Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Trip to the Southern - most Point of [South] Africa

Picture Postcard Pretty: Cape Town and Table Mountain
I downloaded photos from the Internet to whet my appetite. We have not been to this beautiful city for more than 15 years!
Cape Town, a bustling modern port city
A 360 ° view from the cable car up Table Mountain

The sun through the sea mist casts an eerie glow over
Table Mountain and Cape Town

Table Mountain towering over the V & A Waterfront at night

By the time this post appears we will be on our way to Cape Town on the southern-most tip of Africa. We will have left home early this morning and are travelling by car. My husband has two business appointments in the city on Tuesday. We decided to go down earlier, visit friends along the way and also take in some of the beautiful sights of our country. I hope to do some birdwatching in the area.

Cape Town is world famous for its majestic tabletop mountain towering over the bay. Situated on the south-western tip of Africa, Cape Town and the Western Cape is recognised as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Offering a range of attractions, breathtaking sights and endless activities, it is a year-round holiday destination with friendly people, a mild climate and rich cultural heritage.

I will take my camera and photograph scenes on the 1175km/735 mile trip and of course, in Cape Town itself.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hope and Confidence in the Lord

Placing our hope and confidence in anything but God, is like expecting a tree to flourish in a barren desert. But placing our hope in the Lord changes everything.

The human heart cannot thrive without something to hope for; without someone to place our confidence. God alone is able to perfectly fill both needs. Placing our hope and confidence in Him will flourish our spiritual lives.

"Blessed are those who place their trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by heat or worried by months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they go right on producing delicious fruit." Jeremiah 17: 7-8

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This casual worker picked up litter
at one entrance to our town
This other casual worker collected litter in town
and then on the outskirts at the second entrance to town.
A third helper picked up litter at a through road which runs past our town

"Last week a Marquard resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a positive effort to tidy up the main street and town entrances. Employing three casual workers, she took them to strategic points in and around town. The first man started in Van der Watt Street (main street), picked up all the litter and filled four garbage bags. He was then transported to the Marquard -Senekal entrance where he collected six bags of litter.

The other two men were dropped off at the Marquard - Clocolan and Marquard - Winburg entrances respectively. They worked their way along the main road (towards Food Zone) and collected a total of 17 bags of recyclable waste. It has been arranged with Senekal Recycling from the town Senekal, to collect the bags from a strategic point. "

David Motala, my own gardener loads bags of litter into my pick-up

The above was an article of mine published in the local newspaper two years ago. I was trying to encourage residents and businesses to take up the challenge and keep the town and surrounds tidy. No easy task...
However, I had some good response from school learners (pupils). I’d given demonstrations and talks in the higher grade classes and subsequently judged a competition whereby the entrants made items with recyclable waste. Even if I encouraged only one or two of the younger generation to care for their environment, they might encourage their parents or one or two friends.

Fourteen months later I've managed to motivate three other residents and three businesses in town to keep their dry goods for recycling. Senekal Recycling Depot collects the waste from our respective homes and business premises concerned.

A little later I will post about recyclable products and how to go about storing your household waste until you can take it to a drop-off point. Most South African cities have recycling depots with trucks and trailers that trundle around the streets collecting cardboard and metal from businesses. Household waste normally has to be dropped off by the householder. Certain cities have a collecting option. Check up in your own town/city.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pudding visits the Vet

Pudding offers her best profile!
Oh well, laugh if you must...

Since the arrival of Angie in Mid-December, Pudding, my second oldest cat has taken to living on top of the fridge in the kitchen. Two weeks ago my daughter-in-law, Amanda looked up to greet her and said, “Oh, Pudding is winking at me.” Upon closer inspection, I saw that she was favouring her right eye by keeping it closed.

Next morning I loaded her into the cat travel cage, placed her on the seat next to me and drove to our vet 80km/50miles away. The vet looked her over and told me she’d like to keep her in hospital for a day or two. When I phoned the next morning, she said that the eye injury was probably due to a fight she had with one of the other cats here at home (I wracked my brain and remembered that I heard Pudding hissing at our youngest cat, Manduline earlier that week) The vet had treated the scratch and sewn the eye closed to ensure complete healing. However, what really concerned her was the fact that Pudding’s kidneys were not functioning properly anymore. She had her on a drip but said we could collect her the next day. On Saturday we rode to the vet, collected Pudding and came home with her on my lap in our two-seater car.

Back home we continued to administer antibiotics and applied drops three times a day to heal the eye trauma. Pudding’s diet had changed completely and while it took some time to convince her that the new brand of wet food and pellets are just as good as the previous ones, she has eventually begun to eat regularly. I’m pleased to say that she is gaining weight again.

