Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2015...Here We Come, Ready Or Not!

'A New Year’s resolution goes in one year and out the other.’

Guess what? It's that time of the year.........again!
In a few hours, today will be 'last year' and we shall be facing a new one, 2015! I cannot believe how quickly the years are passing now, I am quite sure that they have removed a month or two, and there are only eight months in a year! 

I love this! (Thanks to Google)

We trimmed, bathed and brushed Alfie this morning, helped of course, by Basil who insisted on sitting on the table while I was trying to wield the scissors round him! And I thought that I shan't do this again until next year! I had that same thought when I was sweeping the veranda, no more cleaning until next year! (But I had that thought in August too, so maybe it doesn't count!)

I agree with this one!

I must admit that 2014 was a good year all in all, I saw my children, our health was good (that is more important than happiness at our age!), and we had some wonderful trips with Hyacinth. (I am not going to mention 'politics' however, that would spoil the whole thing and send my blood pressure sky high!)
And my third grandchild Sasha Gabriel arrived in September, so I shall be meeting him in April when Catherine and I fly to Mallorca. 
Rob and I and Alfie still live happily in our home-by-the-sea doing goodness know what every day, and we hope to do more of the same for as long as we can!

Looking at the cartoon above, I couldn't have said it more clearly! 
Hopefully we have another good year to look forward to.
To all my friends and family, as always, a Happy, Healthy (and some wealth would be nice too) 2015
See you next year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ho Ho Ho!

I am so sorry if this starts off like another 'call back the past'! It isn't, it has a quick reference to the past and then fast-forwards to the present!
'Present' being the operative word!!
When I was small (skip through this next ramble if you are bored with my childhood bits), at the beginning of December every year, my sister and I would be given an Advent Calendar! I think my aunty Julia gave it to us, but that part is lost in the mists (more like fog) of time! We would take it in turns to open the little numbered doors, but we first had to find them as they were so cleverly hidden behind trees and rosy-faced children and snowmen!
Old Fashioned! (Pic thanks to Google)

And they were all covered in sparkly glitter that stuck to our fingers and rubbed off on our clothes and faces. Behind each little door was.....not a chocolate! There was a tiny picture hiding behind each one, angels, a sleigh, Santa Claus, and behind the last one, 24 December, was a tiny Nativity scene with donkeys and all!
Rosy faced children and sparkling snow.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Scott Of The Antarctic!

'Captain Robert Falcon Scott, CVO, RN (6 June 1868 – c. 29 March 1912) was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13. On the first expedition, he discovered the Polar Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. During the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott's party discovered plant fossils, proving Antarctica was once forested and joined to other continents. At a distance of 150 miles from their base camp and 11 miles from the next depot, Scott and his companions died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.'

This excerpt was borrowed from Wikipedia (thanks Google). There is an amazing amount of information about the expedition, and the more I read, the more fascinated I became!

Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Pic thanks to Google)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

As Time Goes By!

I have a few hazy memories of my childhood in England (it gets further away every day!), but my sister can remember for both of us! Some things are as clear as day, I remember wearing a really scratchy dress one Christmas, I remember that the lounge was kept for 'special' occasions! I remember being in trouble more times than I could count and being sent to my bedroom. I remember my first day at school. I remember 'helping' dad on the allotment. I remember dancing round the Maypole (badly!) And I remember that mum had a very special clock that stood on the mantelpiece in the lounge. She called it a 'French Carriage Clock', and I can clearly remember her winding it once a week. One thing puzzled me about this though, as mum used to say that it was an 'eight day clock' but there were only seven days in a week! So what happened to the extra day?

Just like mum's clock (Pics thanks to Google)

She would insert the key into the special keyhole at the back of the clock after opening the little door, and carefully count the number of times she wound it. She always said that she must not over-wind it, or she would break the spring. One end of the key was to wind it and the other end was smaller and moved the hands. I loved to watch the movement of the wheels and cogs through the little windows, but woe betide me if I touched it!

The key.

Then she gently closed the door and put her ear to it to make sure that it was ticking as it was so quiet. This clock timed our lives week by week and was with mum and dad in every house they lived in. I don't remember it ever having it's original travelling case, but dad made a wooden box for it and that kept it safe during moving times. As the years passed and digital took over, it became more and more difficult to find someone to repair and clean it, and by the time mum gave it to Catherine, it was not working. Catherine managed to find a specialist clock man in Johannesburg who gave it the 'once-over' and it sat happily on their mantelpiece counting the hours and weeks for them. Then it got wet! Water leaked through the roof and down the chimney breast after one of Johannesburg's spectacular storms, and that was that! Then they moved to Dubai and the clock was packed up in storage...........until a month ago!

I could watch the wheels through the window!

Amazingly, Catherine found another specialist in Knysna and took the clock to him to see if he could help. He was pleased to see that it had been well looked after and that we hadn't lost the key! (Amazingly, because it was stored in Johannesburg, there was no rust in the workings!) He was also able to give some background. It turns out that it is an English Carriage Clock, not French at all, and was possibly made before the First World War. Certainly before World War 2. It will cost quite a lot to repair, but it is worth a lot more in sentimental value.

And hopefully it will continue to count the hours for them for many years to come.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Darkest Africa!

When I was small, I used to think that Africa was called 'Darkest Africa' because it was all jungle and the sun didn't reach the ground!

