Fun Photo Challenge – Free and Easy

Here is my contribution go this week’s Fun Photo Challenge from Cee

012 Earl and Allan on Boat as seen from Early Mist 3-001

Free and Easy Lifestyle – Fishing on the lake at Sani Valley Lodge

329 Magpie Geese

Magpie Geese swimming free and easy – Australia 2014

2010-06-18 008

Free and Easy Fun on the Rocks – Cape Agulhas 2010

2010-06-23 020

Free and Easy on the beach – Struisbaai 2010

2010-06-23 054

Free and Easy Toasted Marshmallows – Struisbaai 2010

Flamingos flying

Taking to the sky – fee and easy – Greater Flamingos – False Bay Ecology Park

Jay and Josh 1

Free and Easy in the Sea – Fish Hoek Beach – 2006


Post a Day Weekly Photo Challenge Satisfaction

The theme for the  Weekly Photo Challenge is Satisfaction.

What a lovely prompt this week.   There are so many photos I could choose as I really find many things in my life satisfying. I’ve chosen a few that I think reflect the meaning of the word.


My grandson – satisfied with his catch at Sani Valley Lodge, KZN

Me and My Girls

Surrounded by my last class of Grade Ones at the last day of school in my last year of teaching. Most satisfied that it was a good career.


My Hubby – Content with his four grandchildren


Satisfied with the retired lifestyle – caravanning at Ebb and Flow – Garden Route National Park Western Cape


Share Your World 13 March 2017

Here are my answers t0 this weeks Cee’s Share Your World Challenge

Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

Where I live there are no elevators but when I’m in a place where there is one I only press once. If it takes too long I use the stairs.  It’s usually quicker to use the stairs and as I use a step counting watch it helps my totals. But there are times when going up and down stairs with packages or luggage is not very practical so the lift I will use.   I have a friend who avoids lifts at all costs as she is terrified of them. This is phobia that started when we were kids after watching a movie with a scary lift scene in it.

Do you plan out things usually or do you do them more spontaneous (for example if you are visiting a big city you don’t know?)

I do the initial planning for our major holidays – where we will stay, for how long and more or less what we would like to do while there.  But we are both spontaneous and would change plans at the drop of a hat.  Some of our local trips are decided today, leaving tomorrow.   Trips abroad can never be last minute as it takes time to get Visas and most countries require South Africans to have visitors’ visas  before entering their borders.  This takes time and is fairly expensive – so yes – planning is required well in advance.

Describe yourself in at least four uplifting words.

Loyal, Entertaining, Adventurous, Fun.

If you had a choice which would be your preference salt water beaches, fresh water lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert? 

All of the above.  I have lived near the sea most of my life and can’t imagine my permanent residence being anywhere else. I go to the beach almost daily, my hubby has a fishing boat, we like fresh fish – no – we could not live inland.


Kiora is his pride and joy

Our holiday destinations often include a stay next to fresh water lakes or dams – you’ve guessed it – for freshwater fishing.   There is something about being next to a calm body of water that is calming – and I love it.


Sani Valley Lodge at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains

Pictured above is our favourite Freshwater venue – and there you might also find a hot tub!


This one was meant for Granny and Grandpa but the kids decided it was theirs!

I went on a skiing holiday more than 20 years ago and loved it but it’s not top of my list anymore.


The Earl and me about to embark on our first ski lesson – ski instructor on left

I’ve been on two short ocean cruises and thoroughly enjoyed them – but haven’t been tempted to make a habit of it – but now that I’m older I think it might be the best way to see Europe and so a big one is on our bucket list.


On board the Achille Lauro – a four day cruise from Durban to Bazaruto Island and back.

The desert certainly has its own appeal – done it got the photos but not rushing to do it again.  However, I would encourage everyone to visit a desert at least once in their lives.  Our desert of choice is The Namib and it is awesome.


Climbing a red dune is compulsory

The one thing not on this list is actually at the top of mine – The Bush!   I will never grow tired of visiting the wildest parts of Africa.   We had to cancel our Kruger National Park trip because the Earl was still recovering from surgery but it won’t be long before we’re back!


Nothing beats coming across a scene like this


or spending a few hours watching birds at Lake Panic

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

I am always grateful that I live where I do.   The weather is changing – it’s cooler in the mornings but I know we will never get the freezing temperatures I have  read other bloggers write about.   Most are welcoming the Spring and looking forward to being able to go into their gardens!  How lucky am I that this is possible for me throughofut the year.   I love Winter because the wind seldom blows and that when it’s not raining the days are sunny. I can still walk on the beach and only need to put on a fleece or a jacket.

I am looking forward to having friends to stay this weekend. Next week there is another fishing competition in Struisbaai – The Bottom Fish Nationals – and The Earl and I will be taking photographs for that.

