Today the odometer turned over to 300,000km or 187,500 miles. Not bad for a 1991 VW! I didn’t have any champagne or would have poured it over the bonnet! But I did take the slow way, back roads to Howick from Ashburton, so that as the dial hit the big number, I could pull over without getting side swiped by a big rig, or “heavy,” as they are known here. So just outside Howick, I pulled onto the grassy verge and immortalized it.
It was good to go back to Ashburton for a few hours. The roofers were here at the B&B and were hellofa noisy! So grabbed my water bottle for a Kangen water refill, and headed down the hill. Mick was home and we had lunch together on the veranda.
Absolutely spectacular weather, it’s getting a little chilly now but the sun is gorgeous.
Just before I left, when I went out to get my iPad on the veranda, I saw that Gingi had caught something, and wouldn’t you know, it was a snake. I yelled for Mick who quickly picked it up with his bare hands! It was a Philothamnus semivariegatus – Spotted Bush Snake, a beautiful, brilliant emerald green with golden reddish brown eyes. It was very small and very slippery! Needless to say, I let Mick rescue him and put him out of harms way in the orange tree! As pretty as it was, I don’t do snakes!
Some of the great home made stuff at the Karkloof Market
Karkloof Farmers Market this morning. After all, why miss one when it is so close, just about a mile away from Stocklands, the B&B where I am staying for a couple of weeks.
This area is the retirement community centre of this country, and I was not alone with my silver hair! Although there were a lot of younger people there too. It is held inside a big metal barn, with some additional stands outside. Lots and lots of home industry type products, and several tart stands. I knew I was onto something in Washington when I started making them. They all looked really good! Several cheese makers, bakers, jam makers and a wide selection of actual food stands, with different breakfast foods; bagels, French toast, omelettes. All very tempting. I did buy some dry cured bacon for Mick as he complains about how much water is in the store-bought bacon and how it doesn’t fry nicely.
The Karkloof Market is in a large barn
Manning that stand was a fellow I thought I recognized, and sure enough, it was Rob who is part of the Conservancy that Mick heads up. He was out of context, but he said, after I asked him about the bacon, “And where is Mike this morning?” and it clicked who he was. Then I saw a face from the past! Tim Lea was manning the Rita Lea, his wife’s stand. She has Rita Lea’s Country Kitchen and makes really good pies – not fruit pies, but different meat pies that she sells frozen, ready to bake. Tim is Rosemary’s brother-in-law. That’s a story with a twist, but not for the blog.
Locally made cheese at the market
The place was jammed! Easter long weekend and gorgeous weather has everyone and his brother out. And lots of visitors to the retirement communities! Maybe that’s where all the young people come into the picture, visiting grandma! And incidentally, a source of a lot of “bed nights” at the B&B.
I don’t think I would do well in the hospitality business. Don’t have the patience for the complainers out there. They really have nothing to whine about here; it is four star and very nice. But some people just have to find something wrong with everything. This one couple arrived yesterday evening, and I could tell immediately from the woman’s body language that she wouldn’t be happy with anything. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with the guests much, just check them in when Adele is not here. So I am nice to them, but glad I have minimal interaction with them! I like to choose who I associate with – too picky I suppose.
The internet here is really, really bad at the moment. It’s satellite and for some unknown (though I have a suspicion) reason I can barely connect today. It’s like working on a dial up!Hopefully, once the land lines are replaced with fiber optic cables (all the copper phone lines were stolen in November), the connectivity will be better. Apparently they are in the process of burying the new cables. Makes it a bit difficult to do any research. I am expecting a call from the service provider – customer service here is marginal – and maybe they can fix the problem.
Yesterday morning, I looked out my window and saw this marvelous creature racing across the grass! You can see by the size of the blades of grass, how big he is! And they say, “Things are bigger in Texas!” This escargot, at about 8 inches long, would make dinner for a group of six.
For the next two weeks, I am house sitting (or bed sitting) Stocklands Farm B&B for Evie. She and Roland are taking a trip to the western part of the country, a favorite of theirs, and tracing the path of Archbell, who is the subject of the book she is in the process of writing. The B&B is in Howick, about half an hour from Ashburton, and a completely different climate. Cooler, more temperate, but very beautiful. I really don’t have to do much, basically just be here from about 4 pm on, as the help leave then.
