Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Back from Biking

And off down to the East Coast!

We've arrived back from an awesome biking trip down through the Eastern Cape, across the Little Karoo to Hartenbos near Mossel Bay. Then to the Southern Cape where we stayed over with good friends, Derek and Lesley. Next morning we rode down to Knysna where we stayed with other good friends, Pete and Mart. 
Eventually we made our way up to the Great Karoo, to a quaint little town called Prince Albert. We overnighted at a beautiful BnB; the next day we headed back to the Eastern Cape to stay at our regular Guest House, Somerset House. 
 Our stay at a beautiful Olde World hotel in the Boschberg area, Hartenbos

Tomorrow morning before dawn we're leaving home (in the car) for Durban. We'll collect Grant's mum at the old age home. We're taking her out for the evening and staying at a beautiful hotel called The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks. The next morning after breakfast, we'll drop her off at the home again and head for Howick in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. We'll pop in and see Grant's aunt Gill and her husband, Neville. 

On Sunday night we're staying at old school friends who have a beautiful BnB on the Mooi River about an hour's drive from Howick. Monday we're traveling back to Marquard where we'll spend the last week relaxing and preparing for our return trip to Tanzania next weekend.

Until I'm online again, I wish you all a wonderful weekend. 



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mum's far away

Hi Bozo and all mum's blog readers. As you know our yoomens are far away and me (Ambrose) Shadow and Dad Ginger are here in Mwadui. We also have the little kitties with us, whom we're sure mum and dad will keep forever. I love the Topsy and Tipsy and Regina, Pendo and Michael take such good care of us while our yoomens are away that the time seems to fly.

Last week before she left, Mum managed to "catch" the kittens birdwatching from dad's bathroom window. They can't get near the birds but they become very excited and making squeaking noises. I wonder if they've heard me when I birdwatch in the garden outside?

Topsy and Tipsy watch the birds in the garden

Life just goes on in Mwadui and we wait patiently until our mum returns.

Dad Ginger loves lying on the warm concrete in our garden

Unca Shadow loves to relax on a garden chair

I love to climb the avocado tree in the middle of the garden. I can't come to any harm as it's not near a roof or fence! 

Where mum is faaaar away now, I have seen photos of another kitty on her 'puter. This kitty is very fat, even fatter than Dad Ginger. We wonder whether this kitty is getting all the food and that's why mum has to struggle to find food in Tanzania. Oh well, as long as mum returns to us sometime...
The fat kitty who lives in mum's house when she's faaar away from us in Tanzania

Ooh-eeh! That kitty is on dad's lap just where Unca Shadow sleeps when they're here with us! 

She looks quite friendly! But still very fat! 

For more cute pet photos please click here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Update in South Africa

We arrived home in Marquard on Sunday evening and as usual it's been "all systems go" since our return. On Monday I had a much-needed pedicure with my friend, Carin and also caught up on all the news.

On Tuesday Grant and I had a few appointments in the city, Bloemfontein and we also bought various vitamins and OTC meds not available in Tanzania.

Later we met up with Wessel (my IT friend in Mwadui) and his wife Louise for a lovely lunch at Jimmy's Killer Prawns. Afterwards we drove to Wes and Louise's home to see the renovations which they had had done while they were in Tanzania. We also arranged with them where we'd meet up to go to our friend, Dick's funeral on Wednesday.

Grant, Jo, Louise and Wessel in their newly refurbished kitchen

Louise' house is all wooden floors and wall panels with extremely clean lines accentuating each area 

On Wednesday mid-morning, Grant and I set off for Parys, in the Northern Free State. We were in contact with Louise and Wessel and as Grant and I arrived in town first at around 1pm, we waited in a restaurant for them. 

At 1.15pm Louise phoned me, voice quivering. They'd been in a massive 14-vehicle accident on the freeway. When we'd passed that area earlier, we noticed a huge cloud obviously emanating from a veld-fire. By the time they passed there fifteen minutes later, the wind had blown the smoke across the freeway resulting in zero visibility for vehicles driving along there. 

Wessel ran into a stationary vehicle parked in the middle of the road. As he did this, a truck rammed him from behind and another into the truck behind them and so on. 
 The back of Wessel and Louise' vehicle
The front of the car
Side-view of the car

Louise and Wessel ended up in a local hospital with severe bruising and shock. They, of course, didn't make the funeral and asked us to explain to Rina what had happened. 

