Tag Archives: nature

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.

New Life, Neighbours and News

11 Aug

BB has new neighbours. Just across the river.

Five black fluffy moorhen chicks…003

A delight to watch.

And as they grow older and bolder, they come a whole lot closer to my boat…014 015 016 018 019 020 022 023

Which is great.

They even venture onto my ‘lawn’ now…001 002 004 007 008 010

Tempted by scraps.

Mum even gets up the tree…004

Stealing food from the little birds…001 004 005

Who normally dine here.

I never knew that moorhens could climb trees. We live and learn.

Against all the odds, the moorhen five has survived intact, to date, I’m pleased to say.

We’ve done our bit by throwing bread on the water (or the lawn), which one or both parents make a dash for then feed to their young…001

Beak to beak.

Sometimes the fish beat them to it…002 003 004 006 007 008

But a delight to watch whatever. Well, it keeps me off the streets.

And there really is no place I’d rather be.

Another new neighbour…IMG_20140709_113437

Peter, a thoroughly nice chap, is doing up an old Broads cruiser, which he aims to sell on when finished. He’ll be looking for a narrowboat next. Good man.

Some of the old neighbours are getting a little naughty – escaping and giving me the fright of my life the other morning as I stepped off the boat. Not what I was expecting to see…001 003

Mooching right by my jetty.

John saved the day though, chasing them away…002 004

Otherwise I’d have had to phone work with, possibly, the most implausible excuse for lateness/absence ever.

Notice how the camera shake disappears as the Highlands do likewise.

Now this sighting had me puzzled for a while…013

Is it a bird…?001

Is it a plane…?002

No, I think it’s…012

The John…!011

He’s been hacking back the willows and feeding the goats…009

Who love it…008

As do the horses…007

And now of course they love the John.

He got the call the other day when the goats escaped. All he had to do was wave some willow and walk in the direction they needed to go and they followed him, right back home. Pied Piper or what…?

You need to know – or I need to tell you – that I do get out sometimes. Maybe not enough though.

John and I accompanied a friend into the big city last week to look up the house where his grandfather had lived.

We frittered a whole £11 each on a day’s travel pass, which gave us unlimited travel to, from and around the city for the day. I thought that was excellent, given that from here to Stansted (a stone’s throw) on the train is £12!!

Anyway, we found the street in Islington…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

But, sadly, the house is no more. Swallowed up by the City of London University but we think the house would have been about here…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

A most enjoyable day though, culminating in a visit to a pub…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

By the canal wouldn’t you know…002

Regents Canal, to be precise, one on which John and BB have cruised Hobo a couple of times now. Nice.

Just can’t stay away from the water – or the pub for that matter.

Here’s one of John and friend – also a John so we call him Shirley…001

Only because that’s his surname you understand. My two handsome escorts for the day.

As I’ve been writing the weather has been busy…004001_stitch

Storm’s a’brewing.

And as you know, I’m easily distracted – especially if it involves moody skies, thunder and lightning, rain, high winds, blue skies and sunshine. Well, today we’ve had the lot, about in that order.

Speaking of distractions…

014

This is right outside my window, the one right in front of my chair. I didn’t think they’d ever get this brave but sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

I’m still waiting for the woodpeckers to arrive here. They’re about, I’ve seen them on the wing, but so far they haven’t stopped by here. Perhaps they like a different sort of food – wood maybe. Will have to experiment.

So who spotted this in the background of one of the earlier shots…?011

Clever John has made a sawhorse, which he is putting to good use making lots of Morso Squirrel sized nuggets ready for colder times. I’m busy stacking this to dry out. Word is this can take a couple of years but I doubt it’ll hang around that long. Besides, these are small logs – weeny ones – so won’t take as long. Well that’s my story.

Lucky for me, I had some prepared earlier. Yes, I had to light the little stove last night – just a little fire to take off the chill. Maybe it was yesterday’s storms but it seems to be degrees cooler – today too – please don’t tell me it’s autumn already.

Anyway, it did the trick and warmed up Hobo nicely. Just the job.

