Friday, 30 December 2016

Cock a Doodle Doo!

Hopefully the title above makes you think of a rooster and therefore gives you an idea of what is coming next?

And for those who have absolutely no idea...... read on!

The year 2017 is the Year of The Rooster in the Chinese Calendar. Supposedly lucky unless you happen to be a rooster. (South Africa eats an average of 2 million tons of poultry a year. That's a lot of chicken! I wish I could have said 'that's a lot of bull', but it would have to be the year of the Cow then.)

All pics are Thanks to Google!

Which brings us nicely to the end of 2016 and the Year of the Monkey, although officially the Monkey reigns until the end of January!

I haven't made a list this year!

Has 2016 been a good year? It depends. No, from the statistics for our road deaths, domestic violence, murder, poaching, rising cost of living, corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, scams and lies that happen daily in our country and about which we simply shrug, shake our heads and sigh and move on.

We have had a bad year as far as rain is concerned and our dams here in the Western Cape are on average 48% full....... that means they are 52% empty, with no chance of rain until May. And no contingency plans in place! Ostriches and sand??

Friday, 23 December 2016

Bah Humbug!

The shopping is done......what we haven't got now we can do without! Our little village is bursting at the seams and the shopping centres are bedlam.

Christmas is upon us once again!

(All cartoons are thanks to Google!)

Somehow, with each year that passes, I feel less and less 'festivy' and more and more like Scrooge and I have been known to mutter 'Bah humbug' (among other things) at every car that races past. It's just as well that I don't use a walking stick.....yet..... or I would be shaking it at people!

Yesterday (Thursday) was the last Hospice shop duty for the year, so I decided to 'nip' (ha ha) into a couple of places to get a few last minute things like special cat food for Morris and a box of prawns for us as our Christmas braai! (Does the term 'chuck another prawn on the barbie' come to mind after reading that?) But, the vet was out of pouches and he must not eat the 'cheap' food because of his struvite crystal problem (Morris that is, not the vet!) They were expecting a delivery, could I hang around for an hour or two, go to the Mall and come back maybe?

No. I could not.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Dirt, Dust and Speedbumps!

When we moved here nearly eleven years ago......... (I have to actually count on my fingers to make sure that I have got it right as I just cannot believe that we have been here that long), there were 11 houses in our road. Most of them were behind us as it were, and so there was very little traffic passing us. That was wonderful, as the well mannered, careful, and (mainly) considerate drivers meant that the dust from the sand road was kept to a minimum. We loved the fact that our village was as a village should be, and we were happy that the roads were not tarred.

Yes, well time has passed and we now have 29 houses in our road!

For the last five years or so, we have had non-stop building down the road, and the attitude of the drivers has changed as quickly as the scenery. Speeding drivers, delivery trucks, builders, plumbers and brick lorries, plus sand road and wind, equals buckets of dust blowing over us and the garden, the cats and the plants, and the bird baths quickly end up looking like an exotic mud-bath at the beauty parlour! At the other end of the scale, when it rains we have a quagmire that makes it impossible to walk without sliding sideways!

A couple of years ago, the Chairman of the Ratepayers Association managed to organise some speedbumps at strategic places and we begged to have one built outside our house! That worked well until learner-grader-drivers (and an irate husband who arrived with a shovel because his wife was unable to slow down and take the bump at a decent speed), flattened it to a mere pimple.

So a few weeks ago we were at breaking point. Rob phoned our local Councillor and invited him to come and see what the conditions were like on a normal day when the wind was blowing and the dust was swirling. Our neighbours had written letters  as well, so Rob was able to hand over several pleas for the road to be tarred. He argued that although we pay rates and taxes, we get absolutely nothing in return. We are like a 'Lost City' (village really), no sewage, no tar roads, no kerbs to walk on etc and really, this was not on!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Confessions of an Addict!

Hello. My name is Pauline and I am an addict.

I never thought that I would ever say these words, admit to friends, family and complete strangers, the fact that I have an addiction.

An addiction so strong that it colours my days, prevents me from doing housework (oh the shame), cooking (thank goodness), sewing and painting. I have abandoned my reading, I have not written a blog for weeks, I have neglected my garden and I ignore the pitiful calls of the starving cats. The ironing is piling up and the wash basket is full. My every waking minute is spent planning how I can relieve the withdrawal symptoms, how I can steal a few minutes between chores to lift the desperation that comes over me to get the next 'fix'.

And what am I addicted to? Drugs? Alcohol? Smoking? Gambling?

None of the above.

I am addicted to online jigsaw puzzles!

There, I have admitted it and I feel so much better!

And, I can put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Rob's sister Bev!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Fish and Mushy Peas!

A couple of years ago we bought ourselves a brand new fish pond. (Can you believe that it was four years ago.......I just had a quick look on the blog!)

Anyway, all has been well with the pond and the occupants, Outspan has not leapt out again, although every now and then we hear a splash and rush out to check! But some time ago our UV light blew (we were away at the time and our poor cat-sitter was locked out for a while...... also a blog entry!) and we have not been able to locate another one, (light that is, not cat-sitter!) It came sealed in the pump unit, so we actually do not know how to replace it short of buying an entire new pump!

And since then, the water has turned from clear to green. Very green! Very quickly!

We have added specially made pond cleaners, both liquid and powder. The powder one tends to get up my nose and I cannot breathe! But, neither seems to work. And as the pond is in the sun for most of the day, it has remained a beautiful pea-green colour and looks as thick as mushy peas.

Rob cleans the filters almost daily and luckily we have rainwater tanks to enable us to top up the pond, as we now have strict water rationing and cannot use Municipal water for pools and ponds.
So, the other day I was at the nursery when I saw a load of yellow water irises standing in the base of the fountain that leaks! Aha I thought, these will help to clean the water naturally, so I brought a big bunch home and we stood them in a bucket while we mulled over how to plant them!

Gorgeous. 

Another 'aha' moment! My wash basket! It has been slowly breaking for years and Rob has fixed it as best he can, but we decided that if we used it as the outer holder and made an inner holder from the remains of the square mesh stuff that Rob used for the door when Kindle first arrived, we could make a pretty damn fine iris holder!

