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Ducks in a row…

10 Dec

Always good to get one’s ducks in a row and these guys certainly seemed to have nailed it.

On the other hand…

That’s just showing off!

More than I can say for the power company here – Eskom.

They are calling it load shedding, a term I’ve not heard since the 60’s. Back then, it made the tele picture go wobbly, but here the power goes off completely, twice a day…

But Terry is, as ever, prepared. Except when his marvellous tip-you-up chair gets stuck in the fully reclined position! But he remains cheerful as we discuss the headline: Old man trapped in electric chair..

The cuts usually last a couple of hours each and this is happening all over South Africa. Word is, years of little or no maintenance is to blame and has led to such drastic measures.

There’s also some shocking allegations being bandied about. I’ve read that over a 14 year period, production has remained flat, employment increased by 50% and the average annual salary quadrupled.

Interesting way to run a business.

All the more reason to get out and about…

Schoenmakerskop.

I think that translates to shoemaker’s town, so Northampton on sea..?

Hardly. It’s one row of houses and a café. There’s plenty of parking, strategic seating at viewpoints and good steps down to the beach. I gave them the swerve though, bearing in mind the company I am keeping.

So, I’ve been to the beach, sort of, but not felt the sand between my toes. Yet.

Another drive out…

To a wild flower reserve – sadly largely charred after the wild fires. There’s every chance this will regenerate though – see here for how – just not the best time to visit.

Great views though…

Van Stadens bridge.

We took the pass, which winds you right down to the bottom of the gorge, so you look up at this bridge (the main freeway) before climbing out the other side. Breath-taking stuff.

Closer to home…

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The sparrows are nesting.

And, as I type, it’s raining fairly hard – that’s always welcome here – thunder and lightning too. I love a good storm.

Be interesting to look at the rain gauge tomorrow and see just how much we got. Sounds significant to me.

Never seen these in flower before…

And the obligatory sunset…

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Over the estuary.

From planet John…

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Lotus bud.

And…

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Loving this.

Both from a visit to a garden somewhere near Stellenbosch.

In John’s own garden…

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A Moonflower.

If you don’t like creepy-crawlies, look away now…

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Scorpion. Found under his grandson’s cot! They do live in the desert mind at Touws River – or Toast River as I like to call it.

Puff Adder…

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Shedding its skin.

Oh so cute…

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Little stripy mice.

Cape Chameleon…

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Found at the nearby dam…

 

At a local steampunk museum…

 

I so want to go there.

Remember Zola…

mange

I promised an after shot but not quite there yet, so this is during…

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Much more like it. Now that’s attitude.

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Good work Helene.

A lovely African image…

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Louis, happy in his work. Nice half lap joint, using machete only.

This post wouldn’t be complete without…

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Pilchards. But not as we know them.

I must now get my own ducks in a row and pay some attention to that little project of mine. 

Tick-tock.

 

Moving on…

30 Nov

And we are off. Port Elizabeth, here we come..!

Pretty much a whole day’s driving at 411 miles – or 662 klicks as they say in South Africa – a good 7/8 hours on the road. But actually quite pleasant when there’s two of you to share the driving.

The scenery is stunning…

harvest-time

Along the garden route. Freeway all the way.

But it’s even more interesting when this is one’s mode of transport…

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Yep, it’s a FIAT. And we all know what that stands for.

OK – Fix It Again Tomorrow, for those of you on another planet.

John bought this from a friend, who didn’t want to sell it to him – because he was a friend. That should tell you something. Undeterred, John resurrected it from the dead and has been carefully nurturing it ever since, diligently checking over and replacing parts as and when.

He calls it the Mighty UNO. It’s way old and one has to really know how to drive to make it go, unlike the cars of today that practically drive themselves. (Some of course actually do.) It has a manual choke and a gearbox of the stick-in-a-bucket variety. Fortunately, I was brought up on this type of vehicle, back in the day, and actually enjoyed driving it. Just like old times..!