So I have the days to myself, and am set up in Evie’s office so very comfortable.
Looks like ecology is getting back on track, so I have a lot of work ahead of me. I feel so much better, having a focus now, instead of being in limbo. When the full funding comes through and I know what direction the company is going, then I will make decisions about where I am going!
Here I was, minding my own business on the veranda, enjoying the day, searching the internet for jobs, when I heard this funny noise coming from the aloe garden area. Got up and looked around the corner and there were 10 horses of various colors, grazing on the grass!
Well! I’m not a horse person but I knew I better keep them out of the vege garden before finding out who they belong to! I thought for sure someone would come calling from the road, but no!
I’m out there, trying to keep them from wandering into the garden in front, standing guard, never showing fear! They actually were very friendly, and very pretty! And thinking – what the hell am I going to do about this?
Hmm, I thought. I know the neighbors have a donkey but not horses! So I called Mick – no answer. Called Debbie – no answer. Texted Debbie – and a response. Oh joy! Find Bheki the gardener from next door and tell him the horses are out!
Great consternation over there. Which gate was left open? Who left the gate open? Why was the gate open?
So Bheki comes rushing over and starts shooing them out and they took off into the open field and galloped around with him chasing and waving his arms! Finally, they all headed for the wide-open gate (which no one knows how it was opened – or no one is saying) and they returned home.
Not really home. Mick says Van has various horses come daily to graze – so I guess it’s horsey day care!
Whenever I spend time at the beach and at the cottage, it reinforces the idea of where I want to live.
Where it’s warm
Where I can swim every day
Where there is household help
I feel so much better both physically and mentally in that sort of environment. So something to work towards – actually this isn’t anything new; I have simply refined my “wants,” leading more and more towards La Playa in Mexico.
The cottage was as wonderful as ever; warm, clear, lovely. We had a fantastic thunderstorm overnight which left the air fresh and soft in the morning. And the water was so clean and clear. The first morning it was very still and the waves were perfect at Green Point so a lot of surfers were out.
Well, let me clarify that statement!
By California standards, there were hardly any guys out – maybe six or seven, but here, at this spot, that’s quite a lot. They were all riding short boards when I thought they should have had longboards! But they were having fun, so that’s all that counts!
Catherine, doing her yoga on the lawn early morning.
Catherine (goddaughter) and I spent some time with Keith Cunningham, a member of the Clansthal Concervancy as I am going to do an article about the Conservancy and the ongoing effort to create a marine sactuary between Clan and the Aliwal Shoal. The Shoal is already a Marine Protected Area (MPA) so this was the start of the research. It’s a very popular dive spot, about 5 km (3.5 m) offshore and was named after the sinking of the three-masted vessel “Aliwal”, captained by James Anderson in 1849. There are two wrecks near the reef; the Norwegian bulk carrier “Produce” which sank in 1974 and the Nebo which sank in 1884.
Keith gave us a great tour and I decided to also do something for ecology about the indigenous plants. Also a lot of research required!
Conservancies in this country are the grassroots effort at conservation. With the government in such disarray, with so little understanding of what needs to be done, local people have come together and created conservancies around the country. Many are contiguous and it seems like there needs to be more communication between these all-volunteer efforts to enable them to become more effective.
Another interesting article idea! Oh dear! I think I am setting myself up to be too busy!
Mick and Debbie are gone for a couple of days and I am taking care of the “livestock.” Cats, chickens and ducks! But now, I am sitting on the veranda, it’s about 82F (26C) at 6pm. I have my drink (gin) and a little country music in the background and a thunderstorm lightshow happening all around, but no rain!
Catherine, doing her yoga on the lawn early morning.
Just had a lovely morning at Umhlanga Rocks. Mick and Debbie took me to breakfast at the little restaurant on the boardwalk. Not the flashiest place, but right on the water, which is what I had asked for, for my … Continue reading →
I did do a nice little day trip to clear my head. Drove the Old Main Road down from Cato Ridge down to Hillcrest, through the Valley of 1000 Hills. It was a gorgeous day, and I needed to decide what to do about ecology.com. And knew if I remained sitting in front of the computer, I wouldn’t really think about what I needed to think about. So got in my little putt putt and headed out.
