Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy birthday, dear Yvonne!

Over the past few months I've posted about the special times I spent with Yvonne while in South Africa. You can read about these here and here. Please do click on these links to read about what a very special friend Yvonne is.

This wonderful lady doesn't spend her days rocking in a chair on her porch, complaining about the state of the country or today's youth. No, Yvonne is a highly intelligent and very interesting person, who apart from managing her home, garden and business affairs, bakes a mean (read delicious!) chocolate cookie. She is also involved in the community and social network which is so unique to a small town.

Yvonne enjoying her computer to the fullest (Photo credit: Ida from South Africa)

Today she is also  is skilled in computer communications. Yvonne Skypes and e-mails her family and friends all over the world, and is in regular contact with her only daughter, Sheryl in Melbourne,  Australia.  I'm always thrilled to receive a mail or Skype call from Yvonne. She, along with another dear friend, "Ida from South Africa", keeps me in touch with our home town, Marquard.  Yvonne stays up-to-date with my life here in Khartoum by following my blog. (Thank you, Yvonne) 

As I said, a skilled computer lady!

At the beginning of the year, I had an article published in the provincial newspaper about Yvonne learning to use the computer at her age. Ida, once again, helped by taking the photos in my absence.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Khartoum: More babies!

Never a dull moment in the Hedges family and household...

The budgies' cage is suspended on an elbow attached to the wall of our office-cum-living-and-dining room

Sweet Pea, the blue budgie in the seed trough, fills up on seeds

What a fortnight it's been. First, in the middle of May, we acquired a baby cat. You can read about this here if you wish. During that period we realised that Sweet Pea (the blue budgie sitting in the seed trough above) had laid three eggs. You can read about this here, if you wish.

Then on 21 May we received a phone call from our older son, John to say that our newest grandchild, a boy, had made an early appearance. They were 1000km/625miles from home and their regular doctor and clinic when this happened. You can read about this here. (BTW, our grandbaby has gained enough weight and with his parents and siblings, is on his way  to our house in the Free State)

On Thursday, 27 May I peeped into the nestbox while momma budgie was filling up on seed, and viola, there were FIVE eggs!

On Friday night I was sitting at the dining room table dealing with Grant's administration, when I heard soft, squeaking sounds above my head. Clutching my torch, I climbed onto a dining chair (the cage hangs against the wall on an elbow since Shadow's arrival) and aimed the beam into the nest. At that moment, Sweet Pea , who doesn't allow me to check in the nest if she can help it, stood up and I had a glimpse of a teeny, completely hairless little bird. Sweetpea had her beak over his and was obviously feeding it. Grant has checked up on the Internet (what would we do without Google?) and we now know that the female feeds the babies her crop milk until three weeks. Then the father steps in and helps with feeding them seeds!

Meanwhile Rambo spends a lot of time eating and then chatting up the pretty bird in the mirror. He loves it when Sweet Pea emerges from the nest and spends ages allopreening and feeding her. I suppose in human terms, this translates into taking flowers and fruit to your spouse in the maternity ward...

An empty eggshell is just visible in the nest is proof that Sweet Pea's wing is concealing the newly hatched baby budgie

Grant has attached an extra suspended birdfeeder near the nest entrance. Google suggested we do this and I'd bought one in South Africa while out there in March. However, Rambo seems to be using it more than the new mommy bird...
Our next purchase here will be a bigger cage...

For more stories and posts about pets around the world, click here.

Farms on the Nile

Whenever we travel from our flat in Omdurman to the city of Khartoum, we cross the Nile via Shambat bridge. 

The vegetable farms along the riverbanks are neat and well-maintained.  (The five-star Burj Al Fateh hotel can be seen in the background.)
I'm waiting for my photo permit. (Indiscreet photographing, especially on the bridge,  is frowned upon in Khartoum) Once I have this, I intend to stand on the pedestrian walkway in the middle of the bridge and have a photofest!  At the moment have to be satisfied with taking photos from a moving vehicle.
Goats, tended by elderly goatherds, keep the weeds under control

For beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Khartoum: Quest to find a vet

Until meeting Christopher and Sanaa early in April, Grant and I experienced our own  adventures trying to locate "unusual" items in Khartoum. At that stage (September last year) I knew no Arabic and used charades, sounds and armwaving tactics to make myself understood. You can read about one of these occassions here.

