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Out on a limb

This week’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is Limb

This immediately brings to mind the idiom “to go out on a limb” which means being in a dangerous or unrecommended position when making a decision to do something.  I have often found myself out on a limb.  While on that limb I have not felt I shouldnt be there at all. It’s only when the situation is over and I look at it with 20/20 hindsight that I doubt my sanity and say to myself,  “What the hell were you thinking! What sane person would do what you’ve just done?”   For example when Hubby announced that Number 1 daughter was having a hard time in her marriage I said – bring her on home – along with 2 tiny babies aged 18 months and 4 months respectively. Crazy – it was an insane time – the kids were hyperactive, Mom in no position to cope, I was working full time in a demanding teaching post – at the peak of my career and loving it and now I had to return to working Mom/Gran status. Yet I told everyone how great it was to have the privilege of helping our daughter raise her kids.  I hardly noticed the exhaustion, the stress and the drama of fighting an extremely tricky custody case in court.   When said case was won, I retreated from the limb and felt an incredible lightness and only then realised what we’d been through. But that was not the end – we continued to help raise the boys until they were 17 and 18 years old. When they were 4 and 5 I gave up my job and only took relief positions until they were 12 and 13.  Why hadn’t I stopped earlier? – the pressure was off and I had time to devote to helping them through primary school – both were ADHD and dyslexic.   During that time we went out on other limbs for other reasons and for other people and only faced the consequences afterwards.   Sometimes we fell off and were hurt but we always picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and went straight out onto another limb.  This happened when making decisions about our lives,  helping out friends or complete strangers and never did we hesitate to think – what will happen if this doesn’t work out?

Granny with Jay and Josh on hip

Gran with her boys in 2000 -Jay 3, Josh 2

2015-11-27 Retake of boys and gran 2

Gran and her boys in 2015 Jay 18 Josh 17

Then one day we chopped down the tree, left the family home and retired to to our holiday home 230km away.   Omiword – the hindsight – I read diaries I kept and exclaim to my husband – Why the hell did we do that!  Were we quite mad!  At a time in our lives when we should have been winding down and indulging our own needs we started over with a fresh new family and continued to live life at full speed ahead.   And we don’t regret a minute of it.  We survived and so did our kids and friends.   But now!  Now we’re doing our own thing. Now we’ve found a new tree with different limbs to go out on.  Now the limbs are half as dangerous and purely for our own fun.   We will continue to go out on them until they break with the weight of us and we simply can’t any more.

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo 21 – A Wet Day in Addo

NaBloPoMo

Who would believe that we would have rain in Addo Elephant Park in November!  It was so hot on our arrival day but now it is cold and wet!  But this has not dampened our enjoyment of being in the bush.  We are not diehards but we certainly make a plan to make things more comfortable.  Thank Goodness I thought to pack some warm clothes.

It rained throughout last night and was still raining this morning so we stayed in bed a little later – no point rushing out in the cool of the day as the whole day would be cool!  It let up enough to make a hearty breakfast and while Earl was preparing he had a demanding visitor.

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This cheeky fork-tailed drongo asked to share our breakfast

It seems that butter is a delicacy enjoyed both by the drongo and the weavers. Before Earl could stop the drongo he’d taken off with the butter from the egg pan!

After rescuing our breakfast from the birds we sat down to eat and then set off to explore. It rained on and off the entire day!

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Mr Kudu was the first to greet us

We saw elephants frequently and I will just show a few of the special ones here

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King of the road was this bull leisurely strolling towards us and not given a damn about the cars. This is taken through the windscreen

 

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Don’t worry he was really friendly

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He could have put his trunk right through the window but he was more interested in eating his lunch

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He uses his trunk with such skill

Of course the warthogs have the run of the park and we saw plenty of them.

We also got up close and personal with red hartebeest and zebra.

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The babies are adorable

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In spite of the rain the plains were full of game

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The zebra were in playful mood

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And quite affectionate toward each other

The birding was most rewarding – they did not seem to mind the rain.

 

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Glossy starlings made many appearances

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Two beautiful spotted thick-knees

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An orange throated longclaw posed like a model

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Of course he is a handsome chap!

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A red-necked spurfowl showed off her chicks

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The hyperactive stonechat was hard to get but finally he sat still and obliged me with a half decent photograph

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The resident Jackal Buzzard shows he’s just as handsome as the visiting steppe buzzard

We exited the south gate and went to the little village of Colchester   just outside the park to do a bit of shopping and had lunch at Taste of Africa – a chicken salad that lacked imagination!

We arrived back at camp at 4 o’clock.  We had every intention of doing a braai for supper as the rain had stopped but by  5 it was raining again so we opted for dinner at the restaurant.  Our venison hotpot was served with mash, butternut and spinach and was to die for!

