31 December 2007

Best wishes for New Year

Here is wishing you all a very happy, healthy, fun-filled and prosperous New Year

29 December 2007

Saturday morning stroll

This morning started off very misty, which is always a good indication of a hot sunny day to follow. The weather report has in fact predicted temperatures of around 35 degrees centigrade today. Our walk took us to the old Russell Road cemetary (established in the middle of the 19th century), by which time the mist was beginning to clear.

Russell Road Cemetary at the Corner of Campbell Street and Elliot Street

Looking across the cemetary towards Russell Road. It is so sad that many of the old graves have fallen into disrepair through neglect.

View across Russell Road towards Central

The grave of James Langley Dalton, is the only one that is still maintained. He was one of the 11 recipients of the Victoria Cross after the Battle of Rorkes Drift in January 1879. You can follow the link to an earlier post on Dalton.

This family of Dikkops have made their home in the cemetary. It is always a delight to seem. They are nocturnal and seem to cope well with city life, especially where there are open spaces. Very often we see them running down the middle of the road at night, screaching at the top of their lungs.

26 December 2007

W for Wolwefontein and a wagon

In the old days when the world still operated at a more leisurely pace the main road from Port Elizabeth to Graaff Reinet passed through the village of Wolwefontein. Situated 125 kms from Port Elizabeth on the turn off to Steytlerville, Wolwefontein owes its existence to a hotel, a general dealer, a police station and a railway siding. If you blink when driving past, you will miss it.
As roads and vehicles improved so the need for the little country hotels fell away and the Wolwefontein Hotel eventually shut its doors, due to a lack of patronage - for a few years anyway.

Sue and I stopped in at Wolwefontein on impulse on one of our trips and discovered a rare gem in the Karoo. Several years ago a bored farmer’s wife bought the hotel and restored it. She provides good meals to the locals and has a thriving pub. The hotel still gets little passing trade, so for a large part of her income, she relies on letting rooms to overseas hunters during the hunting season.

Her one innovation was to organize a motor bike rally, which she said was a roaring success. One evening, she told us the bikers announced they would drink the pub dry and she gleefully accepted the challenge. They were at one stage putting away R4,000 ($600) worth of liquor per hour. Unbeknown to them she had made a deal with a supplier to provide enough booze to float the Titanic, on the understanding that whatever was not used could be returned. She never ran out and smiled all the way to the bank.

The arid Karoo countryside around Wolwefontein is suitable for sheep, Ostrich and game farming

The village still boasts a general dealer, only at this one they keep Ostrich chicks on the veranda.

I discovered this wagon at the far end of the village. It was probably left there by its last owner, when he swapped it for a truck. Believe it or not this is the old main road.

Close up views of the detail on wagon.

25 December 2007

Christmas Greetings

Here is wishing everyone out there a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year

24 December 2007

Sunset over the sea

Sunset over the sea taken from Marine Drive

19 December 2007

V for Vervet Monkey

Unfortunately the Vervet Monkeys I recently photographed were not very cooperative so the quality is not the best, but I am sure you will get the picture.

Vervet monkeys are found throughout the country. Their preferred habitat is acacia woodland along streams, rivers and lakes. They can be very entertaining to watch as they are always on the go and very family oriented

They are diurnal, sleeping and eating in trees from which they seldom venture. When they do, they rarely venture more than 500 yards from the trees, since they are vulnerable to a variety of predators.

They seem to possess what can be called the "rudiments of language". Vervet Monkey alarm calls vary greatly depending on the different types of threats to the community. There are distinct calls to warn of invading leopards, snakes, and eagles.

In South Africa we often refer to a particular shade of blue as, "monkey ball blue". No prizes for guessing why.

Vervets are also very athletic. This guy was demonstrating his tight rope walking skills on a telephone line outside Port Elizabeth.

The mainly vegetarian diet is supplemented with insects, eggs, baby birds and sometimes rodents and hares. Vervets can become terrible pests, when living around human habitaion often raiding gardens and kitchens for whatever suits their pallets.

17 December 2007

Opening of the Season

Last night I very reluctantly agreed to go to the opening of the season, at the beach front with Sue. I was tired, sore and totally demotivated. We have also avoided the opening for many years because of our aversion to fighting through the traffic and the crowds.

