Archive | 4:41 pm

Best laid plans..

13 Nov

No matter how well prepared we like to think we are, the best laid plans can – and often do – all too soon turn to rat shit. And my meticulous travel plans did just that.

Nothing life-threatening you understand. It wasn’t the eleven and a half hour flight that was a problem, no that went according to plan, even though the only available seat was in the middle of the middle section of the plane, despite going online in advance to choose my preferred position: left hand window, from where the view on approach to Cape Town is stunning.

I’d been allocated 32E and ‘Would I like to change this?’ Well of course I would. But the only option was 32E, everything else had been taken. The plane was absolutely full . So 32E it was.

But it wasn’t that.

I think my problem started with my choice of hand luggage…

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Amelia. Well-loved but totally impractical…doesn’t do up or stand up – and apt to tip over when propped under the seat in front.

As well as the usual paraphernalia required in-flight, I also packed into Amelia a small toiletry bag with items essential for my survival during, and immediately after, said 11.5 hour flight. I put a lot of thought into the contents of this and they served me well and kept me comfy while on board.

Long story short… I didn’t have it when I got to John’s place, my first stop on this trip to SA. Bugger. Must have been tipped out as we landed, but the airport said it wasn’t in lost and found when I rang later. Double bugger.

It’s not as if I couldn’t buy replacements (not exact matches but similar) but some were slightly treasured items – like old friends – and, call me stupid, it just rattled me.

Still, mustn’t dwell.

Two mountain passes and about an hour’s drive gets us to John’s place…

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He’s now living in the old house, which is at least 200 years old and being refurbished now that the tenants have finally pushed off.

It comes complete with hot and cold running water, a bath and a flush toilet.

Most important is the fencing, which will provide a measure of security…

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As well as improving the look of the place – in my humble opinion.

Gates too…

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With a little help from John’s slave. Justin.

Land cleared and earmarked for campsite…

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Water is connected…

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Remember the bus..?

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If not, go here. And here.

Also due an update and destined to become available for rent. Currently home to John’s slave.

John has rented some land to Helene the ‘dog lady’…

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Who has built a house there for herself and her dogs of which, I am told, this is just a small selection. She rescues, cares for and re-homes dogs in need.

Her latest challenge…

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Poor bloody thing. She’s promised me an ‘after’ shot.

The plan is to do more of this – quick-build houses and letting out – to provide the John with an income/retirement fund. I believe it’s a sound plan and am most impressed with the work so far. It really has come a long way since I was last here.

John’s carpentry skills coming in handy indoors too…

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And an eye for the right piece of wood…

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On which to hang the coats.

Happy family…

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Ginger you’ve met before. Here. Nushka has the mange, poor thing, and is being fostered and cared for by John, under Helene’s supervision. In the short time I was here, I saw a great improvement. Weekly dipping and daily foot spraying, as well as a good dose of TLC, certainly doing the trick.

When I first arrived, the mornings and evenings were chilly so we needed a little fire…

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Fortunately we bought one of these…

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So, when it warmed up, we didn’t have to light the fire to boil the kettle or cook.

And it did soon warm up – 30C + – though the thick walls of the old house kept it nice and cool indoors.

There’s always the solar cooker…

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Which really does work. I’ve seen it.

We did a little foray to the village shop for provisions. I just love the names…

But this really caught my eye…

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Remember when cigarette companies could still display their own distinctive branding on the packet? Well they still do here.

And, at R43, my old brand selling for less than £3 a packet (more like £11 in the UK) makes me almost want to start smoking again! Almost.

As much as I love it here in Bot River, almost like a second home, my visit to South Africa this time is about something a little different. I have work to do and will be staying in Port Elizabeth with John’s dad for most of my time here. But more about that next time.

I’ll leave you with a few random shots from hereabouts before I move on.

Avocado grown from a stone…

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He’s grown a lot of stuff from seed and, I have to say, the garden is looking lovely.

A dung beetle doing its thing…

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You can take the girl out of the boat… But she still ends up talking shit.

Some bamboo that he planted is now coming in handy to make all sorts of stuff. Like a bird feeder…

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Which was well frequented. Of course my pictures of all the pretty and unusual birds are all rubbish. I’ll keep trying.

A receptacle for my rings…

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And somewhere for my pens…

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There is also a rather splendid, if a little phallic, salt pot he crafted but the pic has disappeared. Oddly.

A tiny snake…

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Found on top of the septic tank.

John also caught two Puff Adders while I was there, which he is keeping – securely. There is a video that I don’t have so will spare you that. They are very attractive creatures as well as being highly venomous. I keep my distance!

A full moon rising as the sun goes down…

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Interestingly, the sun and moon track right to left here as opposed to left to right in the northern hemisphere. I suppose that makes sense but it came as a bit of a revelation to me.

A sunset seems like a fitting end to this post so ‘totsiens vir nou’ as they say in these parts.

Coming soon…

estuary stitch

Not long, I promise, I have rediscovered my writing rhythm.