Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Over The Limit!

Last night I took a Breathalyser Test. Not because I wanted to see if I was sober enough to drive, it was bed time anyway and we had spent the evening infront of the fire, watching 'Eastenders' and 'Masterchef Australia' as we do every evening (unless it is the weekend and then it is sport!) We had seen our swimmers and our runners coming first and second at the Commonwealth Games, we had finished our chocolate, and I had finished my two and a half glasses of wine (with plenty of ice).
So as you can see, I wasn't going anywhere but up the stairs!

So why the breathalyser? Read on;

On Monday afternoon we drove through to Saldanha to the Community Hall where a number of our Municipal folks were waiting with their computers and papers to answer any questions/queries/complaints that we Ratepayers of Ward 5 may have. Now, we have been complaining bitterly about the dust from the gravel road that blows into our home like sand in a storm in the Sahara. We have written letters, we have had 'experiments' carried out on the road outside our house, but the wind simply carries on blowing and the dust carries on billowing. We have gathered letters from the neighbours up and down the road and we are fairly desperate to have something done. After all, we pay our rates every month and we get nothing in return. I lie, we have Street Lights! But go and look at Langebaan to see what we could have.. should have!

So, while Rob was getting the latest Budget print out and muttering to the lady about the roads, I wandered off to the next table where there were three very smart men in uniform who I thought were with the Traffic Police, as I wanted them to come and catch all the speeding drivers who ignore STOP signs and help to kick more dust as they fly over the speed-bumps.

They were nothing to do with the Traffic Police actually, they were from the Fire Department, so I told them about the traffic and they promised to pass the message on. And we chatted about all kinds of things and I left with some little books, a cut-out doll to dress in cut-out uniform, a cardboard fire-engine to build.... and two breathalysers!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Welcome to 'The Old Crow'!

Well now, I can hear you all thinking.... at last!
And look how the time has again flown by!!

Reading the title, you may think that this is another chat about birds, well, it's not. Although birds do come into it.

You have read about our caravan Hyacinth, if you have been following my rambles closely, and you may remember that we bought her in 2013!! You also may remember that Rob and I did not fit together into the bed, we managed half an hour on the first night before I shuffled off to the other end and re-arranged the cushions and the table.....

What I did not tell you was the frustration with the curtains in Hyacinth!!! Now, as any woman knows, if there are curtains on a window, they must open and close... easily... at the touch of a hand or the gentle nudge of a finger. Not these!! They looked gorgeous, cream with a navy blue trim at the top, small round metal rings in the navy piece that fitted on to a thin metal rod. They had a 'stop' screw at the end of each rod to prevent the whole curtain sliding off. In theory. In practice the metal rings were too small to slide along the rod, they just went sideways and stuck!! Plus, if you tugged too hard, the whole rod just slipped off the bracket which caused a lot of cursing from me! Rob finally became the Curtain Man as he has far more patience than I have, but it took him ages to get them either open or closed as each little metal hole had to be gently moved bit by tiny bit.......

Moving on.....
Last month Rob decided to take Hyacinth to have her yearly service back at the dealer as we were planning to head off for a week's break. So we emptied every cupboard and hooked her up and off we set to Cape Town. While Rob booked her in, Alfie and I wandered round climbing in and out of the New and also the Previously Loved Caravans..... and I fell in love!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Now You See Them, Now You Don't!

This is the first blog of 2018 and although we are now at the end of the first month and are therefore one twelfth of the way through the year, I do hope that this year is a really good one. Rob worked out that there are only 327 days left until Christmas!!

Here we are hoping and praying for rain. Not that we are due any until at least the end of May, but we are in a crisis situation here in the Cape. Cape Town has water until the middle of April (although that date keeps changing as the amount of water the Capetonians use fluctuates weekly, but at the time of writing this, daily usage was 580 000 000 litres... yes, DAILY) so we had all better get used to queuing for our allocated 25 litres per day..........

Wonderful people up-country where the rain is plenty and the dams are full, are collecting water by the truckload (literally), and removal companies are bringing thousands of litres of water down to the Cape for use in animal shelters.

Anyway, life goes on (but not for my garden which is dry, dusty and for the most part, dead!) and we have cut our water usage drastically. The words 'If it's yellow let it mellow' are heard everywhere, our showers are fast and trickly, my washing machine is programmed to cut out a rinse and we catch all that water for garden use.

But, by far the most water usage goes..... to the birds!

