Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017

Last day before 2017 slides into the sea and 2018 climbs into view tomorrow morning!
Where on earth has this year gone?
How did it get past me so quickly?

So, being time to reflect on the year as it grinds down, I decided that I would give you a sort of alphabetical list of the things that were (to me at least) the memories of 2017.....

A.. Ants. As the garden has become drier and drier, we have been inundated with the little buggers. They bite naked flesh, so gardening has been a challenge as I have to hop and swipe and curse every few seconds.

B.. Birthday. Yes, I know they come round every year but it's not every year you hit a milestone and this year was the Year Of The 70th! As they say in the classics 'Good Grief!'

C.. Cursing. I have done a lot of that this year, from gardening (see A above), to listening and watching the news. Not good for blood pressure! (see M below)

D.. Dust. This may seem a silly thing but our road remains un-tarred and every car/truck/bakkie/builders mate that hurtles past our house leaves behind a cloud of dust that wafts happily onto the veranda and into the house to settle on everything it can. Then there is a lot of C (see above).

E.. Elephants still under threat from poachers. This leads to a lot of C (see above), and thoughts of gory things that I would love to do to poachers that involve blood and pain.

F.. Fish. We have eaten our way through many kilos of hake. Battered, crumbed, grilled or fried, we eat hake at least four times a week. My favourite fish is any that I have not had to cook and especially the hake from St Helena Nursery and Coffee Shop!

G.. Garden. I have watched much of my garden die this year from a serious lack of water. But it has led to clever 'dead' areas of the garden being re-modelled with klippies and pots and a bench. The latest invention is... a wooden 'lugtoring' or lighthouse, complete with solar lights! A boer maak 'n plan!

H.. Hiccups. Have you noticed that you can go for weeks, months without having hiccups? Then suddenly they arrive three or four times in one day and leave you exhausted and fed up? Drink water from the wrong side of the glass... works every time!

I.. Influenza. Avoided that this year, again, thanks goodness. We had our 'flu jabs at the start of the season and wore garlic round our necks when we went shopping!!

J.. Jacobsbaai... what else! But sadly our little village has grown and crept over areas that we were told would never be developed. It has doubled in size, at least, since we moved here nearly eleven and a half years ago. Hence the cursing at builders and all associated with them. But also, the new houses are all huge monstrosities that cover every inch of plot and certainly do not follow the 'quaint fisherman type accommodation' that was the whole idea in the first place!! But having said all that, it is still the best place to live!

K.. Klippies or little stones. I must have bought several tons of these this year to spread over the re-modelled bits of my garden!

L.. Lekker by die see..... roughly translated means 'lovely at the sea', but it is one of those wonderful Afrikaans sayings that just do not translate!

M.. Medical Stuff. Yes, as we get older we visit the doctor more, and worry about our heart and bowels! Blood pressure medication, cholesterol pills, heartburn muti, we carry it all around with us, terrified to miss a day! We have a wonderful doctor, I love going to see him as we have a good chat and a laugh and I can hear him mentally adding up how much more he now has towards fixing the wind-pump on the farm!

N.. Neighbours. I have mentioned our wonderful neighbours before. Where or who else, could you phone with a request for something important that you forgot to buy and know that they are either on their way to, or in, or just near enough to turn round and head back to, our local Pick n Pay? Emma, I thank you for all the chats, gifts and laughs that we have enjoyed this year, over the wall!

O.. Oyster Catchers. We have these beautiful black birds with their bright red beak and legs here in our baai. They nest on the beach and among the rocks on the little islands offshore and we hear their squeaky-toy call daily. They are one of the many different bird species that grace our village and we are truly lucky to see them.

P.. Politics...... there is nothing nice that I can say about our 'great' politicians, from the president down. In fact, enough said. (See M and blood pressure.)

Q.. Quiet. One of the reasons we chose to live here is for the peace and quiet that we enjoy throughout the year. Even though our village has grown, there are still no shops (apart from a little keffie), no bottle stores, no garages, no schools, no through-road to anywhere else, so apart from the three short weeks over the Christmas period, our quiet remains.... and long may it do so!

R.. Rob. Another year of laughs and companionship and damn fine soup! We have been together since February 1998, so we are a couple of months off our 20th anniversary, and in the words of the old old song 'And it don't seem a day too much...' With 2018 coming up, we hope to enjoy more of the same, plus more trips in the caravan with Alfie to distant lands (not too distant as Alfie doesn't have a passport!)

S.. Shrinkflation. A lovely word (but not the concept) this! It crept up on us un-noticed until it was mentioned on the radio. So, we now have things like this; a 2 litre tub of ice-cream is now only 1.8 litre at a higher price, a 3kg bag of Friskies cat food is now 2.9 kg, but the price has gone up from R114 to R144....... these are just two examples but to focus on it leads to another S word, stress, and that leads to C and M (see above).

T.. I just asked Rob what I could do for T... his answer? Scones!! I should have known better!

U.. Umbrella. We have several of these gathering dust. Unused this year, and for several years before this, we have children now asking what they are and what they are used for.... Maybe I could use them for bird feeders or pot-plant holders.

V.. Visitors. Lovely lovely family and friends! I just need my sister to come to see us now..... Rob's daughter and partner left just yesterday after a flying visit, and tomorrow I am driving to Stellenbosch to my daughter, and then... joy of joys, we are meeting my son and two of his three gorgeous children! (We shall miss Irina and Sasha, but hopefully next time). A wonderful week of having my kids together and I can't wait! I know that really this is taking place next year.... but I am stretching the rules. After all, it's my blog!

W.. Water. The word that is on everyone's lips here in the Cape. We are in a crisis situation with dams close to empty. The taps will run dry sometime in April unless we have 3 years of above average rainfall before then. And seeing that our rain is only expected in May (if then), we are in deep s**t. Here on the West Coast, our annual average rainfall is 422 mm, but this year we only had 179 mm. Rob and I are saving every drop that we can, we have funnels and 2 litre plastic bottles in the showers to collect the first cold water. We collect washing water for the garden, and we are wearing our outer clothing more than once. We have dropped our consumption to 3 kilolitres,that is about 50 litres each daily. As my friend says 'I have a bucket list.. a bucket in the shower, one in the kitchen......'

X.. X-ray. My thumb is excruciatingly sore. I cannot bend it at all, so I may need one of these soon.

Y.. Yell. This is what you do several times a day if you see the following; a snake, a scorpion, a cat bringing a live mouse into the house, speeding drivers who raise a cloud of dust behind them (see D above), or if you want to attract your neighbours attention to ask them to please bring a small plain yogurt home from Pick n Pay because you forgot it even though it was written on the list. But the list was left at home, hence the need to yell. (See N above).

Z.. Zuma. This ties in well with Y and P and M, especially the blood pressure. Hopefully by next December 31 he will be history......

Happy New Year Everyone!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Santa Paws Is Coming To Town!

Surprise! Surprise?

This morning I decided to get my A into G and write a blog before the end of the year! It actually took me a few minutes to remember how to do it... but never mind, I forget things easily (especially how to sweep and dust... and cooking is fading fast) these days.

