Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun Weekend in Mwadui

On Saturday evening we visited the club as usual, this time to enjoy a curry dinner made by Rob.When I arrived, I spotted a rather pensive Amanda sitting with her feet in the water below the fountain

At the BBQ area adjacent to the club,  Rob (far rear of photo) was busily preparing the dinner while Andre (Amanda's husband) checked out the ingredients!

During the course of the evening Amanda and Andre invited me, Grant and Marnitz to join them, Rob and Nsia on a trip to Shinyanga on Sunday. They didn't have to invite me twice, but Grant had to arrange a stand-in on site for the few hours he'd be out.  Rob and Nsia wanted to show us a few interesting spots in town.

The Vegimark Hotel is an upmarket establishment on the outskirts of Shinyanga. The buildings are visible behind the water feature with its wildlife sculptor. As always in Africa, there's  building-in-progress. Apparently the half-finished structure to the right, is a conference centre

The first place Rob took us to was the Vegimark Hotel.  I'm not sure why it's called that; it's a very elegant hotel, the best in Shinyanga and definitely doesn't resemble a vegetable market at all! The manager welcomed us in the car park and asked us to accompany him to see the rooms. This is a natural thing in East Africa: when you visit a hotel, even if only for a meal or refreshments, you're expected to go with the manager and view the accommodation. Grant declined the invitation, but Marnitz said he'd join me in checking the hotel out.

Marnitz poses in a suite in the Verimark Hotel

We joined the others seated in a the newly built boma with modern furniture and beautifully carved railings surrounding the area
The gardens are beautifully landscaped and restful on the eye

However, with all this grandeur, the service was lethargic and, according to Rob, the food is not at all to be recommended.

As we prepared to leave the premises, we ladies spotted a cosmetic shop. We spent a great deal of time looking at the array of lipsticks, eyeshadow and other beauty products while the men waited patiently in the back of Rob's vehicle. Grant had sent William to the market in our car so seven of us had to squash into Rob's car! 
Rob drove us back into town, down a back street to a hotel with absolutely no pretensions on the outside. The hotel, The Butiama, is owned by Menaas, Rob's good friend of many years. Rob assured us that although this hotel fell far short in grandeur by Verimark Hotel standards, we would love the atmosphere there.
 The interior of Butiama Hotel in downtown Shinyanga

And we did: from the minute we entered the dark and rather bleak interior, we were warmly welcomed by a friendly waitress called Betty. Within minutes Menaas arrived and extended his welcome too. Menaas, was born in Kisumu (near the valley where we lived in Kenya) to second generation East African Indians. He grew up in Nakuru (very near to where we lived in Kenya!) and later worked in Mombassa. In 1998 he moved to Tanzania and eventually ended up in Shinyanga where he bought the hotel in which we were seated.

Rob, Andre, Nsia and Amanda chat while Grant and Marnitz set out the balls for a game of pool on the table just visible in the photo above

Rob had arranged with Menaas to serve us snacks while we socialized and the men played pool. In time Betty arrived a tray laden with traditional Indian snacks.The first selection was a delectable array of bagia (spicy light dough with vegetables kneaded into it, and then deep-fried), vegetable spring rolls, and a dozen or so samoosas filled with meat and/or vegetables. 

No sooner had we cleared these plates when a platter of crumbed chicken arrived on a bed of salad. Two other plates were piled high with garlic chips/fries. Another plate of badjas (sliced potatoes rounds, deep fried) arrived to add to the banquet. All freshly cooked and delicious. 

I only realized afterwards that I'd so enjoyed the snacks, that I completely forgot to take photos! 

It was late afternoon by the time we took our leave promising to make this journey again in a few weeks' time.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and are looking forward to a wonderful week ahead.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scenic Reflections

An image which caught my eye when we visited Shongwa dam on Thursday evening

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Penny, to answer your question if the sunset photo from Friday was taken over Lake Victoria, the answer is no. The expanse of water in that photo and above is Shongwa Dam just outside camp Mwadui. I hope to visit Lake Victoria some time and will surely post about our trip to this African icon.

