25 November 2010

Skywatch Friday - The sky was also nice

The Black Widow is always a hit at the local South African airshows and is is a lot easier to photograph on the ground than in the air. She is a Mirage IIIC, a single-seat interceptor and first flew in October 1960.

By the way it was a beautiful day with bright blue skies, in case you did not notice.

You can view many great pictures from around the world at the Skywatch site

21 November 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #23 - Vygies

The countryside around Port Elizabeth is very dry at the moment, but is a blaze of pink and yellow, with vydies and gazanias. I went down one of the side roads on the way to Uitenhage, where I managed to capture these.

I am sticking with the generic Afrikaaans name for the vygies, because there are so many different species that I have not been able to identify exactly wich one this is.

20 November 2010

Give credit where it is due

I feel that I must give Blogger credit where it is due. The recently added spam filter is great.

Spam messages have been a source of frustration for many bloggers and as a result we have had to resort to measures such as word verification to stop these cyber predators. Let's face it, using these measures is a pain.

In the past I would often get about twenty spam messages dotted throughout my site and would have to go to each post to delete the offending comments. The only way to stop it was to activate word verification.

Thanks to blogger I have now deactivated word verification and all I have to do these days is delete the spam messages after going to the Blogger comments tab. If any spam does happen to slip through, it is a simple matter go to the comments tab, locating the offending message and pressing the delete button.

All in all this again makes commenting easier and pressing the delete button once a week is not a problem

18 November 2010

Skywatch Friday - Taking the salute

Kelp gulls at port St Francis taking time out from fishing and enjoying a warm and sunny day.

Visit Skywatch for more photos from all around the world

16 November 2010

Life with Suzie – You can’t stop love

While I was working on our family tree recently the poignant love story of Lady Catherine Grey captured my imagination. She is one of Suzie’s ancestors in the line from Henry VII King of England. What struck me about Catherine Grey was that she must have been a strong character with an indomitable spirit and a mind of her own, but because of her family position and the politics of the time she was subjected to a life of tragedy, isolation and sadness - all because of a choice she made in love.

Catherine was born on 25 August 1540. She was the daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, the younger sister of Lady Jane Grey and a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Her grandmother was Mary Tudor and her great grandfather was Henry VII, King of England.

To understand what she was faced with, one needs to understand the politics and intrigues of the 1500’s. It was a time when monarchs had absolute power and would do whatever it took, to hang onto it. It was also an era when marriages were arranged to forge allegiances and when women had little or no rights.

During her early years Henry VIII was King of England and what is most remembered about him was that he had gone through six wives, in his obsession to produce a suitable heir. In his will he left the succession of the throne to three of his children, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. In the event that none of his three children left heirs, he provided for the throne to pass on to heirs of his younger sister, Mary Tudor.
This meant that Catherine and her sister Jane and their heirs would be in the line of ascendency to the English throne. It sounds good, but it carried a price.

After his death in 1547, Henry VIII’s son Edward VI inherited the crown. He was 9 years of age, but because he was too young to exercise power, a council of regency was appointed to rule until he reached 18 years of age. Sadly, Edward contracted tuberculosis and before he died at the age of 15, he named Lady Jane Grey as his successor, because he did not want his catholic sister Mary to assume the throne. This decision was questionable, because he was not in a position to legally exclude his two sisters from succession.

Four days after King Edward’s death on 6 July 1553, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England and moved into the Tower of London. There was a lot of jockeying for position at the time and Mary was not going to bow out, without a fight and the Privy Council decided to switch their allegiance from Jane to Mary, and proclaimed her queen on 19 July 1553. Jane then became a prisoner in the Tower of London.
At the time this precipitated a protestant rebellion in England, in which Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk (Catherine’s father) participated. The rebellion did not succeed and as a result Lady Jane Grey was executed on 12 February 1554 for treason. Her father was executed 7 days later.

It seems inconceivable now, as she was only twelve years old at the time, but Catherine Grey had been married off to Henry Herbert on 21 May 1553. However, after the failed attempt to put Jane Grey on the throne, Henry Herbert decided to distance himself from the Grey family and cast out Catherine from his home and had their marriage annulled.

After her sister’s death Catherine Grey became a serious contender for the succession. Queen Mary was still unmarried and Princess Elizabeth was regarded as illegitimate and a heretic by the Catholic powers. Also as a granddaughter of Mary Tudor and great-granddaughter of Henry VII, Catherine had a better claim to the throne of England than Mary, Queen of Scots, since Henry VIII's will had expressly excluded the Scottish line from succession.

When Elizabeth I came to the throne in November 1558, Catherine Grey's availability as a possible heir came to the fore again. It seemed that the Queen was warming to her as a potential Protestant heir, and it was rumoured that she was considering adopting her.

