Africa, Aitch

September Bells

Lovely message and pictures from Yvonne – ‘Our September Bells (a pressie from you and Trish twenty years ago)’:

Rothmannia globosa – September Bells –

umPhazane (Zulu); A slender tree, usually 4-7 m in height; The shiny simple leaves are oval or lanceolate with a paler underside which displays the yellow or reddish midrib and veins. Usually evergreen but may be briefly deciduous. The scented bell-shaped flowers are creamy white, usually with pink speckles in the throat, and are borne singly or in clusters of 2 to 4 on short side branches. They are about 25 mm long and 35 mm wide. The flowers are almost stalkless and appear in spring and early summer, from August to November. The trees are often in full bloom in September, hence the common name.

At the same time the Mackaya bella Trish planted was blooming in our garden:

Mackaya bella – Forest Bell Bush –

Mackaya bella is a beautiful shrub or small tree with slender branches bearing dark green, simple and oppositely arranged leaves. Small, hairy pockets are often found in the axil of the veins. It has beautiful, large and attractive mauve to white flowers in terminal racemes usually marked with fine purple-pink lines. The beautiful Blue Pansy butterfly caterpillars (Precis oenone oenone) feed on this shrub.

Africa, Aitch, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Another Garden Snake

We were happily sitting on a septic tank in River Drive when progress came rudely knocking. The municipality was putting in water-borne sewerage and the pipe was going to go through our garden and across the Mkombaan River at the bottom of it.

There would be some dynamite blasting. Deep blasting where they were going right under the river bed.

Bliksem. I was not happy. Our little wilderness was about to be badly shaken up.

Aitch arranged to meet with the high-ups and extracted some undertakings from them – We hereby undertake to minimise damage; to let you know the exact path so you can move your precious plants; to give you ample warning so you can move your dogs in time – we were still blissfully child-free – etc. they intoned solemnly. And she kept them to their word!

I asked the guys onsite to please not kill any creatures and to bring me anything they found so I could move it away safely. I would reward them. That’s how I came to receive this in a big bucket:

– Natal Black Snake – Macrelaps microlepidotus –

What a beauty! A solid-looking snake about 80cm long. Fascinating. I read up on them: They’re back-fanged, mildly venomous, not life-threatening; very¬†reluctant to bite; slow-moving, placid; Look at the beautiful coloration and scales.¬†

Relatively rare, they spend most of their life underground – note the small eyes. Found under rotting logs or when doing excavations. Move about slowly on warm, overcast days; good swimmers. Natal Black Snakes feed on frogs, lizards, legless lizards and small rodents; are known to take carrion.

As I promised them, I moved it to a safe place that same evening: the other end of our garden.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Thanks Nick Evans; Tyrone Ping; Chad Keates

Africa, Aitch, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Mabibi and Sibaya

Camping at Mabibi in Zululand with the kombi – and Taylor with his puny little JEEP.

On the way I pretended (!) to get stuck to give the JEEP owner an ego boost:

– sundowners on the lake – Tom, Dizzi, Gayle, Jessie & Aitch –
– every body had to get lip-stick’d –
– Jon took a shot of me emerging sylph-like out of the champagne-clear waters of the lake –

. . which reminded me of Ursula in Dr. No . . Me and Ursula were like twins, ‘cept I wore less clothing and had something useful in my hand . .

Ursula Andress did it in 1962 in Dr. No; Halle Berry paid homage in 2002 in Die Another Day; and I trumped them both in 2003 in Lake Sibaya.

Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Home, Nostalgia

Blue Wall leads to Blue Door

One wall in the new kitchen in River Drive ca.2002 had to be cobalt blue. I dunno why, mine is not to reason why. Aitch said it must be cobalt blue and so of course it was.

– Xmas day 2002 with Tommy, 1 year and 2 weeks old –

So when the post-Aitch renovations happened ca.2012 in Elston Place, there had to be some blue. I made the scullery and laundry doors blue. I looked for cobalt blue, but this was the closest I found.

– smiling Cecilia Shozi at the blue stable doors –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Nostalgia

Eight Years Today

Already Tom’s memories are mainly The Legend of Mom, more than real memories. Jess remembers far more. So Tom had lots to say today about Mom. Jess was mainly quiet. As most years, Dizzi and Jon came round to clink a glass in your memory. Jess set a lovely formal table with flowers from the garden – and even a table cloth! I only remembered to take a pic after it was all over.

We had a medicinal G&T as we had all just been to sort-of malaria areas – me n Jess to Hluhluwe, Dizzi n Jon to St Lucia.

Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Life, Nostalgia

A Real Live African Jazz Pioneer

What do you do? I ask the old soldier sitting in my chair. I’m a musician in the army band he says. Aha! Cool! What do you play? asks I.

The Saxophone, he says. The best of all the instruments! I flatter. How long have you been a soldier? Not long, he says, I joined a couple years ago and I’m just about to retire on a small army pension. What did you do before?

I was saxophonist in big bands. I toured the world. Mario Montereggi’s Big Band? I ask. Yes, indeed, I played with Mario.

And then he drops the big one:

I was with the African Jazz Pioneers for years. Wow! African Jazz Royalty in my chair!!

sip n fly – at the shebeens you downed your grog and ran before the cops raided

He might even have played with Mario at my fiftieth, where Aitch surprised me by getting Mario’s small ensemble to blow me away:

Is this him entertaining the kids, maybe?

Tommy charms the sax player; Jess watches in awe . .