Ann, I wasn't sure whether you were asking what "Whatsapp?" is. If you were, it's an application on my new Nokia N8 Smartphone whereby you can "chat" to other people with similar applications on their mobile phones. My son has a Blackberry which uses the application BBM (Blackberry Messages) but to me (on Nokia) he sends Whatsapp? messages and images! 

Yesterday, the same son (IT manager for his company) sent me a "Whatsapp?" message from  Galaxy Note on his new Phablet, which is a cross between a phone and a Tablet. 

As I said, the wonders of technology! 

I hope you're all having a great weekend.

Ambrose the sleepy-head

Life can't get any better...

For more pet posts around the world, click here

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wonders of modern technology

Two-and-a half-year-old Joel
Abby at almost two months old

Even though we're thousands of kilometers from the family back in South Africa, Angus regularly sends me photos of our two Marquard grandchildren via Whatsapp? from his mobile phone to mine.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sunset over Western Tanzania

Last night we joined friends, Amanda, Andre, Ntsia, Rob, Koos and Brian at the old yacht club just outside town. Amanda  handed out toys and clothes she'd brought from South Africa for the hordes of children in the surrounding villages, the men ordered three cases of soft drinks (sodas) and I distributed a few soccer balls.

We adults then proceeded with the difficult task of enjoying the surroundings and watching the sun set over the dam!

For more of other people's beautiful skies, click here

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mammoth shopping in Mwanza

After doing the monthly shop for the company guest house yesterday, I stood and watched - amazed - while the supermarket employees packed the ningi (many) boxes of groceries into our landcruiser! The top two photos show the load from the front seat. I don't think this would be legal in the US or Australia!
The top left photo shows the first restaurant we entered but where the food was not forthcoming. At a cafe just a around the corner, William enjoyed a plate of chicken and chips while I took photos. Not as smart-looking as the first eatery, but at least it served a meal!

Before leaving Mwanza, William and I stopped at a rather smart-looking restaurant for lunch (see top left photo) But although a waitress asked us what we'd like for lunch, she said nothing was ready. (It was 12.30 noon!) She then disappeared through and outside door into the alley which was visible from where we sat  - the kitchen presumably.  She returned immediately with a plate of ugali/maize meal and ndizi kijane [fried] green bananas. Note: ndizi is the "bananas" and green=kijane. So bananas green! I suggested to William that we leave and look for another restaurant. 

Just around the corner we saw a man grilling chicken outside a shop. William asked him for a portion of chicken and chips while I went indoors, fetched a bottle of water for myself and a soda for him and paid for for it inside the shop.

While William enjoyed his meal at the mirrored counter, I wandered around and took photos with my phone.

I hope you're all having a wonderful day and getting used to the NEW, IMPROVED (HAH) BLOGGER!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cats in South Africa

Felix and Tigger relax on the pool table

I just had to post this before I forget. While home in SA a while ago, I walked into the entertainment area to find Felix and Tigger resting on the pool table. (Note: we have a special wooden cover over the pool table with a tablecloth covering that. Else there would have been no pool surface left after all these years with cats around!) As for the two cats in question, they looked so sweet that I took a number of photos of them. When I downloaded the photos, I noticed that Felix (who's eight years old) has almost no teeth in his mouth. I made a quick change to the shopping list: ALL cat cookies are now "For Senior Cats" So Felix is able to munch gummily on the new cat cookies. As far as I could ascertain, Tigger who turned 16 on the 1st April, and Chip who is 12 years old, still have most of their teeth. If not, they also benefit from the cookies for senior cats! 