But this is where Catherine’s indomitable spirit came to the fore and she was to make a decision that was to change her life and the path she walked forever. She had met and fallen in love with Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford, and in December 1560 they were secretly married.

Catherine did not have the Queen's official permission to marry and as it turned out Queen Elizabeth did not take kindly to this decision. She did not think Edward was a suitable partner and it had been intended that Catherine marry a Scottish nobleman, who had a claim to the Scottish throne, so as to strengthen relations between the two nations. Catherine’s marriage effectively scuppered those plans.

When Queen Elizabeth found out about the marriage she promptly imprisoned Catherine, who was pregnant at the time, in the Tower of London. She then sent Edward Seymour to Europe to improve his education. If Queen Elizabeth thought this would keep them apart, she was mistaken, because she obviously did not understand the power of love. When Edward returned to England, the couple were reunited, as the Lieutenant of the Tower allowed secret visits between them.

Blinded by the intrigues of the time, or maybe it was just old fashioned paranoia, Queen Elizabeth became convinced that the marriage was part of a wider conspiracy against her.

In 1562, the marriage was annulled and the Seymour’s were censured as fornicators for their "carnal copulation" by the Archbishop of Canterbury's commission. The effect of this action was to make her children illegitimate and thus ineligible to succeed to the throne.

This did not stop Catherine and Edward from seeing each other and after the birth of her second son in 1563, the enraged Queen ordered her permanent separation from her husband and younger son. Catherine was moved from the Tower and placed in the care of an uncle and spent the next five years under what can only be termed house arrest at various estates, until her death on 26 January 1568, at the age of 27.

Maybe it is because I live in a different time with different values that I cannot come to terms with that level of subjugation and the way Catherine was isolated from the people she loved.

So what has this got to do with Suzie? Two things really.

Firstly, had Catherine bowed to the dictates of the time and not chosen to follow her heart, there would be no life with Suzie. My life would have taken a different turn but instead I have a very special person in my life.

Secondly, I think Suzie has inherited something of the spirit of Catherine Grey. She is strong, feisty and has a mind of her own. Shortly after we had met it was suggested to her that maybe she should rather find someone from a similar social standing. We came from very different backgrounds. I was the typical country boy with no social graces and came from a family who measured the worth of people by their character, rather than position and title.

Like Catherine, Suzie followed her heart and chose love and I found a soul mate, who has been the love of my life for close on thirty five years.

The moral of the story is that you can’t stop love.

11 November 2010

Skywatch Friday - A special kind of fun

I could not resist going back to the airshow for a display by the Pit Specials of Team Good Year. These little planes are always a crowd pleaser with their versatility and manoeuvrability.

Making a grand entry

Fancy manouevre

Flying in formation

Mirror image

Dropping from the sky

Up and over they go 

Skywatch show cases a lot of great pictures from all around the world

08 November 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #22 - Proteas

The Eastern Cape is alive with flowers at the moment and a trip to the van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve is well worth the visit.

This Protea Eximia is looking quite spectacular with the back lighting. 

The Pincushion protea (Leucospermum cuneiforme) is putting on a magnificent display.

06 November 2010

Continuing with things that fly

This Red-veined Dropwing posed very obligingly at the van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve today.

 These are one of the most common dragon flies in the region.

04 November 2010

Skywatch Friday - The ups and downs of flying

Seeing that this is my week for aircraft my Skywatch theme today is a Boeing Stearman (ZU-BED) being taken through her paces at the Port Elizabeth airshow.

Here she comes for her first manoeuvre..........

Going up and coming down.....................if I was in there I am not so sure that my breakfast would still be were it should be.

And now it's time to leave.

Visit Skywatch for more pictures from around the world.

02 November 2010

Just Harvards

What would any airshow be without its display of Harvards. Originally built as training aircraft way back  in the 1940's, these aircraft have long since been moth balled as trainers and now reside in private collections around the world.

This gracious old lady in the old livery of the South African Airforce, was on display at the Port Elizabeth Airshow this weekend. I remember watching these in the skies over Pretoria, well over 50 years ago. I think she belongs to the SAAF Museum.

ZU-AZX, in the livery of the USA Navy, belongs to Stu Davidson and is waiting for it's turn in the skies

ZU-AZX being taken through her paces.

As old as she is, she still has what it takes.

01 November 2010

Historic Fly by

Mustang Sally (N72FT)  in a historic fly by with the Silver Falcons at the Port Elizabeth Airshow. It is historic, because this is is the first fly by with a Mustang and the last flight that the current Silver Falcons Team will be doing together.

The reason you can only see three Silver Falcons is because number 3 is just behind the group and number 2 had to do an emergency landing, a short while before, because she had lost an oil cap. Visibility was so poor because of the oil spraying on the windshield that the team leader had to bring her back for the landing. After number 2 was safely down, the team leader powered up and rejoined the team for the fly by.