Friday, January 28, 2011

Lake Pleasant on the Garden Route

Looking across Groenvlei Lagoon from the garden at Lake Pleasant Living.
One of our favourite places to visit is the famed Garden Route, in part, because this is where we were married.  Over the years, we have returned to celebrate an anniversary or enjoy a family holiday.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just Your Common or Garden Visitors at the Vic Falls Hotel

Don't be so silly...of course I'm not a statue...

Can't you see I'm eating a mango I've just plucked from the courtyard mango trees?
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Zambezi River Cruise [Part 5 of Victoria Falls Trip]

Sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River...
I have been a bit later than I'd originally intended with uploading this post covering our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.  I was waiting to have access to these pictures, which are the property of my son.   He took all the 'stills' while my husband was filming the cruise. Once again, I've had some difficulty limiting myself to a small selection of the very many he took.  Even now, I'm sure I haven't managed to select nearly as wide a representative sample as I'd wanted, but I'm hoping these will give you a fairly good feel for what you'd see, cruising slowly up and down the river for a few hours. A plentiful supply of tasty snacks and drinks was on offer throughout the trip and our guide was highly knowledgable about the birds and animals we saw, giving us an entertaining and informative talk at regular intervals.  We all had a wonderful time and were returned to shore soon after the sun had finally set.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feathers of Emerald and Cochineal

A resonance of emerald...
A rush of cochineal!

~ Emily Dickinson ~
What would a garden be without its little feathered visitors?  Putting up bird feeders and scattering seed and bread crumbs on the lawn seems to come naturally to the majority of gardeners.  Most of us have an unquenchable need to attract as many different kinds of birds to our gardens as possible.  I am no different!  

I think most gardeners would identify fully with these lovely, heartfelt sentiments:

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder
for a moment,
while I was hoeing in a village garden,
and I felt that I was more distinguished
by that circumstance
than I should have been by any epaulet
I could have worn.
~ Henry David Thoreau ~
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's outing to Rooi Els Heathcliff

The estuary at Rooi Els looking towards the Klein-Hangklip mountain which dominates the little village.
Here I am in the Rooi Els estuary...
Today was just the best!  After we'd had our breakfast this morning, we were told to 'HUP,' the command we know means we're going out in our bakkie.  'HUP' lets us know we need to trot up our ramp, seat ourselves nicely on our mattress in the loading bay, and wait for the ramp to be folded and packed away, and the tailgate to be firmly shut.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Off The Beaten Track [Part 2]

Lovely old stone ruin...I'd like to have a go at restoring this...just look at the setting!
Should you perhaps find yourself wondering about the quality of these pictures, they were all taken during the pre-digital era with our still camera using film and/or slides.  We've had to scan them in manually to make a digital copy for me to upload on my blog.  Some appear washed out...unfortunately, the original quality of the prints has altered over time.  Hooray for the digital era, as this is no longer a problem! Please click the read more button below to continue this post...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Off The Beaten Track [Part 1]

Track in the Wemmershoek Mountains Conservation Area, Western Cape.

One of the exciting discoveries of venturing off the beaten track is suddenly and unexpectedly coming across a long-abandoned, crumbling homestead aka a ruin!  My husband and I have always had an affinity with ruins...  

I don't know exactly what it is about these silent, tumbledown vestiges of the past that spark our interest, but we find them irresistible...please click the read more button below to continue

Friday, January 21, 2011

Leisurely Luncheon in the Vineyards!

Outdoor seating at Avontuur Wine Estate and Stud Farm's Restaurant.
Yesterday was a typically hot, summer's day in the Western Cape, with a fairly stiff breeze blowing.  My husband and I had a number of errands to run in the village where we live, but had decided to 'treat' ourselves afterwards to a leisurely lunch.  We had never been to Avontuur, although we had heard several good reports, so yesterday seemed a good day to pay our first visit to this vineyard and stud farm.

The view from the outdoor seating areas is very attractive...please click the read more button below to continue ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Heathcliff's Turn!

You won't believe how hard it has been for me to nudge Desiree out of the way, so I can have my turn on the blog.  She kept going on about 'needing' to upload some pictures of...other animals!  My word, I could hardly believe my ears.  After I threatened to go and roll in the hadedah poop and then come back inside and loll on the lounge carpet, she relented. 

