Dad’s Coffee Cups in Cairo

In the Cairo bazaar Dad watched an Armenian man making coffee cups.

He worked on a wooden lathe that his father had hand-made, he said. He was spinning silver – thin sheets of silver – a wheel presses the silver onto a wooden cup-shaped form as it rotates.

wooden lathe_2.jpg
I’ll check with the ole man what the lathe looked like – maybe like this?

He imported porcelain inserts or inlays from Czechoslovakia and added them to his silver coffee cups for his signature look.

Dad bought two from him, and paid him 5 Egyptian pounds (“worth way less than English pounds” he says).**

That was back in 1943. Nowadays Saad of Egypt are Cairo’s best-known silversmiths. Saad was born in 1939. He says he still forges his own silver “in the tradition of Zorayan the Armenian, which his children unfortunately discontinued”. You won’t watch his skilled craftsmen spinning silver on a wooden lathe, though. He regards them as a rare commodity and takes precautions against losing them, concealing them, as he explains, “in our workshop away from the Khan, in the (Cairene) district of Ghamra. After all, a competitor could come in and lure them away”.

Saad’s advice on the best way to polish silver is a combination of “soap, warm water and a toothbrush — forget all the polishes promoted on the market; they just aim at making money…”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So where does this story come from? It started on LindiLou’s rose farm this weekend. She had her big annual Tarr Roses Open Day, selling roses and teas and all sorts on the farm, but especially roses.

Tarr Roses Open Day2.jpg
A previous Tarr Roses Open Day

An old Harrismith friend was there and Dad remembered selling her mother his Egyptian (Armenian) coffee cups! This brought back memories of buying them in a market in Cairo 74 years ago!

Now he wants to buy them back from her!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

**The official rate at the time though, was £1 = E£0.975 (‘from 1885 to 1949’ according to my source) so maybe Dad got a special soldier’s price?

The internet picture says ‘Turkish Greek Coffee Cups – Porcelain Cups with Tray and Saucers – Vintage Tulip Design Ottoman Arabic Gift Set, Silver’. Close? I dunno – we’ll see if and when Dad gets ‘his’ 1943 cups back! I’ll photograph them and put up the pic.

 

 

 

Mfolosi Aerial Dogfight

It looked like a standoff. At a small pool of water in the dry sandy riverbed of the Black Mfolosi river a male Bataleur and a Tawny Eagle contested the scarce resource. Both stood on the sand at the water’s edge and hunched their shoulders at each other.

I watched a while then scanned all around. Suddenly I heard a cry above me. Two birds circled each other in the air just above our vantage point on a bluff overlooking the river. I looked back at the waterhole. They were gone, this must be them. It was. The eagle was dive-bombing the Bataleur shouting a hoarse kraak kraak. The Bataleur screamed defiantly, dodging the move.

The eagle circled to gain height and folded its wings and took aim again, the agile Bataleur dodging with a sideways roll.

The Bataleur then landed in a tall dead tree while the eagle was climbing again. Soon the Tawny was on his way down again, zooming straight at him and knocking him off his perch. They banked and circled and strained to gain height again, the Bataleur’s wingflaps surprisingly noisy. Once again the Tawny won the climb and launched a dive.

The Bataleur folded his wings and flew away low over the tree tops away from the river.

The Tawny landed back at the pool where it all started, victorious.

High above a white-backed vulture and a Yellow-billed Kite, witnesses to the dogfight, still circled in the thermals.


Wow!! Who needs a lion kill?

Oh, Jessica. Yes, dear. I didn’t realise how long we’d been here. We’ll drive now and look for lions, honey.

pics from https://willemkruger.wordpress.com/ and birdguides.com – thank you!

Jazz at Oxbow

Stayed at Oxbow Lodge one cold winter night. Can’t remember if we were childful yet or child-free. The whole lodge is tightly squeezed in a narrow space between the road and the river. Our little rondawel was icy: Concrete walls, thin iron windows with flimsy curtains, a slate floor. The bed actually looked and felt like an ice cream tub. We fired up the gas heater and went off to find supper.

The bar / dining room / lounge area was big and bleak but warmer than our room. Supper was delicious: a big hot filling stew. Maybe oxbone? With sherry. Plus we had one more great reason to settle down and stay: Lovely jazz music was playing over the speakers perched on the cornices. – – – (these pics are a more recent, revamped oxbow)

After a while I went to enquire at the pub. The lovely lady at reception showed me the CD cover below. We have listened to it ever since. *Click Play* and hear it y’self:

Back in the rondawel it was still cold but Oxbow back then was an oasis in the frigid winter Lesotho highlands. There was nowhere else to go for miles. Anyway, we were young and soon heated up the bed knowhatimean.

The rocky, waterfall-strewn river right outside was frozen solid the next morning, miles of ice and beauty in bright sunshine. Still freezing though.

Oxbow snow.PNG

The Photo Archives

I hardly ever carried a camera back when I was beautiful and had just the one chin. “I’m video’ing it in my head” I would say.

Of course now I’m really grateful other people carried cameras and I could get pics from them. Even in the days when you loaded a roll of film in the dark and wound it on by hand frame-by-frame some people carried cameras. I salute them!

And I admit I would grumble when they said “Stand closer together” “Smile” “Hang on! Just one more!”. Of course some people would think they had put in the roll of film when they hadn’t and all our posing (“poeseer!” remember SanMarie the game ranger’s joke?) was in vain. Yes, I’m thinking of you Taylor. He posed us in various ways on a buffalo carcase and when we eagerly asked for the photies weeks later (they had to go off “for development” of course) he had to sheepishly admit he hadn’t had a roll of film in his steam-driven camera.