Last Wednesday I asked Christopher (my Arabic tutor's husband) to take me to a vet in the city. I had e-mailed Danie, our vet in South Africa, sending him photos of Shadow as well as his height and weight (2lbs 4 oz) I also sent photos of the cat's parts (er) which would enable Danie to tell us what the gender is. The report came back; Shadow is a male! Danie also, at  my request sent the names of the three-month innoculations Shadow has to have. Christopher duly arrived at 10am in a hyab/taxi and we set off across the Nile river to Bahri . We were on our way to the University of Agriculture where Christopher had located a small animals (house pets) vet by telephone.

I was surprised to see that we travelled along tree-line streets with hardly any traffic. Because the area only houses students who are either attending lectures or in their rooms studying, we had the road to ourselves which is most unusual in Khartoum.
When we arrived outside the vet, Christopher instructed the taxi driver (who claimed brother-in-law was a doctor here) to accompany me indoors.  
Inside I found an open reception area where a horse, (pictured at top) a goat and a dog (above) were waiting with their owners to be attended to. As I explained to the receptionist what I required she said they didn't have innoculations there. I would have to return to Omdurman Souq/market. She went out into the street to where Christopher was waiting and explained how to get to the vet in Omdurman.  (Meanwhile the taxi driver had disappeared into one of the offices beyond the courtyard where he found his relative and was having a bite to eat!)
 Students stroll between lectures along palm tree lined lanes

We crossed the Nile river once more and returned to Omdurman. The taxi driver was born in this city and assured us he knew where to take us.

Entering Omdurman you come across many horse-drawn carts whereas in Khartoum and Bahri, donkeys drawing carts are more popular.
The horses always look well-kept and properly fed. As we turned into another street, Christopher pointed out a special market where the horse and donkey feed can be purchased for a very reasonable price
Two carts loaded with the animal's feed in front of us. These carts were being drawn by donkeys
Another horse and cart
The taxi driver closes the door while I photograph a cartload of bananas 

 I follow the taxi driver in search of the vet's surgery/offices
Entering the Souq Saadi Small Animals Vet Services
The vet on the left spoke fluent English and issued me with the Rabies Vaccination. The other vaccinations (for Catflu and Sniffles) I would find in Burri, Khartoum. *sigh*

Leaving Omdurman we headed for the Shambat Bridge over the Nile once more!
Once we arrived in the Burri suburb of  Khartoum, Christopher warned me that we were entering a high security area. We were on our way to the Police Dog Administration and no photos were allowed

Viola! At last I managed to get the other vaccinations

It was no problem not being able to take photos. I entered a brightly-lit office and was welcomed by a gentleman who spoke perfect English. He knew exactly which vaccinations I needed (he also enquired whether I needed the rabies...) and he opened a vaccination card for Shadow. He told me when we need to get the cat out of Sudan , he would issue the Health Certificate and with his stamp on the document, I would not have any problems gettitng him into South Africa. On Thursday afternoon, while Grant held Shadow, I injected the three-in-one vaccine under the skin into the little guy's neck. He didn't even flinch. Ha! Perhaps I could become a nurse! 
Above is the Health and Vaccination Record for Shadow (in English) as well as his Rabies certificate, which is in Arabic. I'll administer the rabies injection in two weeks' time. Each time I stick the labels in the record next to the date

If you're wondering why I don't take the cat to the vet, picture this: The day I went in search of the vet, I would  have had to transport Shadow in an old birdcage (we have no cat basket here) He would have been in a very hot taxi without airconditioning for three hours. The temperature on Wednesday was 45 °C/113°F;  I don't think he'd have survived it.
 That evening we attended the second birthday party of Christopher and Sanaa's little girl.  Above is a photo of the proud parents of a very clever and well-behaved little girl.  

Friday, May 28, 2010

My sister Rose

Today's post is dedicated to my sister, Rose

Living in a high-rise flat in Khartoum, I don't have a real rose. I downloaded the above photo from the Internet. Yet this bloom, although beautiful, doesn't do justice to it's namesake, my sister, Rose.

