Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We're home in South Africa...

...and off again! 

We arrived home in Marquard on Sunday afternoon. We're off on a week-long motorcycle tour starting at sunrise tomorrow. So I'll be on a blog break until next Thursday or Friday!

Until then, may you all stay safe, healthy and happy.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mum's gone!

Hi Bozo and mum's blog readers. This is Ambrose - all alone - well, not quite. I'm alone with Dad Ginger, Unca Shadow and looking outside, I can see Princess the pup. Then there's also Regina who feeds and cares for us; Michael who helps Regina with cleaning our litter trays and speaks to us through the mosquito netting and also Mary who helps Regina in our house.

Mum made sure that we'll not go hungry and last week Dad Ginger got into the grocery cupboard to check on the food supplies. He was happy and Unca Shadow was happy. I don't eat so much but Regina will feed me raw beef mince if I don't like the canned foodstuff ! 
 The Food Inspector goes through the grocery stores! 

From where I sat on the kitchen table, I could see many cans of kitty food as well as Dad Ginger's favorite kibbles on the shelf below 

As usual, before our Yoomen's left to go F A R away, mum packed her clothes into a large box. I helped her...

Oh well, I'm sure if we sleep a lot and eat in between, mum should come home soon...  

For more cute pet posts please click here

Friday, January 10, 2014

Big Boys' Toys

Last week the men in our company were beside themselves with excitement. After three LONG  months since the new contract was signed,  the first of the new earthmoving machines arrived on site: three shiny new drill rigs.
Grant, Johan and Steve spent the entire lunch hour discussing the merits of these new machines and the whole of Saturday afternoon they assisted the South African transport team to offload them from the low-beds!  

Grant collected my camera and returned to the workshop to photograph these welcome beauties. I must say I was a little disappointed when I downloaded the photos for him and saw that they weren't yellow. Caterpillar machinery (which I'm used to) is yellow and these machines were Sandvik which is red. Oh well, it was obviously only I who was "behind the times"! 

One thing I did notice about the machines was the beautiful blue African sky behind them; I decided this image would make a lovely photo for this week's meme, Skywatch Friday.

I'm packing to leave site tomorrow  at 4am. As you can imagine the cats are milling around me, climbing inside the luggage and sniffing at things as I pack!

I hope you've all had a wonderful week.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A princess in the garden

...the Hedges menagerie increases! 

As many of my blog followers may have discerned from Ambrose' post, we have a new kid on the block. A dog, no less! No sooner had we relocated two foster cats from Tanzania to South Africa, that a little puppy was thrust through the gate (this is true) by a group of children. 

Once I'd bathed her in flea deterrent, dewormed her and fed the dog, Michael found a flat box into which I placed an old pillow and the little mite was soon fast asleep.

Next morning, Grant met the pup for the first time and gave it a name: she was Princess and boy, does she live up to her name! Princess now has a selection of chewy toys in her bed; she also has a variety of homemade toys  - an empty water bottle, a toilet roll inner tube, an old slipper -  as well as a tennis ball in the back garden for when she "helps" Michael with his chores. 
 A bed fit for a Princess

Princess plays with her tennis ball

Princess chews her old slipper

Of course, the cute little girl would just LOVE to play with the three fluffy kitties in the Hedges garden. But they're still not used to her. We're hoping they will eventually show generous feline spirits (ha-ha, up my sleeve) and make friends. They should because by the time we return from leave in a month's time, Princess will be towering over them! 
Princess tries to befriend Ambrose, who so far, is the only one of the Tanzanian Trio to show a little friendliness
Shadow casually stretches but it was just an eye blind. A minute later, Princess ventured to close to him and she felt Shadow's sharp claws on her nose!
All the Hedges pets relax in the afternoon sun

