31 March 2008

Rats in the Park

Taking a stand

It was another beautiful day in the Bay on Sunday and after a pleasant lunch; Sue and I decided to take a walk through St Georges Park. It is a really beautiful park and well worth a visit, but because of frequent muggings many people don’t go there any more. When we do, we take precautions – like taking pepper spray with us. As luck would have it, K left hers in the car, so Suzi-k and I were both armed and ready for our walk.

There were a number of families picnicking and having fun in the park and it was nice to know that we were not alone.

We came across a pair of rats at the fish pod, which were scavenging bread that had been left behind by a family that had been feeding the fish. They did not wait around long enough to be photographed so there were not any really worthwhile photos.



It was not long before we noticed that there were rats, of the two legged variety, wandering around as well. Young guys, eyeing people out; looking for easy pickings; walking up and down the paths with a purpose. They could have been innocent people out for a stroll, but when two of them, coming from opposite directions, started a pincer movement towards us, it confirmed our suspicions. We formed a laager kept a beady eye on them and took a different path. They then changed direction to intercept us, from different sides, where the paths converged ahead. It was then that we noticed another group waiting at the end of our path, so we did a quick about turn and headed up the main path, with our pepper spray visible.

As a couple in their mid fifties we could have been an easy target, if we had not been alert and armed with pepper spray.

This brings me to the question of why the Department of Justice is now proposing laws to make life easier for the criminals. They now want to make it illegal for citizens to carry non lethal weapons, like pepper spray, on their person.

I can see the need to place restrictions on the carrying of weapons, but then at least do it in a way that ensures that it is done in a controlled and responsible manner. Don’t turn law abiding citizens into criminals, when all they want to do is live a normal life without the fear of being robbed or attacked, and to be able to protect themselves in a crime ridden country. Does this mean that all our politicians are also going to get their bevy of body guards to ditch their side arms – I think not?



I decided to see what the Constitution had to say about my right to protect myself and my family. Alas there is nothing. Constitutionally we have the right “to be free from all forms of violence”, but there is no right for us to protect ourselves from any form of violence.

When our complex was burgled in October 2006, the police said I should never have admitted to the fact that I had hit the burglar with a broom, because he could now lay a charge of assault against me. Hmmmmmmm, even though he had attempted to stab me, and would have done so, had I not beat a strategic withdrawal. Oops, let’s not forget that he has the right “to be free from all forms of violence”, so even though he would have had no compunction in killing his victim, the victim must not retaliate? Not this victim.

What about other incidents in our neighbourhood, which show the utter lack of conscience of these criminals? The woman who was beaten senseless with a plank and then raped on the sidewalk; or the woman who was shot is her driveway, because the robbers thought she was in possession of a large sum of cash; or the patrons who were robbed at gunpoint, while having a drink at a local watering hole; or the women who were robbed by a rifle wielding thug outside their home in broad day light……the list is endless.

What must we do? Sit back and wait for the police to arrive? The last time I called them when I saw a crime being committed, they never arrived.

Incidentally by far the longest section in the Bill of Rights is section 35 “Arrested, detained and accused persons” - the one dealing with the rights of criminals. Pity there is not a similar clause dealing with the rights of the victims, because there are a lot more victims then there are criminals.

I have no intention of relinquishing my pepper spray, until such time as the justice system can guarantee my right, “to be free from all forms of violence”. So "rats" beware.

30 March 2008

Palm from down under

No it's not an Australian palm, but one I photographed at St Georges Park this afternoon, while lying on my back in the dirt.

The "joys" of camping

When it comes to camping I am a real wet blanket. Sue loves it and to my shame I can count the number of times that we have gone camping on one hand. And it all goes back to being "traumatised" by childhood experiences of camping and caravaning.

Pa's idea of camping was to rough it. Accommodation was usually a bucksail spread on the ground and folded in half, and everyone would stretch out under it, like sardines in a can, on the hard ground enduring a miserable night. The "lucky" ones got to sleep on the car seats.

One day he came home with an old army surplus canvas bell tent, which was used on family camping trips for many years, until it eventually rotted away. That was the only luxuary - we still all slept on the ground, or as kids in the back of the old Bedford van. Lighting came from an old tilly lamp, so when it got dark there was nothing to do, but go to bed

He was a real "do it yourselfer". The old 1948 Bedford was dragged home, one day minus an engine. No problem for him. He removed the engine from his Vanguard and hey presto we had a bigger vehicle. Did I say no problem. Servicing cars was never high on his agenda, so we never went on a holiday, without a breakdown. Somehow he always got it going, with a lot of swearing and cursing and sometimes with the help of some wire, removed from a farmers fence.

Then came the caravaning phase. He decided to build his own. The six berth caravan was a labour of love - it was not a thing of beauty, but on the inside it was luxurious and comfortable. The stove fridge and lights were all powered by gas. We each had our own drawer - every last detail was attended to. Or so we thought. He even bought a new car, a Rover 105R, to tow it - a nice car but not exactly ideal for a family of six..

I will never forget that first holiday in 1965.