So I thought that as left you hanging last time, surely desperate to hear how things are going/went with Santa Paws, the least I could do was to update the news!

I had great fun filling my bags! Food, toys (a home made catnip rabbit, sadly minus the catnip as I didn't have any), useful articles and blankets all went in, and I proudly put them into the spare room, idly wondering if the room would be large enough to hold all the bags once they came pouring in.
And slowly, slowly the bags began to trickle in.

It was great fun shopping for all the bits and pieces for my two bags, and then four beautifully presented bags arrived. My friends rallied round and helped my final tally to..... drum roll......14... yes, fourteen bags are now ready for me to deliver to the beneficiaries in this area. They are neatly placed in the spare room and although I wish there were more, I think fourteen is a pretty good number for the first time. (Note just through from the Admin at Santa Paws..... they have 120 bags for Ronel!!! That is amazing!)

Both Alfie and Basil have been great helpers.. Alfie spent a lot of time sitting staring into one bag. I finally went to look and there was a beautiful new tennis ball!

Basil on the other hand, just wanted to climb into every bag and there were all kinds of rustling and scrabbling noises for a while!

Will I do it next year?

That's for sure... I am hoping for at least 30.......

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that Santa Paws visits you too.

I am so sorry but I cannot upload the photos that I wanted to show you. I am doing all the right moves, but it simply refuses to put the photos in the text!! Highly frustrating!! HELP!!!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Santa Cause For Paws!

Being the beginning of October, we shall soon be hearing the strains of 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Mary's Boy Child' accompanying our trundle round the shopping centres, as we gaily fling pasta and dog food into our trolleys. The cashiers get into the spirit too by wearing jolly red hats with white pompoms and bells, but it certainly does not help when each week every single item is up by at least 20%.... and we are told that inflation is actually on the decrease..... ha ha and Merry Rubbish!!

So, I had a pleasant surprise when I meandered my way through Facebook a few weeks ago and saw a post for 'Santa Cause for Paws'. Having never heard of it, but extremely interested in anything to do with animals, I delved further.

(All the photos are thanks to the Official Santa Cause for Paws Facebook page.

And I was hooked!

This is an easy and fun way to give a gift to an animal in a Shelter, or to an organisation like SPCA... and this year to our own 'Animal Lighthouse', here in Vredenburg. All you have to do is go onto their Facebook page, just search for 'Santa Cause for Paws', and follow the instructions. Pledge a box for a dog, cat, puppy or kitten, and you will receive an email with a printable label that must be attached to the box before the box is dropped off at the nearest drop-off place. On the label is a list of goodies to be included, namely: two food items, something warm like a blanket, a toy, something useful like a bowl or flea treatment or a collar for a dog and an item for the staff like food (non-perishable of course!)

The goody-box check list.

Easy so far......But, when I went on to pledge my box, the nearest drop-off point was in Cape Town, some 120 kms from us. So, I decided to send a message to the organisers and ask if there was a closer place seeing as our Shelter was one of the beneficiaries this year.

And that started a lovely chat between 'them' and me! And as there was nowhere closer, I volunteered to be a Western Cape drop-off point.

How could you resist this little face?

That is when I had my second brainwave (the first being to make a pledge). I asked Phillip if he would be happy to be a drop-off too as everyone around here knows Scotts Kwekery (Nursery) and it is on the main road, not tucked away like our village is!

Well, after much to-ing and fro-ing between me and... AUSTRALIA... yes, that is where the girl who started the 'Santa Paws' movement lives now (she is ex-Johannesburg.... one of thousands), I am now officially a drop-off point, as is the nursery, and the town of Vredenburg is now listed on the official drop-off list! All very important!

See, everyone enjoys a gift!

So I am now collecting my goodies for my boxes (one cat and one dog) and must head to the mall to gather all sorts of interesting items.

I may even sing along to Boney-M.......

I just hope that a lot more people pledge for this area, or I shall be delivering only my boxes!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Mossie vs Malechite!

I am sure that everyone knows by now that Rob and I are avid bird-watchers! Not the serious twitching ticking off lists and peering through binoculars type, but the meander round the place and enjoy what we find type. We love the comings and goings of several different species in the garden and go through tons of bird seed and fruit a year, kilos of sugar for the nectar feeders, and I have also just discovered suet...... but the shops in Vredenburg haven't yet!!

So when the Malechite sunbirds decided to build their beautiful nest in the ficus tree in the wine barrel in the corner of the veranda, we were thrilled! We were a little worried about the cat-flap being a metre or so directly beneath it, but we are always around to deter the feline members of the family, and the birds are far more clever than Morris!!

So for about ten days we watched the sunbirds gather all the cobwebs that they could find from the corners of the windows outside (now do you see why I do not clean??? Think of all the nesting material that would be destroyed if I sallied forth with a broom?) Day by day the nest developed into the shape and size necessary, and the female lined it with feathers, fur and bits of cotton.

The beautiful Malechite nest

And she laid an egg!

Now, on the other side of the veranda just under the tin roof, the mossies (House Sparrows) have built their nest. This is an untidy collection of bits and pieces of grass, twigs and leaves and if it falls or blows down, they simply re-build it it. I admit that they got there first, but there is room for everyone, and all seemed peaceful.

The Cape Sparrow nest, somewhat messy.

Until this morning.

I heard the sunbirds calling and the mossies shouting, but thought nothing of it until I suddenly realised that it was a lot louder and more aggressive than I realised.
The mossies were intent on destroying the Malechite's nest and were actually pulling bits off it. The poor sunbirds were hovering and trying to chase the mossies away.

And then I heard an odd 'plop' sound.

When I went out to check, I saw the egg on the tiles unnder the nest, smashed of course. The mossies had pulled or pushed the egg out of the nest. I could see the yolk and the bits of broken shell. To add to the confusion, a pair of Lesser Double Collared sunbirds arrived to see what was happening and they stayed for a while, almost commiserating with the Malechite pair.

The mossies are still trying to evict the sunbirds, and the female knows that they had something to do with her missing egg because she has been checking their nest.

Rob and I keep going out to chase the mossies off, but I have a feeling that they will carry on until the nest is destroyed.

I am angry and sad and surprised. I really did not think that birds could behave so badly.

I thought that was reserved for humans.....

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Spring and Things!

So, here we are, in theory winter is over, spring is officially here, and we can look forward to a long, hot, dry slide into Christmas and 2018!!

Scary isn't it?

Anyway, before we all get maudlin, let me bring you up to date on The Week That Was.
I think I mentioned that I wanted to make a house for the cats? For Juniper (fixed), Jasmine (read on), and Jennifer (to be fixed). I started looking round for suitable containers and eyeing the wheelie bins that had been left on the road after bin collection, working out which one I could 'borrow' for a very good cause.

Then, suddenly, problem was sorted. Emma and Coert (our wonderful neighbours), had a small kennel that was not being used and they were happy to give it to me. So, round it came in a wheelbarrow and I cleaned it out, lined it with a couple of large empty birdfood bags, a piece of carpet (brand new) and a fluffy blanket (ditto). Rob and I drove round the corner and placed it in the corner of the garden where the cats seem to hang out.