Anyway, my memory of that moment was much better than his pic would have been: I remember a bloody carcase with glistening red meat still on the bone and lion prints around the sandy scene. We were posing looking over our shoulder, worried the lions might chase us off their prey at any minute. When later we did get a pic from someone better organised than Taylor the truth was far more mundane. The photo spoilt a good story.

Wilderness Walk.jpg
Intrepid non-photographer on the left with empty camera

So although I do have some slight regrets I still think I was generally more “in the moment” than many camera-occupied companions over the years – and I saw more birds. Anyway, my memories of what happened are usually far better than boring reality. Usually I play the starring role in them.

Once I met Aitch things changed of course and we had a fulltime photographer in the house. The years from 1986 are well documented. Then the kids arrived and the number of pics went through the roof. Thank goodness for digital! Even now when we drive through a game reserve Jess will say “Mom would have said ‘Stop! Go back!’ and you would have to reverse and she’d take a picture of a flower, remember?”

With cameras as ubiquitous as they now are all this smacks of days gone by. I was prompted to write this post when I read this yesterday: ‘If a millennial goes to a beautiful place but doesn’t get a photo, did they ever really go?’…

To end, some advice for Taylor:

Life like Camera.jpg

Here’s a graph showing camera sales in 1000’s since 1933:

Camera sales.jpg

Stan the Staffie

Our first dog TC was the product of a romantic liaison – a match made in heaven. Staffordshire Terrier Stan Hill jumped Jack Russel Terrier Mouse Hill and she produced a litter. Dave and Goldie’s Sir Stanley Staffordshire of Melrose Farm in Mid-Illovo was a semi-handsome, tuxedo-clad, almost-pedigree Staffie who’d lost his papers but we were assured he was in the country legitimately.

tc-from-melrose-farm.jpg

The Hills once took Stan on holiday to hoity-toity Plettenberg Bay where they met people with a very stressful holiday job: To look after a fine pedigree Afghan bitch on heat. Big responsibility to keep it away from all lesser dogs and avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

afghan Plett

Well, good luck with that with Stan the Man around. When they looked again, there was Stan on the beach, publicly locked in holy matrimony with the long-haired beauty. Something like this (Staffies are known more for their enthusiasm than their class):

Staffies_R_Gross

A legend in his own lunchtime was Stan.


Now read just how faulty memory can be! Here’s the details from someone who was there: Stan’s owner, Dave hill:

nice
It was actually at Mbotyi on the Wild Coast and the femme fatale was a nubile young Spaniel sent there with the owners’ mother because she was on heat!
Bad idea!
Stan left our cottage after supper every evening only coming home late late late.
One morning we couldn’t find him………..so we went a-searching.
Lo and behold! right on the main beach, in front of quite a crowd was young Stan the Man in flagrante delicto with this young virgin Spaniel.
In flagrante delicto in dogs, as you know, means dog-knotted.
When Stan saw us he belted up the beach with the damsel stuck fast around his underbelly!
My solution of course was to pick em up hurl them into the water which caused great mirth and unknotted them.
We often wonder about that liaison and the end result . . . . .
Kind regards,
Dave

 

Oy! Vulisango! Padre d’água!

New Year in Ponta Milibangalala. We joined the Hills at their traditional campsite. It’s a magnificent beach in the Maputo Elephant Reserve. Back in 1990 it was uncrowded and perfect.

One day we need supplies. Dave says come along to ‘Ponta’, which means Ponta de Ouro – there are a lot of Pontas but Saffers call de Ouro just ‘Ponta’. We head south along the beach you’re not allowed to drive on. It’s much quicker than taking the road inland. At one rocky point you have to leave the beach, up over the dune and then back onto the beach around the point.

We roar up the dune, crest the rise and . . . there’s a boom across the track. A security guard in uniform stands up to stop us, raising his hand in the universal language of ‘halt!’.

I start rehearsing an acquiescent speech: Yes, its true we were on the beach and no, we aren’t actually allowed on the beach, but it was an emergency (fetching beer) and . . . . . . Dave’s foot doesn’t budge a millimetre on the accelerator. He waves his arm imperiously in an upward motion, signalling in that same universal language ‘open up!’. He leans out the window and shouts “Oy! Vulisango! Padre d’água!” as he roars straight at the boom with undiminished speed.

Now, never mind that Oy! is Irish, Vulisango! is isiZulu and only Padre d’água! would have been understood (I understand it’s Portuguese for “His Excellency David Hurle Hill, Minister of Water Affairs for all Mocambique”), Dave gets his message across and the suitably impressed security guard flings the boom up with alacrity, barely managing to stop himself from saluting as we roar through without a backward glance.

Gotta admire the pirate in Hill. His swash isn’t easily buckled.

 

Last Maputaland Beach Drive

No more driving on the beach!

Our Environment Minister Valli Moosa had at last grasped the nettle and was closing the beaches to hooligans! We approved and time and research has shown it was the right decision. It has had a positive impact on the ecology of the coastal zone, with a recovery of resident reef fish species.

Regulations for the control of use of vehicles in the coastal zone

(Government Notice 1399 of 21 December 2001) published in

terms of section 44 National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998).

Bruce Soutar was quick to spot the opportunity for a Last Drive before the regulations came in to force, so he gathered a bunch of people to both celebrate and mourn the closure.
Beach Drive (1).jpg

Beach drive-001

We had the Soutar kombi, Kemp Jeep, Gail Pajero, Duncan __ and Swanie Ford and one other –?