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!

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13

Share Your World #29

Here are my answers to this week’s share your world

What is the perfect pizza?

My favourite pizza is never on the menu of most pizza places but I’ve seldom had a problem having them make it up for me. I call it a Greek Pizza – the toppings are fetta, olives, spinach and avo – delicious.

What is your favorite time of day?

I am a morning person but now that I’m retired I don’t get up early in winter! Summer is a different story – I love an early morning walk and swim on the beach.

When in the bush mornings are the best time to get those stunning sunrises and to catch the early activity of the birds and game.

Show us two of your favorites photographs?  The photos can be from anytime in your life span.  Explain why they are your favorite.

The first photograph is precious because it shows all four grandkids really enjoying each other’s company.  It was taken in 2014 when we were all together in Struisbaai.

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The next one is special for a similar reason but here they are under the milkwood tree with their precious grandfather – and they’re all smiling at the same time!

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Complete this sentence:  I’m looking forward to…. 

our trip to Italy!

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

 It was wonderful having my grandson, Jay and his friends stay with us for a few days and I’m grateful that he doesn’t think he is too old to show affection to his gran in front of his mates.

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The boys dwarfing Granny!

I have come down with diverticulitis this week and look forward to getting over it quickly!

8

Spending Quality Time With Friends

We recently had our very good friends, Heather and Peter, spend time with us.  It was an enormously happy time and the Weather Man obliged us with some stunning sunny days.

It was great to show them the improvements we’ve made to our home although they’re not quite finished yet. We enjoyed meals together, immersed ourselves in catching up on each other’s lives and it was a treat to take them to our favourite birding spots.  We have so many shared interests so it was great to have an extended time together to enjoy each other.

The sunny days made it all the more exciting and although winter birding is not as productive as spring and summer we managed to do pretty well each day.   Tuesday found us on the Arniston Road.

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Jackal Buzzard

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Rock Kestrel

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Denham’s bustard

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Denham’s in the foreground – steenbok in the background

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There were hundreds of our national bird, the blue crane in the farmlands

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A malachite sunbird enjoying the aloes

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A bee, his only competition

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Cloud Cisticola?  Not sure about this LBJ’s identity

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The Arniston Hotel where we enjoyed a great lunch

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Arniston

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Arniston fishermen coming in from a day at sea

On Wednesday we chilled at home till later in the afternoon when we set off to Agulhas Light house.  On the way we enjoyed some birds and then went to see the light house museum.

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There were literally dozens of African Black Oystercatchers on the rocks

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A little egret soaking up the sun

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Enjoying the lighthouse museum

After the museum we took a drive to Suiderstrand picking up a couple of birds and enjoying the views.

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The famous “Pietie se huis” which is now part of the Agulhas National Park Rest Camp.

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A Black Shouldered Kite with a hapless mouse for dinner

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Bokmakierie

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In the evening we introduced our old best friends to our new best friends over a stunning braai of ribs, chops and sausage

The next day we took off down the Elim Road and were thrilled with all the birds we found before having lunch at The Black Oystercatcher Wine Estate

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A gaggle of Spur-winged geese

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Cape Robin singing happily

 

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A delight to find a fish eagle

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Scores of Denham’s Bustards about

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Flamingos on the Salt Pans

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The Black Oystercatcher

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Lunch was excellent – we all had the sticky chicken salad

The sun was setting when we returned and so we popped in at the harbour to see how the boats had done.  A few fish were caught but not as much as the fishermen had hoped!

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Sunset

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One of the ski-boats returning from a day at sea

Friday’s weather matched our mood as we bade farewell to our friends as they made their way back to Cape Town on a cold and wet day.

What a delight to have been able to share those few days with our dearest friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Share your world #25

Here are my answers to Cee’s Share you world Week 25

How many languages do you you speak?

English is my Home Language. Most English speakers are lazy about learning other languages as no matter where you go in the world you can almost always find somebody who knows English.  But I like languages.   I speak my second language, Afrikaans, fairly proficiently.   Now that I live in a community that is 90% Afrikaans speaking I am becoming even better.   I will soon be spending two months in Italy so have begun a Duolingo online course in that language and I’m loving it.

My father was Greek but all I ever learned in that language was a few greetings, to count and to swear!

What are some words that just make you smile?

 

Stunning, super and fabulous are words I use a lot and I guess they make me smile. A sentence that would make me smile – We’re going to Kruger!

If you were the original architect of one existing building, which building would you select?

When I was in Australia I couldn’t get enough of the Sydney Opera House – so I guess it would be that one!