On a deadline

Above is a South African travel magazine which I received while at home recently

In May last year  South African Pet Travel Agency, Global Paws, Johannesburg,  asked me to write an editorial alongside their advert in a travel magazine. Of course, having already had quite a bit of experience with taking pets from one country to another, I agreed. My sweet friend, Kay of Alberta kindly edited the story for me. It ultimately appeared in the "Winter" edition of the magazine. I was not at home to buy it but the chief consultant at Global Paws sent a copy on to our address in Marquard. 

Inside the magazine was an editorial I had written on pet travel

At the moment I'm working on a deadline on a story for an adventure magazine in South Africa. I've been writing for them since January 2011 and thoroughly enjoy the experience. The sub-editor of this magazine also sent me copies of the magazines in which my stories appeared. (Due to weight restrictions in my luggage on the plane, I left these at home!) 

So for now it's back to my document to continue my story...

You can read about other people's worlds here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baptism of fire

This is my first post on the new version of Blogger. I cannot see the icons at the top of my page (bold, italics and underline being just three of the list) so not too sure what to do next. I am going to try and upload a photo.

Oops, the only photos I could find in a hurry, were of cats. I wonder why?

OK so I posted this now and will check the preview and then post it for Monday. Hope you're all having a great week already, new blogger versions notwithstanding! 

Post Script: I'm getting used to the new version, but cannot work out why my posts don't appear as scheduled. I have the date and time correct but have to go in and post it myself (automatically) as I'm doing with this one. It was still in my post list with "scheduled" beside it... Anyone know what I should be doing? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Shadow loves his house in the tree mom had brought indoors

While Ambrose likes to sleep in the wash-hand basin at the front door

Ginger? Well, Ginger is a little too heavy to jump up into the tree-house and a little to wide to fit into the above wash basin. So he stays on the ground to keep a check on things.

Ginger remains firmly on the ground!

For more pet posts around the world, click here

Further down memory lane

Continuing with my nostalgic theme from yesterday (scroll down to read post, please), I'm posting a scene taken from the back of the bike on our recent visit to South Africa and Kwa-Zulu Natal in particular. When we travelled from Pietermaritzburg and KZN interior after visiting Grant's mom and later his aunt and her husband, we headed back to Muden where we were staying our old school friends' guest house. To get there along this route you have to pass through Greytown.

This town is significant in that I spent some time growing up there. I went to high school in Greytown and returned home to Dalton over weekends. It was at this high school that Grant and I met and fell in love. Later, after we were married, we moved to Greytown where he was doing his time as Apprentice Motor Mechanic with Kempster Sedgewick, the Chevrolet dealer. (I think Chev is now Isuzu in SA) 

I worked for Barclays Bank DCO.  As Ledger Supervisor I was in charge of two ledger clerks who "posted" cheques and deposits to various accounts on large, ancient IBM machines which broke down often. My job - apart from pacifying clerks when said machines misbehaved or their runs didn't balance -was to check the signatures on the cheques were in order and that they weren't "stale" (more than six months old- datewise) or "post dated" (any date newer than today.) I checked that alterations were properly signed (today you are not allowed to make an error on a cheque) and that the deposits had been charged with correct commission.

These vouchers came through to our department from the "Waste centre". Don't ask me why it was called that - it just was. The "waste" clerk would collect all the vouchers from the slot trays which hung outside the teller's boxes and also from the supervisor of the General Ledger department. She set up "Payment Bills" for large companies, stop orders for the individual  and updated/paid-up fixed deposits.

The waste clerk had to balance the debit and credit vouchers before passing them to us. This position was an entry level to the bank; the clerk was always a young person straight out of school so I would end up having to help her/him balance the waste batches else my ledger clerks would not get the vouchers in time (more pacifying irate machine clerks!)  and end up working after-hours, which none of us enjoyed. Helping the waste clerk with regular backlogs of waste bundles, I became very quick and proficient with adding long rows of figures in my head, and also posting them, using an old-fashioned NCR adding machine. I could eventually do the latter without looking at the keyboard!