It's beautiful, waterproof and warm.
And I think that they are using it because l have seen Juniper sitting just outside the doorway very often at food delivery times.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

National Dog Day!

Today, Saturday 26 August, is National Dog Day.

Our four-legged-friends special day, a day set aside to think about all the ways in which we can celebrate their help, love and friendship. The guide dogs, the sniffer dogs who head into dangerous territory without thinking, the dogs who 'know' when their owner is about to have a seizure, and the everyday much loved stay-at-home spoilt dogs.

Like our Alfie!

But, it is also a day when we think about all the homeless dogs, the dogs in shelters all over the world, the abused, hurt, abandoned, starving dogs and the sad dogs who are only used  for 'backyard breeding'. A pox on the owners.....

Since joining Facebook, I have 'liked' and followed, several Animal Shelters who do amazing work with limited funds, limited people and limited time! I have laughed, cried and cursed. I have shared and deleted, I have added comments and emojis.

I follow shelters who specialise in rescuing Donkeys, Birds, Cats and Dogs, Carthorses, Baboons and exotic smuggled animals.

I have put my comments under photos of horribly abused animals, and fat slobs who think it is great fun to shoot canned lions, (when are tourists going to realise that those cute lion cubs they like to have their photos taken with will most likely end up as cannon fodder for some rich idiot from overseas), and circuses who still use animals in their acts (although they are becoming few and far between, thank goodness!)

So, sorry for the ranting, but this brings me to my topic!

We have had the honour of Alfie's presence in our home for going on 11 years now. My sister was visiting in January 2007 when we saw him running in the middle of the road in town. We stopped and picked him up, a hairy, filthy, matted soul, terrified and confused, and took him to the vet in town. Of course he had no collar, no identification. She assured us that she would keep him, look after him until he was claimed, failing which, she would send him to the local boarding kennels on a farm.

Of course when we got home we told Rob all about this little dog, and he casually asked, 'So, what do you want to do about it?'
The vet was phoned with instructions to clean him up, give him his injections (we knew it was a 'him' by carefully feeling underneath when we first picked him up!), and I would be in to fetch him the very next day!

Alfie, I think this was his first day home with us!

When we went back to fetch him, the vet brought out this tiny little dog!
'That isn't the dog I brought in' I said.......
'Yes, it is him, we had to shave him' was the reply!

He came home and has been Rob's constant companion since that day.

The Loyal look... waiting for a little nibble....

We bought a caravan so he could come on holiday with us.....

Alfie camping!

He has been good for us, making us walk every day! He has never been sick, but we notice now that his eye is clouding and he cannot jump over the gate as easily as he once could. He had a tooth removed a little while ago, and has a few soft lumps that the vet assures us are not malignant and can remain.

The windswept look!

We are growing old together, Alfie, Rob and me.

But, as today is National Dog Day, he will have a special supper!

But for Alfie..... every day is the Day of the Dog.

I wish everybody who has a dog, could say the same.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Trundle And A Train!

Today we went on a trundle!
The flowers are just beginning to open, in fact we had a wonderful show of rain daisies this week, a day after our 5 mm rain. Talking of rain, this month we have had 16 mm compared to the average August total of 71 mm..... so we have a loooong way to go and time is running out. The farmers (them what knows weather), keep insisting that the big rain is coming, but we are getting tired of hearing it, just as we are getting tired of  'plans are in place to bore holes, start desalination and recyle grey water' given out daily by the City of Cape Town. Our dams are now at 31% full compared to last year's 53%, 89% in 2015 and 105% in 2014 in August. And still our precious water is being abused.
Some rain daisies... our fields are a mass of white now.

Anyway, back to today.
Rob and I just love steam trains! In fact we love trains, period, but here in SA our lines stand overgrown and our rolling stock is rusting away in various places around the country. The beautiful old Railway Stations have been vandalised and destroyed, except for a few that have been rescued privately and turned into restaurants.
So when Rob heard about a steam train coming from Cape Town, up the West Coast and passing through places close to us on the way, we started planning a trundle to find it and take some photos and just stare! And wave at the driver! The special train bringing flower-spotters on a flower-spotting tour, would begin it's journey in Cape Town, wind it's way to Malmesbury, then on to Moorreesburg, then Piketberg for an hour stop, then on to Graafwater where it would overnight before doing a quick trip tomorrow, back to Graafwater and home again on Sunday.
The original sign. 107 miles to Cape Town.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Cat-Trap Update!

I thought that I would follow-up on my last rambling writings as I left you kind of in the lurch. I had the trap, my daughter was due to arrive and hopefully I could report some positive news!

Read on!
As Tuesday 8 August was the International Day of the Cat, this report back about cats seemed to tie in very nicely. The International Day of the Cat was started in 2002, and August 8 is the Day! In this house, every day is the day of the cat, so Tuesday slid by without being noticed!! At that stage we were making sure that the abscess on Morris' head was clean and that we were managing to shove the antibiotic down him morning and evening. (I bless the pill-popper every time I use it!)

Anyway....digression time there as usual!
Catherine has trapped many cats in her time in Dubai, so she took charge. We decided to trap in the early morning so that we could get the patient to the vet early and have her awake by the time we picked her up later in the day. Also, we didn't want an awake and agitated feral spending more time in the trap than was necessary. So, 6.30 on Thursday morning last week (gulp, still dark), we grabbed torch, dish with tuna, trap, blanket and a cable tie to close the 'front' door once we had placed the dish with tuna inside and crept past the still sleeping houses and into the garden where I always put the food. Catherine set the trap while I stood watching and holding the torch for her, she covered it with a blanket, and home we came for coffee and breakfast (thanks to Rob!)

After breakfast Catherine went back to see if we had caught anything.... yes! There was a tabby in the trap, quietly crouching and warily watching!

We loaded the trap into the car and set off to the vet! I was elated that it had been so easy, Catherine popped my bubble by calling it 'beginners luck'!

The vet was in darkness!!! No operation. They didn't know what the problem was, but until it was fixed they couldn't help us..... come back tomorrow!
We left and trekked off in thick mist to find the other vet!

They were open, had power and yes they could (and did) help, so we dropped our little terrified tabby and headed for the Hospice Shop as Thursday is my volunteering morning! When we returned to the vet later in the afternoon, (after a delicious lunch of fish and chips and salad at the nursery in St Helena Bay), our little soul was still very drowsy, so we decided to leave her in the trap overnight in the garage, covered with a blanket with food and water available.

By now I was ready to catch another one!

So, Friday at 6.30 (eish) we carried our still occupied trap, plus the torch, food, etc back to the feeding station and let her out! Off she went, none the worse for wear and we re-set the trap and went home!
When we returned an hour later...success! There was another catch!

Except this time, instead of a feral that we wanted, we had caught the cat who lives next door! And he was furious! I have never seen such an angry cat. He spat and growled, his tail was puffed like a bottlebrush, and if looks could kill both Catherine and I would have dropped on the spot!
He shot off home to tell everyone about his adventures!

So we went home empty-trapped.

