Friday, 27 April 2012

Freedom Day!

Today, 27 April 2012, marks the eigthteenth anniversary of Freedom Day.

Eighteen years ago today, 27 April 1994, I stood in a queue, along with my family, for 9 hours, waiting to put my 'X' on a small piece of paper that would help to change South Africa's way of life forever.

Our new flag over our country. (Pic thanks to Google)
 Nelson Mandela spent 18 years on Robben Island as number 46664 (prisoner number 466 of 1964), a number that is almost as famous as the man himself! He was finally released from Victor Verster prison on 11 February 1990 after having spent 27 years behind bars.

Four years later we were ready for elections. By then, rumours were flying about what would happen next, there would be no food in the shops, no power, no water, we would be in deep s**t!!!! So, we did what any sensible, mature person did..............we stockpiled! We bought cooking oil, candles, peanut butter, toilet rolls, bottled water and powdered milk (I don't even like powdered milk!) and as shops began to run out under the demand, we swapped information on where these could be bought at the best prices! We searched for recipes for peanut butter biscuits that could be baked on an open fire, in case we had to burn the furniture to survive the first dark days of Freedom!!

Nelson Mandela voting, ( Pic thanks to Google)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Earth Day!

Hands up who recognises this logo??

Ron Cobb's 1969 Ecology Symbol
I imagine anyone living overseas would recognise it straight away as being the symbol for Earth Day, which is today 22 April. I didn't know that, and I doubt whether many South Africans would know that either! I say this because we listen to the radio daily, we watch TV news, and not once have I heard the words 'Earth Day', mentioned at ALL. Not once. I only knew this as I happened to go onto Google this morning and saw the wonderful animated doodle of greenery and growing flowers!

Thanks to Google.
So, I looked it up, did some sleuthing and discovered that it is not a small idea thought up by a couple of people. No, Earth Day is celebrated in over 175 countries.......but not in South Africa. Is that because we have so many other problems and issues here that make news, that nobody bothers with the 'small stuff'? We are a journalists paradise, but for all the wrong reasons.

The day was first observed on 21 March 1970, that day being the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and first day of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. To create awareness and appreciation of Earth's Natural Environment, in 2009 the United Nations designated 22 April as 'International Mother Earth Day'.

As Earth's natural environment is rapidly giving way to overpopulation and destruction of what little beauty is left, as a mother, she must be weeping by now for what has gone and can never be replaced.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Fishing Frenzy!

One of the really lekker things about living here is sharing our favourite 'things to do' with friends and family who visit, some more often than others! This weekend Rob's daughter Angie flew in with her partner for a really short stay, just a weekend, but it gave us a reason (excuse??) to do all the things that we love doing without feeling guilty! Not that we ever do feel that. (They also took all the super photos below.)
So we drove to Saldanha harbour and showed them the barges that are still there from our wreck 'Margaret', and we braaied for lunch and then on Sunday we decided to travel further afield and have lunch while we were out (that's my favourite bit). So we headed to Velddrif first. This is where the Berg River widens out as it meets the sea. The village is small with good fishing and a variety of little shops and restaurants overlooking the river. Galleries and antique (junk?) shops stand side by side and pelicans float about in the river while flamingos (flamingoes?)paddle and feed in the salt pans next to the Cerebos Salt factory.

An art gallery next to an 'antique' shop!

Then we went to the village of St Helena Bay, where Vasco da Gama first set foot on our soil on 4 November, 1497. It is also the only place in South Africa where you can stand in the same place and see the sun rising and setting over the sea! The harbour there is large but usually quiet and empty with just the sound of boats rubbing together and ropes straining against the pull of the sea. We couldn't believe our eyes! We could hardly find a place to park as the entire area was full! Bakkies, cars and trailers were everywhere and people were standing in groups all staring out to sea.

All waiting for fresh snoek

We thought that there was a regatta or some kind of race, but no, it turned out that the snoek (Thyrsites atun) were running and more than 70 boats had headed off to catch their share of these huge, silver, torpedo shaped fish. There is no rule to the arrival of snoek, they can stay away for a season or two and then suddenly appear to cause a fishing frenzy for a while along the West Coast waters before disappearing again just as quickly. Because they are nomadic and move around, they are not a stable source of income, but they are highly sought after and are fortunately plentiful, cheap and most importantly, sustainable! But, I hear you ask, how do the fishermen know when the snoek are here? Shoals are located by watching the sea birds, we have seen hundreds and hundreds of cormorants circling and diving in our bays and obviously following huge shoals of fish. Also a more technical way of doing things, is to use an echo sounder on the boats.

Bringing the catch home to sell.

They prefer water temperature of between a chilly 13 and 18 degrees, they can grow to 2 meters in length and weigh about 6 kg. Fortunately they freeze well and so are available throughout the year. Having said that, there is nothing to beat the excitement of watching the boats come home, followed by screaming,squabbling gulls and laden with fish that have been cleaned at sea. Called 'vlekking', the fish are sliced open and left flat, ready to grill or braai.

Fishing boats are small and crowded.

Now to the important part, eating them. Although they can be dried and smoked, the traditional way is to braai them with baked sweet potato or freshly baked bread and jam. And not just any old jam either. No, they must be liberally smeared with apricot jam before being grilled for about 15 minutes, (so the experts say!), no longer or the fish will be dry! Another way is to make 'smoorsnoek', that is snoek off the bone, mashed with potato and served with fresh bread and 'korrel konfyt' or grape jam.

From torpedo shape to open flat, ready to braai!

Rumour has it that a snoek braai is one of the only things that make South Africans living overseas long to come home for.

Snoek for sale, anything fresher is still swimming!

Now, after all that making-your-mouth-water stuff, I have to admit, I do not like snoek. I hate having to fiddle and fuss with bones, and snoek must have more than their fair share of them! I had enough of chewing a mouthful of bones when I was small and kippers were on the Sunday breakfast menu!

Give me a piece of hake any day!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Bat Box Plan B!

As you can see from the title, we abandoned the idea of struggling alone to get the bat box up, and called in reinforcements! We have a local builder/painter/odd-job man who will tackle any DIY job, big or small, that we cannot manage at our age with our creaky joints and limited strength! So, Samuel arrived early last week and set his 'manne' to work digging a hole deep enough to plant the pole a metre down. That sounds easy, but, we have boulders and stones just under the surface and it took them a while, believe me.

Looking like a 'sputnik' ready to launch!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

World Strays Day.

Isn't this a lovely logo?

(Thanks to facebook)

I was idly typing via skype this morning to my daughter in Dubai and she happened to mention that today is World Strays Day. She is very involved in the rescue, neutering and rehoming of cats and apart from her own three pampered felines, (two ginger brothers who were found in a rubbish bin and a tabby stray), she feeds several strays as well as regularly heading off with a cat-trap to rescue some of the huge stray population. You can see the work that she does on  Like all animal charities, they are struggling for support and are in danger of having to close.

Larry, one of her rescues, happily adopted.