The photos (top: me, Grant and a cousin, and cousin, Rose and Grant :above) were taken in 1969. Rose and I wore the same clothes from toddlers to when I got married in 1972! She and I were always together, even when Grant and I were courting!

Rose, or Rosemary, as she prefers to be called (I have sisterly priveleges and may shorten her name, lol!) and I are only 14 months apart. I was the age of my little granddaughter (whose photo has appeared in two posts this week,) when Rose was born. From the day I saw my baby sister, I was never jealous of her; I never felt threatened by the new baby.  On the contrary, as we grew up, I would have taken on any one who threatened our close relationship. Today we are continents apart; I'm in North Africa while Rose lives in the UK with her husband, Peter but we are on Skype and e-mail contact almost daily.
Rose holds a dynamic position with a high-profile company in the UK. She works online from early morning until late evening and is an important cog in the wheels of this company's sales team. She is also the grandmother of eight children under six. Her only daughter and husband had triplets (girls) and her oldest son and his wife had twin boys in the same year; all by natural conception - no fertililty drugs. Rose has three single granddaughters as well, one each in the multiple baby families and one from her second son. All as beautiul as their grandmother!

My prayer is that one day (soon) Rose and Peter will return to the country of their birth, South Africa. I believe it will coincide with the time when Grant and I return to South Africa permanently as well. Then I get to see my sister a lot more regularly.

Happy birthday Rose! May you be blessed with many more years of health and happiness and a few more grands...

Edited Note: Although Rose is a staunch follower of my blog she is unable to comment on it. No matter what she tries: her own ID, Anonymous, etc, she cannot post a comment on my blog. Any suggestions from readers out there will be most welcome. She Skyped me this morning with the following comment:

 Hi Jo!!!! Thank you so much! Can't wait to check the blog and mail - don't know how I'd face life without you somewhere in the world!!!! My tiny big sister!!!!!!! love you too!!!

[09:34:37 AM] Rosemary Swinbourn: Thank you SO much for the Blog Jo! I am so emotional about it!!! Can remember the day that picture was taken at Andre's house!!! And yes, I pray too, that we move back and soon!!!! Can't tell you what your words have meant to me, Jo!!!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

God's perfect love

On day four our little grandson had lost weight overnight and was unable to leave the clinic with his mum. It was a traumatic time for the whole family knowing this little lad is so small and still has to journey 1000km back home with his family. however, God was faithful and yesterday the baby had gained enough weight to be discharged. He will be weighed again on Friday and John and family should be on the way home by the weekend.

"That is why we walk by faith and not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Khartoum hands-on daddy bird

Last night while photographing the birds on the feeding tray, I kept missing the exact moment when this male sparrow fed his baby

Here I am, dad...
At last...

Although Grant insists that in the bird world,  males feeding their offspring is a common sight, I've never seen this before. So I had to try and capture the moment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Family Fun

I know I said I'd post about Khartoum and the extreme temperatures today in That's My World Tuesday, but recent family events won out this time.  On Sunday I posted about the early arrival of our fifth grandchild who was born many miles from "home". Mother and baby are doing well and should be discharged today.

Last week, a day before John and family travelled to the Cape to sell their vehicle, John entertained the children on the patio of our home in the Free State where they were spending a few weeks. As the Hedges (old to young) love motorbikes, it was time to take the littlest granddaughter, fourteen months old, for her first bike ride. Her two older siblings, quite at home on the 50cc PeeWee watch as dad settles the little one on the seat before him. (Note: I alter clear front-facing photos of the children to avoid exposing them to unsavoury characters which may access my blog via Internet)

Great excitement and mirth for ALL!

The second - to - youngest baby in John's family smiles toothily for the camera. (This photo was taken over the weekend in the Guest house in George)  She doesn't remember,  but a little over a year ago she was as tiny as her baby brother photographed above

Fun on the beach in George, Western Cape. Anyone thinking of visiting South Africa should do a tour of the Garden Route, along which George and a number of beautiful  towns and villages are situated.

Mmn, is the roughage Gran is always on about in your diet... 

Thanks to Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy (Tom), and Sylvia this meme which allows me to share MY world. For other people's worlds click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Khartoum Heat and Banana Splits

These past two weeks the temperature in Khartoum has been in the fifties /122 ° Farenheit (more about this in tomorrow's post).

