“To a person uninstructed in natural history, his countryside or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall” – THOMAS HUXLEY – English biologist
“Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting and – above all else – envious. I know many who are generous, witty and delightful company – but they’re no fun!” – BILL ODDIE;
“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment…and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn” – HENRY DAVID THOREAU, author, poet & philosopher – I once had a pigeon shit on my shoulder while collecting money for charity – shaking a tin – outside the Jeppe Street Post Office In Johannesburg; does that count?
“God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages” – JACQUES DEVAL , French playwright
“If you bird, you will see stuff” – THE ORACLE, birder
“A weird screechy howl, which rises in a nerve-shattering crescendo, to peter out like a cry of a lost soul falling into a bottomless pit” – AUSTIN ROBERTS, original author, Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa – talking about the Manx Shearwater? or me when dipping out yet again on an African Broadbill?
“I don’t GO birding. I AM birding!”– FAANSIE PEACOCK, birder – (always! I agree with Faansie, an amazing birder with the best possible name for one!)
“Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best” – HENRY VAN DYKE, American author – who hereby gives me permission to sing in the shower and while driving
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 flood huge areas of wetlands, riverine forest and grasslands; they displace people and affect everything living downstream. Large dams hold back not just water, but silt and nutrients that replenish farmlands and build protective wetlands and beaches. If you love rivers, dams are the enemy – the disease that kills. Dams don’t just change the river valleys in our waterways, they obliterate them. Yet people love them.
So the Umgeni was going to be dammed and damned; and I wanted a last paddle on that part of the river which was destined to be for ever gone.
So I rounded up some boats and some non-paddling friends in August 1988. Come and paddle a part of the famous Duzi Canoe Marathon course, I said. And the suckers fell for it! Geoff Kay, Mike and Yvonne Lello, Pete Stoute, sister Sheila; and wife Trish joined me in the valley. Some brought some kids, and some valley kids joined us.
We launched the boats with fanfare, breaking a bottle of champagne on each one’s hull (OK, not really) – AND:
They didn’t float! The river was so shallow they hit the bottom, even thought their draft was like two inches!
Oh well, it turned out to be not a paddle but a trudge. And – literally – a drag. But fun nonetheless!
I stared at the banks and the valley walls as I trudged. Soon yahoos would be racing outboard motors here. Soon this life and interesting variety all around us would be drowned forever.
For those keen to learn yet more about the exciting, honest-joe world of racing brown horses from one end of a field to the other end of the same field, all the while whipping they asses, David Gee Gee Simpson resurrected the exciting horse-racing saga:
All – It was Winx by three lengths in the George Ryder Stakes at
Rosehill, her home track, for the final time this morning early – or
late afternoon for Hogan and Spatch. Just a flick of the reins at the
300 meter mark by Hogan’s Mudgee mate Hugh and it was game over.
number 32 on the trot. The awesome tale continues.
Me: 32 wins! Liewe bliksem! That’s ridiculous – or rickadulious as Louis Slabbert would say.
Scratchmo hoped: Swannie, I think I have a convert. Yes you are correct, it is astonishing. Winx has the most wins in the history of racing World-wide. The most consecutive wins in World history.
Me: Aw, I thought I had a convert! I thought you’d see my point, that if you herded a whole bunch of horses to the top end of a field and chased them down to the bottom end of the field you may just as well have taken them straight down to the bottom end and saved time.
if you insist I’m converted, where can I buy myself a Winx or two?
Also, who’ll feed the thing?
And what will I do about the SOB’s who’ll want to trip my brown Winx horse if it was leading the field? And what can I sell a foal for once I breed one?
Dave Ample Thighs Simpson wrote: Forget about someone trying to trip your horse, you must first find an honest midget!
is easy. A sack of old mielie cops a day from Tabs’ farm should do
I don’t know what the foal will go for, but maybe Godolphin will pay US$$$5 million. Godolphin is the stable of Sheik Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, so I think he has the loot. If not him, maybe our great South African Sheik, Sheik Markus will buy it.
always has to remember the risks of racing, if Winx breaks a leg,
Me: Now you’ve made me nervous. I am not going to buy two Winx’s anymore. Not even if Tabbo gives me free mielies.
of Sheik Markus. I sincerely hope he goes to chookie for a while. I
think that would be nice.
Also: Why do they ship horses all over for live-action pomping instead of using AI – Artificial Insemination? Put it in an envelope, mail it, insert it by hand?
And you still haven’t admitted to the fact that the brown horse usually wins . .
Scratchmo, Equestrian Gajima Wizard, replied: AI is banned for registered race horses. Bloodlines are very important in the horse racing industry, so must be tracked to perfection, which I should imagine DNA can now do anyway, but I guess it also prevents any particular stallion’s bloodline from becoming too dominant globally, as he must actually pomp to make new race horses. For top stallions you must pay big loot for a pomp.
each race horse has a passport and an inserted ID microchip, which is
checked before each and every race.
And then the killer blow: Sorry Swannie, but there are three main colours of race horses, Grays, Bays and Chestnuts. So the bad news is that brown horses never win.
Me: Damn! I’ve been wasting my money all these years! Must be thirty, forty Rand wasted! Blown!
the Pomping Passport story! If humans had those there might be a bit
more decorum! And a microchip in each guy’s willy.
