31 July 2008

Sky Watch Friday -

I left work a little earlier today with the intention of going for a walk at the beachfront. As luck would have it I got a flat wheel and after changing they tyre and getting it repaired, I was somewhat deflated myself and not in the mood to go out. I persevered and was not disappointed.

Sunset at the beachfront was spectacular this evening. The added bonus was getting this aircraft coming in to land.

For more Sky Watch pictures visit Tom, Sandy and Imac.

30 July 2008

Life with Suzie – the beginning

Suzie and I have been married for just over thirty two years. She is still the love of my life and the person I most enjoy being with. Life with her is fun and spontaneous and things just seem to happen.
Suzie is always cheerful. She has the ability to light up the room when she walks in, with her sense of fun and laughter – a friend of ours named her Sunshine Suzie, because of her cheerful disposition. I guess that was one of the first things that attracted me to her.

When we met, we clicked instantly and within 10 weeks of meeting we were married. At the time she was working in a laboratory, at the brewery in Harare and I was a student. One of her perks was two free crates of beer a month. My friends maintained that she could not possibly have married me for my money, so I obviously married her for her beer.

We have always had a happy home and our life together, is filled with many anecdotes, which I intend sharing with her blessing of course (except those I have been forbidden to share).

29 July 2008

The neighbours bite back

I could not help but take a perverse delight in an incident that happened a few blocks from our home the other night.

Picture the scene. A young couple arrive home at about 7:30 pm last Thursday. As they get out of their car they are accosted by three thugs, who were said to be of Nigerian origin, with the clear intention of robbing the couple, or worse.

The young wife became quite hysterical. Husband on the other hand, had recently been robbed outside his home, with a gun held to his head. He was, to put it bluntly, "pissed off". He grabbed hold of the biggest of the three thugs and started calling for help.

Help, was not slow in coming, as the neighbours poured from their homes. Two of the characters left in a hurry - well not so much of a hurry, but at great speed. The third was not so lucky. Let's just say that most of these neighbours have also been victims of crime and were also "pissed off", so they were less than gentle in immobilising the thug.

According to one witness, he was laid out cold in the street and it was a while before he came too. When he did, he started bleating, "Oh lord, what did I do to deserve this?" The sad fact is that he probably thought it was his God given right to rob, steel and murder. Well if he did not get it, everyone else did and were totally unsympathetic.

Aside from a severe headache, I believe his knee caps may have been somewhat changed as well.

He was duly treated by paramedics and then questioned by the police. Apparently his story changed four times in the telling. To cut a long story short, they eventually got fed up wih him and he was loaded into the back of the police van and hauled off.

I hate what crime does to normally non-violent law abiding citizens. It turns you into someone you are not. When you have been a victim many crimes (click on crime labels to see more) the rational side of one's character does take a bit of a nose dive and is replaced with a deep seated anger. Incidents like seem like a major victory and you end up taking a perverse delight in another person's pain. That is not who I normally am.

The message though is clear. The residents of Richmond Hill have had enough and are willing ready and able to take back the their suburb.

That is not all. In the last two weeks we have had three young drug addicts removed from the park across the road and alerted the police to an obvious scrap metal thief. We might not change the situation overnight, but the tide is definitely turning.

28 July 2008

Tuesday's Trees #15 - Baobabs

Baobabs remain one of my favourites trees, with their almost prehistoric look and shear size. These photographs are scans from our collection. They were taken about ten years ago at Mana Pools in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe.

We were told by a conservationist that these trees were gouged out like this by elephants looking for food during one of the severe droughts that hit the area from time to time.

In the old days the elephants would leave the Valley for the highlands in search of food, and returrn during the rainy season, but the traditional migration routes have now been blocked off by game fences and farms. They are now confined to the game parks and have to take what they can get.

The Zambezi Valley is one of my favourite places on the planet. I don't know what it is about the place, but everytime I go there it has an almost physical effect on me. I can't explain it but I just love the harshness of this vast, flat wilderness area.

24 July 2008

Sky Watch Friday - "Bombs" away

A Puma helicopter of the South African Air Force giving a demonstration, at the last airshow, on how they drop water when fighting fires.

The drop. That is a lot of water and it is probably why this is such an effective fire fighting technique.

Away he goes. I believe it requires a lot of skill to fly a helicopter with a heavy weight dangling below, because of having to compensate for the constant swinging.

The next Port Elizabeth Airshow is in October and I'm counting the days.

For more Skywatch pictures visit the team of Tom, Sandy and Imac, who are our hosts.

21 July 2008

Tuesday's Trees #14 - Norfolk Pine with a view

This Norfolk Pine makes a nice silhouette, against the back drop of the sunrise and Algoa Bay. It is situated in the grounds of the old teachers training college grounds, in Richmond Hill.

Organic pest control

Felicity cat has taken to catching locusts and bringing them into the house. It is more than just catching - it is an obsession with her as she brings in about four or five a day, which is good for our garden. What is not good, is putting your foot on crunchy locust in the dark!

She is not trying to be cute, but is looking for a victim that eluded her in the house.

Here she is checking out the lavender bushes for her next victim. Sometimes she climbs through the upper branches of our shrubs looking for her prey.

Felicity cat adds new meaning to the term "organic pest control".

17 July 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Reaching for the sky

This old, or should I rather say dead blue gum seems to be reaching for the sky, at the Arboretum at Hogsback.

Visit the new look sky watch website which is being hosted by Tom, Sandy and Imac.

