Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm Back!

Driving over the Swartberg Pass (June 2011)

I last posted on 22 June.  I tried to upload a new post I'd prepared on the 29th.  Unfortunately, Blogger was having a bad day and all but annihilated my efforts, which, despite my best intentions, I was unable to retrieve.  Needless to say, I was not in a good mood having spent quite some time putting it together.  It was to have been in honour of Carol Wyer @ Facing 50 With Humour and Lavinia Boja @ The relativity of a corroded mind.  They have both recently had their first books published and I wanted to surprise them by dedicating a post to their wonderful achievement. 

To continue reading this post, please click the Read more button below...

Now...before I continue (and reveal the reason for my recent, lengthy absence), I should like to request that you pay Carol and Lavi a visit (just click on the links below) will not be disappointed! 

To tempt you...Lavi is offering a Gift Voucher as a special blog Giveaway, so you can get her book FREE!!!  All you have to do is enter the competition on her blog (Link provided below!)

OK, now I guess there might be one or two of you who have wondered where I've been hiding . Actually, I haven't been anywhere. It was my husband, daughter, Linda (@ The Squashed Tomato) and our 15 month old German Shepherd, Toby, who were away.   I was right here, taking care of Bonny, Heathcliff, Coco and Milo. Normally, my husband and I share the many household duties, but when he's away, everything devolves to me.  It is at times such as these that I become acutely aware of just how much he does and how much I actually take all his help for granted, so in a way, it's a good thing for me to occasionally be left on my own, as I'm reminded to be more appreciative.

I decided to take my caretaking role seriously this time and avoid all distractions, thus ensuring that things would run smoothly.  I'm happy to report, they did! I was able to spend time each day training the two pups who now not only recognise their names and come when called, but now also 'sit', 'lie down',' leave' and go to their beds on command.  They are also beginning to understand the meaning of 'finished!' and 'settle'.  I followed the instructions of the animal behaviourist we take them to and diligently applied her system of reward and clicker training techniques.  In addition, I spent plenty of time in the garden with them, when it wasn't raining and this ensured that they had plenty of fresh air and exercise.  This guaranteed that they were able to settle nicely for the night.  This, in turn, ensured that my life was far less stressful and I, too, was able to enjoy a good night's sleep.

Sleeping like little angels...snuggled up in one of their beds, together...this being their preferred mode of sleep.

Miss Coco, sitting sweetly on comand..."Now that I've performed on cue, where's my treat?"

Miss Coco, lying down sweetly on command!  "Am I going to be getting a treat, then?"

Now, what was Toby getting up to...on his first time away from home?

As His Master's Righthand Man in training, he had to guard the documentation...

Check out the comfort level of the bed (don't freak out...this was a Dog Friendly Guest Lodge!)...and, YES! His own bed was taken along, but he found this one far more comfortable...

He had to grab the opportunity for a well-deserved nap when that while he was 'on duty' he was alert and obedient. That takes a lot of concentration, when you're a diligent Shep 'in training' !

As you can clearly see for yourselves, the onerous task of keeping the bed warm, while His Master was taking a hot shower (the temperature was -1 degree Celsius, which we Capetonians find bitterly cold!), was serious work. And, YES! Our Toby sleeps with a teddy...every night!

The Karoo Gateway Lodge, where His Master, his young Mistress and Toby were accommodated for the duration of their stay...YES! It is an air terminal for light aircraft, in addition to being a Guest anyone flying in won't have to go far to collapse into bed!

A brand new experience for Toby...playing in the early morning before breakfast, on frost covered grass!

Sitting politely beside His Master at the table at each of the several en route stops was part of his routine (and hoping, in this particular instance, he'd get to taste that slice of carrot cake, proclaimed by his young Mistress to have been "the best carrot cake ever!"...Toby, offered a taste, found it distasteful and spat his piece right out!)

Toby, actively on duty, in the field, learning how to be a good, Ecologist's assistant! "OK, now...just drive that bakkie in this direction!  You're doing well!"

And wondering if THAT spindly specimen is the only tree against which he'll have to cock a leg when the time gosh!  This field is endless...Toby reckons this off-road stuff isn't all it's cut out to be!  Thank goodness he has a nice comfy bed in the back of the bakkie on which to rest his limbs between stops (there were close to 60 individual stops in tiring for a young Shep eager to prove his worthiness as an assistant!
On the road to Beaufort West to do the commissioned site visit...a long trip for a young Shep...over 600 kms of travelling!  But, he was as good as any well-bred Shep should be...a credit to his breed!  His Master said he'll gladly allow Toby to accompany him on all trips from now on! (Does this mean Desiree has lost out, then?) 

Toby sat patiently watching the changing scenes flit by...wondering if the many farms he saw had dogs as intelligent as he is!  Do they have nice warm beds?  Do they have tennis balls to play with? Do they go to school?  Such a lot for a young Shep to ponder!  It did help the time pass by quite quickly, though...wondering and thinking!  Toby aspires to being a great thinker!