Basil agreed!

He fits in there rather well!

Out with scissors and cable ties (the tools that are used most often for any DIY these days.) Rob cut a few 'rounds' off the basket to make it a bit shallower. We blocked the largest holes with stones, placed the irises in the baskets and then used klippies to hold the whole lot in place. Rob had placed two half breeze-blocks for the basket to stand on and we lowered it carefully (until I dropped my end) into the water.

Filling the pond after planting!

It looks lovely and the irises are flowering, so they are happy.

But the water is still green!

Any ideas before I throw chlorine in and make it a swimming pool?

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Pill-Poppers Rule!

I know what you are thinking!

I have not suddenly become a druggie in my old age, although I must admit that there are many times when my hips ache and my shoulders don't turn and my knees whinge when I am climbing the stairs, that I can easily imagine becoming hooked on pain killers and anti-inflammatories.

But no. This has nothing to do with drugs!

Last week I decided that it was time to de-worm the animals! We try to do it every few months when I have gathered the strength needed to do battle with the lot of them.

I am sure that you have read the 'How to give a cat a pill' followed by 'How to give a dog a pill'. For those of you who have not, very briefly it goes something like this:

First catch the cat. Wrap it in a blanket, don gloves and goggles and tuck the blanket-covered-cat that is by now a struggling demon with claws at the ready, under one arm while with the other you try to trap the legs and with the remaining hand prise the jaws open and flick the pill to the back of the throat. Once you have released the cat, you notice that in the ensuing chaos, the cat has gone 'ptooo', spat the pill onto the floor and has sauntered away, sharpening it's claws on the couch on the way out.

Then it's the dog's turn: Grab the pill, wrap it in a piece of bacon/cheese/ham/peanut butter smeared bread/ sausage/liver paste and simply chuck it in the direction of the dog who gobbles it down and sits grinning at you.

Whoever wrote this is lying.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Starling Surprise!

At this time of the year our garden is inundated with European Starlings (Sturnus Vulgaris). Noisy and gregarious, and eating everything from grasshoppers to fruit to dog pellets, they arrive in a cloud, breed like crazy and then one day, they are gone!

Until next year!

An adult bird in breeding plumage.

Now, we love birds, every kind, it doesn't matter if they are scavengers or exotic feathered beauties. We feed them all. We have four bird baths in the garden and one outside (mainly for the passing canines), and we go through kilos of bird feed and apples and litres of sugar water for the nectar feeders. We have wrestled learner-flyers from the jaws of furious felines, and for a few years running we were unable to relax on our veranda because the malachite sunbirds decided to build their nest and raise their young in a small tree in a barrel for two years and a hanging ornament for one year!

The completed nest on the veranda.

We have erected logs for the barbets and have discovered several nests hidden in our shrubs and trees. We have watched the weavers strip our Dietes Grandiflora leaves and then fly off with bits trailing in their beaks to build in the thorn trees in a neighbour's garden!

They have long strappy leaves that the weavers love!

So, as you see, we love the bird life that frequents our garden. We have recorded over thirty different species to visit our garden over the years since we have been here.

A male weaver in the bird bath in my re-constructed corner!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Life's Great Mysteries!

There are lots of things in life that will always remain a mystery to me.

Things that cannot be easily explained.
Where do teaspoons, socks and clothes peg go?
Why does your nose itch when your hands are wet?
Why does the phone ring the minute you walk out of the room?
Why do photos always make me look mentally challenged?
Why do cats insist on lying on a magazine when you are trying to read it?

And this one:

I was chatting to Emma, our neighbour, over the wall a couple of afternoons ago. Now, this is a common occurrence, we chat over the wall at least five times a day. It is our special 'climb-over-place' and has been specially cleared and 'klippied' on her side for easy access. Our side is right next to the bird and bokkie feeding stone and there are no plants there. We set it up when we moved in, nine years ago and is probably the busiest area in the garden. It is the place where she hands plants over to me and I pass muffins over to her. Feet have passed by that area at least 6 times a day. Multiply that by 365 and then by 9 and it works out to a fair number of times. (19710 to be precise! Plus the Leap years that I didn't add but Rob wanted me to!) Nothing could possible hide there.

The well-used climb-over place!

Nothing.

Then Emma looked down on our side of the wall and said 'What's that?'

Still in pristine condition!

'That' was this little toy fireman, kneeling in readiness to put out a fire that will never happen!

Now, here is the real mystery....... Where did he come from?
He wasn't buried under soil or bird seed or even bird poop!
He was lying on top of the ground. He wasn't dirty or muddy.
And he definitely wasn't there the day before!

We have no friends with small children. Our friends are old and have no children left at home!

Alfie is too old to play with toy firemen and the cats think it is far beneath them.
It is too light to have been thrown from the gate or dropped from a microlight.

We are baffled.

The only explanation that I can come up with is that it was dropped by a bird. We have a lot of starlings nesting at the moment. The toy is brightly coloured and may have been a gift from an errant male to his flustered partner who was looking after the entire family while he was off preening and chatting up the single females.

Maybe he couldn't find chocolates!

Does anybody have any other explanation? Please share them with me.

I would love to read them!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Cats, Clouds and a Silver Lining!

I am sure that by reading the title of this week's writing, you will have gathered that cats come into it.

Yes, they do.

And a guardian angel by the name of Michelle.

A few weeks ago a stray but friendly female cat arrived at The Poleyard. This yard is right next door to Phillip's nursery, and Godfrey at the Poleyard started to feed her. Sage, (the resident nursery cat) was not overly impressed by her arrival, but as long as the food was plentiful, they seemed to get along. I met her briefly when I went to buy plants and she was happy to be stroked and held and we knew that she was used to people and had probably been dumped/abandoned/chased away.
She decided to stay and Godfrey was happy to keep her, but the first thing we needed to do was to have her spayed.

But as you have probably guessed by now.......she was pregnant! Too pregnant to be spayed, we knew that kittens were on their way. We just didn't know how soon that would be!

I saw her last Sunday (18 Sep) at the nursery, looking very pregnant and then she wandered off into the poleyard to have a snack.

