Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Sport

A Muddy Slog

All clean beforehand

Dad, says seven-yr-old Tom, I’m tired of the 5km and 10km races with Mom. I wanna go on a longer race with you, please.

So we enter the 18km race starting at the Eston country club and meandering thru Tala game reserve. Days before, it starts raining; and it rains; and there’s mud – A LOT of mud. I pushed, I shoved, I carried, I dragged. I went ahead, dropped my bike, went back and pushed their bikes;

We watched people bail left and right. Tractors and trailers were available en-route to offer rescue, and the trailers got piled high with bikes abandoning the slog. But we pushed on, stopping every few metres to scrape sticky mud out of the brake calipers.

And they made it! Not many did. On the way home they recuperated:

kombi zizzing

Not one pic of the mudslog! Aitch had the camera; Anyway, my hands would have been way too muddy!

Home

Monsoon

It bucketed down Sunday from about 5am to 9. Then it carried on raining. The gutters overflowed in a curtain of waterfalls all around the house; The pool overflowed and the lawn turned into a lake. The sound on the patio roof and the scullery roof reminded me of rain on the tin roofs of my childhood. Lovely sound. We bunkered down and sat inside cosy and dry.

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Africa, Family & Kids

Less Abundant Herds

My man Tobias Gumede has lost seven of his herd, once twenty five-strong, in the drought. He lives downstream of the Jozini dam on the Makathini floodplain on the right bank of the Pongola river. Not on the riverbank, but some kms away.

His son Mpilo is his herdsman and the poor fella is certainly putting on mileage as the cattle venture ever-further in search of grazing. Lately where they have found grazing there’s no surface water, so every few days they turn round and head off near home to drink. He gets home on average every third night for a meal and a bed, leaving early the next day to get back to the cattle wherever they are.

That’s when you really have to know your cattle as there are no fences and they can mingle with anyone else’s herd. Good thing Marguerite Poland recorded all the names of the coat patterns and horn shapes, and good thing Leigh Voigt painted them!

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Winter – Now his son is home without the cattle. They have not been seen for weeks. They have headed off on their own.

October – The rains have arrived at last. The cattle are home again. Down to just eleven in number.

Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Home

Rain and Meals on Wings

At last some good rain. And the flying ants are out in force! Wings and scurrying bodies everywhere, clustered around our lights.

“We’ll have fat geckos and I hope the owls and nightjars have a feast, Tom! Even the monkeys will love it if they’re still around tomorrow”

Grumble grumble I don’t like them he mutters. Then Why don’t the monkeys come out at night? Are they too scared of leopards? he asks.

“I think so”, I say. “I think its bred into them that night-time is dangerous and it’s not their time to eat.”

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wings and bougainvilla ‘petals’ – this guy is lovin’ it

Africa, Aitch, Birds & Birding, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Hwow! Hwange is Hwonderful!

One of Aitch’s list of “things to do” was visit her twin sis in Botswana. Janet quickly mustered her network and arranged a trip to Hwange, Zimababwe’s world-class national park. Her friends Beks and Sarah Ndlovu of African Bush Camps own a concession and run a very special camp at Somalisa in the eastern, Linkwasha area.

They call it a Hemingway-style camp. We called it bliss. Unpretentious tents from the outside, luxury inside.

Hwange, Somalisa Camp

The weather was amazing! Bright sunshine, then huge gathering clouds, then pouring rain and back to sunshine in a few hours. Enough rain to bring out the bullfrogs – the first time I have seen them, not for lack of looking. They were out for their annual month of ribaldry: Bawdy songs, lewd & lascivious pixicephallic behaviour. Also gluttony. Then back underground for 11 months of regrets.

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The rain was spectacular!

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After the rain, sunshine and new spoor on the bush telegraph page-wiped-clean: Aha! The lions have cubs!

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After a good soaking the animals would have to drip-dry. We could get under cover and have hot showers, hot drinks and warm dry clothing.

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Hwange, Somalisa Camp

Hwange has become my favourite of all Africa’s big parks. It is simply fantastic.

