Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Surprise

The sky was ominous and the weather was gloomy when I set off on my trip to the city

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought: "Urgh, I don't want to face this day"? In my adult life, I have never had this experience. Except yesterday. I didn't want to get up. Why? Because I had an appointment in the city: I had to take my little pick-up to have a few things checked. (All cosmetic)

Now why would I not want to go to town in my little car, which I LOVE as a general "run-about" around town? Well, for a start, it has no airconditioning. I don't know about people in other parts of the world, but for me as a South African, and with South African weather hot to very hot for most of the year, I think that airconditioning in a car is the best invention since sliced bread! Another thing is, its speedometer is only marked to 16okph/100mph. Now I'm not a speed freak (I have to say that; you never know when a traffic inspector may read my blog!) but I like to know that I have power when I need it. (lol)

I almost cancelled my car's appointment with the agents when I remembered that I had to collect something which my husband and I had decided to buy. It 's a boy's bicycle. We had promised Emily that when her oldest grandson passes his school year, we would buy him a real bicycle. Emily has kept information under wraps from the whole family - especially from said 7 year-old grandson. Next week his mum, Betty is coming on leave from her job in Johannesburg. (Together Emily and I decided we'd wait until she arrived and then spring the surprise) Betty is able to visit her little boy during Easter and at Christmas time. Imagine seeing your child twice a year? That's it. Yet this is the norm for many of these families. The children - the blessed ones - grow up with their grandparents and often also with other family members. This lad lives with his widowed grandmother, unmarried aunt (his mother's youngest sister) and her child, a lively toddler of 18 months.

Back to the task in hand: this morning I decided, in order to motivate me on my journey, I 'd to look for all the interesting things along the way. If I saw a pretty scene, interesting landscape or anything else worthy of a photograph, I would stop and photograph it! Now, my husband doesn't read my blog, but if he did today, he'd be rolling his eyes. Whenever we're on a trip, he says that if he had to stop every time I exclaimed at a beautiful scene (and I often add wistfully: "Oh, if I was driving, I'd stop and take a photo of that") then we'd never get to our destination.

We'd had a heavy downpour of rain the night before and the sky was heavy with clouds yesterday morning. Because of the cool conditions and the early hour, I saw many birds in the fields, in the road and on the fences next to the road. At the moment we have an abundance of Long-tailed Widowbirds. The male is glorious in breeding plumage with an impossibly long tail. His [many] wives are drab and non-discript by comparison. Southern Red Bishops, also beautfully dressed for the courting season, flushed up out of the long grass as the vehicle passed; I even spottted a few (quite rare) Yellow-Crowned Bishops.

When I stopped to photograph the field in the photo above, I heard the call of the Orange River Francolin. (A very distinctive but fast phase: "I'll drink your beer"). I didn't have to wait long when it came running out of the long grass and along the road verge for a few seconds only to disappear into the lush field again.

A few kilometers ahead I stopped again. I just loved the patern of the rows in this field

A little while later I stopped and got out to photograph these cattle. The sky was much gloomier than the photo shows

Shortly after taking off in my car again, a flock of helmeted guineafowl ran across the road. Hunting season is long over but they were very skittish; even though I stopped (I can just see my husband's face!) I couldn't get a clear photo of them.

Yet a few kilometers ahead I stopped to get a picture of windmill and resevoir

A grey heron flew up in front of my path as I set off again. I hadn't seen it soon enough, else I'd have stopped again and tried to snap it on camera.

I eventually got to the city, did all my business and made my way home in the heat of the day. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. Just shows the human body can stand much more than we give it credit for (*sigh* I do love the odd creature comfort )

On the return trip, I stopped to take this photo. Only in Africa, I suspect, do you see washing on the fence next to the motorway
I had my little camera (and no long lens) with me, so you have to take my word for it. That's an eagle up there, folks!

The sun was out and the clouds in the sky were so pretty, I decided to take photos through the windscreen. Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I saw this "special effects" photo when I uploaded it to this post!
The Surprise - can you imagine the little guy's face when he sees this?


