6

Share Your World 8 May 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Cee.

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

In the summer you might find me barefoot.  Right now I am wearing shoes, but I often kick them off and wear slippers.   I like my feet to be comfortable and in winter I might put on Ugg Boots.  They may be ugly but they’re comfy.  I have the generic version – not the overly expensive ones.

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What was your favorite food when you were a child?

When I was very young, I was an extremely fussy eater but for breakfast I loved my  Jungle Oats. My mother told everyone that if it weren’t for that one meal, I would probably starve because for the rest of the day I would eat very little else.  My uncle teased me constantly and would make me cry by telling me the factory had burned down.

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Perhaps that’s why I went off it and started on eggs instead.  My sister and I would share a boiled egg – she would eat the white and I would have the yolk!

Yes – I was a very picky eater and would not eat cooked vegetables but being of Greek origin we always had salads with every meal and those I ate quite happily.    For a packed lunch, my mom would give me polony or chunks of cheese and carrot sticks because I wouldn’t eat my peanut butter and jam (jelly to the Americans) sandwiches, although I loved them freshly made.  My mother despaired of me ever eating properly but thinking back, I wonder why she worried – I ate lamb, beef, chicken and fish and plenty of salads.   Pretty healthy I think!   I didn’t like pasta, rice, potato or anything that looked suspicious. I had a fear of food and stressed if I had to eat away from home. This changed when I went away to college.  The food was awful but it was eat it or starve!   I got fat at college but lost it all in my last term – by starving myself!   My fight with food continued into adulthood but only as far as  trying to keep the weight off was concerned.  Finally in my old age I have discovered Low Carb High Fat and it fits in almost exactly with how I used to eat as a child, the only difference being that now I will eat the veggies cooked.picky-eating

Are you a listener or talker?

I enjoy conversation – both listening and talking.   Friends tend to come to me for advice and I do listen but then I try to fix things with lots of advice – not always the right approach.

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Favorite thing to (pick one):  Photograph?  Write? Or Cook?

I can’t pick one so I’ll tell you what I like to photograph, write about and cook.

I like photographing birds and wildlife.

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A striated (Green-backed) heron

I like cooking omelettes.

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Bacon, onion, tomato and Feta omelette

I like writing about my trips to wild places

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“Then suddenly we came upon a leopard languishing on the branch of a tree”

 

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for the wonderful week we had catching up with family at Gariep Dam, Free State.   The weather was pleasant and we just relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company.

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I am looking forward to planning our next trip away in the caravan.

 

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Sibling Reunion Gariep Dam – Part 2

May, all over the country, was likely to have changeable weather.  In the Western Cape we were praying for rain as our dams are empty and the earth is dry.  We also hoped that it would fall at Great Brak to dampen the fires around Rondom Mooi!   We heard that they received a spit and a spot but not enough to kill the fire completely.
In the Free State there are currently no water problems!  Gariep Dam is full and while we were there we had rain every day.  The wonderful thing about this part of the world is that it thunders, lightning flashes, you get a downpour and then it clears up beautifully till the next shower.    It didn’t dampen our spirits at all.  The squatters still managed to spend most of the time outdoors, but we ate the rest of our suppers at the bungalow.

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Andrew (farmer and pastor) gave thanks for our meal and gathering

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John and Karly’s chicken potjie was delicious

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Karly sharing words of wisdom with Eddie

My amazing hubby was moved to give all the ailing ones a therapeutic foot massage. Nothing better!

During the day each couple was responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches but most often Earl and John joined forces to cook bacon and eggs and sometimes the others joined us at campsite.  And before supper you would find us chilling on the ‘verandah’ of The Mount Nelson on Wheels for sundowners.   It was a chilled and happy time with lots of bonding, chatting and encouraging each other.

The environment was delightful.  Our campsite was shady and many of the trees were wearing their autumn colours.  The birds were chirpy and the fish were biting.

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But the plebs enjoyed their squatter camp too. This poor relation is cooking brekkie

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We often had visiting cousins who unfortunately had to be chased back into their trees

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Sundowners before dinner

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The sunrises were spectacular

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The Cape Robins were quite friendly

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African Pied Wagtail

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This Common (Indian) Myna had a wonky leg but managed very well in spite of it

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A lovely yellowfish caught and released

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So pretty

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After the rain

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The two caravan sites

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The Rondawel

On the Thursday Barbara, Andrew, Diane, Earl and I took a drive around the Gariep area and were impressed by the size of the Dam.    Gariep Hydroelectric power station is 300 meters downstream of the dam wall n the banks of The Orange River on the Eastern Cape side.  Gariep’s first two machines went into commercial service in 1971 and the last two in March 1976.

