30 January 2008

B for Bloukrans Bridge and Bungee Jumping

On a recent trip to Knysna we stopped at the recreation area at the Bloukrans Bridge, in the hope of finding a restaurant that would cater for my new "heart friendly" eating habits.
Alas, there was no suitable eating place, but I took the opportunity to take a quick snap of the bridge.

Aside from its architectural appeal, the bridge also has the distinction of being the world's highest commercial bungi jump. The bridge is 216 m high but the jump is only about 160 m, from the arch support of the bridge. Here you can see some intrepid people preparing for the jump.

Jumper being hauled up

There were a lot of adrenalin junkies wandering about when we were there, kitted out in their harnesses, patiently waiting for their turn to jump. Would I do it .......... I don't think so.

But then who knows what could happen. There is the delightful story of a prim and proper lady from Port Elizabeth, in her mid sixties, who drove past the entrance to the recreation area on her way home, having no intention of bungi jumping. She was probably the least likely bungi jumper in the world. That was the theory anyway, but she had a sudden rush of blood to the head, did a u-turn and yes, you guessed it did a jump.

27 January 2008

Essential gadgets

Do you know what this is? It is probably the best R20 I have ever spent.

This one is for you Karoline. Use one of these the next time you have give Mr Jones a pill and I guarantee your fingers will not be chewed - your arm may be shredded, but your fingers will definitely be safe.

The beauty is in its simplicity.

Slot the pill in the fork, shove it (ever so gently) to the back of the cats mouth, push the plunger, withdraw it and voila..............one very disappointed cat. Imagine it not being able to exact revenge in the form of a chewed finger.

One up for the humans.

Mobile phone

This gives a new meaning to the term mobile phone.

In South Africa you don't want it to be too mobile, which is why it is chained to the pole.

25 January 2008

Sunset Cruise

We we invited by a member of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club to join them on a sunset cruise on Wednesday evening, to take photos for the Port Elizabeth Daily Photo blog site.

Armed with our cameras Sue and I gleefully accepted the invitation.

Those of you who followed my last disasterous trip to the ocean, may be surprised at my decision to once again risk reinforcing my membership of the chummers club. No fear, this was a cruise, not a fishing trip where the boat is anchored and rocks in ten different directions at a time.

What a great bunch of guys we met. We were invited to join Doug on his yacht "Take Six", with three other passengers.

As a land lubbers we warned our new found nautical buddies that we were dead wood, as we knew absolutely nothing about the gentle art of yachting and were assigned positions where we would not get in the way.

I think they were more concerned about whether we were likely to redecorate the yacht. I am happy to say our assurances did not let us down.

There was a brisk south westerly wind and a flat sea and the trip took us from the harbour to Shark Rock Pier and back.

Clarify leaving the harbour above.

Homeward bound on a gentle sea. I must say I did speculate on how I might have handled a stormy sea and decided I like being a fair weather sailor

All in all a great trip, with some nice photos . Sue and I will definitelly take them up on the invitation to come back again

Click here for other yachting posts: Suzi-k and PE Daily Photo

23 January 2008

A is for Agapanthus

The name Agapanthus comes from the Greek agape (love) and anthos (flower). Quite appropriate isn't it?

The Agapanthus is a purely South African plant and was first cultivated in England in about 1692, with plants taken from the Cape. Today you will probably find them in gardens all around the world.

According to the book, Wild Flowers of the Eastern Cape Province, the roots are sought after by African herbalists. Traditionally a Xhosa bride will wear the roots around her neck, as it is believed that they will provide many children and make childbirth easy. Young mothers and children also wear necklaces of the roots to find find health and happiness. The roots are also ground up and used as medicine.

20 January 2008

Another Dikkop

Suzi-k and I went for a drive around the North End cemetary this afternoon, on a photographic expedition and I was delighted to come a cross this fellow. He allowed me to get quite close, before moving off. When I got back to the car grinning like a Cheshire cat Suzi-k said, "That really made your day, didn't it".
It sure did.

I have featured dikkops before. You can click on the labels if you want to see more.

19 January 2008

Which one is the prison?

So which of these two is the prison?

