Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, KwaZuluNatal, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Umhlanga Lagoon

Tom went to visit Ziggy in Umhlanga so Jess and I had a late breakfast at Europa Cafe – poached eggs, haloumi, mushrooms, bacon, tsatsiki, all-sorts, yum! Followed by delicious hot bitter black coffee and some sitting back and sighing. And then, what the hell, a chocolate milkshake!

Then off for a stroll at the lagoon in the Umhlanga Nature Reserve, a KZN Wildlife park.

A few birds – Diederik Cuckoo, Southern Masked Weaver, Bronze Mannikin, Familiar Chat, Olive Sunbird – but it was midday. I heard the cluck – cluck – cluckcluckcluck of a Little Rush Warbler while I was photographing a butterfly, so I switched to video:

– I’m guessing female White-Barred Acraea – Hyalites encedon encedon? –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Umhlanga Rocks is in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa; Umhlanga means reeds

Africa, Family & Kids, Food, KwaZuluNatal

Pre-Wash

We’re on a septic tank and a soakpit and I’m the only one who cares.

So I think about all our waste and our waste-water, as none of it leaves the property. It all stays right here and must be done right.

So whenever I had a pot or pan or plate with grease, oil, fat or protein on it, I would have it pre-washed before running the dishwater. That way less fatty waste was in the pipes and the pits.

– not actually Sambucca – just a useful cousin of hers on the internet –

Made perfect sense to me, was hygienic and made a huge difference to the gunge in the system, as Sambucca’s poop would be flushed down the toilet same as ours, and I wouldn’t need to pay for a honeysucker truck to suck.

Yet my co-habitants thought EW! and YUCK! Sambucca’s spit, Dad! – !!?? – Hello! It gets washed off at high temperature, dudes. They remained unimpressed. I remained unmoved. Sambucca’s movements were regular.

Now Sambucca has shuffled off and they’re happy and I’m not. The ants – millions of them, are also happy. And I’m not.

~~~oo0oo~~~

The pic is not actually Sambucca – this is Greg Price’s picture from Hilary Price’s cartoon website Rhymes With Orange. Sambucca got given her licking n pre-wash duties outside the kitchen door. She LURVED the job! Sometimes, though, she’d be less than thorough and I had to say Hey! Lick Up! – that was when it was olive oil. When it was dead animal juice she would lick the platter clean.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Another cool honeysucker truck . .

Although the teenagers were critical, I received support from adults who also use the doggie pre-wash method; regrets that cats don’t do leftovers from Rita – and even evidence of the system working live, from Gayle:

– Coco Adlam earning his Epol by assisting with the rinse cycle –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, School

Our Special Road

The little uns in our cul de sac from a while ago are big now, and new little ones are making their presence felt!

Thabiso (Tabs) and Andile are big now – all senior primary school longs, shirts and ties; while little Lisa heads off for her first day of ‘Big School’ (pre-school)!!

Michael – starting school 14 years ago when we got here, now driving his Mom’s car – sent the pic.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal

Kelso Rocks

Go to bed early and be up early guys! That’s Tom, Ryan and Ziggy. They want to go fishing in Kelso on the rocks in front of Tom’s happy childhood haunt Happy Wanderers.

So they get to bed at 2am and I have to roust them at 5:45am. C’mon, move! We drive off at 6:20am and get there in an hour. They go fishin’ and I go for a peaceful breakfast in Scottburgh, then birding and butterflying. No pictures, though, nothing would sit still. Luckily Ziggy took pickishas of them . .

They even catch. Shad and an eel. The eel gets released, but two shad are brought home against my wishes. Too late, by the time they get back to me they’re dead. But Dad, they’re legal and we want to have them for lunch!

I take them a mid-morning snack which is accepted with huge cries of welcome and relief like they were dying of thirst and starving. I have to interrupt Tom and tell him to write a book about the tough time he had in The Struggle!

More surprises: At the end they go for a swim in the waves and even Tom goes in! Amazing. Tom got wet in the sea! – and he wore shorts! ex Africa semper aliquid novi ! On the way home they’re bubbling over with excitement and chuffedness and tall tales and heroics and what-they-would-have-done stories.

We’re talking so crazily and over each other and laughing and shouting that I don’t see the cop till he jumps right in front of me and flags me down! Yes, YOU, he indicates. It didn’t feel like I was going fast, but I spose it never does.

I pull over in front of a big truck they have also flagged down and haul out my licence and wait. They’re all over the truck, write him a ticket and walk back to their camera. The truck pulls out past us and the passenger shouts to us in isiZulu: ‘They pulled you over for nothing! Go!’

So we go.

~~~oo0oo~~~

As I write there’s a happy fish braai happening outside my office window. Watch the chefs perform for the camera!

Later: The fresh shad was succulent and delicious! Ziggy is a qualified chef and she seasoned it to perfection! I told the fellas to take notes . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Back at Kelso, while waiting for the fisherfolk, I lurked in the coastal bush shade.