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View showing the vastness of the dam

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Big Sus and Little Sus with the dam in the background

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The Orange River with hydroelectric plant on the left

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A lot of time was spent on the “Mount Nelson on Wheels” front verandah

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But the plebs enjoyed their squatter camp too. This poor relation is cooking brekkie

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We often had visiting cousins who unfortunately had to be chased back into their trees

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Sundowners before dinner

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The sunrises were spectacular

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The Cape Robins were quite friendly

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A lovely yellowfish caught and released

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So pretty

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After the rain

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The two caravan sites

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The Rondawel

On the Thursday Barbara, Andrew, Diane, Earl and I took a drive around the Gariep area and were impressed by the size of the Dam.    Gariep Hydroelectric power station is 300 meters downstream of the dam wall n the banks of The Orange River on the Eastern Cape side.  Gariep’s first two machines went into commercial service in 1971 and the last two in March 1976.

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View showing the vastness of the dam

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Big Sus and Little Sus with the dam in the background

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The Orange River with hydroelectric plant on the left

The Orange River is the longest river in the country.  It rises in the Drakensberg in Lesotho and flows westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean.  It is part of the international borders between South Africa and Namibia between South Africa and Lesotho.  It also forms the borders between several provinces of South Africa.  The Orange River provides water for irrigation and for hydroelectric power. The river was named by Robert Gordon, the commander of the Dutch East India Company garrison at Cape Town,  in honor of William V of Orange. The original Khoi people called the river Gariep.  In Lesotho it is known as the Senqu River.

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It was a chilly day and when we got back Shirl treated us to some freshly baked scones with jam

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They were delicious, thank Shirl!

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Sunrise on our last day

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All of us before saying farewell – Earl, Barbara, Andrew, Diane, Shirley,

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The Four Stone Siblings – Shirl, Diane, John and Barbara

On Friday when we left we all agreed that this should be an annual event!   Next to turn 70???   I believe it’s John next September!

2

Sibling Reunion at Gariep Dam – Part 1

When my grandsons were very young we explained their relationship to me like this.   Granny:  Jay and Joshua, when Mommy and Aunty Lauren were little they had another mommy.   Her name was Colleen.   But a sad thing happened.  She was sick for some time and then she died when they were only 10 and 12 years old.

Jay:  Oh – is that her in the picture in Mommy’s room?

Granny:  Yes.  You can imagine that it was quite a sad time for Grandpa and his girls.  But then Grandpa decided that he needed a new wife and a mommy to help look after the little girls.  So he asked me if I would be come and be with them. And I said, Yes – I would so he became Lolly’s new daddy and we became a blended family.

Jay’s eyes widened and a big smile broke onto his face:   “Lucky for you, hey Gran!”
Of course I thought it was lucky for all of them but my precious little lad gave me a new perspective on the whole situation!   After all what did I get?  Two ready made little girls who brought great joy to my life and grew up to give me some adorable grandchildren.  He and his brother along with their mommy lived with Granny and Grandpa from infancy till their late teens – How lucky were we??

Not only that – I inherited a whole family on their maternal grandmother’s side who drew me unconditionally into the family and never questioned their brother-in-law’s choice of new wife and mother for their nieces.  Yes – Lucky for Gran, indeed!  Thirty- four years later I still feel very, very lucky.

Colleen had four siblings – Barbara who has just turned 70 and lives on a farm with Andrew in Kokstad, Kwa-Zulul Natal;   John who lives on a wine estate with Karly in Stellenbosch, Western Cape;   Shirley who along with Eddie has lived in many places in the country but now lives in Bloemfontein – Free State;   And the baby sister Diane who lives with Carey on a small holding at Great Brak River near George in the Western Cape.  As I mentioned we all have a good, close relationship and try to see each other as often as possible.  But being scattered  around the country makes it difficult for all the siblings to be together at the same time.  My Goodness even when siblings live in the same city it can get complicated.

John came up with the brilliant idea of all of the siblings, which included The Earl and me, to meet somewhere neutral to celebrate Barbara’s 70th birthday. This message was passed from one to the other but no actual plan was in place.  I was worried  – we’re old – some of us have health issues – the distances are vast – where would we find a venue that suited everyone.  I asked the question and everyone had a different idea.   “Who is organising it?” I asked.   “Would you?” came the reply.     “Yes!” I agreed.

