Lockdown memories, May

My dog Vida on her bed. She kindly allows me to sleep in it every night. Note the raised paw – she knows a cuddle is imminent.

As May arrived and Covid-19 continued to ravage the world, we at the tip of Africa entered the last month of autumn. You call it ‘fall‘ in the US because that’s what the leaves do, right? I love autumn because it’s still very warm but tree colours are lovely and sunsets seem to reflect those colours. Unless you’re stuck at home and can’t get to the forest or special places where you normally admire the autumn leaves.

Guess who loved lockdown? Guess who loved it very much and didn’t have the possibility of being infected? Guess who doesn’t have to wear a mask or sanitise or wash hands or do anything different? Dogs! That’s who.

Lockdown from a dog’s point of view was pure heaven. The humans were home all the time. The humans were needy and prone to repeated cuddling. The humans never pushed them away because of wearing a clean special dress or delicate fabric. Humans spent extra time in the kitchen and there were all sorts of things falling from the counter – hullo, do you know how much cheese this house went through? The humans even spent many extra hours in bed – sometimes entire days!!!! Ok, so walks were fewer and maybe even sometimes boringly around the block on a lead instead of favourite places like the beach or the forest where they could run off leash. But hey, having your human home all day long, that’s a dogs perfect life.

Yeah, Covid-19 was good for dogs.

Sweets …. I munched on a lot of sweets during lockdown. These are pretty and colourful and they’re called jelly beans.

When the strictest lockdown was eased in May, one of the luxuries available was food deliveries. Restaurants were still months away from opening, but deliveries were possible. My son’s lovely friend Anne-Charlotte who lives in Toulouse, France, arranged a lovely care-gift for us. What a treat it was! These gorgeous items below, and some not shown such as a marvellous farm-bread and a chicken pie. The red mask is mine, my son got a green one. It was gestures like this that made life bearable. My industry was decimated, my income was zero, but someone somewhere made a loving gesture.. we felt the love.

I’ve been very grateful for my garden and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be cooped up inside an apartment, as many people were. The fencing off of certain sections is to prevent the dogs from trampling things as they rush through to shout at passers-by in the street.

See previous post – this was a May braai. The famous boerewors, chicken, and sweet potato (yam) cooked on the fire wrapped in foil, served with a big blob of butter. Yum.
We baked an excessive quantity of muffins, of every flavour. This is choc-chip. Many miniature ones and one large one for fun.
And as winter approached, it became cold and I wore my onesie. I love it to bits and have no shame, especially when I know lockdown means no-one will drop in unexpectedly.

And, as all my posts end these days – my continued appeal for your assistance to save my business before the bank does its dirty deed of repossessing my minibus. Read about it here:

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Arachnophobia (or gold in my garden?)


I’m not really frightened of spiders as long as they keep their distance but I did a double take when I saw this massive web in my garden.

With the light fading I grabbed my camera and took a few pics. Then I Googled it using these key words: black spider with yellow belly. Google kindly rendered photos of snakes, and one of Jacob Zuma. I’m not lying.

So I turned to a Facebook group called Spiders of South Africa and there it was.  My new garden tenant is the Golden Orb Spider. I’ve heard about them and am feeling a bit privileged. They are not dangerous, I believe. They’re indigenous to South Africa and have migrated to this part of the country from the Eastern Cape in very recent years. (In my book it makes it a close relative of the hadeda who also migrated here from other parts – between animals and yuppies from Jozi, we’re becoming overrun as everybody wants to come here).

Initially I thought the yellow web was a result of being connected to the lemon tree but all their webs are yellow, hence the name. And what a magnificent web – it stretches across several metres, touching on many surrounding plants and lemons and it’s multi-layered. A very impressive construction, and I guess it’s only fitting as there are lots of babies.




extent 2222

I could only take a photo from the side because of the light but this is only part of the web, the main part with all the babies and some food. Now I understand why there are no flies around, despite the heat.


other view

Look at all the eggs!!


I think the babies were being hatched today.


Not a great shot but it’s the best I have to show the yellow belly.

Gardening time!

Garden as it looks today, after a little bit of cleaning up. You can’t see the mess that still needs to be trimmed.

I’m receiving  complaints about not blogging often enough – sorry, I haven’t been out and about much on sunny days lately. Seeing as it’s spring let’s go gardening. Warning: lots of pics!

I moved in 18 months ago and it was a horror. What little was planted was overgrown and revolting, including a tree that hadn’t seen a saw in years and the neighbour’s unruly climbers. The previous owner and her tenants were happy with their low maintenance garden – stones and aloes are very undemanding.

The first thing I did was find Richard. Richard is a gem and an expert gardener, as he repeatedly told me. Keen as mustard, he wanted to be here at the crack of dawn or earlier if possible but we negotiated the more civilised time of 8am. He took one look at the place and tutted “Lots of work here”. Then he scornfully threw down my tools, “I’ll bring my own next time” and asked for tea. He understood what was needed and, after tea and a little chat, he got stuck in. Within a few hours he had removed all the revolting overgrown rubbish, keeping exactly ONE aloe, a very large one.

