Hluhluwe with Lydia

Lydia from London is what we called Jessie’s room-mate on her field guide course. It’s a year later now and Lydia is back in SA doing her Masters thesis on vultures and people (including sangomas and the muti trade).

So the girls decided to get together before Lydia heads off back to London. We spent a lovely day in the reserve, not uneventful! In fact we saw eight stand-offs: Three avian, where pairs of red-capped robin-chats, cameroptera and bulbuls chased and challenged each other; three mammalian, where two bull rhinos, two bull buffalo and two bull giraffes sorted each other out; and one inter-species where a chameleon huffed at Lydia as she rescued it from becoming road-kill.

The eighth was a fraught rhino vs a Ford Ranger:

Rhino and Lydia 19May2018

This old bull had been pummelled and bullied and gored by a bugger younger bull who marched him backwards for a couple hundred metres then took him into the bush where we couldn’t see them but could hear the grunting change to squealing, ending in this guy emerging bleeding. We then got between him and the aggressive one and I decided I’d better get past. Upon which this poor fella tucked his horn down and feinted at the vehicle, missing us by inches.

Hluhluwe with Lydia

On a more peaceful note, Jess made us a lovely lunch, we saw a finfoot in the river, and a dozen vultures did a special flypast for Lydia!.

 

 

R.I.P Denis Barker

Denis finally passed away just short of his 88th birthday. The last few years were not good. Glen and Alli came to visit from Mudgee, which is to Australia what Kestell is to the Free State. We went out to supper after they had visited Denis; They were not sure if he had recognised them; The next day Alli phoned to say he had gone.

Despite his wake being held at very short notice and in the middle of a long weekend (the next day was Tuesday Workers Day May 1st) it was well attended. Held in the Umzinto church he and Faye had got married in – which they had bought when the congregation fizzled and the building had been demystified. They moved it lock, stock and pulpit to Selborne. Then they got married in it all over again; Faye was buried from it four years ago; And now Denis. Just like Faye’s the wake was first-class, and we all made sure the bar tab the family picked up was a hefty one.

Denis and Faye had farmed in the Dumisa district – which made Kestell look urban – on Tanhurst and then moved to Selborne on the coast. I had once visited Glen at Tanhurst as a student, and then visited them often at Selborne, golfing at Umdoni, exploring Linton Hall and Botha House, checking out ‘Vernon the Villain’ Crookes’ beautiful manor house at Selborne – now Glen’s home; Denis and Faye were always so very kind to us and interested in our affairs. I saw Glen turn 21 there and get married there. Free beer!

Selborne Park

Denis soon began changing Selborne from sugar cane fields, a dairy and an anthirium nursery to his dream golf course. He had traveled to golf courses all over the world and THIS was how he wanted his golf course to look. With more than a bit of an Augusta National Golf Club look evident!

Selborne golf course.jpg

Denis and Glen were mad keen cricketers. Sometimes their club was really desperate and Glen would ask me – a FreeStater! – to fill in for them. I would happily oblige. About three or four times I traveled down to Umzinto, got a duck, dropped a few catches and did very well at lunch. Later when Denis wrote a book ‘Umzinto Cricket – The First 100 years’ I bought one and read it from cover to cover. I was sorely disappointed. Complete waste of money. I didn’t feature at all.

Umzinto Cricket 100yrs

I believe he wrote another book about a forefather who had survived Isandlwana. I didn’t read that one. I only hope he gave that brave warrior a bit more credit.

 

R.I.P Linda Grewar

Linda Grewar was a Kingfisher paddler from back around 1990. She and Bernie Garcin paddled really well – a number of Dusis and Umkos – and they WON the Fish mixed doubles one year! Then she buzzed off ‘overseas’.

In May 2016 Bernie gave me Linda’s address, so I wrote  to her:

Hey Linda!
LONG time no hear!
Meantime I have freely been using your name in vain in the Umko book we put together for this year’s 50th running of the marathon and for a story on an Umko trip Bernie and I did where you helped us out with driving. MOONS ago!

Last I heard you were out East teaching English, now I hear you’re in England. IMO a lot of them could do with being taught English proper there too!

Me I’m raising kids at my age, they’re 18 and 14 now.

Haven’t paddled for ages, but bought a new boat (no logic involved). Be careful when you look at the pics of me n Bernie with my new boat – you may get a fright!

Saw Greg Bennett yesterday. He’s well. Thanks to the book I have seen or spoken to a lot of the old paddling guys in the last year that I hadn’t seen for ages.

Allie Peter, Mike Frizelle, Ernie Alder and various other maniacs are currently walking the whole Wild Coast. Three to four weeks heading South from Natal and ending in East London or Kei River or somewhere near there.

Fill me in on your movements since – when? – about 1990!?

Cheers now

Love to you

Pete Swanie

=======ooo000ooo=======

On 2016/05/23 01:17 PM, linda grewar wrote:

Hi Pete

So good to hear from you after so long.

