Monday, October 29, 2012

A treat indeed.

With only just over two hours of the afternoon left Warren and I decided to pop into the Park. Deciding to stick to the tar road that goes to Pambeni we were hoping to see....mmmmm whatever Mother Nature has on offer for the day! Noticing a few cars stopped up the sand road, we followed suit and there it was...or rather, there they were, Wild Dog. A rarity indeed!

Lyacaon Pictus or The African Wild Dog, means a "painted wolf like animal". I love their coats which looks as though the artist has very carelessly daubed their coats with lots of brown, black and cream paint inno particular order or pattern. They remind me of paintings I have seen of the Nguni cattle and their beautiful coats. Maybe they would look rather wonderful, done in fabric! An interesting challenge indeed.

The Wild dog's ears are big and round and rather attractive.

They move around in packs looking for dinner which usually consists of small antelope and there are lots of impala on this road. In turn, the dogs are afraid of lion and spotted hyaena. The dogs hunt their prey and bite at the victim while on the run, with everyone partaking in the feast. If their are babies back in the den then food will be regurgitated once the adults return to base.

The pack we came across consisted of about seventeen adults and seven or eight pups. We were able to keep up with them for about three kilometers while they ran, stopped and rolled, sniffed, chewed on whatever, regurgitated, pooped and peeed. It was a most amazing experience.

Evidently the dogs give off an unpleasant odour which fortunately I never experienced. I tended to meep my window rolled up as we were so close to them. I really did not need one of them to jump up and have a nibble of my arm!!

They just never co operated for a group photie as they each did their own thing. Cameras were clicking and my point and push camera worked overtime. A very excited woman in a car next to us said she took over a hundred photos. What a treat and what a wonderful sighting.

You just never know what awaits you in Kruger Park. It is all about LUCK and Timing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bush talk.

If you listen carefully while in the bush, you can hear all sorts of wondrous and interesting sounds. It is very early in the morning and I was awakened by the sound of the flow of the Sabie River. The river is not that close by but at certain times of the day, one can it hear it quite clearly. This of course, will depend on the direction of the wind blowing. There is not much wind this morning but sufficient to bring this magical sound up to our house. The haunting call of the Fish eagle too comes this way and should the hippos be having a morning giggle or is it gargle, we will hear them too.

The hippos playing in the Sabie River.


Right outside the house we have a beautiful Acacia tree and Mr and Mrs Oriole, resplendent in their bright yellow and black coats are ever so busy building a nest. Their building efforts keep being thwarted by the generous rain that falls almost daily. They seem to chat rather loudly when one is needing some extra sleep but it is a sound worth sacrificing one's sleep for. I do hope this nest building business does not bring too much stress into their lives and is completed successfully before Mrs Oriole Is ready to lay her eggs.

The nest is hidden very high up in the tree. The Oriole is rather shy and I am battling to get a good photie.


Yesterday morning Mother Zebra was teaching her little one "The ways of the Wild" but the little one wanted to frolic and jump around in the wet grass which resulted getting a few "klaps" alongside the earhole! The two of them seemed to enjoy having their lessons in our backyard so I get could get a bird's eye view of the goings on! Eventually Mother Zebbie knew that she had lost the little ones attention and the two of them wandered off to find the rest of the family and have their tea.

As the moon lights up the sky, the owls call to each other, exchanging the news of the night. The stars light up the magical velvet sky so there is just enough light for every creature to enjoy and feel safe. Buster the hyaena, can be heard far off in the distance, as he complains that no one has left him any grub and now he has to fend for himself. Hares and rabbits, beware as you chase around in the delicious green grass. The frogs are ever so happy as there are lots of puddles after the rains for them to play in. Their choir practice seems to go on forever. During this prolonged wet season they have a choice of which puddle to splash about in.

While I am writing, and it is only five thirty in the morning, the baboon family have sneaked up on the house. They sneak around looking for an open window but apart from our bedroom window, they are out of luck. Last week, while I was deeply engrossed in doing my jigsaw puzzle, I heard a bang and looked up and saw one of the daring teenage baboons trying to sneak into the guest bedroom. I had opened the windows but kept the fly screens down to air the room in preparation for our guests! On hearing the clang of the screen as the daring baboon unsuccessfully tried to lift it, I did my Tarzan like yell, which my husband claims will yet be the death of him. The baboon fell back and lost his balance! As there are no windows to fiddle with this morning the baboons went through our car port which has no car in it but piles of grass ready to repair the roof which they have damaged! I wonder how long it will be before they repeat their destructive handiwork.

