29 September 2007

Bay World

I learnt today that taking an active three year old to the museum is not a good idea. Fortunately there are other things that were more to his liking, like crocodiles at the snake park.

Of course everyone loves a dolphin. Domino gave a star performance this morning, with his daughter Dumisa, looking on and providing her own side show. Dumisa's mother died when she was born and she is unique in that she was bottle reared.

Cape Fur Seal taking time out after feeding time.

Grey Headed Gull wanting to share my KFC. It is probably not a good idea to encourage this type of behaviour, but I could not resist giving him a few pieces

26 September 2007

25 September 2007

J for Jackal

I do not have any photos of jackals but took this picture about three years ago when Sue and I were travelling in the karoo between Sutherland and Calvinia, on our way to see the flowers of Namaqualand. Jackal pelts strung up on the fence next to the road.

This was a very grim reminder of the ongoing battle between sheep farmers and jackals. It is also a testimony to the remarkable survival skills of the black backed jackal. In spite of constant persecution and jackal proof fencing they survive against all odds.

For those of you who have been reading my blogs, you may have noticed by now that I am a keen consevationist. At one time in my life I was a hunter and would be the first in line to seek and destroy vermin. At the age of 19 two incidents changed that.

The first was when I was about to shoot a buck that was causing damage in our lands. As I was about to squeeze the trigger something made me put on the safety catch and declare, "I can't do this". I have never looked back.

The second was an incident with a pair of black backed jackals. Any farmer will tell you they are vermin and will go to great lengths to destroy them. Jackals have been persecuted to such an extent that from being diurnal animals they have become nocturnal. My parents had an irrigation farm and at one time grew the most delicious watermelons. Believe it or not, the jackals loved water melons. They had an uncanny knack of finding the best ones, scratching them open with their claws and eating the inside.

Farmers are very possesive of their land, livestock and crops - and not being an exception to the rule I went out one night with a torch and a rifle, "to bag me a jackal".

Imagine the scene. It is pitch dark. There is no moon and I walk as quietly as I can to the lands. When I get there I turn the torch on and quickly pick up the gleaming eyes of a pair of jackals. As I lift the rifle to my shoulder they disappear. No problem, I am patient, I have all night. So I sit down and wait. After about ten minutes I turn the torch on again and there not fifty metres from me are the two jackals, sitting on their haunches watching me.

They did not wait around too long and quickly melted into the night.

Something about the situation amused me. I had just seen a new side to jackals that I liked. The next morning I told my parents that we had plenty of watermelons and that I was sure we could spare a few for the jackals.

Buster my best childhood friend

David McMahon's question this week brought back many memories about my best friend, when I was a child - my dog Buster.

In 1962 I suffered from a bad bout of encephalitis and spent several weeks in hospital and like any active little “bush baby” taken out of its environment, I was pretty miserable. My hope lay in the fact that friends of the family promised one of their boerbull puppies that would be ready for collection when I was due to leave the hospital.

Buster demolishing my hat. This fuzzy picture was taken forty five years ago with a Baby Browning camera that let in light. It was one of my childhood treasues.

After I was discharged, we stopped in at their farm on the way home and it was with great excitement I chose my puppy. I promptly named him Buster after the dog in Enid Blyton’s Adventurous Four series, much to the horror of my older sister – she felt I could be more original.

I spent the next two weeks at home recuperating and then it was the school holidays. During this time Buster and I bonded and became the best of friends and were inseparable. From day one it was my responsibility to feed him and bath him and see that he had water.

Because we lived so far out of town my two sisters and I went to boarding school, but came home over the weekends. Oh what excitement when I came home, I would be jumped on, sniffed, licked, bitten, slobbered on and generally roughed up by Buster, as if to say, “Don’t leave me like this, but anyway I am glad you are home”.

Buster was probably the reason why I felt secure when roaming around the farm. He was afraid nothing and would take on all comers. He had extremely powerful jaws and could easily crush the shin bone of a Kudu.

My bedroom was a converted outside storeroom. Buster always slept at the end of my bed. When I think back my room must have smelt like a kennel, but I did not care. Doors were never locked in those days; more often than not mine was left open. At night no one (not even family members) were allowed to come into my room – unless Buster gave them permission. On Monday morning when we had to get up early to go back to boarding school, I would always pretend to be asleep, while Buster kept my parents or grandfather at bay, when they came to wake me up. This usually gave me another five minutes in bed.