Once a month I calculated the interest due on the overdrawn accounts and personal loans which the clerks then posted to the relevant accounts. Every day after the clerks had updated their overdrafts registers, marked A-M and N - Z respectively, I checked it and took it through to the bank manager who, in those days, was very important and greatly respected. He subsequently checked that the customers were towing the line by staying within their limit. For those that weren't, he brought me a list of names. The clerks had to type a Form 10 to everyone on this list A Form 10 which was a reasonably polite letter asking the customer to adjust his balance a.s.a.p! I had to check these for typing errors (the manual Olivetti was standard issue in the bank), and that the matching envelopes were correctely addressed after which I took them to the manager for his signature. Eventually he would return these less-than-desirable missives which I would take place in the postal out tray in reception!

Ten years later, due to a disinvestment campaign against South Africa because of its apartheid policies, Barclays was forced to reduce its shareholding and sold its remaining shareholding in the bank in 1986. The bank was renamed "First National Bank of Southern Africa Limited" in 1987 and became a wholly South African owned and controlled entity.

Meanwhile, years before this happened, while I reported to the bank with great enthusiasm, Grant continued to work for Kempsters.  He later wrote his trade test, an examination which he passed successfully. He  became a journeyman with this humble, but versatile and very necessary trade, under his belt. Today Motor Mechanics carry the fancy title of Mechanical Technician.

In 1977, Grant, I and four-year-old John moved to Zululand where Grant had his first taste of "big yellow machines" (heavy earthmoving) and I had my second son, Angus!

Three and a half decades later I'm sitting in a remote mining camp in western Tanzania,  writing a post about "the old days",  while Grant is on site running the entire project of the earthmoving contract for a large diamond company.  He's come a long way from his days as a motor mechanic -er - mechanical technician!

As for me, these days I do the shopping for the Guest House which entails - among other things - large sums of company money. The financial managers (who used to be called accountants, remember?) all praise my money skills. If I spend x-amount of money, I have the cash slips and receipts to prove it.  I also return the exact amount of change to the finance department. By exact, I mean exact - to the last shillingi (Tanzanian Shilling). Apparently it has never been done like this before and FM's love it! They say  it makes their job easier. Obviously my years at the bank paid dividends, if you excuse the pun!

Phew! I cannot believe so much nostalgia has been evoked by this scene below...

The autumn veld (grassland), cosmos and grain silos just outside Greytown where I spent my formative years as a teenager and young adult

I'm linking to Scenic Sunday where you can view other beautiful scenes (but maybe not such a long post!) here

BTW I'm still using the old (good) version of Blogger. I see many of my blogger friends have been forced to change. I've tried to change/update before this happens to me, but now my browser apparently won't support blogger, or vice versa. I'm totally confused about it all. Anyone else have these issues with the NEW version of blogger? Or better still does anyone know anyone at the top of blogger (would this be the webmaster or is there a CEO?) who could ask him why he had to fix something that ain't broke?

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Revisiting my youth

Recently while touring through Kwa-Zulu-Natal on a short visit to family and friends, we passed the turnoff to my old hometown, Dalton. Photographing from the back of the bike, I only managed to get the turnoff. (have you ever looked back while sitting on a fast-forward-moving motorbike? Tried it sometime! LOL) So, unfortunately the signpost is not visible in the shot. Although the road has changed since the sixties and seventies, I distinctly remember the feeling I always got when we turned off "home" from boarding school on our out weekends. "Yay! Almost there!"

Travelling between Pietermaritzburg and Greytown in Kwa-Zulu Natal, we passed the turnoff to my old hometown, Dalton

A trip to the past indeed! Well, past the past!

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend.

Friday, April 20, 2012

So blue

Blue skies over the coast along Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa

For more beautiful skies around the world, click here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To be or not to be...