Anyway, John will offload me at his dad’s house in PE…

johns-dads-placeWhere I shall be staying until the new year. John, on the other hand, beetles back to continue working on his own place after a couple of days respite.

To the front is the Swartkops river estuary…

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estuary stitch

Glorious by day and night.

Lots of wildlife…

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A Goliath heron.

A postcard depicting the bay here…

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Bluewater Bay. The sailboat belonged to Terry – might well have been him sailing it.

Some local fishermen trespassing on the private jetty/parking…

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Not knowing they are on candid camera…

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Annoying the hell out of Terry.

Sorry, I missed a trick there. Top left shows a tray for birdseed, which attracts loads of our feathered friends and great to watch from the comfort of your armchair. Trust me to snap the tele when the tray is empty – of seed and birds!

And there’s a huge nature reserve at the back. I’ve never been here to see the aloes in bloom but am told they are quite a sight. Oh, and a beach just around the corner that I still haven’t been to – Indian ocean so the sea should be warm. Soon, soon.

So why am I here? Well it’s one of those win-win situations:

John’s father, Terry, is a spritely 92 year old who lives here alone. He is razor sharp in the brain department but, since hip replacement surgery following a fall that also mangled his shoulder, and recent trauma to his leg, he needs a little help with a few things: socks and shoes, monitoring blood pressure and medication, help with phone calls – he’s very deaf (a trait the John has inherited, though I think his is more selective). All pretty minor stuff really.

He can still get up and down the 39 steps that lead to the street…

With support – mostly moral. Can’t see them all here, but you get the picture.

There’s tortoises hiding in there too…

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Which dement the dog.

Terry makes his own bread (delicious) and here he is…

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Boxing up meals, cooked earlier, ready for the freezer. I should really take a leaf out of his book.

He has a maid/carer – Evelyn – who comes in three times a week, which is great ’cause on her days I also get served breakfast, elevensies and lunch; my bed made and washing done. I could get used to this.

There’s also a garden boy – Peter – who pitches up on Sundays to keep everything neat and tidy…

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This pic shows a fully equipped workshop and above, Terry’s late wife’s art studio that is accessed through the white gate seen in the other pics…up yet more steps.

She was a very talented lady who produced some lovely work…

Beautifully African and atmospheric. I like.

And there’s a driver – Carl – a phone call away.

Plus plenty of friends; some already having paid us a visit – curious to meet ‘the barge lady’. Hope I didn’t disappoint.

He no longer drives, because of the shoulder, so some chauffeuring is required. For instance, we went to the Armistice service at a local chapel…

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Looking smart complete with medals.

We go to his weekly Pilates session with the lovely Maria…

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Which he has been doing for the last twelve years – he started at age 80. I think it’s what keeps him so fit and enabled him to recover so well from surgery.

I am also having sessions now in the hope it will do similar for me…some hope! But Terry is quite tickled that I’m joining in.

We took the dog to be groomed…

Tiger – before and after.

And to the vet. But that’s a whole other story!

There’s also shopping and general day to day stuff. But I see my role more as that of companion, someone to chat to/watch tele/share jokes/stories with.

He has some jolly good stories too, being RAF and widely travelled. He’s lived in some exotic locations, including Malaysia (where John was born) and Libya (where John did some schooling). And he’s done some amazing road trips. I am finding it all fascinating. And, despite moving out here in the 60’s, he stills sounds like the Londoner he is. No trace of a SA accent.

Turns out, we rub along quite nicely and both enjoy a gin and tonic/glass of wine as well.

So, apart from a drinking partner, what do I get out of this little arrangement?

For starters, there’s free lodgings, which are very comfortable, and where  I have been allocated the master bedroom. This comes complete with en-suite (resplendent in 1960/70s avocado), adjacent office and private lounge with views to die for…

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I also get the run of the rest of the house and garden and the use of a car…

The Conquest: probably even more ancient than the Uno but meticulously maintained and still going strong – well, it is a Toyota!  Even if it does only have four gears.

