy” with knobs on. And, if we spot a good one, we risk life and limb by stopping on the shoulder in order to capture its image, in the hope that this one will be The One.

I have built up quite a file of said photos since my arrival here in November (sad I know) but still I search for that perfect shot. I’ve not achieved it yet though, be assured, I shall keep trying.

Next thing – I want to try is painting them. Can just see a very washy sort of water colour image in my mind’s eye and hope to be able to translate this into a picture/pictures. Would work extremely well as a mural too, I reckon,  if you had the right sort of space in which to create one that is.

As it is, my photography isn’t brilliant but practice makes perfect. At least I will have something to go on when I start on the painting. Of course I will need to acquire some sort of painting kit – I had one of those kids’ tin boxes and a jam-jar in mind to start with. No sense in laying out a fortune if it turns out my artistic talent is imaginary and, in reality, I am useless. It could well be the case- – we shall see.

Clarice Cliff trees

I’m sure there’s plenty of worse things in the world to be fixated on but this is definitely my kind of Christmas tree.

Speaking of which, do have a good one.

Horse Fly: 1 Boatbird: 0

21 Dec

Come midday yesterday I was in such pain and the red-hotness had spread almost to my knee. Any attempt at arranging my leg vertically was agony – even without putting any weight on it. After googling insect bites and scaring myself silly, I conceded that a trip to the doctor would be prudent. They’re good here – OK so you pay around thirty quid for a consultation- and they fitted me in within the hour.  Takes that long to drive there.

The very nice Doc ruled out allergic reaction but confirmed infection. The little critter had probably had its teeth/sting in something very nasty before it attacked me. Not a nice thought. I was also running a temperature apparently and, don’t you know, one more day would have seen me in hospital being fed penicillin intravenously.

He has my attention as he explains carefully what I would have to do in order to beat this thing, hopefully without the hospital drama. A 5 day course of double anti-biotic pills, cream for the actual wound and go to bed. He did eventually relent on the bed story and agreed that I could sit with my leg up. (John said “so no change there then”). Take paracetamol too, if necessary, to bring down the fever, and apply the cream 2-3 times a day. And if I wasn’t any better by Thursday, I must go back. Oh, and he told me it would be painful. You don’t say…

My daily dose

On presenting the script to the pharmacist, I was strongly advised to also take a pro-biotic so as to avoid thrush. He might just be a good salesman but it worked – don’t need that as well. It cost even more at the chemist than it did at the Doctors’ (at least I can claim back on the insurance – I checked) and I have to take a total of eight capsules every day, not including the one I am already taking for the stomach job. I have had to draw up a chart of when to take what. Still, it is only for 5 days and a small price to pay if it works.

As I sit, leg elevated and fly swat primed for action, I remember how I prided myself that, at the ripe old age of 56, I needed no medication at all. How things change – and so quickly. With any luck, neither will be permanently required.

The good news is that already the drugs seem to be working and there has been a drastic reduction in the size of my leg. The pain is still ferocious when my leg is not up but the red-hotness is fading.

Good signs.

Boatbird is bitten

19 Dec

Of all the biting creatures in this neck of the woods, I have been virtually immobilised by a common or garden bloody Horse Fly. They are nasty little critters (not so small actually) that are present, pretty much, world over. You may have come across them in dear old England – I was bitten by one once before, when out on the river, and the back of my thigh swelled up something awful. Even the pharmacist winced.

This time, the blighter got me on the top of my foot, near the ankle. Once again it has swollen dramatically, so that putting any weight on it at all (ie walking) is excruciatingly painful. Even John (Mr Sympathy – not) could see that I would not be able to operate the clutch pedal and rushed me to Kleimond (nearest town likely to have a chemist) this morning. At the expense of his flying too.

I had brought the Anthisan cream with me, as part of the first aid kit, as I know the mozzies love me. I applied this yesterday, often, but it just doesn’t cut it when it comes to Horse Fly bites. Has to be the anti-hystermine pills then, which for some unknown reason, I failed to pack. Can’t say there’s been any improvement so far, still red hot and very painful, but I guess these things take time; I shall have to suffer a little longer.