If anyone picked up a rifle all our dogs would get excited, because they knew it meant we were going into the bush. There was always great disappointment when we went out to shoot for the “pot”, because they had to stay at home, which meant being locked in the house. If Buster was let loose, he would always find me no matter how far I went or how I tried to cover my tracks. My dad taught me that if this happened I must just accept it because he loved me and just wanted to be with me. We could always go out and hunt tomorrow.

We were forced to leave the farm in 1965 during a devastating drought and Buster and I had to adapt to town living. He was the scourge of the neighbourhood where other dogs were concerned – I once saw him take on two German Shepherds and I thought this was the end of my beloved Buster, but within a matter of seconds they had turned tail and run. He came bouncing back as proud as punch with his head held high.

We move quite often after that and Buster eventually ended up with the family in what was then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), in 1969. After four years of city life we were back in the bush we both loved and where we could be free.

Over the ten years that I had him, Buster and I had much fun and many adventures together.

He was poisoned in 1972 and I buried him in a clearing about a kilometer from the farm house. A sad end to a great buddy.

24 September 2007

The Fiscal - the local neighbourhood terror

The Fiscal is one of the most widely distributed birds in the country and has adapted well to urban life. They feed on a variety of prey - generally anything is fair game for them. This one is a regular in the area and can often be seen sitting in the open, watching and waiting for his prey.

He also has the habit of terrorising our neighbours prize canaries. His trick is to scare them so that they flutter against the wire netting of the cage and then seizes them by the head and kills them. I know our neighbour would like to get rid of this guy because he is such a "pest", but what he does is not done with malicious intent.

The Fiscal is a predator, it's what he is programmed to do. Like all predators they also serves a useful role by getting rid of a lot of insect pests and by maintaining a balance in nature. An interesting habit of the Fiscal is they they create larders by impaling their prey on thorns or the barbs of wire fences.

A message to bird owner's - if you are going to cage birds make sure your cage is Fiscal proof - these birds play a useful role in the environment and I certainly like seeing them around the neighbourhood.

21 September 2007

Maitland River Mouth

I joined the family who had all gone fishing at the Matland River Mouth this afternoon. When I arrived the sun was setting over Cape St Francis. I never went fishing, but got some good pics. Except for locking my keys in my car, it was a good evening.

19 September 2007

K - 30 years old today

Well, it was about the time when one of the university lecturers said, “You have passed”, that it all started
The not-a-mamma, as she was at that stage, said “Yippee I can throw away my pills!” And did.

What happened next is censored.

Then the axe fell, the official University results said I had failed my Shona language exam, but could write a sup. Cold sweat – the possibility of baby on the way and the prospect of another year as a married, impoverished student with a sprog in tow – did not seem the way to go.

Too late to start swallowing pills again.

Not long thereafter a trip to the doctor confirmed that a little miracle had taken place and a little sprog was on its way. In fact it was on the day that cousin Cara was born that your arrival was confirmed.

This was good motivation to learn a language, in a few easy steps, in about 3 weeks.
Rewrote the exam - more sweating as we waited for the results. And then miracle of miracles I passed. I still couldn’t speak Shona, but who cares.

Great joy in the family at the prospect of our very own baby and a new grandchild for all the grandparents and a niece and a cousin.

We ended up living in Mtoko in one of the hottest war zones in the country when you were on your way. The mamma getting bigger and bigger by the day.

Then after many hair raising experiences the time arrived for you to be brought into the world. It had to be an induction as the mamma had Odeama. The induction started at 9:00am and 12 hours later our little girl sprog was born.

You were such a good little baby, never, let’s make that seldom, cried. We could even take you to the movies. And you grew into a very happy and defiant little toddler, who gave your grannies the heebie jeebies when you climbed up and down the stairs in the flat.

As you grew up you brought us much joy. ...... we won't go into all the ups and downs of the next thirty years, but suffice it to say that you have become a very special, caring, talented human being (with a wicked twisted sense of humour thrown in for good measure!) We love you lots and are very proud to be your parents!

We are glad the lecturer gave us the wrong information, because if she hadn’t you would not be you.

No matter how old you get, you will always be our little girl.