This week we are taking her back to the vet to have the stitch removed from her eyelid. Then Pudding will cease to look like Morgan the Pirate!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Morrocan Tagine (Vegetarian)

The Morrocan lambshank tagine which I served with rice for my husband
The vegetarian Morrocan tagine was D-I-V-I-N-E!

A couple of months ago I while visiting friends, I was served a ready-made Vegetarian Moroccan Tagine. The hostess always goes the extra mile to accommodate my vegetarianism and which is one of the reasons why I love this lady dearly. Even spending many years in West Africa where Moroccan influence is strong in restaurants, I never came across this dish before.
A tajine or tagine is a North African dish, typically a slow cooked stew, named for the special type of pot it's cooked in.

Once I got home, I decided to look up the recipe and make it for myself. I also made a meat tagine with Lamb shanks for my husband.
The two main ingredients in a tagine are usually meat and dried fruit. This vegetarian twist uses chickpeas as the protein element.

Vegetarian Tagine

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 red chillie, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
 1/3 cup /2 oz dried apricots, soaked overnight, drained and sliced
¼ cup/ 1 oz raisins, soaked overnight and drained
½ cup/ 3 oz black olives, pitted
1 large potato, cut into wedges
1 cup/8 oz diced carrots
½ small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 ½ cups chickpeas/ 410g tin, drained
Bunch parsley

Heat half the oil in a large saucepan. Add the red and white onions, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chillie. Cook gently for 10 minutes until onions are soft and transparent. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add carrots, olives, potatoes, apricots and raisins. Cook slowly for a further 45 minutes until carrots are tender.

Heat remaining oil in a wok and stir- fry cabbage until tender. Add drained chickpeas and a toss to mix. Season with salt and black pepper. Add to vegetables above and mix through. Garnish with parsley and serve on couscous.

Serves 4

Note: My husband isn’t crazy about “different” food such as this. I had to serve it on rice though; he refused point blank to eat the couscous. He ate half of the portion of lamb shank tagine on his plate, just to please me. (Emily LOVED it the next day!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Day in the Big Smoke!

The reward for getting up and travelling in the dark?
A stunning sunrise

The flat countryside really lends itself to a memorable sunrise

A few weeks before Christmas my husband and I had to travel to Johannesburg and Pretoria on business. We had to be in an industrial suburb of Johannesburg by 7am to have our motorbike serviced. Nevertheless, the deed had to be done so the evening before my younger son assisted my husband to load the bike onto the trailer and hitch it to my pick-up. We got up at 2am and were on the road forty minutes later. We had a wonderful journey riding in the dark; we spotted a porcupine, a springhare, a civet cat and numerous owls (my personal favourite).

Once headed north on N1, a major National Freeway, we travelled through a part of the Free State, know as Central South Africa. There are no mountains in this region, just vast flat tracts of farmland and countryside. About two hours after leaving home, the sun began to peek over the horizon. And just like every sunrise and sunset across the African continent, this one was spectacular. Hubby stopped and I managed take some photographs.
We stopped one of the two filling station where you can also have breakfast or a quick cuppa. We opted for the second as we had to get to the city by 7am.
I love every part of South Africa, but the Free State really has my heart
Edenvale, a large township just outside Johannesburg

Bumper to bumper traffic really tests my hubby's nerves.
He doesn't enjoy the city traffic at all

We arrived at our first destination at 7am. Once we’d unloaded the bike and wheeled it into the workshop, we left the trailer in their yard and headed off to our next appointment. We travelled through Monday morning traffic to Pretoria approximately 70kms/44 miles away. My husband had a meeting with the liaison officer at the Criminal Record Centre. He had to collect his Police Clearance for his new employment.
The city of Johannesburg almost flows into the next large city, Pretoria

Now I have to add here: my husband loves to use a GPS on his travels. However, our particular model is designed for the motorbike. You need a special attachment for the car, else the battery doesn’t last. This particular day we had just turned onto the Ben Schoeman Highway, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, with approx 40km / 25miles to go when the GPS, which I was holding in my hand, flashed the “battery low” sign. My husband uses a blue tooth device which fits into his ear so that he can hear the instructions given in a lady’s voice on the GPS. I turned off the GPS and said if he’d remove his Blue tooth, I would direct him to our destination. No sooner had he removed the gadget when he asked me “So where do I go now?” I directed him until we arrived in the city centre; then he said (afterwards) I’d left it too late when I said “Turn Right at the next traffic lights”, so he sailed on past.

