Naturally as a mad keen birder I am choosing the word DUCK for this week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee
Oh alright then, I won’t be totally boring – here are two DOOR pictures as well.
Naturally as a mad keen birder I am choosing the word DUCK for this week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee
Oh alright then, I won’t be totally boring – here are two DOOR pictures as well.
Here are my answers to this week’s share your world questions
What goal are you working on now? Your goal can be something fun or extremely serious. Have fun with this question.
Ah goals! Since I can remember I’ve always had goals – or dreams – or lists of things to do before I die. And I’m proud to say that I have achieved most of them. It started with:- get an education, find a career, get married, raise a family. Then the goals changed to – get fit, lose weight, give yourself me-time, be more organised, get promoted, spend more time with kids, pay attention to your husband, get kids through school, sort out the junk in house, see the world etc. etc.
I worked hard to achieve and do what I should have done to reach those goals. I’m happy with the old person I have become. I’m neither too fat or too thin, I’m reasonably fit and I enjoy good health. So now I spend time with my nearest and dearest and go on wonderful vacations. Life is good.
What is one thing you’re glad you tried but would never do again?
The thing I tried only once and would have loved to do again but didn’t and never will was snow skiing. That’s because we have a shortage of ski slopes in South Africa and getting to Switzerland is a bit tricky! I can get to ski slopes now but I’m too old for skiing.
Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?
Well according to an aptitude test I did in high school, Teaching was what I was born to. So I chose it and it chose me too. I can’t imagine entering any other profession. They say it’s a calling and I usually heard the call through a telephone line when a principal phoned to see if I could fill a position. If after we die we are reincarnated I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself back in the teaching profession!
Have you ever gotten lost?
Oh please! Plenty of times. I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. I have to set the GPS to Home after driving to the local supermarket!
Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
At the moment I am going through a sad time. My Australian aunt is dying and I am so grateful for the many beautiful times we’ve had together, for the love she’s poured into our family and the fabulous memories we will always have of her. I am grateful to her sons for the wonderful care they are giving her in her last days and for them keeping my siblings and me informed. I am just so sad that it’s been impossible for us to go over to say goodbye but grateful for modern technology that enables us to send daily messages.
The Australian Adventure is over and we are safely back in our homeland – South Africa! To all the Australians who have read the blog – thank you for hosting us in your fantastic country. Almost every Australian we met was friendly, kind and helpful from the smallest child to the very old man I met and chatted to on the ferry. He struck up the conversation and showed a real interest in where I came from and he was proud when I told him that his countrymen had been good to us.
Thanks to my Aussie Family for their love and care of us, putting up with our demands and showing us a jolly good time! We love you guys and look forward to you coming to visit us in the very near future!
It was also amazing catching up with friends – the Morrises – Australians we met some years ago – your hospitality was beyond amazing and you made our Australian Birding dreams come true! Gail and Martin – wow – so sorry we didn’t have a tad longer with you guys – but our day together was awesome. We look forward to having a Kruger trip with you soon!
I thought the flight back would be easier than the one over but the opposite was true. We left at 10:30 a.m. Australian Time and arrived in Johannesburg at 3:30 p.m. South African time – 14 hours in the air! By the time we got onto our connecting flight at 6:00 p.m. I was exhausted. I guess it was because we didn’t really have a night and I didn’t even try to sleep.
However, after a good night’s sleep I felt great this morning. School started bright and early with a rousing, inspiring and welcoming staff meeting at 7:30 a.m. And so it’s back to normal life and living the South African Lifestyle!
Our second last full day in Sydney and the weather looked promising – still overcast but definitely clearing so no need to drag jackets out with us. We had a light and early breakfast at Kantine Cafe, met up with Bruce and Ella who were heading to Bondi and got a lift to Circular Quay with them. Just outside the cafe we spotted two sulphur crested cockatoos in a tree. One seemed to be making a nest in the hollow while the other kept guard.
Moored in the harbour Earl was delighted to find a big cruise ship. I am not keen on cruised but I must admit this one looked exciting and I just could have been tempted to board her. Instead we settled for a River Cruise to Parramatta Wharf.
