Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Blessing!

While we were in London, we received a text  message on my phone from John announcing the birth of our seventh grandchild and fourth grandson. The little guy was born on Tuesday 12 June at 15h00 in George, South Africa. Of course, we still had to get home to East Africa before I could receive photos from parents, John and Debbie. 

Here he is:
Israel Hedges 
 A precious photo of Israel surrounded by his adoring siblings.  From left at 9 o'clock: two-year-old Elijah - only his legs and feet are visible; Bethany, three years old; Eryn, nine years old; and Joshua who turns six in July 

Photos by John Hedges

To my fellow - grandparent bloggers out there: I think Grant and I are beating ya-all with grandchildren. Let me hear from you if you're on our tail or have more than us! 

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17 : 6

Blue skies over Isle of Man

Helicopter flying over the race track on Isle of Man

For more beautiful sky photos, click here

Thursday, June 28, 2012

UK Trip Part V

One thing that always fascinates me, is how the English love their dogs. Come rain or shine, dog owners generally walk their dogs on a regular basis. Being at the TT races on the Isle of Man was no exception. I made a point of trying to photograph as many dogs that I could while walking around the pits and viewing areas. 

Stafford-shire Terriers are a very popular breed of dogs in the UK. This lass looks a little dozy (or bored) by all the comings and goings around him

A handsome fellow with a designer collar
I'm not sure of this breed - perhaps a Kerry Blue? But it was accompanied by a beautiful pair of legs, I'd say! Oops! I remember now the lady told us this was a Labradoodle: Poodle x Labrador!
A Heinz 57 breed wearing a designer harness
A Giant Poodle eyeballs the camera lens
A pair of English Sheepdogs Border Collies relax with their owner (thanks Arija!)
And the Dulux Dog was also there; A St Bernard   An Old English Sheepdog is used in the Dulux paint adverts in England and South Africa ( Thanks Arija! )

There was many, many other dogs on the island during that week, but I didn't get to photograph them all. I love dogs and miss my three dogs in South Africa. Regularly seeing the dogs at the TT, helped to ease the longing! 

Thanks to my dear friend Arija from Down Under,  for helping me right with the sheepdog/Border Collie dog ID's! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UK Trip Part IV

I took this photo from the car as we traveled along a back road off the racing circuit.  I loved the emerald green of the trees and bush lining the road with the blue sea in the distance. This was one of the clear sunny days - beautiful!

*The Isle of Man is an island in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, with a population of over 75,000. It is a British Crown Dependency. It has a small islet the Calf of Man, to its south.
The Isle of Man has a coastline of 160 km and claims 12 nautical miles of territorial waters, but only holds exclusive fishing rights in the first 3 miles. Its land area mass is 572 square km and is roughly three times the size of Washington. 

The island's terrain is varied. There are two mountainous areas divided by a central valley which runs between Douglas and Peel. The highest point in the Isle of Man, Snaefell, is in the northern area and reaches 620 meters (2,034 ft) above seal level. The northern end of the island is a flat plain, consisting of glacial tills and marine sediments. To the south the island is more hilly, with distinct valleys. There is no land below sea level. *

Driving down the mountain in the car, we reconnected with the race circuit and stopped at Cryg Ny Baa 

If you click on the link above, you'll see a very similar photo of this famous restaurant to the one I took below. You'll also notice that the website photo was taken during the year when there is no crash protection around the area.
 Creg-Ny-Baa Restaurant at the bottom of the mountain on the race circuit
 Some of the hundreds of private bikes parked at the Creg-Ny-Baa restaurant before a race

 Another angle of the Creg Ny Baa corner along the race circuit. The riders above are all tourists. (The professional 2012 TT riders were, at this stage, preparing their machines and themselves for the race)
 The crash protection between the spectators and the race track
 The tourist bikers enjoyed many a [fast] ride down the mountain past the Creg Ny Baa
 Grant and Kevin looking intently at something/someone in the crowd, while Clive looks at the camera!  