...double booked. (With apologize to Shakespeare)

Clutching our boarding tickets, we entered the aircraft bound for Mwanza from Dar es Salaam. Passing through Business Class to the centre rear of the plane, we soon found our seats: Numbers 15A and 15B. While Grant placed my laptop and his personal bag with our travel documents in the overhead compartment, I slid into the seat next to the window. As Grant took his seat, a man sat down in the aisle seat and greeted us.

A minute later a lady stopped at our seat, looked at her ticket and looked at the number displayed above us. "I think you have my seat," she said to me. Grant showed her our stubs and with this, she turned and walked back down the aisle. A few minutes later an air hostess approached with the same passenger in tow. Now the hostess asked Grant for his boarding passes and also disappeared back down the aisle. We'd all but forgotten about this muddle up, when the hostess returned and asked if she could move us to other seats. We agreed and as we followed her down the plane, Grant whispered to me that we're going to sit in Business Class. And sure enough, from seat 15A and 15B we were moved to 4A and 4C. Not next to, but opposite, each other in the upgraded seats!
Above left are our original tickets in economy class, while the ones on the right are for business class

Grant and I are avid collectors of airmiles. And with the amount of air travel we do, we have, in the past built up quite a bank of miles. However, only once in ten years did we remain with the same airline long enough to cash in on miles. When we left Sudan for the last time in 2010, we had enough Sheba miles (so called in Ethiopian Airlines) to upgrade to Business Class on our final flight between Khartoum and Johannesburg.

From the time we waited in the Business Class lounge (called Cloud Nine) in Khartoum, I had the most wonderful treat I've ever had while travelling. When we boarded the plane at about 10am, I was the only lady in Business Class, while the other passengers  were made up of five men, my husband included. I was offered champagne as I seated myself but of course declined and accepted a fresh orange juice instead. As soon as we were airborne, the hostess came around with a menu for Grant and my special meal (Grant always books me as a vegetarian) I cannot remember what I ate that day, some traditional Ethiopian food, some Western Dish, followed by a selection of desserts (my favourite part of a meal!) but the food just kept coming!

Finally as the coffee and cheese and water biscuits were served (can you imagine?), we were flying over SA airspace and not long afterwards we began to the descent to Johannesburg.

Last week, thinking back to our luxury flight in Business Class on Ethiopian Airways, we settled back and waited for a cooked breakfast and coffee in real cups, not plastic ones! I saw the hostess hand out trays with white linen napkins on them to the first three rows. When we got to my row, she placed a napkin on my fold-away tray. Once she'd given Grant a napkin to place directly onto his fold-away tray too, I looked at him and he whispered to me that they'd run out of trays!

Next I watched the hostess serve plates of full English breakfast to the first three rows. When she got to me, she bent down, extracted a pre-packed meal from her trolley and plopped it in front of me. It contained a stale white bun wrapped in plastic and a small carton of  fruit juice. Period. Looking up I saw the assistant steward emerge from the galley with a basket of steaming bread rolls. Using a pair of tongs, he placed one on the plate of the person two rows ahead of me. He then returned the basket to the galley.

I asked the hostess why everyone wasn't getting a cooked breakfast to which she replied that they'd run out of breakfasts! Behind her, the assistant steward leant over the passenger in the front aisle row, which I could see, and gave him another tray of food.  Placing my uneaten roll and juice on the floor, I decided to pay a visit to the toilet in the front of the plane. Before opening the door, I peered down into the galley and there on the lower shelf, were a couple of trays of full English breakfasts and the basket of rolls.


BTW, I declined the coffee which was served in white cups but no saucers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My new Connection

OK I think many of you know that I am now connected again. At last! After more than two months of terrible connection or no connection at all. I tried every airtime company I heard would work. Eventually I felt I should open a shop selling dongles (modems) and sim cards! Poor Angus, my younger son back in SA was constantly bombarded by his frustrated mother for a solution. Eventually he suggested we try an antennae that he'd been installing for cell-phone users in remote and rural areas in the area. He duly ordered me an antennae called Big Boss which we brought back with us on the plane! All 1.2m of it!

