29 June 2008

Spare Parts?

This one is for Tom, who in his latest post Beyond Repair was speculating whether an old farm cart could be repaired or not. Well Tom, if you shop around you might just find some second hand parts that will do the job.

A bit of tweaking here and there and they and they should be as good as new.

These were photographed at the Padstal Restaurant at Patensie, in the Gamtoos River Valley

26 June 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Necessity is the mother of invention

These finch nests have been built on the power lines, alongside the main road near the Mohale Dam in Lesotho. This is the best option for these birds, as there are no trees in this part of the word. It also raises the question about what they did before the power lines were built. My guess is that they were probably not in the area and that the powerlines have helped them to extend their range.

If you look closely you will see the nests suspended from these power lines. I am not sure what species of finch this is,as none were around when were drove past. Thanks for the picture Suzi-k.

If you want to see more participants in Sky Watch Friday visit Tom at Wiggers World.

24 June 2008

Watch out we are rarin' to go - Wednesday ABC

I probably look like the Cheshire Cat at the moment.

Anyone who has read some of my earlier posts on crime will know that I have a very jaundiced view of the ability of our law enforcement and justice systems. This has not been without justification - just click on the link to "crime" on the side bar if you want to read more about our experiences.

Today is closure time on the foiled burglary attempt and a stabbing that happened in October 2006. ... v.......
Nice to know that this fellow will be languishing in the St Albans Prison for the next few years.

We read in today's paper that the thief that Suzi-k and I were instrumental in apprehending has finally been convicted:

Repeat offender guilty
A REPEAT offender was found guilty in
the Port Elizabeth magistrate‘s court yesterday on four counts, including
stabbing a couple with a screwdriver.
Ayanda Sheshega, 24, of Victoria Road,
Central, was found guilty of stabbing the husband and wife in a foiled
house-breaking at their Central home in 2006 and other offences. He was
sentenced to three years‘ imprisonment for housebreaking, 18 months for stabbing
the couple and an additional three years for theft. – Gareth Wilson (The Herald, 24 June 2008)
I am delighted with the outcome - the system can work. We have had to endure the trauma after the event; battle to get the police to take statements; spend time at court; listen to his lies and now finally after 20 months we have a conviction. All it requires is for the "victims" to stand up and be counted.

A few nights ago the motor to the gate into our complex was broken and the gate would not close. This of course is an open invitation to opportunistic thieves, especailly in the early hours of the morning. At 3 am Suzi-k woke me to say that she was sure she had heard noises at the garages. So up we leapt - obviously recovered from the previous trauma - and armed with Harry, pepper spray and handcuffs - we went off to investigate. We were so disappointed that there was no one there. The moral of the story - we are not intimidated by criminals and are raring to catch the next one.

For more Wednesday ABC's go to Mrs Nesbitts Place

Tuesdays Trees #10 - Jacaranda

This Jacaranda was photographed with an old point and shoot, on a farm in the Elands River Valley a few years ago.

Another exotic, but it makes a spectacular show of colour when in full bloom.

22 June 2008

Bliss #2 - Meet Piggy Piggy

When I posted yesterday's picture it was going to be a stand alone, no comment picture, but then I remembered Piggy Piggy. I have since found this photo (taken in the early 1970's) in one of my old photo albums - probably the only picture of her.

Her place in the kitchen was in the corner next to the old aga anthracite stove. I had forgotten that mother had even given her her own blanket. I also see that the linoleun was still in tact in her corner.
All I can say from this picture is that having "pigs in the parlour" is not romantic. When I think of it now, I can not imagine mother having a pig in the kitchen of her gracious Knysna home, in the later years of her life. If she were still alive she would be mortified by her son's revelations, because she was such a fanatical home maker - but it was a different life and a different world back then.

If you look carefully in the bottom right hand corner you will see the edge of the dog's basket and back of one of the ridgebacks. There was only one basket and it was always a race at night to see who would get it first. When they were fed at night the three would wolf their food down, as fast as they could and the winner would then make a dash for the basket, dive in and make himself comfortable and then not move for the rest of the night, if he could manage it.