Always on the look-out for interesting photo opportunities, I spotted a guy doing a promotion for a gold-painted BMW motorbike. He turned around just after I'd taken the photo and invited me to pose in front of the bike. He said he'd mail my photo to me, but although I gave him my address, I haven't received anything!
 Couldn't be more clear, could it? 
 Joe Cool poses in front of the golden motorbike while I snapped him
We drove back into Douglas where we stopped  on the Promenade for lunch at the Terminus Restaurant

While waiting for our lunch on the deck of the Terminus Restaurant, I photographed this sign on the mountain above us

*Messrs. Bruce and Saunderson were behind the construction of the 3 feet track gauge railway, which first opened in 1893. The original line ran from Douglas to Laxey and in 1899 the line was extended to include Ramsey. 

The Manx Electric Railway claims to be the longest narrow gauge vintage railway in the British Isles. Over seventeen miles of line border the coastline between Douglas and Ramsey. All the operational trams are original, with the newest dating back as far as 1906. Trams 1 and 2 are the oldest dating back to 1893 earning them a place in the record books as the oldest regularly operated tram cars in the world. Sadly many trams were destroyed by a fire in 1930 at Laxey Depot.

The Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Co collapsed in 1900 following an expensive expansion program, but by 1902 a new company with mainland funding had taken over and the Manx Electric Railway ran on till it was bought by the Manx Government in the early 1950's. Times were changing though and by the mid 1960's decline of tourism hit the railways. The mid 1970's almost saw the closure of the line, but opposition kept the trams running.

The Manx Electric Railway started out as public transport mainly for tourists, but also saw its lines used for the transportation of goods and animals. It became a part of island transport which managed to stand the tests of time and progress.  *

The Electric Railway coaches are open-sided so in view of the cold weather and our thin African blood, we opted not to do the trip. 

Have a great week, everybody! 

Note: All passages marked * - * are quotes from Mr Google.   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UK Trip Part III

Instead of staying at a hotel or B&B as Grant had previously on the Isle of Man, we were fortunate to find private accommodation. When we lived in Kenya, our neighbour, who heard that we were struggling to find reasonable accommodation, told us he knew someone in South Africa who had children living on the island and regularly rented out their house for the TT week. We wrote to the family in SA, who gave us their son/daughter's e-mail address. I contacted these people who agreed that we could rent their house for the period. A few days later the young lady wrote to me and said they had to retract their offer of their home, but that her best friend, Tracy and her husband, Richard was willing to let us stay in their home. I duly wrote to Tracy who replied immediately and gave us a reasonable quote for the nine days we'd be staying. A few weeks later, Tracy wrote to me and said she and Richard were taking their two young sons to Disneyland for the same week and we'd have their large house to ourselves. Which we did. (More about this later)

On that first day when we arrived at Tracy's home (poor girl, we arrived before 8am; she was still in her nightgown getting the children ready for Pre-primary school and Richard was upstairs getting ready for work!) she made us feel most welcome. After a hot cup of coffee in her homely kitchen, we were shown upstairs and left to unpack and settle in. Then we left the house and walked to the vehicle rental agency where we picked up the little runabout we'd hired for the week.

After collecting our friends, Kevin and Clive at their modest B&B, where Grant and I subsequently enjoyed delicious breakfasts with them every day, we drove to the race starting point and the pits. In a normal race, such as the Motor GP, spectators and enthusiasts are not able to get inside the pits. At the TT, you can wander around and watch the teams working on their racing machines and even get to speak to some of the riders.

The marquee tent/workshop of the Norton team

There are also stalls selling all manner of Isle of Man curios and memorabilia, Christian literature, bike accessories, clothing. In between there are caravans and kiosks selling hot and cold drinks, take-away foods and sweet treats like doughnuts and ice-creams! 

Tables and chairs on the lawns near the food and drink kiosks in and around the pit area

I walked around with my camera and photographed the many dogs on leads (more about these later), and when I could do so surreptitiously, I snapped unusual sights.