Happy Thirtieth Birthday, lots of love from Mom and Dad

18 September 2007

I is for Impala and Industry and I

Oops posted this one a few hours before Wednesday.

In case you are wondering why I have chosen such diverse subjects, let me enlighten you. For starters they all begin with an “I” and secondly they were all introduced to the Eastern Cape and two of them pose their own unique ecological problems.

Impala are not endemic to the Eastern Cape, but have been successfully introduced to many private game parks and hunting farms. The natural distribution of Impala is roughly from the Limpopo Province of South Africa through to the southern half of Kenya.

The SA National Parks Board, as well as other purists, are totally against the introduction of species that are not found naturally in the area. SANParks will in fact cull any Impala that stray into the precincts of Addo Elephant National Park.

This is not surprising as man has caused many problems with the introduction of alien species, to areas where they are not meant to be:

  • A few domestic cats brought to Marion Island became feral and thrived to such an extent that they became a threat to the bird life. Several years ago a hunting team was brought in to exterminate them.
  • Some one had the bright idea of introducing fallow deer to the Eastern Cape. They are now regarded by many farmers as vermin.
  • Look at what happened when a few rabbits, introduced to Australia, were let loose.
  • The Brown Tree Snakes on Guam Island have almost decimated the bird population and are a threat to the remaining birds.
The list is endless and leads to to this question:
What foot prints will Impala leave on the ecology in the Eastern Cape in the future?

The photos below are rather striking shots of the carbon black factory just on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. Carbon black is an essential ingredient for the building of vehicle tyres, so I guess it is here to stay.
The factory is built on the edge of a wetland at the Swartkops River Estuary and just across the road that the locals call “Smelly Creek”, is the sewerage works. Both facilities are within spitting distance of the beach and both contribute to the pungent odor passing motorists and the Amsterdam Hoek residents have to endure.

When I arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1978 the silent shell, of a once popular spa hotel was still standing on the Grahamstown Road, behind this factory. It was built over a natural hot water spring. The hotel could not, however, survive the encroachment of industry and rapidly lost popularity and the City lost a tourist attraction. The spring has since been sealed and the hotel was demolished in the early 1980’s.

Who knows what the long term effects, the emissions from this and other factories around the world, have on the environment?

The legacy of the early city fathers is not good. It seems that they did as they pleased and never spared a thought for the future or for the environment. This begs the question:

“What legacy do I intend leaving behind, for my children and for my children’s children?”

17 September 2007

Sunset at Seaview

The sunset taken at Seaview this evening, looking across St Francis Bay, towards the Tsitsikamma Mountains.

This was one of those opportunistic shots. I saw a pair of birds fly past, clicked and then dismmised it as a dud. I quite like the result.

16 September 2007

Sport, sport, sport

This has certainly been a good sport weekend for South Africa. As it turned out we played England, in both the Rugby World Cup and the ICC Twenty 20 World Cup Cricket and won.

From here on the rugby games will be against the minnows, until we get to the next round and play against the other top contenders - New Zealand and Australia. Those should be really good games, for those who follow the sport of course.

While writing this, I am watching the the French rugby team regaining their national pride by trouncing Namibia - 82/3 at the moment and another 14 minutes to go. Ouch. I am going to bed this is a massacre.

But then that's what it is all about. We all want our country to win.


These photos were taken at last years airshow in Port Elizabeth. The Cheetah fighter jet was built on the frame of the Mirage III's, South Africa bought from France in the 1960s. The Cheetah will be replaced by the Swedish Gripen fighters. I hope that they will be kept operational by the Airforce Museum and continue to do the rounds at the annual airshows.

I just love the raw power and speed of these jets. The only problem is trying to photograph them. I had a big collection of fuzzy pictures and blues skies after the last show. I have developed the greatest respect for aviation photographers.

Choosing a new cell phone - who says its easy

Cell phone upgrade time again. Oh what torture.

Sue and I always seem to get attached to our phones and then delay the renewal of our contracts. Our renewal dates were about a year apart, a while back but this year we went in together.

Contrast the two of us.

I spend two weeks researching phones, I want to know about internet connectivity, what features does it have – useful and useless, colours, contract options and prices. I eventually narrowed my search down to the Nokia N95. I like the idea of a phone with a GPS – I am a true blue male who hates asking directions and likes big boy’s toys.
But then the price? Is it worth an extra R110 per month? I then agonize for hours over this problem and eventually decide my ego is not worth it. Ok, the N80 will do.