Have a good week everyone.


Sani Valley Lodge Day 3 and 4

Wednesday 6 May 2015 Sani Valley Lodge

Today we woke up to overcast weather and it was way colder than yesterday.  But this did not dull our spirits. Earl was up and out on the water just after 6.  I went back to sleep!   When I woke up I had a long and leisurely hot bath.

Today was a lazy day as far as physical activity was concerned but I did have some Bird Club work to do and also worked on the Birthday Photographs.

At half past 11 our masseuse arrived, Earl had a fire going in the grate and we each had a hot stone massage – Earl first and then me.   Wow – she was outstanding and we paid way less than we would in Cape Town for half the quality. I was finished for the rest of the day and just relaxed and watched the birds and animal at the dam.

Dinner tonight is braaied chops and sausage, cauli mash and salad.  Yes – we are being very good with our Banting diet.  Well – I am – Earl had biscuits for tea!

Yellow-billed duck with ducklings

Yellow-billed duck with ducklings

Thursday 7 May 2015 Sani Valley Lodge

Sadly today is our last day.  It is misty and cold so we decide to pack up and leave early.

Before we leave we chat to a French couple who are staying I Sunset 2.   It is their first visit to South Africa and they are here to visit their kids who are staying in Stellenbosch for six months.   They have done the Garden Route and are now exploring the Drankensberg.   Today they will go up Sani Pass with a guide.  We have a chat about the birds they have seen and I show them the French words on the Roberts App on my phone.  They are delighted.

We also plan to go a short way up Sani Pass before we head back to Kokstad.    On our way out we spot two beautiful reed buck.

He has a broken horn

He has a broken horn


She is beautiful

Our neighbours overtake us as we slowly climb the pass.  Then they stop and indicate to us that there is a bird in a tree.  We are thrilled to find the Gurneys Sugarbird – this is one of the few places to find them. They are similar to the more common Cape Sugarbird which we see often at home.

Gurney Sugarbird

Gurney Sugarbird

View from Sani Pass

View from Sani Pass

We turn around after seeing this our target bird and take a scenic drive to Drakensberg Gardens passing a place we once went to with the kids – Lake Naverone.


Giant’s Castle

On our return we stop at The Olde Duck for lunch.


We have been there before with the kids who always enjoy the petting farm.   We did find the donkey adorable.


The food was excellent too.  Earl had a fetta and spinach pancake and I had a hot chicken salad.


We then drove back to Kokstad and spent the night with the Mackenzies.  It was great to catch up and spend some quality time with them.


Sani Valley Fly Fishing and Game Lodge Day 2

Tuesday 5 May 2015 Sani Valley Lodge

We were awake at dawn.   The sun rises quite early here – and it is beautiful. I look out on the still, mirror of a dam and see a single dabchick with a wake training behind it.  Earl is up and off to fish and I don’t go back to sleep.  I sort out a few emails and then get up and shower.  There is a lot going on outside my window and soon I am clicking away with the camera.

Early Morning view from my deck

Early Morning view from my deck

I go for a long walk at about 8 – the morning is fresh but I’m comfortable in shorts, t-shirt and a fleece.


I love Autumn


The Mountains are stunning

Stone chat

Stone chat

Buff-streaked chat

Female Buff-streaked chat

I return at 9 to find Earl back from fishing and disappointed that he caught nothing but I think he just enjoyed the stunning surroundings.

He goes out again in the afternoon and I go for a walk to the dam just over the hill behind our cottage.   There are many animals dotted about the hillside and in the veld.   But when I try to get closer they move away.  I still manage to get some photographs.   This place is just too beautiful.  One can never tire of it.

Zebra drinking in front of our lodge

Zebra drinking in front of our lodge

The gorgeous Autumn Colours

The gorgeous Autumn Colours

Vibrant and beautiful

Vibrant and beautiful

Bontebok senn on my walk

Blesbok seen on my walk

Eland at a distance

Eland at a distance


Zebra grazing on our lawn in the evening

Our braai on the deck

Our braai on the deck


Sani Valley Fly-Fishing and Game Lodge Day 1

Monday 4 May 2015 Sani Valley Lodge

It was chilly this morning but the sun was shining brightly.   I checked the forecast and it looks like we’re going to have sunny weather for our 3 days at Sani Valley Lodge.

We left around 10ish and enjoyed the scenic drive to Underberg.  Wow but those mountains are beautiful.


Long crested eagles were on many of the poles along the way.


Showing his crest


Looking for prey

In Underberg we shopped for supplies and fishing tackle.   The Spar shop is great but the parking is cramped. The new centre just outside of town has failed miserably. Apparently somebody from Kokstad has now bought it and hopefully people will support the shops there.   The story goes that the previous owner did not get the locals on his side and they boycotted him.  If this centre takes off, it will be fabulous as there is plenty of easy parking.  I think Spar should think about moving in where the previous supermarket was.