Earl as I have mentioned many times before just loves boats, ships, fishing, the sea, lakes, rivers, dams – so long as there is water he is a happy man so he was in heaven on this almost 3 hour round trip which took in Darling Harbour, Cockatoo Island, Kissing Point, Sydney Olympic Point among other harbours and ports. The last stretch up the river becomes quite shallow and narrow and passes through mangroves which was lovley. We spotted birds like white-faced herons, ibises, pied cormorants, darters and ducks.
On the return trip we disembarked at Darling Harbour, had lunch at a coffee shop then visited the quiet, shady and gentle Chinese Gardens before walking back to our penthouse for an afternoon nap! We might be having a night out later so have to get our strength up!
In the evening we went to Wayne and Tamara for dinner. Wayne took on the role of Jamie Oliver and cooked up a storm – veal with a berry sauce followed by baked chocolate pudding. Afterwards he raided the ark and found his slides from his 1984 trip to South Africa which brought back some great memories. His son, Alexander, didn’t know what a ‘slide’ was and was completely fascinated by the old fashioned projector! We’d all forgotten which way to load the slides and fell about laughing when they appeared upside down on the screen! Finally we got it right and enjoyed the show!
My cousin Alan and his partner Lynne have for the past five years being recreating a home on a family farm in Cobbitty. Today he took Earl and me on a visit there and showed how this project is progressing. We were amazed at how he uses ‘junk’ in creative ways to create a practical home of shabby chic. Alan was not born to farm life but finds that he is spending more and more time there and is loving all aspects of the country lifestyle and his ‘shed’ is his best therapy. There are a few sheep on the farm but geese and ducks are the main livestock kept. There are also two female ostriches – just to remind Alan that his origins are South African!
Before we took the hour’s drive to the farm we stopped off at a bakery in Bourke Street for some of their speciality breads and cakes. Lynne made us pizzas for lunch – she even made the dough herself – and they were baked in a gas pizza oven!
In the afternoon we walked to the river. After a short while we were rewarded with the appearance of the Azure Kingfisher. He gave us a 10 minute display of skimming aquatic insects from the surface of the water and preening on the overhanging branch he dived from. We watched him through our binoculars but photography was difficult because of poor light and distance.
After once again indulging in delicious cakes bought from the bakery, Lynne and Alan drove us back to Sydney and spent the night at their city home in St Ives as they have plans here tomorrow.
We really have been spoilt by our Aussie family!
So, we asked our hostess after another delicious breakfast at her wonderful Kantine Cafe, what bus do we catch to get to Darling Harbour. “No bus,” came the reply, “you walk!” Thank Goodness I topped up with her excellent continental style coffee – a good strong Long Black as they call it in Oz land. Because we walked and walked and what did we see. We saw lots of people, cars and buildings, got lost and almost went to tell the Wizard that the yellow brick road needed better signposting but finally we found Darling Harbour in spite of the inadequate directions of some of the Wizard’$s followers.
What a beautiful place which almost had the feel of Cape Town’s waterfront but one shouldn’t compare because nothing is quite like it! We took a ride on a kiddie like train at a ridiculous fee of $5.00 but hey we’re on holiday and it was enormous fun! While standing in the aquarium queue Bruce rang and said he and Ella were at the Fish Market so we abondoned our place and took a 20 minute walk to join them. Wayne and his tots joined us soon after and we enjoyed a delicious lunch while on quayside in spite of the overcast and cool weather.
One would expect the fish market to be a noisy and smelly place but the aroma was fresh and the fish fare fascinating. My fisher husband found it all amazing and schemed how he could get his yellowfin tuna to Oz at these amazing prices.
After taking in as much as we cold of the amazing fish market, Bruce drove us back to Darling Harbour. En route he took us to see the vessels owned by the rich and famous. Earl saw one that he promised to get me for my next birthday.
