31 August 2007


One day about 6 years ago I got an excited phone call from Sue. We were going to get a Siamese kitten. A friend had an alley cat that produced a Siamese kitten with every litter and with a little persuasion from Sue, she promised us the next one.

We waited patiently for kitty breeding season, which happens twice a year. And then we were informed that mamma cat was pregnant. Great excitement.

Our friend told us that the Siamese kittens were born white and changed colour as they grew older. This was an interesting fact we did not know.

Like expectant grand parents we waited patiently for the arrival of the new addition to our family. Fortunately kitty pregnancies are not long and soon we were told that the new litter had arrived and sure enough there was a white one. More great excitement.

The wait was coming to an end. In about eight weeks and we could bring the little tike home.

After about four weeks we could not contain ourselves any longer and traveled the 30 kilometres to Despatch, to see our new kitten. The excitement was now reaching breaking point.

When I looked at the little ball of white fur I realized that something was wrong. I knew that the white fur could change to the Siamese tones, just as Lipizzaner horses start out life black and turn white as they grew older. But ……. the big but was, would a pink nose turn brown.

The excitement waned.
After a respectable interval we went home. After much debate we were convinced that this was not going to be the real thing……….. of course we could hope. And how could we change our minds now that it was accepted as our kitten.

And so the waiting continued. The excitement, somewhat diminished.

The day finally arrived and we went to collect our new kitten hoping for a miracle. Hope let us down. The fur was as white as ever and the nose ……….. still bright pink. We were now the proud servants of a white cat.

Names, we had to have a name.

Naming a kitten is like naming a child. Somewhere out there the right name is waiting, the question is how do you find it. My first suggestion was Pinkie. This was met with outright rejection and a total humour failure. Perhaps understandably so. It reminded her of a German Shepherd dog that I had given the unfortunate nickname of Pinksh, because of his unseemly dog’s manners and lack of decorum. The association was too strong for Sue’s liking (she has a very vivid imagination) and my suggestion was short lived, very short lived, so short lived in fact that it was dead as soon as I suggested the name.

As it turned out names were irrelevant. We soon discovered that she was deaf. Another of nature’s idiosyncrasies, just as tortoise shell cats are females, white cats with blue eyes are deaf.

So she now has many names. My daughter calls her Dee Dee, I named her Wit Blitz (White Lighting) because of her habit of running around the living room at full speed after her meals, and sometimes we refer to her as the White Thing (or White Fing) because of her penchant for shredding furniture – scratching posts are beneath her dignity.

Her disability has not stopped her from living a normal life. She behaves like any other cat and meows and preows with the best of them, but has no volume control.

She also has her own kitty sign language, which she deigns to respond to when she feels like it. Cats are like that, they live life on their own terms, always ensuring that you get just enough affirmation to feel honored that they have taken an interest in you, or graced you with their presence.

The name she understands best is a crooked finger pointed in her direction and waggled up and down. If she is in the mood she will let out a preow and come running.

30 August 2007

Grocott's Penny Mail Part 1

Sue got hold of a copy of Grocott's Penny Mail, which was published in Grahamstown in 1878. I found many of the advertisements quite amusing.

This fellow was obviously had great faith in human nature. Well it was worth a try.

There must have been a lot of skulduggery in the sale of live stock in the old days, especially when your advert had to carry an "obligatory" reason for selling.
I found this one interesting. I wonder what the owner's work ethic was like?

29 August 2007

Going Green

Well I am now officially a "green" if that is the right terminology.
After a quick investigation into nuclear power (the internet has so much information on the subject), I decided I definitely don't want to live with a nuclear power station on my door step.

So I have now officially joined the anti-nuclear lobby, albeit as a lone ranger. I am registered as an interested party on the Eskom (electricity supply authority) database, I have signed onto an Environmental website and have submitted my first comments (which has already been acknowledged).
What I wrote is probably a lot of frothy drivel, because it was done in a hurry, to meet 28 August deadline and quite frankly is not my area of expertise. But that is the beauty of our new democracy, "those in power" take the time to listen.