It's only fair, after all!  She  did promise I could 'share' her blog space.  I'm merely standing up for my animal rights on this issue!  Besides, what I want to show you today is very important, as I know many aging dogs out there whose owners have not yet bought them a RAMP!

Maybe they just don't know about them, so I felt it would be an excellent idea to show you OUR RAMP! 

Well, come on then!  It's over here...see? Please click the read more button below to continue ;)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Victoria Falls from the Air! [Part 4 of the Rovos Rail Trip]

One of the outstanding highlights of our holiday at the Victoria Falls was our helicopter flight to view the falls  from the air.  This is a popular 'touristy thing' to do and we generally avoid doing 'popular touristy things' as a matter of principle.  We far prefer taking the 'road less travelled' when we visit new places.  We get a thrill out of looking for the extraordinary that normally goes unnoticed in most people's hot pursuit to get the standard issue tourist pose and photograph in front of the standard issue tourist sight.  The big difference with the Victoria Falls is that everything is so remarkable and breath-taking that you really need to do it all, even if it means setting aside your 'principles!'   

We spent two full days covering the Rainforest on foot, not because you need two full days to get right around it, but because to do it properly and to absorb this mystical place right into the depths of your soul, you cannot rush it.  Believe me, two days is not enough, but that was all we had.

There were bus loads of tourists hot-footing it through the Rainforest on both days we were there.  Many wore blinkered, if not agonised, expressions while they were rushing from point A to Z desperate to snap a picture proclaiming they'd 'been there, done that!' and now qualified for the badge.

I wanted to see it all waking up in the early morning, during the heat of the day and then see it settling itself down for the evening and night-time ahead.  I wanted to see it in each season, to be able to explore the many rock pools at low water and be there to marvel in the thunderous roar and gigantic mass of water spilling over at the height of the rainy season.  The best I could do, was to take in as much of it all as I could in the limited time we had. 
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ancient Rainforest [Part 3 of Rovos Rail & Victoria Falls trip]

The rainforest area of the Victoria Falls National Park contains many unique species of both fauna and flora. A well constructed pathway allows the visitor to meander at leisure amongst ancient Fig, Mahogany and Date Palm groves while gazing at the Falls from the many magnificent viewpoints. The observant visitor will be able to spot many shy species of birds and small mammals beneath the protective canopy of the forest. The constant background thunder of the falls at times almost succeeds in drowning out the loud croaking of the hundreds of frogs that inhabit the silent pools and trickling streams gently flowing amongst the dense, verdant vegetation.  If ever there was an Eden, this is it!  A truly captivating place that you'll never wish to leave! Please click the read more button below to continue ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mosi-oa-Tunya...the Smoke that Thunders [Part 2 of the Rovos Rail trip]

  The Victoria Falls
received its World Heritage Site status in 1989.

The mighty Victoria Falls, so named by the English explorer, David Livingstone, is generally regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  This majestic waterfall, one of the world's largest, is situated on the Zambezi River, which serves as the natural boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Its African name, Mosi-oa-Tunya (literally translated as the Smoke that Thunders) originates from the Kololo people who inhabited the area long before the first White man saw it.

Of these falls, Dr. David Livingstone wrote, "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight." (1855)

It was to this very place that we were headed, trundling through the night in the snug comfort of our beds on Rovos Rail's Pride of Africa, lulled into contented sleepiness by the clickety-clack-clickety-clack of the wheels traversing the railway lines.  Such a romantic way to much awaiting us ahead!
The Smoke that Thunders...
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Rovos Rail and The Mighty Victoria Falls [Part 1]

Today, I'm going to do something quite different.  Furthermore, this will be done over two successive posts, with possibly a third, if necessary.  Hopefully, it will pique the interest of my regular readers, who may have started to tire of only seeing and hearing about my garden. 

Also, important to state for accuracy and authenticity, I cannot claim a single one of these pictures as my ownAll are my husband's own work, kindly given to me to use.
Earlier today, feeling nostalgic, I was looking through our pictures of a memorable holiday we enjoyed as a family, two years ago. At the time, our son was working in KwaZulu Natal.  Our daughter was based in Cape Town, but travelled quite a bit for her job.  We have always been a closeknit family unit and all felt it would be great to get together and have a Christmas holiday, with a difference..."away from home," for a change. Please click the read more button below to continue ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer...