Now I know better. It's because there is no power for most of the time. And so the lights don't work.

When I moaned about the power before in my blogs, I started off with a joke. But there are two reasons that I am not doing that this time.

1. I cannot think of one.
2. It's not funny any more.

We have had rolling blackouts for two hours at a time, often twice a day, for the last goodness knows how long. In fact, we have a blackboard in the kitchen on which we record interesting things, like shipwrecks, whale sightings, the honeysucker visit, and 'Eskom Einas'. For those of you who are not familiar with our South Africanisms, an eina is a sore like a stubbed toe, a cut finger, and an Eskom blackout! Anyway, it is happening so often now that I cannot keep up with it and I am going through chalk like crazy. Maybe I should change it to 'A day without blackouts'.

Eskom or Eishkom as I like to call it, keep waffling on about lack of diesel, wet coal, poor dam levels, normal maintenance, turbine breakdowns, etc etc, but to be honest they have no clue what they are talking about and think that platitudes will keep Joe Public happy. But, it isn't working and there is rising anger here. And the new power stations that were promised for this year are still not completed. We are lucky in the Western Cape, most of our things work for most of the time, (and it is still light at eight o' clock) but parts of Johannesburg have been without power and water, and for much longer than the 'promised' two hours! Friends of ours were off for nearly twenty-four hours, no reason or excuse, no apologies for meat that has gone off in the freezer etc.

Down here that would be a good reason to have a huge braai in the street, but the frustration levels have gone beyond that. Traffic is snarled for hours, businesses cannot run, people can't get to work and the economy suffers. Imagine being stuck in a lift for two hours? It's happening.

Catherine whatsapps me when Knysna is off and we are often on the same schedule. We had two blackouts yesterday but friends of theirs in Somerset West were off for eight hours. (Eskom would like us to refer to the blackouts as 'outages', or 'power sharing', eish). This morning we heard on the news that things were improving and we were in Stage 2 load shedding. That was minutes before we lost power, but luckily Rob had managed to make coffee!

Fortunately we have a gas hob, solar water heating, solar lamps and paraffin lamps, and we can braai, so we are coping. This morning we had an 'Eskom Breakfast', Rob made a lovely fruit salad, yoghurt and a sprinkling of muesli! No power required!

Our Eskom Breakfast! (pic thanks to Rob)

But it also means that sometimes we cannot watch our soapie 'Eastenders' and, here is the really bad thing, I cannot vacuum or do the ironing, sigh!!

And I also think we shall be moving forward to the past.........we shall buy a clock that needs winding and goes 'tick tock' and has hands that move round and round!!!!!

That's progress!!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Peace and Quiet and the Dog Came Too!!

Wow, doesn't time fly when you are having fun?

And that is exactly what we had, plus peace and quiet and the knowledge that I had three unread books on my kindle! It's funny, but if I had to sit and read all day here at home, I would feel incredibly guilty that I wasn't pretending to be busy cleaning, or dusting or cooking. But to sit in a camp site and read doesn't carry the same guilt at all! Well, not in my book!! (No pun intended!)

Absolute bliss, a river, a dog........and a book! Or kindle!

Now, I don’t know if this is true of everyone, but the minute we head off on a trek, I start planning our eating stops! So a couple of hours later, close enough to lunch time to be lunch time, we pulled into a little restaurant close to Hermon, called ‘du Vlei’. We have stopped there several times, either to meet friends, or on the way to or from somewhere, and we know that the food is fresh and tasty, and Alfie is welcome! Fortified with quiche and salad and a coffee shake that was so good we had to have another to prove it, we headed off to 'Fish Eagle River Lodge' to be met by the owners and their dogs.

The camping ground at Fish Eagle River Lodge.

What a fantastic place! We had the pick of sites, and we tucked ourselves into the corner, under huge shady blue gum trees, and close enough to the Berg River to simply sit and stare as it burbled past.

The Berg River, We could hear the Fish Eagles calling.

After getting the tent up in a howling gale, we decided not to braai as the wind was just too strong and would put the fire out before it was lit.

Nicely set up and ready to do........nothing! (Pic thanks to Rob)

We had booked for three nights, but we ended up staying for five. It was peaceful and quiet and for us wrinklies, the best part was the fact that no under eighteens are allowed, so it is for mature campers only! Our Malmesbury friends came for a lunchtime braai one day and every evening we walked around part of the farm. They grow olives and courgettes for the local market and their olive oil is delicious with a lingering taste of freshly mown grass. The dam is home to two Egyptian Geese mums and their combined tally of fourteen babies, all bobbing about together and Alfie finally made friends with the farm dogs.

Look carefully and count!!(Pic thanks to Rob)

And then we moved on! Read on!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Normal Service Will Be Resumed......................!

As I write this, the wind is howling and making the roof rattle! We have had some fierce wind in the last few days, the kind that fills your eyes with dust and your house with, well........dust!
But, we are heading away from the howling and walking with heads down and eyes closed for a while because we are going away with Hyacinth for a week or two.

A month or so ago we decided to take a break before the school holidays began because once that happens, we stay here! So Rob did some searching and googling and we found a lovely spot near Riebeek Kasteel, on the river and pet friendly! And, wait for it, for 'mature campers only' and that means no children under eighteen!!! Perfect! And they had space for us, so that is our first port of call.