We then met up with Wayne and his tots by which time we were hanging for a cup of coffee – rather we’d given it a miss because at a pub next to the aquarium I had the worst coffee I’ve had to date in Australia – Kantine – you have spoiled us with your fantastic brew!
Wayne booked us all into the aquarium on line which was way cheaper and got us to through fast track – no queueing! It was amazing and the little ones just loved it. Adelaide lost her Dad and was just about to burst into tears when I called her name. She then stayed close to me till the end of the tour and only asked for Dad again at the exit!
We did not have to do the marathon walk home as Bruce drove us back to 437 Bourke Road, Surry Hills. We dropped into the local bottle shop and for beers and wine and found they had a small deli so got salami, brie and olive and rosemary bread for supper. Perfect end to a brilliant day!
PS Here are some stunning shots that Earl took last night – from the balcony of our lodging on the 7th floor of St Margaret’s Bourke Street – Just a little history – it used to be a maternity hospital and my cousin Wayne was born here!
Driving in an open top jeep along the streets of Sydney next to a charming Oztrian with the wind blowing through my hair I felt like a young girl again! It was 7::30 am. and already the temperature was in the high twenties. Bondi Beach – oh wow – a clean sweep of white sand with crystal clear waves gently breaking on the shore. Young people were already playing volley ball, joggers were getting their early morning run in before work and a tractor was smoothing the sand for the crowds that were due later in the day.
Our Oztrian host – He’s from Austria but lives in Oz – left us to jog and do his morning training and we took a walk to the Iceberg Club. It has a fabulous pool overlooking the beach but we decided to swim in the sea. Bondi is definitely the place for the beautiful jet-setters of our world but there were all kinds of people on the beach – I was relieved to find that most of the early morning swimmers were my age or older. Hubby has a saw and bandaged hand so he chose to remain on the beach and keep an watchful eye on me.
We were back at the apartment by 8:45, showered and then went to our hosts restaurant – Kantine Cafe – for breakfast – poached eggs on Turkish bread served with a delicious tomato relish . The coffee is excellent too and we had two cups while waiting for Wayne and Bruce to fetch us. Once all the chatting, catching up and deciding what to do was over we set off with Wayne and Tamara while Bruce and young Ella followed in their car. On the way to the Gap Wayne drove us around smart neighbourhoods and showed us how the beautiful people of Australia live. The Gap is notorious for its suicides and although it is well fenced and their are signs up with encouraging messages of hope there are still one or two who succeed in doing themselves in! Hubby checked to see that I had my will correctly made in his favour! Yes darling all my millions will go to you!
After having a take-away lunch from Doyles at Fishermans Wharf, Watson’s Bay we drove to Balmoral Beach – another beautiful spot, calm and child friendly so many families bring their youngsters here. Earl just loved seeing the fabulous yachts and fishing boats and one in particular caught his eye – on Googling its name Tamara found that it was for sale! Sorry Honey – out of our budget!
We had ice-creams here and then it was time for us all to part company. Wayne dropped us at Mosman Bay where we got the ferry to Circular Quay. A ferry trip is just up Earl’s street and he was fascinated by the skill of the skippers and the speed at which they embarked and disembarked passengers. The views of The City, The Bridge and The Opera House were magical. What a beautiful place Sydney is.
At Circular Quay our tickets were rejected – we thought they included ferry, train and bus – but unfortunatley the guy who sold them to us misunderstood our needs! The ferry chappie kindly allowed us a free pass! We then found the number 380 bus parked and waiting to start its route. The friendly Greek driver recognised our accents and kindly allowed us aboard before he made his way to the proper bus stop. He also reminded us to get off at the correct stop.
It was almost 6 0’cock when we got home so we went to the Australian Woolworths nearby and got some take away sushi for supper – It was excellent!
So ended another ‘lousy’ day in Australia!
Before the rest of the household awoke, Earl and I crept out for one last attempt at finding the Pheasant Coucal that we saw two weeks ago. It was cool and overcast so our chances were favourable. The birds were active but there was no sign of the coucal until Earl sensed a movement and turned to see the bird quietly perched in a distant tree. Usually this birds calls but today he was silent. The bird flew off and then obligingly perched quite close by enabling us to get some good shots. It was a good end to our time in Cardiff.
