Roof Inspection Makeover

What started out as a routine roof inspection has morphed into a general sprucing up at 10 Elston Place. Geoffrey Cholmondeley Caruth esq. famous painter, builder, redecorator, raconteur, empire-nostalgic, makeover artiste and paddler, came over and made some suggestions and we ended up deciding to fix the roof, bargeboards and fascia boards and paint them; fix the windows and paint; replace the old gutters with aluminium gutters; Almost forgotten in the mix was my second main aim: To catch my rainwater; We’ll add a 5 000l tank to catch the rainwater off the garage roof; Oh, and we’ll also add a door to the flatlet; fix a door frame and paint four doors.

Especially paint four doors! I’ve been wanting to paint these doors a proper deep cobalt blue for a long time. A blue to match Aitch’s blue kitchen wall back at River Drive!

I wasn’t brave enough to paint a wall such a blue, but two outside doors was my kick for touch. And the colour blue the doors have been for nine years is fine, but not right; The first blue Geoff showed by painting half one door was way better, but still not quite right.

– the old and the better – but not right yet –

Then he got it: The right blue. I call it Deep Cobalt Blue, or (as he has traces of Pommy in his veins) British Racing Blue. Above we have the old blue and the better blue. But wait till you see the Right Blue: Deep Cobalt Blue!

. . . to be continued . . .

. . getting closer. I showed Geoffrey a pic of the old 1999 kitchen blue vs the sample. Also I described the blue of a cuckoo-shrike I had seen in bright sunlight in Mkhuze . .

. . and he came back with the right blue:

I got my blue.

So we moved onto door knobs. I asked Sir Geoffalot for good outdoor knobs, not the el cheapos that hurt my lily-white hands. You’ll get only the best, he assured me. They look great! Are they definitely outdoor quality? I checked with the master designer. Absolutely, saith he, they come with our extended warranty:

Fourteen Days. Partly guaranteed. As long as it doesn’t rain.

Ah, well. He bribes me with good muffins for morning coffee.

~~~oo0oo~~~

And so we carried on! Now the one cottage wall is being painted. Oy! I said to Geoffroy the Pom GCMG, I still don’t have my water tank!

We’re victims of Mission Creep, Fauntleroy the Master Pom replied airily.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– it wasn’t bad but he insisted on painting it –
– nothing to see here, moving on –

Beautiful Skies

Jupiter and Saturn below the full moon put on a special show. A whatsapp message from an old schoolfriend sent me outside to take a picture, but the moon was too bright for my camera to deal with. Hence the annotated internet picture.

We’ve been having such beautiful skies – night and day – that I added some recent daytime skies.

. . and some birdbath pics:

~~~oo0oo~~~

and just for good measure, some beaut pics from neighbours in the valley:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Whatta Relief

Like FINALLY relieving yourself after a desperate long wait – whatta relief. Aah!!

A nice Zimbabwean man with a three ton truck came and took it all away.

Now why didn’t I do this LONG AGO?

I was sad to see my first plastic kayak go – but I’ve had four others, still got a new one – and UV had got to this 1983 Perception!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Jess Cooks a Curry

Petrea said to Jess, Cook a curry for your Dad. Jess said, ‘I’ve never done that before.’ Don’ worry, says Petrea and delivers a box. Leaves it at the gate.

All you have to buy is chicken, Jess. On the day, Jess marches into my office, ‘Dad! There’s no recipe!’ Petrea says read the back of the spices. Oh.

It was delicious! Tom specially came in and gave his sis a big hug and kiss and said ‘Jess! Best curry ever!’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Xmas Activity

First a gang of bandits invade, foraging . .

– banded mongoose gang investigates what’s for lunch –

. . then a prinia flies in, busy, busy. Looking for nesting material

– tawny-flanked prinia chooses nesting material –

A busy xmas and boxing day in Elston Place, Westville, KZN.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Morning Sun from the West!?

I suddenly realised yesterday that the Yellow-bellied Greenbul was in bright light, as was the Purple-crested Turaco that was the next lady for a shave. It was 8am and the trouble with my birdbath is that it’s in deep shade and the morning light from behind makes photography difficult.

Took me a while to work it out. So this morning I recorded what happened. Watch how the sun is behind the trees, then suddenly appears between the pickup and left of the trees! Then the sunlight moves from left to right till the birdbath is bathed in its glory.

What the heck? I walked out onto the lawn and looked back:

– the sun from the east beating down on my chair – the reflected sun shining back on my birdbath –

The building behind us on the crest of the hill reflects the winter morning sun down onto my birdbath! Whattapleasure! It’ll only last a little while as the sun moves towards winter solstice. I’ll try’n get a good picture while it lasts. This morning was windy and nothing came to the bath while I watched. Not a sausage!

Whattahoot! Just last week I had used a shaving mirror to reflect the sun onto a butterfly in shade. Here it was being done for me!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Storm in a Shopping Trolley

Just yesterday I was dispensing my best Calm The Fuck Down advice to a friend, and today TomTom and I have a big fat fight!

He went shopping, wheeled the trolley home (knows he’s not meant to) down a steep footpath under the big fig tree and tipped the trolley. ’30 eggs broken and the bread squashed flat,’ he yells!

Came in in a rage. ‘No-one helps me!

Hey Tom, its OK boy.