Quite a popular model here…

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Though the later models are called Tazz.

And for my old buddies from Daewoo days…

There’s a fair smattering of these about – old and new.

It is of course summer here with temperatures in the mid to high twenties at the mo…

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In the shade

Probably going higher in December and January. And if I can miss much of the British winter, that alone is pretty much back of the net for me.

But there’s another thing. I have the opportunity to spend time turning an idea for a novel into the first draft of a book. So I have work to do. That’s the plan anyway. Starts with a vengeance this week. Really.

Crikey…it’s Thursday already! And I’ve been here a whole month.

To date, I have become a little embroiled in the daily life and ways of South Africa, which is largely the same…only different.

This is a yield sign…

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A stop street

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And they call these robots

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Their cell phone towers get disguised…

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This one masquerading as a lighthouse. I’ve seen ones up country done up like fir trees. Gets my vote.

The ‘lighthouse’, and sea beyond, is the view from the local shopping centre where you find these…

They are called trolley porters (says so on the back of his overall, but BB not quite getting that in shot) and are most helpful. When they’ve loaded you up, they take away the trolley too. No coins in the slot malarkey here..!

I’ve not yet managed to master this method of transporting goods…

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A fine example of head carrying.

This is still called a bridge…

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I just like it.

And it seems their policeman also take naps in the road…

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And I’ve already said about the brand names…

A couple more I spotted.

Oh, and the laid back cat at the hardware store…

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I could go on (and on and on…) but won’t. Expect I’ll be back before too long with loads more to tell you though.

But I must get busy with that book…

BFN xx

I do love a list..

12 Sep

shipwreck

google image

No, not that sort of list.

A list of what to do – must do, could do, should do. A list of what to take – must take, might take. And a list of what to get – most items here followed by a question mark at this stage. All growing by the minute…

Woman Reading Long List

As a wannabe spontaneous person, I guess that’s a huge fail. But, in my defence, I am planning a three month excursion to the southern hemisphere and have to be prepared…

wheelbarrow

Third world. Don’t you just love it?

I’d already started the process of renewing my passport, it expiring in September, not realising I’d need it so soon but knowing I couldn’t not have a current one. Turns out this was a good move as, whilst the online renewal process is agreeably simple and speedy, the courier designated to deliver the finished product wasn’t.

Living on a boat/being of no fixed abode has its challenges and getting one’s mail is one of them. No friendly postie for me. I collect my mail from the Post Office, which works wonderfully well. Usually. When it comes to ‘signed for’ items, life can get a little complicated and, depending on the individual tasked to unite you with your precious/ID sensitive package, can be fraught with frustration. And it was. Very.

After several abortive attempts to meet with this (non) delivery person, I did what I had to do and arranged to collect from the local DX depot. Simple. Well it was, if you don’t count the numerous phone calls to the passport office (@ 35p per minute on the mobile) and those to the courier.

Still, mission accomplished. I have my new passport…

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Shame it’s not the new British version as promised with the exit from the EU but hey, let’s not go there. And no, you’re not getting to see the photo!

Tick-Box

Another item on the list (must do) is to ensure my drug dependency medication needs are catered for, so a trip to the surgery and pharmacy required. Now sorted and another box ticked. Going well.

Well it was. Opposite the chemist shop in Sawbo central is a trendy little boutique with all sorts of desirable things in its window…

o

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It’s the kind of place that never displays the prices so I’ve always avoided it like the plague. Like they say, if you have to ask…

expatrate_savings__2670443b

google image

But yesterday there was a couple of lovely, loose fitting, linen frocks hanging outside with big red sale tickets attached. End of season and just the job for my upcoming trip. My ‘what to get’ list includes ‘clothes?’ and, before you could say that now was the perfect time to bag a bargain, I’d been sucked in and handed over the plastic to pay for both of these. Plus a (not in the sale but just what I’d been looking for forever) top.

But, no guilt here. I am so worth it.

