14

Wine, Whales and Music at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Our friends Perci and Ray invited us to help celebrate their five years of wedded bliss at  De Hoop Nature Reserve.  There was a Wine, Whale and Music special on so we accepted with alacrity.

The weather was beautiful for this time of the year and it was great to get away for this special weekend.

On Saturday morning we arrived just in time to join a cruise on the vlei.

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The Happy Couple

Our guide was excellent. What a great surprise to see hundreds of black-crowned night herons roosting on the bank with other herons and egrets.   We would never have seen them from the shore.  It was a fabulous start to our cruise.

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Black-crowned night heron

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Sacred Ibis and Little Egrets

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Hundreds of flying ibis, herons and egrets

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Adult and juvenile black-crowned night herons

The rest of the cruise did not disappoint.  We kept seeing more and more species but the moving boat made photography difficult.  Highlights were greater crested grebes,  lesser and greater flamingos, Caspian Terns, yellow-billed ducks, Cape Teal and black-winged stilts.

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A tree full of African Darters

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African Darter

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Greater Flamingos

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Rock Dassie (hyrax)

It was really a most enjoyable trip and it ended with another super surprise – spoonbills waiting to greet us at the jetty.

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Beautiful spoonbills with a little egret

From there  we went to the restaurant and  did some wine tasting, bought some specialty cheeses and then enjoyed a mussel chowder for lunch.

As we were leaving the restaurant somebody came and threw her arms around me.  It was my ex-colleague Taryn who was there with her hubby, Craig and daughter Ella.   What an amazing surprise.  We keep up on Facebook but I haven’t seen Taryn for many years!

After checking into our chalet, Earl had a nap, I read my book and Perci and Ray took a walk to the restaurant to enjoy the high tea.   Later in the afternoon we went for a short game drive.

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Bontebok

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Blacksmith Lapwing taking a bath

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Rhebok

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Male Ostrich

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Scrub Hare

The evening dinner was fantastic.  A quintet of a flutist, three violinists and a cellist entertained us with their beautiful music.  For dinner we had courgette soup for starters then Pork belly with mash and veggies for mains and a tiramisu for dessert.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

This morning we were up early and at breakfast by 8.   There was a lovely selection of continental goodies and then scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon.

Our morning activity involved a drive to Koppie Alleen where we would meet Lauren de Vos for a whale-watching and rock pool activities

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Black-winged stilt seen on our drive

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Grass bird at Koppie Alleen

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Southern Right Whales in the bay – on the left is an albino calf.

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Life in the rock pools

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Star fish

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Cape Robin

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Whale Tail

What a great weekend.   We are so impressed with everything that De Hoop has to offer.   The accommodation is well maintained, the restaurant serves excellent food, the guides are exceptional and there is a lot to see and do in the park.

Check out their website

4

Hermanus Weekend

Friday, 08 June 2018

The Earl drove me to Hermanus this morning.  The plan was for me to spend a girls’ weekend with Meghan while he and Tommy would have a boys’ weekend in Struisbaai.  Tom and Earl are old friends who need to catch up from time to time!

Once I was settled into the lovely holiday home we girls had for the weekend, the guys hit the road back to Struisbaai.   After they left, Meg and I went to have her car washed, do a bit of shopping and have a coffee at The Running Rabbit.

A little later another of Meg’s friend’s Sandy arrived with two German exchange students, Lici and Lina. Meg is hosting Lici and she’d brought her friend along with her.

Lici is 15 and is in Grade 10 at Bergvliet High School. Lina is 17 and in Grade 11. Lina is from Berlin and Lici from Munich.   It was so interesting chatting to them about their impressions of a South African High School.

Lina is the product of a Montessori school and has a happy relationship with her teachers.  The approach to learning is more relaxed there than it is here. The emphasis is on teaching the child rather than the curriculum. There is a close relationship between learner and teacher and they are allowed to progress at their own pace.  Lici on the other hand finds school here less strict than the private school she attends back home. They both find it really strange and annoying to have to wear a school uniform! Back home they can wear make-up and any clothing they like to school.  But in spite of the differences they are both very happy at Bergvliet.