When two of them finished their food simultaneously the the race was even more spectacular and a source of great amusement for the family.

If the winner climbed out of the basket one of the others would leap into it in the blink of an eye and make himself comfortable.

21 June 2008


The old saying as I recall it is, "As happy as a pig in.................you know what".

On our farm in Zimbabwe we once hand reared the runt of the litter that went by the name of Piggy Piggy. If we wanted her we would call out, "Piggy Piggy" and she would come running - so it became her name. She was totally house trained and slept in the kitchen with the dogs. It was one of those old houses with linoleum covered floors, that is until Piggy Piggy started "rooting" under it and reduced it to tatters.

One of her other foibles was the fact that Piggy Piggy thought she was a dog. She would often be seen running with our pack of three Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These dogs were very health conscious and never did their business around the house. They usually went for their morning constitutional in the bush about 500 metres from the house, with Piggy Piggy in tow.

She was also very affectionate and would come for her scratch, when the family gathered in the kitchen in the evenings.

Piggy Piggy never grew up to become bacon, but sadly she died when she was still quite young, from unknown causes.

19 June 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Above and below

A flock of pigeons flying over the Russell Road Cemetary on one of our early morning walks through Richmond Hill.

For those who are interested in history James Langley Dalton, one of the 11 recipients of the Victoria Cross, after the Battle of Rorkes Drift is buried here. The battle at Rorke's Drift, took place from 22 to 23 January 1879, when 139 British soldiers defended a supply station against an about 4,500 Zulu warriors. It was estimated that 500 Zulu worriors died in the battle and 17 of the defenders were killed.


Apparently the only person who did not think them worthy recipients of the Victoria Cross, was Sir Garnet Wolseley. He felt their survival was not a matter of bravery, and likened their action to fighting for survival like cornered rats. So much for the cynicism of commanding officers - but it was a time when heroes were needed, so his objections went unheeded. On the 22 January 1879 a British column of 1,357 men was over run and wiped out by the Zulu Impis.

Dalton's character also featured in the epic 1966 movie Zulu, which was about the Battle of Rorkes Drift.

In the bigger scheme of things those moments of "glory" are just as fleeting as those pigeons flying by in the first picture.

17 June 2008

Tuesday's Trees #9 - Poplars

The scenery on the road between Hogsback and Cathcart can only be described as breath-takingly beautiful and today I want to show the poplars in all there glory as they were starting to lose their leaves.

The road itself is terrible, but the views more than compensated. The road was actually not a problem though, because we were driving quite slowly to soak up the view.

I think we struck it lucky travelling through during April, when the poplar trees were turning and putting on a such a striking show of colour.

They may be exotics, but they are certainly pleasing to the eye and add something special to the scenery.

15 June 2008

Matters of the heart - taking stock

Not too long ago I was one of those people who took my health for granted. Even though there was a history of coronary artery disease in my family, I firmly believed that it would not happen to me and like so many people around the world I had no sense of my own mortality.

How wrong I was.

Today, seven months ago I found myself lying in a general ward, waiting for a by-pass operation that was scheduled for the next day. Two days previously I had suffered a heart attack and had been through all kinds of tests that proved it was not a case of severe indigestion, which is what I was hoping it was. The angiogram showed four bad blockages, which the cardiologist said a stent would not be able to sort out. The conclusion - I needed four by-passes - the sooner the better. One positive aspect though, was that my heart had not been damaged, as the veins from the good side had provided collateral support to the side that had been "attacked".

Though I had been put in a general ward to get a break from all the hustle and bustle of the cardiac care unit there was non stop traffic to my bed side all day long, as all the role players came to give me comfort and advice and explain what was going to happen to me. The cardiothoracic surgeon, the cardiologist, the psychologist, the anaesthetist, the PR person all came around. And then of course there were the mandatory blood samples; my legs and chest were shaved and I had to take several showers with special soap that was said to kill any of the super germs that hang around these days.

I was totally at peace with what was going to happen. It was after all a routine operation and many people I know had been through it.