I hope to be able to write more of the little boat soon. It’s coming along, bit by bit, and John is devising and making some pretty neat storage solutions. But there’s never enough time is there?

We are also part way through re-working Hobo’s engine room – a job we’ve talked about so often. The woodwork (cupboards etc) has always been a bit wonky and just removing a couple of screws saw the whole lot collapse. But that’s a good thing. We can set about implementing our long awaited plans for smarter storage – start afresh with a better idea.

The stern gland greaser and bilge pump switch are both inaccessible so will be moved and the 12 volt wiring and fusebox need work – lots of work – by way of a damn good tidy. Good housekeeping really.

I’ve been threatening forever to clean and paint all those black holes one finds in engine rooms with white/silver in order to light up the space and make it more usable. It will also make it easier to find those things one inevitably drops in said awkward places.

Now  the floorboards are up and the whole room has been emptied of clutter (a task in itself) I have no excuse and tomorrow and Wednesday are my days off so looks like I could be busy.

I’ll try and get some before and after shots, which might make a little more sense of what I’m on about here and, you never know, you might find some of it useful.

I’m thinking…100_1161

Again. I do hate to feel cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking on Water

7 Jul

Hobo, the John and BB are now back on the riverbank and once again floating/walking on water. So to speak.

Marvellous. All is as it should be in boatbirdland and life carries on as (I almost hesitate to say) normal.

I may have told you that John is doing a little work on the farm here and, being multi-talented as he is, his daily tasks vary enormously. Just the way he likes it.

It could be anything from rowing dinner across the river…010 (2)

 

012013015To the Highlands that live over there…017

To pulling a boat out and up the slipway…IMG_20140628_103816

And parking it. Somewhere amongst all the other projects that live on the hard.

Or it might be building a donkey shelter…002

Very friendly donkeys who just love their new shelter…IMG_20140703_185331

Which doubles as a scratching post it seems.

Or dog kennel/run…025

This is his first; the second even sports a porthole. They just get better and there’s more to build. A career in canine architecture.

All made from old wood that has accumulated here over the years. John loves to work with old wood and is making good use of everything that can be found here – sometime he’s re-cycling parts of old wooden boats that came to rest here.

I like that thought – their lives to continue and remain useful, albeit in another guise.

And BB?

Just the usual and when I’m not out at work I’ve been sky gazing…001_stitch 002

009Been some interesting ones of late. Incredible.

Feeding Swannee River…017018015016

He will also take food from your hand, quite gently, but a little tricky to photograph.

Or practising Pilates. Or strumming my guitar – or trying to.

Or cutting the nails of my left hand in order to be able to hold down the strings. Yes, I’ve sacrificed a very handy set of (fast-growing) tools to this cause so I must be serious about it.

BB has also been tending the garden…004

Which has been a picture, with the flowering beans and marigolds.

Sadly, the radishes pretty much all bolted. Shame as they are my current obsession and I go through 9-10 supermarket packs a week! Will keep trying.

I’ve eaten the first of the courgettes…006

Yummy and more to follow.

And the broad beans look ready now…005

The colours have been glorious…009

Just waiting for the nasturtiums to do their thing…014

They’ve started…013

012Funny, I thought I bought red ones.

And Gerry, as ever, stands proud on the bow…015

And his brother…010

Trailing from the roof. Waiting for a neat John- style box to live in.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers…011

For John.

Loving the old clay pot (a slag-heap find) complete with moss.

I’ve also been watching the little birdies…017

Which of course do a disappearing act the minute I even think about thinking about switching on the camera. They have been here though – trust me, I’m a boatbird – now we’ve sussed out how to magpie-proof the fat balls by putting them behind bars.

Does anyone know what this is…?100_2226 100_2227

Not just an ordinary dandelion. Seen at the seaside.

Or this…?IMG_20140627_142334

A most unusual poppy, sprouting magnificently from the muck heaps.

All that AND I’ve managed to put in a few hours on the little boat – MAINSTAY/TITANIC/GYPSY/PHOEBE whatever, still can’t choose. Pics and progress report to follow in the next update. Suffice to say that she’s coming along and proving to be a super, comfy, functional space that is very… John.