Sue on the other hand says, “I like my phone. I just want one that is simple and that I can make calls with. Nothing fancy”.

In we go. Oh the cell phone world is so wicked! My resistance starts to crumble, so much technology, so many gadgets and so much temptation.

I start vacillating between the N80 and the N95 again. The wait in the queue was just long enough to bring me back to my senses.

Sue was still intent on getting the same phone again.

Reality check! This is cell phone world – evolution, or is it engineered obsolescence that dictates what you take or what you get.

“I’ll take an N80”, I say, “A silver one.”

“Sorry we only have black”, comes the reply.

“I am so disappointed” I say. They never seem to have the colour I want.

“Don’t be so difficult”, says Sue. Always the reasonable one.

“But I like silver”.

“What’s the problem? Your camera is black”.

“Yes, I like black camera’s and silver phones”, comes my reply with all the sincerity I can muster.

“Let me check the stock”, says the salesman thumping away at the key board. “Sorry, we have no stock.

“Now, I am really disappointed”, I say hamming it up. Maybe I am meant to have the N95 I think.

“Don’t worry” he says, “I will call one of the retail outlets”.

A few phone calls later and the announcement is made. “It is the end of the range there are none in stock”.

“Ok”, I reply “I will stick with what I have got”.

He now turns his attention to Sue. A quick discussion on packages and she stays with the one she has.

Her old phone is now obsolete. The ever helpful young man assures her that he has just the phone for her. The Nokia E65, She will have to pay in R119 once off, but it will be worth it. Off he goes, returns with a dummy slide phone and explains it is a mocha colour.

Sue is won over and pays the extra.

While he is checking the phone from the box he looks up and says with great conviction and sincerity, “I love to see a woman using a slide phone”. At the same time opening and closing the phone with a slick one handed motion. “It is so useful when you are doing the dishes or the laundry”.

Sue smiles and I guffaw.

This is the woman who responded to a meme question, “What is your favourite kitchen appliance?” with the answer, “The dustbin, when I throw away the take-away packaging”. And laundry – he reminded us to get ours from the Laundromat on the way home.

By now I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t go home without a new 'toy'. "What phone do you recommend?” I ask with a note of desperation.

“Without hesitation he says, “The N70 Music Edition”.

I need that one like I need a hole in the head, I think.

But being the ever the reasonable man, I start with the questions. You see, it was the one phone I did not check out. A quick run down on the spec’s revealed: connectivity ok; it has two cameras - one for video conferencing; a 1 GB memory card – even better; and I can load a lot of music onto it – not that I ever listen to music on my cell phone; no GPS – ok I can live without that; price – cheaper than what I am paying on the same package. Perfect - just the right mix of useful and useless features.

“Sounds good”, I say. “Give me a silver one”.

“Sorry we only have black in stock.”

15 September 2007

A load of bull and and a load of innocence

Back in the days when it was not done to talk about “the birds and the bees’, in polite company or heaven forbid tell you children about these deep dark secrets, grandpa and uncle Stanley strolled down to the cattle kraal (pen, corral). They were accompanied by Aunt Molly, who at that time was a na├»ve teenager.

It was dip day. Once a month all the cattle were rounded up and brought in to be dipped and examined for injuries or diseases.

Dip day was always one of the highlights on the farm, with all the hustle, bustle and activity. There is always a lot of dust and noise from the cattle milling about and bellowing. The herdsmen add to the general cacophony with their whistling and shouting and cracking of whips. Then there is the smell of fresh cow dung, mingled with the smell of the dip and the hordes of flies that feel obliged to grace you with their company.

You have to be a farmer to enjoy this. Grandpa generally carried his fly whisk. It was the end of a cows tail attached to a handle – gross but effective – which he used to fend off the flies, as they buzzed around his head.

The two gentlemen (actually they were rough, tough farmers born in the 19th century) and the young lady stood silently at the fence watching the activities. They were not the type of men to waste breath on unnecessary conversation.

After a while Uncle Stanley turned to his brother and said, “Nice bull Harry”.

Grandpa nodded and grunted his acknowledgement.