Godfrey was planning to make her a little wooden house so that she would have her kittens in a safe place, and he was going to move them into the poleyard so that they were away from the parking area when they were old enough to frolic and chase around.

Last Monday morning (19 Sep) he phoned to say that she had had her kittens!

And where did she have them? Nobody knew!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Brickbat Update!

Well, a drumroll please...................

And the Final Brickbat goes to......................

AIG Insurance!!

This may sound a little confusing to those of you who did not read the sad saga of my lost/found/delivered but damaged suitcase on my return from Spain.

BA damaged it by breaking off a wheel, but happily washed their hands of any responsibility, (they don't cover anything that sticks out from a case, like wheels and handles), so as I had taken out extra insurance before I flew, I decided to claim for the cost of replacing my case.

Funny place to have a wheel!!!!!!!

Now, although it was not brand new, it was only a few years old, and used once a year, well twice this year because I visited my sister.

So, I contacted AIG Insurance (who insisted on addressing me as Miss Hollis!) and Rob printed the claim forms and filled them out and because we are honest people, we only claimed for the amount that we paid, namely R970.

Forms completed, Rob scanned them and emailed them and we had a mail confirming that they had received the forms.

And then we waited.

And waited

And waited.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Eugene And The Garden Elves!

As I sit writing this week's episode, it is raining! Not just raining but pouring and has been on and off for several hours. When there was a lull at about 8.30 this morning, I nipped round the back to check the rain gauge and there was 18 mm so far! I am sure there is more now.

The road is a slide of mud and rain-filled pot-holes and Alfie and the cats haven't ventured too far this morning. Alfie dashed out and sniffed a shrub or two and the cats shrugged and crossed their legs!
And my garden is happy!

Which brings me to this week's blog.

When I came home from my Spanish visit, the beautiful wild flowers that had flourished in between the 'klippies' were beginning to die off. The weeds that had joined them were still flourishing and as I cast my eyes over the garden, all I saw were signs of neglect. Some shrubs were overgrown, there were branches that needed cutting back, we had to bend and dodge sideways to reach the gate and there were dead shrubs hidden under larger shrubs, that needed removing. When I planted the garden nearly ten years ago, it looked sparse and I wondered if it would ever become full and vibrant!

Where on earth to start!

And suddenly it was a challenge!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Viva la Barbacoa!

I mentioned last week that while I was in Spain we had some lovely braais!

This is particularly relevant as we have our National Braai Day (aka Heritage Day), coming up on the 24 September. On this day the (almost) entire country will squint at the sky, test the wind (especially down our way), and check that there are chops, wors, (my favourite sausages are the locally made pork ones), maybe a rump or two in the freezer and of course plenty of beer in the fridge. Then it is simply a matter of building the fire with either wood, as we do, (using rooikrans which is an alien invasive tree but makes excellent coals,) or, grab a bag of charcoal and pile as many bits as you think you will need into the receptacle, light the match and keep out of the smoke!

If by any chance the flames leap up as the fat from the wors drips onto the coals, well, the chap nearest the heat simply chucks beer over it and that all adds to the flavour. That and the odd burnt bit, especially from the porkies that must be really well done!

Rob's braai. Delicious! (Pic thanks to Rob)

Add some mielie pap, tomato and onion gravy and some avocado, and your braai is done!

Simple!

Not so in Spain!
Andrew has a lovely gas braai that they have used a few times. They do have a 'proper' braai built from bricks but it is under the carport and very close to the car so they don't use that one. We had several lunchtime braais and the last Friday that I was there, we decided to have an evening braai. It was the most beautiful evening, warm and calm, so we sat on the patio with a beer and decided that we would braai a little later. Now, let me explain. Evening in Spain stretches to about midnight, as in summer it is still light at 10.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Bouquets and Brickbats!

There are always things that go well and things that don't in daily life and a holiday is no exception! So now I am back from my wonderful Spanish break, I thought that I would share some of the very good (Bouquets) and the very bad (Brickbats) with you!
And the first Bouquet goes to my daughter Catherine for organising our entire trip! She booked the tickets, booked us online and organised boarding passes and seat allocation. She took my arm firmly as she steered me through passport control, up and down escalators and made sure that when I flew home again, her brother took over the elbow steering duties! (She flew home before me.)
I drove out of here with my little Hire Car at just after 8 in the morning on Friday 5 August. I packed my suitcase on Thursday afternoon and Rob and I tried to weigh it on the bathroom scale, with it standing alone! That didn't work as it kept wobbling and it covered the actual dial, so after trying to kneel down to see the weight (and having to crawl to the nearest chair so I could heave myself up), I stood (gingerly) on the scale and Rob handed me the suitcase! My baggage allowance was 23 kg and my case was well within the limit at just on 20 kg. So, even allowing for dodgy scale-accuracy, I was within the limit!
Catherine was ready and waiting, so she took over the driving and we headed to Cape Town Airport! Time we had in plenty, so after handing in our cases we went off to the Slow Lounge (I was her guest!) and had lunch and wine! How very civilised! Another Bouquet for the peace and tranquillity and chilled wine.
We flew to Johannesburg and repeated the baggage and lounge and wine routine before we lined up at the gate for our Iberia flight!
And this is where we met Brickbat Number 1.........
The organisation to get us from the terminal (sounds so final doesn't it!) and onto the plane was shocking! We gathered at the gate well before time, along with our fellow passengers. Time to board and we were all ready and waiting. Six or seven men in uniform (not ACCSA uniforms or Iberia actually) were fussing about moving a wooden pulpit-looking-stand from one place to another. And back again. And forward. And back again. Looking official but failing to actually do anything. Finally the crowd became restless as we realised that if we didn't get on the plane, we would never get off the ground. A queue formed, we all moved slowly forward and by sheer force of numbers, boarding began.
Brickbat Number 2 has to go to Iberia for the worst coffee that I have ever tasted! The rest of the Iberia experience was great, so they deserve a Bouquet for taking off and landing dead on time! I have never experienced an airline so punctual, it puts many of its competitors to shame!
My next Bouquet goes to my Spanish family! Andrew was at the airport and after the usual hugs, kisses and tears, we drove north (I think) just out of Madrid to their home. Even their cat greeted us! I had three weeks of eating, drinking and getting to know the children. (We had great fun putting the animal cards into the albums and swiping the cards through the sound machine). We visited some old villages, we sampled wine and olives and jamon whenever we could. We braaied and we ate out and we simply enjoyed it all.