This guy entertained us at the Shongweni Market
The road is windy and narrow and things really haven’t changed much up in the hills. Cattle wandering around the roads with and old ikhehla (old man) herding them along. A couple of the places have changed or gone out of business, but really, everything was pretty much the same. I stopped at the craft market and looked at all the stuff, all pretty much the same, but the setting is spectacular. And right next door is the Chef School, which now has a microbrewery and deli, which I will save for another trip.
Then I went on down to Hillcrest and the AIDS Centre to see Paula, who was just on her way out to lunch. I was very impressed with the improved quality of the beading the ladies are doing, some gorgeous stuff and of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, so another “next time.” Paula still claims I put them on the map with the first article I did on them, when the ladies were doing hand painted fabric bags.
From there I went down to Pinetown, still on the Old Main Rd, down Fields Hill and into the center of town. The area has cleaned itself up a bit in the center, but the first impression is still not good; dirty and trashy but even that was a bit better than three years ago.
Bread at the Shongweni Farmers Market
My main reason for going down there was to find pectin – the lemons are dripping off the tree outside my window and I want to make sugar-free lemon marmalade. So have to have the pectin which most people haven’t heard of! Even at Knowles, the BIG supermarket, they didn’t know what I wanted! And that store is enormous and has just about everything you could wish for – except pectin!
Anyway, by the time I headed home, I had come to a decision about the job, so felt better about it. I will finish out this month, get the big water project published and then spend my time looking for a new job, the very last thing I want to do, but out of necessity, must do. When the funding comes through, I will then return to the job. Jane, Janis and John are really wonderful people and completely understand my situation and have said there is always a job there for me, when the funding is in place.
So spending time looking online for jobs, and am waiting for a response from an interesting one in Reno, NV. Not that I particularly want an office job, but I have to eat so will take what I can. I am also putting out the word that I do Internet Research as a freelancer. Something I can take anywhere with me.
Yesterday, I spent the day with Rosemary which is always fun. It’s amazing how we don’t see each other for years at a time, yet we slip back into our old friendship like the years in between never happened. Fifty years of friendship create strong bonds!
Today was Farmers Market. When I first went to the Shongweni Market years ago, it was a real farmers market, with lots of vege stalls, eggs, flowers and food. Today, although the whole market has grown beyond recognition, there were only three vege stalls, a couple of places that had eggs, one free range meat place – and what seemed like hundreds of craft or flea market-type booths. So I was a bit disappointed, but we had coffee and bacon rolls – well, Debbie and Mick and bacon and egg rolls, mine just bacon and onion but so good, and just like a remember.
Tomorrow is my birthday and when Mick asked me what I wanted to do, I said “Go to the beach for breakfast.” So in the morning, we are going to Umhlanga Rocks and will walk along the boardwalk and find a cafe. Maybe the one Chris and I used to go to will still be there. And then when we get home, I hope to Face Time with all my kids and kidlettes.
Picture this: a car (fairly old, mine) the size of a Honda Civic or a bit smaller. Add 5 (five) yes 5 rather large black ladies, average weight 200 pounds! And you get a little putt putt car valiantly driving down a dirt road, me at the wheel, carefully avoiding any pot holes so we don’t bottom out! Ladies are shrieking with laughter, the three largest – probably close to 800 pounds combined, wedged into the back seat, I don’t know how! And two, plus me driving, in the front!
I had been up to Stocklands to get some decent pix of Evie and Roland, we went out to lunch and to visit Liesl, her daughter-in-law, and as I was leaving, which was quitting time for the ladies of the B&B, they simultaneously stuck out their thumbs! What could I do but stop and load them all in! Fortunately for me – and the car – it was a short distance (probably half a mile or so which they usually walk to and from work) to their bus stop, and mostly down hill!
Just wish I had had the time to take a picture – but I have it etched in my mind. What a hoot!
When I went to stay with Sue Green for a couple of days, I had the opportunity to see some of her artwork. She is amazing! She switches from watercolor to acrylic to oil without batting an eyelid!
Her paintings decorate all the walls in her house, and I was simply blown away! As I went upstairs to my room, I looked at a grouping of pictures on the landing, and the one here really took my fancy.
She gave it to me!
When we were kids, our nannies carried us around like that on their backs, and the African women still do! Although, in town, I have seen young mothers with strollers so I guess more traditions are falling by the wayside. Sad.