The Earl and I looked at the map and decided that Gariep Dam in Free State should be it.  I sent out the email and within minutes I had a positive reply from everybody – Yes they would all come and yes the venue was fine.  My chief concern was for Eddie who has been undergoing intensive chemo and would not be strong enough to travel too far.  It would be only an hour and half for him and Shirl.   Those of us in the Western Cape would have the longest distance to travel but we would do it in two hops.  John and Karly would stop at Karoo National Park. Earl and I would pick up Diane and Carey at Great Brak.  Barbs and Andrew would also do it in two shorter hops and they were happy with that.

Well last week was when it all happened and I am happy to report that it went off extremely well.  The only dampener was that Carey could not join us.  Just before our week away was due, a fire broke out in the forest surrounding their property.  Diane and Carey helped save a neighbour’s house and were on the verge of being evacuated themselves.   By the time we arrived on Sunday afternoon, the fire was still burning and thick, black smoke hung chokingly in the atmosphere.    Carey was still very worried.  “Take Diane,” he said. ” And if things improve, I will drive up on my own.”    Just behind Carey’s work shop, where he builds motor homes, is a forest of gum trees.  If they went up in flames, his livelihood would be destroyed.  I am happy to report that the fire did not reach the farm but only because of the vigilance of the property owners and the fire fighters.

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The first view of the forest fire as we approached Rondom Mooi

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Fire Fighters at work at the edge of the pine plantation

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The wind just needed to whip this up into a frenzy

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Too close to Rondom Mooi for comfort

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Looking into the smoky distance from Rondom Mooi

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In spite of the fire, Carey entertained his grandsons who just loved the tractor/mower

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Daniel takes the wheel – Sit down Matthew!

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Watch out – I’ll run you down!

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Wow!  This is fun

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Now it’s Matthew’s turn

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Bella – My favourite of the Rondom Mooi dogs.

On the Monday morning the smoke still hung threateningly over the farm and after taking a drive to see how things were progressing, Carey decided that he definitely could not join us.  So leaving at 9:30 and stopping in George to shop for provisions and to have breakfast we continued over the Outeniqua Pass, then through the Karoo via Graaff-Reinet to the Free State – arriving at Forever Resort Gariep at 5:00 pm.

The Karoo’s semi desert landscape has a stark beauty of it’s own.  I just love the colours, the flatness and the koppies that break the eternal nothingness.
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The never-ending Karoo road

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A typical Karoo scene with the windmill in the foreground

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A Karoo Koppie

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A splash of Autumn Colours.

Everybody was already there when we arrived and it was a perfect evening. We set up our squatter camp next to John’s Mount Nelson on wheels and then everybody came down from the rondawel to braai with us.

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Our view of Gariep Dam

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John in charge

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Andrew, Barbara and The Earl

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Diane, Karly, Eddie, Shirl

The purpose of this gathering was to celebrate Barbara’s 70th which was in February but then there were 2 other birthdays too – Shirl turned 63 the day before we arrived and andrew turned 82 the day we left.  So I got Rachel from my favourite coffee shop to bake a big chocolate cake with Happy Birthday and the ages iced on top.

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Happy Birthday to Shirl, Barbara and Andrew

Travelling didn’t do the icing any good but it tasted delicious – best chocolate cake this side of the equator!

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Everybody listened politely as I waxed lyrical

We were all so excited to be together.  It was not easy for Eddie who is very weak but he made the effort and bonded with each of us.   Shirl was also recovering from foot surgery but never complained and gently supported her hubby, Andrew has had a few health issues but wouldn’t have missed this gathering either. Karly was the life and soul of the party in spite of recovering from recent surgery herself.   Wow – I love this bunch of positive people.   Nothing stops them enjoying everything that life still has to give!

To be continued ……..

4

Wild Adventure Chapter 13

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15 March

Lady Grum-Peigh was first in the queue with the Frend-Leighs close behind.  She raced out of the office, permit in hand and jumped into the Land Rover.  “We’ve beaten our friends!” said the Earl excitedly.  “We’ll be the first to see the lions!”

“Slow down,”said her Ladyship.  “You’ll miss the good stuff on the way!” He ignored her and gleefully overtook the campers from Kalahari Tented Camp who’d got out first.

Then suddenly a wild cat appeared and crossed the road in front of them.   The Earl screeched the breaks and yelled instructions to his poor wife but she still missed the photo! The kitty toddled off into the veld.  The Earl turned the vehicle and said, “Keep the camera on him.” Tufts of grass kept hiding him preventing good shots.  The Earl was furious.   “Why didn’t you get him – he was right there!”

