Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Family time

Clockwise from front left: Bethany, Elijah, Joshua, Eryn and Israel

Only another ten days and we get to see these precious grandchildren as well.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Home in SA

Grant and grandson, Joel

Little Abby, who started walking while we were away in Tanzania

It's FREEZING in Marquard ! We arrived safely on Saturday and it was lovely to meet up with Angus, Amanda and children again. We're spending a few days at home before biking across the country on a tour through Namibia.

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Home alone

Hi Bozo and all mum's blog readers. Yes, it's Ambrose posting again. We (Ginger, Shadow and Ambrose) are home alone in Mwadui while our yoomens go to a far place for a L O N G time! Ginger even tried to stop mum from leaving by sitting on her back pack! 

But still they left...

Oh, well, meantime I'll go through mum's photos and see what she's doing in that place without us.

Uh-oh! She's got another cat! I KNEW it! 

A really fat-cat!

Meanwhile we're being taken good care of by our own da-da/sister/carer Regina here at home in Tanzania!

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Blogger and cold conditions

This morning Grant and I left our home on camp in Mwadui at 4am n the first leg of our journey to South Africa. The weather was mild to warm, as always. We arrived at Mwanza airport at 6.30am, and as the check-in counter only opened at 7am, we waited outside in biting wind. (You guessed it; we were dressed for Mwadui temps of 31degrees Celsius.) Mwanza clocked in at 19 degrees that time of the morning. By the time we'd checked in our one piece of luggage, we were blue with the cold. 

We've since landed in Dar es Salaam where the weather is considerably warmer, albeit very windy. The irony of this is that tomorrow morning we board our flight for South Africa at 6am and land in Johannesburg around 10.20am. The weather forecast is between 5 and 19 degrees Celsius! Brrr. Our thin African blood is going to take a beating.

Very windy, but warm weather in Dar Es Salaam today

Yesterday before I packed up my Ultra book for traveling, I went onto Blogger and that's as far as I got. I was unable to open a post, I could not check my comments and although I could read other blogger posts, I couldn't comment.

When I logged on with the hotel's WiFi this afternoon, I opened Blogger and validated all the [many] comments! Thanks to all who have commented and my sincere apologies for not visiting your blogs. I'm in transit but hope to be back in the swing of cyber-socializing again this weekend once we're settled in at home!

May you all have a wonderful weekend!

Blue Skies over Dar Es Salaam

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Nsia

Yesterday the ladies of Mwadui got together at the Williamson's Guest House. Amanda and I had arranged a surprise birthday party for our dear friend, Nsia. We'd also organized with Nsia's boss, Richard* to get her to the venue using whatever reason he thought of. He told Nsia they had a meeting with the General Manager which sent the poor young lady into a total spin.

As we saw Richard's car arrive, I stood near the front door to get a photo of the birthday girl as she walked in and saw, instead of a board of men meeting, all her friends waiting to welcome her to a surprise party!

Rina* (Richard's wife)  hugs Nsia who is overcome with emotions!  Amanda looks on

Nsia bubbling and excited at her party!

Amanda, Louise, I, my kitchen staff and the WDL kitchen staff made this delicious array of treats

Three WDL Guest House staff: Chef Constantine, Asst Manager Suzy and Chef Peter

Amanda baked and decorated the birthday cake

While the guests helped themselves to refreshments, Louise noticed I was taking photos. So she told me to stand with Amanda and Richard while she snapped us! 

Amanda, Jo and Richard

Birthday girl, Nsia still smiling from ear to ear! 

 Guests tuck into the eats

Nsia cuts the cake while we all sing to her

 The Ladies of Mwadui: Front row from left: Stella, Gertrude,  Nsia (Birthday girl), Margeret, Back row from left: Linda,  Amanda, Rina, Louise and Jo (Photo taken by Rob)

Collage by Amanda using the Instagram feature on her Tab!

In the evening we all met again at the club where Rob, Nsia's husband had brought in delicious Asian snacks. 


* * Richard and Rina * * own the kittens I babysat. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kitty Chaos

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Three-banded Plover and Three-banded Courser

Several months ago, while we were out birding on the mine, Grant stopped so that I could photograph a couple of waterbirds foraging in a pool of water. Although I was focusing on a bird to the front of the water, my camera also picked up another beautiful bird in the background.

