Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Ho, Ho, Ho, it's that time of the year again! The 'silly season' is here and as I write this I can see our friends beyond the empty plot playing cricket in the road with their grandchildren. I always think back to my early Christmases in England, my sister and I waking up and seeing the present-filled lumpy pillow cases at the foot of our beds, mum and aunty cooking huge dinners and everyone going for a walk in the park in the afternoon. My dad would quietly come home from work in the weeks before Christmas and hide gifts behind the cushions in the lounge before loudly slamming the front door, and we would rush into the hall to see what he had with him! He would spend hours in his shed in the garden making wooden toys for us with mum suddenly saying that it was too cold for us to go and see what he was doing! It's certainly a time for families to be together and it's at this time of the year that I miss my children the most. Rob and I shall be together, alone, and that's fine, we enjoy our own company and the day will be spent being lazy, (so what's new?), having a late breakfast (cooked by Rob!), and probably a braai for lunch (cooked by Rob!), but I shall spend the day thinking about my far-away family and waiting for them to be available for me to skype them.

Our little wooden tree complete with red candles.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Public Holidays.

We are lucky enough to have 12 Public Holidays in South Africa. Now I am retired, every day is a holiday, but when I was teaching I used to circle them in red and mutter if they fell on a Saturday! Thursday was the very best day to have one, as Friday was often given as an extra school holiday and that meant that the parents who were going to keep their children out of school anyway, could do so with a clear concience!!

We have just celebrated Reconciliation Day on 16 December. This used to be called The Day of the Vow, but was changed in 1994. I learnt an interesting fact about this particular day when I was listening to the radio. Apparently, here in the Cape, the 16 December is traditionally the day when people wash the walls of their houses in readiness for the summer! A few women phoned in to say that they had started, and that the curtains were on the line! I found that fascinating, but, let me stress, not fascinating enough for me to join in! Apart from that, it is also the de-facto start of the summer holiday period. I remember when we were building our house, the builders all downed bricks and cement on the 15 December, so we bought everybody fish and chips for lunch and sent them on their way until 12 January.

The day also marks the beginning of the headache season for the traffic police as thousands of people trek to holiday destinations or go home for the holidays. Johannesburg empties as Durban and Cape Town fill! Even our little village is beginning to bulge with 'uitlanders' and we end up longing for them to go home so we can have our peace and quiet back!

This year, we have been granted an extra public holiday as Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Normally, if that happens we get Monday to compensate! But, Monday, instead of being given for Sunday, is Boxing Day (Family Day here!) and Tuesday should have been back to work! So, Tuesday is now a holiday for Monday being used for Sunday, and everyone goes back to work on Wednesday. Unless you are on holiday anyway like a builder, then it doesn't make much difference anyway! Are you still with me?? Never mind!

January 1 is a holiday everywhere! But here in the Cape, we have the 2 January as well, it is known as 'tweede nuwe jaar' or second new year! It allows everyone to recover from the celebrations of New Years Day, or to carry on for another day!

For us, it means that the holidays are nearly over and we watch the road out of the village carefully, ticking off every car and trailer and bicycle carrier that leaves!

Roll on 2012!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

It's a Bird Dog!

Yes, it's another Alfie picture! I have to admit that I must have at least fifty pictures of him on my computer, but Rob takes the cake, he has Alfie as a screen saver on his mobile phone and regularly whips the mobile out to show people in shops, caravan parks, restaurants, you name it! I tease him by saying that most people our age (maturing nicely like smelly cheese), have photos of their grandchildren to brag about!

The notice reads 'Wild bird take aways'

This photo was taken of Alfie a few months ago. I regularly put the old un-eaten dog and cat food out for the birds and a few minutes later the first 'bird' arrived in the shape of one Alfred. Then we had some fun as Rob challenged our friends and family to 'Name the Bird'. We had some wonderful answers, original, witty and descriptive.
I always wonder how many people read this blog, so, here's my way of finding out! I would like everyone (including those people who sent us their ideas before), to think of a 'name' (in Latin if you like!) and a brief description and post it as a comment at the end of the blog. It will be fun to see how many different answers I get....... please more than 0. Oh yes, and if you are not in South Africa, please put the town and country too!

Here's an example: 'Crested wagtail'. (Waggus crestus). Can be found in urban gardens all over the countryand is easily tamed. Call is a high pitched 'woooof' sound.

The winner will receive an autographed photograph of Alfie! What more could you want!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Dam it's hot!

No, it's not a curse or a spelling mistake, it was HOT! Last week we went to Clanwilliam Dam for another little mid-week break, we find that Alfie needs a change of scenery every now and then, so we oblige! Off we set on Monday morning with the usual south easter blowing to help us on our way. A nice cool temperature of about 21, lovely. We had booked at a private caravan park on a working citrus farm on the banks of the dam, only about 121 kms as the crow flies from home, but just over 200 as the road winds! We arrived at lunchtime and stepped out of the airconditioning to ........................40 degrees! And no wind. At all. By the time we had put the tent up, burning our fingers from the metal rods lying in the sun, I was seriously considering climbing back into the car and coming home!

Almost at the campsite.