 A pool is the eye of the garden in whose candid depths is mirrored its advancing grace.
~ Louise Bebe Wilder ~

 "Water...though not absolutely necessary to a beautiful so capital a feature, that it is always regretted when wanting; no large place (nor) little spot can be imagined in which it may not be agreeable.  It accommodates itself to every situation, captivates the eye, invites approach; is delightful when near; refreshes an open exposure; animates a shade..."

Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening, 1770

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Serenade

Swirling mists hide the cliff-face of the mountain, today, a sign of impending rain.

The Helderberg mountain peak is completely obscured by today's low hanging cloud. An ambitious ray of light attempts to penetrate the cloudy mass, foiled repeatedly by the swirling mists. 

For a fleeting moment the very first bloom of a three-petalled lily I have growing in the pot outside my study window, is lit as if by a stage spotlight.  I take this as a sign to grab my camera and head outdoors to try and capture the beauty of the moment...
Tigridia pavonia also known as Mexican shell-flower, each bloom lasts only one day but each stalk can produce several flowers over time.
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Salad Days and Balmy Nights!

The steady buzzzz of the katydid chorus and the bass solo of the croaking frog - a summer night's serenade! ~ Michael Garofalo ~
Sun-ripened, bite-sized salad tomatoes ready for picking...just loving these "Salad Days!"

One of the BEST things about summertime is the opportunity to eat more healthfully.  When temperatures soar to the mid-30s (degrees Celsius), few of us want to spend time behind a hot stove.  Quick, easy, cold meals become the order of the day, not only because they are easiest, but because they look and taste good too...especially when they consist mostly of fresh garden salads and, even better, when you've grown them yourself and can pick what you require, as needed! 
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Continual State of Inelegance!

Toby has had to be my stand-in as I couldn't possibly allow myself to be photographed, today!
Once upon a time...Jane Austen exclaimed, as only she could in her perfectly clipped, Queen's English:

"Oh dear!  What dreadful hot weather we have!  It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance!" 

I know exactly what she was talking about, as that's precisely how I've been feeling for the last couple of days.  It's been very, VERY hot and muggy.  The wind has dropped completely...WONDERFUL, YES! But wearing anything, however little, is far too much and I'm permanently sticky and dishevelled, no matter how often I splash my face with, or dunk my head in, cool water.  Even the pool is too hot to do a proper job of cooling me down!

I know, I know!  How can I possibly complain when so many of you are in the thick of freezing wintery weather, longing for a spot of sunshine to brighten your dark days.  Please hear me out.  I was thinking of you all!  While it was far too hot to bother with getting myself respectably dressed to do the grocery shopping that I should have done today, and far too hot to spend the day gardening, I amused myself (instead!) by quietly strolling around the garden, taking pictures to share with you!!!  Now, don't you think that's thoughtful of me? 
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Slum Dog Turned Millionaire

My gosh!  Can't these humans work out how NOT to get red or green eyes when they use a flash????
Everybody's doing it!  Blogging like crazy...just because it's a new year.  Bet it won't last!

Personally I can't see what all the fuss is about.  New Year just brings out those dreadfully noisy fireworks.  We canines can do without that!!!
Here I am, in "The Dogs' Room" tyring to make short work of an ostrich bone.  I don't sleep here at night, BTW.  I sleep on my bed, INSIDE.

I just HAVE to be in on the action with everything... so here I am, blogging again.  Toby wanted to come, too, but I had to sharply nip his ankles and remind him...I'm the alpha male around here.  He's still just a kid, even if he's three times my size.  Blogging is MY THING!  He can go chase his tail or chew a bone.  This is MY TIME!  
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Peacocks and Magnolias

What a beautiful creature I am!  How's this for my pose?

YIPPEE!!!!!! We awoke to a cloud covered sky and a few spots of rain today.

I know many of you have been inundated with more rain than you can handle and others have been battling heavy snowfalls and all that this you might well be thinking I'm a little crazy to be rejoicing about our inclement day.  

My regular readers will of course know by now that summer rainfall is a rare and precious commodity in the South Western Cape and so, for us, any hint of drizzle, however slight and any drops that make their way into our thirsty rainwater tanks, is truly a BLESSING.  More so to me, as I interpret rainfall as a good omen and rejoice even more exuberantly, especially with it falling right at the beginning of a brand new year. Please click the read more button below to continue...