Catherine went home later on Friday, and I have tried this week alone. With no luck. I was going to try again yesterday but there was rain in the forecast (yay yay yay) so I am leaving it till next week.
Juniper (the patient) is fine, I have seen her a few times when I feed, so hopefully I shall catch Jasmine and Jennifer next week. Why all the J names? After Jacobsbaai of course! (My sister said I should have called them January, June and July. Guess Jan, June and Julia would have worked!)

Fortunately Michelle does not need the trap at the moment, so hopefully I have time to catch before they are 'in trouble'.

Now I am planning to make a little house for them from a wheelie bin. I shall cut a hole in the lid, lie the bin on its side with the lid closed and have blankets inside. I think it will make a super house.

Next step..... steal a bin!!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Cat-Trap Boogie!

I know that I have mentioned before (several times I bet), the fact that we have several pre-owned cats living loose and fancy free in the village. I know for a fact that many of them were simply left behind when the owners moved, and others have been especially brought into the village and dumped.
Disgusting behaviour? Yes. But sadly that is what I expect these days from the so called humans who live here.

And of course, these cats roam around until they find somewhere to settle, usually in someone's garden...... we have Blackjack who has lived here for a couple of years and who comes regularly every evening for his plate of Friskies! He is neutered and therefore cannot chase the ladies and leave offspring scattered around! And our three ex-pre-loved cats have accepted him, although he has still not accepted Rob and me. He still hisses and scuttles backwards out of our reach when we put his food down! One day maybe......

Blackjack having supper!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Pajamas and Jam!

You could be forgiven if you think that this post is all about me having breakfast in bed...
But it's not!

There are some things in life that just go together, a book shop with a coffee shop attached where you can read while you eat cake. Or a laundromat with a pub attached (we saw those in Ireland.. so sensible) where you can have a glass or two while the washing does its thing in the back room!
But, until last week, I would never have put the following together... a restaurant and a ....scrapyard!
I went to Stellenbosch to 'baby-sit' my daughter's cats for a few days while they were away game driving (and making everyone jealous) in Kruger Park. I spent a happy time knitting and reading and having the odd glass of wine until she returned on Sunday. And then I 'kuiered' ('visited' is about the closest English word) for a couple of days catching up on some eating time!

And one of the places we went to was exactly what I said.. A restaurant called 'Pajamas and Jam' (I am still not 100% convinced that that is the correct spelling of Pyjamas) with a Scrapyard attached.... or if you prefer, a scrapyard with a restaurant attached!

See the helicopter on top?

On the top of the building was this US Navy helicopter, I had to send the photo to Rob who is fascinated by anything that flies. He wants to put the photo on the Avcom forum to see if anyone knows anything about the history of this 'bird'. How did she end up on top of a building in Somerset West, just outside Cape Town?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Fun With Floyd!

Last week we went camping!

For ages we have been thinking and planning and deciding whether to hire a Mobile Home and spend a week trundling from camp to camp, spending one night at a time and moving on each day. We wanted to see whether we preferred a Mobile Home to the caravan, so Rob did some homework and sent off an enquiry to see what the costs etc would be.

Back came a very nice mail confirming that the dates we wanted were indeed available, and after Rob had deposited R48 000 (that is forty-eight thousand rand) into their account (for insurance you understand, returnable when we dropped the vehicle back), we could organise a day to come and have a quick lesson, pick it up, and drive off into the sunset.

As you can imagine, we abandoned that plan and loaded up our trusty Hyacinth!

The campsite we chose was one of our very favourites, 'Koningskop' on a working citrus and rooibos tea estate. We went there last year, and vowed to return!

So, last Monday we rolled into camp just after lunch (a brilliant burger at Piketberg), and went straight to the site that we had last time. Grassy, shady and right next to the all important Ablution Block!

Home sweet home! Ablution block to the right!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Hee Haw!

As you may have guessed from the title, this post is about donkeys!

Today is World Donkey Day!

This comes at a time when donkeys are facing increasing danger from....guess who? The same people who believe that rhino horn can help with sexual enjoyment and are happy to receive poached horn, the same people who enjoy smuggling abalone out of the country, the same people who will happily eat dogs and cats, the same people who are extremely friendly with the government of this country.

Are you with me? Nudge nudge wink wink.

Donkey skin seems to be the next item on their Shopping List and they don't care how it is obtained. These gentle animals are subjected to unspeakable pain and suffering. Skinning alive seems to be the quickest way to obtain the skin and sadly in South Africa, money speaks louder than any human kindness to many people. I don't care how poor or hungry a person is, there is absolutely no excuse or reason for cruelty to any animal. Or child.

Sickening. (All photos thanks to Karoo Donkey Sanctuary fb page)

Animal Rights in South Africa? Poof, non existent. Our Animal Rescue groups have virtually no monetary help and rely only on private donations. They do an amazing job, but they are literally farting against thunder.

But, back to donkeys!

Waiting for death.

A few months ago there was a horrific 'Auction' of donkeys and horses in the Northern Cape at a place called Hartswater. There, hundreds of animals were squashed into pens with no food, no water. Some were in foal, some had their foals with them, some were horribly injured, and all were destined for slaughter.

Unless they were saved!

And most of them were.

The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary (find them on facebook or google them and read all about it) raced to the rescue. From there, the rescued donkeys were transported to the Sanctuary by huge carriers who donated their time, money and trucks to help. Fodder was donated and transported by farmers from both near and far.

Ready to load the rescued donkeys.

These Auctions are held quite regularly I believe. But before the Hartswater one was so widely exposed, I had no idea that this could happen. In South Africa? No surely not. (We also have a major dog fighting problem where dogs are stolen for breeding and fighting and small dogs and cats are stolen to be used for bait. Sickening? Yes..... )

Bales of hay delivered for the lucky ones.

Many countries in Africa have banned the slaughter of donkeys and the sale of the skins. Niger, Ethiopia, Botswana and Burkina Faso to name a few.

And South Africa? We should be hanging our collective head in shame.

We are still waiting for any action or condemnation of this cruel and despicable practice .

To the sanctuaries like Karoo Donkey and Eseltjierus in the Western Cape, a huge Thank You. Without people who work so tirelessly for the donkeys of our country, more skins would find their way overseas.

I leave you with the photo that sums it all up.......

(Pic thanks to Google)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Boys Are Back!

Reading the title, you would be forgiven in thinking that someone in the family (or someones) had returned from holiday.

Wrong. Read on.

For the last few weeks Morris the cat, (he of the bladder problems), has been going 'bos' (bush) in the evenings. Popping in and out during the day as usual, he suddenly decided that he was going to razzle overnight and pick the odd barney with whoever was around, and we have been waking to the sound of caterwauling! Alfie hates hearing cat fights, so we let him out to referee the fight and chase off the interloper. This can be anytime before dawn!

So, on Saturday night Rob noticed that Morris had a lopsided look about him, and when l had a closer look I noticed that he had a rather large abscess on the side of his head. There was a scabby area, so I fiddled and managed to clear quite a lot out of it. He was very good, but wasn't too happy about me squeezing for very long.