Princess has proved that being small, cute, highly intelligent and very friendly, can melt even the crustiest old lady's heart. Toffee is one of the two dogs in our big garden. Buster, the male is very friendly and over the two years we've been here, it's been much easier to gain his confidence. Until three weeks ago, Toffee only came to me if I was proffering a bone and then only to grab it from my hand and dash off to eat it. Now with a puppy which I feed on the doorstep three times a day, both Buster and Toffee come and sit close by. Why? Because in between Princess eating, I normally take out a piece of meat and offer it to the bigger dogs. Apart from that, Princess has not taken "no" for an answer when it comes to wanting to play with her Uncle Buster or Aunt Toffee. In the beginning they snapped at her but as time has gone by, she has gotten under their skins. 
 Buster and Princess having a play!
Toffee and Princess playing on the lawn

As can be seen by Toffee's grey muzzle (photo below) it should have taken a lot longer for her to allow Princess to take the liberties she does. Not so...
Princess takes a lunge at Toffee's bottom lip and hangs on! 

Princess' whole head disappears into Toffee's mouth! 
Can you see the resignation on old Toffee's face as Princess climbs all over her head!

What a wonderful day it was on 17 December 2013 when dear little Princess came into our garden, our lives and now has crept into our hearts. Now all we have to do is convince the three Hedges cats!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Last birding before our leave

The past weekend was our last here on site before we go out on a month's leave.  While in SA we'll see birds, but because there is so much [else] to do on holiday, this pass-time doesn't take center stage. (Although I ALWAYS take photos of the many birds in our Marquard garden and while we're on the road touring by motorcycle or car!)

So here goes for our last East Africa birding until mid-February.
Striped Kingfisher

Just after driving through the boom gate near our home, we spotted three birds in quick succession. A Striped Kingfisher, a Common Kestrel and a Black-headed Heron.
Common Kestrel (Male)

 Black-headed Heron

Along the bush road on the way to the dam, we saw many dik-dik (more than a dozen in several places); a little family of bush-rats, many mousebirds, sparrows, and a couple of seed-eaters which I still need to identify. I also photographed a canary which I have ID'd but I'm waiting for confirmation from Jez who's on leave in Ireland.

In the bush opposite the dam wall,  I photographed a Purple Heron; a Slate-colored Boubou (very shy and very difficult to photograph); a Madagascar Pond Heron (not shown here); quite a large flock of Reed (Long-tailed) Cormorants and  a pair of Grey Wagtail with the male displaying beautifully.

Purple Heron

Slate-colored Boubou

Reeed (Long-tailed) Cormorant at the water's edge

Reed (Long-tailed) Cormorant drying its wings
Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail male displaying 

For more bird posts around the world, please click on Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Steward Monkton.


Sign on workshop roster

For more hilarious Wordless Wednesday posts, please click here

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winding down in Mwadui

After fourteen weeks on the trot on site, we're finally going out on a month's leave this Saturday. We're going "home" to South Africa.

Living as we do, becomes quite confusing to readers following this blog. Never mind, it becomes quite confusing at times to us as well! We have a permanent home in Marquard in the Free State Province, South Africa.
In the middle of the map (which is also called Central South Africa) is the orange bit called Free State. Approximately between the second "e" in Free and the capital S (in State) is Marquard. That's home to the Hedges of Tanzania. Strange but true, because...

... on the above map, is a county to the north-east - colored dusty pink. It's called Tanzania. This is home to the Marquard Hedges as well! We live in Tanzania for ten weeks at a stretch.

For the most part of thirty years, Grant and I have been expats living in several countries across the African continent. It all started at the beginning of 1990 when we moved from our country of birth, South Africa to live in Namibia. We lived on a diamond mine for five years. We moved back to South Africa where we worked privately for five years. 

In the beginning of 2000, we left our home in Marquard in the care of our wonderful house-lady Emily and went to live as expats in on a gold mine in Mali, West Africa. Mali is the home of Timbuktu the town which we were brought up to believe was a fictitious place! A year later we moved to Guinea, just below Mali on the map and stayed there until 2007. 

