Childless Cathedral

Aitch needed a break and Barbara Jeff, LindiLou and Robbie agreed to have the kids on their Umvoti Villa farm. So off we went to a luxury stay in the Cathedral Peak Hotel. The breast cancer had spread to liver and bones and the treatments she opted for were severe. Here was a break fromContinue reading “Childless Cathedral”

A Vrystaat Shepherd’s Cottage

Shepherds’ cottages in Lesotho are often quite primitive affairs, used itinerantly as their flocks graze in that area; then moving on to pastures new, where – especially in winter – a new shelter may be built, or an old one re-roofed with available grass or shrubs. We enjoyed their hospitality there when we went upContinue reading “A Vrystaat Shepherd’s Cottage”

Phinda

Aitch thought she’d do nursing after school; very soon found out that wasn’t her, so she tried blood confusion. Well, that’s what I would say and she’d correct me: ‘Transfusion, Koos!’ Bit better, but then she discovered cardiovascular perfusion. Now that she regarded as a career! She loved it. About ten years later she leftContinue reading “Phinda”

The Red-Faced Barbet

Aitch used to look at these Two-Puddly birds and say ‘Why Black-collared Barbet? they should be called Red-faced Barbet!’ There’s probably already a red-faced, I said; and I don’t know why I didn’t go looking then. I suppose life happened. Listen: Here’s why we called ours ‘Two-Puddly’ (old man Geoff Leslie used to call themContinue reading “The Red-Faced Barbet”

Kosi Bay with a Boat

Kosi Bay is a wonderful place and the campsites are superb. Good birding and great habitat. It’s an estuary system comprising of four lakes – Amanzimnyama (dark waters), Nhlange (reeds), Mpungwini and Makhawulani – the system is connected by meandering channels and fringed wetlands before it runs into the Indian Ocean via a shallow channelContinue reading “Kosi Bay with a Boat”

Fogg's Folly

or Destiny Castle Driving through the beautiful Eastern Free State you see many flat-topped sandstone kopjes like these. But suddenly you say, ‘What’s on top of that one? It’s a CASTLE! Can’t be. But it is!’ Truth is, you knew it would be there – as you’ve been invited to visit it – to beContinue reading “Fogg's Folly”

Simes' Cottage in Lotheni

There’s a lovely old sandstone cottage in the Lotheni Valley, one of the Drakensberg / uKhahlamba’s beautiful valleys. We had some great adventures with good friends and our kids up there. As an adult retreat it’s my idea of paradise: no electricity, no cellphone reception, no wifi. Peace. Plenty of hot water, a gas stoveContinue reading “Simes' Cottage in Lotheni”

Washington Honeymoon

Fresh out of that Hole in Wyoming we landed in Seattle and immediately headed for the hills. Or the sound. Puget Sound. I’m a bit allergic to cities, so we picked up a little rental car – would you believe a Toyota Tercel, with all-wheel drive and six forward gears . . what? I’ve saidContinue reading “Washington Honeymoon”

Lochinvar Park in Zambia

In 1297 the Gordon family arrived at Lochinvar from Berwickshire. They established a castle on an island in the lake – or loch, as this was in Scotland. Lochinvar. In 1908 another Scot, Mr Horne, a cattle farmer from Botswana, arrived on the banks of the Kafue river in Northern Rhodesia long before it becameContinue reading “Lochinvar Park in Zambia”

Blue Lagoon

Let’s go fishing Dad – at Blue Lagoon. Just till 7pm. As we were leaving the plaintive ‘flat battery’ cry of the Water Thick-knee (Dikkop) sounded from across the lagoon . . ~~~oo0oo~~~ again, thank you xeno-canto.org for bird sounds ~~~oo0oo~~~ A week later the fishing bug is still strong! This time Tom goes toContinue reading “Blue Lagoon”

Old Lilani Spa

On our first visit, with Bruce and Heather Soutar, the remains of the old hotel were still there. You walked into the foyer under a roof, the reception counter awaited you; But you soon walked out into the sunshine, as it was just a remnant of roof and a built-in counter with nothing behind it,Continue reading “Old Lilani Spa”

I’m, um, Normal!

Such a pleasure to meet weirdos who prove I’m normal. Friends Petrea and Louis – speaking of weirdos – cracked me an invite to an early morning visit to Bill Oddie’s house in David Maclean Drive to spot some twinspots. To do some twin spotting. Actually Roger and Linda Hogg’s home – what a beautifulContinue reading “I’m, um, Normal!”

A Real Live African Jazz Pioneer

What do you do? I ask the old soldier sitting in my chair. I’m a musician in the army band he says. Aha! Cool! What do you play? asks I. The Saxophone, he says. The best of all the instruments! I flatter. How long have you been a soldier? Not long, he says, I joinedContinue reading “A Real Live African Jazz Pioneer”

Mom’s Days

Just in case anyone was thinking Aitch only had Mom’s Day, I gotta tell ya – not at all! She had her birthday 6 January; She had her second birthday 6 July “‘cos it’s unfair my birthday is so close to Christmas, everyone used to give me one present, and my day was lost inContinue reading “Mom’s Days”

A Bird Book in Brasil

When Aitch said ‘Come with me to Brasil’ in 1988 I shouted ‘Hell, yes!’ over my shoulder as I rushed off to a bookstore to buy a book on the birds of Brasil. There wasn’t one. I asked everywhere and searched everywhere, but no luck. Then I asked Hardy Wilson, great birder, who reached upContinue reading “A Bird Book in Brasil”