“Did you get any?” asked Lady G-P calmly.

“No!”
“Well, he was on your side of the car!”
“But I was driving!”
“I’m tired of you yelling at me I’m getting out right here!”

“Well don’t let the hyena get you,” said the Earl and there right next to her door she spotted him and they both burst out laughing.

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Come out and play, Lady G-P – I won’t eat you.

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Look at my innocent eyes

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Oh well – I guess I’ll have to find somebody else

Other cars including the Frend-Leighs were now ahead of them so the Earl slowed down and enjoyed the birdlife.

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A secretary bird marching determinedly through the veldt

There were no lions or cheetahs at the waterholes but they saw tawnies on the kill.

 

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They made breakfast at Kamqua picnic site and then  made their way back.  There was a sleeping lion near Dalkeith but otherwise no big cats.

But the other creatures seen were fun.

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Rock Kestrel

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Pin-tailed Whydah

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Brown Snake Eagle

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Common Buzzard

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A Journey of Giraffe

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Wildebeest competing with Butterflies for a drinking rights

Back at camp they had a salad for lunch, the Earl had a nap, Lady G-P did some chores and Mrs Leigh prepped lamb stew for dinner. She and Mr Leigh went out again later in the afternoon but the G-Ps stayed to pack up as, sadly, it was our last night in the park.

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Wild Adventure Chapter 11 Off to Mata Mata

13 March 2016

By 6:30 the Frend-Leighs and Grum-Peighs are packed up and ready to leave Rooiputs.  Although it had stormed in the night it kindly let up for them to pack up without getting wet.

The Frend-Leighs left first as they wanted to get a good site at Mata Mata.  Their large-lensed cameras were packed so they wouldn’t be stopping for anything but the most exciting sightings.

The Grum-Peighs were thus able to follow at a more leisurely pace.  There was a lot of water lying around and they found bokkies drinking at the puddles.  They took the dune road and found a total of 16 korhaans.

Then there was a lovely sighing  Mom and Dad Jackal with their pup.

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It was great to see giraffe on the Mata Mata road and there was plenty of game around.

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“Why are there cars parked up ahead,” called Lady G-P. They looked into the bush but couldn’t see anything.  The Lord G-P said – “Look – there in the tree – leopard!

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Wow – what a great sighting.  They were about to move on when suddenly he stood up on the branch.

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I don’t think I like this spot anymore

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Let me find a more comfortable perch

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There’s a cosy hollow here – this is where I’m staying for the rest of the day

At 10:30 they arrived at Mata Mata and set up camp.  The Frend-Leighs had found a lovely shady site.

At 4:30 the Grum-Peighs were ready for another drive but the Leighs decided not to go out. It was a long way to the waterholes but the drive was rewarding.

 

They enjoyed the  little steenbok that were about and one chose to pose beautifully.

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The highlight of the afternoon was seeing a lanner at Dalkeith – he had caught a sparrow and was devouring it on the ground.

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At 14th waterhole they were delighted to find an African harrier-hawk.

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They found the leopard in the tree again but he had moved and was difficult to see. However, they managed to point him out to two other cars who were most grateful as they had not yet seen leopard.

In the evening the Earl found some good steaks at the new improved Mata Mata shop and that is what they had on the braai for supper.

 

2

Wild Adventure Chapter 10 Last day at Rooiputs

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12 March

“What will today, hold in store for us, I  wonder?” said Lady Grum-Peigh as they climbed into the Land Rover for their morning drive.  “It’s our last day at Rooiputs and boy, I’m going to miss it!”
They headed straight to Kij Kij arriving around 7 ish.  “Oh look there!” called the Earl. “Two male lions!”  That was a wonderful surprise. They were lying a little way off from the waterhole, one on each side of the road.

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One of the big boys

Suddenly Mr Frend-Leigh started his Pathfinder and raced toward them.  “It’s a brown hyena,” said the Earl excitedly. And they weaved through the parked cars to get a better view.  But the poor creature was spooked by seeing the lions and instead of going for his morning drink he headed away and up a dune.

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Oh no! What are those two doing here.  I’m off!

Then the lions were up and making their way to the waterhole as if to say – hey – nobody drinks from here but us!

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After the lions had had a good long drink they moved off into the shade and settled down for a long morning nap. The G-Ps and Leighs went on towards Melkvlei.

“What’s moving over there – oh great – Bat-eared fox!”

