Sunday, 28 August 2011


Mention the word 'weather' and people immediately start thinking of England! Rain and lack of sun become important issues, and even now when I chat to my children the question "What's your weather like?" always pops into the conversation! Before we moved to the coast, the only time weather was of a concern was when I was teaching! Then, I would pray for a dry day if I was on playground duty, or a wet day if I was refereeing a soccer match after school and we could go home early! Then, when we moved to the coast, we swapped the hot wet summers and cold dry winters of the Highveld, for the hot dry summers and cold wet winters of the Cape West coast! Our summer evenings linger until gone 9 o'clock and I forget to cook, while in winter it is dark by 5.30 and we have the log fire warming the house and the kettle whistling while the soup or potjie (stew) bubbles away for our supper.

Today we have had all four seasons in one! We woke to mist, gloomy and damp, rain followed, and now as I write this, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the breeze is tickling the wild flowers

A sunny winter morning

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The house that isn't.........

One of the wonderful things about living at the coast is the fact that we can go for a drive and not be desperate to spend the day at the beach! We are extremely fortunate to be able to head off in any direction (away from the sea that is!) and go exploring along routes that take us through fynbos and farmlands, up hills and over mountains. One such route has become a favourite and if we have friends to stay for a few days, we always suggest an outing to see 'The house that isn't there'.

The first time we saw this was quite by chance. We wanted to go to Elandsbaai, north of us, via an inland route and then follow the more direct road home. So, off we set. The first little village we came to was Aurora (meaning Dawn Light), tucked against the Piketberg mountain range with a view almost to the sea. A tiny place, a few houses, a few Bed and Breakfast establishments, a small church, a cafe and a bottle store. And friendly people.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Lighthouses on the Air

This weekend, being the third one in August, is the 'Lighthouses on the Air' Amateur Radio weekend. Now, Rob and I are both qualified Radio Amateurs (HAMS), so for us this is interesting, especially as we live close to a lighthouse!! (South Africa has 45 lighthouses around its rocky coastline). Cape Columbine lighthouse is situated just south of Paternoster and was built in 1936. It is a lovely square art deco tower, painted white, with a red lantern dome and is one of the last stations on the West Coast to have a resident keeper. It was named after the barque 'Columbine', wrecked in 1829. We see the light sweeping round at night, and on a misty day we hear the foghorn moo-ing through the gloom.

Cape Columbine - by Steve Crane

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Buried Treasure!

Three times a week (more or less; less if we can think of an excuse - too wet, too windy, too hot, too cold) a friend and I walk. Briskly I might add, not the usual meandering that occurs when Rob and I walk with Alfie, but an hour long, brisk, arm-swinging, cardio work-out walk that makes me feel really good when I get home and can stop! We usually stick to the same route, along roads that eventually lead to a small group of houses up a fairly steep hill. (Extra cardio workout!) From there the sea view is amazing and the sea breeze always cools us, before we turn and head home again. On the way there is a track that veers away from the road into the grass and disappears into the fynbos, and every time we passed it we'd say 'next time we walk we must follow that and see where it goes.' Well, this morning we did.

Where the track begins......

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ready, Steady, Cook!

I am really not a person who enjoys cooking. I love eating. The odd thing is that I love to read and buy cookery books and I collect recipes from wherever I can, magazines, family, friends, the internet and of course that wonderful programme 'Masterchef Australia'. Rob and I watch it every day and often download and print the recipes from Masterclass. (Now, for those of you who do not watch the show, this has not made very much sense at all, but bear with me!)

Nicely set marmelade

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Literally translated to mean 'coloured little man' this is the wonderfully descriptive Afrikaans name for a Chameleon.

The journey begins

We have the tiny dwarf chameleons here, although sadly they are not as numerous as they should be, as the very thing that keeps them safe in their natural habitat, is their downfall! Their ability to blend in with their surroundings means that on the dust roads in our village, they become invisible to motorists. Unable to dodge out of the way, or dash across the road to safety, they add to the horrifically high death rate of wildlife on our roads. You would think that with their ability to look both ways at the same time, they would wait until the road was clear before setting out on their perilous journey.

Klaas's cuckoo (Sunbird update)

I found a picture of the Klaas's cuckoo I mentioned in my Sunbirds post - here it is!

such a pretty parasite

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Sunbirds return

We have a very busy (euphemism for cluttered!) veranda as you can see from the picture, but what you can’t see are the numerous dangly bits that hang from the rafters! We have shells, wooden fish, fishing corks, lanterns (we can’t use them as the wind blows the candles out!), a beautiful warthog wind catcher, a wooden bird that flaps its wings, a small green watering can, rope, various old kitchen utensils collected from Hospice shops, and a star-shaped wire ornament. We also have two half barrels that contain ficus trees (one thriving and one a little wind-swept), plus the usual table and chairs. Last winter we noticed that a pair of Malachite Sunbirds were showing an interest in the star-shaped ornament and before too long they had started to build an intricate nest with spider web and dried grass. These beautiful birds are supposed to be shy, our bird book says that they ‘do not frequent suburban gardens.’ Well, obviously the birds haven’t read the book. Not only were they in the garden, they were nesting a metre from our door! Once the nest was completed, the female sat herself down and only left occasionally to sip nectar from the aloes and to bath in the watering can that spurts into a half barrel fish pond! She didn’t mind us at all as we came and went past her door, but she was not happy with strangers on the veranda. She tolerated Alfie, but not the cats!! We always knew when a cat was outside by the volume of the call and the male would actually dive-bomb them!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Saldanha Bay

Rob and I often go for a drive to the nearby port town of Saldanha. We love to sit and watch the birds for one thing, and for another we enjoy watching the huge ore carriers arriving (or leaving).

hungry birds waiting for their lunch
The best place to do both of these things is from the narrow, man-made causeway that joins the mainland to what was once an island, Marcus Island (17 ha). (Rumour has it that there is a wreck buried beneath the causeway, but I still need to find some information on this*). This island is one of five that are near to the port entrance, and although they are small, rugged islands, they are home to some 250 000 coastal seabirds. The 2 kilometre causeway was built in 1976, and between it and the huge ore loading quay there are man made mussel beds that quietly allow the delicious mussels to grow until they are harvested for the table! But I digress!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Wind and washing

Yesterday we woke to wind.

We usually do here on the coast, but there is wind and there is WIND. I think it gusted to about 50 kph just at walk time, so, because it was Sunday and no Eastenders music to excite Alfie, we battened down the hatches, lit the fire and hoped that the roof was nailed on tightly!!

old advert for Hills Hoist Clotheslines (1955) / thanks to Wendy in Tasmania