Oh, to be able to run freely across those vast expanses of nothingness! So vastly different from the suburban environment to which Toby is accustomed!  He saw buck, rabbits, birds of prey, baboons and of course many farm animals.  All at a distance, though! Yes, he barked in greeting!

Kilometer upon kilometer of roadway...many new smells to ponder as they traversed the distance between Cape Town and Beaufort West.  And then again doing it in reverse, all the way back to Cape Town!  His Master made it more interesting by returning via a different route.  What a lot to tell Bonny, Heathcliff, Coco and Milo!  They'll never believe him!

Every so often His Master and young Mistress would slow down or stop to photograph a pretty show Desiree when they get back home! She'd love this one!

Or, they'd consider the next suitable place to enjoy a tea had to have a garden, so Toby could stetch his legs and offer a private spot for a piddle (Toby never poops on a trip...he's far too polite!)

Or lunch spot...this one looks good!

Some are obviously decidedly more interesting from a Shep's perspective than others...just LOOK at those lovely big tyres to sniff and leave a mark for the next dog to discover!

A rustic restaurant in Prince Albert on the way to the Swartberg Pass...lots here for a Shep to sniff...hope the meal is good, too!

Another cute house spotted on the drive through Prince Albert...his young Mistress had to snap a quick picture as they drove past! Desiree will definitely like this one!  All things quaint and rural thrill her!

Toby would far rather have been allowed to explore the imposing rock formations on the Swartberg Pass...but there is no safe spot to pull over...the road is too narrow, winding and, in places, incredibly steep and treacherous!  When this pass is covered in snow, it is strictly off-limits to traffic.  Toby has never seen snow and wishes there had been just a little!

This famous South African Pass really grabbed his attention...he didn't know which window afforded the very best view, or which offered the most thrilling smells.  It kept him busy rushing from one to the other, as he tried to decide.  He never was able to do so, definitively!

He just knew he had to take it all in, so he could answer all Bonny, Heathcliff, Coco and Milo's many, many questions once he returned home at the end of this exciting trip!  He knew they'd be able to tell if he'd left anything out, just by smelling the tyres!

Ah, maybe His Master will be able to pull over there?  Unfortunately not...the bakkie is too large to do so safely...not that there is any obvious traffic, but you never can tell when another vehicle might suddenly appear!

Oh, the sights and smells of this majestic place...they bring joy to the heart of a dog, even one confined to a slow moving vehicle.

See the road winding down and down and almost makes a dog's head spin!  Toby is beginning to feel glad this wasn't a walk!  Imagine having to come all the way back up again!

Yes, Toby is really relaxing into this being driven around as a way of's so much more comfortable for the footpads!

There's still a long, long way to go until Toby can say, "I went up and over and down the great, big Swartberg Pass, today!"

His Master is always intrigued by ruins...and Toby agrees this one could be fun to time, if there's time!

Now that everyone is back home again, life can resume its normal pace and I can fit in time to blog once more!


  1. Once again, I am so glad I popped over to visit. Such pictures and scenery! I am fascinated! I haven't blogged anything new in a while, so don't fret about hopping over to my blog. Just know that I have enjoyed Toby's journey. Haha!

  2. Fabulous! You're giving me a view of your country that is completely new to me. I'm afraid that I have been relatively ignorant, up to now, apart from what I've read in the papers or heard from ex-pats. Gorgeous post!

  3. Amazing photos of the pass. I have a small booklet published 1989, reprinted 1990, celebrating the centenary of the pass in 1988. "Swartberg Pass. Masterpiece of a brilliant Road Engineer." by Helena Marincowitz. The ruins in the photo could be the old toll house. Thomas Baines built the pass with convict labour between 1879 & 1887.

  4. Gorgeous photos again. Thank you.
    If Toby liked all that he'd like where I live--it looks a lot like that area you bravely drove through.
    Thanks again for sharing your exciting adventures with an armchair traveler.

  5. I'm back as well and delighted to be back reading your recent posts. It is good to step away from the computer sometimes whether by force or desire so that we can reassess our lives and be thankful as you have done. What a pain you lost your post, I prepare mine away from Blogger for just this reason. I follow the first blogger you mention and am going to be reviewing her debut novel on my book blog. Your orchids are beautiful.

  6. Your pictures are as always lovely and storytelling was at your best! The dogs are so sweet :-)

  7. Hi Desiree, what a lovely post about a pass we enjoyed travelling down about two years ago. I LOVE Toby with his teddy and I love pet-friendly establishments. I only realised now that Linda is your daughter (I corresponded with her re a raffle and would have been at the prizegiving on 11 May but we were late travelling to the Cape) I love all the beautiful old buildings and remember the tea and lunch spots from when we stayed over nearby. Oh, it's been wonderful to revisit these places with Toby, his master and young mistress. Hope all the others have hours of entertainment listening to Toby's stories. Have a great weekend. Blessings, Jo

  8. Wowwww..your pictures are beautiful and so manny...and your sweet dogs...welcome back

  9. Wow your photos are amazing. You have very beautiful scenery where you are. A photographers dream.
    Toby is a very lucky dog indeed. Well maybe now that I think of it does Toby know he is a dog?
    Lovely post thanks for the tour. B

  10. Welcome Back! You animal models were very good. I'd say they deserve all that extra special treatment.

  11. What stunningly gorgeous sights! Truly a country filled with beauty!

    And your sweet pups! Oh gosh, how cute! Tucker sends puppy love to each and every one! And please give them all a hug and a scratch behind the ears from me!

