Old favourite – Arboretum

lush

I haven’t walked in the Arboretum for ages so went there yesterday. I still haven’t managed to find out anything about this place except that it might belong to Kirstenbosch but they haven’t replied to my request for some history. I’ll keep digging.

Vida was thrilled to be here again ..sniff sniff everywhere, bounding through the long grass like a puppy, I hadn’t worn my wellies and the stream was a bit of a torrent so we walked everywhere else and then around the stream so we could investigate the other side, too. Madam was thrilled and continued running in her sleep all evening.

bounding

Lots of lovely long grass for a little dog to enjoy!

more sniffinf

Sniff sniff sniff

never seen before here

sniff sniff

Lovely light at that time of day, late afternoon. More sniffing.

where is spring

These trees are always a bit late .. lovely pink blossoms when they do get cracking.

Unknown, no scent

Spring is pretty much everywhere

A new toy, sunset and a chance meeting

sunsetperson

There’s this couple, Cathy and Terry,  with whom I’ve been interacting online for some time. They live in Simon’s Town and are what is known as ‘Friends of Cape Point’. This means they spend a lot of time in the Cape Point Nature Reserve helping with various tasks such as repainting signboards and generally keeping the reserve clean.  A huge number of Capetonians don’t appreciate the natural beauty of Cape Point and there are many who can’t get there often due to its somewhat isolated location at the tip of the peninsula. For Cathy and Terry it’s so close by and they love it so much that it’s virtually their backyard.

They have a website devoted to the reserve (check it out, loads of interesting info) and they maintain one of my favourite Facebook pages – What’s The Point? – which is regularly updated with photos to make anyone jealous of their proximity to this lovely place. They hike there a lot and know where to go to see the various animals and birds and flowers that most visitors miss as they rush through. We share a common opinion that it’s a great pity most visitors don’t spend enough time there. I wrote about that just this past week in a blog post here, for which they kindly allowed me to use some of their photos.

This afternoon I went down to Kommetjie with Vida and Vangie for a sunset walk and to try out the new camera. Sitting on a bench watching surfers and the sunset I began chatting with a lady taking photos nearby.. and within a few minutes I realised I was chatting with Cathy! It’s always pleasant to finally meet someone you’ve met and appreciated online and the chance of it happening in the same week we’ve been chatting back and forth about my blog post felt rather serendipitous. They say Cape Town is like a village sometimes, but still..

That chance meeting sure made up for the fact that my first efforts with this camera were a dismal failure! Caroline, hurry back from your roadtrip and help me figure out all these settings, please, not a moment to be lost here!!!

bird

I was really chuffed to ‘get the bird’ but not much merit to this pic.

slangkop

For some reason I had an urge to take a photo of Slangkop lighthouse through the bars of the gate. So I did.

Snow in spring

My dismal failure at snow peaked mountains from Silvermine.
Yes, the zoom is fabulous, but yes I need to work out how to not distort everything else in the process.

sunset

surfers

Table Mt from Kommetjie

Very very bad shot but illustrates the power of the zoom, which is not even used fully here – that’s the cable car station and restaurant at the top of Table Mountain – 40kms away!

I am 4 rhinos, are you?

rhinos

Today I am breaking my rule of using only my own photos – it’s for a good cause.

You’d have to be living in a cave to not have heard that the world’s rhino population is fast dwindling. At the current rate of poaching (killing, butchering, murdering) these magnificent creatures will soon be extinct. Future generations will have only photos and movies and will ask why we allowed this to happen.

Sadly, there are people in certain cultures who believe the horn of a rhino has beneficial purposes and/or is equal to Viagra. This has never been proved to be correct. Even if it was correct, let’s just assume, then there would be better ways to obtain the powdered horn than to butcher a harmless creature and leave it bleed to death, often in front of its young.

The government of South Africa and the WWF are trying to convince certain countries’ governments to cooperate in fighting the war against poaching rhinos but it’s a long battle and might be too late. It’s a huge task to change the firm mindset of people who have blind faith in something and who regard its use as a status symbol. These people will pay large sums of money for a small quantity, and they take advantage of poverty to pay poachers peanuts. It is always the poacher who lands up behind bars, not the real culprit. The next animal on the list will be elephants.

23 September is World Rhino Day and the WWF is asking everyone who cares to raise awareness and pledge support by tweeting as much as possible with the hash-tag #iam4rhinos.  Click on this link to see the progress … the red shows how many tweets have been reached.

I am a cynic with little faith in blind awareness campaigns. That’s why my Facebook page will never show those absurd cancer and depression/whatever posts – they serve no purpose and are just a waste of time, and the implied blackmail that ‘only true friends will do this’ is a big no-no.

But this rhino awareness campaign has touched me. I have seen photos of butchered rhinos bleeding to death, I have heard the sobs of game rangers who find them, and it has to stop.

If you have a twitter account please go and tweet a few times – do it for the rhinos, not for my friendship!

#iam4rhinos – are you?