Sunday being Easter, there was no vet around, and Monday was a holiday too. We decided to go and see Aunty Vet on Tuesday morning!

Early on Tuesday morning we set off with Morris in the box (furious and hungry and complaining), and Alfie along for the ride (or so we thought!)

Friday, 31 March 2017

Cry the Beloved Country!

I don't quite know where to start this week's post.

If it was tomorrow, I could head it 'April Fools' but it all has taken place today!

Firstly, the shattering news that fracking has been approved! The beautiful part of the land that is magnificent in it's starkness, the beautiful Karoo, will be fracked and cracked and attacked, all in the name of greed. We have a country that is desperately short of water, and yet the go-ahead has been given. I cannot believe that a huge amount of money didn't change hands, and I feel desperately sorry for the people living there who have tried so hard to stop the rape of this ancient land of contrasts.

Then, just when we thought things couldn't get worse..... our 'Esteemed President' in his 'wisdom' (and I use that term very very loosely), takes it upon himself to fire the Minister of Finance and his Deputy (among other Ministers). Pravin Gordhan, who has proved himself over and over again as a morally upright man, was recalled from his overseas trip and ceremoniously fired. Goodbye overseas investment, goodbye keeping the government spending to a minimum and hello anger, sadness and a probable downgrade to 'Junk Status'.

I could go on and on about this, but the country is reeling at the moment from shock and disbelief. Everyone is now calling for Zuma to be thrown out, opposition parties are working together to force change. (I guess that is one good thing that has come out of this ghastly chaos.)

And we are all hoping that the few ANC Members of Parliament who have spoken out against Zuma in the past, find the backbone to vote in the only way that can possibly help our country.

The drought remains. Our dams are 28% full. That means they are 72% empty. Taking into account the fact that the last 10% cannot be used, there is enough usable water for a few weeks.

But, as I write this we have a light drizzle falling, just enough to dampen the cats.

Finally, a lighter note.... Dagga, or cannabis or marijuana, has been given the all clear in the Western Cape! So, you may now grow it in your garden for use at home, you may now smoke it, chew it, make tea with it, whatever you like.

It is legal.

Just in time, I think a few more people will be taking advantage of this now.

Pass the matches.

It might make the future look a bit brighter.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Passports Take 2!

I know this is a little late.......I seem to start a lot of my meanderings this way. But, it took me a while to recover from the shock that we received by SMS last week!

Read on;

For those of you who do not read my blog on a regular basis (and why not I ask?), and for those of you who read and forget, like me, here is a quick reminder. Two months ago Rob and I girded our loins and headed off to Malmesbury to the Home Affairs Office to renew our Passports.

Thanks to the hundreds of people already queuing when we arrived, we abandoned the whole thing!
But, the expiry date was rapidly approaching so we realised that we would have to try again, and very possibly spend a few hours shuffling forwards until we had completed the chore. We were not looking forward to it at all, so we asked our friends in Malmesbury to keep an eye on the queues, as they drove by regularly on their way to the shops. Pam decided that the best time to arrive at the office was just before lunch. Then the morning queue had abated and the afternoon influx had not yet arrived!

Right, so we had some sort of time frame! We also needed to keep an eye on the temperatures, as Malmesbury can climb to the high 30's and I don't do high 30's. I am not keen on low 30's either, so we had to pick the right day.

Then my daughter came to stay with us for a few days and told us that it was much easier to fill out the forms on-line, pay our R400 via EFT and simply pop into the Home Affairs where it was a simple task to have photos, fingerprints and signature captured, et voila, job done.

So we looked at her with sheep-eyes and she tutted and shook her head (bless her heart), and proceeded to do the whole form filling thing for us!

And so, on Wednesday the 8 March, we set off! We arrived at Malmesbury at precisely 11.00. There was not a single person waiting outside the Home Affairs building, and we managed to find a parking space right outside the door!

All good omens! So we rushed to the building before anyone else could get there before us, and burst through the door! And there we stood looking at a room full of people all looking back at us! There was nobody on the Enquiries desk, so we stood nonchalantly trying to catch someone's eye. Eventually I was given number 82 and Rob was 83. We found seats and sat. The electronic information board and the mechanical voice told us that number 43 was to go to Booth 3. That meant there were 40 odd people in front of us! But these places have a system of their own, unknown to us lesser mortals, because suddenly our numbers were called to go to the photo booth, where minutes later our photos were taken, and our fingerprints and signatures were captured.

I thought, wow, easy, let's go........but no.

We had to wait until we were called to Booth 3, so that we could prove that we were who we said we were and sign again to verify!

And that happened 2 hours later! And people came, people went, babies cried, children became restless, old people coughed and yawned and we sat and enjoyed the air conditioning as the day 'hotted up' outside. I have to admit, the thought of needing the loo crossed my mind a few times!

By then we were chatting to the girl sitting next to us who had come to have her surname updated. She got married two years ago and needed her married surname to buy a car. But, when she was finally called to Booth 3, she discovered that the marriage had never been registered........ so she left, confused and angry at the waste of time. And slightly hysterical I think, as she was laughing as she went through the door.

There was a tiny baby there with her parents who had come to register her birth and do a few other things. They looked as though they were camping out. Bags, books, packets and bottles, they were there when we arrived and still there when we left! The husband went off to buy some take-away for lunch, and came back with a rather prickly looking plant in a pot as well! Then followed a very jolly time as they (and Rob) decided to name the plant and register it too seeing as they were in the right place! It was one of those 'you-had-to-be-there' moments, because the names were becoming more and more outrageous, but I think they had come to the end of their tethers and were just desperate to leave! Even the officials were joining in the fun.

And then it was our turn and we signed again, showed our ID books, and that was it! Two hours after we arrived, we left. Lunch with our friends followed and then we drove home.

And then...... on 15 March......just a week after we had completed our paperwork, we received a SMS from the Dept of Home Affairs, to say that our passports and new ID cards were ready for collection at Malmesbury office.

We shall collect them this week..............

Once we have recovered from the shock!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Facebook.... Fun or Frustration?!

Well, I have done it!

I have finally joined the millions (millions?) of people around the world who are on Facebook!

I held out for years and years, silently congratulating myself for being sensible. I refused all offers of friendship and when I was asked if I was on fb I proudly said that I had better things to do with my time. When I was asked to 'like' something or check on fb for directions or to read about the latest recipes or products from companies, I was quite happy to see the look of disbelief on faces.

'You're not on Facebook? Really? I thought everyone was on Facebook. Oh, well, try and google it then. You do know how to google?'

I finally broke down! Not in the way a car or a washing machine does... but I decided that if I can't beat 'em then l must join 'em! So I asked Rob to help me get going, and the first person I 'friended'  (a whole new vocabulary comes with it!) was my daughter who remarked rather rudely 'Well well well, the mountain has moved.' Or something like that... but you can find it on my 'timeline' on Facebook!!