Would you rather have telepathy or telekinesis?  (Telepathy is the communication using your brain waves, telekinesis is channeling the energy onto physical objects to cause substantial, observable physical changes.)

Telepathy – My husband thinks I already have it and can’t understand why I don’t know what he wants before he asks.

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

I am grateful for an amazing week with friends visiting us and the fun we had birdwatching and exploring the area of the Southern Tip of Africa.

Next week I am looking forward to a quick visit to Cape Town to collect my British Visa and to collect my repaired car.  Also I am anticipating that all alterations here is Struisbaai will be complete!

5

Share Your World #22

Here are my answers to Cee’s Share Your World Questions

Every country in the world has lost men and women in some kind of Armed Forces.  When does your country celebrate  their deaths?

We remember Poppy Day – 11 November – but it is not a public holiday.

Here in South Africa people lost their lives in their fight for freedom and so perhaps Human Rights Day celebrated on 21 March is when we remember those who lost their lives in that kind of war.  Specifically the events of Sharpeville are remembered.  On that day in 1960, 69 people died and 180 wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd who protested the Pass Laws.

Similarly 16 June – Youth Day is an important day of remembrance. On this day we reflect upon  the young protesters who were ambushed by the apartheid regime police in Soweto on 16 June 1976. Over 500 youths were killed.  They were students from a number of Sowetan schools who took to the streets to protest against having Afrikaans at the medium of instruction in their schools. About 20 000 students took part in the protests which took place over a few days.   This was in 1976.

What is your favorite holiday or holidays?

Of course this has to be Christmas although I find it stressful to have to think of how  best to celebrate.   With as large an extended family as we have, it is difficult to please everybody. So over the years, the way we do it has changed several times and is changing still.  But in the end whatever we do turns out to be fun.

Easter is also great – who can resist all that chocolate?

How do you celebrate that holiday?

With overindulgence of course!   Last year we celebrated in Cape Town – very unusual!  We had a tree and opened gifts  before breakfast. Then at midday we had a roast turkey and roast lamb with all the trimmings.  We did not have the traditional pudding but usually we do.  This time we had my sister in law’s amazing trifle.

Even though our grandkids are quite big now, we still have an Easter Egg hunt.  Great fun.

I know that some people take holidays very seriously and while we appreciate the significance of each one, we treat the day as we would any other – grateful for what they signify but we don’t attend events that make a big thing of them.

What are you grateful for in the week that’s past?

A great deal!   So much change has taken place in our home.  The highlight was receiving our recovered recliner.  I just love the colour and it makes a huge difference to our lounge.  The workshop extension to the garage is almost complete, the desk unit in the lounge is in use and the bedroom cupboards and bookshelf in the braai room will hopefully be completed by the weekend.

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This chair had become quite shabby but I had a sentimental attachment to it so I couldn’t part with it – love the result of the reupholstering. 

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Our new double work station

What are you looking forward to in the week to come?

Our Schengen Visas are ready for collection and I need to apply for the UK Visa.  Am I looking forward to that?  Well it will be a chore and another trip to Cape Town but at least it’s a step closer to what’s needed to go on an overseas trip – and who can complain about that!  It is also great to see the kids and friends back in our old home town!

 

 

 

6

Share your world Week 21

I have been neglecting my blogging for the past fortnight but I have an excuse!  There is a lot happening in my life right now.  Now that I’m retired I tend to go with the flow and don’t stick to a routine but just let things happen as they crop up.  This is fine some of the time but it does mean that I forget things that I am supposed to be doing – like I forgot a dinner date with a very dear friend – that is inexcusable – So sorry, Chantal!

 

We have a wonderful life here at the southern tip of Africa but because we are planning a trip to Italy we had to go to Cape Town to sort out our Schengen Visas.  I went ahead of Hubby and excavated the junk from our family home in Sun Valley.  Thanks to Romilla for taking a lot of it for the charity for which she works!  Hubby joined me on Monday and on Wednesday we went to Capago to do the Visa thing.   Because we are are doing renovations to our Struisbaai home he was itching to get back so after packing the Land Rover to the hilt we hit the road for home at 11 am this morning.   I had caught up with friends while there and last night we met up with folk we will be travelling to Kruger with in October – such a stunning evening.

And now I must get back to the Blog – I will start with answering Cee’s lovely questions on Share your World.

What is your favorite go to beverage?  Water, coffee, tea, coke, soda (non-alcoholic)

Yes – I am a coffee addict – but I don’t overdo the coffee thing otherwise I would never sleep!  I love my coffee – it has to be hot, strong and black – strong – but not too bitter because I don’t take sugar 0r milk to disguise the taste – so you see a good barrister is important here.  I judge a restaurant by the quality of its coffee – not its food!