In the process he found a large quantity of different types of stones and paving slabs. The large section of garden that was not planted up but instead was full of small gravel-type stuff and used as parking was dug over and the gravel was added to the driveway gravel.  A path was laid from the stoep to the car, and leaving me with instructions and a shopping list, Richard had finished day one.

The different stones unearthed by Richard. This is AFTER I sorted them into types.
The large aloe is all we kept. We moved it further away and Richard dug a hole that was too big but didn’t bother filling it in a bit so he just dropped the aloe in. It is now half the size of when we started.

Then we built a raised bed (which I insisted on painting myself because Richard’s daily rate doubles as soon as he touches a paintbrush).

Stones for the raised bed.

Richard, bless his soul, is extremely bossy and high maintenance, mainly because he drinks a lot of tea, needs a lot of praise, and has only 2 teeth. In winter soup was easy but as the weather warmed up I found it difficult to come up with things to feed him.

Richard was eager for me to go shopping for plants but I was forced by a sudden tightening of budget to leave things as they were for a while. I would sit at my desk and stare out at that empty garden every day until I wanted to cry. Eventually Caroline took pity on me and so began the great plant donation drive.  I planted.

The planting begins.

Richard was called to action one more time and helped me make full use of each and every single stone and paver we had found. He also helped prepare a vegetable garden, which has yet to be planted – I gave it a full season’s fallow break in the hope that all the weeds would stop growing and all the stones in it would disappear. The weeds are mainly gone but Vida keeps burying bones in it. Well, it’s the same bone, over and over.

I have also received some lovely plants from Pauline and divine clivias from Devos – I was thrilled when he said to leave them in their pots for a few seasons.

Nice and lush!

I’ve spent the last 4 months stepping over and around massive weeds and I can’t see half the middle path so when I wanted to braai the other evening I started preparing early in the day. First task was to dig out the wheelbarrow which serves as a braai (Weber got stolen, as yet unreplaced) and cut back the daisies that were taking over the ‘braai area’. By the time the wheelie bin was full of weeds and daisy branches it was time to braai. In other words, I was at it all day.

The braai

Well into the gardening spirit, I continued the next day and dug up a further few tonnes of weed. Sadly the job is not over yet, but it does look a lot neater and some flowers can actually be seen. It was so good to be gardening again – the aching muscles and the sun on my body, bliss!

Quite chuffed with the great variety of nasturtiums all over the garden. Seeds gathered from various parts of the Green Belt.

No garden is complete without a few ornaments. Here are some of my favourites.

Zimbo Man. I’ve been dragging him around every since I found him in Zimbabwe. He’s carved from a thin piece of slate. I think he’s very cool.

Skull picked up by Paul last year in the Karoo

A couple of flowers …

Have no idea what this is called but it’s extremely lovely and flowers for ages. I had lots. Then came Vida.

Another pretty flower, name unknown.Started out as a stick pilched from Mrs Schultz’s garden.

And finally, Richard.

Frank’s garden

I was too lazy to get cracking early today to hike in Silvermine so I decided to go and see what the celebrated Rondebosch Common is looking like at the moment – after all, spring is here.

Clearly my expectations of this common need to drop because it was a major disappointment.  Firstly, it’s very muddy at the moment and I hadn’t donned my lovely wellies so within minutes my feet and the bottom of my trousers were soaked and muddy. Vida loves mud and she’s always keen to share it with me so I had mud all over the back of me as well.

I wouldn’t have minded so much if the flowers weren’t such a major let down. We saw bulbs and the promise of some flowers in the next month or so, so maybe I’ll have another look soon but the more I think about it, the more I believe that huge piece of land is not worth the fuss. They should just give it over to housing or something useful; the locals can simply get in their cars and go walking somewhere else locally – there’s enough to choose from within a short distance. They all have SUVs, perfect for dogs and muddy wellies.

Vangie came along, as well as Frank and his dog Inge. Vangie and I very soon got fedup with the mud in our wrong shoes so we steered everyone back in the direction of the car and went back to Frank’s place for coffee. The dogs played beautifully, we enjoyed a lekker coffee, some cheese and delicious bread from a bakery in Stellenbosch. Frank and I discussed our upcoming tour and we marvelled over Frank’s garden which is a darn sight more interesting than the Common.

And Frank’s garden is an absolute delight which is why I am treating you to several photos of it. They’re all from pretty much the same angle because the sun was too low in the other direction, and I can’t choose only one. Note this garden is not even a year old.

Completely indigenous, full of his beloved aloes, bursting with colour, attracting birds, beautifully laid out, it’s enough to make anyone envious. Considering that mine is a weed infested Vida-bone burial ground I am quite envious but also inspired to pull finger, with or without Richard the Bossy Gardener, and sort out my little patch of ground.


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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