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Early looking surprised at the excellent food

We’re having trouble with our portable wireless devise so might not be able to do a blog post tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be able to use my phone or Earl’s tablet as a hotspot – depends on how much data is left!

But now I will be going to sleep with the sound of rain on canvas – I do so love my offroad caravan!

 

 

 

 

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 23 and 24

24 June 2015 Bitterpan

We hear lions this morning but none appear at the waterhole. We cook breakfast, chat to our neighbours and exchange details then leave for Twee Rivieren.
It is another roller coaster ride over the dunes and the scenery is great. We then take the dune road toward the Nossob – Twee Rivieren road but we have only a few sightings.

Affectionate jackals

Affectionate jackals

A secretary bird

A secretary bird

Big herds of Springbok

Big herds of Springbok

Ostriches descending rapidly from the ridge of a dune

Ostriches descending rapidly from the ridge of a dune

Erich's windebeest at a waterhole

Gemsbok at a waterhole

It is our grandson, Jay’s eighteenth birthday today.  We have had no internet or cell phone coms so are delighted to be able to ring him when we get to Twee Rivieren – the only camp where such luxuries are available.

Happy Birthday, my boy - What's that you say - You've been selected for Western Province Fishing?

Happy Birthday, my boy – What’s that you say – You’ve been selected for Western Province Fishing?

Doesn’t Earlybird look cute with my pink iphone on his ear?  The exciting news of Jay being selected for Western Province delights him. Watch out Shelly Beach – Here comes Jay!

We spend the afternoon relaxing and have a braai for dinner.

25 June 2015 Twee Rivieren

We set off early and are the first car in the queue. I tell Earlybird he is making a mistake choosing the Mata Mata road as it was very quiet in March and we had had all our good sightings on the Nossob road.

“The fact that we saw nothing yesterday,” I said, “is because it was the wrong time of day.”
I don’t like travelling at 40 km/hr. It is too fast in a game reserve. As we whiz by I see something right on the side of the road and yell, “Stop –  lion!”

Earlybird sees it at the same time a skids to a halt. We’ve almost passed a pride of 8. The two males are proudly watching their cubs while the moms cross over to the other side of the road.

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We are the only car for half an hour – nobody else comes while we’re there. We move on and alert several others as we pass them.  It’s fun to see their bored expressions change when they realise that good a sighting is coming up soon!
Lions are not the only exciting things to see in a game reserve.  We are very excited at our next observation.

There was a whole family of these cute little meerkats

There was a whole family of  meerkats – on the wrong side of the road for good light – and this chap was taking his guard duty very seriously

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Gemsbok having a confrontation

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Erich’s favourite surveying the world from the top of a dune

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Male and female yellow canaries singing sweetly

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Marico Flycatcher looking dapper

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It was interesting to see this little steenbok digging for roots with its front hooves

I have to take back my words about this being the wrong road to take today – because in addition to our lions and other creatures we have three cheetah sightings

After we have breakfast at Kamqua picnic site we drive  on a bit further toward Mata Mata and find  some cars parked. They tell us we’ve missed three cheetahs  trying to get lunch.   Then we see them!

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We follow them as they make their way through the bush.

IMG_7205 IMG_7208 IMG_7214We think they may try to hunt again but instead they lie down under a tree and so we leave them in peace.

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Soon after this we spot another cheetah, on her own, sitting up on the ridge.  She then walks along the ridge and disappears down the other side.

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As we travel on Earlybird stops and says – Look at that gemsbok – We look and see his is standing stock still and staring up onto the dune ridge.  We scan with our binoculars and after a few minutes I spot her.

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She starts to move towards the springbok and gemsbok.  They all move away and the springbok cross to the other side of the road.

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We drive up the hill toward Killie Krankie to get a better view.  She is patient and does not move for ages.

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Eventually we leave as all the animals are aware of her and she won’t hunt today.

As we travel back to TR cars stop us to say they have seen the lions but when we get back to the spot they are no longer there.  What a fabulous last day we have had.

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Namibia – Saffies and Aussies on Safari – Day 12

Saturday 13 June 2015 Halali to Okaukuejo

By 7:00 a.m. we go off to have our last breakfast at Halali.

Earl forgets to refuel so we can’t take the long route to Okaukuejo.  We stop at a few waterholes but as we get nearer and nearer to Okaukeujo it became drier and drier.

Still we enjoy what we see, the highlight being a honey badger in its natural habitat and not scrounging in dustbins for tourists’ left-overs.