Meanwhile, Wessel,  the local IT boff for the client came to our home with his Nokia N8 cell phone to see if I had a signal. Although he spent more than an hour walking in and around our house, he received very little to no signal. BUT he said, if I bought an Nokia N8 and attached it to the Big Boss once we returned from leave, he guaranteed I would have Internet. (this is what he uses in his house about 900m from our camp.)

Another phone call to South Africa again and this time Angus ordered me a Nokia N8 which I collected from the cell phone shop the day before we flew out.

After spending most of the Easter weekend in Dar Es Salaam, we finally arrived back at the airport en route for Mwanza, 170km from Mwadui, where we live. No sooner had we booked in (at the suicide hour of 4.15am) and settled down to wait for our boarding call, and we spotted Wessel! He'd also been on leave in Bloemfontein and was returning to camp on the same flight as us. The first thing he asked,  after we'd greeted each other, was "did you get everything necessary for your Internet?" When I told him I had,  he said he'd be at our house the next evening to set up my Big Boss and modem!

Which he did, bless him. And here I am gabbling on,  all nerdy-like,  about modems, antennaes, signals and whatnot! But the bottom line is I HAVE INTERNET! WHOO-HOO! Praise the Lord for modern technology. Now I am online and in touch with all my friends and family. One very happy techno-gran again, LOL!
My Nokia N8 cell phone which I can answer and use to phone or text while it's connected to the computer!  My new phone has all the bells and whistles imaginable. One of the amazing features - my favourite - is the application: "WhatsApp". I'm hoping to be able to chat to my dear blogger-friend, Penny via WhatsApp as soon as I have her number!
My cell-phone rests on a pad which is connected to the antennae (which looks like the old-fashioned TV aerials) which, in turn, is erected outside the window...
...while the phone is connected to my laptop with a USB connection

I am having a wonderful time, just catching up on all of your blogs. Thanks again for your continued support and visits while I was off-line. I hope you're all having a wonderful week in your part of the world. 

For more posts on other people's worlds, click here

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Weekend in South Africa

Even with the short time we had in South Africa last week, we managed to see Grant's family,  friends, John, Debbie and our four beautiful grandchildren in the Drakensberg and my brother, Phillip.

Back home in Marquard we also spent time with Angus, Amanda, Joel and little Abby. They all came over for the ubequitous South African BBQ,  "braai" on Good Friday. Amanda's cousin, Eddie, an orphan who grew up in her family home, joined us as well. While the fire acheived the correct heat, Angus and Grant played pool against Eddie and Amanda. Afterwards Eddie and Amanda played against each other. There was a very interested little boy who stood on tip-toe to watch the proceedings.  

Eddie, an excellent golfer, is also very good at pool. If you played on his side, you won. If you played against him, you lost. Period! He has a very good eye for a ball, indeed.

In the photos above you can see how enthralled little Joel is by the game!
Angus, ever the sport, piggy-backed his son while trying to focus on the game!

Thanks to all who reacted to my faintly "hysterical" post about the new blogger version. Diane of Charente said she found an option on the screen which said you could revert to the old version. I searched on and off the front page and then the scrutinised the settings, display etc.  Back on the home (dashboard) page, I suddenly spotted a little wheel and hovered the cursor over it. Voila!  A box dropped down and said "back to old blogger". I am back on my old version. I've since opened my comments with ease and thanks to Betsy of Tennessee who also told me about this little wheel. Even though I'd already discovered it, Betsy and Diane are my heroes ! Without their advice, I might have thought I'm doomed to the new "improved" (pah!) version of Blogger! Thanks Diane and Betsy! I agree Kay, I am also terrified whenever anything like this happens and think I have to fix it quickly before it becomes permanent! Hence the "slight hysteria" in my post. LOL!  