Other than that, the last few days have been fairly uneventful. Blissfully so. A positive whirl of hazy laziness,  spent largely in the hammock and punctuated by laundry duties, making salad to accompany the braai, a scramble up the mountain at the back of us, incorporating a guided tour of the farm boundary – impressive. Oh, and the odd visit to the hotel. Just to be sociable you understand. I did, to be fair, also do a major shop at Spar (the equivalent here to Tesco) in order to make sure we have provisions over the holiday period. I figured that, hating shopping as I do, it makes sense to do it in one big hit. John, even more sensibly, holed up in a nearby bar while I endured this.

Especially good to stock up as we have a working fridge now AND a freezer. Forgot to mention the freezer – it seems its been working all along, on the electricity, but we just hadn’t thrown the right switch before. But looking at the master controls, it’s hardly surprising.

The weather here has settled down and is more like what I remember from last year. Lovely blue skies and sunshine – must be mid 20’s plus now. Perfect. The breeze always gets up here in the afternoon so stops it feeling sticky and, a master-stroke of note was moving the bus well back into the trees. Keeps it shady and cool indoors.

We may fly the coast along to Hermanus and back, over the mountain and back to the strip. Maybe Wednesday, weather and foot permitting.  It’ll be about an hour’s flying and should be a good opportunity to get some aerial shots – see what I can do. Depends how tightly I feel the need to hang on I guess… It will mean getting out of bed at around 5am in order to get airborne before 8 and avoid the afternoon wind; makes landing a little more challenging. See pics for other hazzards at Bird Valley:

Road trip no 2 is also in the planning stages for after the holidays. Once more to PE (via a stop over at friends near Knysna) and then across country, through Ladismith to Anysberg.  Somewhere John has always wanted to go and says is lovely. Another part of the country to explore. Brother Phil has friends near East London so may look them up also – see if they remember me.

John has got his 125cc motorbike going and is currently off to try it out on the road. Good luck with that. It’s a lot more economical for trips to the airfield/shop for a paper or whatever, and, means I get the use of the car when he’s off mechanicing for the day in Hermanus.

I’m going to apply more cream to my sore ankle now. I’m sure it got worse while I’ve been writing. Did I say how bloody painful it is?

Strange Behaviour

15 Dec

You never really know what John will get up to next.

He is famous for sticking beer bottle labels to the tables on the stoep at the hotel in Bot Rivier. Seems he is having a go at paperhanging the bus interior now with same. One of the really good things about the bus is that nothing you inflict on it has a detrimental effect.

Ditto the car.

This set the tone for the day and we’ve not done a great deal of anything. Just generally mooched about a lot. I managed to lose all the camping gear, which was previously chucked on or around the driver’s seat, so a big improvement. It could be a nice place to sit. This meant I first had to lose the previous contents of said underseat compartment, some very chintzy spare curtains – never in a million years. Charity shop then. Trouble with those places, I always come out with more than I take in.

I did find some good old winter woollies though, which might come in handy if the evenings continue to be chilly.

Had lunch at the hotel – chicken burgers. We are limiting our eating out and our visits to the hotel the best we can for two reasons. 1) To make the money last and 2) In the interests of sobriety. It is impossible to just pop in for one, though we have gone there with this in mind on many occasions. It just doesn’t work and always turns into a session.

A few pics of the bus:

It has good accommodation – shorter but wider than the boat.

Not so bad eh? We like it.

Lots of plans for the front compartment – all in good time.
The son has gone now, so it’s time to rattle those pots and pans. The gas rings tend to warm up the bus but I might just have to add the socks….

 

Woolly Socks

14 Dec

I was more than usually distracted by the view this morning as I sat sipping the post breakfast coffee. Before my very eyes, the mountains to the starboard side of the bus disappeared altogether, just as if someone had closed the net curtains. Then five minutes later the nets re-opened and there they were, back again in full glory. This is the speed at which the weather is changing at the moment.

We were woken again in the night by heavy showers and furious winds from the north east that rocked this old bus. No leaks this time fortunately. About 6am, we looked out the back window ( from the bed we get a panoramic view of the sky through the treetops) to moody looking clouds and bending, windblown trees. In a very short space of time, this vision had changed completely to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. Then back again to the gloom, followed by more rain and then sunshine again. This cycle continued for a while – at least two cups of tea in bed’s worth of time anyway.