16 July 2008

Flowers of the Eastern Cape

It might be winter in the Eastern Cape but there is still a profusion of colour from the flowering plants.
The aloes put on a spectacular show from about June - this one was photographed at Cape St Francis two weeks ago.

Osteosermum barberiae, a perennial plant that grows in dense patches in coastal grassland. It has solitary flowers ranging from mauve to white.

Gazania krebsiana is a low growing perennial herb, which is very common in this area.

Cenia sericea is a common scraggly plant with a bright yellow flower. Apparently it is used as a remedy for reducing fever.

You could be forgiven for thinking it was spring.

14 July 2008

Tuesday's Trees - a jaunt through the forest

The road to Eden's Touch near Knysna. I did not take note of the types of trees, but you can be sure there will be Yellowwoods and Stinkwoods in the mix. The forests were badly plundered during the 1700's and 1800's, so sadly many of the giant trees were chopped down. There are strict laws governing the cutting down of the indigenous trees now, which will ensure that our heritage is preserved.

A scene from a forest walk I took through the forest at Edens Touch last year in October.

13 July 2008

A quiet night at the Port

It was a quiet night at Port St Francis last weekend, with most boats being out at sea.

The patrons at the Port Hole Restaurant (top floor of building to the left) and the Chokka Block Restaurant (top floor the building to the right) have a nice birds eye view of the Port and the sea beyond - combine that with a good meal and good company and you have the recipe for a great evening.

10 July 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Decisions, decisions...

The trip to Cape St Francis last weekend yielded some good pictures, but my problem has been, which one do I choose? So that's why I am posting two today.

We missed the best of the aloe season, but this aloe ferox overlooking the Kabeljauws River mouth near Jeffreys Bay on the way to Cape St Francis, makes a striking contrast with the sea and the sky.

This was the view from our pad at Port St Francis, on Sunday morning last weekend. No wonder I felt so relaxed.

For more Sky Watch pictures visit Tom at Wiggers World.

07 July 2008

Tuesdays Trees #12 - Keurboom

No wonder the South Western Cape is known as the Garden Route, with this profusion of plants alongside the road.

The Keurboom, with its pink flowers is in full bloom, giving a spectacular show. Keurbooms are indigenous, fast growing trees with a fairly short life span. In the past I have succesfully grown these from seeds. They grow quickly and die off at about the time the slower growing trees start getting to a decent height. They are very rewarding trees in the forests and in the garden.

06 July 2008

Where there's a wall there's a willy?

This sign is displayed at Port St Francis where the off duty fishermen hang out - in more ways than one. Judging from the stains on the wall the sign is ignored. Maybe it needs a fourth language?

Is this typical of other ports around the world too?

05 July 2008

Time Out

Suzi-k and I decided to take some time out at Port St Francis this weekend, so I will not be doing much visiting. Something interesting always seems to happen on our journey's, like coming across this flock of ostrichs on the back road from Jeffreys Bay. We stopped so that I could photograph a couple of blue cranes, which decided to be uncooperative.

It was then that we then noticed the ostrichs, which had been browsing in the distance had started walking towards the road. Soon they were right up against the fence, being quite sociable.

Some of them even took the opportunity to enjoy a quick dust bath.

Oh what beautiful eyes you have. These are domesticated ostrichs, which is why they were so friendly - they were probably hoping for a handout. What they have done is finally clinched the ostrich meat debate for me. How can one look into those eyes and then eat one of these again?

Oh yes, I did say we are at the Port. Just after sunset a couple of humpback whales decided to do some lob tailing for us. What an amazing sight as their great big tails lifted out of the sea and then came down with a mighty clap, as they struck the water. It was already too dark for photographs, but I managed to get a short video clip, which I will see if I can post, when I am not on the cell phone.

It has been a great day.

03 July 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Gate of Paradise Pass

There is no shortage of beautiful vistas in Lesotho. This is the Gate of Paradise Pass looking towards the Thaba Putsuo Mountains on the way to Malealea. The drive to the pass is not that special, but when you get to there the the view is simply breath-taking. ...................

What we found was that 2001 metres above sea level gets pretty cold in winter.

Stop in at Tom at Wiggers World for more Sky Watch pictures'

01 July 2008

Xtremely Kitsch

I am sure that many people would never admit to owning anything as kitsch as my camel teapot. But not me, I think it is great. It originally belonged to my maternal grandfather, Marthinus Christoffel Barnard, a rather eccentric fellow, who had a passion for collecting anything bright and garish. Though to be fair to him, not everything he collected was kitsh, like.....mmmmm. I'll have to think about that one.

My mother passed this onto me when I left home and moved into my first house. I think she saw it as a golden opportunity to get rid of it, because I cannot recall her ever using it. Over the past 35 years I have taken great delight in serving tea in it, very often to the embarrassment of my family. It always gets a good reaction, from guffaws to people trying to politely ignore it.

My mother-in-law was particularly "rude" about it. It eventually became a family joke, as I left it to her in my will, just in case I died before her.
For more of ABC Wednesday visit Mrs Nesbitt's Place

Tuesday's Trees #11 - Melaleuca

We have always refered to these trees as Myrtles, but I think it is a variety of Melaleuca. They were used to establish hedges in Port Elizabeth many years ago and those that remain are very gnarled and twisted.

This one photographed at St Georges Park was not part of a hedge, but has been around for a long time. Why I think it is a Melaleuca is that they are also known as paperbark and this one has that look about it.