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

Nibela on Lake St Lucia

What luck! friends couldn’t make their timeshare for happy reasons (grandchild due) so we took over! With pleasure. Nibela is in prime Broadbill sand forest territory and I have dipped out on seeing a Broadbill, coming close a number of times, but no sighting. I was keen, so was Jess. Tom considered the fishing options and the food a la carte, but decided in the end that it was just too remote for a city slicker! ‘Enjoy your sticks and trees, Dad!’ he bid us farewell.

– chalet in sand forest overlooking Lake St Lucia –
– Nibela Sobhengu flowers –

Jess liked the place immediately. It had cellphone reception and DSTV. Also there was wifi at the main building. What was not to like?

– hey Dad, there’s DSTV! –

The food at the lodge was great. The one pork belly dish was the best I’ve had, and all their soups and veges were superbly done. We ate there three nights and I made supper one night.

– ’twas cordon red –

We searched for the African Broadbill, but no sign was seen or heard, so it remains on the wishlist. This is what its sand forest haunts look like, where it performs its little bird-of-paradise dance to get laid so an egg can get laid:

– Lucky at Nibela trying to call up broadbills – I soon put a stop to calling them – I’ll wait –

Lovely local specials we did see were Woodward’s Batis – a pair displaying and calling two metres away in a tree; Rudd’s Apalis; Purple-banded Sunbird; all good sightings and obligingly chirping as we watched. Narina Trogon, calling each day, but not seen; Heard but didn’t see a possible Neergard’s Sunbird. Two lovely bird parties popped up right in front of our chalet: One evening Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow White-Eye and Southern Black Tit; The next morning Dark-backed Weaver, Puffback, Pink-throated Twinspot, duetting Southern Boubous, Square-tailed Drongo, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Collared Sunbird.

Jessie’s Best Sighting:

In the grounds of the lodge Jess spotted something beautiful in a tree! Look! Dad! wifi! You didn’t even have go indoors to have wifi!

– wifi in the bush – a millennial’s delight –

A drive out to where the Mkhuze river flows into the lake brought back memories of my last trip there – by boat on a bird count with the game warden nearly forty years ago. Greater Flamingos, one Lesser Flamingo, White Pelicans, a Rosy-throated Longclaw, Common Ringed Plovers, Kittlitz’s Plovers, Stilts, Yellow-billed Ducks, Hottentot Teals and many more.

– where the Mkhuze flows into Lake St Lucia –

Pelicans fishing in a ‘laager’ – surrounding the fish then dipping in: Heads up – Bums up.

– White Pelicans fishing near the Mkhuze mouth into Lake St Lucia –

Lots of creatures:

Nibela Sobhengu creatures collage

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Books, Canoe & Kayak, Food, Free State, Vrystaat, Travel Africa

Swinburne, the Lost Valley and Nesshurst

First we went to Swinburne, to Jenny (Mapp) and Steve Cleverley’s Hound and Hare on the far bank of the Wilge River, across the old 1884 sandstone toll bridge where we had launched a canoe journey many years before; There we watched a bunch of large blokes with odd-shaped balls shove each other around, playing ‘If someone gives you the ball, give it to the other blokes.’ Lovely to see Jenny’s smile again – I hadn’t seen her for ages.

We were almost outnumbered by the Welsh contingent there (that being Steve himself, being noisy), but we managed to see him off and send his team to play for bronze against that tongue-pulling outfit that play a bit of rugby in black outfits.

More importantly – and fittingly for our Hysterically-Minded gang – the result sets up a 2019 re-enactment of the Anglo-Boer War. Let’s hope the Poms play fair this time.

– Hound and Hare pub in Swinburne – good grub, cold beer –

After a lovely lunch of roasted hound or hare we fell in line under Field Marshall Lello RSVP’s orders and listened to our knowledgeable local guide Leon Strachan in the hall kindly made available to us by Steve the Welsh rarebit. Leon told us the true story of the pioneer de Heer family, led by patriarch Pieter de Heer.

– Peering down into the valley – Piet de Heer watches us – Tintwa mountain on the horizon –

Then we drove to the farm Keerom on the edge of the Lost Valley on the Drakensberg escarpment; the border of the Free State and KwaZulu Natal. The story Leon told was of a family that lived a good, self-supported, independent life, sent their kids to school, used local services such as post office, shops and lawyers; sold their goods in the towns of Swinburne and Harrismith; married locally (and NOT incestuously!).

Just like many normal families, some of their children and grandchildren spread all over (one great-grandson becoming a neurosurgeon) and some remained – the farm is still owned by their descendants. People who didn’t understand them, nor know them, nor bother to get to know them, wrote inaccurate stories about them which must have caused the family a lot of heartache over many decades.

What a spectacular valley. It had burnt recently, but already flowers were popping up in the grassland.

Heather and Elize spotted a Solifuge scurrying about. They must have disturbed him, as Sun Spiders often hide by day and hunt by night.

– Lost Valley Sun Spider – or Solifuge – inset: wikipedia pic of a related species –

Next we drove off to Nesshurst, Leon’s farm where he grows cattle and msobo, to look at his etchings. Well, his fossils. He has 150 million year old Lystrosaurus fossils on his farm and some in his museum, along with a Cape Cart he bought when he was in matric back in 1971! He has restored it beautifully. A catalogue of his ‘stuff’ would take pages, but I saw farm implements, military paraphenalia, miniature trains, hand-made red combines made by his childhood Zulu playmate; riems and the stones that brei and stretch them; yob-yob-ting cream separators; a Harrismith Mountain Race badge; photos of old British and Boer generals and leaders; a spectacular photo of Platberg and the concentration camp where women and children were sent to die by the invading British forces; a lovely collage made by Biebie de Vos of Harrismith Town Square, old prominent buildings and older prominent citizens, including my great-granpa, ‘Oupa’ Stewart Bain, owner of the Royal Hotel and mayor of the town; Also a Spilsbury and a Putterill. And Harrismith se Hoer School rugby jerseys.

