Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lombok. Sengigi.

It is time for island holiday and we have chosen Lombok and the Gili Islands. It is such an unknown for us except for Moira having been here with friends in a rented home that we did not really know where we should go or vIsit. Warren as per usual has done all the slog of reading up and planning. I got the giggles when he described the place he had booked us into for two nights. The rates were so reasonable, the description so charming etc. I teased that it may be made of cardboard and be a shack. Rajasthan I am pleased to say turned out just fine. Our room was delightful with a outside bathroom. No hot water but who needs hot water on an island? The staff are friendly and accommodating and the main road (and only real road is just down the way!

Instead of using the fast taxi from the airport we took the bus to Sengigi. We were the only tourists on the bus but everyone smiled and were pleasant. The plane was choc a bloc mainly with workers returning home for Ramadan. The airport was jammed with family waiting for family to return. On the drive back we were so impressed with the rice paddies, fields of corn, water buffalo and noticed that most of the land is being used to produce some crop or other.

Our little resort is down a dusty road and along a narrow lane. It is like a little oasis.

Of course there is definitely a good taste of Bali around here except that this is a Muslim island which is made obvious by mosques on every corner....this is not an exaggeration. Arriving at the start of Ramadan the calls to prayer are very busy and some times from our room it sounds as though the calls are in competition with each other! What amazes me, after a stroll around the back streets from our resort is the beautifully maintained mosques while people right next door live in such squalor! I never mind seeing humble abodes but when there is so much dirt and right at the front door and seeing the children play and frolic in the muck, I do get upset and feel disturbed. Is it because people don't care or are not aware or what. Where is the pride? Come on people of live in a piece of paradise, look after it!

Another worrying sight is the broken coral washed up on the beaches! There is SOOOO much, is this a sign of sheer neglect by beach authorities to curb boats from using certain areas? Where is all this destruction going to end up?

We spent the morning on the beach and the water temperature is lovely. Lots of families are spending the first day of Ramadan picnicking and swimming.

Our resort is super has great wifi so I could catch up with my Blog

The lounge and the bathroom!



Some of the garden "ornaments"!

On the go again!

After a hectic almost three weeks at home we were back to JHB. and ready to head off for our three month trip overseas! I say hectic, as I tried to jam as much into my limited time at home as possible!

Firstly, I had to get over a miserable cough and cold which I tried very hard not to pass on. One day my aged neighbour stuck her head out the door and I happened to be walking along and she smiled so sweetly and asked how I was. I answered that I had a lousy chest cold and before I could tell her that I was on the mend she gave a yelp of panic and shut her door rather hurriedly. Obviously she was determined to escape any flying germs! Ah well.....!

I spent my self imposed seclusion making several quilt tops and crocheting squares for blankies. I think I have about 17 quilts in different stages of completion and a few promises of quilts from friends. My dream of having 67quilts to hand over by July next year is becoming more of a reality!


This I made from left overs of African fabrics which Sarah gave me ages ago to make a duvet cover.

Not sure but it was just a pretty piece I found lying around!

Robyn put these strips together, her first effort and I assembled them. Well done sis. Here's to you doing a few more!

I used up some of me Malaysian fabric scraps. Oh the memories!

I look forward to seeing them quilted which my friend Mary said she would do!

With Oscar's birthday coming up I was asked to make thirty Ben Ten watches. They turned out so cute and one was put into every party pack.

All my chores done, socialized shopped, packed etc. we were off to JHB. Oscar turned five and we were so pleased we could share this special day with him. Everything revolved round Ben Ten and Sarah, Adrien and their team did a brilliant job.

Soon we were jetting off to K.L. And after two long trips it was great to arrive and see Nick and Joshua! It was also wonderful to back in the beautiful weather again! No sooner had we arrived and we attended a "soccer party" at Joshies school. The World Cup fever sure has everyone celebrating.



Thursday, June 26, 2014


To round off our travels Sarah had invited us to join her and Adrein, Nicole and Mark at Willow Lodge in Malkerns valley. The girls went ahead on Wednesday as they have opened a branch in SD and needed to tie up their business deals. We left early with Oscar on the Friday and Adrien and Mark brought up the rears little later in the day. We have to really stayed anywhere in Swaziland since we left BIg Bend in ......but we do pass through regularly driving from Durban to the Kruger Park.


Swaziland is as lovely as ever and the people friendly and fun. The cherry on the top was that our weekend coincided with "Bushfire" the festival of African music, held annually in the valley and based at House on Fire. Yippeee....I have been dying to go. This was its seventh year of the festival and each year it gets better and better according to the pundits.


Sarah thought of everything, great accommodation, VIP parking and seating! I had such a bad dose of flu, I loved the beautiful warm days but was happy to crawl into bed just after we had settled Oscar!


How fortunate we were to enjoy the music of one of the GREATEST bands ever, Ladysmith Black Mbaso! Their dance rhthym and music was just marvelous!



The entire show and attractions were so well organized representing the best of Swaziland. The arts and the crafts is something to be truly proud of.