We have five bird baths, one outside for general consumption, and four inside for the birds, our cats and probably the bokkie who still comes nightly for his/her apple and mealies.

Keeping them full is Rob's responsibility and he does it diligently!!
We have rain tanks that we use for this purpose and usually he can keep up with demand.
But for the last few months we have had the Pied Starlings here. In droves. By the hundred. And they like to crowd in the manatoka trees and eat the berries when they are ripe. So we have had days of squabbling, squawking, chirping and flapping as hundreds of them crowd into the trees and then descend onto the birdbaths!

Sadly I cannot get photos to upload anymore for some obscure reason, so you have to picture the splashing, shoving, flapping and swimming that goes on. We have counted over twenty starlings at a time trying to get to the water. I even made a little rhyme, to the tune of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' and it goes like this.....

Sing a song of ten rand, a pocket full of chaff,
Four and twenty starlings crowding in the bath.
When the bath was empty the birds they did complain,
So out went Rob with water and it all began again.

Did you sing it? I bet you did!

Rob filled every bath at least five times every day. The baths were empty of water but full of mud and the seeds from the manatoka trees! Mud from the dust from the birds, and the seeds are what they spit out or regurgitate once they have eaten the fleshy part of the fruit. A bit like us with litchis!! And the seeds are tiny and sticky, so they stick to shoes and get transferred to the floors inside. And boy, do they hurt when they are trodden on with bare feet!

But, I digress.

This water-carrying has happened daily for the last three months. And suddenly yesterday I noticed that there was not one Pied Starling in the garden or the trees or the baths! Not one.

And today I have seen one in the rhus tree and Rob has seen one on the bath rim.
And that is it!

Gone, moved on, no goodbye, no thank you!

Here's the question..... can we blame Social Media for this??

Are they all on Twitter... and did they get a 'tweet'?

Makes you think doesn't it?

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017

Last day before 2017 slides into the sea and 2018 climbs into view tomorrow morning!
Where on earth has this year gone?
How did it get past me so quickly?

So, being time to reflect on the year as it grinds down, I decided that I would give you a sort of alphabetical list of the things that were (to me at least) the memories of 2017.....

A.. Ants. As the garden has become drier and drier, we have been inundated with the little buggers. They bite naked flesh, so gardening has been a challenge as I have to hop and swipe and curse every few seconds.

B.. Birthday. Yes, I know they come round every year but it's not every year you hit a milestone and this year was the Year Of The 70th! As they say in the classics 'Good Grief!'

C.. Cursing. I have done a lot of that this year, from gardening (see A above), to listening and watching the news. Not good for blood pressure! (see M below)

D.. Dust. This may seem a silly thing but our road remains un-tarred and every car/truck/bakkie/builders mate that hurtles past our house leaves behind a cloud of dust that wafts happily onto the veranda and into the house to settle on everything it can. Then there is a lot of C (see above).

E.. Elephants still under threat from poachers. This leads to a lot of C (see above), and thoughts of gory things that I would love to do to poachers that involve blood and pain.

F.. Fish. We have eaten our way through many kilos of hake. Battered, crumbed, grilled or fried, we eat hake at least four times a week. My favourite fish is any that I have not had to cook and especially the hake from St Helena Nursery and Coffee Shop!

G.. Garden. I have watched much of my garden die this year from a serious lack of water. But it has led to clever 'dead' areas of the garden being re-modelled with klippies and pots and a bench. The latest invention is... a wooden 'lugtoring' or lighthouse, complete with solar lights! A boer maak 'n plan!

H.. Hiccups. Have you noticed that you can go for weeks, months without having hiccups? Then suddenly they arrive three or four times in one day and leave you exhausted and fed up? Drink water from the wrong side of the glass... works every time!

I.. Influenza. Avoided that this year, again, thanks goodness. We had our 'flu jabs at the start of the season and wore garlic round our necks when we went shopping!!

J.. Jacobsbaai... what else! But sadly our little village has grown and crept over areas that we were told would never be developed. It has doubled in size, at least, since we moved here nearly eleven and a half years ago. Hence the cursing at builders and all associated with them. But also, the new houses are all huge monstrosities that cover every inch of plot and certainly do not follow the 'quaint fisherman type accommodation' that was the whole idea in the first place!! But having said all that, it is still the best place to live!

K.. Klippies or little stones. I must have bought several tons of these this year to spread over the re-modelled bits of my garden!