In a previous job I spent 12 years of my life lobbying the former government and fighting them on many issues and have come to realise that I have been missing the the cut and thrust of fighting for a good cause. I am back.
Algoa Bay was in good form this evening with the spring tide. Stopped in at Brighton Pier and caught this shot. Two very disappointed fishermen arrived while I was enjoying the view - sorry guys no fishing from here fo a while. This happens from time to time - see the Moods of Algoa Bay.

View up the coast towards Bluewater Bay and the Swartkops River estuary.

As I was on a roll I decided to stop in at the break water, at North End. I was in time get a few shots before it got too dark. I took pictures of this view in an earlier post, when the sea was being much kinder and gave a good view of the harbour.

I ran across the railway lines to get this shot of Port Elizabeth before the next wave struck. Nice view of the city centre, with Richmond Hill in the background.
Our city fathers were not very forward thinking in the old days and built the railway line on what was once pristine beaches. Fortunately today's city fathers are more forward thinking and there is an ambitious plan to reclaim a two kilometre stretch of the water front. I am watching this development with keen interest

The Road to Addo

This field of aloes on the Sundays River Valley, on the way to the Addo Elephant Park, resulted in an obligatory photo stop. We are never in a hurry to get anywhere when we travel, because there are too many interesting distractions on the way.

Aloes and thorn bushes creating an interesting contrast (click on the picture for a better view)

27 August 2007

Reality check

I love the mood of this picture. Nothing sinister here, just two kids having fun on a see saw late at night. Both pics were taken from my front porch on the same night.

26 August 2007

Do you believe in ghosts?

David McMahon posed the question on his blog, “Do you believe in ghosts?”

I could reply with a typical South African colloquialism and say, “Ja, nee”, (Yes, no) and leave it at that. The skeptic in me could say, “No way”, or I could take the Biblical view that would reinforce the skeptic’s viewpoint, but then how would I account for an experience that said otherwise.

Draw your own conclusions. I have shared this story with very few people, but blogging has opened a new frontier, so here goes. Let me start at the beginning to put the story and the events in their context.

My parents bought a farm at Shabani (Zvishavane) in, what was then Rhodesia in 1969. It was envisaged that as the only son, I would become a farmer when I left school and eventually take over when they were too old to carry on. That was my passion so during my first year out of school I gave it my best shot, but one year of trying to farm with my step dad was enough. I eventually left to make my own way in life.

During my year on the farm our three dogs were poisoned. My boerbull, Buster, my sister’s spaniel Rossi, which were our constant companions from our childhood and then there was Fifi, a real little firebrand and very far from being a “Fifi”. I buried them in a clearing on the side of the road about a kilometer or so from the farm house.

The following year, in 1972, I started my career as a cadet district officer in a little town called Selukwe (Shurugwi). The bush war had started to escalate that year and I was conscripted into the army for a year’s national service. A few days before I was due to go into the army, I borrowed my dad’s Peugeot 403 van to bring my belongings home. I got to the farm just as the sun was going down, opened the gate and drove through, closed it and then proceeded to set off on the last leg.

At that point the accelerator cable snapped and I was stranded about 3 kilometers from the house – but it was a comfortable walk along the road over ground that I was familiar with.

When I got to the clearing, where I had buried the dogs, it was in that peculiar half light that is common in central Africa, just after the sun goes down that I saw something moving in the road ahead of me. I assumed it was the hare that I often saw in the area. Just one problem, it was bigger than a hare and was coming in my direction.

I stopped and peered into the semi darkness. At first I could not see what it was, and then as it came closer I could make out what looked like my sister’s spaniel, Rossi, walking towards me. It was not an ordinary looking spaniel, but had a silvery, translucent shimmer to it. At this point my feet grew roots and I went icy cold. It was the strangest sight I had ever seen.