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Meg’s Holiday Home in Hermanus

Before dinner Meg and I went with Sandy to walk her beautiful black lab. We laughed when he poohed on command.

 

We went as far as a lookout place where we could see the sea then walked back.

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Meg had a goulash ready for heating and we served it with pasta, spinach that I’d made and green beans.

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Lici, Lina, Meg and Sandy

Saturday, 09 June 2018

The girls were up early and went for a walk. Sandy went to Stanton to meet an old friend. Meg and I had brekkie together and shared our superior wisdom of how to solve the problems of all our friends and family – LOL

Later the girls made the most delicious carrot cake muffins which Meg iced with cream cheese frosting.

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The muffins in the foreground – Sandy cooking chicken curry for dinner while Meg cheers her on

It rained hard in the afternoon so after indulging in my spinach quiche for lunch we all sat in front of the fire and played Rummikub. The girls were Ace at it but we soon caught on.  It was great fun.

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Lici gets a massage from Lina before we start the game

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Rummikub in front of the fire

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Lina has a good hand

 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Meg made her delicious fruity oats for breakfast, Sandy supplied croissants and we all sat down to enjoy it.    The men arrived around 11 and had some too.

Meg had to go off to meet a friend for lunch so the rest of us piled into the Everest and went exploring Hermanus.

Our first stop was Hoy’s Koppie. It is an isolated hill rising approximately 75 metres above sea-level. In the mid-19th century, the early inhabitants of the town called it Klip Kop (stone hill).

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The steep steps up to the top of Hoy Koppie

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Tom and The Earl 

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The View

Tom had researched the story of Hoy Koppie and shared his knowledge with us.

Sir William Hoy, who was born in Scotland, was head of the Cape and SA Railways in the early 1900s. He spent frequent holidays in Hermanus and loved the relaxed lifestyle. He frequently climbed the koppie to admire the views across Walker’s Bay.

In 1912, he vetoed the building of a rail line to Hermanus. Sir Hoy died at the age of 62 in 1930. It was his wish to be buried at the summit of his favourite hill. A contour path was constructed and his fishermen friends carried his coffin up for burial in a hollow that was blasted out of the rock for this purpose.

Five years later Lady Gertrude Hoy died in England.  Her body was placed in a lead coffin and shipped back to South Africa.  Twenty fisherman carried the heavy coffin up the koppie and buried her beside her husband.  The Hermanus Historical Society takes care of the graves today.

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After climbing the koppie we went down to the waterfront.   There were dolphins in the bay and the girls also enjoyed watching the dassies.

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There were interesting sculptures to be seen too.

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Sitting on the Whale Tail Bench

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The old harbour is also fascinating. As part of the art festival there was a display of sculptures made of the plastic, hooks, fishing line and netting  from our polluted ocean. Hermien welcomed us into the tiny museum.  She is passionate about saving the Sea.   We were given a glass of water and told to drink a toast to the sea.  We were then invited to take a sprig of fynbos and place it on the sea’s coffin.   She then gave a brief explanation of what was happening to our oceans and how it was up to humankind to change their habits to protect them.  It was a very moving experience.

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A Wreath made from sea polution

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An old whaling harpoon

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The Coffin

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Sculptures from sea polution

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The Old Harbour was proclaimed ‘a Museum’ in 1972. Old fishing boats were collected and repaired for outdoor display.

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We then went to have a drink at one of the local restaurants before making our way back to the house.  We stopped at the new harbour and spotted a whale in the bay.

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You can see a barnacle on this Southern Right Whale

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We saw him quite well – but photography was difficult

Earl and I left at 4:15.  We took Lina with us to Cape Town as she has an exam tomorrow.   The others stayed another night.

Monday 11 June 2018

We were in Cape Town to celebrate The Earl’s sister’s 75th birthday.  We took her and her hubby to The Black Marlin for dinner.  It was really lovely.

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Just after Sunset – view across the bay from Carrol and Vere’s home at Castle Rock

 

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Happy Birthday, Carrol.

 

 

5

Fun Photo Challenge – Z

This week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee calls for pictures of anything beginning with Z.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind is Zebra.

