September – spring, escapism and even clients

I still can’t get over how long I lasted without going completely nuts at home. With a few brief exceptions, it was only in September that I had what one could call multi-escapisms.

First was a trip to the West Coast National Park (yes, I was there twice this year, despite lockdown!) to see the flowers with clients. I advertised on Facebook and after much back and forth of coordinating people and the ideal weather, I had a small group confirmed for a day tour. They were all locals who love nature and wanted to treat themselves to an outing, and not have to drive – my exact target market! The day met all their expectations and I was thrilled to be there and to mix with new people. I even got an amazing Trip Advisor review from one of them, Tim, who is also a tour guide – quite a feat for lockdown!

I also fulfilled a wish – I held a very small baby! It had occurred to me at the start of lockdown, one of those sudden thoughts that come out of nowhere, that I might never again hold a baby. The thought saddened me enormously and I admit to weeping at the thought. Then I received a lunch invitation from a tour operator with whom I work often (under normal times) and his wife had just given birth! I couldn’t get there fast enough, although I had to wait until the restrictions permitted it. Luckily, the new mum allowed me all the holding and cuddling I wanted and a good day was had by all.

My friend Frank knew I was down in the dumps so he urged me out of the house for a walk on the renowned Rondebosch Common. This deceptive looking piece of land, in the upmarket and very historic suburb of Rondebosch, is an institution in Cape Town. Known simply as The Common to many, this open ground of 40 hectares is a National Monument and used to be a military camp – from the days of the Dutch defending the Cap against the British until the Second World War.

Now it’s an important conservation area for some critically endangered species of Cape fynbos and renosterveld, which occur nowhere else on earth. Driving past it, all one observes is an open piece of land with a few shrubby parts and some large pines at one end. But, park your car, take a walk and keep your eyes to the ground and you’ll see a myriad plant species, over 100 species of birds, as well as small mammals, reptiles and frogs. It’s also an important wetland so it’s very soggy in parts which gave me an opportunity to wear my wonderful gumboots – they don’t get out much these days.

September was also the month for my first post-Covid visit to Kirstenbosch – not for nothing is this known as one of the world’s most beautiful Botanical Gardens. They were closed for several months but in September re-opened and my friend Sheila and I wasted little time going there for a few hours. I was in a bad head-space that day so it was just what I needed – beauty, fresh air and a friend. I normally go there very often with my clients so it had felt strange to not visit the gardens for so many months.

Photos of the above outings, plus of course one of Vida, the world’s cutest dog who just happens to own me.

A member of the ferarria family – slightly stinky odour, to attract flies.

Carpets of flowers at the West Coast National Park – one of the loveliest of all the National Parks.

Rondebosch Common and a few flowers

The magnificent backdrop of mountains at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Vida

Last but not last, my usual plea for help to save my tourism business with a link to my crowdfund campaign. All contributions madly appreciated!

NB: advertising on this blog is selected by WordPress and I derive no income from any of it.

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

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.

Not quite spring

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I thought I’d post a few random photos of bright coloured flowers because the next few days are going to be god-awful weather. The forecast is announcing gale force winds, low temperatures and lots of rain.

Never mind that spring is around the corner.

IMG_4421 pink kleinmond

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.

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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