Having said all this I also enjoy a good cup of rooibos tea.  Recently I have tried a Rooibos Chai – delicious.  My Indian friend, Romilla says I mush have it with milk – but I don’t do milk so I take it black = but I am thinking of trying it with milk.

I avoid fizzy drinks but Coke I use medicinally if I or my family have upset stomachs- but it must be the original recipe made with sugar – not corn syrup.   Believe me this is not psychological – it really works.


– Can you change a car tire?

Absolutely not! – That’s why I married a man with a plan.   A very handy man he is and he is able to get me out of a thousand different scrapes.  I like to think that I am a Feminist but I’m not -I like a hero to come around and rescue me from my plight – if my man with a plan is not about I’ll call someone else!

Are you a listener or talker?

I like to think that I am both!  I love to listen to people with something to say!  I can listen to Romilla for hours – she has such wonderful stories of a culture different to my own and i find this fascinating.   I do listen to people’s problems but then I like to fix them.  Not a good idea -a sounding board is all they need – a sympathetic ear and somebody who cares – not somebody who thinks she has all the answers to the world’s problems.

I talk a lot and hope that the listener is interested!

Would you rather have no internet or no cell phone?

I wouldn’t choose to be without either but if I have to choose the cell phone would go – I often don’t even know where  mine is!   My generation I believe are digital aliens while the younger generation are digital citizens.

I am enormously grateful for the internet and couldn’t imagine life without it.  What on earth did we do before it became an essential in our lives.   I love modern technology – the aps and the readily available information  most of which is free!   Right now I am grateful for Duolingo which is teaching me Italian.

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

There is just so much that I am grateful for – Meeting up with old friends last week made me so happy and delighted that I still have them in my life.  I am also so grateful that I have my health and the energy to excavate the junk from my family home.   I am grateful for stunning kids and grandkids.   I am grateful for the funds to travel to distant lands and for still having a sound enough mind to enjoy learning a new language.

I am looking forward to rearranging things in my home in Struisbaai! Our renovations are nearly complete – I have brought things from Cape Town to help redecorate in Struisbaai and it’s going to be fun sorting everything out.

4

Winter Weather in Struisbaai

There is bitterly cold south-easterly wind blowing here at the tip of Africa.    I don’t want to say that Winter has arrived with a vengeance because it could change again just as suddenly.   But if this is an indication of what is to come then I’d better start taking out the thicker jerseys!   We have had a few cold snaps but this morning was the first time that I snuggled down deeper under the duvet and resisted leaving the warmth of my bed.  When I did emerge, I put on jeans and polo neck and settled down for some couch potato pursuits before finally taking a drive to see what the sea looked like.

I saw some impressive photographs of stormy seas on the Cape Peninsular on Face Book and although we have rough seas here, it did not seem as dramatic as there.

 

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The harbour boats bobbing on the choppy sea

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The cormorant and oyster catchers didn’t seem to mind the weather

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What a treat to see a common whimbrel on a stony beach near Agulhas 

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Agulhas Lighthouse

I ventured out of the car to walk a little way and it was a fight against the strong wind but it sure blew the cobwebs away.  It also worked up a huge craving for a cup of good strong coffee!  Our favourite coffee shop, Potpourri, is closed for renovations so we tried a little place in Struisbaai that we’d been meaning to go to for some time.  It’s called The Shipwreck Cafe. Wow – what a find!   We threw caution to the howling wind and ordered  chocolate cake.  It was the best I’ve ever had in my life – rich, moist and chocolatey.

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The Best Chocolate Cake ever and wonderful cappuccino and black coffees 

Earl gobbled his down in two minutes but it was a really large slice and so rich that I could only manage a quarter of mine.  I took the rest home in a doggy bag!

I am extremely fussy about coffee – it has to be hot, strong and black but not too bitter- If it’s not just right there’s no milk and sugar to disguise the taste!  Hats off to The Shipwreck Cafe – the coffee was beyond my expectations and absolutely perfect.   If ever you’re in our neck of the woods – don’t miss this secret treasure  – find the Shipwreck – it will be well worth it.  We will certainly being going there again – I have to try their breakfast.

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It doesn’t have a sea view but the decor is interesting

Tomorrow, Sunday 8 May,  is Mother’s  Day in South Africa – So Happy Mother’s  Day to all the moms out there.  May your little ones thrill you with their home-made cards and thoughtful deeds.   Those are the things we treasure more than expensive gifts.