– this cussonia trunk is a metre in diameter –

~~~oo0oo~~~

A few days before, Ryan’s Dad Andy had taken them to Durban harbour, where they caught a tiny little smelt:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Sheila at Fugitives Drift Lodge – Sit Still!

Sheila worked at Fugitives Drift Lodge with David and Nicky Rattray for a while and met many interesting people and characters from all over the world. She should write about the weird folk she met – the judges and military men and colonial types and rich folk and historians and chief constables and all the other titles the Breetish Empire invented.

While there, she organised for the five of us – her old Swanie family from Harrismith – to have a family weekend there with her as our guide. One afternoon she took us out to the Isandlwana battlefield in a Landrover and got lost. Her sense of direction was imperfect, but she was unfazed and soldiered on like a lost Pom fleeing a battlefield. She had the Buffalo River on her left (or was it right?) and was headed in a direction she thought might get us somewhere sometime. Don’t panic.

– start of the fugitives trail at isandlwana –

So we’re bouncing over the veld, Sheila driving the ponderous old Defender, and our 85yr-old ‘ole man’ sitting in the back getting fidgety.

After a while the bouncing got to his ancient bones and he groaned and – forsaking the old stiff upper lip – moaned about the bumpiness – sort of a geriatric ‘Are we there yet?’

Sheila whipped round and said, “Keep quiet and sit still. Don’t make me come back there and sort you out!” then grinned triumphantly and crowed, “I’ve waited fifty years to say that!”

– isandlwana –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Nostalgia

The Reindeer got . .

Mother Mary stumbled a bit through her 2019 rendition of Jingled Bowels . .

She wasn’t up to her usual high standards. When she finished she turned to Sheila, who was filming her, and said: ‘The Reindeer Got A Puncture!’

I wondered if the reindeer hadn’t got . .

. . stuck into the champagne??

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Nostalgia

A Fascinating Case History

I took Mom to the ophthalmologist in Pietermaritzburg. She’d had some visual phenomena and her description of a curtain falling over her vision against the wall made me decide she must be seen right away. My good friend and colleague Owen Hilliar gave me the duty roster and I phoned the surgeon on duty – Dr L – and arranged to see him Sunday morning 08:30.

What a nice man! He listened to her stories. Unlike her usual eye man, Dr A.

So for a case history on this wonderful 91yr-old qualified nursing sister, and myopic glaucomatous pseudophake, Dr L now has the following information:

There are patterns in my vision on the walls and on the ceiling. Like the patterned ceilings in Granny Bland’s house in Stuart Street in Harrismith. I was born in Harrismith see, and did my midwifery in Durban. We went to Durban as we thought maybe we’d meet some nice boys there. Dr L’s eyes widen and he looks at me. But I met my husband in Harrismith; he worked for the post office and he got on very well with my mother and she told me ‘Peter Swanepoel is taking us to the Al Debbo concert in the town hall.’ My grandfather built the town hall; and he sat between me and my mother and that’s how we met. Unfortunately his good relationship with my mother didn’t last. My grandfather and his brother were stonemasons from Scotland; they built all the bridges for the railway line from Durban to Harrismith; What? OK, Ladysmith to Harrismith. When they had been in Harrismith a while they said ‘We like it here; the air reminds us of the old country,’ so they stayed and built a hotel each, the Central and the Royal – but first it was the Railway hotel – every town had to have a railway hotel. Then they changed the name by royal decree to The Royal Hotel. Or with Royal permission. The one brother had seven sons – she holds up seven fingers in front of Dr L’s face – and the other had nine. NINE – holds up nine fingers. And only one of them had a son. Dudley. He was a bit of a sissy – here my eyes widen – but he had the only boy. Thank goodness he then had sons to carry on the name, although one died in a bike accident. Now Granny Bland had five sons and only two of them did anything; one died of malaria in East Africa. Bertie, I think. When? In the First World War; the others just hung about, didn’t do anything even though they had been sent to very good schools. Hilton or Michaelhouse, one of those; I mean, what did my father know about farming? Nothing. His father just bought him a farm and sent him farming. He tried sheep, that was a failure.

Erm, I interrupted . . No, don’t worry, the dilation will still take a while says Dr L.

See, he wants to know, says Mom and carries on. I was proud of her! She was on a roll! We even found out the Shetland pony’s name was Suzanne.

Anything else about your eyes? he asks when she pauses for breath. Just the patterns and colours on the walls and ceiling, says Mom – no mention of the ‘curtain’ which had made me arrange the appointment in a hurry. And this time she didn’t say she has to remove her son’s glasses to read. Oh, and Oupa Bain went blind; I can remember the older children reading the newspaper to him.

After peering in and then checking V/A’s 6/36 and 6/18 and pressures – low, Dr L re-assures her all is well in her eyes and the patterns may be happening in her visual cortex.

We’re free to go, with huge relief. No trip to Durban, thank goodness. I’ve been nil-per-mouth since midnight, so I must remember to drink lots of water to catch up, says Mom happily.

~~~oo0oo~~~