We had not travelled more than 25 kilometres, when I saw the car being overtaken by wheel. It was quite spectacular, it suddenly veered off at an angle, shot up the stay wire of a telephone pole, flew off and disappeared in the bush. It was the left side wheel of the caravan. When the wheel was eventually found, replacement wheel nuts were taken from the car and the other caravan wheel. And off we went.

Not long after that we had the first of about 10 flat tyres on the trip. The tyres were old retreads that had seen better days and would have been more at home in a scrapyard. Mother became quite adept at repairing roadside punctures.

Then night fell. Pa never got round to painting the bright silver aluminiun skin of the caravan. For oncoming motorists it was probably like driving towards a big mirror. Of course when they flashed their lights or turned on their brights, it became worse for them. Oh what "fun".

On our first day we reached Parys in the Freestate, where we set up camp. What excitement our first night in the caravan. Then the rain came down. Pa had not sealed the windows, so it was not long before all our beds were soaked - the tent seemed like a much better prospect then. The result was that the fabric got mouldy and the inside plywood walls warped.

On the bright side that was the first holiday without a car breakdown. But, it did get stuck in the mud. On the way home pa decided he was too tired to drive, so he pulled off onto the shoulder of the road. And as luck would have it, the rains came down and the next morning we were bogged down in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately a fellow in a Land Rover came to our assistance and pulled us out, much to pa's embarrassment.

That was our first and last camping caravanning trip - after that it became a spare room. If that does not put you off camping, then nothing will.

I am not totally negative - we have camped twice in the past three years. Our tent is big enough to hold Boswell's Circus and I am still wondering what possessed us to buy it. It is a mission to erect, but we have found that campers are a helpful bunch and whenever they see us struggling to put it up, someone will give us a hand.

And we have lot's of good camping equipment. The only problem now is that whenever I want to buy more Sue says, "For goodnes sake, let go camping first before you buy any more equipment".

Watch this space for more camping adventures.

26 March 2008

Fishing boats in the Port

Looks like the fishermen also decided to take a long weekend over Easter. I thought these boats made an interesting study.

24 March 2008


Well we are back at Port St Francis this weekend, but no sunrises or reflections today. We met this mongoose on our way through Jeffreys Bay when stopping to look in at Super Tubes, the world famous surfing spot. It was really a treat seeing this guy as they are generally very shy.

You can check out some more pics of this little guy at St Francis Daily Photo.

21 March 2008

Who said tortoises were slow?

I came across this angulate tortoise crossing the road, behind the airport when doing a recce for photographic possibilities in the area. Don't let anyone tell you tortoises are slow. I had a difficult time keeping up with this one, before it disappeared in the grass. A combination of its speed and poor light meant the pictures were not that great. Note the blurred back leg.

Eskom and the art of spin

Has anyone out there seen the movie, "Thank you for Smoking"? It gives quite an interesting and amusing slant on the way spin doctors are able to manipulate the truth. When I look at the electricity crisis in this country and the response of the Eskom executives to it, then I can only conclude that they have the art of spin perfected. They even have the President singing their tune.

Their pronouncements have been proved to be less than truthful on more than one occasion. The first one being the stuck record, which for many months said we did not have an energy crisis. Only when the country was plunged into darkness for the umpteenth time did they admit it.

The other tune is, “The days of cheap electricity are over for South Africans”. Whoever said our electricity was cheap in the first place.

What they are rally saying is that we must pay more get Eskom out of the situation, their gross incompetence and mismanagement of the electricity supply, has put us into.

What about the other tune - “South Africa has the cheapest electricity in the world; it is time our prices came in line with world prices”. Maybe that is not so surprising, since we have amongst the biggest coal reserves in the world, which are on the doorsteps of the big coal fired power stations.
This is the same sort of logic that would say that the people of Saudi Arabia pay too little for their petrol and should start paying the same price as motorists do in London.
The quality of this photo is not great, as it was shot with my cell phone,
but then it is symbolic of the quality of the service provided by Eskom
If the powers that be, believe our power is too cheap then why not charge our neighbours the same price they charge local users? Yes the neighbouring states pay less for Eskom’s electricity than we do – not a problem for Eskom they just make up the deficit from local consumers.

When Eskom took their “well conceived” decision to cut the power to the mines, they said it was because there was not enough electricity to go around. The real reason was that they supplied more power to our neighbours in January and therefore had to cut power to South African users.

The result of this act of stupidity was that the Rand took a tumble and never recovered – that has also had repercussions for the whole economy. There was a knock on effect on commodity prices that are linked to the dollar. This includes petrol, maize, wheat, coal, etc etc. And of course the inflation rate jumped ahead like a runner from the starting blocks.

On 17 February I wrote, “Given the fact that Eskom’s appeal to consumers to achieve a 10% reduction in power consumption, has been exceeded, it means that income wise they will be back to square one – do the maths. So where will the money for capital projects come from now? What will the next surprise be?”

Here we have it, Eskom is now calling for a 53% increase in the price of electricity – oh yes 53%. And it is supported by the government. This just reinforces my belief that those who are managing our electricity supply are grossly incompetent. How can you get your projections so wrong, that you go from a demand for an 18% increase to one of 53%?