It was great seeing some of our friends and ex pupils from Big Bend .we even popped into Manzini Market and while there is not much fabric for sale anymore the market is just the same.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Planet Baobab!

It was Mark's birthday and for a special treat we were going to stay in Planet Baobab. A strange name for a very different place This is a themed lodge bordering on kitsch which has its own attraction. Th bungalows are designed after the local homes, round with a thatch roof and decorated walls. The interior has two built in concrete beds and the walls have a few shaped shelves. I say concrete but they may well have been made from mud...I am not sure. They reminded me of the Mongolian ger! They were charming and it was a fun experience. The camp is situated in a Baobab forest! There could have been about fifteen magnificent baobabs!

These trees are reputed to be about four thousand years old! There are many legends about these unique and magnificent trees including one about God dropping them from the sky and they landed on this earth in an upside down position, thus their alternate name 'the upside down tree" ! As a child living in Rhodesia we loved to eat the fruit from the tree called cream of tart!

The attraction for us was the guided trip offered by the lodge to see the meerkats and the Kgaligadi pans! We had a very experienced female guide who drove miles and miles on little windy roads until we came to a lone figure standing out in the bush. This fellow was paid to look after the meerkats and to follow them where ever they go. I wonder what we would call him not a shepherd, not a cowboy but a .......? This fellow told us that originally there had been three families but now there is only this remaining one!

The meerkats have to be the busiest of little creatures ever. They scurry about scratching for food, mostly spiders all the time. The adults take it in turn to find a mound of sand on which to elevate themselves and lookout for predators in the form of large birds, foxes etc. What a treat it was to spend over an hour watching these creatures at work. mark and Carol had wanted to do this for ages so it was a pleasure to share this experience with them.

After a lovely breakfast which our guide supplied we drove to the Kgaligadi pans where we spent another while playing and marveling at these salt pans! It was just miles and miles of white salty sand. It gave me a surreal experience of what it must be like to be stranded and thirsty in a desert. We even had the experience of seeing a mirage in the distance! How special this last morning of our Safari was.

Not to let an opportunity go by as soon as we had lunched the car was packed with "Tea" and sundowners and we were off to explore the Kgaligadi National Park. I don't think we saw another vehicle in four hours! But we did see thanks to Mark's amazing observational powers, a breeding pair of vultures in the palm trees with their baby! We saw Springbok which for a South African is very special being our National Animal! And the best of all was coming across the Great Migration of Zebra! Miles and miles of zebra. As the sun was sinking the silhouette of these animals was such an amazing sight and a VERY special experience.

The week with Mark and Carol was jam packed with the most wonderful treats one could imagine. Seeing Roan, Sable, Oryx, Lechwe, Tsessebe, Springbok is so special apart from hyena cubs, leopards, eles, ...the list goes on. This is a once in a life time experience and we have done it twice thanks to these wonderful friends. They keep saying "don't wait another eight years" and maybe we won't! Thank you to these very special people who have chosen a career in the most wonderful treasure chest Africa can offer! We love you and thank you so much!!

My little point and push camera worked overtime but Mark has a more sophisticated camera and he has put his photos up on the net for all to see.


Botswana's favored mode of transport!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chobe Elephant Lodge.

On leaving the Sango Lodge in our 4x4 we had to be towed through deep water. Carol let the tyres down, we piled into the lodge vehicle and AJ the camp manager drove our car! What fun. The water sloshed up the sides of the vehicle and at times we felt as though we were on a boat!

The road to Chobe has to be the dustiest, sandiest and bumpiest I have ever known. Despite Mark controlling the steering wheel he manages to spot amazing things. I think he has super vision lenses. From the smallest tortoise, the fastest snake, the racquet tailed roller (Carol's sighting) the two of them make a formidable team!

The Chobe Elephant Lodge is built on a hill overlooking the river and was a unique construction in that to be Eco friendly Sandbags are used instead of bricks and then plastered. The walls are note refectory even but this all adds to the character of the place. No glass is used in the windows but gauze and shutters keep out the minus and cold. All the furniture was designed and built to Mark's standards. This lodge is a real monument to both he and Carol.

The lodge has only been open for four months and during this time the elephants have come down to drink at the guests swimming pool and several of the boards have had to be replaced! The day I walked down the baboons were playing on the deck!

Each day we would set off wrapped up in blankets, beanies, scarves etc to keep the chill factor out. In our cooler box Carol made sure we were well armed with Amarula Coffee and rusks to build up our warmth!


The second day we were there we went along the river on the boat and it was an amazing experience. The elephants swim across the river into the islands of grass and just eat and eat and eat! On the banks much frolicking took place as they teased and clambered over each other. Mark pointed out that only mammals play! True. We saw much evidence of this.

While watching the elephants, a second drama was taking place. Two crocs were sunning themselves and an impala, being very daring was getting closer and closer. One watches with a sense of excitement waiting for the inevitable to happen on one hand and hoping the impala will escape on the other! It appears that good sense prevailed and the impala escaped!

Cruising along on the river it was wonderful to see all the animals come down for their sundowner too. This was such a spectacular experience.


Another stunning day in Africa. How lucky we are to be able to experience the best of Africa.