This one?

Or this one?

Well, actually they both are - one for real the other is symbolic of the levels of security that we have resort to to protect ourselves and our property from criminals.

The first one is the SA Red Cross Society, near our home and the second one is the St Albans Prison, out in the country.

As you can see nothing is sacred. It is a sad indictment on our society that certain unscupulous elements force us resort to such measures for our own safety. We end up living like prisoners in our own homes.

Let's hope that the promises of our leaders start to bear fruit and that the scourge of criminals is removed from our streets.

18 January 2008

Cockscomb Mountains

The Cockscomb Mountain seen from the Elands River Valley, which runs in a westerly direction from Rocklands, just outside Uitenhage towards Patensie in the Gamtoos River Valley.
A drive through the Elands River Valley is worth while excusion. It is marked by rolling hills, mountain streams and fynbos (the famous Cape vegetation).

Until the 1980's, the valley was a significant wheat growing area, but as a result of a big decline in the annual rainfall, wheat growing is no longer viable. Another example of climate change and global warming?
The contour banks of the old wheat fields can still be seen on the side of the hill.

16 January 2008

The "roses" were nice

This is the view, from the balcony of our pad at Port St Francis. It was taken early last Saturday morning, before the cold front hit. Yes, it was a cold front and the temperature dropped to 22C.

This photo shows the setting for the post, "Stopping to smell the roses". Amazing the effects one gets, by just focussing in on a scene.

Z for Zebra

I am sure that many Zebras will be gracing the Wednesday ABC posts today, but I cannot resist them as they live on our "doorstep".

We have two of the three species of Zebra in the Eastern Cape - the Burchells Zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli), and the Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra).


These pictures of the Burchells Zebra were taken at the Addo Elephant National Park. They are not as numerous as they once were, having been decimated through hunting and the encroachment of their habitat

The Northern populations have narrower and clear defined stripes, whereas the Southern populations have brown "shadow" stripes between the black and white coloring.

There are 6 sub species of Equus Quagga. Unforunately the first subspecies to be described, the Quagga which is now extinct, had plain brown hindquarters. There is a project in the Western Cape which is trying to breed the Quagga back from extinction from the local plains Zebra. They are using stock like the one below, which has no stripes on its hind quarters.


Mountain zebras live in dry, stony, mountain and hill habitats. They prefer slopes and plateaus and can being found as high as 2,000 meters above sea level.
These were photographed at the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock.

The Cape Mountain zebra was hunted to near extinction with less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. However the population has increased to about 700 due to conservation efforts. Both Mountain zebra subspecies are currently protected in national parks but are still endangered.

Cape mountain zebra exhibits sexual dimorphism, with larger females than males, while the other sub species, the Hartmann's mountain zebra does not. It is boldly striped in black and white and no two individuals look exactly alike. The stripes can be black and white or dark brown and white. Their stripes cover their whole bodies except for their bellies

The Cape Mountain Zebra has a dewlap, unlike its plains relatives who have a more streamlined look.


This group of Burchells Zebras were photographed chilling out near Stellenbosch in the Westen Cape. They are more like farm yard animals than their relatives in the wild.


In 1890 the Zeederberg brothers, who had a succesful transport business, went into the passenger business at the request of Cecil John Rhodes. They started a coach service from the Cape of Good Hope to Fort Salisbury, in what was to become Rhodesia. They succesfully trained and harnessed Zebras for the job, but only used they on a few trips as they did not have the stamina of the coach horses. Follow the link to see the Zeederberg's Zebras in harness

13 January 2008

12 January 2008

Cape St Lighthouse

View of Cape St Francis Lighthouse this evening. The lighthouse dates back to 1878.

Stopping to smell the roses

We made it to the Port last night for a relaxing weekend - the first time in many months. I was greeted by these refections this morning - no wonder we love the place.

Reflecting on New Year's Resolutions

Anna tagged me with a few posers about New Year’s resolutions and David put forward a question about breaking New Year’s resolutions, so I am going to deal with both these in this post.

Anna posed the following:
When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions we seem to fall into four categories:
1) quite serious about them,
2) be flippant about them,
3) do it because we feel pressured to, or
4) do not do them.

