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!