All things considered, this was to be a long’s day, as opposed to shorts, and, to start with anyway, the woolly socks. It’s bloody cold when it’s not hot.

Good news and bad news.

Good: the camera I had ordered online on Monday was delivered to the hotel as requested today. For a long time I’ve been threatening to get a decent one so, when John left the charger for his in the UK, now seemed like a good time. Can’t wait to get snapping.

Bad: A crown (fitted years and years ago) has worked its way loose. John’s dentist fitted me in though (good timing as packing up tomorrow for the holidays) and, 20 minutes and no pain later, Bingo – it is safely cemented back in. Maybe the dirt roads had jarred it loose or perhaps I’m just chewing too much meat.

On the way home, on another dirt road to miss the building traffic, we saw two blue cranes right by the side of the road. They are magnificent creatures – SA national bird. Wish I had the camera up and running…. Never mind, there will be more.

Just eaten a fig off the tree in the garden. Marvellous. Nothing like you get at Tesco. I learned today that there are orange and lemon trees growing on this plot too. Must investigate – home grown lemons in the G & T sounds good to me.

John has jacked up the bus again. Looks a little precarious but the bubble in the spirit level is almost centred. Won’t last though. The step to get on/off the bus is now considerably steeper so will have to make sure I don’t fall off. At least the bed should be more level.

Oh, and we’ve acquired a snake. Joy. It was found in the boy’s garden at Stanford – a Puff Adder. Highly venomous though not aggressive, this snake kills and causes horrendous injury to a huge number of people. It isn’t a nerve toxin like the Cobra for instance but causes necrosis: i.e. rots the flesh. It blends in with the terrain so well that often it strikes because, unseen, it gets trodden on. And this makes it mad.

I’m not a snake fan, though I can admire its beauty, but from afar. John has been handling snakes since he was a boy so I have to believe he knows what he’s doing. He uses a purpose made stick with which he has, for now, captured it securely in a container – outside thankfully. I think he’ll set it free eventually.

And speaking of John, he has gone to bed to get warm. I think I must join him.

Roadtrip no. 1

13 Dec


In between all the domesticity, we have travelled to Port Elizabeth to see John’s dad. We wanted to make this first trip before silly season started – national holidays begin around the 15th December, everywhere shuts down until mid-January and the roads become a nightmare of note. We’ll no doubt have to brave this at some point  as we will probably spend some time at PE over Christmas/New Year but hey, we’ll deal with that as and when.

John’s no. 1 son, TJ, took on all the driving – he was keen to try out his 1966 Mercedes Benz 230s on a run. Last year, he and John spent time transplanting a Toyota turbo diesel engine (to replace the thirsty petrol original) which he knows works fine around town but this was to be the long distance test. Fingers crossed then…

Conrad, no 2 son, was on leave from his anti-poaching unit up at Bela Bela so also came along – he hadn’t seen his Granddad for a while and was also a good opportunity to catch up with his dear old dad.

TJ is a good driver and the car performed wonderfully well. It drops a little oil, now and then, and it is essential to carry water for the odd top-up, but other than than I can’t fault it. OK, so it’s a bit rusty. We travelled the 500 miles along the Garden Route (N2 – a major national road) in red leather luxury that is reminiscent of another age when cars were individual, had their own character and had quarter lights (my favourite) where you can flick you cigarette ash. This really is a treasure for the smokers among us – especially in this age of human rights, PC and ridiculous proposals to ban smoking in your own car.

The Benzie ate up the miles ( it’s a full days driving), leaving me to soak up the stunning scenery as I attempted a few potshots for the old album.

We visited a penguin sanctuary – SAMREC – (South Africa Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre), which was fascinating, various museums including the old Station at Uitenhage and the VW auto pavillion, where we had fun playing racing/rally driver. Most enjoyable. Then we generally hung about in and around John’s Dad’s place. Being on the river estuary, it’s a very nice place to be. And close to the beach too. And it has a bath. Lucky me.

John’s dad is great. 85 years old and as fit as a fiddle. And still sailing.

We found some interesting wildlife in the garden and a snakeskin that had been shed. Good food (Conrad is a super cook and TJ is a braai master) and plenty to drink, naturally.

