Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal

Our Cul de Sac

What an interesting cul de sac is Elston Place. Sure there are five boring houses with abelungu in them, and one high-wall complex called Maroela or Marula something with faceless people living in it who don’t know that if you live in a ten-gate dead end you GREET everyone who lives there . . or drives past.

BUT: We also have four council houses with hordes of kids. THAT’s what makes our road interesting.

Those that visit me range from three to thirteen, Fezile, Asanda, Katelo, Khanyiso, Michael, boys. Andile, Azokuhle & Minenhle girls. Who exactly they belong to I have not fully worked out. But the kids (mine) know, and shake their head when I ask – again. The older ones have moved up and on. They’re too cool for our pool; and trampoline and jungle gym now. One of them has had a bambino already. Kids with kids. I fright for that.

The new generation now is all girls: Lwandle, Amahle, Lisa and Cutie. They worship our Jessie:

– as far as these princesses are concerned, Jess is the Queen of Elston Place –

One house is childless. Occupied by Bill G, ex-Durban Corpse employee who knows everything, especially about how grass and verges should be cut – and specialising in kids’ education: “You must study hard, y’hear? My daughter didn’t play in the street and look today there she is, a doctor.” We’ve never seen his kids, he’s right about that much.

One is Thandi, who works at Woolies and goes to Virgin Active Gym every day, walking her ample bum 3km’s there and 3km’s back (even tho there’s a gym in our nearby centre that she works in – I guess Woolies has her on Discovery Health, and therefore Vitality, and therefore Virgin Gym).

One has a green car and drives her kids to school at Westville Jr Primary every morning. Her kids don’t visit or play in the road.

Lawrence and his young wife and little daughter Cutie. He worked at Nourish Cafe nearby, but they closed, so now he walks to a far-away newly-opened PicknPay near Thandi’s gym.

And we have N and S from Pakistan with dogs that bark incessantly right in my ear when I’m in my bedroom and vehicles that arrive and leave at all times of the day & night. That’s the only real bummer of the neighbourhood. Sometimes I get up and bellow and throw stones until they finally shut the dogs up. They might think I’m bonkers. I KNOW they are. They built a double story on top of their garage then complained they could see into my yard! They finally sold and left after nineteen years in the cul de sac. I actually got on well with them. They just didn’t know how to treat or train dogs. They shouldn’t have had any.

Deo was our Metro cop. It was good to have a Metro cop vehicle in our road with his smiling face in it. But he’s late. Car accident. I thought he’d been hit in the blue & white Metro car by a truck, but his widow Nkosazana came round yesterday dressed all in black top-to-toe including scarf and hat, and filled me in on the details: He was driving his private Nissan X-Trail and hit (or was hit by) a Toyota Hilux bakkie. Neither he nor his mistress were badly hurt, but he “wasn’t right” and was sent back to Westville hospital after a while, then on to Entabeni as his condition worsened. There he died and his wife (who he’d ‘kicked out’ in October) was only then able to get there and try and sort things out. Mistress in the meantime had the house keys and took documents, cellphones, watches and stuff. His Metro cop colleagues believed the wife and took her around to the mistress’ place and got some of the stuff back. Nkosazana needed me to update her CV so she can look for another job as she was recently retrenched from the security company where she was a CCTV operator. Bliksem. Three kids. Around 19, 16 and 13.

Elston Place also borders the 100 acre wood. Actually better, the 100 hectare Palmiet Nature Reserve, and the day before yesterday I saw a new bird at my bird bath: A Yellow-bellied Greenbul.