Davids question is, "Have you ever broken a New Year's resolution?"

There is a saying about the best laid plans of mice and men, which is often quoted when things go pear shaped and I do believe that New Year’s resolutions fall into that category. New Year’s Resolutions are generally about change, but change only happens if you want it to happen and make it happen. In my experience I have never made any changes in my life with a New Year’s resolution.

I have never quite figured out why it is that New Year has become the time for making resolutions, often with the best of intentions, but somehow they fall away long before the year draws to an end.

Maybe it is that New Year symbolizes new beginnings, but if the new beginning does not lead to a different ending it has no value. Then there are the resolutions made in a state of alcoholic euphoria – maybe just before the maudlin stage – but these are invariably shoved aside with the empty bottles. Or could it be that this is a magical time of the year, when one’s resolutions will be fulfilled with little help from the “New Year’s Resolution Fairy”.

OK so I am a cynic when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. To those of you who keep your resolutions well done.

So David, “Have I ever broken a New Year’s resolution?” The answer is, “Yes, probably every one I have ever made”.

In my miss-spent youth I would make it my mission to get very plastered on Old Year’s Eve. My New Years resolution, when I woke up, with a major hangover would inevitably be, “I will never do that again”. Did I keep it? Nah.

By the way I have been a teetotaler for the past 21 years so I no longer need to make hangover resolutions.

There were of course others, but I can’t remember what they were. Those were generally made under the misguided belief that the “New Year’s Resolution Fairy” would do it for me. Well the fairy was horrible and always let me down.

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many, many years ago.

As it happens New Year coincided with my recuperation, after my heart bypass surgery, but my resolutions were made before then (I make em when I need em). What I have very firmly resolved is that I will never be going back for seconds. This means that I have to undergo a complete lifestyle change. The question is will I have the discipline to stick to my new diet, to exercise more and to reduce my levels of stress, by stopping to “smell the roses” more often?

The New Year will be a test of my resolve and I will make a point of answering that question next year this time.

Some of my other resolutions are to be the best husband, father and grandfather I can be and never to become a grumpy old man – Sue has been instructed to beat me over the head with a club if I do.

Anna I will leave it to you to decide which poser applies to me.

If anyone wants to respond to the tag here it is:

RULES*Start Copy Here* When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions we seem to fall into four categories: 1) quite serious about them, 2) be flippant about them, 3) do it because we feel pressured to, or 4) do not do them. So, the purpose of this little game is to let us know which category you are in. Copy from “*Start Copy Here*” through “*End Copy Here*” and post it. Before "*End Copy Here*" tell us who you are, your site(s) (with link) and your New Year’s Resolution, or not. Then tag as many others as you like, from one to your entire blogroll, your choice. If you like, create an intro paragraph to your post that also acknowledges who tagged you.

09 January 2008

Y is yellow cars and petrol pumps

This week I want to have a look at a couple of yellow cars I have come across in my travels. I like yellow cars.

On one of my outings with Ethan ,my grandson (he can be seen in the back of my bakkie*), this beautifully restored VW bus pulled up behind us the beach front. I was not able to get any details, but judging from the split wind screen and the hinged side door, I imagine it would be a late 1950's model.

We came across this old Renault at the museum in Matjiesfontein, a historical village in the Karoo, a fews years ago. Matjiesfontein is about 240 kilometres north of Cape Town on the N1. The village is in fact a declared national monument and a must see destination.

The local filling station with the old and new petrol pumps. Who knows, but these two cars could well have been filled up at these old pumps at some stage.

* For the unenlightened a bakkie is the South African term for a small truck, a van or a ute, depending on which part of the world you are from. A bakkie is also the Afrikaans term for a small bowl.

08 January 2008

Hearty news

Today was my first visit to the cardiologist since my heart bypass operation. The general perception was that once he pronounced me fit, I would return to my normal life.

Now it is confession time - I decided to start driving again 10 days ago and I started work on Moday, as I felt I was up to it. So when I strode into the cardiologists office this afternoon, my laptop and camera were slung over my shoulder, (I did not want to leave them in my bakkie [truck, van, ute] - too much temptation for the local criminal element) I was very obviously no longer an invalid.

