Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Steam Tug Alwyn Vintcent.

Living close to the sea, as we do (she said grinning!), things nautical tend to mean a lot more to us than to landlubbers! I have mentioned the huge ore carriers that pull into Saldanha, we often see them as the head their way into or out of the harbour, and we cross our fingers that they pass our rocky shore without mishap.

I think my favourite vessels ever are tugs! They are gutsy and noble. They bully and snap at the towering iron ore carriers, bustling and shoving, heaving and holding, like a Daschund at the heels of a Great Dane. We have several stationed at Saldanha and we love to watch them at work. Now, these are modern tugs with all the technology necessary to help them in their daily tasks.

But have a look at this tug, pictured below.

Alwyn Vintcent in 2008 (Thanks to the official website for the photo.)

This is the (SteamTug) Alwyn Vintcent, the last remaining steam tug in South Africa, and as I write this, she has just completed her final journey.....................a 408 km road trip inland to Villiersdorp! At an estimated cost of R500 000, or R1200 a kilometer! And the mayor of Villiersdorp was so excited to welcome her that he is planning maritime public holidays in her honour.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

World Sauntering Day etc!

Yesterday was World Sauntering Day! Seriously, for those of you who regularly follow my writings (thanks very much!), you may remember that I mentioned it a few months ago? Well, we are extremely well equipped for Sauntering, we have the loose clothing, we have the time and we have the obligatory dog with flappy ears! We saunter every day with like-minded friends and while we amble along and chat and talk about the weather, the dogs do what dogs do best and we return home refreshed and not at all tired! A cardio workout it is not!

Ready for a saunter anyone?

We are having the most glorious weather at the moment, warm and sunny with very little wind and midday temperatures in the high teens. Now, that sounds great but it really isn't good for this time of the year. It should be wet, cold and wet. Cloudy, cold and wet! This is our rainy season and so far we have seen very little rain. 'They' (the weather powers that be), said that we would get lots of rain after the 19 May, so we planned for that, did all the washing, sorted the garden, brought lots of fire wood inside, decided not to bother washing the windows, and smugly waited for the downpours. Which didn't come.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Superstition to Super!

You know how things come in 3's? You hear about an accident and then another one, and until you hear about a third one you stay at home? Or you drop a glass, then a plate and almost throw a bowl onto the floor to get it over with! Well, at the beginning of May, we decided to go away in Gemsquash. Rob found a perfect place only a couple of hours drive from here, pet friendly and away from 'civilisation' so we spent a happy couple of days sorting out and packing and organising food and bedding and making sure that Alfie's toys were ready.

Then, the day before we were due to go, Rob's glasses broke! They just cracked across the bridge of his nose and fell off! Thank goodness he had his old, heavy ones as backup!

Then, we decided to switch the caravan fridge on so that I could simply transfer from the kitchen just before we left. Nothing, it was dead. No reassuring hum, nothing. Rob checked the wiring and the plug, and even fitted a new plug just in case!

Now, remember we had given Gemsquash a facelift and that involved moving the fridge, so Rob pulled it out and found a loose wire! But, he wasn't sure where it went and rather than make things worse, he did the right thing and called an electrician who promised to call round early the next morning.
That was the second thing, and we just knew that there would be a third waiting for us! The next morning the electrician arrived dead on time and fixed the fridge in a matter of minutes. Phew, it rattled into life and we were set to go. Packing completed, we loaded the dog into the car, and put our shoulders to the caravan ready to push.

Then, the fates laughed and sent number three! The jockey wheel jammed solid and we couldn't move it! It would go backwards and forwards but would not allow us to turn left or right. Rob did a spot of DIY with a four pound hammer and managed to break the handle too!! By now I was wondering if there was a message hidden in this somewhere and was ready to unload and unpack!

Just then a black cat crossed my path.......not unusual seeing that we have two of them!

We decided to take a chance and go! We heaved and shoved Gemsquash into the drive and Rob reversed the car with precision, thanks to my perfect hand signals! And we were off!

What a wonderful place it turned out to be. A citrus farm with the camping area right on the edge of the Olifants River. We parked on the grass under huge trees a stone's throw from the water.

Taken from the water's edge.
A little manoeuvring was necessary to get the caravan into position before Rob unhooked it as the jockey wheel didn't miraculously unjam itself on the way, but as we were the only people there, there was plenty of room to do this.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Beach cleanup!

The older I get, the less I understand people!

We live in a tiny village on the coast, and of course, we get a lot of fishermen (and ladies and children) who regularly come here and spend a few hours, or longer, fishing for whatever happens to be around at the time! They obviously spend some time before they set off, packing their cooler box with bait, cool drinks or beer, packets of chips or sandwiches, biltong and whatever else helps the time to pass and take their minds off the fact that there is not a lot happening on the end of the line. By the time they leave, they are far too tired to make sure that whatever came with them, goes home with them and our beaches become littered with empty bottles, packets, bait boxes and plastic wrapping. And if that is not bad enough, they leave tangles of fishing line, it wraps itself round bushes, gets knotted round whatever it can find, and is simply abandoned. Instead of sorting the line out, they just cut it lose and forget about it.

Every time we walk, we pick up enough fishing line to knit socks and hats and fishing nets. Some of it with hooks and sinkers still attached.

So I did some research on pollution left on our beaches and it is horrifying!
According to John Kieser (see below), 80% of all marine litter, mainly plastic, originates from land. A great deal of this then becomes entangled around sea birds or seals, causing restriction of movement, strangulation, severing of carotid arteries, infection, and eventually, death. Apart from that, turtles and seals often ingest plastic bags, as the clear ones floating in the sea, look like jelly fish. This of course causes other problems, often resulting in death.

John Kieser is passionate about sustainability. 
I thought you may be interested in the ‘Top Ten’ rubbish finds:
Heading the list is plastic bottle tops, followed by plastic beverage bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers/containers, rope, cigarette filters, straws, stirrers, fishing line, glass beverage bottles, and beverage cans! Another interesting fact is there is also a large number of condoms found, 90% unused and still in their wrappers!

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee!

Rob and I spent the whole weekend, more or less, in front of the 'telly'. Not for sport (although we did loudly cheer the Stormers win over the Blue Bulls ha ha!), but to watch Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Although she became Queen on 2 February 1952, the actual Coronation took place the following year on 2 June 1953.

The Royal Family (Thanks to Wikipedia)
A reign of 60 years, and I remember Coronation Day!

Look at the BBC camera!