I have entered the mysterious world that I promised myself I would never enter. I now understand words that before were simply words. Like messenger, friend, un-friend, share, like and comment. I have watched video clips that made me laugh, cry and shake my head in disbelief. I have seen things that I would never have believed possible. I have watched people make the most interesting and useful gadgets from old plastic bottles. I have learned how to clean my toilet using only two household products. I have added my 'thumbs up' to good things and an 'angry' moticom (is that what it is?) to things that have made me angry or sad. I have made fairly explicit suggestions on what to do with rhino poachers, but haven't yet used the 'f' word, much as I would like to.

I now have half a hundred friends! I know some people have several hundreds, but after only a couple of weeks of being a groupie, it's not bad! The thing that amazes me though, is having requests from complete strangers! I think they are complete strangers... unless my memory is far worse than I thought. But I did have a request from a Plastics Engineer, and I think I would remember knowing someone like that!

It does seem a bit daft being Rob's friend as our computers are in the same room and we sit back-to-back commenting and tutting and quite often reading the same things! And often one of us will say 'Oh, you must come and read this!'

I must admit that my idea of what Facebook is is completely opposite to what it actually is! That sentence seems a bit garbled, never mind, read it slowly a few times and it does make sense. I thought that it is a place to 'chat' with friends, to catch up on their 'doings', to read about their lives and let them know what I have been up to.

But there is no time for that!

Everyone is too busy posting pictures and videos and asking everyone to 'share' or say 'yes' or 'like' to bother to with all that stuff!

And although my daughter has talked me through how to put pictures in my 'photo' box, I still don't understand, so it will remain empty and abandoned! But that is ok because there is always something new to read or watch and gasp with astonishment and amazement.

After all.
If it is on Facebook then it must be true!

Friday, 3 March 2017

World Wildlife Day!

Today, 3 March is World Wildlife Day. A day when we celebrate the wonderful diversity of wildlife, not only in our country, but around the world.

But, sadly, what is there to celebrate?

When we see the ghastly statistics of animals killed for 'fun' by rich head-hunters who think it is a 'sport' to collect the Big 5 to mount on a wall, or the number of rhino and elephants killed each month to keep some Oriental Gentlemen happy, then I am afraid that in a few years time, the 'World Wildlife Day' will become 'Remember Wildlife Day'.

And a few years beyond that............. 'Remember Our Planet Day'.

I get despondent and angry every time I see dead animals on the road, some of them run over just because they are there. Our snake population is one of those targeted every year as fear and stupidity become the reasons to kill them.

But, before I write something that I regret at a later stage........ simply read the letter from the Endangered Wildlife Trust. 

And weep!

Keeping wild animals as pets
As much as we all love wild animals, the EWT discourages keeping them as pets. There are serious welfare issues to consider, such as whether you can provide the correct diet, proper exercise, socialisation and as natural as possible way of life for a wild animal. Of equal concern is the threat that the illicit trade in wild animals as pets poses to wild populations. Every year thousands of chameleons, snakes, iguanas and other reptiles are illegally removed from their natural habitats and smuggled between countries all over the world. For instance, Sungazers, a species of lizard found only in South Africa, are under increasing threat due to illegal capture for the pet trade. These special lizards do not breed in captivity, and sadly also fail to thrive if removed and then returned to the wild. Other iconic species which are at risk due to illegal trade are our cranes, which are being taken from the wild and turned into domestic pets in many parts of Africa, including here in South Africa.

The lack of successful and strict regulation of the trade in some wild animals means that South Africa may very well be assisting the decimation of biodiversity in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Madagascar. The current legal import into South Africa of thousands of African Grey Parrots; chameleons and mammals from the island of Madagascar; Abyssinian Ground Hornbills; Southern Ground Hornbills and Grey Crowned Cranes from East African countries (all wild-caught species) are examples of how poor regulation assists with the decimation of wild populations of animals in other countries.

It is important to bear in mind that wild animals generally do not make suitable pets, and often end up dumped when they become unmanageable, which is a further act of cruelty. In most instances wild animals are incapable of expressing their emotions or discomforts and thus pet owners are blissfully unaware of the suffering of these animals, particularly the reptiles, amphibians and birds kept in small tanks or cages.

Irresponsible wild animal experiences
In this era of social media, wild animals are also falling prey to the selfie generation, with more and more stories arising of animals being removed from their natural environments so that they can be photographed – often with tragic consequences for the animals. Tourists also desire a one of a kind experience and instead of appreciating the natural wild state of our environment, many look for quick bucket list ticks – petting a lion cub, walking with a cheetah, riding an elephant, swimming with dolphins, or even just guaranteed Big 5 sightings. The EWT encourages responsible tourism and is opposed to wild animal interactions.

Petting zoos and “walking with” experiences are especially popular, particularly with large carnivores such as Lions and Cheetahs. While these experiences may seem remarkable, they are fraught with problems. Cubs are often removed from their mothers for hand-rearing and use in petting zoos. This is unethical and stressful for both the mother and her cubs. Carnivores are generally good mothers and there is no biological need to deliberately and routinely remove cubs from their mothers. Cubs can be handled by numerous people in one day, which is stressful for the cub as it should spend a large part of its day sleeping. It is reported that cubs are sometimes drugged to keep them placid for petting. Especially concerning is the fact that there are links between Lion breeding facilities and canned hunting of Lions. When cubs get too old and boisterous for petting they are removed from the touch programmes and many enter into the supply chain for canned hunting. Other welfare concerns include a lack of regard for social structures and a lack of enrichment for these animals in captive facilities, leading to boredom and stereotypical behaviour.

Other wildlife interactions, such as elephant-back riding and baited shark diving, also raise serious welfare and ethical considerations, as the animals are not engaging in natural behaviour.
(Thanks to the EWT)

It seems that the Human population is to blame for every wildlife problem.

We should be ashamed.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Sport South Africa Style!

We have a sport here in South Africa that is perhaps unique to our country.

Relatively new, it is becoming more and more popular among the younger members of the community.

The teams can number up to six or seven people (usually boys or men), but never only one person. Although it isn't classed as a 'spectator sport', many hundreds or even thousands of people are affected by the result.
You will need a bakkie or truck, a pick, shovels, rope or a chain, and definitely gloves, and it is only played after dark.

The rules are simple
1. Do not get caught.
2. Do not get burned.
And the name of the sport?

Cable Theft!

Once you know how to do it, you can do it anywhere! Find the correct place, usually where a cable has just been laid so the ground is still soft. Dig down to the cable and put a chain or a rope round it. Fasten to the back of the bakkie and drive off very fast! The cable is ripped out of the ground and dragged away to a safe place for stripping.

And it is catching on fast, spreading from town to town. Here in Vredenburg some business people have taken to burying the cables in cement and doing night watch with a shotgun across their knees

Last night we were sitting quietly watching television, thinking about heading  to bed, when the lights flickered and then steadied at half strength. This is known as a 'brown out' and will kill any appliance that relies on a motor, like a fridge, a computer and a fishpond pump!

Even though we still had some dim lighting, the entire village was minus the street lights, so there were little blobs of dull glimmering instead of the usual bright, reassuring, lighting.
But, the stars were magical! And we stood and stared at them for a while until I felt small and vulnerable. And I was worried about standing on a scorpion too!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Gardening Builder's Style!