Sue is “old-school” and doesn’t have the internet. I am so used to simply log in that it was an interesting few days as I went to a coffee shop and got emails, then the next three days were internet-free!
We reminisced a lot…and I was able to add more time frames into my memories. I seem to have been doing a lot of memory mining the last few weeks.
After a couple of days with Sue, I went down to Durban and John and I drove down to Clansthal, my most favorite beach in the world. Rosemary would come down on Saturday afternoon after her bridge game! I drove and John navigated to get me out of town as I have forgotten a lot of the streets.
We had heard that Typhoon Irina was going to make landfall north of Durban on Sunday, so we were hoping to get some beach time in before that.
We missed most of the Friday afternoon and early weekend traffic, except for one area where the road was being resurfaced and we got stuck behind a stream of taxis, which typically, were absolutely jammed with bodies. Both John and I cursed as the ignorant passengers tossed their rubbish and plastic bottles out of the windows. I wanted to get out and go give them the stuff back but of course, couldn’t as we were moving! But honestly….
The cottage was exactly as it always has been, old and funky but as wonderful as every! Amos, the caretaker was there to help. And what a help he is! He cooks too, puts out the coffee and tea trays, does all the dishes! What a treat to be there.
Both dogs came down with us – Brutus, an elderly Jack Russel and Cleo, a Rottie. They absolutely love the beach and came with us as we went for a long walk. They swim, too and jump in the tide pools and Cleo swims out, almost surfing in on the waves. John and I got in too, but it was quite cold and pretty rough too, with the typhoon starting to stir the sea up.
Saturday was still a gorgeous day – clear, sunny and oh yes, HOT! After a morning swim, a big breakfast and a short trip into Scottburgh to get groceries, I zoned out with a book before all John and Rosemary’s kids and grandkids arrived. Kathryn, their eldest and my god daughter came, with her boyfriend Anton. And Michelle with her husband and three little blonde girls, Kelly Rose (5) and Susie and Penny, the twins who are three and half, about the same age as Oliver.
We had a big lunch on the veranda at a long table that Amos set up. John braaied (bbq’d) dorado which was delicious! So with good South African beer and wines to wash it down, what more can a girl want?
By the time the gang left, the clouds had moved in and the wind picked up. The seas had got bigger – expecting 4-5 metres (12-15 ft) waves. It was looking really stormy.
I woke up to rain, big rain! And wind, but not typhoon strength. Messy, turbulent seas. But not cold at all. So we packed up and headed back to Durban before it could get any messier. And I drove back up to Ashburton from there. There was a huge amount of water on the roads, so I just drove slowly, and fortunately, everyone else had slowed down too.
By the time I got withing 15 km of Ashburton, the rain had eased up and at the house, it was just a light but steady rain, that gently half-filled the water tank, much to Debbie and Mick’s joy.
It was 102 in the shade on the veranda! Holy moly, I had forgotten these super hot, dry days in February. The plants all frizzled and dry, tree leaves drooping – and the weavers quiet.
I went out to the vege garden around 3:30 and even then I could feel myself frying, but needed to get water on the poor little plants that were looking very sad. Fortunately, they look fine this morning, and it is ‘only’ going to be around 90F today, They say.
Mick and Debbie have two cats, Gingie and Gremlin, Gingie’s mother. The house is surrounded by veld (grasslands) which are inhabited by a huge number of rodents! But significantly less than if the cats weren’t around. Every day, one or both appear with either a live mouse or vlei rat, or a very dead one. Always very proud!
These treasures are usually brought into the house, either to play with – or eat! Live ones are chased around by Mick and/or Debbie while the cats try to foil their attempts, rescued and placed in an always-at-the-ready shoe box and transported back to the field!
This morning, while sitting here at the computer on the veranda, Gingie appeared with one in his mouth. I proceeded to chase him, trying to get him to drop it! Ha! He beelined for the vege garden where he did drop it. One very dead mouse!
All the while, I had been calling Mick to come help but he was in his office and didn’t hear me. I grabbed Gingie and we went back to the house, leaving the dead rat. But what to do with it? Mick said leave it there, we can’t save them all, and Gingie immediately rushed back to retrieve his treasure. Then proceeded to eat it on the grass right in front of me!