“How can you tell it is a bull?” asked Aunt Molly, sweetly.

“By the horns my dear, by the horns”, Uncle Stanley responded without hesitation.

“Oh”, said Aunt Molly, now none the wiser, “I never knew that”.

Some of grandpa's cattle in the bush. They eventaully became so wild and unruly that he stopped dipping them.
After many complaints from the authorities he invited the Animal Health Inspector to come and dip them one day. He took up the challenge, but his efforts were less than succesful and after nearly being gored to death, he stopped visiting grandpa's farm.
Grandpa's cattle were treated as game thereafter.

14 September 2007

Rugby World Cup - South Africa vs England

Have just watched the first of the games between the big five and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well played Springboks - 36/ 0 is a great win. The cheering is only just subsiding around SA.

Keep it up guys and bring that cup home!

Oh cynical me

The road repair team pulled up the other morning. Watching this guy shovelling sand off the truck, while his work mates stood back and looked on made me wonder, "Who's the boss?"

As it turned out there was a very clear division of labour and once they got going, they were very efficient in repairing the cracks in the tarmac. No one missing a beat.

Just goes to show our perceptions are not always correct. Thanks guys you are doing a good job.

Sunset at the Port

Had to go to a meeting at Cape St Francis this week, but it was also nice to take time out and enjoy the Port

13 September 2007

New granddaughter - Amelia - Update version 1.2

The wait is over.

Great excitement in the family at the arrival of granddaughter no1 (grandchild no2) today.

All I had this morning was vital statistics. She weighed in at 3.9 kgs (8.6pounds) and is 52 centimetres (20.5 inches) long and has a mop of dark hair. Name - mom and dad have decided - AMELIA (14/09/07).

But now I have met her and I am besotted.

Seen here with mom and the tradtional teddy from granny and grandpa

Amazing how quickly the love for these little people grows.

Dad as happy as a dog with two tails, doing the burping thing

I now know for sure that she is the best and most beautiful granddaughter in the world and that I am going to spoil her rotten. Grandpa privileges.

OK, I can see that some grandparents may be bristling at my presumption. Don't worry yours are also the best. I have this theory that sorts out any arguments of this nature.

I once boasted to a friend that I had the best grandchild in the world. She immediately refuted my claim, as any good granny will, by saying that her two were the best. That posed a problem, because if I believed that my grandson is the best (and he is), where does that leave all the other poor misguided grandparents.

I was about to contradict her, knowing that this could turn ugly (you don’t want to mess with a granny where her grandchildren are concerned), when the answer came to me.

In the world of grandparents we all live on our own little planets in parallel universes. This means we can all lay claim to the fact that our grandchildren are the best in the world, without fear of contradiction.

So if you say your grandchildren are the best I will just smile, because they are in your universe, just as mine are in mine.


11 September 2007

H for Hadedas and Heffelumps

The Hadeda Ibis, once confined to the east coast of South Africa are now fairly widely distributed throughout the country.
It has adapted well to city life and is often seen foraging in suburban gardens. These pictures were taken in the park across the road from our home.

The Hadeda Ibis mainly eat earthworms, but will also take insects, spiders and small reptiles.

They move around in flocks numbering upto 20 birds or 100 out of breeding season.
Hadedas are also incredibly noisy. If you come across them suddenly they complain very vehemently as they fly away, like someone with a hoarse voice shouting haa haa.

Here come the heffelumps.

OK, so I have used some licence here, but how can we ignore the little heffelumps. These pictures were taken at the Addo Elephant National Park a few weeks back.

One of the peculiarities of the Addo Elephants is that the females do not have tusks.

09 September 2007

Way to go

Taken at Schoenmakerskop earlier today. What a cool way to see the coast.

My favourite toys

David McMahon’s question this week is, “Which toy was your childhood favourite?”

To answer this question I first need to give you an idea of how I grew up. Pardon the quality of the photo's they are old and were taken with an assortment of box camera's.

My sister's Spaniel Rossi with the farm house in the background

I spent most of my childhood on a remote bushveld farm in the old Transvaal (now Limpopo). The farm is about 50 kilometres (32 miles) to the west of Warmbaths, in the plains below the Waterberg Mountains.