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A nice mix of creatures

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He is too quick for a good photograph

He is too quick for a good photograph

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Honey Badgers are tenacious little creatures with little fear. They will stand up to lion should there be a confrontation. Their hide is tough and unpalatable to most predators.

We check in at reception at 9:00 but of course our rooms are not ready.  However, we get our numbers and take a look at what facilities they have to offer. We are pleased to see there is a braai.    So before going for a drive we shop for supplies.   Luckily this shop is better stocked than the previous two camps.  We get fresh tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, potatoes and onions. The meat on offer is ‘game’ but no mention of which animal.   It looks good so we buy fillets and steaks and some sausage.   We also indulge in an ice-cream treat, stow the goodies in the car fridge and set off for a our drive.

Okaukuejo

Okaukuejo

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Male kudu with his females

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Shy Steenbok

This jackal was hiding away to take a nap

This jackal was hiding away to take a nap

We return at 12:00 but the rooms will not be ready till 14:00  So we have a drink next to the pool.  Erich and Earl climb the tower and then come back to tell us that they’ve spotted elephants and would we like to go for a short drive to find them. Of course we do – and we find them.

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They are heading toward the camp waterhole and so we race back and sit there and wait.  A springbok stands stock still staring into the distance and Wendy says, – I think he senses the ellies.  Sure enough they appear at that moment, come down to drink and play and it is fun to watch.

Here comes the matriach

Here comes the matriarch

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We then check into our chalets

For the record:   Bush chalets are either two bedroom (4 beds) and one bathroom or one bedroom (two beds) one bathroom at Etosha.  Halali and Okaukuejo have braai facilities.  Halali provides crockery and cutlery – Okaukuejo does not.  There is no stove or hot plate.  There is a fridge in each unit. There is a kitchen with sink, kettle, cups and saucers and tea, coffee, sugar provided.  Work space is limited.  You need to bring your own pots, pans, chopping boards, braai kit etc.

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Comfortable bedroom

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Basic Bathroom

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Small open plan kitchen/sitting room

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Basically equipped with fridge and sink

While I am waiting to get my keys from reception there is a man ahead of me in the queue.  He asks if there is DSTV.   “No sir, – no wifi – no TV – We have a waterhole with live animals”

“Oh no – I want to watch the rugby”

“The springboks are here,” I joke.

He is not amused.

We relax for the rest of the afternoon visiting the pool and the water hole and enjoy a great braai for supper.

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Caravanning in the Kgalagadi Twee Rivieren Tuesday 31 March 2015

Today is our last full day in the park.  We are up at the usual early hour of 5:15 and ready to leave by 6:15. From tomorrow gate opening time moves to 7:00 am.

It is still overcast but the air temperature is warm.   We take the Rooiputs Road.  Just before Rooiputs Jim and Maureen stop ahead of us.  I look to the right and spot one cheetah, then Earl says there is one in the tree – then a second one jumps down from the tree. We watch the three cheetah play and roll and generally get going for the morning.  Soon other cars gather and we all jostle for position while watching what the cheetahs will do.  Eventually they make their way to the ridge and disappear.

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At 7:15 we find a tawny eagle that is very photographable.  There is a Lanner in the same tree.

At quarter to eight we find the same two male lions we saw yesterday.  They are fat and lazy and do very little but sleep.   We wonder where the females are and Earl finds them on a distant dune but they do not make a proper appearance.  After watching the more wakeful male do his ablutions we move on as the loo is calling.

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At Melkvlei we have a brief loo break then move on to see if we can find the other cheetahs but don’t have any luck so we return to Melkvlei for breakfast.

Later we find one of the males on the move. We hear the first one had already gone over the ridge.

We then make our way back to Twee Rivieren stopping to enjoy the smaller things.

Back at camp, I do the laundry and make sandwiches for lunch.   The Pearl Spotted owl is back in our tree and while photographing him I find a brubru as well.  Earl takes a nap and I wander around camp to do some birding.  When he wakes he joins me.  We then go for a short drive to find more birds.  We do find a Brant’s Whistling Rat!

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Brubru

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Groundscraper Thrush

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Ground Squirrel emerging from his hole

Brant's Whistling Rat

Brant’s Whistling Rat

Secretary Bird on top of tree

Secretary Bird on top of tree

Scaly Feathered Finch

Scaly Feathered Finch

For supper Maureen makes a delicious lamb chop curry.   We turn in at 9. Tomorrow we will wake a little later, pack up and leave KTP at about 9.

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Caravanning in the Kgalagadi – Nossob Wednesday 18 March 2015

We wake to a calm and pleasant morning.  But there is desert sand everywhere!   Maureen and I head for the showers at the same time and decide to deal with clean up after our morning game drive when it is light enough to see. The showers are cold again this morning and as the temperature of the day is cooler I don’t feel as tolerant about the cold water as I did yesterday!