And it may be our only port of call at this stage! None of the other camp sites emailed back to Rob! So, we may just arrive to find that there is no room for us! Never mind, we shall simply play it by ear.

Because we are away for a longer time than our usual mid-week few days, we asked a friend to come and house sit for us so that Basil especially will have some company! She is an animal lover and so I feel happy and relieved that she is keeping an eye on things. I have already told her that she may or may not see Dill, but we showed her a photo of him so she will recognise him in case he arrives in a rush one evening!

We packed the van today and tomorrow morning we shall borrow a neighbour or two to help us push it out of its shelter! Once we have hooked it up, put Alfie in the car and made sure that Basil is not stowing away, we shall head for the hills!

So, there will be no new reading material here for a couple of weeks.

But, I shall take lots of photos and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Thali Thali!

When Rob is away (as he is at the moment), I tend to not bother too much with cooking. I may grab a chunk of cheese and stand at the kitchen sink staring out of the window, or if I have avocados I whip up a batch of soup at least once a day!! I haven't made it for breakfast yet.......but I wonder what it is like poured over Corn Flakes?

The entrance off the R27.

So, when my neighbour Emma invited me to breakfast on Friday morning, I was thrilled to say the least. The choice was either the nursery at St Helena Bay (always yummy), or Thali Thali, a privately owned Cape West Coast game and fynbos reserve. I have never been to Thali Thali, so we didn't bother to toss the coin! Situated on the R27 just near Langebaan, Rob and I must have driven past the entrance hundreds (well maybe not) of times and each time we have said 'We really must go there one day and see what it's like!', like a mantra!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Goosy Goosy Gander!

It seems just the other day when I wrote about Pieta and the excitement of the goslings struggling out of the eggs.

Newly hatched and tiny!

And now look at them!

Swimming lessons with mum standing by!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Jacobsbaai Junkers!

Do you ever have one of those days where you begin one task and then get side tracked to do four or five different things that you hadn't bargained on doing but were glad you did in the end? And never completed what you were doing in the first place? And if you are still with me after that ramble, well done!

We had one of those days on Friday.

Backtracking a tad, my sense of direction has never been a strong point. In fact, when I drove to Knysna, Rob fixed little strips of paper to the Garmin with 'left          straight      right' and arrows to show me what was where! So, when the lady said 'In. Five. Hundred. Metres. Turn. Left.' in that stilting way she has, I knew exactly which way to go. This stems from my years of teaching Grade 1 and Grade 2 children and standing in front of them saying 'Start at the left side of the page' and holding out my right arm!

So, back to Friday. I decided to clear a piece of garden that has been bugging me for a while. The moles have had a party there and half the plants were dying through lack of soil round the roots. I got stuck in. Let the side tracking begin!

Rob does a Marine Weather Broadcast every lunchtime on the radio, giving the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, cloud cover, sea state, rain, and wind strength and direction. Now, when he goes away, it is my job to take down the information and relay it to the man in Napier, so I have to know what is what. Rob has a fancy instrument for the temperature, pressure and humidity and for the rest it's stare out and have a look!!

Rob's fancy weather station!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Little Doom But No Gloom!

We have had a very pleasant week, uneventful, thank goodness!! Our Military Operations began with 'pops' rather than 'bangs'. We could hear the distant sounds of gunfire, but so distant that Alfie didn't hear them at all! And in fact, with the building going on down the road and the generator running at full tilt to enable them to get through the solid rock below, we hardly heard it either! One week down, two to go!

So, no gloom!

Now to get to the 'little Doom' part!

Rob has a 'mature' figure, like me, he is a little rotund around the stomach area, so anything that flings itself off his fork tends to hit clothing on the way down! A lot. And yesterday, as he lifted the olive oil jug after pouring some onto the salad, a huge glob blooped out of the spout and ended up................yes you guessed it.

I have tried everything that I can think of to remove stains from clothing, I have used Sunlight soap, Dettol (excellent in removing ball-point ink), and ordinary washing powder, but there is always a little mark left behind. So as I was bemoaning the fact to Emma next door, she said I must try Doom! As the name implies, it is a fly spray, a well known and popular brand, and because we have mosquitoes and Rob often uses it, we just happened to have a tin in the house.

This morning I Doomed his shirt, it is now on the line and I am waiting to see if it has worked!

And, who knows, it may just keep the mozzies away too!!

And if it doesn't work, does anyone out there have any ideas for me?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Russians are Coming!

Several years ago, Rob bought a DVD of a film called 'The Russians Are Coming'. A comedy, it tells the story of a small coastal village mainly populated with retired or near-to-retired folk. (Remind you of anywhere specific??) Well, one morning a Russian submarine is spotted off the coast and the subsequent mis-information and rumours make for a very amusing hour or so.

Well, this week we have had our own 'Russian Invasion' here in Jacobsbaai! And at the time it was not very amusing! Read on:

On the 11 October, we received a notice, forwarded to us from the Saldanha Police Station, and we read:

This information note serves to inform you that special operations, including SANDF, India’s, and Brazil's Military forces, would take place in the area used to be the old bombing site. The exercise would include the firing of live ammunition, and bomb blasts. Naval gun fire support would also be conducted from the sea side towards the area. This will take place between the 17 October and the 7 November.

