Childless Cathedral

Aitch needed a break and Barbara Jeff, LindiLou and Robbie agreed to have the kids on their Umvoti Villa farm. So off we went to a luxury stay in the Cathedral Peak Hotel. The breast cancer had spread to liver and bones and the treatments she opted for were severe. Here was a break fromContinue reading “Childless Cathedral”

A Vrystaat Shepherd’s Cottage

Shepherds’ cottages in Lesotho are often quite primitive affairs, used itinerantly as their flocks graze in that area; then moving on to pastures new, where – especially in winter – a new shelter may be built, or an old one re-roofed with available grass or shrubs. We enjoyed their hospitality there when we went upContinue reading “A Vrystaat Shepherd’s Cottage”

Phinda

Aitch thought she’d do nursing after school; very soon found out that wasn’t her, so she tried blood confusion. Well, that’s what I would say and she’d correct me: ‘Transfusion, Koos!’ Bit better, but then she discovered cardiovascular perfusion. Now that she regarded as a career! She loved it. About ten years later she leftContinue reading “Phinda”

The Red-Faced Barbet

Aitch used to look at these Two-Puddly birds and say ‘Why Black-collared Barbet? they should be called Red-faced Barbet!’ There’s probably already a red-faced, I said; and I don’t know why I didn’t go looking then. I suppose life happened. Listen: Here’s why we called ours ‘Two-Puddly’ (old man Geoff Leslie used to call themContinue reading “The Red-Faced Barbet”

Kosi Bay with a Boat

Kosi Bay is a wonderful place and the campsites are superb. Good birding and great habitat. It’s an estuary system comprising of four lakes – Amanzimnyama (dark waters), Nhlange (reeds), Mpungwini and Makhawulani – the system is connected by meandering channels and fringed wetlands before it runs into the Indian Ocean via a shallow channelContinue reading “Kosi Bay with a Boat”

Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly. Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes. My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer! bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Simes' Cottage in Lotheni

There’s a lovely old sandstone cottage in the Lotheni Valley, one of the Drakensberg / uKhahlamba’s beautiful valleys. We had some great adventures with good friends and our kids up there. As an adult retreat it’s my idea of paradise: no electricity, no cellphone reception, no wifi. Peace. Plenty of hot water, a gas stoveContinue reading “Simes' Cottage in Lotheni”

Florida Honeymoon

The first part of our 1988 honeymoon was highly organised and efficient. We flew into Orlando Florida, were taken to a hotel and from there ferried to DisneyWorld while there, by bus or steamboat. Seamless. Aitch had organised it. I was a bit ho hum, but guess what? Aitch was right to insist: these picsContinue reading “Florida Honeymoon”

Wyoming Honeymoon

We flew into Jackson Hole from San Francisco. Change in temperature. I was still in short pants – had to change pretty quick! This was week three of our honeymoon, so we were into the groove: Fly in, find a car, then look around for the best places to visit and find cheap lodgings nearContinue reading “Wyoming Honeymoon”

Lochinvar Park in Zambia

In 1297 the Gordon family arrived at Lochinvar from Berwickshire. They established a castle on an island in the lake – or loch, as this was in Scotland. Lochinvar. In 1908 another Scot, Mr Horne, a cattle farmer from Botswana, arrived on the banks of the Kafue river in Northern Rhodesia long before it becameContinue reading “Lochinvar Park in Zambia”

Acacias – Let’s Just Call Them Thorn Trees

There are rules to how you name things. Plants and animals and things. The rules are something like this: The first one keeps its name, all others after have to fit in. So if a tree is named ‘acacia’ and another thousand acacias are found after it, it remains the type specimen for acacias andContinue reading “Acacias – Let’s Just Call Them Thorn Trees”

Walking the Umgeni

It was a sad fact. The Umgeni was going to be dammed. Again. The fourth big dam on its course from the Dargle to the sea. Many people love dams. I hate them. They ruin the valleys and change nature for ever. Dams wipe out species – many before we even discover them; they floodContinue reading “Walking the Umgeni”

September Bells

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

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 goingContinue reading “Another Garden Snake”

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: . . which reminded me of Ursula in Dr. No . . Me and Ursula were like twins, ‘cept I wore lessContinue reading “Mabibi and Sibaya”