When we moved in to this house ten years ago now, I was desperate to start the garden! Anywhere that I could prod a spade or fork further than a few centimetres was quickly deepened and widened to make a hole big enough to plant a something!

There were some odd beige/green things growing that I left to prove that they were worth keeping, and thriving away between the huge pile of rocks that had been exploded (is that a word??) to make way for foundations, was a lovely green plant.

I had no idea what it was, but it was green, it was growing and I watered it daily in the hope that it would bloom and multiply! It was the beginning of my garden!

I also noticed that the builders next door were constantly looking over into the garden when I was busy, and seemed to be checking up on my plant too. 'Wow', I thought, 'these guys are also interested to see what is growing here.'

But, they actually knew what it was!

One evening I called Phillip over to have a look and see if he could identify the plant that by now was as tall as me. The leaves were a darkish green with a seven-fingered look about them, and each 'finger' had a slightly serated edge. Like this:

A healthy dagga leaf!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Seven Days = One Week!

I am sitting here, it's nearly 'wine-o'clock' (aka evening), and the weather can't decide what to do! We have had alternating fog and sun all day, with flitting shadows...... but still not a drop of rain. So we continue to catch every dribble that we can in our trusty plastic bucket, and carry it out to our waiting plants. When I see the temperatures that some of the inland towns climb to at midday, I am ever thankful for our wind!

It has been a week that started off very sadly. Amy (she of cat trap, neuter and release fame) phoned on Sunday morning in a state of desperation. Her two dogs had cornered one of the ferals in the garden and were literally shaking it to death. I leapt in the car and drove down in case of an emergency rush to the vet, and Rob joined me there.

But, sadly we were too late. The cat was dead and Amy was devastated, feeling guilty and sad and angry and useless and back to sad and angry and guilty. Rob and I consoled her as best we could and brought the little body home to bury in the garden and join all the souls gathered by St Gertrude.
And there we hit rocks as we always do in this garden. But we persevered and he is lying close to the others under the manatoka trees that look very sad at the moment as they are drooping with thirst.
But, I think with the digging, I strained my shoulder!

My right shoulder.

And without the use of that shoulder, I was unable to do anything!

Now, this is where you find out who your friends are......... Rob was happy to hang washing and do the odd bit of dusting and cooking and I struggled to shower and wash my hair and dress myself! Pulling up knickers and trousers one-handed took me ages.  And, have you ever tried to use a roll-on deodorant upside down? Let me explain.

As I could not lift my arm at all, I had to bend over at the waist and let my arm hang down a bit. Then, using the deodorant upside down, I had to roll it on as best as I could. But, once the roll-on was upside down, it wouldn't work! It was like trying to write with a ball-point pen on the ceiling....... the ink won't flow!

Even Alfie was offended at the shoddy way the bed had been 'made' and as for ironing, well, that is waiting patiently for my recovery! (That was one thing that didn't bother me....)

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday passed in a blur of pain and frustration. I could only sleep on my back, so Rob was bombarded by my snores! On Thursday it started feeling a little easier and by yesterday, thanks to painkillers and anti-inflammatories, I was just about back to normal.

But, the really vexing thing about not being able to use my right hand was......

I couldn't use the computer!
I managed to get into my emails using my left hand.

For a whole week I could not do the daily jigsaw! I tried, I really did. But my left hand is just not able to cope with the intricacies of manipulating the bits and sorting the edges from the inside bits! And my right hand was twitching with frustration.

So, yesterday I did a week of puzzles in one day.

And now I think I have 'jigsaw shoulder' as my shoulder aches again!

Friday, 3 February 2017

I Queue...You Queue!

I seem to have done a lot of queuing this week! And I have realised that different queues have different 'personalities' so to speak! Depending on where you are and what time it is.

My first queue was on Wednesday lunchtime when I needed to get more cat food from the Vet. Now, that's a jolly queue with lots of 'ooohs' and 'aahs' and 'oh shame' as people (and sometimes their pets) shuffle happily backwards and forwards, stroking and patting, or opening and closing the door to let the resident cats in or out. There is a basket placed on the counter that contains cats! There must be six or seven cats that have been rescued over the years, and handed in to find new homes, and the minute they get through the door..... they are home! They curl up in the basket only relinquishing their spot when they need to have a snack or go out when nature calls. Then there is always another to take their place!

So, I stood in the queue for about fifteen minutes and listened to the chat going on. Nobody was in a hurry, and some of the owners were giving advice on how to stop scratching (their pets I assumed), or what cream will cure mange (ditto), or the best way to cut canine toe-nails! Great fun. I heard the receptionist telling a new customer about the time they were 'given' a cat whose one back leg was so badly damaged that the vet had to amputate it. It was later adopted by an elderly gentleman who only had one leg. He was more than happy to give the cat a good, loving home, as he said that they were both a little lopsided!

Then it was off to the local supermarket for some essentials! And Wednesday is Pensioner's Day! The good news is there are specials! The bad news is there are queues! And....pensioners do not like queuing. Their time is too precious. I was quite happy to lean on the handle of the trolley and wait my turn at the till, but many of the blue-rinse brigade become agitated at the wait. Maybe they are thinking of lunch, maybe they are thinking of their bladders, but twice the woman behind me pushed her trolley into my heels! Not pleasant! There isn't much chat at those queues, mainly loud sighs and 'tuts' and 'why haven't they got more tills open?' And the occasional breaking of wind as us elderly tend to do!

But then came Thursday!

Thursday was apply for my new driving licence day!

So after my morning at the Hospice shop, and armed with my photos, my ID book and my copy of the rates account from Saldanha Municipality as proof of residence, I arrived at the Traffic Department and the parking ground was full! I groaned to myself and decided to get the green form, fill it out and if the queue was snaking all over the place, I would leave!

But it was not overwhelmingly full in the sit-and-wait area. I think there was a learner test being conducted in one room and a few people were milling round waiting for them. So I filled out my A, B and D parts of the form and joined the twenty or so people clutching green forms and ID books and photos. I sat next to a lady who must have been 85 in the shade. Well, if she is still driving then I have years to go.......

But I tell you, that lady knew exactly who was next in the queue! The queue had absolutely no system. We were simply a bunch of people sitting on two rows of chairs facing each other. I had no idea who was in front of me and who was behind me..... but she did! As each person went into the eye-testing and paper-handing-in room, she made every one shuffle up or move over one seat! Backwards and forwards we moved, from one side to the other, like sheep we did as we were told and all I knew was, I was next but one from her! After her was a young girl, and then it was me! Every now and then her daughters came in to see if she was alright. She sent them off on errands, fetch her water, purse, she had left her ID book in the car, and they scurried to and fro while we all watched and laughed along with her.

It was a long wait, I think I was there over an hour and a half, but it was extremely entertaining and no-body was confused or annoyed. There were several different conversations going on at once, in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and much laughter. As new folks arrived, they were promptly told where to stand and who to follow.

I have a feeling that she was a retired teacher!

And then she was gone, the next girl went in...... and it was my turn!