SIX days warning!! (Some of our islands had in fact been used for bombing practice during the '60's and 'Tooth Rock' airstrip was used from the 50's to the 80's. But, there were no houses in those days!)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hop to It!

We are now in the 'getting warmer' stage of the year, having moved out of our rainy season, sadly, and our 'green' areas have a decidedly brown tinge to them. We also have to save as much water as we can, so our gardens are beginning to take strain. And the poor birds are running out of green trees!!

A sparrow on our wire tree!! (Pic thanks to Isabel)

So, believe me when I say that we have no puddles lying around, and our nearest stretch of water is very very salty!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Button Up...................!

No, it's not your overcoat, or your lip, but read on and you will find out exactly what it is!

I have mentioned my sister's dog Boscombe before now. He is the one who is the size of a small Shetland Pony and is as gentle as a lamb when it comes to kittens, remember him with the tiny Phez?
Being the size he is, his tail regularly smashes into things when he wags it, and occasionally his head does the same. Last week my sister noticed that he had a lump on his ear, a fairly substantial lump too, so off to the vet they went!

Phez using Boscombe as a pillow a few years ago.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Insulation Blues!

When we built our house at the end of 2006, Rob asked the builder to please make sure that we had the best insulation possible in the roof. We had 'Think Pink' in Jo'burg and it was fantastic, so we wanted to use the same thing here. With the chromadek (tin) roof and the high wooden ceiling, there was limited space to put insulation, so it had to be the best.

Yes, well. Our builder had other ideas and showed us the 'very latest' in roofing insulation. What did we know? He brought a piece of what looked like cooking foil, thin, silver and obviously cheap and cheerful. Now, remember that this is the same man who, after fiddling very unsuccessfully with the fireplace and chimney to stop the lounge filling with smoke when we lit a fire, declared that he knew exactly what the problem was our neighbour's roof.

We should have known better!!

Anyway, every summer the rooms upstairs become like ovens as the sun beats onto the tin roof, straight through the 'tin foil' and heats the air like a popcorn machine. In winter we have the opposite and once we leave the warmth of the lounge and the stove, every step we take up, is in direct proportion to the plunging of the temperature, so our bedroom is freezing.

The Intrepid Team ready to go!!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Knysna by the Sea!

What a wonderful week I have had! Last Sunday I packed the car and headed off to spend a week with my daughter. They are now 'home' again in Knysna after several years in the desert sand and heat! My drive there took me all day, through small towns, empty, straight roads and beautiful passes that were so twisty and turny that I thought that I may be driving up my own exhaust! Finally I drove into Knysna, triumphant, tired and thirsty. (A very good dry white wine sorted out that problem though and Stuart cooked a wonderful chicken for dinner!)

A layout of the Island, spot P 44, their house!!

At the moment they are staying on Thesen Island, so we went for some lovely early morning (yes, 6.30, gulp) walks. The bird life is stunning, but even though I was desperate to see a Knysna Lourie, and kept my eyes open everywhere we went, I was disappointed. One day!!!

Our first (but not last) breakfast. Look at the view of the Heads.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

More Eggcitement on the Corner!

How many times have I begun a blog with the words...'this is not the blog that I had planned for today but life got in the way.....''?

Well, it's happened again!

Remember last month I mentioned that Pieta the goose had started laying eggs (and very tasty they were too)? Naturally they were not fertile, but Philip has geese at the nursery and they, too, were laying. The difference being that the nursery eggs were fertile, and plentiful! So he brought five eggs home and popped them under Pieta who happily sat, and sat, and sat!

Before the 'Summer Hut' was built.

Up until then we had had wonderful sunny weather, so much so, that Philip built a little 'summer hut' so Pieta was in the shade. Then the weather changed and the rain came lashing down! But Pieta was protected from the worst of it by her 'summer hut' and the roof that angled the rain away.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Curry and Rice x 1025!!

I never thought I would ever say this about Rob.....but on Thursday night he and a couple of guys pulled an 'all nighter'.

I am sure that I have mentioned our wonderful neighbour who cooks for a hobby and regularly feeds hundreds of street people in Worcester, where he lives and fixes people's teeth! To us he is known as 'Meals On Heels', or MOH for short, as, every second weekend when he is here in the village, he fires up his braai at 4 in the morning, and cooks, and cooks, and cooks! And when he has done all the cooking, he delivers plates of it to friends and neighbours! And if it happens to be raining, well, he simply drives his deliveries to everyone and then he is known as 'Meals On Wheels'!

Anyway, every year he cooks fund-raising curry and rice for 'Huis Wittekruin', the Retirement Village in Vredenburg.  (He does it for several Retirement Homes as well as Vredenburg.)This entails an all-night-cook-up and this year Rob and Daan offered their services. On Thursday afternoon Gene (MOH) arrived with a trailer filled to capacity with six black pots and twelve bags of wood. Now, when I say pots, I mean POTS. We have a black pot that we use for potjies and it is a number 1. His pots are number 25, big enough to cook a missionary! (Brand new, they cost R2905....each! Their capacity is 85 litres and they weigh 65 kg. Now work out how much curry they can produce!) These he then off-loaded at the cook-spot at 'Huis Wittekruin'  and gathered  the rest of the ingredients from meat to salt to spices to sugar to vegetables. Then it was home for a sleep. (Rob was not lucky enough to sleep, as we had the men here fitting insulation in our roof, but that is next week's blog!!)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Goodbye Winter............I think!