Speaking of concrete boats…

A very good friend of mine informed me that there was a community of concrete boat liveaboards at Burnham-on-Crouch. So, always hankering after a visit to the Essex coast, off we trotted by way of research.

Never one to give a bum steer, my old mate came up trumps again.

Though they were all on a completely different scale to our own little version, there was something about them… 100_2222

Individual…100_2224

100_2217 100_2223 100_2220Rustic…100_2216

This one had gorgeous gardens…100_2221

Fore…100_2219

And aft…100_2218

And charming…

100_2215A work in progress with tricky boarding. From instantly hating it, this one has become my favourite. Don’t ask me why.

Take a closer look at that jetty…100_2215

The more observant ones among you may have noticed that not all these boats were concrete – the odd steel one having snuck in.

We had hoped to pick the brains of the occupants but saw no-one about. Must have all been passed out inside out at work. It was a Wednesday afternoon; I suppose most good folk would be.

We spotted another project…100_2225

Beached across the water.

We’d also wanted to see where the Chelmer/Blackwater joined the sea so, after a quick bit of smartphone googling, we headed off to Maldon. A lock-side pub called to us so we sat awhile there before strolling along the beautiful, clear river, taking in the different craft moored there, the wildlife and generally breathed it all in.

Aaaah! Lovely day out.

Back at the funny farm, I’ve made a fabulous new feline friend but more of that in the next post.

Oh alright then…

008

Just a taster.

 

 

Hills, Views, Caves, Stones, Bones and… a Space Turtle?

2 Mar

Our roving reporter is on the case again, sending more shots from his latest visit to the the west coast of South Africa.

They went walkabout into the wild and wide open spaces…100_2720_stitch

Around and about the area where Geoffrey currently lives and works.

They went up in the hills…Southern skies lodge from the hill opposite

And above the Rooibos tea fields…rooibos 1_stitch

They walked and climbed in the sweltering heat, which he said reached a staggering 47 degrees C on occasions, swimming in reservoirs to cool off.

John said he thought it was a bit hot!

They kept an eye open for caves, knowing the signs and getting a feel for finding them…100_2813

Large…bushman's cave

A bushman’s cave.

And small…caves, large and small

Complete with bones, this one. Click to enlarge and have a poke around.

They had a sleepover in one of them…100_2804

Cosy.

A room with a view…

100_2779Especially on a misty morning…cave 2_stitch

Wow.

But sadly no paintings to be found.

Been said John’s a bit of a caveman. Like father like son, I’d say.

Geoffrey douses the fire…

dousing the fire

Where they cooked up sausages and drank  beer. No stomach churning bush tucker trials here, though it’s hardly glamping.

There’s lots of these…100_2761

And these…100_2774

Not sure what either are called but some are found only in this area.

And here’s the space turtle…

Rocks eroded into wierd shapes, space turtle

Or, if your imagination is a little jaded, rocks that have eroded into weird and interesting shapes. 

I don’t expect there’s too many of these about. What do you see?

Speaking of rocks…100_2493

A rare collection of treasures…Nature table R

I imagine the bulk of these were collected by the boys but if I know John, he will have had a hand in a few of them.

He loves all that archaeological stuff. Hand axes, digging stones and so on. John just has a knack of stumbling on these relics and cannot go anywhere without bringing back nature’s souvenirs.

He will spend hours perusing these in museums. We have some fun days out.

We have some back at the bus too – spoils from previous years – obviously irresistible to the John.  

Even back in the UK, we’ll go for a walk and he’ll end up with a pocketful of bits and bobs. Sometimes he even picks up washers, nuts, bolts, rubber bands or other such useful items, which he hands to me like presents to be cherished. And I do,  of course.

Maybe it’s a condition with a name – like Tourette’s. But quieter.

Bless.

Unlike me, John is very much a morning person and captured this…Klipspringer at dawn

Klipspringer – a small African antelope – at dawn.

Some of the panoramas are 2/3/5 or more pics that I’ve stitched together. That really is such clever software.

Now John knows I can do this, he is taking snaps with stitching in mind and I look forward to the next batch.

