29 August 2010

Weekend in the Karoo

Spent a wonderful weekend at a farm in the Karoo. This photo sums up the beauty, peace and restfulness of the place.

26 August 2010

Skywatch Friday - Reflections in the sand

The weather was ideal for a stroll along the Port Elizabeth beachfront the other evening. Spring is definitely in the air - the evening was warm and there was no wind.




Visit Skywatch for many great pictures from around the world

22 August 2010

Happiness is a family reunion...............

This has been the most amazing and joyous week I have had in a long time.

My older sister and I were reunited with our youngest sister, Carla, who I last saw over 40 years ago. I am still totally bowled over and cannot quite believe this has happened.

It seems inconceivable that we were separated for so long, but unfortunately we were.

How does something like this arise? I will give the expurgated and abridged version, because these situations don't just happen, they are the result of many choices, events and circumstances. This one had its origins in my parents broken marriage and the different paths their lives and mine took, over the years that followed.

There is a 14 year age gap between me and Carla. I first met her when she was three years old in 1969 and we hit it off quite well. Events overtook us shortly after that meeting, as I moved to another country and to another life, with my mother and step father. When I returned to South Africa in 1977, I  made contact with my father, and up until he died in 1989 we kept contact, through correspondence and telephone calls, but we never saw each other again.

In all those years I never spoke to Carla, but dad told me what was happening in her life and about her marriage. It seemed to me that our lives had really gone their separate ways, especially after dad died in 1989.  I often wondered about Carla and how I could contact her. I also wondered what her reaction to me would be if I ever found her. Would she even want to know me?

When the internet came into its own, I did some searches for her over the years, using Google and various other sites but they were all in vain.

Then in October last year I received a whole lot of digital family photos, which included one of a little girl I recognised as my long lost sister. It was a quite a wrench and it got me wondering about my her and the fact that I had not been a part of her life. It also renewed my desire to find her and it prompted a few more internet searches for her, but again without success. The last one I did was on 10 July 2010.


Unbeknown to me, Carla was also on a quest to find her long lost brother and sister and she was succesful through Facebook.

Imagine my surprise when, on 17 August 2010, I received a Facebook friend request, from the very person I was trying to find. I was totally blown away. I accepted the request and promptly went to her Facebook page, where I looked at her collection of family photos. I then sent her an email to which she responded and soon thereafter we had our first telephone chat.

Carla did confess that she was also afraid about how her two siblings would react to her request and was delighted that we both responded positively. She had the same concerns about rejection that had crossed my mind so many times in the past. She has also spent her whole life wanting to know her older brother and sister. That just breaks my heart.

To all intents and purposes we are strangers. We have had different upbringings and lead different lives, but the one thing we have in common is that we are family and that can never be taken away. I now fully understand what is meant by that old adage, "blood is thicker than water."

We have been reunited as brother and sister and though we can never get back the lost years, we can and will certainly make the most of the years ahead.

la Vela is nice and so are the muffins

Breakfast at la Vela restaurant was good this morning and entertaining, when this Red-winged Starling decided to share someone's breakfast muffins.

21 August 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #15 - Any colour as long as it's yellow

When I started this project on 13 May 2010, I said that there is always someting flowring in the Eastern Cape. To prove my point, I decided see what was flowering in the winter months and publish something each week. So far have not been disappointed or short of flowers to photograph - in fact there are a lot that I have missed out on.

The Pincushion protea (Leucospermum cuneiforme) is always spectacular.


Parachute daisys (Ursinia chrysanthemoides) make a very cheerful display.


The Tickberry (Osteospermum moniliferum) has not stopped flowering throughout the winter months. We have always called it Chrysanthemoides.

19 August 2010

Skywatch Friday - Just hanging out

I am sure that this guy was not really enjoying the sky and the sunshine. I know if it was me I would be more concerned about the distance between the soles of my feet and the ground.


The National Sea Rescue Institute conducted exercises using a BK-117 helicopter, at Cape St Francis last weekend.

For more sky related pictures visit to the Skywatch site. Who knows you my also make some new friends along the way.

18 August 2010

Oyster Catcher

This is the closest I have been able to get to an oyster catcher, but it was not close enough to get a really good shot. Oyster catchers are quite rare, but I have a different take on the subject. I think they just make themselves scarce, especially when there is a human around with a camera.


16 August 2010

Carry on Trucking

This is one of those classic "Oh shit!" moments, which you read about in newspapers but never get to see. Or so one thinks.

At first when the traffic ground to a halt, we wondered what the problem was.


As we got closer the problem became more apparent.


Or should I say obvious.


Yes it was firmly stuck under the bridge.


It was not about to be solved by letting down the tyres. There was a massive tow truck attached to the back of this rig, which was about to pull it out.

15 August 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #14 - Polygala myrtifolia

Polygala myrtifolia is a fairly common, widespread pioneer shrub. It has pretty mauve flowers on and off throughout the year, but peaks in spring.


It is also known as the Augustusbossie (August bush) and September bush.


This one was photographed at Cape St Francis this weekend.

14 August 2010

Early morning dew

I don't know what this plant is, but it looked good in the early morning light.