Last week we had some really foul weather. Huge rain, wind that cut through us like a knife, seas that pounded and crashed through the night, and if we were uncertain about winter having departed, we were reminded of it in no uncertain terms! We even had snow on the mountains inland and every B+B, camp site and Guesthouse was fully booked this weekend as everyone headed inland to freeze themselves daft by playing in the snow! And on Thursday, instead of staying in next to the fire, I had Hospice and Rob had a transfer from Cape Town to Wellington. He set off in rain and arrived home in rain. And in between? Yes, rain!

The Dutch Reform Church in Wellington, built in 1840.

But when we woke up yesterday morning, spring had arrived! A day early I might add! And Rob had to head off to Wellington to pick up the passengers and transfer them to Franschoek. So, I went along for the ride. My camera was charged and ready for me to capture the snow covered mountains, white and shimmering in the early morning light.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Pot Anybody?

Here is a 'really truly' story for you! But no photos this time as I am sure you will understand once you have read the following:

But first, how many of you remember, of have heard of 'Springbok Radio'? We used to listen to it in the 60's, 70's and the 80's and loved the stories like 'Squad Cars', that were (supposedly) true, (ja right) with the deep voice reminding us that 'only the names have been changed to protect the innocent involved' * (Sadly the arrival of TV in 1976 heralded the closing of the station in 1985.)

Our little village is the perfect place to retire, it's quiet and nothing much happens to destroy our peace! But every now and then we have some excitement! Read on:

I have a friend, let's call her 'Susan' * (not her real name!) who lives quite close to us and I see her often when we walk with Alfie. She lives alone (apart from her pets) and is wanting somebody to share the house and help with the rent. A good idea. So, she put an advert on one of the well known internet sites that has categories for just about everything.

And she had an answer fairly quickly from a person whom we shall call 'Jim'*! After exchanging emails, they agreed to meet and discuss arrangements and exchange information. 'Jim' arrived at lunch time, with a variety of metal studs in various places, and stayed for lunch. That was not part of the deal, but 'Susan' was about to eat when 'Jim' arrived. So, after a lot of discussion and agreement about rules, they decided that they would give it a try after 'Susan' insisted on rent up front! Several times. Which didn't happen anyway.

So, fast forward to the following Sunday. A bakkie (truck) arrived with 'Jim' driving and a muddle of household things on the back, including a number of pot plants.'How nice', thought 'Susan', 'someone who likes gardening.'

However, on closer inspection the pot plants turned out to be healthy 'dagga' (marijuana) plants, grown by 'Jim' in the garage of his previous accommodation!

Along with the plants 'Jim' had a sprinkler system, a fan and lights, so the plants could grow in the gloom of 'Jim's' side of 'Susan's' double garage!

'Susan' was flabbergasted, naturally, and simply pointed a  finger at the gate, telling 'Jim' in no uncertain terms, never to darken her doorstep again! Or words that meant basically that!

But, I think this is what made 'Susan' really furious. Not the plants or the fact it was illegal and that was bad enough. No, 'Jim's' parting shot was what really did it. Adding insult to injury, as 'Jim' drove away the words 'What's your problem? The cops would never think of checking up on an old lady like you!' floated back to her!

We are the same age, so I understand her disgust! And horror!

It's enough to make you roll a joint and light up!
Peace man!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Eggcitement on the Corner!

Now, if you read the title this week, you will think that here is another food post! Yes and no! It's more about the circle of life and the changing of the seasons and growing up.........and a bit about food too. But it all ties in as you will see.

All grown up!

I have written many times about Pieta the goose who lives on the corner. She raised the orphaned Egyptian geese and keeps her garden clear of weeds (and intruders!) Every day we look for the special 'dissels' or thistles that she loves to eat and we give them to her as we walk past with Alfie. She has become so used to our gifts that she gets quite excited when we call her and she knows that we always have a treat for her. Sometimes she comes over to our gate and then I let her in to find her own treats that grow between the stones.

Pieta and me, weeding!

Monday, 11 August 2014

'Ave an Avo!

When we stepped off the mail ship 'Edinburgh Castle' in Cape Town in 1959, we were a young, green, immigrant family! Well, mum was green as she suffered the whole trip with sea sickness, and would literally shudder at the mention of food! Dad had retired from the Metropolitan Police and had been recruited by the NRP (Northern Rhodesia Police) for a three year tour. So, we arrived in Cape Town after a two week voyage and then faced a three day steam train journey to Lusaka. (As we pulled into the station late on the Sunday evening, my sister slammed her thumb in the toilet door and we came face to face with a knife fight and two bleeding men! I think that mum was ready to kill dad by then!)

But, I must be used to those words by now!!

When we were shown to our compartment on the train, we saw a lovely basket of fruit, sent, we all thought, to welcome us to Africa by the NRP. (Actually, we discovered later, much later, it was sent to the wrong compartment and wasn't ours at all!) Anyway, it contained fruit that we had never seen before, mangos avocado pear. Now, bearing in mind that the only pears we had ever seen and eaten before were the usual 'apples and pears' type pears, green skinned and fairly hard to bite into, dad assured us that the hard, thick skinned 'pear' was ripe and ready to eat! What did we know? We tried to eat it, dad cut it up and removed the stone and we manfully bit into the hard, bitter skin and flesh. It went out of the window very quickly and I resolved never to eat another one......ever!! Many years passed before mum gathered the courage to try again!