Grant and I went on alone to the memorial service which was beautifully done. Although we were all very emotional, it was still good to see our dear friend, Rina again. We were also pleased to see that she had wonderful support from her son, daughter, Dick's son, and Rina's own two brothers and her sister.
The funeral sheet showing a photo of Dick on the cover
Grant and me with Rina after Dick's memorial service. I forwarded this photo to the expat ladies of Mwadui, who were with us in spirit yesterday

Once we'd collected the cats' medicines which Dick had bought, from Rina, their Mwadui house key and Dick's company phone, we bid our precious friend goodbye.

As soon as we were on the road again, I contacted Louise to see if we could fetch them from hospital and give them a lift home to Bloemfontein. They had been discharged from hospital but she said her brother had driven up from Bloemfontein and they would return home with them. 

Now we're home again and packing the motorbike in preparation for our week-long ride to the Cape. 

I won't be online while we're away but hope to post as soon as we return to Marquard and before we drive (in the car) to Durban to visit Grant's mum.

I hope you're all keeping well and having a great week. 



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections and Shadows

Reflections of grass in a puddle of water on the mine

Burglar grid shadows thrown by the rising sun at my home in Mwadui

For more Weekend Reflections and Shadow shots, please click here and here

We've landed safely at OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. We have quite a long wait until 3pm when we board our flight to Bloemfontein, so we're relaxing in the Slow Lounge. I hope you're all having a wonderful day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mum's gone away again...

Hi Bozo and mum's blog readers. Mum's gone away again. We just know it. The bags came out and were filled with yoomen fur, paws and tails. But as usual we're not alone, especially not this time: we're being looked after by Regina, with Michael helping with our sandboxes and Pendo who washes our many food dishes and gives us our cookies. And, on top of it all, we have Topsy and Tipsy here and I still do my duty playing with them while Regina cleans the three rooms which are theirs to live, sleep and play in. (Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow don't come into this area as they might growl at the kitties!) 
 Mum,can I go with you, please?

Topsy and I, Ambrose checking out the bags

Unca Shadow sits in the windows and growls at the dogs who almost caught him last weekend. I don't think he' noticed that mum is packing her bags again

If I sit here, perhaps mum will take me in the bag? 

For more posts on cute pets like us Tanzanian kitties, please click here

Last days of pottery

and passing through Dar! 

 The lemon decorated plates, and the tray with berries and leaves, is for a friend of mine in South Africa. The little blue bowl on the top left of the photo, is Rina's and I'll give it to her when I see her on Wednesday. Although I've wrapped all the items well in bubble wrap and had the bag wrapped at the airport, I hope they arrive at home in good order. 

I made these little animals by pouring liquid clay into individual moulds. (It looks like you're making chocolate Easter eggs!)
 Although they're cute, they're very difficult to glaze and take up a lot of unnecessary space in the kiln. Rina painted each little creature the week before she and Richard went out on leave 

We're in Dar Es Salaam at the moment. We arrived at our favorite hotel, The Seacliff at midday today after leaving the mine site at 4.30am this morning. A two hour drive from Mwadui to Mwanza, a two-and-a half-hour flight from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam, a 45 minute wait at the carousal for our luggage  and then a 50 minute drive through traffic from the airport to our hotel. 
 View of the Indian Ocean from our hotel room

We're off to dinner with Jez, birder and hopefully our company caterer, at an English Pub tonight. Tomorrow we'll be up at 3.30 am, Mohamed collects us at 4.30am and we fly out to SA at 6.05 tomorrow morning. Until I'm connected in SA again, probably tomorrow night, here's wishing you all a wonderful weekend.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Last Tanzanian sunset until we return

Sunset over the mine this week

For more beautiful sky images, please click here

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sad news for South African Expats in Mwadui

Our friend Richard has passed away. 

Two days ago my friend Rina (Richard/Dick and Rina are the owners of Topsy and Tipsy, the kittens we're looking after) phoned me to say that Dick had been admitted to hospital in South Africa. He had a severe case of malaria. Malaria is a serious tropical disease which takes from 12 - 28 days to incubate. You may contract in Africa, fly out to South Africa and start to feel ill a few days into your holiday. It apparently incubates on the flight over. It's one thing to get malaria here in Africa where the disease is well-known and where the doctors treat the patients without delay. However, to be ill with malaria in South Africa, where the tropical diseases are not well-known, is positively treacherous. 