When I was in England in July I became quite accustomed to hopping on and off trains to get from point A to point B but when I suggested to Earl that we take the train from Cardiff to Sydney he was not so sure. Aunt has done it several times but without luggage. No problem, I said with the confidence of a seasoned traveller, our bags are after all, on wheels. So when Plan B of getting a lift with one of the cousins became an impractical proposition due to the post Christmas holiday traffic we jumped back to plan A. And what a pleasure it was. Colette and Leonie took us to the station a mere 2 minutes away, we got tickets at $8.40 each, stowed our luggage behind the seats in the ‘quiet carriage’ walked up a couple of steps to the top deck and relaxed in comfortable seats for the 2-hour trip. Most of the other passenger were encumbered with luggage too. Our route took us through beautiful scenery – more trees, rivers and lakes to admire and before we knew it we arrived at Sydney Central!
Now my darling husband is not a happy traveller and gets very insecure in unfamiliar surroundings. I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever but quite enjoy an adventure and usually manage to find my way in the end. Of course I am not afraid to ask for directions! Without too much difficulty and careful reading of signs we found an exit that led to the taxi rank. Hubby clung tightly to the luggage while I boldly approached a cab driver and asked for a lift. He was not the friendliest Aussie I’ve met but he got us safely to our destination – Kantine Cafe -where our hosts work. After a complementary coffee and croissant at the cafe our hostess gave us the key and instructions and we made our way to the unit dragging our luggage behind us. There were a few moments of confusion but we finally go there and made ourselves at home.
We were planning to meet up with Cousin Wayne tomorrow but as Earl was trying to contact him on his mobile, Tamara messaged me on Facebook to say they were making their way into the city by train. It was a beautiful evening and walking through the city to meet them made me feel like I could have been back in Paris or London! Wayne and Tamara’s friends, Steve and Gerri joined us and we had a fantastic meal at Captain Torres Tapas Restaurant. Afterwards we walked back and Gerri gave me some good tips of where to go in Sydney. It promises to be an exciting week!
“Shall I put this biltong away now?” said Colette. “No,” I said, “I will snack on it during the day” and I popped a piece into my mouth – then I felt something hard in my mouth – what do you think – a piece of tooth! Uh oh! Just to keep Aunt company I now needed an emergency dental appointment. Lucky for me we managed to get one for 11 0’clock this morning – just an hour after my small disaster.
A very friendly young dentist greeted us and asked what had happened. “I bit a piece of biltong and out came the filling,” said I. Earl had to explain what biltong was. “Where are you from,” he asked and then said we didn’t sound like South Africans. But when I said “Yes” he said aha now that sounds South African! Oh dear those flat vowels!
Once I was settled into the chair the nurse presented me with a pair of sunglasses- so that the bright light wouldn’t hurt my eyes! Have you ever!
Of course this is all part of the adventure so the photos have to illustrate the Australian Dentist Experience.
It all went off very well and the Travel Insurance that I thought I would never need is going to pay the bill!
On our return Aunt took me to visit her neighbour who has an elephant fetish. Every room is crowded with elephants and elephant decor.
Earl has been missing the traditions of South African and been nagging about doing a braai for the Australian hostesses. Well today he could stand it no more and insisted on using the gas barbecue in the back garden. A great deal of fuss was made about the correct preparation of the sweet potatoes and vegetables and what sausage would take the place of boerewors. Eventually all was ready and he nearly platzed when he found that the gas took only a few minutes to heat the barbie! What happened to enjoying a few beers while waiting for the coals to be just right? Sorry – total fire ban in this part of the world in summer. Finally the meal was done and all turned out well – a very good meal indeed!
Another ‘lousy’ day in Australia. The first bird of the day was a rosella spotted as we were climbing into Colette’s car and then later we screamed for her to stop as a flock of black cockatoos flew next to us. They alighted in a nearby tree and we leapt out excitedly to get photographs – not an easy task as the light was wrong and the birds kept flying away.