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Part of the challenge includes photographs of  ‘catching zzzs’

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Lazy Lion 

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Sleeping Puff Adder found in our Kgalagadi Camp!

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Went straight back to sleep when he was caught and put under a distant tree!

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A very comfy position to sleep in

6

Kruger Adventure with Grandpa, Gran, Simon and Shan – Day 11

12 January 2018

The weather is once again hot in The Kruger National Park with temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

This morning for our  drive we drove to Crocodile Bridge Camp.  There were lots of the usual animals about and we got four of the Big Five.   Four rhino were quite far away so we didn’t take a photo.  There were a few elephant sightings but as we have many ellie photos we didn’t take of them either.   The same goes for buffalo which we saw from camp and from the bridge.  There is no restaurant at this Gate Camp but you can get coffee from a kiosk and ready made sandwiches, pies, muffins etc from the shop.  In the past we have enjoyed their pies but today there were none available so we settled for sandwiches which were also very good.

These are the highlights from this morning’s drive.

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A Bateleur finally posed for a half decent photograph

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The veld was littered with Impala – The kids now call them litter!

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A wildebeest resting in the shade

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Donkeys in striped pajamas everywhere

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A flotilla of white-faced ducks with a female knob-billed duck in the foreground

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An emerald-spotted wood-dove

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Wild Dog about to settle down in the shade for a midday nap

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But we disturbed their peace

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Such gorgeous creatures

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Yes – It’s hot!

When we got back to camp our neighbours told us about lions just three km from the bridge so we went in search of them.

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They were asleep under a tree quite far from the road but The King got up and stared at us

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Then flopped down again

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At the bridge we got this lovely Goliath Heron

We chilled in camp for most of the afternoon and then went out again for a short drive from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock.  The Amur falcons and  rollers were flocking together and hawking insects which was really interesting to watch.

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Rollers hawking insects

Here are the other highlights of our afternoon drive

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Southern White-crowned Shrike

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Burchell’s Coucal

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Snake-eagle with a reptile of some sort – see the tail

When we got back the kids went for a swim with the neighbour’s kids and later Simon went on another night hike and saw hyaena from the restaurant deck.

It was a beautiful evening and we had a braai.    It was after nine before we were ready for bed.

1

Kokstad Christmas – Part 1

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that we are currently visiting our clan in Kokstad.  We started our Christmas celebrations early.  On Wednesday The Bakers came over for a pre-Christmas dinner. We wore the silly hats and pulled the surprise pack crackers and shared the corny jokes that popped out too.  It really got us all into the Christmas spirit

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Nicoline, Shan and Scott

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Simon and Robyn

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Al, Si, Shan, Scott, Me, Earl, Lauren

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Al, Nicoline, Shan, Scott, Si, Robyn, Sean, Me, Lauren

We have had unseasonably cold weather this December so when we saw that the sun would be shining on Thursday we headed off to a dam in the mountains so the ‘boys’ could do some fishing.  What a lovey cottage we had on The Du Plessis farm in the Swartberg.

It was Allan’s birthday on Friday.   He and Simon were out fishing very early on on their return we presented the gifts and had a slap-up breakfast to celebrate his special day.

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My Rural Family

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Scrumptious Birthday Breakfast

Al is such a great dad and his kids expressed this so well in the cards they made.

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Al, Earl and Simon fished and caught a total of nine bass. They kept two which The Earl cooked for lunch when we were back home.

Because of the iffy weather we have not done much outdoorsy stuff but on Sunday at the rude hour of 6:30 am my son-in-law and granddaughter knocked on the door – Hey Gran – do you want to come for a walk.

I thought it would be a gentle stroll along gravel paths suitable for a 65 year old grandmother.

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Like this

But no –  they took me on a bundu bashing ramble across farmlands, over barbed wire fences, through long, possibly snake-infested grass while dodging thorny thistles, low overhanging branches and rabbit holes.

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Do you see the reed buck and the dog? – No?  That’s how long the grass was!

Cody smelt a reed buck – but it was too clever for him and kept dead still – all we could see were it’s horns sticking up from the long grass.

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We bent over to get through the trees

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And climbed through many tricky fences

The plan was to cross the river over a bridge and then take the shortcut back to their farm but somehow the it seemed not to be there and so we headed back through the long grass observing many pretty buck and birds before reaching home two hours after we started out!

 

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It was all worth the effort for the pretty scenes we saw

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Lovely river – no bridge

Considering that Shan and Al both have much longer legs than I, I think I did okay to keep up with them – Yes my limbs felt like jelly at the end of it but it was great fun.  I think I might join them again.

Today we celebrated Christmas with The Bakers and tomorrow we’re having the Macs over – More about that next time.

2

Kruger National Park – Day 24

3 December 2017

We bade farewell to Pat and Tony this morning and they made their way through the park for a few hours before leaving for Witbank where they are spending the night.

The Earl and I decided to have a rest day and do a few things in camp.   Isn’t it great that each rest camp has a laundry with coin operated washing machines and dryers?   Just two five rand coins;  and half an hour later my bed linen was washed and ready for the dryer.  In went the next two coins. I pressed the start button – nothing!  Oh no!  Had it been clothes I could have made a plan to hang it out but Kingsize bed linen – Noooooo.  So I rang the duty manager and within minutes two charming young technicians arrived to sort out my problem.   “It took my money but it won’t work,”  I said sadly.

‘We’re here to help,” they said scratching their heads.  Then one unlocked the machine with a key, did something miraculous and hey presto the dryer started!  “What did you do?” I asked.  “‘Magic,” he replied.

I then put a load of clothing on while the linen dried and when that was done the clothes were ready for the dryer.  By 9:30 I’d done the laundry, cleaned the caravan, watched some birds and had a swim.

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Green-winged pytilia – otherwise known as a melba finch

The Earl and I then went to the restaurant for breakfast.  By this time the temperature was rising but it was cool relaxing on the deck under the trees.  The birding was good too,

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The white-fronted bee-eaters were very active

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The marsh sandpiper was as busy as ever

After sorting out banking and email on his laptop The Earl had a nap and then we did a two hour drive next to the river to Nkulu Picnic Site and back.  The trip there was very quiet with little to see except impala.   On the way back though, the animals seemed to have woken from their naps,

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I rather like this scene of elephant, fish eagle and water buck sharing the facilities

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He’s not called a water buffalo for nothing

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This is the way to travel

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Why are these people staring, Mum?

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I really need a manacure – no time with all this childcare

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Two beautiful male Nyala greeted us

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This elephant was right next to my window

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Aren’t I a handsome chap!

It was too hot to cook tonight so we went to the Cattle Baron Take-Away and got chicken wraps and I made a Greek salad.  A perfect ending to a very hot day!

 

5

Kruger National Park – Day 23

2 December 2017 –

We haven’t seen cats for a few days and were feeling a little restless about it as it’s Tony and Pat’s last full day in The Park.   It would be nice to get one last sighting of a predator for them.

I suggested we drive to Tshokwane for breakfast because lions and leopard had been seen in that area.   Everybody agreed.

Before we left camp we found this chap foraging on the neighboring campsite.

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White-throated Robin-Chat

We drove the scenic route along the river and took all the loops we could.

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Frisky male impala were butting heads and interlocking horns – it seemed more play than serious rivalry

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A hippo still out grazing before going back into the water for the day

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The Earl aways gets a fright when these giants suddenly appear and cross in front of him

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These gentle waterbuck said a cheery good morning

There was a lull in sightings when all of a sudden we jerked to attention.  Something was crossing the road ahead of us.  Leopard, cheetah – No LION!   We all got an eyeful of her and then she was gone.  Maybe some more would follow and cross over too.  We waited a few minutes but nobody came.  Just a little ahead we saw a stationary car.  As we approached I saw them – lion lying under a tree.  A farewell gift for our friends,

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The other car left and we had them to ourselves for a while. Suddenly another lion appeared and then two of them got up together to change position and flop down again

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What an awesome sighting.  But wait – there’s more.  We drove on a little further and spotted two more lionesses lying on a log. There was a lot of foliage blocking them so we didn’t get photos but enjoyed seeing them get up and stretch before settling back down again.

We were thrilled at this sighting which was just before we got to our breakfast stop.  At Tshokwane we were amused when this pied barbet settled on a plate and himself to scraps!  I’ve never seen a barbet do that before.

IMG_8272On our return we concentrated on bird watching and enjoyed seeing a common duiker, giraffe and zebra.   As we approached the lion spot a car stopped us and said there were male lions up ahead.   Our females had left but these boys had settled in close by to where they had been. The one remained asleep but the other gave us a bit of entertainment.

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Why did you wake me up?

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Oh how tiresome – yawn, yawn!

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Don’t you know a lion needs 20 hours of sleep per day?

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Oh well – while I’m up i might as well have a scratch

When we came to the place where we expected to find a leopard on the rocks, we got a klipspringer instead!

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We decided to take a long midday break as it was really hot again today.  We swam in the pool a few times and only went to Lake Panic later in the afternoon for an hour.  I would be quite happy to spend an entire day in this hide as even on a slow day interesting things happen.  You have to sit very quietly in a hide and at first you might think there is nothing there but when you really look you start to see things. It took a while for us to notice that a Jacana at the far end of the pond had four chicks that must have been just out of their eggs.  Father Jacana looks after the kids while Mom goes off to find another mate and another nest in which to lay her eggs.

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Father Jacana wtching his young

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Squacco Heron fishing

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Pied Kingfisher with is prey

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We heard the Water Thick-knees before we them

Once again it was a perfect evening and just as we were enjoying Magnum Ice-creams for dessert I heard a rustle at the paper packet that we use for a bin. I yelled and it ran away. I suspected it was a honey badger but I caught sight of something smaller.  African wild cat perhaps?  The cheeky creature came back again and Pat said – shine your torch on it which I did and saw it was a bushbaby!.  At that moment Pat and Tony’s daughter was Skyping from New Zealand.  Chaos ensued as we raced to see if we could find the intruder.  We found him behind the caravan on the branch of a tree.  He wasn’t at all concerned and just stared at us from his safe vantage point.  Tony was able to show his daughter, Maria, the naughty creature.

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Sorry Bushbaby – We’re not the type of campers who hand out leftovers! Go find your own food!

Sadly tonight is the last one in the park for P&T as tomorrow they will make their way back home.  We still have a few more days before heading back to Kokstad.

2

Kruger National Park – Day 21

30 November 2017 Lower Sabie to Skukuza

It’s hard to believe that we have been in the park for three weeks now.  Each day has had something special and we are still loving every moment.   We now have the pack up and go routine totally sussed and everything went smoothly for our departure to Skukza this morning.  Pat’s hand is very much better and she felt that she could cope helping Tony with their tent but The Earl insisted on giving a hand – we don’t want her using her wrist too much and causing it more damage!

We hit the tar road at 6:45 and Pat and Tony took the scenic route.   Our first road block – elephants of course.  This photograph is taken through the windscreen but I couldn’t resist the cuteness of the baby rolling on the tar.

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Skukuza is only 35 km from Lower Sabie on the tar road and we did not stop for much as we just wanted to get to camp to set up.  We were just done when Tony phoned to say they had arrived. We met them at reception and took them to our site.  They decided not to join us for brekkie as it looked like rain and they wanted to set up before it came.

The Earl and I went to The Cattle Baron and sat under the Sycamore Fig enjoying the ambience. The service today was slow but when you’re in Africa you don’t really care.  When we finally got our eggs and bacon it was delicious – and the coffee was good.   While we were waiting we watched the starlings, weavers and sparrows in the tree and then The Earl said, “Hey there’s a green pigeon.”  Our first for this trip!  Where had they been hinding?

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This elusibe Green Pigeon and three others posed beautifully for us

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The spectacled weaver has a quizical look

Today was more of a rest day as it turned out to be quite hot – the rain never came.  We took a short afternoon drive and these were the highlights.

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Golden Breasted Bunting – he sang beautifully

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Trumpeter Hornbill

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Dung Beetle cleaning up the bush – such an amazingly hard worker

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Dark form Wahberg’s Eagle – I think

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A useful tool is the elephant’s trunk

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Can’t resist the cuteness

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What was he thinking getting right into the tree

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Yellow-billed hornbill

This might sound repetitive – but it was a braai again tonight.  Honestly there’s no better way to eat in the bush!

2

Kruger National Park – Day 20

29 November 2017 – A Day for Leopards

The weather was warm again today with the temperature reaching the mid thirties.

As I have mentioned in previous episodes – no two days are alike in Kruger.   Today was a good one for seeing the “Big” guys.

The bridge gave us our first thrill of the day.

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Hippos had an early morning meeting

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Saddle-bill Stork and Yellow-bill egret sharing a fishing spot

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Is the yellow-billed egret leading the spoonbills astray as the saddle-billed looks on?

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These two Fish Eagles had a confrontation over a fish

The black-shouldered kite is usually rare in KNP but due to the drought in the West of the country many have moved East and there is now an influx of them in The Park.   On one day we saw 18 of them.

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Yet another Black-shouldered Kite

As we continued along the tar road we saw a single stationary car stopped on the right hand side of the road.  It was open country with few trees and we couldn’t see anything at all.  But we never pass a stationary  car so we stopped alongside and asked – “What do you see?”  “A leopard,”  replied the rather good looking young man behind the wheel. He lovely wife was beside him with a huge smile on her face.   “Where?” we asked  and how come we hadn’t seen it?   “Reverse a little and look in the biggest tree you can see over there.” he pointed.

We looked at the tree – it was far away and we saw nothing until we trained our binoculars on it. “I have him!”  I said – “But how on earth did they spot that!”

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The distant leopard in the far away tree

It turned out that they’d stopped just to scan the area with binoculars and the lovely wife and spotted him quite by chance!   What a lucky break.  Before long there were four or five cars wondering what the fuss was about.  We were able to point out this special for them before we moved on.

Next we stopped at a look-out where you are allowed to get out of your car and sit in a boma to view the vast valley below.   At first we saw nothing but veld and trees and then The Earl said – Omigosh – look at all the elephants!

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They just kept coming – a huge herd of them

Just before we got to Tshokwane we saw a few cars staring into the bush.  Another leopard!  He was lying asleep under a bush, well hidden and a photograph was impossible.   But when he sat up The Earl managed to get one before he walked off into the thicket.

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Not our best leopard picture ever!

Tshokwane is the best picnic site in the park.  The kitchen and the seating area incorporate big trees, the coffee is excellent and the food inexpensive and good.

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The Shady Eating Area

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The Cooking Area

With out hunger satisfied we set off again and found yet another leopard.  This one was also in a tree and we could see him nicely.   But we did not manage to get a photograph.

 

we also saw lots of elephants today.   At Orpen Dam Lookout we watched them come down and have fun in the mud.

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Orpen Dam Lookout

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The View

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Elephants having a confrontation

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Mud glorious Mud – Mum, I think I may be stuck!

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Don’t worry – you’ll get out

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White-faced ducks and glossy ibis were also enjoying the dam

We spent a long time out this morning and enjoyed many fascinating sightings.

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Yellow-throated Longclaw

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Red-crested korhaan

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Male Kudu

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Playful Zebra

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Giraffe and Elephants

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Follow the leader

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Scary Crocodile

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Black Heron

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Mischieveous Monkeys

We have seen rhino a few times this trip but I am not mentioning on what day nor on which roads in case some poaching criminal comes across this blog and it helps him find his target.   Rhino are being poached at an alarming rate although Sanparks are going to great lengths to put anti-poaching measures in place.  We are delighted to have seen many men in camouflage patrolling and checking and we have heard that recent arrests have been made.

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A Happy Rhinoceros – Long may he remain safe from poachers

It was another perfect evening in The Park although the weather had clouded over.  We enjoyed The Earl’s chicken wing starter and a braai of chops, steak and boerewors with sweet potatoes and a lovely Greek Salad before retiring for the night.  Yes another great day in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 17

26 November 2017 – Satara to Lower Sabie

After the rain during the night, we thought we might have a wet pack-up this morning but although it was still overcast and cool the rain held off.  And by the afternoon the temperature rose to 35 degrees C.

We packed up, hitched the caravan, helped P&T with their tent and were on the H1-3 by 6:40 am.   P&T did some loops but we like to stick to the tar roads when we’re towing. The plan was to meet them at Tshokwane for breakfast.

Usually the tar roads are a little boring regarding sightings but today we were lucky.

At Punda Maria we’d seen the crested guineafowl which are not as common as the helmeted guineafowl and today the first one for the trip turned up.

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Elephants crossed in front of us and showed us their bums.

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I have been looking  for the weird and wonderful knob-billed duck and today he turned up in an unexpected place

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Knob-billed duck perched on top of a dead tree

Then we came upon a road block of cars and caravans

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A mating pair of lions

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Just having a break

We managed to get through the crush of cars and continued until the next road block!

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We made it to this spot just in time as the leopard was on the move and soon disappeared into the bush.  This was just 1km from the picnic site.

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Tshokwane Picnic Site

The Tshokwane picnic site serves a delicious Early Bird breakfast of egg, bacon and tomato with toast for only R25.   Coffee, of course, is extra but it is the best coffee in the park!   Pat and Tony caught up to us just as we put our order in and they ordered the same.   Should you ever find yourselves in KNP and at this picnic site, be aware that there is a huge problem with monkeys and baboons.  Guard your food!

On the remainder of the trip we continued to have some lovely sightings.

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A Zebra Crossing

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European Roller

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Elephants decorating the hillside

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Elephants scaring The Earl silly

We arrived at camp at around 11 am and got set up and then had a rest.  Pat and Tony arrived at 2 after taking the scenic route.

We all went out together again for short drive at 4 pm.  The birding was good first on the bridge overlooking the Sabie River.

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Giant Kingfisher

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Mommy Egyptian Goose with goslings

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Opened-bill Storks

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Catching something tasty

Then we went to the famous Sunset Dam.  We saw some special birds but with the sun setting photography was difficult.

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I managed a good shot of the white crowned lapwing

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Sunset Dam

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Pied Kingfisher admiring the sunset

It was a perfect evening our sweet husbands did a splendid braai for supper

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Thanks Guys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 16 – Satara

25 November 2017 – An Awesome Day

After yesterday’s heat we woke to rain this morning – very welcome as The Park is dry and they need their rains.  It was also quite cold but nothing dampens ones spirits when in The Park.  A Bad Day in Kruger is still better than a Good Day at home.

By 6:35 we were exploring the H7.   As usual we stopped for every interesting bird.  We saw common waxbill flitting about and while we were enjoying them we heard the familiar clicks and then kyip, kyip kyip – the call of the Red-Crested Korhaan.  Then we saw him strutting across the road.   He then flew up and tumbled down free-fall style.  What an awesome bird.  We expected he was showing off for a female but she was clearly not interested as she remained hidden.

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Next to pop up unexpectedly was this chap.

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We saw the usual suspects too, elephant, zebra, kudu etc  before turning onto the S39.  This drive was good too and we found a tawny eagle and some vultures.   As we trundled along we saw two cars alongside of each other up ahead.  “Either they’re friends having a chat about their next route or the one is telling the other what he has seen.  I bet it’s a leopard,” said I.
As we approached, the one pulled away and parked in front. The other indicated that we should take his place.  ” If you look carefully – you will see a leopard,” he told us. We looked but couldn’t see anything so went ahead a little way and watched some birds.  The second car left but the first remained.  He must still have it we thought so we reversed to take another look.  Oh Wow.  There he was – quite a big male but still well hidden under the tree.

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Oh those wild eyes

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J need my rest, you know

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Here’s looking at you, kid!

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How long are you planning on staying ?

Reluctantly we left the scene to let the next car have a chance and soon reached Timbavati Picnic site where we hired a skottel and cooked breakfast.  It was raining a bit but we were quite dry under the thatch shelters.