Friday, 29 July 2016

A Craze is a Craze!

Isn't it funny how a 'craze' begins? And how it turns full circle as time goes by?

I remember when I was teaching, one day somebody would arrive at school with marbles, or a skipping rope, or a spinning top, or a length of elastic and the next day every child would be skipping or huddling in marble games (or picking them up off the floor before a teacher stood on them), or standing with elastic wound round their ankles while others hopped and jumped over it.

And then, as suddenly as it began, it was on to the next craze! Goodbye marbles, hello Mammals!

I clearly remember the Mammal card craze as it involved us mums too! The cards were sold in packs of five from Toy Shops and Newsagents, and there was an album that went with them. I cannot remember how much the cards cost, or the album for that matter, but it wasn't a lot. Of course, after you bought a few packs and it was all very exciting, you ended up with a lot of duplicates. And the obvious place to swap them was school! Break saw groups of intent card-swapping children all searching for the same card, while the teachers on duty made sure that the older children didn't cheat the younger ones by taking ten cards for a 'rare find'.

One of the Toy Shops in our local shopping centre had a 'Swap Box' where you could take your duplicates and look for the ones that were needed to complete the collection. The children would gather on a Saturday morning and then it was the turn of the mums from Monday to Friday! We would regularly meet in the shop, with our lists of up-dated numbers, hoping to find a few and cross those numbers off the list! Cries of  'Yes I have forty-seven, do you have ninety-three?' punctuated the general chat every now and then. It was a social event! We sat on the floor and chatted and swapped and of course bought a few packs of cards as well! My sister was visiting at the height of the craze and she was involved in buying and swapping too!

Friday, 22 July 2016

As Normal Service As Possible!

Hello to all my loyal readers!

I am home again, winged safely over the mountains both ways, thanks to Mango airlines! It's the first time I have flown with them and I must say, they were fantastic. We were lined up on time, filed along the walkways in order and on time, people sitting at the back of the plane were shuffled to the right and into the back door (how sensible is that?) and were strapped in and hurtling down the runway at the very minute we should have been! Going to Durban we had an extremely jolly captain, one of those with a smile in his voice and a sort of casual rapport that made me sit back and un-clench my fists! Thank goodness he didn't decide to do a loop-the-loop over the Drakensberg!

Mango! (Pic thanks to Google)

Rob had organised a transfer to my sister's home in Pietermaritzburg and I was met at King Shaka Airport in Durban by a smiling man with a signboard. The journey took over an hour and I was horrified at just how many huge trucks use that freeway, all jiggling, overtaking, going too fast down hills, getting stuck behind slower traffic up the hills, pulling out in front of us.......you suddenly look out of the window and see wheels and tyres! Scary!

King Shaka Airport in Durban. (Pic thanks to Google)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Fingers Crossed For Normal Service To Resume!

Well.

As I write this, Morris is bounding round the garden chasing birds.......... Normally we would yell at him and throw a shoe or whatever comes to hand, but today we are happy just to see him back to normal.

Yesterday morning we had to take him back to the vet. Same problem, dig, squat, get up, nothing. He had had a restless night and we heard him licking himself every time one of us got up to do what it is you do when you get older!

The vet saw immediately that there was a crystal that was causing the problem and she tried to manipulate it by hand.

He was not impressed!

So, a quick injection and he was nodding off as I left him in her capable hands and we picked him up an hour later. He was woozy for the rest of the day and wobbled his way round the house as he followed the sun. Last night he lay on the couch until we went to bed and then he lay the whole night on top of the hot water bottle..... but on top of the blankets. Basil's nose was a little put out of joint as he usually nabs that spot.

And this morning, Morris wee-ed! He was next door at the time, so Emma our neighbour, and I stood and watched him until he had covered up the hole!

A 'eureka' moment!

Normal Service.

And, speaking of normal service, I shall not be writing for a couple of weeks. I am winging (stomach churn there) to the far corner of the country, Pietermaritzburg to be precise, to spent some time with my sister and her husband. I am really looking forward to being with them and catching up, even though we spend an hour every Saturday chatting on the phone and we whatsapp each other daily!! Nice to actually clink wine glasses!

Hopefully their water supply has been fixed by then, hopefully a plumber has been found and even more hopefully, that he actually found the problem!! Usually it is because the reservoir has run dry! They are regularly without water or power.....or both and unlike our little village, nobody there seems to care.

So, let's hope that all the services have returned to normal, sooner rather than later..........

See you soon.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

If It's Thursday........!

This morning, Morris proved beyond a doubt that cats have an intelligence that is far superior to any other animal on the planet.

Read on:

Last Thursday was 'Morris To The Vet Day' as he was digging, but not filling, holes in the garden and we were worried that he had a bladder infection or small stones in his bladder. I also mentioned that our regular vet had surgery hours every afternoon except Thursday.......................

Our 8 kg Morris!

So, twice daily for the last week, Rob and I have scruffed (Rob) and shoved antibiotic pills down Morris' throat (me) followed by a special paste to help clear up any lingering infection (me), at great risk to fingers and hands! But he really has been a model patient and has swallowed everything that we shoved at him! He has been eating and playing with Kindle, somewhat roughly though I might add, and he and Basil are 'enjoying' a peaceful truce, mostly.

Morris and Basil doing the laundry. (All pics thanks to Rob)

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Week That Was............!

It has been an interesting week!

Sunday was Father's Day, so I did what any loving, thoughtful and supportive partner would do.
I sent Rob into the kitchen with a large black pot and a wooden spoon and allowed him to rustle up the most delicious lamb potjie that I think he has ever made (and that's saying something as all his dishes are Masterchef quality!)

Burbling away on the stove! Delicious.