Three-banded Plover

The Three-banded Plover is a small, dark, long-tailed plover with a distinctive double black breast band, grey cheeks and a conspicuous red eye-ring and bill base.
 The Three-banded Plover prefers fresh-water wetland fringes as shown above

 I love this image with the bird reflected in the water

Recently, on one of our night drives on the mine, we stopped to photograph a Thick-knee. Just afterwards and a few meters ahead, we stopped again where I photographed another Thick-knee. Only to find when I downloaded the photos of the second bird, that it was not a Thick-knee at all. I sent the photo off to my sister-in-law, Shelley. She replied with the identification. 

Three-banded (Heuglin's) Courser

Although not at all the same bird as the Three-banded Plover, I just loved that they both have distinctive bands on their necks. The Three-banded Courser is a dry-country wader with rufous, black and white bands on breast and neck. A white eye-stripe forks behind the eye and extends into the hindcollar. It inhabits arid and semi-arid savanna and is largely nocturnal.

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Visiting Dr Williamson's grave

I've lived in Mwadui for fifteen months and hadn't yet seen Dr Williamson's grave.

For those readers who may not know, Dr Williamson established Mwadui Mine, where I live, way back in in 1940. Today the Williamson Diamond Mine (also known as the Mwadui mine) is a diamond mine south of Mwanza in Tanzania. This mine became well-known as the first significant diamond mine outside of  South Africa and has been continuous operation since 1940, making it one of the oldest continuously operating diamond mines in the world. Over its lifetime it has produced over 19 million carats (3,800 kg) of diamonds. The Williamson Diamond Mine,  was once owned by its namesake Dr. Williamson,  a Canadian geologist and later nationalized by the government of Tanzania. It's now majority owned by Petra Diamonds (75% ownership), with the government of Tanzania owning the remaining 25%.
 Dr John Williamson

Dr. John Williamson was born in 1907 in Montfort, Quebec. He attended McGill University, where he initially intended to study law but became interested in geology  after accompanying a friend on a summer field expedition to Labrador. He subsequently earned his Bachelors, Masters , and PhD degrees in geology, completing his studies between 1928 and 1933.

After completing his studies, Williamson traveled to  South Africa with one of his professors, where he eventually took a job with Loangwa Concessions, a De Beers Subsidiary,  in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He then moved to Tanzania to work at the  Mabuki Diamond Mine which he purchased from the owners in 1936 when they had decided to shut the mine down. Williamson struggled to support himself with the operations of the Mabuki mine, while using it as a base for diamond prospecting in the region.

In 1940 he discovered the Mwadui kimberlite pipe; over the next several years he developed the mine, although he was hindered by difficulty in procuring equipment and raising funds due to  World War II. By the 1950s he had developed the Williamson Diamond Mine into the first significant diamond mine in Tanzania, with a labor force of several thousand. The mine was noted for technical innovations in diamond mining which were developed under Williamson's watch. Williamson closely managed the mine until his death in 1958 at the age of 50.

The mine produced many fine gems including the Williamson Pink, a pink diamond of 23.6 carats (4.7 g) presented to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on their wedding day in 1947. It became the centrepiece of the Williamson Diamond brooch made for the Queen in 1952. 

John Williamson never married. Upon his death, the mine was left to his three siblings, who promptly sold the mine for £4 million GBP to a partnership between De Beers and the government of Tanzania (then Tanganyika)
The life of John Williamson had been adapted into the  biographical works: The Diamond Seeker by John Gewaine (a pseudynome), which was published in 1967. The book depicts Williamson as quiet, almost secretive, yet something of a  womanizer. The book also hails him as the last of the great diamond prospectors, who were able to find meaningful deposits and establish significant, successful mines without outside resources or support. While the book is known to have taken some liberties with the facts, it is one of the few biograhical sources available. 

Dr Williamson was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame on January 13, 2011.