12 August 2010

Skywatch Friday - Almost monochrome

The Bay was looking very moody earlier this week.


Go to the Skywatch for more great photos from around the world

11 August 2010

Overlooking the Bay

Grass growing on an empty plot in Richmond Hill

10 August 2010

Sign of a bygone area

I couldn't resist photographing this sign I spotted on the side of a building, at St George's Strand that has seen better days.  I think that the "MEATING" might just have become a bit too merry.


For anyone who is not familiar with South African terminology, a "braai" is a "barbeque".

09 August 2010

Dolphins brightening up the day

What is it about seeing dolphins that always fills one with such a feeling of joy? Watching them swimming by, made braving this morning's icy winds well worth the effort.




These were photographed off Shark Rock Pier this morning.

08 August 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #13 - Less than perfect

The countryside is alive with gazania krebsianas at the moment. This one might not be perfect, but is still a beauty.

07 August 2010

The great dog/ cat debate finally resolved

I have often listened to debates on the subject of which make better pets, dogs or cats and they are always inconclusive.

It is like asking someone the question, “Which is the best flavour of ice cream, chocolate or vanilla?” It is a matter of taste; you either like chocolate or you like vanilla. Or is it that simple? Surely one must be better than the other, in spite of taste differences.

Think of the debate in terms of wine. Many people will be happy with a bottle of plonk with a screw cap, but the connoisseur will be satisfied with nothing less than a wine of distinction.

You have to remove subjective opinion from the debate and look at it with cold hard facts. When you approach it in this manner, you will see that a cat is like a wine of distinction and a dog is like a bottle of plonk.

Here are ten facts that prove my point:

What more can I say?

06 August 2010

Gecko

I found this little gecko on my garage door a while ago and photographed him with my cell phone. He was only about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long.


05 August 2010

Skywatch Friday - Horse Memorial Sunrise

In May I featured a Skywatch post on the Horse Memorial, with a picture of it taken against the sunset (you can click on the link if you want to see that post).

Well, here I go again. The other morning I went for a walk and came across the trooper, who still happened to be feeding his horse. Well this is the result, a photo against the early morning sky. This also happens to be the 500th post on the Max Files.


For more sky themed pictures from around the world visit the Skywatch site.

T-Rex, a different kind of beast

I like coming across the unusual, like this T-Rex. It is quite a head turner as you can see and does not look too shabby, with Sue's Daihatsu Materia as a back drop.

T-Rex is 2-seater, 3-wheeled motorcycle, created by Canadian auto/bike builder Campagna Corporation.
This model does 0-100 kph (60 mph) in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 253 km/h (157 mph). I can just imagine the exhiliration and the feeling of being pushed back against the seat, when one takes off at full throttle. Fun, fun, fun.....but it costs a small fortune.



If you want to read up on the specs just Google it or go to Wikipaedia.

03 August 2010

A ticking off

A triad of cattle egrets scouring the area for food, which in their case is insects, frogs and small mammals.


These birds are so common that we sometimes tend to overlook them, but they are real beauties and I get a lot of pleasure just watching them as they go about their business.

Team effort

When driving through the Addo Elephant National Park recently I was intrigued by these messy nests that seemed to be found in most of the trees.


Thanks to Joan from Photographs from South Africa, who identified the architect or rather architects of these nests and satisfied my curiosity by suppling the information below. Joan has a most remarkable site that covers a wide range of subjects on South African wildlife and nature. I really enjoy her superb photos, which reflect the passion she has for her subjects. 

This is the work of Stegodyphus dumicola, a community nest spider.


Community nest spiders are grayish-brown, usually with patters on the abdomen. The males are smaller and more brightly coloured than the females. The carapace is slightly raised and distinctively clothed in white hairs, with a triangular pattern of white hair between the eyes.

Stegodyphus is most often noticed because of large and untidy nest it constructs in trees, usually Acacia. A large number of females, males and juveniles live together in one nest. They use cribellate silk to spin the nest which consists of a retreat of numerous tunnels and chambers, and a web which is used to catch prey.


You have to be careful when driving through the Park, if you concentrate to hard on the elephants, you might just miss these little gems.

01 August 2010

Flowers of the Eastern Cape #12 - Splashes of colour

Anyone looking around the countryside would be forgiven for thinking it is Spring. It is Winter and we still have one month to go before Spring starts, but wherever you look you will find some plant flowering. These flowers were all photographed at Cape St Francis this weekend.

The Sour Fig is very prolific along the coast. You will also find them in white and yellow.


Phyllobolus is making a delicate splash of colour all along the shore line.


Gazania rigens. These friendly flowers are to be seen everywhere, but only when the sun shines.


I am sure that this is also a gazania of sorts, but I was not able to find it in my field guide.


This one has me puzzled. It looks like a Snake thistle, but according to my field guide it can't be, because it is in the wrong part of the country. Can anyone offer any suggestions?


What I have set out to do with this project is to photogaph different indigenous plants that are flowering in the Eastern Cape, each week. so far I have not been disappointed.

Me, my horse and those damn birds

Ever wondered why statues hate birds?