I’ve heard my husband telling people that I remain calm in a difficult situation. This day I quietly redirected him down another street which I knew leads to the street we were looking for. He wasn’t letting me off so easy, though and said “Why don’t we just turn around and go back to Johannesburg?” (such is his aversion to looking for an address in the city!) As he uttered this [silly] statement, I pointed to the intersection and said “Turn down here, NOW “which he did and we arrived at the address we sought! Within a few minutes we found a parking space on the street.

I LOVE the city and have travelled through every major metropolis in South Africa with no problem at all. My darling husband on the other hand, does not enjoy traffic or the hustle and bustle of the city. I must admit though, once we got out of the car and walked the few metres to the Criminal Record Centre building, the cacophony of music, blaring horns, and vendors plying their wares on the sidewalks, had even me overawed. I’m sorry I never took photos of the streets in present-day South African city centres, but I didn’t want to stress my husband unduly.

The Criminal Record Centre is a beautiful building with modern architecture to cheer you as you wait in L O N G queues at the necessary counter. Ironically, the queue moved quickly and within a few minutes my husband was stating his request to see the Liaison Officer who came to the front in due course. It wasn’t long and he’d found the envelope with my husband’s Police Clearance and we exited the building.
The architecture of the Criminal Record Centre building
is designed to calm you while you wait in long queues!

While travelling up to Pretoria, we’d noticed a restaurant built across the highway and wondered who would ever want to eat up there. Well, the joke was on us. As headed back to Johannesburg, my husband swung off the freeway onto the ramp and asked if I’d like breakfast at this restaurant. For the next forty five minutes we replenished our bodies with good food and managed to restore our “country” souls so that we could take on the traffic once more.
I managed to take some very nice photos from the restaurant. (I think many South Africans will recognise the area)
This photo was taken from the restaurant over the Freeway.
Homeward bound. Can you hear my husband's sigh of relief?

We returned to the workshop in Johannesburg, loaded up the bike and were soon on our way home...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Container Gardening Update

Above photo was taken of the container garden when
John and I recreated it in November
The two photos above were taken this week

In the first week of November I posted about a container garden that John and I recreated for my entrance. This morning I have photos of the garden as it looks now two and a half months later. Succulents really are rewarding, easy to grow and maintain.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trusting the Lord

Years ago I watched a documentary on Animal Planet. An elephant had sunk into a mud hole somewhere in Africa and could not get out by itself. Nature conservation and many enthusiastic helpers were at hand to try and get the animal out. Naturally, I sat watching with my heart in my throat. What struck me about the animal was its passive acceptance of the humans milling around it. Normally humans are not a species an elephant in the wilds wants near him. In fact an elephant feels threatened it will attack, stamp on and crush its enemy. This animal knew it had to trust the humans because there was no way out on its own.

At one stage the humans left the elephant there and went off to fetch a winch with which to try and pull it out. The elephant did not put its head down in the mud and drown. It did not struggle and perhaps sink further. No, it waited patiently for instinctively it knew the humans were helping it. The humans returned and continued to help the elephant out of the mud.

After many hours the ropes had pulled the front legs of the elephant out a little and it could find purchase on slightly drier ground. Many hands pushed it from behind, standing on planks laid across the mud hole and eventually the elephant heaved its whole body out of the mud. A loud cheer went up from the helpers. What a moment.

Of course, now the elephant was very weak from many hours in the mud and wobbled on its feet. The helpers held it up with the ropes until it steadied itself and off it lumbered into the bush. The nature conservation personnel monitored its recovery for a few days and reported that at last sighting it was fit and healthy and had rejoined the herd again.

This morning I thought about that elephant again. No matter how dire my circumstances, I have to trust the Lord and patiently wait for him to lift me up and set me on my feet again.

The next Scripture sums it up beautifully:

Psalm 40: 1-2
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Amen!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Humble Sandwich

Well-made savoury sandwiches are tasty and nutritious
Last night it was my turn to provide eats for after our home cell group (Bible Study). I made my favourite: sandwiches, and of course have posted about it. Even the humble sandwich needs a little uplifting blogging!

Often we look forward to sandwiches on display and are horribly disappointed. Firstly the bread is white, with the crusts curling and the inside part of the sandwich soggy from the filling. Errgh!

I learnt to make a really tasty sandwich at the elbows of a dear friend in Zululand. Her secret, which she passed on to me, was to make them with a generous spirit and a loving heart.