“This can’t be real”, I thought and closed my eyes tightly and opened them again, hoping to clear the vision. It was still there. Rossi had a particular way of walking into a room on a hot day, with his head down and his tail wagging in slow motion, as if to say, “I am hot and uncomfortable, but I will reluctantly grace you with my presence”. That was what I was seeing.

My first thought was to run, but it was between me and the farm house about kilometer up the road. My feet were also firmly rooted to the ground. So I stood and watched as it came closer and closer, until it stopped next to me, on my right hand side. I slowly shifted my gaze downwards and wondered, “What happens next?”

It just stood there slowly wagging its tail. At this point I decided to touch it and extended my right hand and slowly reached down towards it. When I reached it, it faded away and was gone.

The roots in my feet suddenly released their hold and my feet now grew wings. I made it home in record time.

What was it? I do not know. What I do know was that it was very real and try as I might to reason that it was my imagination, it was not.
I have also asked myself many questions over the years; Was it because my sister was visiting my parents on the farm for the first time since Rossi had died (she lived in Durban in South Africa)? Or was it a message? My step father was murdered by terrorists on that exact spot in March 1977. I guess I will never know the answer.

Do I believe in ghosts? I am not sure – the skeptic is still giving me a hard time on this one.


I couldn't resist taking a pic of the sign painted on this trailer, promoting a construction company. I only hope that their work is better than their spelling

25 August 2007

Reflections of the Hill

I just love our neighbourhood. There is just so much variety and so much to see. Sue and I got up early this morning to catch the sunrise over Algoa Bay. What we did not realise is that with the days getting longer, the sun is rising a lot earlier, so we missed it.

But then this opportunity presented itself...................stunning reflections of historical Richmond Hill, in one of the city centre buildings.

On top of the hill we have a lovely quiet suburb, but a short walk below us is the city centre. Not too busy at 7:00am

Thank you for not smoking

Yesterday morning while I was stopped at the traffic lights I looked to the left and noticed the driver in the car next to me lighting up a cigarette. There he was, with windows closed and a passenger alongside him, belching out his toxic fumes.

In this day and age, when there has been so much publicity about the dangers of smoking, I find it hard to believe that people still smoke. What is even worse is that so many are quite happy to inflict their second hand smoke that has just come from their bowels, lungs or wherever it disappears to after they have taken a draw, on others. But, like the infomercial, that is not all, they also leave behind the residue – the stinky cigarette smell that permeates your clothes and skin and hair.
What is it about smokers that they just don’t get it? The messages on today’s cigarette packs say such nice things things like, “Smoking causes cancer” or “Your smoke is harmful to those around you” – but still they smoke. Is it because they enjoy it or is it just an addiction.
Would you buy toy for your child that had a warning label, which said something like. “Lead based paints. Do not put in mouth”. (by the way a lot of Chinese manufactured toys are being withdrawn from the market for that reason – only thing is they did not carry the warning)

I aint gonna change them, so smokers just keep your smoke away from me.

By the way have you seen the movie “Thank You for Smoking”? Even as a non smoker I enjoyed its portrayal the tobacco industries's chief spokesman, Nick Naylor, who spins on behalf of cigarettes while trying to be a role model for his twelve-year-old son. There are also some brilliant interactions with his friends who represented the pro-alcohol and pro-gun lobbies. Very amusing indeed.

23 August 2007

If you can't join them beat them

The construction of a nuclear power station in the Oyster Bay/ Cape St Francis is, I believe, a certainty in the eyes of the Government. Though the politicians are doing their usual ducking and diving, the reality is that the land was expropriated in the 1980's and the Environmental Impact Assessment's are under way. According to comments by the officials concerned, in the news media, it will happen.

I have tried to keep an open mind about nuclear power and the new safety measures and technology etc, but I cannot continue to do so. The body of evidence is largely negative, so I have joined the anti-nuclear lobby as I said I would in my post The Nuclear Spectre.

A recent article in The Herald gives some background on the issue and the seriousness with which some lobbyists are taking this. There is a lot of debate on the internet as well.