Half Alphen

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I was selfishly not in the mood for a walk today because it’s very cold but Vida has cabin fever. When I put on her collar to take her to the shops in the car she got so excited I decided to extend it to a quick Alphen walk, what I call the half Alphen – we turn around at a halfway point. She loved it despite the shortness and ran around enough to let off some steam. I feel less guilty now she’s had a little run.

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This lab was such a show-off .. he raced across the stream and back again, twice, in front of me. His owners were in stitches but clearly used to it, and Vida … well, Vida just watched and by the time she reacted wanting to jump in, it was too late, he was gone again. She’d had her swim already by then, anyway.

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There she is looking at the lab as he raced off for the last time.

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Nasty weather coming this evening …

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Council workers have been clearing the trail and now you can see the very very old sluice walls.

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A wheel next to the sluice. I tried to turn it but it is as stiff as can be. Not that it would make much difference as the stopper it controlled is long gone.

Traffic

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There I was, crawling along in rush hour traffic, not something I allow myself to experience often, and I looked up at the reserve on hospital bend, as I always do when I go past.

A Cape Mountain zebra, standing dead still and another one to the left, he moved so he’s blurred. The photo is really bad, I know, it’s quite far away and my phone zoom isn’t powerful. But I couldn’t help reflecting on what a special place we live in. How many cities have a natural reserve with wild animals, right next to a 5-lane highway, in the middle of a city?

I hope you Capetonians make a point of looking up there when you drive past. Slow down, have a look, it won’t make you late and you’ll often see animals grazing on the slopes.

We struck Gold!

Phil at Gold

After two postponements we finally got to Gold Restaurant last night for an African evening of drumming, food and dance. One of the perks of my job is being invited to try stuff like nice hotels and restaurants so that I can include them in my tours. Love it!

I hadn’t told Phil that the evening was to start with a drumming session and it turned out to be a perfect surprise – he’s under pressure at the moment so he gave that drum a good hiding. Our hands were red and very sore afterwards but it was lekker to make all that noise in time with all the other people – we brought the roof down, man! When the session was over I went to look at our lovely instructor’s hands – wow, talk about callouses! Phil wants to join a drumming group now but he didn’t see that man’s hands.

Then it was yummy time. The meal consists of 14 courses … everything was absolutely delicious … mostly small tapas size bites of different foods from various African countries. We polished off a bottle of excellent Rickety Bridge Shiraz while we worked our way through all the dishes being brought to the table one after the other. My mouth is watering as I write this and I could kill for a plateful of the Moroccan chicken pie.

During the meal a Malian dance group entertained us with singing, dancing and more drumming … one of the puppets took a shine to Phil, as you can see in the pic above. Most people were given a little fondle, but Phil got a complete cuddle.

I’m totally going to take visitors there or recommend it to my clients, it’s a really nice experience, combining all the elements of the diverse culture of Africa.  Check out their website  and look through the menu for details of all the courses, and bear it in mind for functions or a different evening out. I’m going to book my big school reunion there next year, many of my old school mates have left the country and not been back for many years, and some have spouses that have never been here at all – they will love this, and it’s not even expensive!

Tanzanian fish

I completely forgot to take photos of the first few courses which is silly because they were the most photogenic and you could see the crockery properly – it’s very pretty crockery! The dish on the bottom right was a sublime Tanzanian fish, one of our favourites.

Dancers at Gold

Restaurant

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Very fast dancing

Spring, kinda

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First day of spring and I’d hoped to go and see the flowers in the West Coast National Park and at the same time test the new company wheels on an open road. But it rained this morning, then the sky was overcast for most of the day, and the flowers, being mostly daisies, need sun to show their faces – as you can see above, a field of orange daisies all with their petals shut.

So I changed the plan and Heather and I went to the little village of Philadelphia for lunch. They call it a town but there’s a church, a post office, 2 streets and 3 restaurants, so I’m sticking to village. It’s only about 40 km from the city centre but you may as well be way out in the sticks, since it’s surrounded by farms and canola fields which look stunning at the moment. I wasn’t very inspired to take outdoor photos but I took a few in a little gem of a shop called Magical Minerals. They specialise in crystals and minerals but also have a rather decent selection of gifts and fun retro items.

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Remember these? Kaleidoscopes!

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Indeed.
Not the full poem and the title is misspelled but still one of my favourites.

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Very retro – press underneath and the character collapses.

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Even more retro – cheaper than the collapsing character but more entertaining.

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Kicking myself for not buying some for the next season of Game of Thrones.

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Told you it’s spring!

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Classic Cape Dutch gabbling on this house but the section in the middle is puzzling as it looks Victorian.
I enquired on a ‘Cape buildings’ group on Facebook and was told this: “A whole Cape Dutch style (as opposed to the original Cape Dutch Architecture) developed after the design and building of Groote Schuur. A number of English architects, schooled in arts and crafts, started practise in SA. This is the result thereof. The style still exists and continues to develop.”

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The new wheels.
I wanted Heather to drape herself seductively across the bonnet but she can only do that in a bikini so this will have to do until summer.

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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