Grant joined a private civil engineering company and worked all over Guinea while I remained in South Africa. In 2008, Grant worked briefly in Zambia but before I could join him, he procured a position in Sudan. From August 2009 I lived in a two story apartment with him in a city called Omdurman. This was part of Khartoum which is a tri-city. We lived on the banks of the Nile River.

When Grant's contract finished in Khartoum at the end of 2010, we returned to South Africa thinking that this was the beginning of our retirement years. 

Not so. 

A voice from the past beckoned. 

An expat who had worked with Grant in Guinea offered him a job on a Fluorspar Mine in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.  Many of my blogger friends will remember how I loved the year we spent in Kenya.  We lived on a remote camp in a valley within the GRV.  I know this is where my love of birding and photographing birds was really born. 

A year later a project manager for whom Grant had worked in Guinea, contacted him. He was not operations manager of an earthmoving company operating on a diamond mine in Tanzania; he offered Grant the position of Contract's (Project) Manager in this company.

And here we are, living in Mwadui in North-western Tanzania. 

At the top of the map is Lake Victoria. Just below it is Mwanza - we live 160km from here in the Shinyanga area in a diamond mining town called Mwadui! 

We've come a full circle...

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

Monday, January 6, 2014

Daktari visits the Hedges Kitty Household

Hi Bozo and mum's blogger friends. This is Ambrose. As usual the week was restful but then yesterday we kitties had a big fright. We were sleeping on our day bed, all minding our own business, dreaming our dreams, when Michael askari  (he's also our friend)  to mum. He said: "Bibi, daktari is here." We kitties didn't know what he meant but we soon found out!

After asking Michael and daktari to wait mum quickly lifted Unca Shadow from the bed and carried him into the house. She returned and carried me and Dad Ginger inside as well. Now we could see where was taking us: the bathroom, which is were she had Unca Shadow closed in already.

As she placed us on the floor, she left the bathroom and closed the door. Dad Ginger walked around the large box on the floor. I think he remembers this box as he arrived in it from Kenya 
L O N G ago.

 Dad Ginger inspects his travel cage

 Soon mum returned and entered the bathroom with Michael and *gasp* with a strange man. After this things got a bit hazy: Dad Ginger and I were put inside the cage and the door locked on us. We heard a scuffle as Michael and mum wrapped Unca Shadow in a towel and then the door opening and closing again. Then nothing.

Next mum's hand came into the cage and pulled Dad Ginger out. Another scuffle and then the door opening and closing. Again nothing.

I heard mum tell the daktari:  "Ambrose is an easy cat, he won't be a problem"

Then her hand came into the cage and I meowed and pressed myself against the far side. But she was too clever for me and pulled me out. I saw Michael come towards me with a towel, and he and mum wrapped me in it.  Then they put me down on the cupboard and as mum tried to expose my neck, I hissed, wriggled and broke loose. Again, Michael and mum caught me with a wrapped towel and carried me to the cupboard. 

All the while I could see the daktari standing there with a very sharp item in his hand.

Mum held me down firmly this time and the daktari plunged the sharp item under the skin of my neck. Next he plunged another sharp item into my rear end. This was the end for me and I growled fiercely and lashed out with all my claws.
 Sorry mum ! 

I can't remember having these injections before but Unca Shadow and Dad Ginger assured me that this is a yearly occurrence. They say it's necessary so that we don't get kitty illnesses, the worst one being rabies. (I wonder what is rabies?) Another reason for this pain, is so that our kitty passports are always up to date. 
 The Hedges Kitty passports which had to always be kept up to date

Above you can see our kitty passports: Unca Shadow, Dad Ginger and little ole me, Ambrose. And no, the doggy passport to the side doesn't belong to Princess. It's the first passport Unca Shadow had in a F A R place called Khartoum. There he was treated by a daktari who ran the Dog School. Mum says she has a blank passport for Princess and will use this when the daktari visits her next week. Ooh, I think she's going to meow louder than I did! 