My cardiologist and I are both men of few words - so I knew I had to ask the right questions when needed as I would be getting the bare bones. While in hospital I observed his bedside manner on more than one occassion. If he said, "I am happy," you could rest assured you were ok. If the pronouncement was "I am not happy," there was cause for concern, but he invariably seemed to have a solution.

Shortly after I arrived a nurse connected me to an ECG machine and several printouts were taken of my heart rhythm - they looked fine to me, but then I am not an expert. My blood pressure I was told was good at 130 over 70.

I then had to wait a while to see the cardiologist.

When I was ushered into his room he asked me how I was feeling and I told him, "Great".

He then confirmed my medication and a short discussion followed on my changed lifestyle and diet, to which he expressed his approval and said that it would be good, especially if I could sustain it (he has obviously heard that one before).

I told him it was a nasty operation and as I had no intention of going back for seconds, I would never revert back to my bad eating habits.

He nodded and then started scrutinising the printout.

"So, is it good I asked?".

"Mmmm," was the reply. That could mean anything I thought.

He then looked at the pictures taken of my heart, when he did the angiogram. "It was quite a mess," he said, pointing to the blocked arteries. "I don't know how the blood got through". Then, "Ok, take your shirt off so I can listen to your heart and lungs".

I dutifully obeyed.

He did his thing and pronouced his satisfaction in monosyllables. I was encouraged.

I put my shirt back on and his prognosis was, "I am happy".

"That's good," I replied with relief. I now knew I was on the right path.

"Come and see me in a year's time and I will put you on the treadmill and if you are ok then, we can extend the visits to every two years".


He then asked who my GP was and I told him. He then told me to have a cholesterol test in about three months time, after my pills have had the opportunity to reduce my cholesterol levels. I was to send the results to him.

"I was told my cholesterol was not measured when I was in hospital," I started to say.....

"I am sure it was," came back the reply and he started flipping through a rather thick file of medical reports (R191,000's worth). "Here it is," he said triumphantly, "I'll make you a copy".

As it turned out my LDL cholesterol (the bad one) was high at 4.0 and needs to come down to below 2.5. Boy oh boy, that is incentive enough for me to take my pills and stick to my new eating habits.

With that it was over and as he said, "I am happy," so am I happy.

Next hurdle - the cholesterol test in three months time.

06 January 2008

The Port - we miss you

This year circumstances conspired against us and made it impossible for me and Suzie-k to stay at our pad at the Port. With my recuperation it would have been ideal time to get away. On Friday we had to go to Port St Francis for the annual general meeting of the body corporate of the complex, so were at least able to spend a few hours there.

View from the balcony of our pad

A half an hour there and I am already in a holiday mood - I wonder why?
Oh well there will be other opportunities.

05 January 2008


My earliest memories of aircraft was of Vampires flying over Pretoria when I was a little nipper, back in the late 1950's. I would lie on our front lawn, for what seemed like hours, watching them doing circuits and aerobatics.
So imagine my delight to come across this one at the South African Airforce Museum. Who knows, it could well be one of those I watched all those years ago.


Anyone climbing into the cockpit had to be quite athletic

The cockpit is quite cramped, with little in the way of instrumentation

What a big nose you have

Side view, with the distinctive twin tails

Jet engine

About the Vampire

Local beauties

One of the aspects I love about living in Richmond Hill is that there is always something new to see and photograph, if you keep your eyes open. Our walk this morning took us past St Cuthberts Church, Westbourne Road where were were invited into the church while taking pictures of plants and building.

While Suzi-k snapped away at stained glass windows and the building, I was focusing on these beauties.

Frangipanis on the street outside the Church

Up close and personal with the Frangipanis

Magnificent tree (I think it's a Tipiana Tipu) outside the garden of rememberance.

Pink Oleander in the Church garden

Around the corner in Glen Street, outside the Fisheries Compliance Office, I came across this varigated Canna.

Pink Hibiscus in Glen Street. Unfortunately it is no longer in its prime, but is still worth a shot