The ‘get Hobo ready for winter’ list has morphed into a ‘prepare Hobo for abandonment’ list. And I do feel guilty about that. But, willing neighbours/friends have offered to be there for her/care for her, so I am reassured on that front.

My immediate neighbour will take on the role of looking after of my feathered friends…

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Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. For the Disney fans among you.

Takes me back. In another life, when I had the pub, we hosted many impromptu jam sessions. All sorts of musicians would turn up, from far and wide, and strut their stuff…

jam-session

google image

As time went by and sobriety went out the window, the local musos would progress from classic rock and blues and turn to Disney. They’d belt out tunes from the likes of Mary Poppins and Jungle Book and we’d all join in. We all knew the words. Let’s go fly a kite… I’m the king of the swingers... and many more. Good times.

Ha ha, got you! Bet you’re all singing now!

Back to the future, said neighbour will take me to the airport too – probably just to make sure I’m really gone. Seriously, I’m always blown away by the kindness of boatie folk, yet never surprised. Looking out for each other – it’s what we do. And I love that.

Something I must do, sooner rather than later, is to order some currency…

images3YZP2NAA

Right now, I can get almost twice as many Rand to the Pound than when I last visited.

My trip may be a month away but, as you know, time waits for no man. Or Boatbird. Before we know it, I’ll be winging my way to sunny South Africa, ready or not for what is to come.

Get to it BB.

sheikh-tuhin-To-Do-List

Get those boxes ticked.

Out of Africa..

3 Aug

Since we are having such a wonderful summer, I thought I’d write a bit about South Africa where it’s winter.

Not that the winters there are anything like ours. It’s often warm and sunny during the day though chilly at night. There may be rain – with luck – which is always needed desperately. And, of course, the days are much shorter.

That said…IMG-20180702-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180702-WA0001.jpg

They have had snow in the Karoo!

Blooming now…IMG-20180623-WA0006.jpg

Jade plant – AKA money plant.IMG-20180802-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180730-WA0004.jpg

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Wish we had colour like that during our winter!

Remember this..?WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.33.51

Claw marks of a leopard.

Then came the footprints…IMG-20180721-WA0002.jpg

So John’s youngest put out bait, by way of a dead sheep, and set up a camera.

And…

IMG-20180722-WA0004IMG-20180722-WA0005The beastie itself. What a gorgeous creature!

In other wildlife…IMG-20180629-WA0000.jpg

Aw!

And if you zoom right in on the second pic…IMG-20180603-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180527-WA0000-2.jpg

You’ll see this little sparrow loves to check himself out in the mirror. Might be a bit blurry.

Funny. John said he’d spend hours at it!IMG-20180722-WA0001.jpg

Kingfishers – African style. Again, you’ll need to big it up.

But it wouldn’t be Africa…IMG-20180715-WA0001.jpg

Without a spider.

One of the views from John’s place…IMG-20180704-WA0000.jpg

And another…IMG-20180618-WA0000.jpg

After the rain.

And the lower slope….IMG-20180616-WA0004.jpg

Of Table Mountain.

These giant cones…IMG-20180624-WA0001.jpg

Have their uses…IMG-20180621-WA0002.jpg

Nature’s fire lighters.

Looking cosy.

And finally…IMG-20180802-WA0004.jpg

Seen in South Africa but true the world over.

 

Time for a re-boot..?

19 Feb

I may be being a little bit previous and don’t want to jump the gun or do whatever the opposite of hedging one’s bets is (rash? intrepid?) but am considering a re-boot here in Boatbird land.

That’s not anything to do with computers by the way – far from it. No, it’s a simple waiving of the wellingtons in favour of something a little less rubbery and cumbersome. The replacements will still have to be sturdy and functional. They’ll still need to be waterproof, so the Uggs are out and, preferably, something that the jeans will tuck into the tops of. Mud is, at the moment, still an issue here at dog-dirt alley, albeit receding slightly.