During the early hours of Wednesday morning, Dick was transferred to ICU. Rina phoned me to tell me this,  and asked if I'd phone his company here in Mwadui to let them know they wouldn't be able to board the plane back to Dar on Thursday. (today) 

During the day, I spoke to Rina several times. She was very upset and kept breaking down while we spoke. She said that Dick's pallor was very yellow and the doctor told her that his one kidney had stopped functioning. Later that day, they told her that his body was so riddled with parasites, that the medication wasn't having an effect anymore. 

When Grant and I awoke this morning, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was sure that because I'd not heard from Rina late last night, he may have improved. An hour later Grant phoned me from work and said he had just heard from a very distraught Rina. Dick had died during the night. 

This news has shaken every expat on this site. Although Dick and Rina only arrived in Mwadui during February this year, they were loved by each and every South African and by almost all the Tanzanians who knew them. 

A genteel and gentle man, was Richard

 And a true English gentleman who adored his wife, Rina

Peace be with you, Richard. And all courage to you, dearest Rina!

Stalk/Stork Tea

I'm sorry about the confusion. Being Wordless Wednesday, I couldn't explain the photo in yesterday's post. I know some readers were confused by the word "stalk" and me referring to a new avian species. I think the following explanation might help shed some light on the post and title.

In South Africa, when a surprise party is thrown for an expectant mother, it's called A Baby Shower, A Stork Tea or a A Stork Party. The organizers of this particular Baby/Stork Tea Party whose mother tongue isn't English, obviously used the wrong word.

I hope this is a little clearer now!
Should read: Lulu's Stork Tea


At the beginning of the week, I SKYPED John, who with Debbie and their children, is still in the Drakensberg. We're not sure if we're going to be in time to meet up with them this time, although we'll give it a good try. John sent me photos in the interim.

Ten-year-old Eryn riding Misty, one of their two ponies on the farm

Joshua (seven) and Eryn in their schoolroom in the 'Berg

Three-year-old Elijah and four-year-old Behany playing in the garden

Baby Israel gardening

And playing with water!

The image above takes me back almost forty years. This is exactly what John looked like!

All photo credits: John Hedges

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A new avian species?

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here

A great variety of birds

Over the weekend, Grant and I went out birding on three occasions encompassing more than three hours relaxation, enjoyment and of course, birding!

I've put together a post of the new, lifers and great variety of birds we spotted. And as often happens, while you're concentrating on finding the feathered species, a couple of mammals cross your path as well. 

I also have several LBJ's which I've sent on to Jez for identification so I hope to post them at a later stage. 
 Blue-naped mousebird: I first saw this pretty bird in Kenya but over the weekend was the first time I saw it here in Tanzania 

 The first time I saw this "gory" bird, was on the apartment balcony rail in Khartoum. This weekend I managed to photograph it again

 Although we saw many Yellow-billed Storks in Kenya, this was the first one I saw in Tanzania. Apologies for the "white-out" image

The Grey-headed Kingfisher provides a perfect subject for photography 

These little buck were plentiful. There were little groups at regular intervals as we drove through the bush

Although I've posted about Namaqua doves before, I've not yet been able to get a clear photo of the female who's different from the male.

Namaqua Dove, male has a black face, a yellow-tipped red bill and a long pointed tail

 The Namaqua dove (female) lacks the black face, has a brown bill and a slightly shorter tail 

Grant and I love seeing raptors, but often find it difficult to identify them. We spotted this Gabar Goshawk last week but not being too sure about it, we sent the photos off to Jez. The positive id returned: Gabar Goshawk! 

A Gabar Goshawk who stood beautifully still while I took photos! 

The next bird is one I've posted about before. But it came towards me while I was trying to focus on a Sandpiper which just wouldn't stand still, so I captured this pretty Three-banded Plover instead. 

Three-banded plover

Then came the sighting of the day and also a lifer for me and Grant. On the dam, while I tried to focus on an egret, this long-legged waterbird walked onto my camera screen. I couldn't stop taking photos of it so I'm treating myself and my readers to several!

Black-winged Stilt
Yes, those legs are actually THAT long! 
The reflection in the water makes the Black-winged Stilt's legs look even longer! 

This image emphasizes it's name! 

As this is the only stilt in Africa, I was mighty pleased to see it last weekend.
And as if to spoil us with even more enjoyment, I managed to capture the image below in the setting sun. 
A White-browed Coucal

I'm linking my Wild Bird Wednesday post with Stewart in Australia. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful day.