  1. Certainly a day worth going to town Jo. You saw so many wonderful sights. Everything looks so Green from all this rain. And you got to stop whenever and wherever you wanted. There is a good thing about driving alone somewhere. Glad your day turned out well. I'll bet you won't dread that again. And the bike is wonderful. What little boy wouldn't like it.

  2. Thanks Gaelyn;) yes, I certainly enjoyed taking these photos. I cannot wait to see the lad's face next week when his mum brings him to my home and we give him the bicycle. He's a well-raised and obedient little boy.

  3. A beautiful post, Jo - capturing the very essence of a beautiful part of South Africa.

    I love the windmill photo aswell as the one with the washing hanging on the fence - only in Africa, 'eh ?!

    What a lovely idea to buy the bicycle as an incentive, you are going to make a little boy VERY happy indeed :)

    Have a lovely day ....

  4. Nothing like stopping and taking photos to cheer you up. The surprise is great for a little boy who probably doesn't have a lot of material things. The shot of the clothes is terrific.

  5. I am sure for you this landscape looked very special because it has rained. to me it doesn't look like Africa at all, because it rains all the time here and when the sun is shining, the landscapes look similar. Unbelievable that your car is without airconditioning ! even mine is with and I don't need it very often ! I didn't ask for it was automatically built in.
    I don't quite understand why the mother can only see her son twice a year. I probably missed the story.
    Thanks for all your kind comments !

  6. Hi Lynda, yes, only in Africa... This little guy is such a humble soul and very he is very dilligent. I remember going to his prizegiving in his first year(with Emily and Erica - the aunt)and being as proud as if it was my own grandchild's achievement. I was armed with my camera and of course, took photos of him receiving his certificate. Well, 40 mothers/aunts/grans clamoured for me to take their progeny's photos. I came home and printed the photos and Erica, who'd collected a fee from each, delivered them the next day.

    Thanks diane;) yes, I had a good day and trip into town after all!

    Hi Gattina, I have mailed you to explain a few things a bit better. Thanks for visiting my blog. It's good to see you.

  7. Wonderful post, Jo. My hubby doesn't like to stop the car when we travel--so I think you had a wonderful idea to make your trip much more enjoyable by stopping to take pictures. So neat!!!!

    Glad you made it --and I'm sure that grandson will LOVE his new bike...


  8. Hi Jo - Next time I'll go with you (and our cameras!) and we can stop as often as we like!!
    You have a beautiful heart - the boy will appreciate the bike forever...

  9. Thanks Betsy;) it was a really good day after all. I can't wait to see the little boy's face - we have to wait until after the weekend of the 18th when his mum comes down. I hope you're having a wonderful weekend and keeping warm. (((Hugs)))

    Yes Ida, I should have asked you when I saw you on Tuesday evening to oome with me. We still need to go on that luncheon date - we'll take our cameras and stop often! Dankie my liefste vriendin!

  10. Hi Jo! What a delightful post, and I enjoyed the trip to town. I know I will never see So. Africa so it is nice to see it through your eyes, lens. Lucky little boy to get that bike. Love the wash on the fence. By the way, I did get that flight shot, but haven't posted it, some of it is blurred with so many wings.

  11. Hi Carol, thanks for popping by and also explaining about the flight shot. Wildlife photos are difficult for me even though I have a reasonably long lens on my big camera (not used in this post) BTW, never say never: who knows you may visit South Africa - and I'd be thrilled to have you for a visit You could pass on some of that photographic talent you have! (((Hugs))) Jo

  12. Your skies are very beautiful, Jo. The photos are an excellent glimpse into your world. I appreciate the trip.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my blog.

  13. Gee, I would never make it to the city I would be stopping to look at all the birds. Great post and photos.
    My hubby doesn't mind me stopping to take pictures from the car.

  14. I had to laugh about you wanting to stop all the time to take photos. I do the same, but my husband usually drives and shoots right by the interesting scene, never giving it a second thought.
    Great bicycle! One little boy will be very pleased.
    You found some great countryside to photograph. Really love the line of washing on the hill.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo