10

Photo of the Week 15 June 2017

This week’s challenge for Photo of the Week is Ships and Boats

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Tall Ship in Sydney Harbour

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Meisho Maru – Japanese fishing boat wrecked near Cape Agulhas, Western Cape South Africa

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My husband’s ski-boat, Kiora – Struisbaai Harbour, Western Cape South Africa

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Rowboats on the hard at Struisbaai Harbour

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Narrow Boat on a waterway in Hertfordshire, England

2

Day Trip to Robertson and Barrydale

The Autumn weather has been awesome in our neck of the woods.   We’re desperate for rain so it’s with a smidgen of guilt that we’re enjoying the sunshine.   May it not last too long!

They were upgrading the electrical services in our section of Struisbaai on Wednesday so the electricity was cut from 8 until 5.   We used this as an excuse to go out of the day.   After all we couldn’t use the internet for banking and other online chores.

Such trips just bring home to us how privileged we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country.  In spite of the lack of rain the scenery is still stunning.  All the farmlands looked like they’d survived the dry spell and the sheep and cows were all in good health.

At midday we stopped at Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farmstall.  It’s on the R317 half way between Riviersonderend and Swellendam.  You have to go a little way down a dirt drive until you come upon it.  They also have self catering cottages next to the river.   The last time we passed this way it was closed so it was great to find it open for lunch on Wednesday.   What a picturesque little place it is.   We could choose a table either inside or out.  As it was such a beautiful day we sat on the patio and enjoyed the gorgeous garden.   The Earl had a chicken wrap and I the chicken salad.   No complaints from either of us.

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The gorgeous garden

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Interesting table decor in the form of a very pretty white and ginger tipped cat!

Our next stop was Springfield Wine Estate in Robertson.   I am rather partial to their Sauvignon Blanc – Life from Stone – so we had to pick up some supplies.   It is my only vice.  And it’s a very pretty estate to visit.

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One drives along an avenue of autumn colour to get to the wine shop

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So peaceful to sit and enjoy the dam in the shade of the trees

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An Egyptian goose enjoyed the peace too

We continued our drive enjoyed more scenery and then  stopped at Barrydale.

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The quaint little town of Barrydale is on the border of the Karoo and the Overberg and is named after Dr Jame Barry who has an interesting history.

Dr Barry (1789 to 1865) was a surgeon in the British Army, served in Cape Town and did much to make the lives of wounded soldiers better. Dr Barry also improved the conditions of the native inhabitants.  This dedicated doctor also performed the first caesarian section in Africa in which both the mother and child survived the operation.   However, it was only after his/her death that it was discovered that Dr Barry was a woman.  He/she’d lived his/her whole adult life pretending to be a man so that he/she would be taken seriously in the medical profession.   How awful that a woman of her generation had to go to such lengths to live her dream.   More interesting facts about James Barry here

Barrydale, like the person after whom she is named, is a unique little town.   It is culturally mixed having both English and Afrikaans residents and a number of people from Europe have also settled here.  I would describe it as a colourful town filled with arty restaurants and shops.

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How cute is this bright yellow house with its hot pink window frames!

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Why not have a purple pizzeria

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I’m loving the Orange Pots with Karoo type designs

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We bought some Karoo lamb from the cheerful butchery

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I just love the windpomp!

The most intriguing restaurant is the very rustic Diesel and Creme.   It was getting towards afternoon tea time when we got there and I was craving a bit of sweetness.   Nothing nicer than their granadilla cheesecake for me and lemon meringue for The Earl.  He also indulged in a double thick chocolate shake.

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The coffee was good too

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It’s a place that is calling back the past

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Now that’s a cool caravan

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A bike and car collector’s dream

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Don’t you just love it!

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House sparrow looking for crumbs

It was certainly an interesting visit – always fun to go to Barrydale.

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4

The Chinese Garden of Friendship

Today’s Fun Photo Prompt is Gardens

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a Chinese garden in Chinatown, Sydney, Australia. It follows the design of typical private gardens from the Ming Dynasty.  One can dress up in traditional costume to help gain an insight into the into Chinese heritage and culture. It’s a tranquil and peaceful place to chill out in the middle of the city.

These photographs were taken on a visit there in January 2014.

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4

Taking the Waters of Warmwaterberg

It was chilly in Struisbaai on Monday and we knew our friends Tom and Meg were at The Warmwaterberg Hot Springs enjoying the warmth of the sunny Karoo days.  They were due to stop over and visit us on Wednesday.  “Let’s drive up there and surprise them,”  suggested The Earl.  “My bones could do with some warming up.”

This is the beauty of retirement.  You can just decide spur of the moment to do something and work just doesn’t get in the way.   We’ve caravanned at Warmwaterberg before but this time we decided to take a luxury bath house.

The two hour drive is super picturesque especially over the Tradouw Pass.

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We stopped in Barrydale for a bite to eat.   Diesel and Creme were closed for renovations so we tried the Country Pumpkin instead.  It was a quaint place and it was pleasant sitting in the sunshine but service was slow.  A tourist bus arrived at the same time as we did so the staff were extra busy.  I didn’t think I’d get lucky requesting making a Banting issue so we just ordered toasted egg and bacon.  The waitress thought I was a bit odd leaving the bread on the plate!IMG_7273

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The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a common bird in the area and one obligingly posed for us as we approached Warmwaterberg.

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Check in went efficiently and we were assigned Bath House 3.   Tom and Meg were in Number 4.

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The enormous bath in the room is the main feature of this accommodation.

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The accommodation is on two levels – The Earl is standing in front of the bath above.

The public pool area had three pools – two hot and one cold.  They are fed with untreated water from the artesian spring where it is 44ºC at the source.   The water is rich in iron and pleasant to drink too.

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We made friends with another couple in the pool and after a relaxing afternoon of languishing in the warm water we went to have a cup of coffee with Sandy and Shirley at their caravan.

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Bonding with new friends

Our  accommodation overlooked a beautiful valley and the mountains were beautiful in the setting sun.

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We no longer have furbabies so the feral cats that roam the estate found themselves welcome at our cottage.  They are all really pretty and healthy; clearly because the visitors feed them well.

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On of the friendly feral cats or rule the slaves that visit the spa

Peacocks also graced the grounds and came scrounging for scraps.  There are lots of shady trees and we enjoyed watching the Cape Weavers and Cape Sparrows were busy building a nest in our eaves.

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Mr Peacock trying to woo Ms Peahen

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Mrs Cape Sparrow inspecting a new nest

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I’m sure this is good for lining, my love, said Mr Cape Sparrow

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Meggy enjoying a rest in the shade of an acacia tree

We enjoyed the outdoor pools but having our own bath to luxuriate in, in the privacy of our own room was also fun

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The water is hot, soothing, relaxing and drains your energy – so is perfect just before bedtime

The two nights spent at Warmwaterberg were perfect.  We had fantastic weather and even the evenings were warm.  If ever you pass this way, do not give Warmwaterberg and Barrydale a miss.

More on Barrydale and Struisbaai to follow.

 

 

 

0

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 ……..