We have very sophisticated equipment at our testing centre, the latest technology that makes re-doing the licences a breeze......... when they work!

Yesterday only one machine was working, so that made the wait longer than necessary. The problem is this (because I asked!) Although the technology is German, the people using it are South African. We are a long way from Germany when/if things go wrong..go wrong..go wrong.

But once it is back to normal, there won't be any need for anyone to direct the queue.....

Each office has its own queue!

But will they be as much fun!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Market Day by the Sea!

We have a lot of 'pre-owned' cats here in Jacobsbaai. We know that because we have personally homed, loved and put to rest under the bushes in the back garden, three that made our home their permanent base, and we have three more that are now firmly settled, namely Basil, Morris and Kindle! We homed Sage to the nursery where she chats to the customers and tells them that she is never fed! Wally went to our friends in Philadelphia (not the American town I hasten to add...... he would have had a problem now with the new President, being an alien! Hmmmm... cat or president...I let you decide!) Blackjack comes every evening for his supper but still won't let me get closer than one meter!!

Blackjack popping in for supper!

And there are others who have been left to fend for themselves when the owners move on, or dumped by those wonderful people who make life so rewarding.

So when Amy, who lives round the corner and is passionate about cats (and who has personally trapped, neutered and released at least a dozen cats, and who puts out food and water every day) asked me if I would like to help with a new privately run animal shelter situated in Vredenburg and long overdue, I said yes!

Let me qualify that 'yes'.

I am happy to do the behind-the-scenes-stuff. I can provide food, give donations when and if I can and make things to sell at their market days.

But. I cannot work with the animals. I get too emotional and want to bring every dog or cat or donkey or duck or whatever home with me. I would be in tears daily, and I would end up being extremely rude to the people whose animals are removed for the animals sake. I would enjoy chaining said owners to a pole, a short chain with a barbed-wire collar, with no food, water or shelter from the elements. I could happily shove fireworks into various outlets on their bodies and kick them every time I walked by. Oh yes, and make them fight each other and leave them bleeding in the street.

Anyway, I digress!

So I happily volunteered to man the stall at a market day on Saturday. It was held at St Helena Bay at a venue I had never heard of and didn't know existed! Never mind, I bravely set off with a box of bits and pieces from Amy plus the cash box (boosted with our first donation from Rob), my water and my chair and eventually (a few minutes late as I did get a little lost and had to backtrack), I met up with Ronel who had by then organised the table, put the cloth on and had arranged most of the items for sale! After we had introduced ourselves to each other, she left to go and do a few house visits and check up on the dogs that lived there. I must add that Ronel started the shelter, appropriately called 'Lighthouse Animal Shelter' and Amy designed the posters.

To the point!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Pass on the Passports!

It is now just over ten years since we moved here from the Big Smoke.

How do we remember that?

Our passports will be expiring in March! Not that we needed passports to gain entry to the wonderful Cape............. hmmm, could be a plan though!

Renewing them in Randburg was not an option! That was the stuff of nightmares! The offices were dingy, cream coloured walls and not enough officials to help, and those that were there were not very helpful anyway! The queues were hundreds of people long, either leaning against the walls and waiting until their name was called, or sitting on long wooden benches and shuffling up a space every time the next in line shuffled up to fill the gap left by the next one to be helped!

You get the picture?

So we waited until we were settled here in Jacobsbaai and then made a day of it by going to our nearest Home Affairs office in Malmesbury. Malmesbury was a dream! we arrived there clutching our old passports, filled out the forms, had our fingerprints taken, handed our forms and photographs over and left........

Wow, what a pleasure.

Our new passports arrived by registered post a few weeks later.

So, here we are ten years later!
On Monday we went to town to have our photos taken. Two coloured ones (stern faced, glasses off....... ghastly!) and two black and white ones (smiling, glasses on, hmm not bad) for my driving licence that also falls due in March. (How quickly ten years goes...) Yesterday, Tuesday would be 'P Day'! (It was, in more ways than one!)

We do have a Home Affairs office in Vredenburg now.......... but naturally, they do not deal with passports at all.

So, we made arrangements with our friends who live in Malmesbury, that when we had finished our business, we would arrive for a spot of lunch and a good chat! Off we set yesterday morning at 07.00, reckoning to be in Malmesbury easily by 09.00, business completed easily by 11.00, surely two hours would be plenty, it was more than plenty last time.

Yes, well that was ten years ago! When we arrived at the Home Affairs building yesterday, dead on time, we couldn't believe our eyes. The doors were closed.... and they open for business at 08.00, what could be the problem? And the queue was from the doors, down the veranda, down the steps, out of the grounds, down the road to the corner, and round the corner. There must have been over 300 people standing there, from young to old.

Rob stayed in the car while I went to ask a few questions. I spoke to the first people in the queue....they had been there since 07.00! Two hours and they had just reached the door. How many people had been in front of them... and what time did they arrive? Apparently only fifteen people were being allowed in at a time, once they were out then the next fifteen were allowed in etc etc. So the people standing round the corner could be there till the office closed at 16.00!!

Also they told me, if we were applying for new passports, the office only took 100 a day! So, if after several hours of standing in the queue, you found out that you were numbers 101 and 102, then very sorry, come back tomorrow.

I reported back to Rob.

Now, we debated whether we could bear to stand in the queue-with-no-end-in-sight until we finally collapsed at the door, or whether to abandon the entire enterprise and slip away. I knew that neither my bladder nor my back would cope with a long wait, plus it was one of the hottest days that we have had so far this summer and the temperature was forecast to be 35 with no cooling breeze!

Hobson's choice!

We arrived at our friend's house for (surprise surprise) breakfast! Lovely toast and coffee!

As they were knee deep in plumbers with half the garden dug up, we didn't stay long.

Home via Darling Olives and the Darling Butchery, to re-group and re-plan.

Chairs, books, a cooler bag and the Porta-Potty will go with us next time.

Like a Boy Scout, we shall be prepared!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Wildfire Heroes!

Can you believe that there are so-called 'people' who find it funny to deliberately start fires?

We have them here in the Cape.

This is the Fire Season, (it follows the Silly Season), a time of year that is dreaded by Firefighters and home-owners alike. A time when the merest smudge of smoke on the horizon can send you running for binoculars, checking for wind direction and doing a head-count, in case there is an awful chance of it advancing when you are not looking, racing with deadly red and orange tongues towards homes, farms, nature reserves and settlements.

Last year my daughter and her husband were threatened by a fire that had crept up on them, fanned by strong winds and helped along by the terrible dryness of the surrounding countryside. They managed to get the hose out and dampen down as much as possible, before the wind changed and disaster was averted, but not before they had packed a suitcase with some of their necessary papers and sentimental possessions and taken the cat-boxes out of the garage in readiness for a quick getaway.

Too close for comfort!

A few days ago a fire was deliberately started in the Somerset West region of the Cape. The usual strong winds fanned it and that in turn, hampered attempts to bomb the flames from the air. Volunteer Firefighters from near and far pitched in to help not only to fight the flames, but to rescue animals, including cats, dogs and horses, that were in the path of the fire.

Monday's Fire map.