Yes, I was out East, in Taiwan. I then also taught English in Slovakia and Czech Republic before ending up here in the UK. I live in Esher, Surrey and was teaching fairly close by, in Surbiton.

As Karen probably told you, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in January- one hell of a surprise, as you can imagine. So far, I have had a course of radiotherapy and have had four sessions of chemo. Obviously I have not been able to work since I have been ill and things are quite hard financially.

Is it possible to buy hard copies of the Umko book? My brother is keen to get one and he can buy me one at the same time! Those days are but a distant memory now….

All the best

Love

Linda

 =======ooo000ooo=======

Dammit. Dammit! What a bliksem! Bloody cancer!

Good luck with your treatment. Hope it goes well.

=======ooo000ooo=======

May 2018 – Bernie contacted me to tell me Linda had passed away. Dammit. Bloody cancer.

 

birdology

Sy Montgomery sounds like a wonderful person. You think she has to be interesting, anyway, when you learn she wrote a book called The Soul Of An Octopus. Then you learn she kept a pet pig and you think, Hmm, maybe dodgy like some other people you know who will remain nameless, right Bruce and Heather Soutar? She wrote a book on the pig called The Good Good Pig, so you think, OK, maybe unlike Bruce and Heather she turned it into tasty bacon, but no, she loved the pig live. Then you see her petting a tiger and again you think Hmmm . .

But then you find out she wrote “birdology”:

Birdology - Sy Montgomery book
read book review

People know that birds are descendants of dinosaurs, but actually the truth is that Birds Are Dinosaurs. That may be difficult to see when you’re watching a flycatcher, but it is more apparent when you are watching an ostrich or a cassowary, as tall as a man, crowned with a helmet of bone on its head and a killer claw on each foot.

Most of the dinosaurs that became today’s birds took up flying. And in doing so, they utterly reshaped their bodies inside and out. Their bones are hollow and their bodies are full of air sacs; their feathers weigh more than the skeleton and are hollow shafted and shaped to capture and move air. Birds are essentially feather-fringed air bubbles.

Birds can see polarized and ultraviolet light, experience colors we can never know, sense the earth’s magnetic field, and navigate using subtle changes in odor and barometric pressure.

In Birdology Sy Montgomery communicates a heartfelt fascination and awe for birds and hopefully kindles in more of us humans a connection to these complex, mysterious fellow creatures that I personally find so fascinating.

Birds are the only wild animals most people see every day. No matter where we live, birds live with us. Yet many of us don’t appreciate how very strange they are, how different to us. Their hearts look like those of crocodiles. They have no hands. They give birth to eggs. And they’re covered with modi­fied scales called feathers. We shared a common ancestor with even the most distant of our fellow placen­tal mammals as recently as 100 million years ago; The last ancestor we shared with the birds, however, traces back 325 to 350 million years ago.

Sy says her life with animals has taught her “how to be a good creature. How to be compassionate. How to get yourself inside the mind and heart of someone else. Seeing someone’s soul, looking for their truth. Animals teach you all of that and that’s how you get compassion and heart.”

Sy Montgomery sounds like a wonderful person.

the_origin_of_birds

Botox Ballies Blues Band

I sent this cartoon to Reed & Brauer:

Old age home Asylum Rockers

BTW, ‘ASILO’ on the wall means ‘ASYLUM’.

.
On 2013/07/18, steve reed wrote:

I love it.

Over here, the national broadcaster has a competition called ‘Exhumed’.
A fitting term for those of us, like yourself, who played in a band as a younger person but wanna give it one last go.
The blurb is:

Exhumed is a band competition with a difference. It’s not for has-beens, it’s not for wannabes, it’s for the never-weres. It’s for people who play music for the sheer love of it. If you fit that description, enter and listen to your Local ABC Radio to be part of Exhumed. You could hear your track on the radio, be interviewed on air, perform at your local Exhumed event and feature in an ABC Music release. Each station across the country will choose a winner. Of those winners only six will go through as finalists and perform live on TV at our Grand Final. But just one will take home the title ‘Exhumed Winner 2013’.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/exhumed/

I wrote:

C’mon Brauer! Enter the Botox Ballies Blues Band in this great competition!

Reminds me of a gathering of old canoeists where someone said we’re the Has Beens.
Mate of mine said “Swanie you’re not a Has Been. You can’t be a Has Been if you Never Was”.

PS: Reed, you may not know this, but the BBBB is quite famous behind the Boerewors Curtain among certain square circles that are often in their cups. They even pay to play at some events in far distant little known venues. Serious! Brauer’s on guitar and quite vocal.

He got lost under a pair of bloomers that was lobbed onto the stage once. Rumour has it.

—————————————————————–

Montclair Sunset

Leaving work today I stepped out of the lift onto the roof and was greeted by this:

Montclair sunset (3)

Then I got home and things got better! There was Tom in the kitchen making this delicious curry (Cecelia has ‘flu):

Tom_cooks_curry[1]

– and me drinking Sheila’s wine like this:

Sheilas_wine[1]

– and Jess gave me a back massage like this: 🙂

Life is good!