Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A Snake got in the Way!

Do you ever get those days where you plan to do something and then something else happens and things change? We had one of those days today! We decided to pull Gemsquash out for a bit of a wash and brush-up as we are heading off next week for a few days to give Alfie a bit of a break.

So, as we were busy outside (well Rob was busy, I was faffing about), a Traffic Police car slowly drove by and we waved and he stopped for a chat. Interestingly, it was the same officer that I spoke to yesterday in town, begging him to come and trap on our road! Anyway, as we were talking, he suddenly said 'Haai, daar's a slang in die pad!' ('Hey, there's a snake in the road') and said a hasty goodbye. And there was. A long yellow/green Cape Cobra was quietly making its way across the road and along the bottom of our neighbour's wall! Towards our house!

It saw me and I stamped my feet a few times, don't ask me why, to let it know that I was there and not happy about the direction he was moving, I think. Anyway, to cut a long story a little shorter, the snake finally wove its way into their garden and ended up behind a large bush next to the wall.

The bush where it ended up!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Dumb Drivers Driving Dangerously!

I have a question. Well, several actually!

Why is it that perfectly normal, sensible, well behaved people become utter imbeciles when they go on holiday? Why do manners get left at home along with the 9 to 5 business suits and collars and ties? Why do dads who never let their children into a car without a seatbelt, suddenly allow a 12 year old to drive? Or allow a 6 year old to perch on their lap, steering, while they work the pedals? Why do our dirt roads bring out the racing driver in someone who would never dream of driving over the speed limit in town? Why do they skid and slide round corners leaving clouds of dust in their wake to billow and drift into our homes, when they would be furious if someone did that to them?

We couldn't believe our eyes.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Stick Family Robinson!

I have a confession to make.

I bought those little cartoon stick-family stickers to put on our caravan! I first saw them when I was in Dubai last year. A friend of my daughter had her family ranged along the rear window and I thought 'how cute'. Then I forgot all about them.

There's a whole range of them!

So, when Rob (jokingly) said that we should have two old toppies and a dog on the back of Gemsquash, I thought 'why not?' So yesterday I tracked them down at the Mall on my way to work at the Hospice Shop. And guess what? Grandparents have just been added to the range! Just as well because none of the other slim, computer holding or fishing rod clutching figures would have worked for us! I bought a trousered gran wearing a hat (I don't, but the other choice was a skirted, handbag-toting gran and that's really not me), and a grandpa holding a cup of coffee. They even have wrinkles, spectacles and a saggy midriff!

Wrinkles, spectacles and a 'boep'!

Choosing an ‘Alfie’ was the most difficult! I was hoping for a dog with a tennis ball, but the choice was plain standing dog, plain sitting dog, dog with a frisbee, dog with a bone, or a fluffy poodle-type dog. So I chose the sitting dog. I debated getting cat stickers and a tortoise one too, but the cats never travel with us and I have no idea where the tortoise is right now!

Now the debate is this: should Alfie be placed between us, or should it be Rob, me and then Alfie?

'Him, Her and Me' says Alfie!

Decisions, decisions!

Monday, 14 January 2013


When we take Alfie for his daily walk, we are always very careful to look where we put our feet! Apart from the fact that if I don’t look where I’m going I end up falling over, there are many things that it is best to avoid stepping on. Things like scorpions! We haven’t seen that many so far this summer though, thank goodness! Snakes tend to move out of the way and snails just make a mess between my toes! We have a range of ants too, from tiny and harmless to fairly large with quite a bite, so when we stand and gaze at the sea we have to keep checking the ground and stamping our feet if necessary. Or yelping with pain and doing a quick ant-dance if we forget!

We also have large (up to 65 mm) shiny black beetles known as ‘toktokkie’ beetles (Psammodes striatus). Stout with heavy bodies and unable to fly, they obviously do a lot of running! However, they frequently stop along the way to tap their abdomen several times in succession on the ground before running off and repeating the process. Over and over! This habit of knocking and running has given rise to a game that children play, called toktokkie, where they knock on someone’s door and then run away!

A toktokkie in our garden.

The male beetle taps to attract a mate and is answered by a receptive female. How on earth do they know whether the ‘tapper’ is male or female? But they obviously do, because after a prolonged exchange of signals, they finally make contact. The females lay single eggs about 6mm long which they place in a shallow hollow in the ground. The long, yellow larvae live in the soil and once they are adults they eat a variety of plant debris like grass seeds and bits of leaf.

He was tapping when I took this photo.

The toktokkie beetles have worked out a very clever way of finding water to drink. In the Namib Desert they dig small trenches to collect the moisture from fog banks that roll off the sea. Others in the same area do a sort of ‘head-stand’ so that the condensed dew that collects on their bodies trickles into their mouths.

Isn’t nature amazing?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

What's for Supper?

Although I do not enjoy cooking, I love cook books! Odd I know, but I can spend hours paging through them and looking at the pictures. I spend ages looking up and printing recipes from the internet, exotic dishes that I have seen done on the cooking channels on the telly. I tear pages out of magazines and once I sat in a doctor’s waiting room and copied a broccoli soup recipe down on the back of an old ATM slip. A couple of years ago I took part in one of those email chain letter things that promise you umpteen recipes if you simply send one recipe to the top name and then delete said name, add yours at the bottom and send off to ten friends. Within a few days, a week at the most, the recipes would be flying in, jamming cyberspace and guaranteeing easy, tried-and-tested, home-made, granny’s finest, mouthwatering ideas.

Right. Easy. I copied out my favourite chicken recipe (‘Saturday Chicken’ for those who know me and have tasted it), sent it off, managed to find ten friends, and waited for the recipes to arrive in my mail box. No such luck. What did happen was this: three friends came back and said that they couldn't find ten people, one said that they had tried this before and good luck, one was concerned about catching a virus, a couple ignored it completely and hopefully the rest did oblige. I finally got two recipes back, one was a lovely face cream using aqueous cream and rosewater and other things, and the other one was a chicken recipe that I swear was mine, simply copied and pasted back to me! And that was it! So, when a friend sent the same email to me a while ago, I sent back saying thanks but no thanks and.....good luck!