We had no telephones or electricity or other modern conveniences. Cooking was done on a wood stove. Hot baths only happened at night, when the fire was made in the geyser. The loo, was a long drop some distance from the house. We had a battery powered radio and listened to our records on a wind up record player. The refrigerator was paraffin powered. Lighting was by way of candles and lamps.
Me, my sisters and dinner

I lived with my extended family that included ma, pa, grandpa, two sisters and assorted cousins. My male role models were fiercely proud and independent farming types who lived by a code, like something from the old Wild West. They had very firm ideas on how a man should behave and be raised.At the age of five I was given an air gun, I am not sure when I got my first knife, but it was not long after that. I was taught how to hunt and fish at an early age – that was our source of meat.
My back yard was about 1,800 acres in size; it was teaming with wild life, including just about every venomous snake that is to be found in South Africa - on occasion I came across 18 foot long pythons. I would often disappear into the bush for hours at a time with my dog Buster, either hunting or fishing. Life was one big adventure.

My pal Buster

My favourite “toys” were guns, knives and fishing rods – essential “tools” for survival in that wild environment.

Just so that you don’t think I was a total savage I also had mecanno sets, toy cars and trucks, toy guns, a clock work train set, a steam engine and montini building blocks. I was also an avid reader and loved my books.

08 September 2007

Rugby World Cup - National pride at stake

Last night saw the kick off of the Rugby World Cup series, as France and Argentina battled it out for victory in the first game of the series.

I must admit I was feeling fairly ambivalent towards the series until I tuned into the game by accident. It was just before the kick off, when the national anthems were being sung.

National pride was definitely at stake and watching those big Argentinian bruisers singing their anthem, all choked up with emotion and in some cases with tears running unashamedly said something. It was enough to draw me in. Imagine the emotion of being a young guy in your early twenties, from one of the supposedely weaker teams, being chosen to play in the opening match. Awesome

The French, of course, were more cavalier when singing La Marseillaise, which in itself is a very stirring anthem and sure to get the adrenalin pumping.

It was a great match. I have been watching the development of Argintinian rugby for some years now and am pleased to see the way they have risen to being a truly international team. I was supporting the southern hemisphere and was happy that the underdogs won.

Of course there can only be one winner - no prizes for guessing who I will be backing.

What makes me happy

Well David here we go again - another question and another answer. What makes me happy?

I am a simple soul and there are many things that make me happy. But today I want to talk of who makes me happy rather than what makes me happy.

Being with Sue who is still the love of my life and my best friend after 31 years of marriage, is what makes me happy. Her fun loving nature and enthusiasm for life and her friendliness is contagious – so I can’t help but be happy around her and love her.

From the start we have been soul mates and enjoy each other’s company and like doing things together. We also have our own interests and we give each other the space to be who we are.

Yes, she gets distracted and burns the dinner from time to time, but then if she didn’t she would not be Suzie.

Us in July 1976 cutting the cake

I guess you can say a good loving relationship is what makes me happy

Never give up

The Port Elizabeth Express front page headline on the 29 August 2009 screams out, “Crime takes hold of Richmond Hill”. Not a good advertisement for a suburb that is becoming quite trendy in the city.

And then a front page article in the Weekend Post, on Saturday 1 September 2007 states: The wave of crime which has made South Africa one of the most dangerous countries outside a war zone in which to live is now rapidly spreading through the once peaceful suburbs of Nelson Mandela Bay.” Is this journalist licence or is it fact.

Several weeks ago when Sue had her knee operation I went walk about in Central, to photograph some of the old churches. This was to kill time, while waiting to collect her after the op. I am not a nervous person, but it was one of the most unsettling experiences I have had for a long time. Not exactly in the prime of my life and walking about in a crime ridden area, with the camera around my neck made me a prime target.

When I picked Sue up from the hospital, I told her that the last time I had that feeling was when we lived in a war zone where I was working. That was in the 1970’s in Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was then called. It was not a conscious action on my part, it just happened. I was like a tightly wound spring, ready to leap into action in a split second. I found myself constantly on the lookout, carefully checking every person coming in my direction, looking over my shoulder every few seconds to make sure that no one came up from behind, checking to see that no one was getting ready to ambush me.

The pictures I took were disappointing because I was not able to fully concentrate on what I was doing. Check shoot, check … wait while this group of youth go by and so on. Despite my best efforts, people still managed to come by me - fortunately without malicious intent - without me being aware of their approach. I eventually gave up and went home.