Gaan’d aan and aaan. ‘No-one even came to help me.’

Well, did you ask us, fella? Did you phone? He didn’t. We should have arrived like knowing fairies.

Rage – so eventually I snapped OK ENOUGH NOW, You cocked up, you didn’t ask for help, it is what it is!

Rage

SHUT UP NOW! FFS!

Storms out of the yard.

About an hour later he’s back.

Sorry Daddy! I apologise!

Me too, fella, I’m sorry. Things happen. We OK?

We’re OK. I just lost it when I saw the damage.

That’s OK. That’s understandable.

Done.

~~~oo0oo~~~

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One Day

I know I should work to earn money so I can one day sit on my arse and listen to the birds and photograph butterflies. And see two gory kills within minutes, with two animals dying before my very eyes to satisfy the hungry needs of their predators.

So this morning:

– Forest Queen – ‘rare south of the Tugela’ –

Flies don’t even have to be buttered to be photographed:

– some diptera or other – big fly –

A drongo zapped an insect in mid-flight and a sunbird nabbed probably a spider off the mistletoe, killing them mercilessly for food in the great cycle of nature. Someone has to be sitting on his arse to witness these things.

butterfly Forest Queen
– remote camera setup – pics triggered from my cellphone –

This time I was determined to concentrate. I gazed at my cellphone fiercely for hours. Once I had to change the camera’s battery. This Forest Queen thought he could outwit outplay outlast me!? Huh! I was determined to catch him opening his wings to make sure he was a male. I was occasionally distracted. Had to make coffee, had to reply to some slights on whatsapp, had to take these photos to show the remote setup and my impressive camera (you’ve heard about okes with small willies having to compensate with big cameras, right? Well.). And once I was also – fatally – distracted by Tommy who NEEDED me to transfer cash to his eWallet.

Done. Then back to the app:

– BLIKSEM!! –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Lockdown Creatures

– noctuidae lawn-feeding caterpillar about 30mm long when elongated – according to our great neighbourhood entomologist ‘Sun’ –
– whip scorpion rescued by Jessie –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Spotter of Note

Jess is my spotter in the game reserves. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she’ll say time and again. And it’s always something interesting. Once she said ‘Dad What’s That?’ and I peered and peered and eventually saw it after she’d told me exactly where to look – a snake in a tree as we were driving past! That’s amazing.

Walking to breakfast in Tembe we had Jess bringing up the rear as Aitch, Tom and I strolled ahead. ‘Dad What’s That?’ she said.

– we had to turn back to see the Vine or Twig snake –

Today she called me out to the porch. This time she said ‘Dad There’s a Snake.’

– over there, she points –
– with my binocs I could see it – a beautiful spotted bush snake – pic taken with 25X zoom –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Experimenting with a Canon

I’ve learned a bit more about my little pocket Canon camera. updating the firmware and software and checking all the settings seems to have helped better, quicker focusing.

I’ve taken my first lightbox picture – the nest of a potter wasp who obligingly built it in the neglected lightbox, thank you.

And learned to set the zoom so it’ll focus more easily. It was glitchy. Here’s the bedroom doorknob, zoomed out and zoomed in!

– butterfly African Monarch –

Welcome Visitors! Daily and Occasional

Tea on the patio was a pantomime with five vervet youngsters playing tag and hide-and-seek in my meadow using branches, the birdbath and the semi-engulfed garden bench as their staging posts.

Then as they left, two banded mongooses arrived:

and the White Pear showed up nicely. Apodytes dimidiata Trish got from Geoff Caruth’s Geoff’s Jungle

Mow a Meadow

One Man Went to Mow

Went to Mow a Meadow

. . .

Usually Tobias Gumede mows, but he’s in lockdown in Jozini, so the amateur had to do it. And there were repercussions . .

. . .

The next week TomTom voluteered to mow! Yes! I shouted! ‘For money, of course’ he added. OK. It’s a deal. He mowed.

. . .

Elston Birdbath
– inhabitants -Elston Place –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Lockdown Loaded

Sundry garden fauna and flora! Not having pets helps – especially with the mongoose, I’m sure.

– Top L African Monarch?; Bottom R Blue Pansy – Brown Pansy –

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Neighbours bordering the Palmiet Nature reserve (we have a road between us and the reserve) have also seen seeing some amazing sightings during lockdown:

– “shifrafred” – banded mongoose family – plus bemused dassie onlooker –
– someone’s bushbuck – nkonka –
– Roger Hogg’s White-eared Barbet nestling –
– Lellos mamba –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Glorious Self Isolation

So I’m at home in self isolation. It’s like I’m underwater in a diving suit, ‘cept this suit is full of holes. The holes being my kids and their friends and their gregarious, roving ways.

Yes, Dad, they say earnestly after getting my full explanation of what gives, having gazed deep into my eyes, nodding every five seconds.

Hey, where you going?

Out to see the girls!

*** sigh ***

– the weight around my neck represents Jess and Tom !!! –

Who’s in the kitchen?!

Me and my mate José.

Have you fellas washed your hands?

Um . . er . ja, we’re washing them now . . of course . . !

Slowly I’ll hope to improve the actual isolation effectiveness . . I’ll probably need to apply a lot of alcohol . .

Meantime, I’m luvin’ it!!

~~~oo0oo~~~