Tag Archives: South Africa

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…

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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

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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…

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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.

Wait and See..

5 Sep

A much used and predictable response to numerous questions posed to parents by many an impatient child I suspect…

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It certainly featured highly in my youth.

Now I’m a grown up – allegedly – I realise why straight answers are so infuriatingly elusive. I simply do not know what will happen in the future. No-one does.

Whilst we may sometimes have a jolly good idea/strong gut feeling of the outcome of those what if/when/how/who posers, as adults now realise that nothing is set in stone. No-one knows when the fickle finger of fate will come into play and put the kibosh on all those well-crafted plans. Happens all the time.

But that’s not to say we shouldn’t make plans. I do it all the time. Sometimes in order to realise a goal, find a direction or purpose or, as often as not, out of necessity.

I’ll give you a for instance.

As a liveaboard boater, with winter looming large, I have to plan for the worst. This entails ensuring my cosy cocoon stays so…

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Meaning I need to prepare my metal tube for whatever the elements may throw her way. Sealing areas that could spring a leak…

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And checking my trusty multi-fuel stove over and repairing/replacing/refurbing as necessary being high on the to-do list.

Before…IMG_20180817_122939.jpg

Chimney swept.

After…

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Chilly morning/evening…

thSGS943WL

 

Never. Not on my watch.

Estimating how much fuel to order to see me through the dark, dank days is really just a guess, albeit after 12 years of the lifestyle, a slightly educated one. But, given that coal bought at the summer price (delivery before October) is £2 per 25kg cheaper, I simply can’t afford to wait and see. It’s a no-brainer.

This time last year I ordered 50 bags – a huge outlay – but, as last winter went on forever and ever, there remains only five or six bags left over. It’s not all about the saving made though. If we have a lot of rain (more than likely), the approach to my boat will without a doubt be soggy  and waterlogged, meaning my marvellous coalman will be unable to deliver right to my boat. I’ve done my share of hauling coal in the cold and wet and, trust me, it’s not happening again. Ever.

I don’t do cold, so have placed the same order this year. Sorted. Well not quite…

Turns out I have the opportunity to spend three months this winter in South Africa, where it will be summer…

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After careful consideration – yeah right – I have decided to fly south. Yay! Back of the net! But what about all that coal?

Already taken care of my friends: 20 bags to one neighbour and 10 to another, leaving me enough to deal with any unseasonal coldness before or after my trip. Simple.

It’s a well known fact that I’m a little prone to over-thinking. But I’m learning that there really is no point. We cannot predict what will happen along this rocky road/choppy water we travel and most things can be undone/re-hashed or suitably circumvented with a handy plan B.

As plan B’s go, this one is probably one of the better prospects…

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This trip will take on quite a different meaning and shape to previous travels, but I’ll get into that another time.

Suffice to say, it could be useful and helpful to others and, if I get my arse in gear, productive and possibly profitable for me.

But who knows how it will all pan out? What will unfold? Who knows?

We will just have to wait and see…

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Here and There..

28 Jun

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

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

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Karen.

Does arty crafty stuff…

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And of course, I get to play too…

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She enjoys gardening, wildlife…

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

We’ve had some lovely walks along the river…

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

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

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

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100_2981100_2968100_2963Damned difficult to capture these flutterbies.

And RHS gardens at Hyde Hall…

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

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

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

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

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As you can see.

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

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

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

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

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There’s various different areas…

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A smart henhouse…

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With handsome occupant…

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And interesting buildings…

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Housing stuff like this…

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

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Back to the car and home.

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

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South Africa. There’s snow on those mountains…

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Oh yes there is.

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

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

There’s been nasty wild fires at Knysna…

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

Back at the bus…

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John is maintaining his usual levels of luxury and technology…

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

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

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For heat and cooking. Needs must.

Beats the before picture…

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

That’s the here and there then.

Where to next?

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

 

 

Boatbird flies south..

26 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saw this and thought of you Graham Harris!

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

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

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But in safe hands with Geoffrey at the wheel.

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

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

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

Two of which are captured here.

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

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

All good fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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