A suave-looking Scotchman and his girl

Out in the street again, I continued to snap photos of the bikes and came across one from Australia. As I took the photo, I thought of my blogger-friend, Diane who lives in Brisbane and has a very interesting blog, Adventure before Dementia. Diane has just celebrated a milestone birthday, and if you've never visited her blog, do pop over there, wish her and read all about her travels with her husband. 
 A bike from Down Under

I'm linking this post  to Our World, Tuesday where you can see posts of other people's worlds if you click here

Have a great day everybody!

Monday, June 25, 2012

UK Trip Part II

It may or may not come as a surprise to people reading or following this blog, that I - a lady nudging sixty - love motorbikes. I can't ride a bike (not for lack of trying!) but I've been Grant's constant pillion for the past twelve years. He started riding when he was eight (that's not young: all our grandchildren can ride by the age of three!) but when we got married, he had to shelve his passion for two wheels and focus on being a husband and later a father. When we were married 31 years, we both decided to buy a motorbike: a Harley Davidson. We have since progressed to a BMW motorbike and whenever we're in South Africa, we try to fit some biking in between living in our home and visiting family.

When Grant suggested a trip to Isle of Man this year to see the greatest bike races in the world - the TT (Tourist Trophy) - I readily agreed. I'd heard so much about this event (Grant has been before) but nothing prepared me for the masses of private motorbikes careering around the track in between formal races or parked in the streets of towns across the island. There are about 140 bikers who take part in the TT races. There were about twenty thousand bikes which people had brought across on the ferry for their own pleasure. Ironically of the nine people who lost their lives this year, in four separate accidents, all were tourists.

A few of the thousands of private motorbikes lining the streets of Douglas, Isle of Man 
The private bike riders at the race starting line making use of the opportunity to blow the cobwebs away on the track

You can watch the races at designated areas anywhere along the track, but as we stayed in Douglas, we chose to sit / stand behind the stone wall surrounding St Ninian's Church. Apart from being along the first straight after the riders start their race, the church ladies supply all manner of hot beverages, sodas, home-made cakes, hamburgers, salad rolls, crisps and chocolates, etc while the races are on. It was also safe so people with children and/or dogs could relax while we all felt quite sheltered from the fickle English weather. 
   This little lad enjoyed riding his bike around the church courtyard while his sister in the pushchair against the stone wall, looks on
The first stretch of the race track as the bikes/sidecars pass the church. The spectators have a first hand view of the event while remaining safe and warm behind the wall. No matter how many times I tried, or what settings I used on my camera, I couldn't capture the machines as they roared past. (note blur in third photo - that's a motorbike!) 

I hope you're all having a wonderful week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy cats

Or not...
 Jippee guys, she's back and I get to snuggle on the jacket she wore while she was away from us!

Mmm, I'm not trusting her again until I see her staying home for a L O N G time

Oh no, I can't bear to think about her leaving again. And to think she brought another animal back with her. Sniff!

For more pet posts around the world, click here

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Catwalk on Isle of Man

Say what?

This is one of the first sights that caught my eye as we drove through the streets of Douglas to our accommodation on the first day.

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Clear English Skies

The beautiful facade of the beach front (known as the Promenade) accommodation on Isle of Man

Of the nine summer days spent on Isle the of Man, we had three clear, [albeit, cold) sunny days. The photo above was taken on one of them!

For more beautiful skies around the world, click here

Thursday, June 21, 2012

UK trip Part 1

Earlier this week, I posted about leaving the camp, staying over in Dar es Salaam and finally boarding the flight to England as the start of our trip to the Isle of Man and subsequently, back to England. 

Arriving at Heathrow on 30 May, and connected with the Manchester flight. Kevin, an old friend of ours and my boss on the goldmines of Guinea, West Africa, collected us and drove us back to his home in Chesterfield.

Kevin's wife, Jane didn't stay on camp with him, but over the years while working for him, I got to know Jane - first on the telephone and later when we visited the UK in 2005. I'd not seen her since that year, so we soon were caught up in catching up on news! 

