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.