This one has to be my current favourite…view 1_stitch

Stunning.

Don’t forget, you can click on any of these images to bring up to full size. A further click will enlarge that particular area of the photo, should you wish to see even more detail.

Mr and Mrs B do Bolthead

23 Sep

In the little aeroplane!Boatbird not looking great in this shot but she was concentrating ever so hard, trying to compose the perfect pic in a bucking bronco – some turbulence you understand – and at the same time maintaining a modicum of sanity and dignity. Whereas Mr. B is merely flying the plane so completely relaxed (when he isn’t sleeping) with nothing better to do than to pose for the camera.

We’d wanted to do this trip for ages and finally got the three day weather window we needed last weekend. In case you’ve never heard of Bolthead (I hadn’t) it is close to Salcombe, which is in Devon, meaning 2-3 hours in the air. The longest trip I’d ever attempted in the S10. It took us 3 hours to get there with a strongish headwind, cruising at 100/110mph and not including a fuel, comfort, coffee and bacon sarni stop at Dunkerswell. But more like 2 and a half on the way back. 

Cute little office isn’t it?

The S10 is a homebuild, small but perfectly formed (if you can take the bungy straps, holes in the floor and total lack of sophistication) and surprisingly comfortable once installed (the getting in is a whole other story). But it performs superbly and, well, let’s just say you really know you are flying.

We set off around 9am on the Sunday with John’s GPS on the blink (literally)  but he does a sterling job with map and dodgy compass. The city shows up quite soon after leaving Hunsdon (the local airfield here) and a bit further on we pick up the Thames. It’s quite something to fly the river we cruised Hobo on last year, spotting places where we moored, bridges we went under and other well known landmarks.

At Reading we follow the Kennet and Avon, seeing many longboats. We are yet to cruise this one…

We fly over Wiltshire and its numerous white horses – one of which I just about captured (if you look jolly hard) see bottom left corner. You may have to click on the pic and enlarge – working on the aerial photography, it can only get better.We see the Somerset Levels, Glastonbury Tor, some stunning skyscapes and England’s pretty patchwork spreads beneath us. It is truly fabulous.

This is how the coast looked as we scour the landscape in search of the landing strip approach Bolthead.

The next shot shows the farm where we are staying and (we think) our tent, which, by arrangement, is ready pitched for us. How cool is that! A couple of fields up and to the left a bit is the actual strip; only a short walk away. Couldn’t be better.

Again, clicking and enlarging may help. Sorry about the glare; it’s a difficult plane for photography but, like I said, we are working on it.

John flies an inspection pass over the strip, as is good practice in places new, circles round, down..down.. then throws the first attempt away so round we go again and down.. down..down..nearly there..

Then.. Bugger! The plane tips violently on the diagonal, my head hits the canopy then the engine roars as John applies power to take us back up and round again.

What the hell happened there?

The airman’s bible, Pooley’s guide, warns of vicious turbulence here but it had all seemed so perfect before the picture went so suddenly and horribly wrong – just goes to show what a dasterdly downdraft can do – with all the potential of a nasty incident.

I’m scared now and pray to a god I don’t believe in as we descend for attempt number three.

John is a good pilot though and gently puts us down (third time lucky) with no drama and I’m counting my blessings as we taxi to the parking place.And here she is, safely tucked up, tied down, no damage done.

We do the short walk to the farm, John scaling and me crawling wormlike under a wire fence along the way, to be greeted by the owners who turn out to be South African. Small world.

It is indeed our tent and I reckon it would sleep between 8 and 12 people, depending on how friendly they were, and comes complete with LED lantern, camp beds, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

All this AND dinner, breakfast and unlimited tea/coffee for £35 per person per night, which we thought a good deal.

Trying to pack all this into the S10, as well as ourselves and luggage, would be difficult given the weight restriction for safety, not to mention the sheer bulk. We’ve not really done weekends away in the aeroplane and see this as a bit of an experiment or training exercise even. So far so good.