Monday came and went, as did Tuesday. In fact I can't remember what we did. I know we had some rain, just a couple of mm but it all helped to swell our 'puddles' on the way to town, and we now have two resident flamingos in one of them. They are in water up to their knees, so it is a fairly deep puddle. Now I am digressing about flamingos, and one of the interesting facts about them that I didn't know is that they fly at night! Far and without stopping! I belong to the EWT and receive regular newsletters and updates. The latest one (and I quote) says:

'On the 10th of June 2016 the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) recorded some extraordinary movements by a Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) recently fitted with a GPS/GSM satellite transmitter. This individual covered a staggering distance of 1,069 km in one single flight over 16 hours, crossing the Indian Ocean from Mozambique to Madagascar.
Flamingo no. 27 (a small female) had been satellite tagged at Delareyville in the North West Province as part of the Eskom/EWT partnership’s efforts to track flamingo movements to develop measures to protect them from collisions with power lines. When Flamingo no. 27 crossed the border into Mozambique, she didn’t stop there and instead she proceeded at 7pm on Saturday the 10th of June to cross the Mozambique coast at Maxixe. She finally reached the western shores of Madagascar near Morombe at noon the following day.'
Thanks to the EWT. (End of digression. Is that actually a word?)

Friday, 17 June 2016

Rain!

This is a short but very sweet entry...........

We have had rain!

Lots and lots of it. Pouring, filling the rivers and lying in puddles on the sides of the roads. Turning the yellowing wheat into fields of sodden green and leaving tractors bogged down between the rows of vines. Dirt roads look like muddy obstacle courses with deep furrows where cars have slid their way to their destination.

It's wonderful!

Last Friday it started, actually Thursday evening. I was booked to cat-sit for the weekend for my daughter as they were away, so I set off for Paarl on Friday morning in the murky mist! Luckily there was nothing between Jacobsbaai and Paarl but the closer I got to my destination, the blacker and lower the clouds were until the mountains and the clouds became one mass of oh-oh-I-am-so-glad-I-am-not-flying-in-that!! A rainbow appeared on Friday evening.......

A promise of things to come!

Apparently Thursday night was stormy with lots of heavy rain around the entire Western Cape countryside, and over the next few days Rob recorded just over 40 mm here in Jacobsbaai. Catherine arrived home late on Sunday afternoon, actually just in time for the first (but not the last) glass of wine, and from Monday morning until the time I left yesterday morning, it rained! Sometimes light and sometimes heavy, sometimes with wind and sometimes without, but every time it slowed or stopped, the clouds let us know that it was a temporary calm and more was coming!

The road outside our home in Jacobsbaai!

Their pool filled, the fishpond filled, Catherine had to place a bucket under a leaky spot in the garage, and water trickled under the door on the windy side. The frogs chirped and clicked all day and all night, and we valiantly struggled out to restaurants and shook our heads at the wonder of it all! And had a glass of wine to toast the rain!

The swimming pool!

And then yesterday when it was time for me to come home, the sun came out!

I drove home without another drop falling but all around were the signs of really good rainfall. The Berg River was running strongly but sadly there is no dam between Paarl and the sea, so all that precious water is now mingling with the ocean. Never mind, some good has been done and for a while nobody will have to water their gardens or wash their cars!
Our little 'puddles' on the way to town are full and there was one lone flamingo standing in the water!

Maybe someone heard me moan about the lack of water and answered my pleas!

Maybe next time I should moan about the lack of money and see what happens!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Where is the Rain?

I am sitting here wondering what to write about today.

Do you ever get weeks that fly by, you wake up Monday and the next thing it's Friday? And you wonder what on earth you have done in between?

I actually know what I have been doing though.......praying for rain!

We are really getting desperate here in our corner of the country as we are steadily marching through our rainfall time and approaching our dry, windy summer, without much happening. Our average for April is 39 mm and we had one good downpour that delivered 33 mm all in one go! And that was that! (We were camping at the time......with a wet dog!!) But, last month (May) we had only 11 mm instead of our average 49 mm, and this month (June) so far, we have had the grand total of 0. Nothing, absolutely nothing. (The average for June is 68 mm, July is 77 mm, and August is 61 mm.)

Our collective dams for the Western Cape stand at an average 29% capacity, which means that they are actually 71% empty! Take into account the silt and other junk that lies at the bottom of dams, and they are more likely to be at about 15% capacity! Which also means that many of them are at less capacity than that! And that is extremely frightening.

We are doing everything that we can to save water. Every spare drop is collected in a bucket and then used on the garden. My garden is slowly dying apart from the succulents that are loving the dry weather. The countryside greened up beautifully just before the May rain and the farmers all rushed into the fields and ploughed for their lives. The wheat shot up in a bright green carpet and the wild-flowers started to push shoots through the dusty khaki ground. And we all waited for the clouds to roll in from the sea and do their thing!
We are still waiting!

To add to the gloom, for the last few days we have had a hot, dry berg wind from the NE that has seen our temperatures rise from the usual wintry single figures and low teens, to high twenty's, and we are back in our summer clothing. What little moisture was left in the ground has now gone.

We had some damp days and foggy nights when Rob's sister was here, I am sure she was missing the hot humidity of Cairns! That fog left enough moisture on the plants to allow them to survive, but  that has gone and the wheat is starting to turn yellow.

And still there are no firm restrictions in place! Watering is still allowed at certain times, although most people are aware of the need to conserve as much as possible.

After all, what do we do when it is finished?

Pop off to the local Supermarket?


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Happy Birthday To Rob!

Our house seems empty and very quiet now!

Last Thursday we were invaded by family! A very enjoyable but rare occurrence! I mentioned that Rob's sister and her husband were coming to stay from Australia. As well as Bev and John, we had Angie and Vanessa and Catherine here to represent the younger generation, so we dotted them around in various sleeping areas! Angie and Vanessa 'camped' in the caravan and Catherine had the fold-down-couch-bed in the 'loft'! (Her husband Stu stayed at home to cat-sit so he missed the whole experience), John and Bev had the spare room, and Rob and I remained in our room. And Alfie was confused by the whole thing as he didn't know where to sleep first! And the cats scattered.......

Did I mention the occasion?

Rob celebrated his 70th birthday.