Last night, following  another particularly hot day, I decided to serve a refreshing dessert after dinner. I paged through my weigh-loss magazine (now almost three months old!) and came across an old-fashioned sweet, albeit always a firm favorite in hotels when I was a child.

I always have a bunch of bananas in the house , mainly as a treat for the bulbuls who visit our birdfeeder on the balcony daily, and because they are only SDG1 / US$.43c for a dozen. I didn't have cherries, but used halved grapes which were just as delicious.

Sweet and simple banana split (Weigh-less magazine Feb/March 2010)
Serves 2
200g diet ice-cream
2 small bananas, peeled
4 black grapes (or cherries if available)
20g crushed almonds
2 ginger biscuits, crushed 
10ml honey

Cut the banana in half lengthwise and place in a serving bowl. (I used tumblers)
Place ice-cream between the two banana halves
Cover with crushed biscuit and almonds
Drizzle honey over
Serve immediately

Serves 2

Sunday, May 23, 2010


On Friday 21 May,  John phoned us from George, Western Cape to say that our fifth grandchild had arrived. The little boy wasn't due for another ten days plus. He is currently in an incubator and gaining strength all the time.  For the past two weeks, John, a very pregnant Debbie and the children have been at our home in Marquard. They were on a break from their land in the Drakensberg and Debbie was due to see her Gynae for the last time before her delivery in mid-June. They're still living in a caravan down there and were hoping to have their shed-home completed by the time Debbie gave birth. This is not to be!

Meanwhile they were selling their vehicle (they're using mine for now) and had arranged to take it to the prospective buyer in George. The deal went through and Debbie went into labour ... They were a1000km from her regular doctor and clinic but John managed to get her to the Medi-Clinic in George where she received excellent treatment and service. The baby is very small but but with prayer, good care and lots of love, I believe he will be fine.
Hedges grandchild number five and grandson number three. His earthly father's hand over him reminds us of our Heavenly Father's love and protection. Amen
A mosaic of John's family: Debbie with the children, seven year-old daughter, four-year-old son, fourteen month-old baby daughter with newborn baby boy in the incubator above.

Children born to a young man, are like sharp arrows in a warrior's hands. How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them! Psalm 127:4-5a

Curry is doing well

Every Friday I accompany Grant to the old workshop to help feed Curry. I always take photos of him to keep tabs on his condition After a month of his humans returning to Khartoum, Curry is doing very well indeed. Above he waits for the night-watchman to open the gate for us!
Curry protectively guards a huge marrow bone which was on the menu with his regular rice, meat, fish oil and tablescraps

For other interesting pet posts around the world, click here

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's in a name?

With apologies to Shakespeare ...

Well, for the first time ever, Grant hasn't come up with a name for our new cat . We have both thought of one choice after the other. Some of my blogger readers suggested Cleopatra. This made sound sense and is a lovely regal name but we're nervous to give a gender-specific name incase our predictions are wrong about the cat being a female!
I also loved Queenie, Maggie, Annie, Sally and Baby (doh, I know!)  And watching her confidence as she plays with the toys we've found for her and her happy disposition,  we thought of Prancer, Dancer, (I know, horse names!) or Twister. (A hurricane! LOL!)  We liked Darling, Sweetie, Cutie or Clever-pegs (All names we've used this week)  but once again, I don't think this cat would forgive us if it IS a male and is lumbered with such a name.  

She has found the coolest spot in our diningroom. On a glass shelf of our glass dining table which is just below the airconditioner. Clever-pegs? I'd say
Last night as I was preparing for bed, (Grant was in bed already with the cat lying on my pillow - the coolest spot in our bedroom) and I walked down the passage to fetch something I'd forgotten in the office. Immediately the cat jumped off the bed and padded down the passage behind me. Grant said "That cat is your shadow!" And suddenly we had her name. We have decided to call her Shadow for that exact reason. She follows me all over the place. If I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, she follows me. During the day she is behind me as I work in the kitchen. She lies on the mat beside my bed as I get ready dressed in the morning. She lies next to my computer as I sit at my desk. My Shadow. 

Ah, and it's not a gender specific name...

Welcome Shadow!