The End.

~~~oo0oo~~~

abelungu – pale, formal people

cul-de-sac – (from French for ‘bottom of bag’), no through road or no exit road, is a street with only one inlet or outlet – a ‘dead end.’ Not that we’re calling our street a dead end!

– princess Lisa and Queen Jess –
Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Motorcars_Automobiles

Early DUI Evidence

Driving Under the Influence. After knocking back a few – a few too many chocolate milks, maybe? – Jessie grabbed the keys to Aitch’s VW Polo and sallied forth determinedly . .

– where’sh that Polo of Mom’s? I’ve got things to do, places to go . . ! –
– I’m outta here ! –
– that’s better ! – what’s this thing anyway? –
– Yee Ha!! – get outa my way! –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Aitch, Birds & Birding, Books, Canoe & Kayak, Family & Kids, Food, Free State, Vrystaat, Home, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, School, Sport, Student Life, Travel, Travel Africa, Travel Apache OK, Travel USA, USA, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

– this swanepoel family –

My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer!

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

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

Umhlanga Lagoon

Tom went to visit Ziggy in Umhlanga so Jess and I had a late breakfast at Europa Cafe – poached eggs, haloumi, mushrooms, bacon, tsatsiki, all-sorts, yum! Followed by delicious hot bitter black coffee and some sitting back and sighing. And then, what the hell, a chocolate milkshake!

Then off for a stroll at the lagoon in the Umhlanga Nature Reserve, a KZN Wildlife park.

A few birds – Diederik Cuckoo, Southern Masked Weaver, Bronze Mannikin, Familiar Chat, Olive Sunbird – but it was midday. I heard the cluck – cluck – cluckcluckcluck of a Little Rush Warbler while I was photographing a butterfly, so I switched to video:

– I’m guessing female White-Barred Acraea – Hyalites encedon encedon? –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Umhlanga Rocks is in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa; Umhlanga means reeds

Uncategorized

Medical Rounds

7.30am Jessie to the dentist up the road in Westville. A filling dropped out. I leave her there – she can walk home.

10am Mother Mary to the ophthalmologist in Pietermaritzburg (PMB). R. 6/18 and L. 6/36 no worse than before; Pressures holding good with the drops; field loss very near to the macula. All much the same as a year ago, so at least that’s the good news. She’s around -2,50 / -1,50 and you know what? She can read much better if she removes her son’s glasses. Funny that . .

11.30am the old man to the optometrist in PMB. Thanks to my good friend Owen Hilliar we don’t need him to schlep to Durban this time. Ooh! His eyes widen and he sits up straight. This is a better optometrist! She’s young and female! He’s been saddled with an old bald plump male optom down in Durban for years. And: She, at least, laughs at his jokes!

He has lost his slight myopia and doubled his astigmatism to -1,50 so this should help a bit. Still only 6/15+ best though. Of course, he doesn’t actually need glasses, ‘I can see perfectly without them; just not when I have to read small print , or in poor light, or the score on the TV, or road signs, but otherwise PERFECT.’ But to humour his son he’ll get some glasses. ‘See this here? If I took it out into the sun I could read it no problem without any glasses.’ Ja, Dad, it’s overcast and raining today. Hmph . .

Read this: M S R U – ‘Um, Vee, Ess, Aar, Gee.’ OK, close. That was the 6/12 line, so she gave him 6/15+.

When we leave I try and pay or get them to claim from Medshield. Ooh, no, sir, we have strict instructions from Mr Hilliar not to charge you anything. Quite a guy, young Owen Hilliar!

I tell them all to take a week off in December, they’ve been so kind. They don’t believe I have that kind of authority. ** sigh **

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Birds & Birding, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Sand Forest Again

Just one night with Jessie and Jordi. At Sand Forest Lodge. An emergence of flying ants saw birds in profusion feeding on them. Despite a stiff breeze I saw plenty good birds. Some birders there had counted up over seventy in their 24 hour stay. Seven Broad-billed Rollers in one tree was special – this was the furthest south I’ve seen them. Then my first-ever sighting of African Bullfrogs! I’ve seen the Giant Bullfrog in Botswana – once – but had never seen the African.

– bottom, 2nd from left – African Bullfrog Pyxicephalus edulis –

Godfrey the owner came round to visit Saturday evening, having recognised my name on his guest list; we had a long chat about his trees. He is a huge dendrology enthusiast and his current project is photographing a new un-named Combretum ‘novospeciosa’ – new species. He takes daily pics as the leaves and buds unfold and has a daily whatsapp conversation with ace botanist Richard Boon (now living in Aussie). Fascinating. He is building up an amazing catalogue of images of the 180 tree species on his property. He soon lost me as I’ve grown rusty on the dendrology side! The purple flower below is a Vitex (I think). I didn’t get a good picture. His pictures are pin-point sharp. He tried to show me how to get better pictures, but I think the extra secret is practice, practice.

– Sand Forest Lodge Nov 2019 collage –

Godfrey showed me a number of his trees and they’re all beautiful, but I am so rusty and he knew mainly the common names of the ones he isn’t actively studying at present, so I couldn’t place them easily. One I do remember is the Forest Iron Plum, Drypetes gerrardii. I’ll slip in a little post about young Mr Gerrard after whom it was named.

– African Bullfrog, Pixycephalus edulus, bottom middle – Red Toad, Schismoderma carens, top middle –

On the way home we drove through Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Lots and lots of water after seeing it dry for a long time. Lots of greenery too, so very few animals, as they didn’t need to be anywhere near the roads. Four tiny little warthogs were the only sighting of note. Hot dog-sized.