The scars of my folly. They are a daily reminder for me to "behave".

All that I want to say about the operation is that nothing that had been said to me, had prepared me for what was to come. It will go down as the darkest and most miserable period of my life and an experience I have no intention of repeating. My advise to anyone who has high cholesterol levels, is don't wait to sort out the problem with a by-pass.

The sad part is that it was totally avoidable. I had experienced all the signs of a threatening heart attack, but had ignored them. I had given up exercise, because I was so "unfit" that I got chest pains if I went for a brisk walk. After the slightest exertion, I would break into a sweat. I had continued to eat fatty foods and take aways. Processed foods, with all their trans fatty acids were my favourites. I ignored the advise I was given to have a check up. I was a like a ticking time bomb - it was only a matter of time that it was going to explode.

The scar from the removal of the vein that was used for the by-pass.

So it has happened and I have been given a second chance. There is no point in dwelling on the past - I cannot change what has happened, but I can influence the future. Why be miserable?

I made a vow in hospital that I have no intention of going back for seconds. This has meant a complete lifestyle change. I am now on chronic medication, which I have to take daily.

The cover of the book given to me at the hospital. This was my survival manual. I still refer to it from time to time.

Where my diet is concerned I am a total fanatic. I go way beyond what has been recommended in all the heart friendly diets. My basic starting point is if I do not like the look of any food, I will not eat it it - so I might go hungry for a short while, but that is not the end of the world.

  • I have cut all dairy products from my diet - and I mean all. Do I miss any of it? Absolutely not.
  • Soya is a very good substitute for milk. We get a good quality soya milk and soya yogurt.
  • Fatty foods are an absolute no-no.
  • Red meat happens about once a week, but then it must be lean.
  • Saturated fats have been ditched for polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Let's just say we only use olive oil, peanut oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil.
  • For breakfast we have home made muesli, which includes raw oats and a selection of nuts and raw chocolate powder.
  • I do not drink coffee any more, but stick to herbal teas, such as rooibos, honey bush and comfrey tea.
  • Eggs no longer feature on my menu.
  • I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and nuts.
  • Processed meats (polony and sausages) and commercially baked foods (pies and confectionery) and take-ways are avoided like the plague.
  • I read the labels of all food products when shopping and if I do not like what I see, it goes back on the shelf. I know I have gone totally over board, but that does not worry me. I am quite happy.

Suzi-k and I realised that we were not getting enough exercise, so we bought an exercise bike four weeks ago. I have been slowly building up my time on it - the poor old knees initially took a pounding, but they have now accepted that this is a part of their new routine.

I do not know what a good work out should be, but whatever exercise I am doing now, is a lot more than I did previously. I try to burn at least 150 calories at the start of each day, but also have at least two sessions where I burn 350 calories. I do think that I am getting ready to pass on to the next level.

The console of the famous exercise bike.

What I have found is that since starting with regular exercise my energy levels have increased. Let me hasten to add that exercising daily requires a lot of self discipline on my part, but so far so good.

New decor items in the living room.

But that is not all ........ I also bought some weights to start toning up my arms. The strapping young man in the exercise equipment shop suggested 9 kg weights - I settled for 4 kgs, but have since bought a 2 kg set for warming up. I will probably have to get some professional advice on how best to use these, but for now am following the same routines Suzi-k does in her water aerobics.

Some days 4 kgs was too much for me so I also got some 2 kg weights.

In the last 7 months I have dropped from 105 kgs (231 lbs) to 93 kgs (205 lbs). I seem to be hovering around the 93 kg mark, but hopefully with the exercise the downward slide will continue, until I reach my target.

The waistline has shrunk by 9 cms (3.5 inches). I can now fit into my old 34 trousers. At my peak I went up to a size 38.

Looks like my belt has growth rings. I am now using the pre-growth ring hole.