Our first port of call was Blue Gum Hills Regional Park. It is a beautiful place with lots of wonderful gum trees and it is here that one can have a tree top adventure. If you are young and brave and after a short training course and $45 you can get all harnessed up, walk along rickerty boards and fly through the treetops on a ‘flying fox’. Yes – I thought – this would be fun but my darling husband was too terrified to let me go. On second reflection I noticed that most of the participants were under 20 so perhaps he was right to restrain my enthusiasm. Instead we took a gentle stroll along uncomplicated paths but the only excitement we achieved was watching the younger generation fly through the trees.
I called to the young lass on this shuddering course. “Isn’t it scary?” “Yes!” she replied but with a broad smile on her face!
Having seen many of Australia’s animals in the wild we weren’t that keen on visiting a zoo but Blackbutt has a good reputation so we decided to take a look. We had to pay for parking but admission was free. The park is set amongst beautiful trees and everything is pristine. Boardwalks take you to each section and you have to look quite carefully before you spot the creatures.
Colette and Leonie (who is feeling a little better after her tooth ordeal) then took us to The Sixteen Footer Sailing Club for lunch. This is yet another wonderful lakeside spot with a fabulous view. The food was excellent too!
The weather was really warm today but there was a cool breeze where we sat on the deck. What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Tomorrow is our last day in Cardiff and then its off to Sydney for a week on Sunday. We certainly have had a very happy time here!
I am just dropping in briefly to say we had a rest day today. It was very hot and there were some chores that needed doing too. And the worst part was that Aunt had to see a dentist urgently and ended up having a tooth extracted due to an abscess. She is now on strong antibiotic medication. Fortunately Earl had accompanied her to the dentist and could drive her home.
For ‘Tea’ I cooked a bobotie – something Colette had never had before. Aunt was disappointed that she could not manage an old favourite but we saved her some for tomorrow.
Bobotie, also spelt bobotjie, is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with a savoury custard topping.
This is the recipe I used.
1 fairly thick slice bread (white or brown)
375 ml milk
25 ml oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
25 ml curry powder
10 ml salt
25 ml Mrs Balls Chutney – or whatever you can get.
25 ml smooth apricot jam
15 ml Worcester sauce
5 ml turmeric
25 ml brown vinegar
1 kg raw mince – beef or ostrich
100 ml sultanas
pinch each salt and turmeric
Soak bread in milk.
Drain and mash the bread into the mince – reserve the milk for later.
Add curry powder, salt, chutney, jam, Worcester sauce, and vinegar and sultanas to mince and mix well.
Heat oil in large pan and fry onions and garlic. When soft add the mince mixture and cook over low heat, stirring, and when meat loses its pinkness, remove from stove. Add 1 beaten egg, mix well, then spoon into a greased, 28 x 16 cm baking dish and level the top.
Beat remaining eggs with reserved milk and the salt and turmeric. Pour the custard over meat mixture and put a few bay
leaves on top. Bake, uncovered, at 180 degrees celsius for 1 hour or until set.
Serve with rice and banana salad.
Mix a three quarter cup of plain yogurt and a quarter cup of chutney well
together and pour over sliced bananas. Sprinkle with coconut if desired.
Happy New Year. May 2014 be an awesome year. May you follow and fulfill many of your dreams and may it end with a ton an amazing memories.
Today’s blog will be brief.
It was another lousy day in Australia today – ha! ha! NOT! We started with an “Early” breakfast and then headed to Catherine Bay beach for our first swim in the Pacific Ocean. It was a glorious morning. The waves were just right and the water fabulously warm! Safe swimming is the order of the day in Australia and there are vigilant lifeguards on duty. It is severely frowned upon to swim outside of the red and yellow flags and constant reminders come over a public address system to warn errant swimmers to return to the safe spot!
After our swim we drove around taking in more fantastic scenery and in the afternoon we went to the movies! The Butler was a powerful movie and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.