On that particular Sunday in Mid-May, Grant and I met up with a friend, Fritz (who works for an independent mine on the outskirts of Mwadui) He jumped into our vehicle with us and as we drove to the old Mwadui cemetery about 3kms from town, he regaled us with many of the facts which I've written above. I'd also read a few accounts of Dr Williamson's life and legacy. Also,  living on the self-same mine today, I hear many a tale or legend from old-time workers, present-day expats and more.
The road to the cemetery through the African bush

 Fritz (whom I call Croc Dundee)  stands in front of the monument to Dr Williamson

 The plaque erected by the Williamson family

 The memorial and surrounding pillar structures are made from marble which was shipped from abroad to Dar Es Salaam and then transported more than 1000km by ox-wagon to Mwadui

Sadly, the whole place was redolent of severe neglect.  Adjacent to Dr Williamson's grave, were final resting places of many South Africans, ranging from very young children to several  elderly men.
Fritz and Grant looked down at a very overgrown grave

 An ornate, but crumbling angel is all that's visible on this grave

The weather-beaten, forgotten and overgrown grave of an erstwhile intrepid expat diamond miner

 Many of the people lying here were from Afrikaans stock. Above is Theunis Cobus Botha -  typical Afrikaans names and surname

The same grave with the cross which has been broken off. All the gravestones have been stripped of any "precious" ornaments and especially of their brass and copper plaques

Another cross ripped off another gravestone in order to get to the brass plaque underneath

Behind me you can see tha the brass frames around the name plaque have been stripped from Dr Williamson's memorial stone

Another legend is that, like an African chief, Dr Williamson was buried with great riches, ie a large bag of diamonds. Allegedly people have tried to dig under the memorial to get to the treasure! 

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my world today. I love living on Mwadui mine and personally am very grateful to Dr Williamson for establishing this mine.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Anonymous - grrrr!

For the past six months I 've had incredible trouble with anonymous comments. When I go out on break to SA, I don't post daily and this is when the problem worsens. When I get back to Tanzania, it's as if those anonymous "people" just hang on and keep commenting. It's become very irritating, to say the least. Out of ten comments waiting to be moderated, normally five are anonymous. Grrr. 

I don't have word verification on my comments but have changed the settings from "comments allowed from anyone (which includes anonymous)" to "comments from people with ID's". I hope this helps and I also sincerely hope that my regular or future visitors aren't blocked from commenting. If you have problems trying to comment on my posts, please contact me privately and let me know. 

On the home front, Ambrose has kept readers up to date regarding the kittens which we've babysat for the past two weeks and four days. Their yoomen parents arrived back from their break in South Africa today. When they came to collect their house key from me (I kept an eye on their home in their absence as well) they took the kitties home with them. They said they missed them incredibly and were thrilled to be home just to see their "children" (And this from a sixty-something couple who's never owned pets !) 

While they were here, I made a toy ball with a rattle inside. Although it's very amateur and my very first attempt at this, the kittens loved it! (BTW, the kittens have only been gone for a day, and we're missing them terribly!)

 My first attempt at making a toy ball for the kittens

The elastic attached to the ball, was a great hit. The kittens grabbed it and ran with it, bouncing and rattling merrily along behind them!

I'm also still helping Amanda make toys for children. While I manage to make one toy, when I arrive at her house, I see she has made about two dozen in the same space of time! Amanda, who's very encouraging, always tells me that she used to make toys for markets in South Africa and when you work for money, you tend to work very quickly! She also reminds me that while she sits and makes toys all day, I am running the Guest House, caring for 20 expats' needs; expats who make lunch hour in the dining hall look like a gathering of the United Nations (albeit made up of hard-working delegates!) supervise a staff of twelve people and also trying to fit in writing my articles for magazines! 
 Another rattly toy which evolved from my humble fingers 

I hope you're all having a great week already. We're on the home-stretch to going out on leave, so it's a great week for us!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Getting to know...

...the kittens!

This is Ambrose with the weekly update on the kittens. Hi Bozo and all my mom's blog friends; this week I got to meet the kittens! And play with them!

Here I meet Topsy 

I'm nervous, he's the first cat I know that's smaller than I am

While I played with Topsy, Tipsy came to join in the fun!

And suddenly we were playing too!

Eventually I was too tired to play - and so were the kittens! 

 Ginger and Shadow didn't join in at all. Mom says they'll play too "rough" with the kittens! 

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

A new baby in the Hedges family!

Last weekend I posted a pic of Grant's mom and his brother, Charles. I also mentioned that Charles and our sister-in-law, Shelley were about to become grandparents this week. Well, the baby has arrived! I have no details of exactly when he was born or his birth weight, but I do have a photo of the little one and his proud gran Shelley, who, incidentally is the kind person who always identifies my difficult birds for me!

My sister-in-law, Shelley, with her first grandchild, baby James Corbett Kelmanson 

Welcome into the family, dear little Jamie and congratulations to proud parents and grandparents! 

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.