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Posing for his portrait at last

One of the foxes stopped and stared straight at them. “At last you’re posing for me, you elusive creature,” said Lady G-P who had seen a few but not managed to get any decent photographs.

There was a lot of game about and they saw many kori bustards and jackals.   “That eagle looks different,” called the Earl

“It’s a tawny,” said Lady Peigh “The blond version!”

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At Melkvlei Lord Peigh cooked a delicious Banting Breakfast but the Leighs continued on a bit further preferring to have muesli in the car a little later. They also had a lot of packing up to do so would return to the lions and then head home.

After breakfast the Grum-Peighs took a slow drive and enjoyed all the usual game and birds.   Then about 1 km from Rooiputs the Earl said, “Look at those gemsbok.  They’re standing stock still – there must be a predator somewhere close.”  They scanned the dunes with their binoculars – Nada.  Then her ladyship dropped her eye to a lower level and nearly fell out of the window – “They’re right there,” she whispered “under the tree.”

“What? where?” whined his Lordship.

“They’re so well camouflaged – three cheetahs – in the shade just where the gemsbok are standing.”

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A very wary gemsbok keeps a close eye on the cheetahs

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One lifts her head to see what all the fuss is about

His lordship finally finds them and is amazed at how well they could hide.

At about 5 that afternoon they returned to the spot with the Frend-Leighs.  They were on the move and then they flopped down under a tree.  They stayed with them hoping they would get up to go to the waterhole but they had to leave at quarter to 7 to get in before dark.

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Thinking about getting up

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I could do with a drink

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I love you dear cheetah

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They returned to camp and Mrs Frend-Leigh took out the leftover chili con cairn and they shared the meal with Jan.  Everything was packed up as far as possible for departure to Mata Mata the next morning and then they turned in for the night.

3

Wild Adventure Chapter 7 The Earl Helps a Distressed Car at a Lion Sighting

9 MARCH

The day started with a lanner.  This is a common bird in the KTP and the Grum-Peighs often see them chasing and catching doves. But this one decided to show off to them on the road.  He was eating insects or getting minerals from the gravel or whatever attracts all the creatures of the park to this habit.  Anyway he posed beautifully.

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After enjoying the lanner they pushed on to Kij Kij and found a beautiful male lion drinking at the waterhole.  They then followed him as he walked off toward the Nossob road.   Several cars were parked facing the waterhole and he flopped down in their shadows.   Eventually they decided that enough was enough and set off in search of other game

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A kori bustard entertained them by showing them how to take a dust bath.

IMG_6213IMG_6215IMG_6216When there is little game to be seen the G-Ps keep a sharp eye out for birds.  Even the little familiar chat is good to see.

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At Melkvlei waterhole there were lots of gemsbok.

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On their return they found the male lion sleeping in the shade of a tree. Lady G-P aimed her camera but suddenly the car started moving forward.  “Hey – I’m trying to get a shot,”she complained.

“But this guy in front is calling me to chat to him,” replied the Earl.

He pulled up next to the hired four by four.   “I’m so sorry,”said a British voice “But I stopped here to see this lion and now my car is dead!”  There were two men and two women in the vehicle and they all looked terrified.

“Don’t worry,” said Lady G-P, “My husband will fix it.” She has great confidence in her her husband’s MacGyver type skills.

The Earl turned the car around  with a view to jump starting his dead car.  “Just keep an eye on Leo.”said His Lordship as he climbed up and opened a rooftop box to retrieve his tools.  “He’s sitting up!” yelled Lady Peigh. But her hero was not fazed.   He took out all the tools he needed and passed them to her.

“He’s standing up now!” Lady Peigh was getting nervous. Leo sniffed the air and decided the smell of his Lordship was not to his liking and dropped down again and went back to sleep!

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Leo licked his lips as he contemplated an earl for dinner

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Nope – not worth the effort – think I’ll have another nap instead

The Earl decided that caution was the better part of valour and quickly hitched the tow rope to the distressed vehicle and towed him to a safer spot.   The car did not start while being towed but when they stopped the Earl found that it was a loose connection and fixed it pronto.

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The First Earl of Struisbaai using his MacGyver skills

The British tourist were most grateful.  They had no tools in the hired vehicle and were quite unprepared for any mishap.   Lady G-P would never travel without her personal handyman.

They went back to look at the lion and wait for the Frend-Leighs and then took a slow drive home finding a pale chanting goshawk and a few  ground squirrels on the way.

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Isn’t he beautiful

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On guard and ready to warn his friends of pending danger