What has taking stock of my life seven months after my heart attack shown me:

  • I now no longer take my health for granted.
  • My new life style is not a flash in the pan, but has become part of who I am.
  • Exercise is not a chore, but is now an essential part of my daily life.
  • I do not compromise on what I eat. In fact I am a total pain in the rear end when it comes to dietary matters, but no one is complaining.
  • There is no point in being miserable about what I should have done - that wont change a thing. I am thankful that I have been given a second chance and will make the most of it.

14 June 2008

Matters of the Heart - Diet Sheet

When it comes to my diet and eating habits I happen to be a fanatic, so to get some balance into the equation I decided to post these pages from the book issued by the hospital.

12 June 2008

Sky Watch Friday- sunrise.....sunset

Looking towards Algoa Bay and St Phillip's Church from our dining room window, just after sunrise the other morning.

Ferguson and I enjoying the glow of the sunset in the East this evening, from our front door.

For more Skywatch pictures visit our friendly host, Tom at Wiggers World.

11 June 2008

Beachfront birds #2 - Blacksmith Plover

I came across this Blacksmith plover in the bush behind Kings Beach.

He was objecting most vehemently to my presence. They make a klink klink sound very much like a hammer on an anvil.

Blacksmith Plovers are common throughout South Africa and will usually be found in flat areas with short grass, which are prone to soaking.

09 June 2008

Tuesdays Trees #8 - Japanes Maple

Tuesday's trees is just my way of working through my many tree photos that have been hiding out on my hard drive.

This is a Japanese maple, viewed from a grove of indigenous trees at the Arboretum at Hogsback.

07 June 2008

Leguuan - Monitor Lizard

To me it is easier to call this guy a leguuan, than try and decide whether it is a rock monitor, a water monitor or a savannah monitor. Whatever way you look at it, it is a very big lizard.

As a kid I caught many a leguuan, just for the fun of it. I just had to be careful they did not whack me with that tail or latch onto me with their strong jaws.

We spotted this one sunning itself on a quiet road and stopped, so that I could take some pics. It was not being very cooperative though running into this bush.

By the way I think this one is a rock monitor.

06 June 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Zoom Zoom

Two Zlins from the Mazda Zoom Zoom team doing a loop at the last Port Elizabeth Air Show. Another great example of precision flying.

For more great Sky Watch pictures you can drop in at Wiggers World

03 June 2008

Team Work - ABC Wednesday

I really enjoy watching a good aerobatic team in action, as they go through their different manouevres. This is the Control Instruments' team in action, in their Pitts Specials at the Port Elizabeth Air Show two years ago.

Remember, I said I enjoy watching them. I would not like to be in one, when they go through these manouevres. This where you have to really work together and rely 100% on your team mates to do the right thing.

Up, up they go and then.................................

..................... over they go. This is about where I would probably start losing my lunch. But imagine what concentration it takes to keep this formation. In these situations, I believe the pilots in the planes at the back focus their attention on some point on the leading aircraft and then follow their every move. No place for individualists here.

And finally a belly churning dive. I wont even go on a roller coaster.

Many of us could learn a lot about working as a team from these guys. It is all about commitment and working together; and trust - knowing that you can rely on your team mate not to let you down; and putting aside all self interest for the benefit of all; and just having fun.

Whay not join in the fun of Wednesday ABC by going over to Mrs Nesbitts Place

Tuesdays Trees #8 - Kapok Tree

Have you ever been driving along the road when a scene of incredible beauty jumped out at you and hit you between the eyes? This was one of those days.

The scenery between Seymour and Fort Beaufort has a rugged beauty unique to the Eastern Cape, but then we came across this farm where the Kapok Trees were in full bloom. I could not believe my eyes.

Fortunately there was a farm stall where we were able to stop and get a closer view of the flowers.

And it just got better and better, with these sunbirds flitting through the flowers sipping nectar. I think this is the Lesser Double-Collared Sunbird.

And if you are that way inclined, don't ever think you can climb one of these trees.

01 June 2008

Beachfront birds #1 - Grey headed gull

Grey headed gull looking for a handout at the Kings Beach parking lot. I offered him a piece of banana, which he grabbed with great gusto, but then dropped it in disgust, much to the delight of the pigeons.