We seem to have a resident genet which has chosen our roof as "the spot of the month" . We hear him run around with a very gentle pitter patter on the tiles of the roof sometimes and if quick with our torch, we can catch him as he jumps down onto the verandah. Once caught in the glow of the light he just sits frozen-like and stares. One almost feels like going over and stroking him! One evening last week, after we had cooked on the braai outside and then eaten our meal indoors, Warren went out using the torch, to bring in our chairs, and there was Janet the genet, sitting right on the wall of the braai obviously enjoying the warmth of the bricks after the fire had died out. Once again he just stared into the light from the torch and was totally non-plussed about the three of us watching him.

You might wonder why Janet is the genet's name. This is a tribute to our friend Wendy, who lives in Sierra Leone. She tells the story of the genet which was just born and given to her to hand-rear. When the local people heard about the genet they would ask Wendy when she was out on her walks, how 'Janet' is. Thus the genet became known as Janet despite her being a male!

One of my favourite sounds and you have to listen very carefully, is the tapping of the woodpecker as he goes about his business. I have not heard one recently but am determined to find one soon. Today I am going to sit quietly, very quietly, and hopefully I will hear a tap, tap, tap of the woodpecker once again.

What is your favourite sound? I do hope you will leave a comment then I know you are reading this blog and I also know that you are "listening."


Friday, October 12, 2012

Birthday surprises and Rugby!!

It's birthday time for Warren and lots of other special people in our lives. 10th of October is such a popular date for celebrating birthdays! It used to be Paul Kruger day and a public holiday and being teachers! we always had this day off and could do fun things.


Birthdays are special days and it is so important to mark them with just a little something special. This year Sarah decided to surprise her Dad, and me, with tickets for the rugby. South Africa was playing New Zealand at the new stadium in Soweto. We were in the Bush and were told to report to Sarah and Adrien by mid day on Saturday. We decided to drive up on Friday and be super ready for our adventure. We managed to keep the great secret until Sarah and I returned from shopping where we bought Warren and Oscar Springbok rugby shirts and Adrien a cap!! The girls would wear green outfits, which was close enough for us!


Packed with a basket of snacks and drinks, we dropped Oscar off for his play date. We set off by two o'clock for the game which was starting at five! The traffic was fine until we got to the vicinity of Crown mines and then all went crazy. Huge 4x4's, Fortunas, Sportages and other fancy vehicles and of course more humble vehicles like ours, started vying for a spot in the queue to get to the stadium. Flags were flying, hooters were being blasted, people waving and singing and thus the atmosphere was being generated. Where ever you looked, green and yellow reigned! Strangely enough I never heard any vuvuzelas...maybe they are kept exclusively for soccer games!


Despite having prepaid for secure parking which on the day seemed to be so far from the stadium entrance we just took one of the free spots closer by. People were braaing beside their vehicles, music!!!? was being blasted from the vehicles and bottles were being opened everywhere. National spirit(s) was flying high. We were under the impression that we were not allowed to take any alcoholic refreshments into the stadium with us and I think most other people thought so too, however the consumption taking place on the perimeters was huge!

This was our first visit to the stadium which is built and designed to represent a calabash and is truly magnificent pice of architecture!! According to Wikipedia, it is also the sight where anelson made his first speech after being freed and Chris Hanis funeral service was held here. Another pont made is that it is close to where two Nobel peace prize winners lived namely Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.



I am sure it must be one of the most magnificent stadiums in the world! It is something to be truly proud of. We had about a to walk about a kilometre to get into the stadium and everyone along the way was so excited and happy to be there. The atmosphere was electric.

80,754 people filed into the stadium! What a sight! What an experience! How amazing to be part of this historical event. A programme of entertainers kept the the music side going including Hotstix Mabuzo and various groups of dancers . A vehicle specially built for Jooste van der Westhuizen, drove around the stadium so all could wave and honor him. This did give me a lump in my throat.


Before we knew it, it was five o'clock and time for the game to start. National anthems were sung. The visitors did their Haka Haka dance and then the whistle blew blew for the start.


The first half of the game was so exciting but it seems our team was outplayed and we lost rather badly to the Kiwis. While there was much sighing and complaining next to me and comments like "shocking" "embarrassing" etc. it really didn't matter. The experience is a once in a lifetime for us and we feel so privileged having been part of it all. Thanks to Sarah and Adrien for this treat.

On leaving,I looked back at the stadium it was dark and all the lights twinkling on the building made it look all the more fascinating and beautiful. I am indeed PROUD to be a South African and know we live in a very special country, not withstanding all our troubles.