Use only freshly baked brown bread. I prefer to buy what is known as a “round” loaf at our local bakery. It’s actually a normal shaped bought loaf with a raised crust. With an electric carving knife, I cut thin, even slices and place them under a damp cloth.

Meanwhile I place six eggs in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Then I set the timer and at 8 minutes I remove the pot from the stove, pour off the boiling water and refill with cold water to stop the eggs cooking further.

Drain that water off and peel the eggs. Place altogether in a soup bowl and mash well with a fork, adding a knob of butter. Season with salt and black pepper. Add two tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise and a teaspoon of Hot English Mustard. Mix well.

Spread two slices of bread at a time with butter and add dollops of savoury egg onto one slice. Spread to edges and close with other slice. Place to the side. Continue until you have the required number of egg sandwiches.

Grate a small block of cheddar cheese and slice one or two firm tomatoes. Sprinkle cheese a slice of buttered bread. Gently blot tomato slices between layers of kitchen towel and lay across the cheese. Sprinkle a little more cheese over that and cover with the other buttered slice.

Using the electric knife again, cut the crust circle off the sandwich piles, and then carefully cut all the remaining crusts off. Cut the sandwiches into four diagonally across the bread. Cut the filled crusts in half.

Line a large platter with mulberry leaves or shredded lettuce. Place each quarter sandwich on the platter to form patterned rows. Sprinkle shredded lettuce over the sandwiches and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate until needed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


On Friday afternoon last week, after several days of weather that built up, rumbled and flashed, yet never happened, the heavens eventually opened and the rain came down.

Regular readers of my blog will know how much rain, especially seasonal rain, means to the area where I live. This downpour, which I photographed to the point of getting my camera lense wet, lasted about twenty minutes.

The downpour was most welcome after almost a month of no rain; all we had before was dust, heat and exhausting closeness.
A total of ten millimeters of rain was measured.
Just as a good rainstorm should, it stopped when
the earth was soaked and the sun came out again.

Everyone came out to play and enjoy
the fresh cleanliness after the rain.
The lawn, which had become burnt and dry, now feels
spongy and thick after the good soaking rain
Angie she has no fear of storms thank goodness, and waited in the garage until the rain stopped. Then she followed me around the garden
"assisting" with photographs

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

High Tea in the Garden

Two weeks ago my younger daughter-in-law, Amanda, asked if she could celebrate her birthday with a tea party in my garden.

As you can imagine, the gardeners and I immediately jumped in and a major tidying up spree began. We pruned and cut back dead/dried shrub branches (we had no rain for the past few weeks) and filled dry patches of garden with Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), a quick-growing succulent species (Lampranthus spp), Hen and Chickens (Chlorophytum comosum) and Setaria spp. (ornamental grass)

The dainty snacks were delectable

I had nothing at all to do with the catering; Amanda had it all under control. She decided to have “High tea in the Garden” as her theme and served dainty eats: petite fours and other bite size snacks. She is very meticulous and pays attention to the finest detail. Her mum lent her a Noritake tea set for normal tea. She used my miniature plungers for filter coffee and one - cup teapot sets for those who preferred herbal teas. She bought Iced Tea in different flavours and served these in matching cut glass jugs filled with ice.

Beautiful Noritake tea sets and one-cup teapots; the attention to detail of Amanda's table setting was conducive to an original and refreshing tea party

Miniature plungers for coffee lovers

The Iced Tea came in three different flavours:
Rasperry, Lemon and Mango

The guests arrived at 3pm and were escorted to the garden area where Amanda had set out everything to perfection. Then she had a wonderful surprise: she turned around and saw her sister and favourite niece, who live in the city, (160 kms/100miles away) and whom Amanda had no idea, were in town, walk down the garden path. Great excitement as the two girls hugged and the little one jumped up and down calling for “Mica” – her name for Amanda.
A lovely afternoon ensued while friends chatted, children played with the dogs and Amanda, the perfect hostess, ensured everyone had enough to eat and drink.

Three special girls share a special love

Part of my menagerie,
Angie, Chip and Megan joined in the party

Young and old enjoyed themselves

Just as she thought all the excitement was over, Amanda looked up and saw her husband, Angus arrive in his dad’s open-top car. My husband had collected him from work and with much subterfuge between us and our neighbour, who hid the car in her garage, Angus managed to go home, change into evening clothes and drive back into our garden. Amanda, thrilled beyond words, ran to meet him.

After he had taken her home to change into an evening dress, they returned here and I managed capture a few more scenes before they went out to dinner.
Happy birthday Amanda. May you experience every blessing in 2009!