We head North on our drive and see very little.  There is a family of three jackal that amuse us and watching the Lanners chase doves at the waterholes is always fun.

They are up to something

They are up to something

Annoying a bateleur

Annoying a bateleur

Earl has a tummy ache and we decide to return to camp. At 9:30 I give Earl a Myprodol.  An hour later the pain is gone!  It  It just 10:40 when we get back to Nossob and the delivery truck has arrived. However, very little  produce is delivered.  We buy water, ice a packet of tomatoes, bread and some canned foods.  I spend the next hour or so cleaning up the sand and wiping down the caravan.  Fortunately there is no damage.  We set up the side wall of the canopy and all is well again.

Maureen and Jim arrive an hour later and I take all the dishes from last night to wash.  I boil some eggs and make and add them to our left over salad which we all have for lunch along with some canned fish and 3 bean salad that Maureen produces.

After lunch Maureen and I both have  a bit of washing to do and to of course the lunch dishes are done before we go to the pool for a swim.  Earl has a nap and feels much better afterwards.

We go for our afternoon drive at 4:30 taking the South Road and Marie se Draai.  We stop to watch a PCG catch and devour a mouse.

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On the way back on the Nossob road we see a traffic jam caused by 18 lions lying asleep all the way across the road.  We decide to turn around and go back via Marie se Draai.

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Supper is a delicious Chicken and vegetable stew cooked by Maureen.  Stormy weather threatens and there is a spit and a spot of rain but nothing soaking.  We photograph a lovely rainbow and pray that more rain will fall.  The wind is blowing but not as violently as yesterday.  We watch the lightening for a while and then decide to turn in early.

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Caravanning in The Kgalagadi – Wednesday 11 March 2015

We have still not learned to keep up with Jim but we have improved.   Maureen is second in the queue, a chap named Des – a hardened bush whacker who has to be out first – has been waiting since 5:45!   I am third!  We chat with Des and he says it is vital to get to the waterholes as early as possible and that if something exciting is going to happen it must be right next to the road or it won’t be worth watching!  But we are still torn between wanting to see the cats and wanting to enjoy the early morning birdlife!

It is already 23 C and rising.   The first animal of the day is a Black-backed jackal.

By 7:10 we’ve spotted Gemsbok, Springbok, Kori Bustard Giraffe and Tawny Eagle.

Our first proper stop is at 13th Waterhole where there is quite a bit of action.  A jackal is drinking and  so is a large tortoise.

Black-backed Jackal taking an early morning drink.

Black-backed Jackal taking an early morning drink.

The birds – Namaqua doves, red-headed finches, lark-like buntings, grey-backed sparrow-larks, yellow canaries, Cape sparrows and laughing doves are flying down is flocks grabbing a drink and flying up into the trees again.  The juvenile Gabar and a Lanner are there swooping down on the hunt.  We see the Gabar take a lark-like bunting and settle in the tree to enjoy it!

Larklike buntings

Larklike buntings taking refuge in the trees

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Juvenile Gabar with prey

We then head to the breakfast spot – Kamqua – and find a good table under a tree but the shade hasn’t reached it yet so Jim uses his canopy which works perfectly.  This time we decide to have muesli and yogurt.

We then head toward Montrose Waterhole find very little so turn around and come back. We find a hyena lying in the shade on the side of the road.

He gives us a look that says "Hey - what are you looking at?"

He gives us a look that says “Hey – what are you looking at?”

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Just let me sleep!

As we continue I yell STOP  Go Back, I’ve seen a White-faced  Owl.  Earl reverses and sure enough there among the foliage is the bird I’ve been looking for in camp! Soon after this we find 4 spotted dikkop.

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There were supposed to be a pair of these in camp but we never found them

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One of the four spotted dikkops we saw

At Dalkeith a lovely family of ostriches runs away from us.

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We watch a Namaqua Sandgrouse take drink

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And a grey headed sparrow goes rock jumping

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A car stops to tell us there is a lion at Craig Lockhart and when we get there we look toward the waterhole and see nothing.  The chap in the car parked next to the big tree that dominates the site points next to us and there in all his glory sits a big male lion!

No peace from the tourists

No peace from the tourists

Please go away

Please go away

Or I might just eat you

I wonder what Human tastes like

I have very sharp teeth

I have very sharp teeth

Half an hour later we find 4 cheetahs resting under a shady tree.  We return to camp after a cursory glance at some beautiful giraffe and then return to the cheetahs later in the afternoon. They wake up and mover around and we hope to see them hunt but all too soon it is time to go back to camp so we don’t have that privilege.