Hwange Somalisa Camp

Those sand roads are very special, as were the breakfasts out on the pan.

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Prologue:

I had written to Aitch in Feb 2009:

Hi Aitch – As they so crudely put it, we need to ‘sh*t or get off the pot’ as far as a decision to get to Okavango (and Beks Ndlovu’s camps) this year. Either soonish (March), or September / October (very hot). We must decide yes or no, and if yes, who could we leave the kids with? Dilemma – K

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So glad we didn’t get off the pot! The kids were fine; We got there in Jan 2010 for Aitch’s last – great, unforgettable – Botswana trip.

Family & Kids, Life

Angel Fevvers From Above

Went to watch a troupe of French “Angels” flying high above the city hall last night. Me and the kids with Cecelia Shozi and her two girls.
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We met Bruce & Heather and Vicky there, sitting on the base of a statue.
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Cables had been strung from the top of the city hall spire over to other buildings and between various other buildings, criss-crossing the square in front of city hall, where Jannie Smuts and Queen Vic and other umlungus stoically endure the pigeon shit. Some cables went from the top of buildings such as 320 West Street down at about a 70º angle to Aliwal Street.

Angel fevvers
Pity few of the cables are visible in my pic – I should draw them in!

I was looking forward to the madness!

After a while an old sapurity (Tom’s word) guard came up to me where I was peering up at the cables with Tom on my shoulders and told me there’s gonna be an hour’s delay. We joked about the angels having to preen their wings and I said I was worried one of these angels might come and take me away.

“Oh, no, sir” he says to me “Yours will be black  and carry a scythe, and he’ll come from up there” pointing at the blackened top floor of 320 West Street which had recently burnt out. Then it started raining and the wind came up, so I decided there’s no way the angels will fly and off we went home.
Dammit. THE ANGELS DIDN’T FLY!

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Then Sheila wrote:

Oh no – what a pity you left.

THE ANGELS DID FLY!

I was there and it was utterly enchanting. We came out of the concert (in the city hall) at about 8.30pm and it was drizzling ever so slightly, but even that stopped before the angels started flying. It was pure magic.

The fevvers (as Deon Joubert would have called them, back in Harrismith in the 60s) floating down made it look as though it was snowing, ‘specially in the spotlights.

I couldn’t help thinking that there must be a hellavu lot of kaalgat chickens skoffeling around today – I have never seen so many fevvers – and they were real!

The atmosphere was fantastic – with great shouts going up everything the angels released huge bags of fevvers all over us. I had my binocs and you could see the angels were having huge fun.


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FROM A REPORT: Angels paid Durban a visit this week, bringing magical moments of “light, sound and heavenly activity and a sense of cohesion, unity and humanity shared” to quote Bongani Tembe, South Africa’s commissioner general for the French Season in South Africa that opening in June and ended with the angels.

Strange feathered creatures edging along zipwires strung from high above street level outside the city hall. Glittering winged figures. Flying. Gliding playfully above crowds of spectators invited to the free sky spectacle by the heavenly Place des Anges.

At first the feathers fell like thick flakes of snow; then the flurries became almost a blizzard as the area became a mysterious new place.

Magical Moment of Light put Durban on the map alongside Piccadilly Circus and the 2012 Olympics in London, Moscow, Tokyo and Perth to name a few places where Les Studios de Cirque have taken their angels and feathers.

For thirty minutes, the twisting and twirling trapeze artists careened across the sky in graceful flight, slowly performing tricks and turns, before releasing a cascade of feathers from suitcases and umbrellas on the crowds below.

“Taking place in the creative heart of Durban, the show also serves to remind all of the city’s magnificent architectural beauty and artistic value, and to revive a sense of pride during these moments of playfulness.”

While the crowds gathered in the plaza in front of Durban’s city hall waiting for the aerial show, guests and dignitaries inside the city hall — first bored by some overlong speeches (the speakers were apparently given two minutes each — but some took up to twenty!) — were enchanted by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and three extraordinary KwaZulu-Natal choirs.