Time is short and interested Individuals and Groups wishing to comment on the subject of Nuclear Energy have until 28 August 2007 to make submissions.

All correspondence should be addressed to:
Mr Langa Zita (Chairperson) and marked for the Attention of Ms Albertina Kakaza, Box 15, Parliament,Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 403-3749/65, Fax: (021) 403-2808, E-mail: akakaza@parliament.gov.za

Copies of submissions can be sent to: nuclear@environment.co.za

21 August 2007

The Nuclear Spectre

I have just had a horrible gut wrenching moment.

I posted a similar picture to this one recently, called Misty Seas, just to be able to share the beauty of the Cape coastline. I never gave it another thought until now.

There has been a lot of talk recently about building a series of nuclear power stations along our coast. South Africa is experiencing increasing power outages, as the power authority (Eskom) has grossly underestimated our power requirements and now needs to urgently build several power stations, to cope with demand.

And yes, you have guessed it. If the government has its way this scene may soon be blighted with a nuclear power station and the country side festooned with electricity cables.

This one was planned way back in the early 1980’s and has never been well received. To fund these developments, Eskom now plans to increase electricity tariffs by 18% in 2008 and 17% in 2009.

I am a skeptic where nuclear power is concerned and do not fancy the idea of living in the shadow of a nuclear power station. Unless any one can give me any compelling reasons to accept it, I have made a vow tonight to be at the forefront of the anti nuclear lobby.

Today I also learnt that the Congo River has the capacity to generate enough hydro-electric power to supply the whole of Africa. Maybe that is the way to go?

20 August 2007

More from Addo

In my zeal to post my elephant pics I left out all the other game I photographed and have decided to include some of my favorites.

Kudu's - especially the cows are my favorite antelope. That is probably because I reared one on a bottle, after her mother had been snared by poachers on our farm many years ago, in another life. Her name was Thumpy, because when we first started feeding her she would rush at us, give us a good few thumps and then start sucking her bottle. She soon became very tame and was an absolute delight. She was very affectionate and when I called her she would come running for a cuddle and to have her ears scratched.
Like all wild animals they are not meant to live in cages, so when she grew up we gave her to a friend who ran a private game park.

If I had not seen one elephant (See previous post) this little striped field mouse would have been worth the trip.

A family of warthogs - also favourites. They are so ugly they are beautiful. Real social animals.

We once had a weaver bird like this one drop dead in our yard from exhaustion, while building nests for his prospective wives. He was quite manic and would not stop. I don't think he ever mastered the art, because most of the nests were rejected.
This one was waiting for a hand out. He seemed quite unaware of the rules about not feeding the animals - more likely couldn't care less.

19 August 2007

Just Elephants

I love Africa. This moring I woke up wanting to see elephants - well the rest is history. The Addo Elephant National Park is just 70 kilometres from our front door. Once faced with extinction the Addo elephants were saved with the creation of the park.

One of the many herds.............

The big guy

Up close and personal

Another big guy

Having a drink

Candidate for nip tuck?

Getting together

Saying hello

Rear view

Shower time

Enjoying a drink

17 August 2007


I took this picture in a particularly desolate and arid part of the Eastern Cape, between Steytlerville and Jansenville some years ago. What struck me was the name on the gate "Vrede" - that is the Afrikaans word for peace.

It got me thinking that peace obviously means different things to different people.

I love the solitude, the beauty and the aridness of the area..........but I am not so sure that it would be my idea of peace. I have also reached that stage in life where I like my creature comforts and would start getting restless after a while.

But there is no denying that someone found peace here.

What is your idea of peace?

Wacky Theories

Anyone who is a Monty Python fan will remember the skit of Anne Elk and her theory about dinosaurs. To cut a long and amusing story short her theory was that dinosaurs are thin at one end, thick in the middle and thin at the other end.

Like Anne Elk I have come up with theories of my own over the years. Maybe not as wacky, but nevertheless theories……….