L.. Lekker by die see..... roughly translated means 'lovely at the sea', but it is one of those wonderful Afrikaans sayings that just do not translate!

M.. Medical Stuff. Yes, as we get older we visit the doctor more, and worry about our heart and bowels! Blood pressure medication, cholesterol pills, heartburn muti, we carry it all around with us, terrified to miss a day! We have a wonderful doctor, I love going to see him as we have a good chat and a laugh and I can hear him mentally adding up how much more he now has towards fixing the wind-pump on the farm!

N.. Neighbours. I have mentioned our wonderful neighbours before. Where or who else, could you phone with a request for something important that you forgot to buy and know that they are either on their way to, or in, or just near enough to turn round and head back to, our local Pick n Pay? Emma, I thank you for all the chats, gifts and laughs that we have enjoyed this year, over the wall!

O.. Oyster Catchers. We have these beautiful black birds with their bright red beak and legs here in our baai. They nest on the beach and among the rocks on the little islands offshore and we hear their squeaky-toy call daily. They are one of the many different bird species that grace our village and we are truly lucky to see them.

P.. Politics...... there is nothing nice that I can say about our 'great' politicians, from the president down. In fact, enough said. (See M and blood pressure.)

Q.. Quiet. One of the reasons we chose to live here is for the peace and quiet that we enjoy throughout the year. Even though our village has grown, there are still no shops (apart from a little keffie), no bottle stores, no garages, no schools, no through-road to anywhere else, so apart from the three short weeks over the Christmas period, our quiet remains.... and long may it do so!

R.. Rob. Another year of laughs and companionship and damn fine soup! We have been together since February 1998, so we are a couple of months off our 20th anniversary, and in the words of the old old song 'And it don't seem a day too much...' With 2018 coming up, we hope to enjoy more of the same, plus more trips in the caravan with Alfie to distant lands (not too distant as Alfie doesn't have a passport!)

S.. Shrinkflation. A lovely word (but not the concept) this! It crept up on us un-noticed until it was mentioned on the radio. So, we now have things like this; a 2 litre tub of ice-cream is now only 1.8 litre at a higher price, a 3kg bag of Friskies cat food is now 2.9 kg, but the price has gone up from R114 to R144....... these are just two examples but to focus on it leads to another S word, stress, and that leads to C and M (see above).

T.. I just asked Rob what I could do for T... his answer? Scones!! I should have known better!

U.. Umbrella. We have several of these gathering dust. Unused this year, and for several years before this, we have children now asking what they are and what they are used for.... Maybe I could use them for bird feeders or pot-plant holders.

V.. Visitors. Lovely lovely family and friends! I just need my sister to come to see us now..... Rob's daughter and partner left just yesterday after a flying visit, and tomorrow I am driving to Stellenbosch to my daughter, and then... joy of joys, we are meeting my son and two of his three gorgeous children! (We shall miss Irina and Sasha, but hopefully next time). A wonderful week of having my kids together and I can't wait! I know that really this is taking place next year.... but I am stretching the rules. After all, it's my blog!

W.. Water. The word that is on everyone's lips here in the Cape. We are in a crisis situation with dams close to empty. The taps will run dry sometime in April unless we have 3 years of above average rainfall before then. And seeing that our rain is only expected in May (if then), we are in deep s**t. Here on the West Coast, our annual average rainfall is 422 mm, but this year we only had 179 mm. Rob and I are saving every drop that we can, we have funnels and 2 litre plastic bottles in the showers to collect the first cold water. We collect washing water for the garden, and we are wearing our outer clothing more than once. We have dropped our consumption to 3 kilolitres,that is about 50 litres each daily. As my friend says 'I have a bucket list.. a bucket in the shower, one in the kitchen......'

X.. X-ray. My thumb is excruciatingly sore. I cannot bend it at all, so I may need one of these soon.

Y.. Yell. This is what you do several times a day if you see the following; a snake, a scorpion, a cat bringing a live mouse into the house, speeding drivers who raise a cloud of dust behind them (see D above), or if you want to attract your neighbours attention to ask them to please bring a small plain yogurt home from Pick n Pay because you forgot it even though it was written on the list. But the list was left at home, hence the need to yell. (See N above).

Z.. Zuma. This ties in well with Y and P and M, especially the blood pressure. Hopefully by next December 31 he will be history......

Happy New Year Everyone!