They have said that one of the reasons is because the price of fuel and coal has risen, a factor to which Eskom’s poor performance has significantly contributed.

The reality is that consumers were asked to save 10% on their electricity consumption, which they did and are now to be penalized with higher prices.

What about the Eskom spokeman who made the claim on the radio last night that by increasing the price of electricity by 53%, they would benefit the economy as a whole and that this would result in growth. You see, our electricity is so cheap that it is not attractive for the private sector to invest in the electricity supply business. Give me a break! Eskom has the monopoly, there are other barriers to entry that far outweigh the cost of putting up new power generation facilities.

In the real business world you can’t come up with a bunch of feeble arguments to push up your prices by 53% - if you did, your business will shut down in no time at all. If you get into a crisis then you manage it in a way that ensures that the business remains a player in the market place. This happens through sound leadership - you cut costs, you innovate, you plan properly and execute your decisions effectively. In other words apply logic and sound management and business principles. I guess this does not apply to a monopoly.

A private sector executive who ran his business the same way Eskom is being run, would have been without a job a long time ago and would certainly not have been paid a fat bonus.

17 March 2008

Moon over the Park

This shot of the moon over Richmond Park was taken from our front veranda. some time ago. There have been some changes since then. The park is now lit up like a sports field and contributes to Eskom's already overburdened power supply grid, but who cares, it has made the park a safer place at night and less attactive for the shady characters, who used to hang around there.

Our gate posts have since lost the flaming jars. They were not our choice and came with the house. One day by mutual agreement Suzi-k and I decided they had to go. A sixteen pound hammer was all it took - the rest as they say, is history.

15 March 2008


These aloes were photographed in the Elands River Valley

13 March 2008

Felicity Cat

There is definitely something amiss with the Siamese lineage, when I look at the tabby markings on the legs of Felicity Cat. Despite that she is certainly displaying all the Siamese characteristics, such as taking control of the home; dominating the other cats, inspite of her diminutive size; living life on her terms and keeping her doting slaves in line.

10 March 2008

Monday Sunrise - Port Elizabeth

The sky looked so beautiful this morning that we jumped into the car and drove to a point overlooking the harbour to catch the sunrise. We were not disappointed.

09 March 2008

Sunday sunrise - Cape St Francis

One of the perks of being an early riser................sunrise at Cape St Francis last Sunday.

07 March 2008

Spiders web

The spider was nowhere to be seen, but I thought the web would make an interesting black and white study, with the dewdrops. This was taken at Otters Landing last weekend.

06 March 2008

Thank you, thank you very much

Sometimes as a blogger you just have to sieze the moment. I managed to snap this one just as the traffic light turned green, while on my way home this evening - so please pardon the dirty windscreen.

It is almost 30 years ago that Elvis died - yet his memory lives on. I still enjoy his music, but I cannot understand this type of "hero" worship, but then I guess it is our differences that add spice to life.

Any other Elvis fans out there?

Some more gulls

For those of you who were wondering how I got so close to the gulls in the previous post, here they are, waiting in line to be photographed.

05 March 2008

Just gulls

Driving me mad #2

This is just to show that it is not only the new cars with personalised number plates that park badly. These were shot with my cell phone at a local shopping centre, so the quality is not so great, but it does paint the picture.

This is not angled parking.

This heap of scrap should not even be on the roads.

Novel substitute for a handbrake - at the risk of how many lives though!

04 March 2008

Driving me mad

I have a theory that you can tell a lot about the character of a person by the way they park their car.

Picture this scenario. You arrive at the shopping centre parking lot and it is full. You drive up and down the aisles and eventually, with great delight you spot an empty parking bay. You surge forward, to get there before any other driver with similar ideas, carefully avoiding shoppers and their trolleys. When you arrive your hopes are dashed, because some peanut has parked across the line and is effectively taking up two parking bays. And so the search continues........ Or, what I like to do if there is still enough space to squeeze in, is to park as close to the offending car as possible, so that the driver has to climb in through the passenger door.

What is it about such drivers? Are they incapable of seeing that they are occupying two parking bays? Or is it just plain selfishness? Add personalised number plates to the equation......well, what more can I say........I rest my case. ...

Rust Bucket

I think this guy might have a slight problem with rust. This bakkie, or should I rather call it a sieve, was photgraphed at the canals in St Francis Bay.

02 March 2008

Nesting Kiewietjie

This morning when walking past the Cape St Francis lighthouse I came across this Kiewietjie (Crowned Plover), sitting on her nest.

I first noticed the male and knew that there would be a female nearby, because of his behaviour, which is to lead intruders away. Plovers nest in the open and the female will sit on her eggs until the absolute last moment. They usually produce two to three young and both the male and the female will rear them.

If you get too close, she will "scream" at you and if you drive her from her nest she will attack. By the way I did not drive her from her nest and kept at a respectable distance from her.

01 March 2008

Woke up to this, this morning

Sunrise over St Francis Bay this morning........what more can I say?