Over the weekend we walk into town both via the wooded lane, which runs through pretty woodland chock full of what looks like giant rhubarb..

beautiful blue hydrangea..

and swathes of wild pink cyclamen..and coastwise…with some brilliant views of both sea…and estuary…Glorious.We pass this (cowshed?) that we rather fancy as a seaside home..and some neat stone walling..and the beach at South Sands…from where you catch the tractor…that takes you out to the ferry to Salcombe…and catches you on the way back…Clever. Very clever.

It’s a boatie sort of place…one way or another…In fact the Ferry Inn barman’s T-shirt said it all: This is a drinking town with a sailing problem.

And lunch there was pretty good too.

Of course every silver lining has a cloud; this one being that the walk home is pretty much all uphill. I hate uphills. And this one was very steep.

We caught a shower too and, neither of us having very appropriate footwear (trainery type), meant wet feet. It was hot and sunny when we set out and yes, I know, shoes (the right ones for the occasion) have never been my strong suit.

There’s tea and cake back at the farm but nowhere to get warm. The eating shed is just that – open-fronted too.

Given this place is in the heart of serious walking country, a wood burner (or bloody great bonfire) wouldn’t go a miss. Even with all the proper gear, I’m sure those dedicated ramblers would appreciate a snug place to warm up in as they top up on tea and cake. They must get cold and damp too.

The showers (wet rooms) on the other hand are brilliant. Endless piping hot water and not a coin meter in sight. Loos are modern and spotless – in fact the whole place looks brand new and no expense spared. It has National Trust money in there somewhere – so that could explain a lot.

Once dinner (delicious) is devoured we are off to our beds (2 camp beds so can’t even cuddle up to get warm) before our feet become permanent blocks of ice.

Whilst we take responsibility for maybe not having our stall set out (remember this is a training exercise to be learned from so next time we’ll definitely be packing the bedsocks and thermals) and realise the best of our summer (???) has gone now, I can’t help but think this place would be more suited to the South African climate.

That said we think it’s a good place and had a fabulous time there. We will go back  on our way to Cornwall – if this year has any decent flying weather left – when we plan to fly in to Lands End!

We hit some weather on the way home (bit bumpy up there) and had to do a bit of cunning diverting to miss the worst of it so we were pleased to get back to Hobo and roast ourselves in front of a roaring fire. With our toes now positively glowing with warmth, we agree it has been a fabulous trip – cold, scary landings, uphill route marches and iffy GPS now consigned to history. All part of the adventure.

Marks out of ten for Bolthead?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Why ten of course!

Moving Bella – Day 1

4 Jul

Into July already and the Hobo hasn’t moved an inch, not even the sniff of a cruise. Static R us. Whilst this was always the plan for this year, knuckle down, earn some money and tart the old girl up, I was definitely getting withdrawal symptoms and missing being on the move. So you can imagine that when asked to help move another boat we jumped at the chance.

Our good friend Reg has sold Bella, his 50 footer, to a very nice young man called Dave who has secured a mooring at Isleworth on the River Lark in Suffolk. He was going to cruise the boat there – a good two weeks from the River Stort (with ten-hour days, lots of luck and a following wind) but with limited boating experience, and none at all of locks, he was in the market for some assistance in the early days, until other friends could join him.

A mission in itself to get to his destination within his deadline but we also had to be clear of the ‘Olympic Zone’ before it was closed off at 8am on Tuesday. Originally we’d planned to get going on Sunday but decided this was cutting it a little too fine and brought it forward.

Reg suggested to him that John and I could share The Knowledge and provide some tuition/advice as well as being another couple of pairs of hands to speed Bella on her way. We were more than happy to do this and we all got cracking on Saturday.

It was warm and sunny as we tied up at the first lock, which Reg and Dave went to fill as we waited for John (who had gone to lose the car) to join us. He pitched up right on cue so I set about supervising as our new boater took Bella into the lock.

Tednambury

It’s a very open spot and the strong gusty wind did its worst… Suffice it to say that it took three of us and much reversing to keep Bella off the bank for long enough to motor her into the chamber.

Bella is a lovely boat, of which John and I are very fond  and have driven before. She responds beautifully but is a different animal to Hobo; being a cruiser stern for starters, meaning the driving position and technique is strange at first to that of Hobo’s trad, and the engine/gearing is all different. Well, that’s our excuse anyway..