The Birthday Boy!

He actually celebrated for about two weeks, as before they arrived here, he flew to Johannesburg and met John and Bev off the Aussie flight, met up with their sons and partners, and had a huge family dinner on the Tuesday night. Then they all trekked to Kruger Park for a few days before heading to the Cape. The boys and their partners couldn't make the Cape leg so they missed the big celebrations!

The whole family!

And Alfie was bathed and conditioned for the occasion!

Alfie not looking too impressed!!

Monday, 16 May 2016

G'Day Mates!

G'day cobbers!

And the reason for the above? Rob's family will be visiting from Cairns in Australia, so I thought that I would help them to feel at home by slipping a few phrases into the conversation so they don't feel too confused by our South African slang!! I googled (what else?) and found a few very helpful sites and lists, so I decided to share a few with you all. Interestingly, there are a lot of words and phrases that we share with them, so that will make life a lot easier!! (Although, some, on the other hand, are vastly different i.e 'root')


This may be a tad small to read actually!

And here begins the lesson....      

        Arvo: afternoon
Barbie: barbeque  
        Bogan: redneck, an uncultured person. According to the Australian show Bogan Hunters, a real bogan sports a flanno (flannel shirt), a mullet, missing teeth, homemade tattoos (preferably of the Australian Flag or the Southern Cross), and has an excess of Australia paraphernalia. This "species of local wildlife" can be found by following their easily distinguishable tracks from burnouts or the smell of marijuana. (Hmmm, I know where we can see plenty of these people!)
  Bottle-O: bottle shop, liquor store
  Chockers: very full
  Esky: cooler, insulated food and drink container
  Fair Dinkum: true, real, genuine
  Grommet: young surfer
  Mozzie: mosquito
  Pash: a long passionate kiss. A pash rash is red irritated skin as the result of a heavy make-out session with someone with a beard.

No worries mate!

  Ripper: really great
  Roo: kangaroo. A baby roo, still in the pouch, is known as a Joey
  Root: sexual intercourse. This one can get really get foreigners in trouble. There are numerous stories about Americans coming to Australia telling people how they love to "root for their team." If you come to Australia, you would want to use the word "barrack" instead. On the same note, a "wombat" is someone who eats roots and leaves.
Servo: gas station. In Australia, a gas station is called a petrol station. If you ask for gas, don’t be surprised if someone farts. (That happens here all the time, the fart bit!)
  She’ll be right: everything will be all right
  Sickie: sick day. If you take a day off work when you are not actually sick it’s called chucking a sickie.
  Slab: 24-pack of beer
  Sook: to sulk. If someone calls you a sook, it is because they think you are whinging
  Stubbie holder: koozie or cooler. A stubbie holder is a polystyrene insulated holder for a stubbie, which is a 375ml bottle of beer.
  Sweet as: sweet, awesome. Aussies will often put ‘as’ at the end of adjectives to give it emphasis. Other examples include lazy as, lovely as, fast as and common as.
  Ta: thank you
  Togs: swim suit
  Tradie: a tradesman. Most of the tradies have nicknames too, including brickie (bricklayer), truckie (truckdriver), sparky (electrician), garbo (garbage collector) and chippie (carpenter).
  Ute: Utility vehicle, pickup truck
  Whinge: whine

So, its going to be ripper to have Rob's rellies from Oz for a bit. They had the bonzer idea to visit for his birthday, so let's hope they don't come a gutser when they are here. If the weather is fair dinkum, we shall have a barbie one arvo, which makes me think, strewth I hope we have enough tucker and stubbies to go round! And while we are waiting for the grub, we'll have a good yabber! I must remember to buy some chockies for afters.

And we shall celebrate Rob's 70th in style.

After all, his blood is worth bottling!

Hooroo for now mates.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Happy Limerick Day!

I was 'surfing the net' earlier today, wondering what snippets of interest to share with you all this week, when I came across the fact that the 12 May is Limerick Day.

I am sure that everyone reading this knows what a Limerick is and that Edward Lear was the 'creator' of them, but as I dug deeper into my research (ahem, good word that), I discovered so many interesting facts about him that I decided to share some with you!

Edward Lear (All Pics thanks to Google)

Edward Lear was born on either the 12 or 13 May 1812 in Holloway, London. He was the penultimate child of the twenty one (gulp) that his mother produced, and was the youngest to survive. When he was only four years old, he and his oldest sister Ann, who was twenty one years older than him, moved out of the family home because of financial strain, and Ann carried on looking after him. He suffered from a number of ailments when he was young, including bronchitis and seizures, and he had bouts of depression throughout his life. He called these times 'the Morbids'.


His Book of Nonsense.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Rainy Days and Mondays.....!

Picture this.......
Last Monday morning, just home after a wonderful week of camping. The wash basket is full. There are two sets of sheets from the house, a weeks clothing from camping, plus bedding, towels and washing-up cloths from the caravan......and it is raining!
Don't get me wrong, the rain was not a problem. This was, read on....
I looked down the bed to see who was still lying with us feline or canine wise, and saw, near my toes, a pile of something. Something suspicious. A lorry act!*
Now, let me explain *.
When I was teaching last century (scary thought that), we used, among other schemes, a wonderful reading scheme called 'Gay Way'. These were first published in the '50's and updated with new covers and pictures as time went by. The Red Books were the starter readers, then came the Green books and so on until the Violet books. They were lovely, and the children enjoyed the easy wording and the funny stories. They met Fat Pig, Sam the Fox, Meg the Hen, Deb the Rat, Ben the Dog, Jip the Cat and Tod the Giant and the stories were simple and the updated illustrations were just lovely. (I always felt sad for Fat Pig because he had no name, so my classes used to choose a name for him to make him feel better!)

Sam, Fat Pig, Meg and Deb!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Camping With a Wet Dog!

From the title you would be right in deducing what we were doing last week, and what the weather was like!!

Rob heard about a Caravan and Camping park on a citrus farm between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, inland about 150 km from us. So, being up for a camping challenge, we looked at the website and I decided to send off an enquiry. Having a 'No Pets' policy, I was a little concerned that they would simply say 'Sorry'. But, they had obviously heard about Alfie and realised that he was famous enough to grace their property, so they came back and said that he would be welcome! Now that last sentence is not strictly true (you may have gathered that), but they do relax their No Pet rule midweek and out of season.....