– Nesshurst collage –

We then repaired to The Green Lantern roadside inn in the village of Van Reenen for drinks and a lovely dinner. I had a delicious mutton curry which actually had some heat; I didn’t have to call for extra chillies – maybe as Van Reenen is in KZN, not in the Vrystaat.

Tomorrow we would head off west to climb Platberg the easy way: 4X4 vehicles driving up Flat Rock Pass (or Donkey Pass).

~~~oo0oo~~~

Leon grows cattle and msobo – and he also writes books! Nine so far. Four on the mense of Harrismith; One on the Harrismith Commando; One on the Anglo-Boer War concentrating on the area around Harrismith; one on his Grandad who was a Son of England; and more.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Life

She’s Ninety One Today; She’s Ninety One . .

‘She’s got the key of the door; Never been ninety one before . .’

The lovely ladies at Azania gave Mom a special cake and a rousing song.

Maybe due to austerity measures each candle used has to represent thutty years. Also due to fire regulations, maybe? And ‘part thereof’ probably doesn’t count: you have to turn 120 before you get a fourth candle.

Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Travel Africa

Sheffield Beach Tribal Gathering

When I found them they were huddled together like Vaalies on a beach. Oh, wait! They WERE Vaalies on a beach. I should have taken a picture of Brauer’s beach outfit: A double-padded fluffy anorak. Sort of a Tshwane Tshpeedo. And a hoed.

We soon scurried off the dreaded sand in search of lunch. In their defence, it was blowing a gale. I kindly took them on a guided tour of – what place was it? – and then speedily straight to Canelands overlooking ve beach.

Back at the cottage:

– ‘thinks’ – is this old top in an anorak in pain? What’s that noise? –

Their cottage overlooked the beach from on high and despite being grandkid-infested, was very pleasant except for the absence of beer.

Perched high on a cliff, it puzzled me. I thought I remembered our cottage back in 1980 as being right on the beach . .

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

. . and then I remembered: It was Blythedale Beach in 1980. Not Sheffield . .

Sat, Feb 12, 2011(Newser) – An asteroid all but buzzed Earth on Friday, NASA has revealed. The asteroid, known as 2011 CQ1, passed just 3,405 miles above the Earth’s surface as it hung a sharp turn around the planet. That’s the closest near-miss ever recorded, beating a record set by a rock in 2004 by a few hundred miles. The asteroid was just a meter wide, small enough that Earth’s gravity would affect its course, in this case bending its path 60 degrees. Not that there was any real danger if the asteroid had veered into Earth’s atmosphere . . OK, they’re starting to talk nonsense so we’ll cut them off there.

Me: Brings to mind the heroics on Blythedale Beach when we single-handedly (the other hand was holding cheap liquor) fended off the comet which was threatening planet Earth at the time. Whether it was the coleanders and coriander and spatulas or the alcohol fumes from our breath that caused it to veer away is a moot point: Bottom line is it BALEKA’d and the planet was saved.
Funny how little credit we have got for that over the years. Maybe we fell asleep at the medal awards ceremony . .

Steve reed wrote: Jees – I had [almost] forgotten that heroic weekend. I now recall the collander, and making do with some pretty substandard alcohol [probably not a GREAT wine as in 4 Hillside]. Also I recall some of us may have slept on the beach. Bulletproof days. Was that Filly with us as well as her friend whom I remember clearly was from Marandellas in Zim. Wait! A flashback:

‘Comet – it makes your breath small clean;

Comet – it tastes like gliserine.. ‘

Of iets. Not sure that I want to remember too much more…

Me: So many flashbacks! Maybe as the brain cells die, those old pickled ones gain more prominence? Maybe the flashes are vitreous detachments? Surreal. The sales jingle for comet continues:

‘Comet! It makes you vomit

So take some Comet

and vomit

Today . . ‘

Hooligans. I was innocent. I fell amongst thieves . .

But its all true. You can check the 1980 newspapers: How many comets hit Blythedale beach that year? NONE. Not one.

OK, so our comet – probably 8P/Tuttle 1980XIII – may have been further away at 37,821,000km, but it was 4500m in size, not a puny 1m rock. So it’s still a good thing we were out there all night shaking our fists at it, daring it to approach.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

The next day the weather improved, so I claimed some credit: ‘Did you get the good weather I prayed for for you guys?’

Brauer: You clearly have a more direct line then this bunch of unbelievers.

The sun shone down on them. Smiling grandkids, happy windloos days. Actually I hadn’t actually prayed. I pulled some strings. As St Peter I have connections, so I called on the Roman god Venti and the Egyptian god Amun about the wind. Together, they delivered. Bacchus was unable to help with the wine situation.

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

Mfolosi Day Trip

2019 Aug day trip

This trip was notable for the worst lunch ever: Jess usually makes a great lunch. Fresh rolls, mayonnaise, freshly-sliced tomatoes. This time she had plastic rolls, viennas – and chicken viennas at that – and tomato sauce. Ugh! She has undertaken to work with me in raising the standard.

– dry plastic-y bread rolls and viennas!! –
Africa, Family & Kids, Food, Home, Life

Blockages

Mom Mary has constipation. Don’t tell everyone, but its just a fact and its not funny. I even put a bomb up and nothing happened. You know, Granny Bland used to get constipation and now here I am getting it. A mere seventy years later you can be struck with a family ailment out of the blue.

Rose is the matron at the home and she loves Mary. I told Rose I had constipation. This morning she came to me and said “Have you been to the toilet yet?” I said no, and she said “You know, Mary, you’re full of shit.”