BB has a very suitable fur lined leather pair, which fit the bill quite nicely. They are waterproof, moderately trendy and dead comfy. If only I could remember where the hell I put them! They won’t be in deep storage at this time of year but clearly out of sight and in some clever hidey-hole on board…somewhere. I shall have to go hunt the boot before I can re-boot.

OK, so we’re a long way off from plimmies and flip-flops but, forgive me, it’s a big deal for the riverbank boat dweller, even the merest hint of not needing to be constantly constrained by sensible footwear that you have to be forever changing into and out of. Or, in my case, be stylishly sporting down the High Street here in Sawbo central.

You cannot fail to have noticed that the last few days have been positively spring-like. Apologies to those of you living in a less clement part of the UK, that is the north and west, but here in the south east, at least, it has been glorious – off and on – and I’m struggling to contain my optimism. I’ve even been out without a coat…

The bulbs I stuck into boxes in autumn are shooting and hope to soon have some spring flowers adorning the deck, not to mention some pics worth taking.  Amazing really, considering the local wildlife were having a field day digging them up as fast as I could put them in.

Speaking of wildlife and pics worth taking – South African style…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.33.51

Leopard claw marks. Close to where John had been exploring – in the wilds of Toast River.

He found a  natural spring…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.29.30WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.30.21

And…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.28.10WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.38.51

Back in Bot River…WhatsApp Image 2018-01-22 at 17.45.41

Edible fruit that no-one knows the name of.

Big game…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.43.18

Aw.

Birdlife…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.12.55WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 08.52.18

Buzzard and heron came calling by the bus.

A baby weaverbird…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.20.28WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.12.12

That flew into and couldn’t get out of the bus.

Birds love to feed on John’s sunflowers…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 11.33.00

And drink at his bar.

Obligatory cute cat pics…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 12.02.43WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 11.09.47

More wild fires…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.33.29

This one too close for comfort – just across the road.

Ash on the steps of the local store…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.35.25

Damage to local scrappie…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.33.06

Cape Town and thereabouts…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-18 at 16.09.23

Disused quarry.

Graffiti…

What’s Hobo doing there? Surely not rushing!

More like art…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-11 at 14.16.12

Love this.

And that’s all from the SA album for now.

Finally, back on the water, I so want one of these…

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And have challenged John to make one for Hobo’s stove.

Footnote:

Writing course tutors urge their students to bury newly written work for a day or so before submission/publication; editing then being more objective.Being the good little student I am, that’s what I did with this post. Which is just as well because it has rained all night and day, so it seems I was indeed being a little rash and it looks like I’ll be booting up once more…IMG_20180219_153733.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wellies.

 

Snakes Alive..!

21 Jan

Warning: This post does include shocking images and live snake footage, so not for the faint-hearted.

But I’ll start you off gently with some prettiness…IMG-20180110-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180115-WA0001.jpg

IMG-20180115-WA0000.jpgSome mild scariness…IMG-20171229-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180103-WA0000.jpg

And some too close for comfort wild fires…IMG-20180111-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171230-WA0000.jpg

Just over the road. South Africa of course.

But back to the snake story. Our man in that other, warmer hemisphere did say there were a lot of snakes about…IMG-20171129-WA0001.jpgIMG-20171211-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180118-WA0000.jpgWhatsApp Image 2017-11-10 at 17.27.45

You may need to big up some of the pictures though to actually see them.

Most of these pics were sent to me with a caption – can you spot the snake? Wasted no end of time / gave me hours of fun. Hope it does the same for you.

You ready for the big one?

Sure?

Sure you’re sure?

OK, here it comes…

 

Bet you didn’t have one of those in your Christmas tree..!

John is well known for his snake handling ability and often gets roped into catching and removing unwanted ones. He’s very fond of them and always returns them to somewhere suitable for the snake and far away from where it wasn’t wanted. So, be assured that no snake was harmed in the making of this video.

Loving the health and safety footwear.