So, we booked a site and also booked our wonderful cat-sitter, and on Monday morning we set off. Not as early as we had planned because Eskom decided to switch off the power for a while and I had a washing machine full of towels! Eventually all was well and off we went.

After a few hold-ups (holds-up, holds-ups hold-up) at the STOP/GO roadworks between Velddrif and Piketberg, we arrived at the camp. We booked in and went off to find our allocated site, number 28 with parking on number 27! This had been pre-booked for us because I asked for a shady site overlooking the dam so we could sit and birdwatch.

The dam with waterlilies. 

The entire camp was empty and we drove past beautiful grassed stands with shady trees and a spotless ablution block until we found 27 and 28..........with a tent, a couple of elderly people nicely settled in chairs refusing to look at us, and their towing vehicle parked on the adjacent stand. Our stands! Refusing to move, they insisted that they were told to park anywhere except numbers 24 and 25. (They lied!) So, after much difficulty in the space he had, Rob turned the car and caravan around and we humped off to find another site!

Beautiful site number 18!!

And we found a beauty! Actually much nicer than 28, and right next to the ablution block, with a wonderful view of the stunning mountains, shade and plenty of bird life, so we really owe the 'squatters' a vote of thanks!

The view from the tent.

And Alfie found a 'tennis ball tree'!

He stared at the tree for ages!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Museums and Moneyboxes!

Today we were out for lunch!

Our friends from Malmesbury phoned yesterday to say that they were going to be in the area today, so it linked beautifully with meeting up for a bite to eat! Actually, most things link up beautifully with a bite to eat, so it's never a chore! As they were going to be in Piketberg, we made plans to meet in Velddrif. I know that sounds confusing, but stay with me!

We left home early as Rob had a couple of things to do in town, so, after promising Alfie that we wouldn't be long,we set off. Of course, because we had allowed two hours to get things done, it only took twenty minutes. (That is the Law of Sod.) This had a ripple effect because then we were too early for our lunch date. So, we decided to see if the Maritime Museum in Laaiplek was open. We have been there several times but have never managed to arrive when the doors are open, so we weren't too hopeful today either.

The Museum entrance.

But it was open and we trundled in.

What an amazing place! Read on:

'The SA Fisheries Museum is unique in that it highlights the history of fishing on the West Coast from the whaling history to pelagic fishing and rock lobster catching.  It also celebrates local history, nostalgically interweaving fishing from the past to the present along the coast.
The Museum is housed in a building that dates back to the late 1800s. It represents a time when Johan Carel Stephan of St Helena Bay owned Laaiplek. He established and oversaw his lucrative trading empire at “Rooibaai” right in front of this building near the mouth of the Berg River.  
Looking out over this picturesque area today, one can easily imagine the scene  when Johan Carel’s cotter of more than 60 boats sailed up and down the Berg River to trade with the Moorreesburg farmers for their grain in return for dried and salted fish. 
In Rooibaai the grain was transferred onto the bigger Stephan boats waiting in the bay and then transported to CapeTown, where it was received to the folk song “Daar kom die Alabama”.
The exhibits in the South African Fisheries Museum include a unique collection of artifacts, photo exhibits, processing methods, models of trawlers, as well as interesting tales of the sea and the intrepid seamen who sail on her.' (Thanks to Velddrif Tourism.)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Goodbye Dear Dopey.....

I shall never, ever get used to the death of a much loved pet.

This morning we said goodbye to our beloved Dopey.

Our beautiful Dopey.

He was the third cat to arrive when we moved into our new home, he followed Daffy and Dilly by a few months, obviously lured by the idea of food on tap! One morning he was there, in the garden, wary but not wild, fearful but not feral, and after a week or two of backing away when we approached, he decided that being an inside cat was pretty good!

And he made our house his home.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Happy Poisson d'Avril!

Roughly translated, or not so roughly actually, the title of today's blurb is  'Happy April Fish'. And why, I hear you ask?

Read on!

Today being April 1, it is April Fools Day! The day when everybody tries to make everyone else believe something that is completely unbelievable and then shout 'April Fool' with great gusto!

I did my usual googling to try to find out the origin of April Fools Day and the general idea is that no one really knows! However several sites hinted that it goes back to the 1500's in France. Apparently the French began using the Gregorian Calendar but not everybody was aware that the new year date had changed. Some people kept celebrating around the vernal equinox, so that is possibly the origin. Another possibility is from Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' from 1392.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Hitching a Ride..................!

Sorry for the delay in writing this week, but I was away in Paarl for a few days! I was going to be cat-sitting over this Easter weekend, but Catherine and Stuart made the decision not to join the traffic and go away for the weekend but to stay at home and relax! So, although my ministrations were not needed, I drove down on Monday and back this morning...............

And thereby hangs a tale......

After a lovely few days with my daughter, that included rescuing a cute dog, (Google dachshund X beagle and find a black and brown one),feeding some feral cats, having a lovely meal out and some equally tasty meals in accompanied by wine and telly, I set off home this morning after breakfast at about 10. 'Great', I thought, 'I shall be home in time for lunch.'

And I would have been if the car had not broken down!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Message in a Bottle!

Remember our fish pond?


Rob balanced the rocks round it as a stone wall and it has worked very well for the last few years. But after a few dislodged rocks, thanks to the animals who clamber on them (cats), or lean on them to scratch various parts of their backs (dogs), the whole things was looking decidedly tatty. So Rob decided to do something.

And he found Sam!

Sam the wonder man!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Mongoose Mayhem!

While I was baby-sitting in Paarl, Rob had a visitor! Look carefully at the corner of the gate.....

The grey mongoose peering in!