Hope you all have a wonderful week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New blogger

Somehow I've inadvertently clicked on blogger's "upgraded new version" and now cannot  access my blog posts or dashboard with ease. The look is foreign too. Does anyone else have this problem and know how to solve it. I;d love to get out of this version and revert to my user friendly old blogger!  PLEASE, any help or advice will be greatly appreciated.

The tiger by the tail

I'm having fun chewing the tiger's tail!
I know I'm cute that's why mum takes so many photos of me!

For more pets posts around the world, click here

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday 14th...

...follows Friday 13th...

I'm not at all superstitious; I don't believe in Friday 13th or any other such stuff.  I didn't even know it was specifically that date yesterday.

However, as I stepped out of doors, I proceeded to experience one of the worst days in my life;  not at all funny, just plain downright awful. I managed to survive it and woke up quite drained and not ready for today. Durring the morning, I logged onto Blogger, read all your comments on my post (thank you!) and visited several other posts. Not least, was Gattina from Writers Cramps. Well, while reading her post on Friday 13th, I roared with laughter and felt heaps better afterwards. Please click on her highlighed blog name and read it. You will love it! 

I wrote and told her via e-mail how much I'd enjoyed it and also sent her the link below.

Note to self:  The next time this date comes around, I will take my bed to the excarpment on the mountains surrounding Keirio Valley in Kenya  - which I miss dearly - and stay in it until Sunday the 15th! (That's unless my dear friend Suze from Chebutie camp drives past. Then I'll join her in the car and we'll drive along slowly and chat while we photograph the Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys, the Blue Monkeys, the monitor lizards and of course the multitude of birds around. How about it, Suze? Is is a date?)

Happy Saturday 14th and weekend to you all!

Back on Camp Mwadui

Thanks to everyone who has followed my blog and our travels and for the kind comments. Thanks for the commiserations re poor dear Puff, my black cat in South Africa. I, too am sorry about his death. Thanks again.

We left SA on Sunday 8 April, in the middle of the Easter Weekend. As we arrived at the airport, we found the hall packed with big, burly men in red! The Lion's Rugby Team was returning to Johannesburg after suffering quite a large defeat against the Free State Cheetahs. Of course, the night before when we heard the victory score of our favourite team, we were ecstatic. However, when I saw the beaten team the next day, I felt sorry for them and approached the captain, Josh Strauss. I  told him that he and the other Lions were most welcome in Bloemfontein and that I thought they played a good game, notwithstanding. (Ms Diplomat, me!) Of course, when I asked if I could pose with them for a photo, they readily agreed. You can read all our Josh Strauss and his famous beard here
Josh Strauss, (the bearded one), me and two other members of the Golden Lions rugby team. (I was fascinated to see how huge Josh Strauss is in real life)

We arrived back on Camp Mwadui, Tanzania, on Wednesday 11 April. The cats were ecstatic to see us; Ambrose and Shadow were all over the bed, climbing into the suitcase, hooking packets out with their claws,  while Ginger remained quietly on the dining room chair. I found the kitty toys we'd brought back from SA and gave each cat their present. Ambrose received a bird, Shadow's gift was a fish and Ginger had a toy mouse.
Ambrose clambered all over the suitcase and bed, playing with his toy bird from South Africa
Shadow contemplates his new toy, a fluffy fish!
When I gave Ginger his toy mouse, he ignored it. Later, when he thought no-one was watching,  I snapped him playing with one of the catnip mice we brought back in the suitcase

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cats waiting in Mwadui

Ambrose: I'm going with her; Shadow: you're crazy, you don't know how far that place South Africa is!

Ambrose: OK, I'll just hide in this pocket!

Ambrose: Oh well, perhaps she'll let me go along if I lie on the zipper!

Me: I took these photos of Ambrose and Shadow the day before we left camp at the end of March. Apparently these two are lying on my bed back home waiting for me. Ginger, the patient one, is waiting on the mini-trampoline!