The approach to the lodge is always interesting. The views of the dams are stunning and we usually see some bird and animal life.

Pied kingfisher

Pied kingfisher

Common Fiscal

Common Fiscal

Black-headed heron

Black-headed heron

Buff-streaked chat

Buff-streaked chat


View across to the boathouse

Fabulous views

The bottom dams

We met a number of other visitors at reception – all arriving around 1:30 for checking in at 2.   Our lodge is Sunset 1 – upstairs to 2 and 3.    We have a German couple for neighbours and this is their first visit here and to South Africa.  They have done the Western Cape – Cape Town, the wine route and garden route.   They are loving their trip.

On arrival at our lodge we found zebra grazing on the lawn – how cool is that!   There was also quite a lot of bird activity.  The crowned crane were a bit too far for a good photograph. A kingfisher caught a frog and there were Egyptian geese and dabchicks on the dam. A grey heron also lurked in the reeds.

Baby zebra having a snooze

Baby zebra having a rest

The best thing about Sani Valley Lodge is the tranquillity and peace.  The surroundings are stunning – the combination of mountains and lake just make this place a little bit of Paradise. It is Autumn now but we have missed the best of it. However, the colours still linger in spite of many of the trees being already almost bare of their leaves.   I am so enjoying the richness of the oranges, yellows and reds contrasting with the green of the mountains.  In summer it is just green, green and more nauseating green.  I think I like the Autumn best!

Earl was out on the lake before I could blink.   There are quite a few fishermen here and he worried that he wouldn’t get a boat – but we booked ages ago and Gareth knows how keen a fisherman Earl is – so there was indeed a boat ready for him.  He was out for the rest of the afternoon but unfortunately the fish weren’t biting!

View from our lodge

View from our lodge

Tomorrow is another day!


Sani Valley Lodge Day 1 and 2

We were woken at some unearthly hour with steaming cups of coffee and instructions that there was lots to do so we’d better get up. Really – we’re on holiday! But wait today was the day we were to go to the most beautiful trout lodge in the country – Sani Valley at the foot of the Drakensberg.
So with the kids in the back, a shopping list for supplies and instructions to meet the parents at The Lemon Tree at 12:30 sharp we set off for Underberg at quarter to 10. The drive from Kokstad to said destination is utterly stunning and we were blessed with the most glorious weather. Let the photos do the talking!







Cape Town has a beauty of its own but when we don’t feel that we are truly in African until we cross the border of the Western Cape and the further north we go the more African it becomes.
Underberg has the true African feel about it. We stopped her to make our obligatory visit to NUD’s Sports Shop to stock up with fishing tackle. Simon also scored a new fishing rod and a soccer ball. Shan we’ll make it up to you soon!



Next we did the grocery shopping at the local Spar before meeting the parents at the appointed time. The Lemon Tree has a patio section under a tree where we sat to enjoy our lunch – Spinach and Feta pancake for me, Eggs Benedict for Allan, Smoked Trout for Earl, Mega Hamburger for Lauren and toasted sandwiches for the kids.





The last stretch to the lodge is quick but we took it slowly so as to get a coupe of bird photies. The parents went ahead and checked us in.



As soon as we arrived Earl had to get down to see his boat and throw in a line.

As fete would have it our friends from Australia landed up being booked at Sani on the same dates as ours! They arrived at 4 after a long drive from Hogsback. We arranged for them to have a braai with us and a fabulous time was had by all as the weather was perfect.


This morning I was in a deep doze when the sound of voices woke me. It was before 7 a.m. but Nicoline and Sean had made an early start from Kokstad and were ready to rouse Allan and Earl to go fishing!
While they were out on the lake with the Simon and Scott (in stages) Nicoline, Lauren and I took a walk. We found Eric and Wendy at the Boathouse having a luxuriously catered breakfast. The day was brilliant again. In fact my early rising enabled me to get a good sunrise shot.


What a view for breakfast

Looking toward the Boathouse

We continued our walk and I took photos of Sunset where they are staying. It has a view over a smaller dam that joins onto the larger one.





Here are some photos of the guys on the water.

Our lodge – Rainbow

Lauren and Nicoline greeted a friendly cow.

When the guys were back from fishing we enjoyed an Early Breakfast and then more fishing, chilling and chatting. The Bakers then took their leave at lunchtime and it now looks like we may get a thunderstorm. On the other hand it could clear and the sun might shine again soon. That’s all for now as I have managed to get online at reception – no wifi or MTN coms in the lodges!

Post script
Have to post these last to piccies