The REAL birthday on the tenth started with Oscar's rendition of Happy Birthday, followed by a luncheon with Warren's sister Colleen, husband Jim, and niece Glynne. It was fun to catch up with the family and hear of their recent travels to Oz.

Sarah cooked up a storm for dinner and with all the calls and messages I know Warren had a special day. Christopher paid him a huge compliment and said he is the youngest sixty seven year old he knows. Long may it last! Thank you to one and all for their good wishes.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Sabie Park has a beautiful "picnic spot " which has two view points and a hide built on top of the water tank. This very special place is situated on the banks of the Sabie River and right across the way is Kruger Park. One can watch the vehicles coming and going along the road in Kruger.

We love to pack our sundowners into our basket together with a few snacks and set off late afternoon to watch the sun go down, enjoy whatever game there is to enjoy and to appreciate this wonderful place.

The selection of birds is amazing and we just love watching the kingfishers swooping down trying to get their sundowners too! It is a good place to share with our guests as the beauty and peace this little spot offers is really special.

Recently, we did just this and as we arrived we saw two buffalo who were just leaving after their evening drinks.

We were amazed to see how the topography has changed due to the floods the Lowveld experienced earlier in the year. The water level is very low which means that we probably won't have our usual friendly hippos frolicking about just in front of the hide!

I love the sounds the hippos make just like a great big laugh at life. We hear that they are further up the river nearer to the bridge so we may see and hear them from the other outlook spots.

Just sitting, watching, waiting and enjoying the sights and sounds is good enough for me and reminds me why I love living in Africa.

Fortunately we have another month to enjoy our time in the BUSH!!


Friends, nuptials and fun!

One of the many reasons we love coming "to town", is to visit with our friends. When traveling, one meets and chats to lots of interesting people but there are no friends like our "old friends" and we do enjoy seeing them and catching up with all their news. This time we were scheduled to stay with Gavin and Mary in White River.

Warren and Gav were fellow Headmasters so they have much to chat about. Mary and I, in addition to being teachers, enjoy quilting. I enjoy hearing about the Guild she belongs to and which I was part of several years ago. Mary does beautiful work and is finishing off a Round Robin she has been involved in.

Mary and Gavin have a beautiful home and their garden is simply lovely. It is big and requires a lot of hard work and dedication,but it is worth all the effort.

It was time to head off to Ansel and Kierryn's wedding. Ansel is the son our lovely friends Liz and Ed Harris. The Wedding was being held in the gardens of Hollowbrook Hotel at Casterbridge in White River followed by the reception which took place at the Magnolia Restaurant.


The marriage ceremony was held outside, round the pool . Everything and everybody looked beautiful.


The flower arrangements were outstanding. The attention to detail was amazing. The tables looked lovely too!!

Anne and Amy baked and decorated the delicious cup cakes.



The reception was held indoors which was a good thing as the wind cme up and chilled the air. The bridal party looked lovely and had loads of fun.

Ansel and Kierryn looked splendid.

It was so special seeing many of our lowveld friends and being able to catch up with them again.


It is a pity that we no longer wear hats as part of our regular wedding dress as Carol from England stole the show with her headdress!

With the cost of living soaring, wedding costs too are following suit. It really is a privilege and a pleasure to be invited to these occasions! Thank you Liz and Ed. All the best to Ansel and Kierryn. May you have many happy and cosy years together.


Thank you for a wonderful time!!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Pilgrims Rest.

After a few nights in the Bush, we headed to White River where I joined my friend Anne and together with her daughter Amy and Anne's sister Lynne,  we set off for Pilgrim's Rest, the venue for a Kitchen Tea. Anne did the driving and in between all the chatting I was able to enjoy the magnificent scenery en route.

The bride's parents live and work in this charming world heritage town. As a family we have been here many times over the years and it was so gratifying to see that the old world charm has been maintained and that many tourists still come to see this original gold panning site

The kitchen tea was to be held in the Lounge in the Royal Hotel. Our hostess gave us the history of the hotel and the adjoining bar. According to her info! the hotel was bought sort of mail order style and shipped over to S.A. And then reassembled here.

The decor was beautiful and it was fitting that we were served tea out of beautiful tea sets! The whole affair conjured up images of the days of Victorian elegance and good living.

People came from afar to join in this celebration and a good time was had by all. For first timers I am sure they will have left with wonderful impressions.

The bride-to-be, Kierryn and mother-in-law to be, my dear friend Liz!

I know there have been all sorts of political problems in Pilgrims Rest which I sincerely hope can be sorted out peacefully and that this very special place can continue to draw tourists from all over the world in addition to the local visitors.

I do hope I will get back to this special place for a little holiday some day.