Tag Archives: South Africa

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.

Shapes of Winter

24 Jan

As much as I do not like being cold, there are some wondrous sights to be seen in the great outdoors this time of year – if I can prise myself away from Hobo’s warm and comfy cocoon that is.

Or, better still, if the John is out and about with his camera and feeding me the pics as I toast my toes in front of this beauty…IMG_20150114_074740

Probably the biggest log we’ve had in the Squirrel to date.

Outside, muddy puddles become works of art…IMG_20141230_100820IMG_20150117_103759

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Pretty patterns everywhere…IMG_20141226_085808

Fascinating.

And this…?
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Can you see what it is yet…?IMG_20150104_102918Of course – a very frozen car.

Up close, it looks almost alive, like a surreal frozen forest…IMG_20150104_102918

And the river…IMG_20150120_160823Icing over too.

Be careful where you park your bike though…

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If you need to make a quick getaway.

Speaking of which…
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John’s airstrip looking a little frost-bound.

And the adjacent field somewhat waterlogged but John has the solution…IMG_20150117_111246

Digging drainage channels, although it looks more like a waterfall to me.

So that’s the real world: a wintry mix of ice, water, mud and slime as dished out to us so far this season.

But BB’s head is often elsewhere.

Somewhere warmer…SA Summer 2011 and 2012 041

Somewhere brighter…SA Summer 2011 and 2012 042

Somewhere stunning…100_1603100_1730

Somewhere the days are longer…SA Summer 2011 and 2012 008

Somewhere exciting…SA Summer 2011 and 2012 027 (3)011055

Somewhere far away but never very far from my heart..IMG_0412

South Africa. Maybe next year.

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?