Four old friends meet up again after seven years : Kevin, Jane, Jo and Grant

On Thursday we rested, only going out for lunch in Chesterfield. Later Jane and I watched the French Open while the men made the final arrangements for our trip which commenced that night. Eventually Jane (who didn't go to the Isle of Man with us) went off to bed, while Grant and I sat and dozed in the lounge downstairs. We would be taking a taxi to Liverpool where we'd board the ferry. Kevin and a friend, Clive, Grant and I squashed into a medium-sized sedan, with the driver at the wheel,  and made the three hour-long journey northwards.

 The Liverpool harbour lights

The Liverpool Eye peeks out from behind the large buildings lining the shore

The ferry was due to leave shore at 4.45am, so we didn't have long to wait until we could board the huge vessel. I spent the first part of the journey, firstly freezing my fingers off, and then taking photos from the stern of boat. 

The wake caused by the huge turbine engines of the Seacat which was ferrying us up the River Mersey into the Irish Sea

The River Mersey, is approximately 113km/70 mile long, stretching from Stockport Greater Manchester and ending in Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. 

The river widens into a large estuary, which is five kilometers / three miles wide at its widest point near Ellesmore Port.

The estuary then narrows to flow between Liverpool and Birkenhead, where it is constricted to a width of 0.7 mile/ 1.2 kilometers , between Albert Dock in Liverpool and the Woodside ferry terminal in Birkenhead. The river then continues into Liverpool Bay on the Irish Sea.
The river is now internationally famous thanks to the music of the 1960s known as Merseybeat or the Mersey Sound and its strong association with Liverpool. The Mersey itself was popularized in the Merseybeat song Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry & The Pacemakers, which was released in 1965 and featured a music video in which the group performed their song on a boat crossing the river between Birkenhead and Liverpool. It has since been covered by Ferry Aid (for a 1989 charity single to dedicated to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. *

Eventually I couldn't stand the cold any longer and went inside to find our pre-booked seats. Grant and I drank coffee, he eventually dozed off while I read one of the magazines on offer in the lounge. 

As we were nearing Isle of Man, the sun was making its appearance. Once more, it was time to leave my warm seat, brave the cold and get some photos. I managed to convince Grant to come outside with me too! (Actually, I had to drag him out! Ha-ha! )
 The sun lights up the [cloudy] sky as we approach the Isle of Man
 A not-so-happy camper poses on the freezing deck of the ferry

I hope you're all having a wonderful week so far.   

* - * Note: Information on the River Mersey obtained from Google

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back in Mwadui

We're back from the UK! Thanks to all for the send-off, well-wishes and kind comments when we left last  month. I have many photos and stories which start with this post. To get to them I have to mention our very first ladies' tea here in Mwadui which Amanda and I arranged for the Monday before we left. 

Amanda organized with the client's management to hold it in their guest house. With me, my friend, Sonja visiting from Dar es Salaam, the six ladies from Petra diamonds (the stores controller, the guest house head, the headmistress of the school, the matron of the hospital, Amanda and Tilla)  as well as a fourth South African lady, Charlene,  who recently moved into the camp, we made up quite a lively and interesting party! Unfortunately I didn't take my camera along and although I took photos with my phone, the results were less than perfect.
Charlene, left and Sonja at the Mwadui ladies' tea 

On Tuesday Grant and I flew from Mwanza to Dar where we were booked into  our favorite hotel in the city the Sea Cliff My darling hubby had surprised me by securing a sea-facing suite! 
 Our sea-facing room in the Sea Cliff, Dar es Salaam

 The view of the sea beyond our bedroom window. Life is tough in Africa! 

Early on Wednesday morning we waited in the hotel reception for Mohamed, our driver to collect us for the airport. Of course, on the way down [to reception] and while we waited, I took photos. 
 The reception area just outside the lift on the way down to main reception

 We've stayed in this hotel five times this year (recently I stayed there alone) and this is the first time I noticed the star rating on the wall! 
The doormen at this hotel are Masaai warriors

Promptly at 5.30 Mohamed arrived, took us to the airport and by 8.30 we were boarding our  British Airways flight to Heathrow.
 The plane was quite empty so after an early lunch, which followed soon after breakfast, His Nibs found a row of seats and slept until we started descending into Heathrow!

 I hope you're all having a wonderful week already!