~~~oo0oo~~~

PS: On the way up I told Jess the Lodge owner’s names are Godfrey and Cary and she refused to believe me! There’s no such name as God-free she insisted. She’s heard of sugar-free and gluten-free but she just knew I was pulling her leg about God-free. When I introduced him to her she went wide-eyed and quiet like only my Jess-Jess can!

I now call them God-free and Care-free and that reminds me of Frank and Gretel Reitz who Sheila, Bess and Georgie used to call Frankful and Grateful.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Bird list: Broad-billed Roller – seven of them, most I’ve ever seen together; Crested, White-eared and Black-collared Barbets; Yellow-rumped Tinker; Klaas’, Diederik, Red-chested and Emerald Cuckoos; The Emerald only heard, the Red-chested put on a big display and I got saturation views. He / She was being mobbed by a drongo and a __ (forget); Square-tailed Drongo; Red-eyed, Emerald-spotted and Tambourine Doves; Long-crested Eagle; Three dark sunbirds – I think Marico, Neergaards and Purple-chested, but I can’t claim them all for sure. The other birders had long lens cameras and were trying to get pics of all three to prove it; Scarlet-chested Sunbird; Lesser Honeyguide calling all day – didn’t spot him; Yellow-breasted and Rudd’s Apalis; A big flock of European Bee-eaters; Spectacled and Dark-backed Weavers; Dark-capped Bulbul; Yellow-bellied and Sombre Greenbuls; Terrestrial Brownbul; Purple-crested Turaco; Southern Boubou; Orange-breasted and Gorgeous Bush-shrikes (heard both only); Green-backed Camaroptera; Rattling Cisticola; Yellow-fronted Canary; Tawny-flanked Prinia; Long-billed Crombec; Crested Guineafowl; Natal Francolin; Pied Crow; Egyptian Goose; Paradise and Black Flycatchers; African Goshawk; Striped and Brown-hooded Kingfishers; Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills; African Hoopoe; Green Wood-hoopoe; Rufous-naped Lark; Black-and-White Mannikin; Red-faced Mousebird; Black-headed Oriole; Yellow-throated Petronia; Red-capped Robin-Chat; Cape White-eye; Fiscal Shrike; Black-bellied Starling; Lesser Striped Swallow; Palm Swift; Kurrichane Thrush; Southern Black Tit; Heard the Nerina Trogon often on both days; Pied Wagtail; Golden-tailed Woodpecker;

~~~oo0oo~~~

Godfrey was excited by something about a new tree in his sand forest: Dovyalis revoluta. I couldn’t quite get what was new; something about Richard Boon and Abraham van Wyk and a new discovery. So I went looking and found it. Dovyalis revoluta is a separate species, not just another Dovyalis zeyheri. So we have a new tree in the ‘Wild Apricot’ gang. My garden has plenty Dovyalis caffra surrounding it as a thorny hedge and bird and creature refuge.

– Richard Boon and Abraham van Wyk’s pics of D. revoluta –

~~~oo0oo~~~