Bumper to bumper traffic on Marine Drive

The opening of the season is launched with a fireworks display which attracts half the population of Port Elizabeth to the beach front.
We decided to arrive early park at the Board Walk Casino complex, have dinner and then stroll down to the fireworks display at Shark Rock Pier.

Supper at 34 Degrees South was superb. I had a smoked chicken and avacado salad and Sue a smoked salmon baguette. We finished just in time to see the display.

In spite of my earlier misgivings, I found myself enjoying and did not even mind the shoulder to should crowds, as we made our way down to the beach front and got a grand stand view on the lawn over looking Shark Rock Pier, from which the fireworks are launched.

Starbursts and nebulae

All in all a very enjoyable evening.

15 December 2007


Don't know exactly which one this is, but photographed this Hoya, which is growing in the courtyard outside our bedroom earlier today.

12 December 2007

U for "Union Rings"

Oops, do we mean "onion"

This is a photo of the menu taken at a little restaurant in Nieuwoudtville in Namaqualand in the Northern Cape

In South Africa we have 11 official languages so you can perhaps understand why onion has been spelt phonetically.

Some interesting facts about "unions" from the book Let Food be Your Medicine, by Sally-Ann Creed (Anderson Publishing, Cape Town, 2002. (ISBN 0-9584489-3-0):

  • helps to prevent cancer (due to allium and favonoids)
  • reduces cholesterol
  • reduces high blood pressure
  • improves high blood fat profile
  • alleviates and elliminates infections
  • reputedly alleviates asthma, helps colds and flu
  • aids in dealing with gastric infection
  • richest dietry source of quercetin, an extremely potent antioxidant
A view of the restaurant

11 December 2007

Eating my words - Ostrich steak

Several weeks back I did a couple of posts on Ostriches, which elicited a number of comments on the taste of Ostrich meat. In the second post I made the brash statement, "So, if it is a toss up between lean, cholesterol free Ostrich meat and a fatty lamb chop there is no contest – I’ll take my chances with cholesterol".

Mmmmm.....my bluff was called 12 days later when I ended up in hospital as a result of heart attack, caused by clogged arteries, which could have been avoided with a healthier diet.

One of the features of Greenacres Hospital is that you get to choose what you want to eat, from a very wide menu, which includes fish, beef, lamb, chicken and ostrich. Every morning someone comes around and you get to choose your next three meals. Feeling very brave one day I decided to have an Ostrich steak for supper. After all it is considered heart friendly and after my earlier comments I decided to keep an open mind.

The verdict - the vegetables were nice.

Where do I start? The presentation was impeccable. There was a cube of Ostrich steak on my plate, a la nouvelle cuisine. That's where it ended. For starters it was not easy to cut and then when I put a piece in my mouth it had the consistency of an amalgam of leather and rubber. Taste-wise it was akin to bad beef with a bouquet of chicken pooh. As I said the vegetables were nice.

I am not sure that I will try it again. After that experience I stuck to the fish. And by the way I never once ordered the lamb.

As for my brash comment, anything fatty I now consider "toxic waste" and it will not pass my lips.

09 December 2007

The male of the species - Kudu bull

Several weeks ago Anna from Canada posted a delightful picture of a Kudu cow she had taken at the Toronto Zoo, which sparked a lot of interest. Its origins, however, were uncertain at that stage. As they are fairly common in this area I was able to identify it for her.

Anna carried a follow-up to the original post, by which time I was reclining in hospital, in fact I was in ICU, having just had a quadruple bypass. When I came out I promised to publish some pictures of the male of the species. Well, it has taken some time to get here, but here it is.

The pictures below were all taken at the Addo Elephant National Park.

Kudu bull

This guy's head was sticking out of the thick bush

Crossing the road
A magnificent spread of horns

05 December 2007

T is for Trains

The main route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town has by-passed the city of George for many years now and it has been a long time since we stopped in at George. When you are going from point A to point B the inconvenience of stopping to smell the roses sometimes does not seem worth the extra travel time.

On our last trip to Cape Town we spontaneously decided to do the detour through George and what a well worth while decision that was. As we were leaving the city, we saw a sign to the right proclaiming the Railway Museum. Some quick and fancy maneuvering in the traffic got us to where we wanted to be.

When we arived we were told the Museum was closed as the facilities were being used for a decor expo as the stall holders were busy setting up their stands. After a little persuasion we were let in at no charge.