When my farther in law hit 80 (he is now 89) he started complaining that he could not remember much these days, especially recent events. My response was, “What is the problem?” I said that at his age he could take solace in the fact that he has more to remember than most people, so it is understandable if he does not remember everything.

Sometimes I think that this theory also applies to me. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do a defrag on our brains to speed up our thought processes.

16 August 2007

Beauty and the Beast

Sue and I have not been for an early morning stroll since before her knee op and this morning it was great to get back on the beat. There is so much to see and so many moods in the neighbourhoood.

The sunrise over Algoa Bay seen from Callington Street

The simple beauty of the sunlight catching the leaves of a coral tree

Reality check - the ever present reminder of crime in the country - a novel way to secure one's car

......... and people living like prisoners in their own homes

Then coming across this cheerful fellow. A throw back to the hippie era.......or a novel way to prevent car theft ...... it just wont blend in with the crowd................. or a just a cheerful owner.

A lovely view of historical homes at the end of Irvine Street

.. and then an in you face approach to the anti dumping sign.

But in all of this the beauty of nature is there for our pleasure, a flower from a coral tree.

13 August 2007

Misty Seas

Another beautiful day at Cape St Francis. This is known as the "wild side" as the sea usually pounds the rocks with great vigour. We love wondering about the rocks, even in the most foul weather, in our beanies and winter woolies. It is also a great place for whale watching, but there were none around this weekend.

Me Scared............?

When I told a couple of black colleagues (separately) that I had visited the Red Location Museum, they both responded with surprise that I had gone there. They both wanted to know if I was not afraid to go into a “black township”.

My response was, “Should I have been?”

At the time neither of them responded to my question, but later on I pushed for an answer and got one.
According to my colleague there were a lot of young black people who felt that whites have no business going into “their” areas and will attack white people if given an opportunity. He said that as they were not aware that I was “ok”, as I had taken a stand against apartheid, I was at risk.

When I said I had not felt threatened, his reply was that as long as I stayed within the precincts of the museum I would be fine.

I find it hard to believe that can still be so much hatred and bitterness about and I wonder how widespread these sentiments are. Township tours have become big business in the South African tourism industry and are well received by the foreign tourists – so are these sentiments real or perceived.

Let me put the background to this situation into context.

The Red Location is a “black suburb” that was established under British colonial rule in 1903 and maintained under the old apartheid regime, which sought to separate the race groups through legislation. Living conditions there were appalling – many of the buildings were constructed of wood and corrugated iron dating back almost 100 years and had fallen into disrepair. During the 1970’s and 80’s the area, as with other black areas, became a hot bed of resistance against the old regime.

The residents fought for the ideals of equality and justice. Unfortunately as with most conflicts, there were unspeakable atrocities on both sides, which left the protagonists with deep seated bitterness and many unresolved issues. Generally the atrocities of those who come out on top are the ones that are overlooked at the end of the conflicts.

The reality is that the hatred can live on long after the conflict is over and if allowed it can fester and breed and create other problems.

I guess it is possible that that there can still be deep seated resentments. But then there are also the criminal elements who will try and mask their activities under a guise of “respectability”, like taking their revenge on whites for the injustices of the past. However, the elements I believe my colleagues were talking about are criminals who will
kill a young woman for her mobile phone or a policeman for his firearm. Crime is one issue nation building is another.
This is why reconciling the opposing sides in any nation that has fought a civil war is so important. In this regard I do not think that the role of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission in bringing the truth to light and building bridges will ever be fully appreciated.

My visit to the Red Location Museum showed me that we still have a long way to go in building a truly united nation. However, one cannot build a nation by continuously looking backwards you can only do so by looking ahead and moving forward.

I will be return to the Red Location there is still a lot to see.

09 August 2007

Gulls at the Port

It was a beautiful day at the Port today. No wind and no cold front as predicted. Just another day in paradise.

I enjoy watching the gulls they seem like such characters

Blending in ...........

Shades of black and white

Ready, steady .............................


Happy landing

Chorus line