Ripe and ready to eat! (Thanks to Google)

Monday, 4 August 2014

International Day of the Cat!

I have had a really frustrating weekend with regards to the Internet. Listen to me grumble when a few years ago I was learning how to send a text message. Now I get frustrated if Google is not available as quickly as I need it! I was trying to find something interesting to write about this week and I always find something if I surf the net!!!

And this morning I did! I decided not to bore you with the fact that my car needed a new battery, and the grader had graded the roads just in time for the rain. No, I delved further. Did you know that August 6 is 'Root Beer Float Day'? Or that 7 August is 'Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day'? I thought not. Or how about August 9? That is 'Rice Pudding Day' (and I can do without that thank you).

But, this is what caught my eye. Friday the 8 August is 'International Day of the Cat'.

Our dear old boy Clyde.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind!

(This is the post that was meant for last week. Since then, we have had more rain, storms and strong wind, and my poor garden is not looking quite so chirpy!!)

I have shown you our 'tree' before, it's the one we bought in Montagu a couple of years ago. Rob attached it to the house-wall facing the road, and many people have stopped to have a look. One or two have asked us about it, and laughed when Rob tells them that the tree was straight when he put it up! It was the wind that blew it sideways! Then they ask 'Does it really blow as hard as that?'

Our beautiful metal tree.

Rob always answers, 'No, sometimes it blows harder!' 
Look at this tree.

Looks similar to ours, but crafted by nature!

It is just round the corner right on the edge of the bay and gives you some idea of the strength of the wind and how our gardens struggle to stay straight! (Some of the inhabitants also find it hard to stay straight, but that has nothing to do with the wind!!) This last week has been quite a stormy one, with strong wind and seas so rough that the remains of the barge Margaret, wrecked here in 2009, are now barely visible. The night before last we heard the wreck banging late at night and when we walked there this morning we were not surprised to see further damage to the remaining bits. It's only a matter of time before she disappears completely and all that will remain is the wooden cross to mark the place where John Charles Mitchell died. (See 'Margaret Day' in the list of 'posts about')

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sleep Tight, Daffy.

This is not the post that I had planned for today, that one is written and waiting to be shared with you, but sometimes life gets in the way and plans have to change.

This morning we had to say goodbye to one of our beloved cats.

Daffy in the garden as a youngster.

Daffy arrived in the garden as a kitten six years ago, feral and wary. Together with an older cat, (Dilly), he would wait for me to bring food but would never let me near him. Months later I was able to touch him, and then he moved in.

He was always around, he was the one cat who seldom ventured past the front door, unless I hauled out the vacuum or strangers arrived. Then he would streak out of the door like black lightning, only returning when the coast was clear.

Daffy with Alfie on the couch, move over!

He had two favourite sleeping spots, the couch in the lounge and our bed. Every now and then he changed over to the chair in our bedroom, and on winters nights he loved to take over Alfie's bed. Being black, he blended in with the black blanket and the only thing we could see was a white whisker, or an eye. Then Alfie left his bed to Daffy and slept on the bed with us.

Daffy and Dopey on the bed.

He was quiet and unassuming, until Rob rattled the butter dish, or cut a piece of cheese. Then he would come and sit next to Rob and bite his leg until he got a little bit of butter. Every evening he would appear in the kitchen at the precise moment that Rob made his evening coffee. The he would always have a little milk before heading back to bed. He was never a problem and never sick. But the only time he ever sat on my lap, was last Friday evening.

Then on Saturday we noticed that he had not come down for breakfast and he spent the day quietly on our bed. He seemed fine, purred when we spoke to him, went out when he needed to but by the evening his breathing was laboured and his third eyelid was beginning to appear in the corners. Yesterday we knew that he was ill. There was no vet on duty and nothing that we could do until this morning. We kept him warm and as the vet opened this morning, we were outside.

Our beautiful boy.

He had feline leukaemia. He was in pain and there was only one choice for us.

Beautiful words, and so true.

We stayed with him until the end and then brought him home to lie in the garden next to Clyde, our old boy who had come with us from Johannesburg.

Our hearts are spilling over right now.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Wine By Any Other Name..............

I must admit that I enjoy a glass of wine (or two...) in the evening, or at lunchtime when we treat ourselves and eat out, or meet up with friends. For home consumption I buy the 'Casa de Plonk' variety, i.e. 5 litres in a cardboard box with a tap that never ever does as it should and usually results in a tussle and a curse! (I know somebody who once tried to prise the box open with a knife and ended up with wine all over the place!) 
I have two lovely wine-box-holders that cleverly disguise the fact that it is a 'No Name' brand, one contains red and the other holds the white and they have been admired by many people.

The wine box holders.

But, every now and then when people come to dinner, or we are going to visit friends, I buy a larny bottle to take with us. It has to be a screw top bottle because so few people actually have corkscrews now. Then it becomes a case of pushing the cork into the bottle and pouring round it! This usually happens at a picnic when it is far too late to nip back to find one. And screw tops are very handy when there is wine left in the bottle and it needs to be transported. Not that this is a problem that I normally have!