As for us, Grant and I returned to the Sea Cliff hotel to stay another night. After filling our appointments with the British Embassy yesterday, we went to the company HO where we were told that all flights were fully booked until today. Hopefully by the time this post is aired this morning, we'll be at the airport and finally on our way to Mwanza where we'll be collected by William, the driver. From there we drive to Mwadui and are finally reunited with our three kitties!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tanzania to SA and back... eight days!

I'm sitting back in the Seacliffe hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We've been to South Africa, seen family and friends, replenished our wardrobes, packed and returned to Tanzania. All within the space of just more than a week!  

The Seacliffe Hotel in Dar es Salaam where we stayed on our way out to SA last week and where we find ourselves now again

On the Saturday of the weekend we arrived in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Angus and Amanda collected us at the airport. There was a slight upheaval as we realised that our luggage (which had been booked straight through from Dar to Bloem) had not arrived. Later last week we were notified that the luggage had gone to Durban; it was eventually returned to us on Thursday which was a day before I had to start packing to come back to EA again!
Abby Kate, pretty in pink and Joel and Granddad look at pictures of motorbikes

I arrived home to find that one of my cats, Puff had disappeared and subsequently found dead on the road outside our house. I'm not to sure of this as Puff never ventured outside the garden but, sadly, he was is no more. Rest in Peace, dearest Puff. We have three of the original ten cats (from 2007) left back in SA. Top photo: Chip, the Siamese is 12 years old, Tigger, centre was 16 years old on Sunday 1st April and Felix (Puff's brother) is eight years old.

The pretty little lass in pink is our newest granddaughter, Abby Kate. She was a month old the day we met her. She is like a little doll with dark hair and eyes and an olive skin. Too beautiful. Two-year-old brother, Joel is bike mad (why am I not surprised) and above you can see him look at pictures of motorbikes with granddad. He is quite talkative and gabbles away in three of the official languages of South Africa, English, Afrkaans and Sesotho. He also still speaks quite a lot of Chinese, LOL!

On Tuesday morning we got onto the bike and rode  south to Kwa-Zulu Natal to catch up on family visits. We met John, Debbie and our beautiful grandchildren in the Drakensberg.

From top, the countryside which I grew up in in Natal during the sixties and seventies. Elijah, who turns two in May looks a lot like Grant when he was little, with Debbie enjoying a cup of coffee in the background. Dear, sweet Eryn (nine years old last week) hugs granddad while John looks on. Centre right and bottom left photo: Bethany who turned three the same day as Eryn with five-year-old Joshua on a bouncy bike behind her. The last photo is also of Bethany cleaning the table! Aren't they all just too beautiful?

From here we visited Grant's mum in the Old Age Home in the country. She seems to be happy but has aged quite a lot and become quite deaf. It was good to see her again.

On the way back we popped in to see Grant's aunt Gill and her husband, Neville. They were packing up their home to go into a lovely retirement village in Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal.

From here we drove up to see my brother, Phillip. Grant had a handmade fly rod for him and of course, the men had to peruse and discuss the merits and good points of the rod. Phillip is an excellent fisherman, and regularly fishes the three dams near his home and the streams and dams in the Drakensberg area. If you like, you can read his blog here.

A rush and then a squash as I raced back from my camera to pose with my brother, Phillip and Grant (last photo)

When we tour KZN (Kwa-Zulu Natal) we always stay over at a guest house owned by an old school friend and her husband.   Gene, Grant and I have known each other for the past forty years and we've known her husband, Brian for thirty six of those years.
The waxing moon rises over Ivala Guest House owned by friends, Brian and Gene Bradfield

Today as this post is aired, Grant and I will be at the British High Commission applying for our UK visas. We fly to England at the end of May. More about this later. Meanwhile, once we've finished with the embassy, we'll catch the next flight to Mwanza. From there we drive back to Mwadui and the camp.

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter. Thank you for your kind comments and wishes on my blog.

Till later



PS I'm linking this post with Our World Tuesday here