Now, in order to soothe your nerves, I shall break with tradition and bombard you with cute, cuddly cat images…

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-10 at 17.26.54IMG-20171208-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171221-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171218-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171217-WA0001.jpgIMG-20180115-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180111-WA0001.jpgAnd a couple of battle-scarred ones…IMG-20171224-WA0001.jpgIMG-20171224-WA0000.jpg

Aw..

Meet Ginger. Thought to be feral and refusing to be sociable with other humans in the neighbourhood, but succumbed to John’s cat whispering technique.

He likes to hang about with John in the bus and garden and even goes walking in the bush with him.  A great companion.

I want one now! A ship’s cat.

I always said I wouldn’t; litter trays and all that on a boat – no way. But, if anyone knows of a boat trained/water-loving/ever so cute one that is able to swim and use what would pass as a cat-flap on board and just happens to be looking for an exciting new home…

Hobo and I are surviving all that the elements can throw at us – even the wind which can be a bit wild on a boat – especially if everything isn’t tied up or nailed down. But I learned that the hard way. It’s amazing what can be blown off the roof if not suitably secured!

We were separated, Hobo and me, between 23/12 and 02/01 while I did a house sit. A nice little earner and some unaccustomed luxury for me, but poor Hobo suffered and was freezing cold and damp on my return. A few kind words and a roaring fire soon saw me forgiven though.

And, in case you were wondering, all the weird shit seems to have stopped now. Bugger, shouldn’t have said that out loud..

This was the culprit that took out my 12 volt…IMG_20171223_132252.jpg

A burned out in-line fuse located at the back of the fuse box which, despite all my investigations and those of helpful neighbours, proved elusive. I ended up fetching a friend from Huntingdon who knows Hobo’s wiring intimately and, indeed, fitted it in the first place – a belt and braces measure.

It took him all of two minutes to uncover AND fix. Thank you Steve. It’s so good to have normal service resumed.

And, in other news…

Mud. That’s pretty much it.

 

 

 

 

Bongo Bongo Land..

29 Oct

No, not me. I’m not in Bongo Bongo land. Not this time. John is doing solo.

Shame. You know how I hate it here on the river. But BB is toughing it out, womanfully enduring all that this awful lifestyle throws at her: cold/damp/cramped/miserable. Rueing the day…

Stop this silliness. You know I’m only kidding right..?

OK, so some of his pics make me a tad envious…IMG-20171022-WA0004.jpg

MoonAnd hanker for those – oh so – wide open spaces.

But then, I rather like my unique view of the moon…IMG_20171029_173625.jpg

Through the round window.

And it only takes one good English sunset over the river…

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To make it all alright.

I confess to some nostalgia when I see the old bus…IMG-20171011-WA0000.jpg

IMG-20171020-WA0000.jpgReal rustic charm.

But my coal mountain…IMG_20171006_103653.jpg

Trumps his woodpile.

Yes, it is hot there but still needs a little burn up…Toasty at Toast Riveer

Of an evening.

This taken at the house of the first-born. As are these…Flea's place

Spot the dog

IMG-20171022-WA0001.jpgComplete with living roof.

And a solar cooker…IMG-20171022-WA0000.jpg

In which they bake bread, believe it or not.

Some local flora…

black-eyed susn

Black-eyed Susan.

pride of madeira

Pride of Madeira.weaver bird tree

And a Weaver bird tree.

As far as neighbours go – here vs there…

Nothing in it.

He’s been busy clearing the land at Bot River.

And…water tank

Working on the water supply.

As has his mate Ian…IMG-20171022-WA0002.jpg

Maybe not so practical, but interesting.

John is in PE just now with his father, who is doing very well.

As are his nasturtiums…IMG-20171023-WA0000.jpg

Clearly, I can’t compete…IMG_20171025_151752.jpg

Gives me loads of joy though.

He is planning a fishing trip.

In this…IMG-20171026-WA0000.jpg

Good luck with that.

 

 

 

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…

100_2827100_2826

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…

100_2766-2100_2772100_2771100_2770100_2767100_2766

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…

100_2796

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…

100_2777

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…