After dropping Sue at home I went to the pharmacy to get her pain killers. While there I met a young mother who was in quite a state of shock, who had just been robbed at knife point in that very area, where I had been taking photographs. She was there to get tranquilizers.

Two weeks ago on Saturday, Sue and I took an early morning walk around Richmond Hill, after which I did the posts Reflections of the Hill and Signs.

Last week on Saturday morning at 8:30 am in that same area, Lisbet Calitz was shot and killed in her car, while in her driveway in Hartman Street. Another senseless killing in South Africa – another tragedy and another family traumatized and in mourning. Why........ what for?

Yes, that was the very area Sue and I had been in the week before. (Picture alongside is the sunrise over the Bay from Hartman Street)

When we go on our walks we take all the security precautions we can, like carrying a can of mace, or taking Harry with us. I refuse to be a victim and lock myself away, but I also resent the fact that no law abiding person can feel safe in their neighbourhood or home any more. Are we exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks – we probably are. Will I stop the walks? Absolutely not. I will rather go down fighting than back down to a bunch of thugs.

We have had more than our fair share of crime. Sue did a few posts on one experience last year Justice South African Style and Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly (so slowly that the case has still not seen the light of day). Sue took a light hearted look at the the incident, but we were both thoroughly traumatized for many months afterwards.

But on a positive note we are members of a community forum that intends to stand up for what is right and take an active role in fighting crime in our area. We will not be victims and we do not intend living on our nerves for the rest of our days.

06 September 2007

Algoa Bay

If you race down Callington Street in the historic Richmond Hill area of Port Elizabeth, the chances are you will miss the view. This is one of a series I have been taking of this particular scene, which captures the moods of Algoa Bay and the atmosphere of the suburb. Sue and I love strolling through the neighbourhood with our cameras. It's all so old, yet there is always something new to see - a bit like an old friend - we know each other so well but we always get something out of our visits.


Daisy's are such simple flowers, yet so friendly. This one was caught bringing cheer to our garden.

05 September 2007

G for Gnome

When I was a child I harbored a secret wish that we would one day have a gnome in our garden. I could never understand why my mother did not like the idea. When I told Sue of my childhood dream, when we started our first garden together ……………… let’s just say that the dream died there.

Well, not exactly. Last Christmas Sue gave me Gottlieb. He is small enough so that no one will see him and his green attire will ensure that he blends in with the plants. As it has turned out he has become a house gnome. Seen here blending in with a ceramic horse, after a nose job – I think grandson got hold of him.

As a gesture of great thoughtfulness kindness, on my part and just so that Gottlieb does not get too lonely I bought Sue her very own gnome recently. He has been relegated to a pot in the garden, where he spends his day reading in the shade, from behind the stem of a ficus. (He does not have a name yet - any suggestions)

These two fellows were last seen watching the passing traffic from the balcony at an antique shop in Uitenhage. Not surprising that mother never bought into my dream!

My apologies walksfarwoman, I know you had Africa in mind when you invited me to join the group. I promse an African theme next week

01 September 2007

Spring has sprung

Today is the first day of spring and a beautiful day in the Eastern Cape. I also realized with dismay that I had left a file at the office in Uitenhage, 40 kilometers away that I needed for a meeting, on Monday morning. No problem it was a perfect day for a drive.
So why not make an adventure of it. I do the trip at least four days a week, but there is always something new and interesting to see.
Uitenhage must be the antique capital of the Eastern Cape.

So off we went to browse the antiques shops

Boy's treasure!

I had a truck exactly like this half a century ago (ouch), which was my pride and joy. And I know a little boy (my grandson Ethan) who would probably like this one. Alas it was not for sale.

And so we did the rounds.

Top hat but no tails

Time to be macho
World War 1 helmet, a bit too heavy for a little man to wear without support.

It is always worth stopping to see the flamingos at the salt pans. They were not that pleased to see us and immediately strolled off.

Ethan was not too fussed by their lack of cooperation.
After all with so many rocks about why not try and fill the lake. Boys will be boys.

Oops where did that one go?

And what would spring be without flowers. These Gazanias are growing along all the roads giving a bright and cheerful splash of colour to the landscape