I fully admit that I am a bit of a peasant when it comes to choosing wine. In summer I like a dry white, crisp and cold with plenty of ice, and in winter a red is very welcome but don't confuse me with 'noses' and 'bouquets' and 'hints of chocolate and raspberries with a lingering taste of grass' etc. Words like 'elegant' and 'vivacious' are not what I would use to describe a wine. I would use 'very drinkable', or 'goes well with rugby and biltong', something that can be understood by people like me!! So, as all that wine-speak is lost on me, I tend to check the prices first! We have really excellent wines here in the Western Cape, after all they are produced here, so pretty much anything is chooseable. And then, when I am tossing up between a Merlot and a Pinotage or a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay, I do the sensible thing.

I look at the label and choose the one I like best!

A Prancing little taste! Energetic and sound! And delicious!

The labels are an art form in themselves, ranging from fat people to painted dogs, from horses to sisters or cousins, from tongue-in-cheek to up-market and no nonsense.

And here is the last one I bought.

Poor toad, gone but not forgotten!

Isn't it lovely? I'll never forget that name!
And it tasted wonderful!


Monday, 7 July 2014

Angels On The Corner!

Remember Pieta the goose who lives on the corner? She is now a large lady and weighs quite a lot, as you see below!

Nicola hidden behind Pieta!

And she loves her 'pond' that Emma and Coert gave her.

Her private swimming pool!

Monday, 30 June 2014

When Life Throws You Lemons.............!

You have all heard the psychologically uplifting phrase about lemons and making lemonade when they are thrown at you? I often wonder what you are supposed to do when things like eggs are thrown at you, make a soufflé perhaps? Or what about watermelons? If they are thrown at you, don't worry about making anything, just make sure that you are not underneath one when it comes down!!

Anyway, back to lemons! Or limes and oranges in actual fact.

The 'Before' shot!

A week ago my neighbour Emma gave me some limes. They have a tree or two on their farm and the trees are bearing a goodly amount of fruit at the moment. So, I squeezed them and froze the juice. The smell of fresh lime juice is mouthwateringly good and fresh limes are hard to find in our part of the world. Then Emma gave me some more limes along with some oranges and I decided that it was time to do something more exciting! So, I had a go at making marmalade. I have had several 'iffy' results with marmalade, some good and some disasters, so I googled microwave marmalade recipes and found one that only used 500 gm of fruit, not too much to chuck away if it all went wrong! It actually worked quite well, so I made a couple of batches and added whiskey to the second batch.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Darling Olives in June!

Yesterday we were forced to go on a trundle. The problem? We were without power for the day as some major additions and adjustments were being carried out on our power here in Jacobsbaai.
So, unable to vacuum, do the ironing, bake or do anything else constructive, I reluctantly agreed to leave the dusting for the day and allow Rob to buy breakfast and lunch followed by an ice-cream for afters!! We loaded Alfie and his ball into the car, dodged Basil who was quite keen to come with us, and headed off inland.

Our selection of olive products, yum!!

Our first stop was the Olive Farm and shop in Darling. We have bought their products for years now and loaded the car with a five litre can of oil, a large bucket of pitted, broken olives (wonderful for baking muffins and bread and takes the fiddle out of eating them), two bottles of flavoured oil, one garlic and one chilli, some olive pesto and two jars of marinated olives. That should keep us going for a while and once the oil is finished, the can will make a welcome addition to our collection of tins and things. Alfie was very good and sat while we tasted the new infused oils.

Monday, 16 June 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter.................!

Yes, it's winter and it's cold............and wet! This is the view from the office window yesterday morning! See the rain running down the window panes?

We had 10 mm rain after this storm and two cats were out in it!

However, we are warm and snug inside, thanks to our stove that Rob had installed a few years ago. This was because the builder just couldn't get the chimney right and the fire place smoked so badly that we had to have the doors and windows open to clear the smoke! This, of course, defeated the whole object of having a fire. Eventually the builder told us the whole problem was due to our neighbours roof! After that, he wasn't allowed back and I was ready to kill him with a log! And Rob cleverly found a stove with doors that works every time!

The veranda was awash!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Movies in the Sky!

I watched a wonderful film in April. (If I sound excited it's because the closest Movie House we have here, is in Cape Town. No more pensioner mornings at the local one in Vredenburg!) In fact it was on the plane when I was flying from Madrid to Dubai. Now, I normally battle to see the screen as it is fixed to the back of the seat in front and even with my glasses I am long sighted! And just when I am able to focus, the chap in front decides to tip his seat back a notch or two! So it all becomes one long fuzzy, neck-aching-with-my-head-tipped-back experience. Actually, on the flight to Dubai I watched a movie that the chap two rows in front of me was watching. He was on the aisle seat and fortunately it had English sub-titles that I could read from my seat! I don't remember the title, but it was set in Holland and was quite watchable! The wife was guilty of kidnapping the daughter, very twisty plot! And the husband kicked her out in the end. As he should!

But, back to the movie that I so enjoyed. It was called 'Saving Mr Banks' and was all about the author of the 'Mary Poppins' books (P L Travers, real name Helen Lyndon Goff) and her somewhat fiery meetings with Walt Disney. I shan't mutter on about the plot, but if you haven't seen it, look for it, it's lovely, and it got me singing all the wonderful songs all over again! Apparently P L Travers never wanted the film to be a musical, or to have any animation in it all, but thank goodness she finally relented.