For more posts about cute pets like us, please click here

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy 40th John!

Today is our older son, John's 40th birthday. From the minute we held him in our arms four decades ago, John has been a great blessing to me, Grant and all those around him. 

Today John is married to Debbie; they have a beautiful family of three sons and two daughters. As  First Mate in the merchant navy, John, Debbie and children spend six weeks in Mozambique while he works off-shore nearby. Then they travel home to South Africa where they spend six weeks in their home in the Drakensberg.

John is an upright man who heads his family with discipline and love and leads them in the ways of God.  The one characteristic which always stands out when you spend time in John's company, is his sincerity, loyalty and humility.

In the light of the last quality, I struggled to find a full-face photo of John and have displayed two of him doing his duty as a father. 
 John with Bethany on his back, November 2010

 John carrying Israel while walking with Grant who's holding Elijah's hand. This photo was taken in June 2013


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Monitor Lizards, Deer and Bush-rats!

On New Year's Day, as soon as it was possible, we drove out onto the mine towards the dam. As usual we were looking for birds - any birds - doing anything! While you concentrate on birds, other mammals and reptiles often cross your path or appear in the bush beside the road. 
 Monitor Lizard inside the ammunition store enclosure

Driving past the ammunition stores, Grant stopped suddenly: crossing the road just beyond the security fence was a Monitor Lizard. I manage a photo of this regal-looking mini-crocodile although it was quite a distance away. As we turned the corner, another larger Monitor Lizard ambled across our path. this time I captured it several times on camera. 

A medium sized Monitor Lizard ambles along the road ahead of our vehicle

A determined-looking Monitor Lizard marches off the road into the bush

Driving along we kept our eyes peeled for more birds (yes, we'd been seeing and photographing them) and entered the bush road leading to the dam. It wasn't long before we saw Dik-dik;
Dik-dik in the bush

...and again...
...and again...
...and again!

In between seeing the above Dik-dik and photographing them, we also saw a small group of Banded Mongoose. But although we stopped and I focused on them as quickly as possible, they all scampered off into the bush.

Still cruising at birdwatching speed (which is very slowly!), I suddenly noticed a fluffy grey movement in the grass beside the road. Grant stopped and I was able to photograph a small group of mice bush-rats eating beetles and crickets on the ground.

The rats were so intent on eating the plentiful supply of protein on the ground, they paid scant attention to us watching them! 

When we finally returned home after a good couple of hours of birding and photographing the local wildlife, I couldn't resist taking a photo of our new pup, Princess playing with Buster, one of the two dogs on our yard.
Buster and Princess play in the front garden of our house

Thanks to Eileen for hosting a wonderful meme called Saturday Critters. You can access her interesting blog (why not join in and post your Saturday Critters?) by clicking here.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Rainy season skies

For more sky photos around the world, please click here

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Eve 2013 in Mwadui

This was our second Christmas and New Year in Tanzania - our third in East Africa. We seem to always be in Africa for this season.

As I said in my Christmas post last week, the Client had only a few expats remaining on their camp. Most of our United Nations camp opted to go to the local bar to celebrate which left only four of us: Grant, me, Johan and Steve. 

Of course we joined our friends at the club and after enjoying a potjie, salad and homemade bread, we had a singalong for the rest of the evening.

A great time was had by all! 

Louise and I were the only ladies present and both decided to light up the evening with our bling outfits!
Grant and Steve, both bikers talk - what else - bikes!

Johan relaxes after a tough year of plant management while Fynus and Koos check messages on their Tabs
With a lack of female partners, the men ham it up to a popular Afrikaans song

Bibi and Babu entering another year in Africa and loving it!

I trust you've all had a wonderful festive season with friends and family and rearing to go in 2014!