  12. I love these. They are gorgeous as usual.

  13. Nice to have you on Blogspot again, thanks for all your comments and lovely photos! We waved red and white flags, ate from tables decorated with red and white napkins, and watching fireworks later, as well as Kate and Will pictures of course, laying red and white wreaths n the Cenotaph. Could have been a Danish or English or Austrian or Polish Day really, what with all that Red and White. Did you notice the flowers on today's blog?

  14. Beautiful photos indeed, and I love that you used Toby to show them off. He's a very handsome sheep indeed, but Coco is super sweet.

  15. Oh, my! What scenery! And such charming dogs -- both the traveler and the stay-at-homes!

    Glad you're back!

  16. I'm sorry you had such a time with Blogger and had to repost everything! I know how frustrating that can be!!Thanks for sharing your beautiful photography.

  17. Enjoyed the trip through Toby's perspective. (And - Carrot cake is my favorite!)

  18. I loved this post and you posted such great photos love them,you do have such good looking is great that there are dog friendly places around so you can take your pets with you.

  19. Welcome back! Although it seems that this time your husband, daughter and Toby had a good time.

    Thank you for mentioning my book! It's really nice of you.

    Toby is very well-trained. I'm surprised he doesn't eat his teddy instead of cuddling it. Coco and Milo are growing so fast. Good job on their training.

    I love the photos of the pass and the feeling of being surrounded by massive walls of stone. They are really majestic.

  20. i think i just might have enjoyed this trip more than i was able to hope off my chair and run to the bathroom...if i felt the need! ha!

    ok...first i have to say that my geography and such has never really been my strong point...but SNOW in Africa?!! i didn't know that...and i'm a little embarrassed to even question it here...maybe i should have done so in a private email...but too late...i was just so surprised when i read that!! when i think of Africa...i think hot. NOT snow. what do i know! not much, i guess!
    Desiree...i just love the winding roads and the rock formations...makes me want to jump right out of the truck (bakkie?) and EXPLORE!! c'mon Toby!! let's go!!

    ( of course i liked all the other pic's too...all the other furry youngsters...and the quaint shops, restaurant...BUT i LOVE the scenery...)

    thanks Toby....for taking such detailed notes on this adventure! :)

  21. Des I could sit here for hours looking at the majestic scenery of your beautiful land. Your photos are the best in the blog kingdom for sure. It is even better when you showcase your beautiful animals. Have a great rest of the weekend.

  22. I was telling my hubby about your blog yesterday and he was a bit cheeky telling me that Africa didn't sound like a thing I was describing. I had the greatest pleasure of sitting him down and dispelling all of his beliefs. It was very gratifying. So basically I'm just saying thank you Desiree for your wonderful pictures that show once again how I'm not always as dumb as I look. hahaha

  23. What a magnificent pass! It makes my trip over Honister Pass in the Lake District last week seem quite tame by comparison.

  24. Another wonderful trip - this time by courtesy of Toby!
    I was amazed at the ruggedness of the country - so beautiful. The Swartberg Pass is magnificent. A breathtaking road... no wonder there were no stops on that narrow road.

    A great journey indeed, and you certainly had a productive time back home Desiree. I bet Toby was very impressed at the cleverness of the others upon his return ;-)

  25. What gorgeous views!

    Trying to imagine what Toby was thinking, his feet on frozen grass. ;-)

  26. Such amazing scenery. I scrolled up and down several times checking out the landscape in every shot. Your puppies are so adorable.

    Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and thanks for becoming my latest follower. My 100th as it turned out. Now that was a milestone I had never imagined reaching. I do hope you continue to enjoy reading the posts about my place downunder.

  27. Hi Desiree. Lovely to see you again, and what a thoughtful idea to mention Carol and Lavi's two books. Didn't they do well?! Odie was right, in that the scenery there is absolutely majestic! I always enjoy seeing all the photo of those gorgeous puppies! I can't believe that Toby didn't like the carrot cake!

  28. Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. My favorite is the cottage with the pink and white flowers. It's perfect. I am grateful for your posts showing all the different sights in Africa. My preconceived idea was grassy plains, lots of animals, and crowded towns. I was s-o-o-o-o-o wrong. Thank you for educating me. :0)
    Love your posts.

  29. Hi Desiree, Toby certainly had quite the adventure. I love that he sleeps with a teddy bear.


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