I love the bird handle.

Now, the point of all this is Mary Poppins' umbrella. Not the whole thing but the handle to be more explicit. I know that the bird is a parrot, but it reminds me of our beautiful Blue Crane, our National Bird. I know that the beak is the wrong shape completely, but the shape of the head and the exquisite long neck seen from a distance through squinted eyes, does in fact bear a resemblance.

Our beautiful Blue Cranes

And I saw some on the way home the other day, at least eight of them in the field happily eating whatever it is that they eat. It's wonderful to see them, there were adults and youngsters, and the sight of them just makes my heart sing!
And the song?

'Feed the birds, tuppence a bag, tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag..........................'

Bet you're singing it now!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Congratulations and Celebrations!

I know that I promised a Food Report for my last blog, but cats got in the way as they so often do!
So, better late than never, and before I forget completely, here it is!

Rob and I both celebrate our birthdays in May, and friends of ours have their Wedding Anniversary in May as well, so it seemed a good idea to combine them all and head off to celebrate (commiserate?) the whole lot. We wanted to try somewhere new that was not too far away but one of our favourite places in Paternoster was closed for renovations. So, off we set to Yzerfontein. I must admit that we went with some trepidation as Rob had read some write-ups about the restaurant and they were not very complimentary! But our friends Dee and Daan had been recently and were very happy with the food and service and setting, and as they were the Anniversary couple, we decided to give it a go.

And we were not disappointed! At all!

The view from our table

The setting is right on the sea, and the weather was perfect, the waves were crashing in and one brave lady was surfing! I tried to remember whether it's every seven or eight (or maybe even every six) waves that is a big one, but I kept losing count, probably the wine! Which was also very tasty I might add!

We were greeted by a rotund Jack Russell who took a liking to us all (or was ready for lunch too) and spent some time under the table, but we were all very good and didn't share any lunch with him.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Purrfect People!

St Gertrude needs to sharpen her pencil in readiness for this entry into her Book of Purrfect People.

I have written before about the wonderful members of my family who regularly rescue, foster, save, re-home when possible, keep if they can, put to sleep with aching hearts when sick or injured, but without exception, love cats.

My daughter and her husband are winding up their Dubai days and returning home! (Every time I think of that, I grin! In two months time they will be back on our shores, and close by, in the Cape, only 600 odd kilometres from me! More grinning!) For the last six years, Catherine has been involved with TNR (trap, neuter and rehome/release) of cats in their vicinity. Her own tally is standing at 83 and apart from that, she has fed several other homeless cats and has had four wild 'outside' ones living in the car port. When I was with her last month, she was faced with the heart breaking decision of what to do with those special four.

It was a decision that was made for her. She knew that at least two of them were FIV positive and that is a death sentence for a cat that is too wild to be homed. It means that eventually they starve to death as the mouth sores make it impossible for them to eat and in a weakened state they are unlikely to be able to fend for themselves. If they were staying, the cats would simply stay too, until their quality of life became impaired but abandoning them was not an option.

So, it was with heavy heart that I accompanied her on three trips to the vet. We knew that it was the right decision and we kept telling each other that there was nothing else that could be done, but when push comes to shove, it's hard to take a cat that looks fine to the vet, and come out with an empty basket and a heart that's spilling over. I think that week was the worst one in Catherine's life.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Boots and All!

As you all know by now, both Rob and I are avid rugby watchers. And at the moment there is lots to watch! The Super Rugby is well under way but sadly, my team, The Stormers, are not doing too well, in fact we are lying 13 out of a possible 15, only one place behind the Cheetahs! (At least we have moved up from the bottom.) Rob supports the Stormers sometimes and the Cheetahs sometimes. And the Bulls, but I shan't mention that! I never support the Bulls unless they are playing a foreign team, and then only sometimes!!

And that brings me to the point of today's blog! Rugby!

Last Saturday we watched the Cheetahs play, um, someone, not sure who any more! Halfway through the game I happened to look at the Cheetah's captain's boots! He was wearing two different colours. One was red and the other was blue. Well, I just thought that maybe something had happened to one of his boots and he had had to make a quick change and just happened to have another pair of boots of a different colour in the change room. Wouldn't you think that?

So, yesterday we settled down to watch the Bulls play the Brumbies. We had been out for lunch (my next blog) and were pleasantly full and mellow. The game was well into the first half when I happened to notice that two players in the Bull's team were wearing boots of different colours. One red and one blue. Why?
And they weren't sharing a pair either because they both had the red on their right foot and the blue on the left foot. (I must apologise for the quality of the photography, I was not drunk, I had to photograph the telly!)

Look there, you can clearly see number 13.

Well, that got me thinking.

Was it a case of R for red and R for right foot?
Do they get confused when they are kicking? Has the coach said 'Kick with the red foot man'?
Have they got another pair of odd boots at home, or do they buy them like that?
Is it to confuse the opposing team?
Or, and this seems most likely, is it some daft fad?


Whatever it is, it has ruined the game for me. Instead of watching the ball, I am now firmly checking out the players boots to see if it's just our teams that do it, or if it is a worldwide phenomena.

When Rob says to me 'Hey, did you see that?'
I can only answer, 'No, but look at that guy's feet!'

Does anybody out there have the answer?
And maybe The Stormers should follow the trend!