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Our return trip produced more hyena and lovely birds but it was raining so photography was a bit difficult.  Back at camp we had a rest. At 3:30 I went to see if Pat and Tony were awake – they weren’t so I told The Earl that we should skip an afternoon drive.  But when they woke at 4 they were still keen to go out  and so at 4:30 we hit the S100.  I had a strange feeling that something exciting would turn up and Pat voiced the same thought.

Sure enough we got a lovely surprise. We found the occupants of two vehicles staring into the distance.   We could just see the flick of a tail and a twitch of an ear.   Another car approached and asked what there was.  We told her not much and then one of the lionesses got up and moved!  We then all go lovely views of her and the other one until they disappeared in the undergrowth again.  We thought we might find them on our return route but they were nowhere around.

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It was certainly worth going for that short drive to find our lions!

You would think camp cooking would be problematic when the weather is cold and wet.  But we were lucky.  The rain held off and we were quite content to sit under our canopy and enjoy a fabulous meal cooked once again by our Bush Master Chef.  It was a most delicious chicken and vegetable dish cooked on the Snappy Chef. (Induction Stove)

The resident hyenas patrolled past the fence quite frequently.  One actually stopped and stared at us as if to say – Please share your meal with me!  But of course we said – No way – go and hunt your own food!

It rained in the night and we expected a wet pack up the next morning!

 

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Kruger National Park – Day 14 – Satara

23 November 2017 – Letaba to Satara and The S100.

After yesterday’s 40 degree C heat we woke to cooler conditions today.  In fact the mercury dropped by 20 degrees!

We were packed up and ready to roll by 7:00 o’clock.  Pat and Tony were to follow after going to reception to find out about getting Pat to a doctor.

The first excitement walked toward us on the tar road.   Mom, Dad and Little One

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Come on Mom and Dad – keep up!

Then they veered off the road and passed by the car.  We got a shot of Mom – or Dad – difficult to tell the sexes apart.

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She seems to be smiling about something.

When we arrived at Satara we got a call from Tony.  They were on their way and would set up camp and then head to Skukuza to see the camp doctor.

We set up next to the fence at the North-west side of camp.  There were quite a few interesting birds hanging around and posing for their portraits.

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Red-billed Buffalo-weaver

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Burchell’s Starling

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Grey-headed Sparrow

When Pat and Tony  arrived we helped them set up and then went to have breakfast at the restaurant.  They managed to get an appointment for 2 o’clock and set off for Skukuza at midday.

Earl and I had a rest and then at 3 pm set off to do a stretch of the S100, turning around and retracing our route so as to be back in camp in time.  The drive there produced some common residents.

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My favourite creatures

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Zebs had a dust bath

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A stripe of zebra

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Delighted to have this red-faced mousebird sit still for a second

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This non-breeding shaft-tailed whydah had us guessing for a while

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Red-billed quelea

We hoped to see a lot more as the S100 is famous for seeing both lion and leopard – but not luck there.  However, the birding was good.

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A lovely surprise – Trumpeter Hornbill

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Male Red-backed shrike

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Bateleur Female

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Bateleur Male

Seeing the trumpeter hornbill was special for me and I counted that as the highlight of the day.  I was in a bit of a complacent dream when suddenly I saw it, just a short distance away, so well camouflaged in the dry grass.  “There’s a cheetah!” I called out to The Earl.  “Where?” he said.  “There,” I pointed.  “Where’s there!”  he was frustrated.

“Stop!” I yelled.  “He’s going to come out in front of the car.”  And then he saw it too.

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What a brilliant surprise
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We had him all to ourselves

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The beautiful boy!

He crossed the road and then moved off into the distance.  We watched until he disappeared over the ridge.  A car approached – just a minute too late.  We were the only ones to have seen him!

Pat and Tony were back from the Skukuza by 6:15.   Pat’s wrist is badly sprained and the doctor strapped it into a brace.   She is comfortable but may have to have x-rays if the swelling doesn’t go down.

As it was so cool we decided that a stew would be best for dinner tonight. Once again our Master Chef of the Bushveld put our snappy chef and smartspace pots to excellent use and we dined in style once again.