I spose the Stallions Union agitated for no AI! They’d want to keep flying round the world, meeting mare chicks. Give them a jab and then fly off to pastures new, no parental care asked for, nor offered. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.
I imagine it’s quite a fraught scene when he has to do the deed. Injuries could happen!? So I’m guessing they don’t leave them alone in a nice quiet corner to first fall in love and whisper sweet nothings? Develop true feelings? Probly a highly supervised pomp, like a porno movie, complete with cameras and KY jelly?
Comedian Mark Simmons asked – and I think he has a point: ‘To be or not to be a horse fancier, that is equestrian’
We were talking horseracing. About galloping knowledge and great expertise about the sport of kings, when along came someone who actually knows what he’s talking about (damn!). He also seems to have developed a disease since we last saw him: Horse Sickness: Probably ‘cos its lonely in the saddle in Port Elizabeth . . .
Dave ‘Scratchmo’ Simpson said: As you guys mention horse racing, meet my beloved Stormy Eclipse:
you can see, Stormy is the most beautiful horse with a wonderful
character and a great record – run 39 times with 9 wins.
Stormy’s sister is running at Turfontein on Saturday. So if you have (me: absolutely . . ) nothing to do, watch the 7th race on Channel 239. Her name is Storm Destiny. She has a chance. (And Hood was right! Could it be he knows what he’s talking about!?).
for you, I also have a filly – her name is Ample Glory and will
begin racing this year. I am secretly confident that Ample will be
the next Winx. Do you know when Winx will next race? – Her first
race of the season was usually the Apollo Stakes at Randwick in mid
Stephen ‘Spatchmo’ Reed replied: Howzit Dawid. Good to hear from you. My racing knowledge is scrappy but I see Winx is due to run on 13 April as you probably know in the Queen Elizabeth stakes. She is certainly big news here in Aussie. Racing seems like a big thing everywhere. I see radio and news channels run 24/7 with racing reports including the SA Turffontein and Greyville races. [free to air, not pay channels]
As for ample glory, I googled it and all I could find is:
i’m writing a story about the glory of my AMPLE thighs.
I will keep an eye out
Simpson: Hi Spatch, Well, it is really good to hear from you. My belated response comes from your mail going to junk. I still see Hubby around and he still calls you Spatchmo and me Scratchmo.
Hope all is going well in the mighty Oz. I guess my daughter Victoria will end up there, poor child, as she married an Aussie. Just joking – he is a hell of a nice guy – unlike those cheating cricketers and horse trainers. They have learned well from our insatiable politicians.
It is a little early to find the magnificent Ample Glory on the www as she will only make her first appearance in I guess about 3 to 5 months – but so far all is looking good. See attached pic of Ample with Frankie Dettori in the saddle:
If you don’t know Frankie – google him as he is a terrific character – getting most of the World’s best rides and has done some amazing things including winning the Arc de Triomf five times. When he wins, which is most of the time, he leaps out of the saddle in the winners circle, much to the delight of the crowds. Watch it on Youtube. I’ll convert you guys yet.
got up early last Saturday to watch Winx win the Apollo Stakes at
Randwick. She seems to not have lost any of her late speed from last
year. Her next will probably be the Chipping Norton Stakes also at
Randwick, this or next weekend, then George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill
and the then the QE Stakes before retirement to make baby Winx’s.
If you are living in Sydney, you and Wonderlikke Woman must go and
watch her, you will not regret it. If you need a ticket, Winx’
jockey is a guy by the name of Hugh Bowman and he comes from the
mighty metropolis of Mudgee. There is an optometrist there called
Hogan who looks after the Bowman family eyes. So maybe he could swing
you a ticket or two.
Keep in touch, Dawid Scratchmo Hood
Me: Hoodlum – I stared very hard at that picture after your glowing description, but all I could see was a brown horse and a tanned Italian. Am I missing summing?
have added the mighty Hogan of Mudgee onto this thread for cheep
tickets . .
Simpson: Yes Swannie, you noticed. Just testing your attention to detail. The dude on the back of my horse wishes he was Frankie.
Glen ‘Hogan’ Barker wrote: Thanks for adding me to this thread, Pete.
Yes, Hood is quite correct as last Thursday 14th I had Hugh Bowman’s parents come in to get their eyes checked. Quite a coincidence as their daughter, Hugh’s sister, lives a couple of hundred yards down the street from us, and they stayed the night. Their farm (or property as they call it here) is an hour west and further away from the ‘Big Smoke,’ i.e. Sydney, before all three of them went down there on Friday to watch the Apollo Stakes on Saturday for Winx’s 30th consecutive win.
Me: 30th consecutive win! That’s insane. Must be a record, surely?
Tell me Hood, it’s a brown horse, right? They seem to be faster, generally . . .
(thought I’d throw in a bit of insider knowledge and expertise there . . )
But Hood came up with two other words for ‘brown’, can you believe it, just to pour cold water on my theory: ‘Sorry Swannie, but there are three main colours of race horses: Grays, Bays and Chestnuts, so the bad news is that brown horses never win.’
Now, I knew horse racing was rigged, but I never guessed it was this bad . .
PS: I think Ample Thighs would be a good name for a race horse.