Still, all good fun and an invaluable first lesson in narrowboat versus wind, which I would like to say was deliberate but, you know me – boat (honest) bird – I have to tell the truth. It wasn’t.

Next up is a very low rail bridge (mind your head), successfully navigated, followed by a stretch of moorings where Hobo lives. I am impressed by Dave slowing down on approach to these moorings with no prompting from me – something I still have to remind John about. Even now. We say hello to Hobo as we pass and trundle on.

As we chug along, we discuss boatie things, living aboard and, inevitably, embark on the great toilet debate: pump out v cassette. It is not humanly possible for any gathering of boaters not to get on to this subject sooner or later; new ones no exception.

Dave seemed to be a natural; his boat handling skills developing rapidly as we let him do the majority of the tiller work while we answered his questions and imparted our knowledge. It was great to be out on the river again and we were enjoying the ride and the company. It’s different somehow when it’s not your boat (I think that’s a responsibility thing) and also being four of us made the workload lighter and progress faster.

Our journey started at 3 o’clock (ish) and some seven miles, nine locks and four and a half hours later we tie up for the night at Hunsdon Mill. This is a lovely spot in the middle of nowhere, just the odd cottage or two, with the sound of rushing water from a mini weir to drown out the road noise from the A414, which runs parallel at this point.

We had a lovely time on the river and Dave is, I think, a happy bunny after his first (short) day of cruising as we leave him to his first night on board his new home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The lovely Bella.

Up on the Roof

24 Jun

While I beavered away at my ailing roof, there was plenty of opportunity to take five as my feathered friends put in an appearance to show off their new-born..As well as the duck chick eight there was the moorhen chick one..Cute or what..

I hope they all make it. So many times over the years I’ve watched this daily parade as they grow up; their numbers diminishing  each time I see them. One day there’s eight, then seven, six and so on – it’s sad. But that’s Mother Nature for you and I suppose the mink has to eat.

While I was attacking the chimney, down on the decking, I had another visitor..I first spotted it as it slithered out of the long grass towards me. I reckon it came to see what all the noise/vibration was about as I hammered away at the tarred chimney. I backed off, trying to do stealth and grab the camera but failed miserably and it disappeared back into the jungle – quick quick. A bit like when you suck spaghetti into your mouth – gone.

I did get lucky though, as you can see, and managed to catch it swimming.

After pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t in South Africa, I concluded it was probably a grass snake though I know there are adders here. They have been known to bite the horses and dogs and, depending where they have been bitten, sometimes fatally.

Speaking of jungle....this is how it was; the before shot if you like.

Since then there’s been a mowathon and a strimfest down at DDA. Normally, my little patch gets forgotten and is left to go wild but this time I smiled sweetly at the man in hard hat and goggles so now it looks like this..and this..Much better. Now just add table and chairs..

On John’s farm there’s some lovely big cable drums I fancy for the use of – just have to transport one here. Would make a natty little picnic area don’t you think? Together with the veggie/herb boxes that are planned, will make a regular little garden. We’ll get there. Probably just before I move on.

As predicted, work on the roof has come to a halt. Too wet, too windy and not to mention too bloody cold. Still, I’ve made a start and they say next week might be better. The next stage involves power tools, grinder and sander, so noisy and messy. It’s an essential part of the process but one I don’t look forward to and will be much happier when I get to the painting stage. That I don’t mind and find therapeutic even.

My internet threw a sickie, just as the weather took a turn for the worse, and stopped me in my tracks. Couldn’t work outdoors. Couldn’t work indoors. Bugger.

I went down the troubleshooting route and through the help menu but it wasn’t having any of it. Two days later I admit defeat and get in touch with 3 – my service provider. My Indian friend on the phone talks me through various ‘fixes’ but to no avail. He eventually lets on that there had been some ‘issues’ with the local mast and credits me for a full month’s usage. He reckoned all would be fixed by today (and hey presto it is) so not bad –  a full month refunded for 2/3 days down time.