The minkeys that plagued John’s Dad have gone – probably due to Flash the dog attacking one of the troup. She’s a good guard dog (part Doberman, part Rotty) but also a real fusspot.

It wont let me load the videos ( or maybe it’s me) of the giant earthworm and driving along the seafront at PE.

Maybe I’ll try again another time.

I’m going to call it a day for now and take a drink to absent friends.

Happy birthday Peter.

The Magic Bus

11 Dec

This was my first sight of the bus last year – that which was to be my home for the next couple of months or so.  We had been on the road, camping and living out of suitcases for about a month by this point so I was looking forward to a few home comforts…..

Understandably, I was a tad disheartened on arrival and, on looking inside, things didn’t get much better. Still, never let it be said that I can’t handle a bit of roughing  it, although those that know me will appreciate my need for a minimum of life’s little luxuries; running water, a loo, comfy bed – that sort of thing. Whilst the first two weren’t apparent, at least there was the prospect of a decent night’s sleep.

The bus (bought from one who had already fitted it out) had the makings of an excellent home and needed only some vigorous DIY and serious TLC. The fit-out wasn’t particularly to our taste  – a bit too caravan – but one thing at a time.  John set about getting the mysteriously broken windscreen replaced, treating the rust and clearing up rubbish from the site, while I busied about restoring order to the interior and generally making it homey. I found some lovely treasures hidden away in the cupboards – hand-made pottery and pictures etc – which I displayed/pinned up. We cut out the horrid blue nylon carpet, which was totally unclean-able and served only to trap sand brought in on our feet, painted the floor and bought rugs.

It came complete with a running engine, generator, inverter and gas geyser. Fantastic but the installation was puzzling, to say the least, and would take some unravelling, so therefore a long-term project. There was a gas fridge and freezer (neither working), gas oven/hob, microwave, an immersion heater cum calorifier and air conditioning. Power is from an extension lead from the nearby house, which is occupied by John’s tenants.

By the end of our stay last year, we’d made good progress and had decided we would ditch the air con, immersion heater/calorifier in the interests of simplicity, (this is Africa after all) and send the fridge off for re-gassing. The jury was still out on the freezer. John had the genny running, though just how it worked needed more figuring. All in all, we were pleased with our efforts so far.

Fast forward to the present…

A bus is not so different to a narrowboat, I’ve decided. OK, so it doesn’t float but it does sink into the sand- nose first, having the effect of tipping the bed, which is crossways at the back, sideways. Most odd to sleep on, making you feel like you could end up on the floor if you roll over too quickly. No. 1 job for John then was to level things up by jacking the bus under the axle and propping it with tree stumps, blocks of wood or whatever else was to hand. Turns out this is an ongoing job as the sand continues to shift.

Another urgent job was to hook up the hammock. Well, you have to get your priorities right, don’t you? And very good it is too – a favourite spot in the shade of a Rooikrants tree.

And, as I had carried a loo all the way from the UK, this was quickly installed too. It was donated by brother Phil and much appreciated. Thanks bro…it sure beats the alternative.

Water comes from a spring up in the mountain behind the bus. Previously we had trekked to fill 5 litre containers for the use of but now, thanks to  lengths of hosepipe that John has connected up and buried to keep the water cool, we now have water on tap. In the bus – over the kitchen sink. Marvellous. John drinks this but as I haven’t the third world immunity that he has, I am still thinking twice about the wisdom of this. We also have a series of outside taps; handy for watering the plants and a good idea when approaching fire season, as we are. Bush fires are very scary things.

There’s no stopping him now. We now have a sort of solar heating arrangement, made up of pipes that zig-zag overground. Ingenious but simple, as most good systems always are.

It feeds an outdoor shower (still a work in progress) that we have both tried and pronounced superb. It’s amazing how hot the water gets in just a short space of time but also cools quickly too when the sun has gone down so timing is of the essence.

We are keen to sort out the garden too – lots of ideas – and have made a start on that. There will be a marvellous braai (BBQ) area for starters, flowers, shrubs, herbs and salad plants. The fig tree at the old house is laden this year so look forward to a bit of scrumping before too long…

There is the odd distraction though, and not just the pub. A baby tortoise (they grow giant ones here too) how cute is that?