This little chap (Galerella Pulverulenta) is often in the garden but he has never come into the house before......as far as we know. Rob was in the office one afternoon when he heard one of the cats making the howling noise that precedes a fight! As we do have a few (!) ferals still around, he went to see what the fuss was about and saw this mongoose peering in through the security gate. It left when it saw Rob (I am not sure who got the biggest surprise) and then came back a while later. This time it came right into the house and ended up in the spare room, under the bed! Rob heard a very loud 'clicking' sound from the irate mongoose and found Alfie with his nose under the bed and a cat or two all puffed up and looking highly umbridged!

Eventually it left and the cats deflated their fur and Alfie withdrew his nose!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

No Need to Knead!

I have had a few requests for the bread recipe that I was bragging about last week, so I thought that instead of sending emails and whatsapps out to those friends who read my writings (thanks everybody....) it would be easier to put it on the blog for anyone who wants to try it!!

Remember, this is not my own idea, it was first 'discovered' years ago and then appeared in the New York Times in 2006. The first time I actually tasted the bread was when Stuart made it, and it was truly delicious! Also, I have tweaked and used hints and ideas from a few other recipes, but it worked, so I shall make it again, next time in the cast-iron bread pan that I bought specially!
So, here goes, and the secret is...........don't worry!

No knead Bread.

1. In a large bowl mix 3 cups of bread flour, or a combination of bread flour and Nutty Wheat, 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1 really flat teaspoon instant yeast. Here you can also add seeds like sunflower, linseed, sesame.

2. Slowly add 1 and 1/2 cups (400 ml) warmish water and stir until the mixture looks 'shaggy', mine was still lumpy and dry looking but that's fine. It sorts itself out!

My dough after mixing, looking a bit 'shaggy'.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for at least 4 hours, but can be much longer.

4. On a flat baking pan, spread about 1 tablespoon of oil. Tip the dough onto the pan and with wet hands flatten it a bit, once. I spread some olive tapenade over the dough at this stage.

Ready for the tapenade.

5. Roll the dough up and literally drop it into the baking dish that you are going to use. Put the smooth side down and the 'ugly' side up as that gives the nice affect with the jagged crust. Remember the dough rises and also remember to either spray and cook the dish or line it with baking paper. I didn't and mine stuck a bit!! Sprinkle salt over the top of the dough and also seeds or pesto or sundried tomatoes if you like that sort of thing.

I used a Corning ware dish with a lid (very important), but you can use a pyrex container or a cast iron pan.

Ready for the second rising.

6. Put the lid on and rest it for 30 mins while you heat the oven to 450 F or 232 C.

7. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on and then lid off for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Ready to eat!

Turn out and let it cool....................or not!!

*Now I must add here that in the original recipe, the empty container goes into the oven while the oven heats up. I shall do that when I use the cast-iron pot, but in several recipes the dough went into the cold container and then into the hot oven.The hot container gives a steam which helps to give the bread it's crusty affect.

*Another difference is the first rising time! Some of the recipes call for 1/4 teaspoon yeast, more water and a rising time of at least 8 hours. it seems that the longer the rising time, the less yeast is needed. Also some recipes call for more water which gives a very sticky dough!

But you can experiment with all those things. Google 'no-knead bread' and browse!

Try it..........and let me know how it worked for you!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Bread and Baby Sitting!

Here I am, home again after my cat-sitting weekend! I must say that they were all very well-behaved, they came when they were called, ate all their meals without (too much) fuss and allowed me to sit around reading and relaxing and really enjoying myself. The views from the house are spectacular, the mountains are majestic and the vines covering the slopes look like a patchwork quilt joined together with farm roads.

The view from the patio, vines in the far distance.

'Mum' drove home on Sunday and from then until Thursday morning when I left to come home, Catherine and I explored and found a few new places to eat, and returned to a few favourite places that had impressed us the first time around!

The little squirrel didn't have pizza though!

While I was there, Catherine showed me a cast-iron bread pan that Stu had bought to bake his amazing 'no-knead' bread. I have tried this once before, but the combination of wrong flour and wrong-size baking pan, put me off trying again! But, being a person who loves cooking and baking and getting it right no matter how many times I have to do it (ja right!) I was keen to try again, especially when we found the exact bread pan in their local Builders Warehouse! Add to that the fact that I got a really nice pensioner discount, and I was hooked!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Boats, Cats and Crayfish!

Sorry that this is a tad late, I seem to be saying that a lot lately...

Today Rob and I took ourselves off to lunch. The reason being that we met eighteen years ago, on the 19 February 1998 to be precise!! Mutual friends decided that we 'deserved each other' (we are still trying to work that out...) and finally managed to get us in the same place at the same time. It has been a wonderful eighteen years with Rob, and hopefully we shall celebrate a lot more years together before we shuffle off this mortal coil.

So, off we went to Paternoster to a fabulous restaurant that is literally on the beach. Called 'Voorstrandt Restaurant'  (it really does mean on the beach), it is a bright green and red corrugated iron building that serves some of the best seafood around!

Voorstrandt Restaurant.

While we were there we watched at least fifteen fishing boats race to shore and our waiter told us that they were offloading crayfish! Closely watched by the fisheries men I might add. Each boat was being followed by a cloud of gulls fighting and squabbling over the debris that was being thrown over the sides as the crayfish were being cleaned ready for sale.

Somewhere out there are fishing boats!!!!! Our view from the restaurant.

The sea was a calm, flat line, the beach was clean and empty with a few dogs racing up and down on the sand and it reminded us of the first time we drove into Paternoster, many years ago now. The beach stretches for a good few kilometres and the wind blew my straw sun-hat off my head, onto its brim and sent it bowling along the sand with me in hot pursuit! Right past the restaurant! Once I had retrieved it, we sauntered back with me trying not to pant, and had our first taste of their delicious meals.

Crayfish being offloaded.

Anyway, today, once we had completed our meal, we drove to the beach where the boats were by now empty and lolling around on the sand, waiting patiently until they head out again tomorrow.


And the reason we are not waiting until Friday to celebrate? Well, I am a granny, and grannies babysit.

Tomorrow I am driving to Catherine and Stuart as they are going away for the weekend.

So I shall be 'babysitting' the three littlies.......William, Harry and Jemima.

Jemima is the tabby. William is behind.....or is it Harry?

Their much loved and well travelled cats!

And then I shall stay on for a few days after they return to 'kuier' properly!