Frankly though, I’d rather have the access. Being able to see that I have e-mails but unable to reply (or even unable to read them sometimes) is so frustrating. And, of course, it kept me away from here. All of a sudden, there’s 101 things I need to do on the internet and can’t.

Hell, I almost had to resort to doing some housework…

From the Treehouse Window

6 Jun

I am back at the treehouse again so I thought I’d show you some ‘window’ shots I’ve taken from here, by way of a change from the river.

This little beauty came and posed for me…

I tried to remain hidden and focus but he looked right at me…

 and was off like a shot…

I kept clicking, hoping to capture his flight but he was gone. It was all over in seconds.

He’s a regular here and we’ve seen him hunting along the dyke at the side of the runway – a beautiful sight. We think he lives in one of the barns (where else would a barn owl live) and I glimpsed him the other morning as he executed a perfect banking turn taking him inside. A super shot I failed to get. I think I must glue the camera to my hand in future….

Last year John spotted this one from the kitchen window…

Aren’t they gorgeous?

More from My Window

24 Apr

Starboard side, by way of a change….

Pretty aren’t they? I’m no expert on wild flowers but, if I am to believe the Collins Gem guide, it is the Cuckoo flower. AKA  Lady’s Smock, Milkmaids and Meadow Bitter-Cress, it is found in marshes and damp meadows. That was the clincher – it is that here for sure. It’s edible too. Hey, a new salad ingredient!

There’s much more photo opportunity portside, the towpath being across the river, and the people watching potential is brilliant. But I am loathe to point my camera in the face of the ‘innocent bystander’ and have been ever since my time in South Africa 2010.These women clearly did not want their picture taken, something of which I was blissfully unaware until John pointed out I was about to get stoned.  And not in a good way. See the one on the right, arming herself with a rock as the one on the left covers up?

I had no wish to offend or frighten these people; my actions borne out of ignorance of their culture. For that I am sorry.On the other hand, these boys positively relished being in focus and flashed gorgeous grins at my camera. There was a dead cow in the bakkie – see the blood running onto the road? A feast for the family.

Both shots were taken on approach to the Kei River bridge during the run up to Christmas, a particularly manic time on South African roads, as we returned from our epic road trip to visit John’s boys at their anti-poaching unit up near the Mozambique border.

Some towns were totally gridlocked.

So, it remains to be seen whether I brave the towpath people shots or not. I don’t want to upset anyone and you never never know do you?

From My Window

22 Apr

In a previous post I made reference to some of the things that gang up on me to tear me away from whatever it is I should be doing and it occured to me that perhaps I should show you what I am up against.Nice weather….…for ducks.Yesterday was all sunshine and showers here and gave way to the most stunning rainbow ever. I just had to leap up and go outside to see more…

…it was one of those perfect yet rare specimens that you can see both ends of, as well as the middle, and the light was incredible. A spectacular scene. Neither me nor my camera  was up to the job, sadly unable to capture its whole or to really do it justice. Hopefully the essence of the moment will come across in these pics.

This morning brought sunshine and white fluffly clouds that stood out against a beautiful blue sky; clumps of cotton wool suspended in the atmosphere like those in a child’s painting.…and Dobbins senior and junior came out to feed and frolic.It brought out the anglers too……and one man in his canoe.

I’d seen him coming through my cratch window at the front of the boat so went to position myself at the kitchen window, ready to take the shot as he passed. But he didn’t show up. I looked  forward again and he was taking a photo of Hobo!!We both had a jolly good laugh as he glided by. It really was a ‘snap’ moment and he did have a lovely laugh.

Notice how ‘de tren’ has snuck into shot too…?

So you see, in the last couple of days alone, there is much to take my mind from where it should be. And this is the norm. And minus the sound effects. Apart from jumping up to roll down the canopy each time it rains and again to open up when it stops, there’s always something afoot outside my window, albeit sometimes merely the elements showing off.

I can see that I have started something, which as well as whatever it is that distracts me in the first place, will now compel me to also photograph it for this spot. I feel it may become a regular feature of this blog.

I can also see that I shall have to keep my windows nice and clean….