Thursday, June 16, 2022

Weigh-Less open meeting

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. In yesterday's post, I mentioned that a Goal Weight Member of mine agreed to be a guest speaker at an open meeting to be held next week. This is an effort of mine to increase membership in our venue groups. Many of the members who were used to physically attend a Weigh-Less group meeting, did not actually enjoy doing the "online weigh-in". While almost 80% reached their goal weight while we were still under Lockdown, a few just dropped out. 

Upon re-opening groups in September 2020, the membership and attendance has been sparse. But this is the same with the local Book Club, the Garden Club and at church services. Covid caused a certain lethargy and apathy towards gatherings. My Group Assistant takes a realistic stand: she says many have gained weight while under Lockdown and are too embarrassed to return to group. Which is a pity, as our Weigh-Less groups are all about just that: Weigh-Less!

Ironically, since April 2020, after I registered my first online member from Australia, with Weigh-Less, I have built up a large Virtual group of members: topping 160 who weigh in online every week.

Meanwhile, I am promoting the special offer for next week's meeting with this poster below. 

Harold is successful young businessman in town, a community leader and an avid sportsman. Now he has a success story to share with other hopefuls! 

In future, I look forward to coaching larger groups of members which, hopefully, this promotion will deliver. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Psychedelic kettle

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. For those who grew up in the 60's the term psychedelic will be reminiscent of flower power, hippies etc. I grew up in a very conservative home and society but I KNEW about these things. In fact, I remember writing an essay in my language class, describing the hippie scene so realistically which caused my equally conservative teacher's plucked eyebrows to rise into her hairline. Nevertheless, I received an  A+ for my work. 

However, this post is about my new kettle, some 54 years later.

  What happened was that the kettle at The Bunker finally gave up the ghost. It has been in constant use for the past four years. So without further ado, I took my one-month-old kettle up to the accommodation. 

That meant that I now needed ANOTHER kettle for home use. I popped into our hardware store where a friend and goal weight member in my Weigh-Less group, is the owner. Harold spotted me in the aisle; I told him I wanted a decent kettle and he pointed to one by Salton. I blanched slightly at the price. However it was either that or the cheaper plastic jug kettles, which I did not want, so I put it in my basket. 

At the same time I managed to convince Harold to be a guest speaker at an open Weigh-Less meeting later this month (there will be a post about this!) 

Back home I half-filled the new kettle with water and plugged it in. 

It starts off with a blue light
As it warms a little, the light turns purple
Much hotter now, it shows a pink light
Strangely, it becomes almost transparent just before it boils
And bright red as it boils! 


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Luncheon in June; High tea in July

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. This week is a short week (we have Youth Day looming on Thursday) I have no breaks: I am in the office three morning and I am doing Weigh-Less groups on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning, while in the office, I also run my four online groups. After lunch Thandi and I Thandi and I will clean The Bunker for guests after guests who have been in since Sunday and prep for the next guests arriving for the long weekend. 

On Friday morning I travel to Pietermaritzburg for business. After this is sorted, I will travel further south to Durban. I hope to have time to pop into the Weigh-Less Head Office and collect stock while meeting up with the staff whom I hear often on the phone, but do not see often. 

Friday night I will stay with biker friends in Durban North. 

The next day I am attending an awards  ceremony and luncheon for Avon Top Sellers. I am quite looking forward to this.

I fall into the Platinum Plus Achievers category

(Watch this space in case I get an award! Whoopwhoop!)

At the same time earlier this month, I received an invitation to a friend's 60th birthday celebration. 

I look forward to attending this birthday party! 


Monday, June 13, 2022

Aloes abound in the Valley

Aloe aborescens

This most glorious display at my friend, Marelize' coffee shop in the Champagne Valley.
One of the many clumps of aloes at The Bunker


Sunday, June 12, 2022

New kid on the block

 Since losing dear Ambrose 14 months ago, I have had no desire to bring in a new cat. 

However, the sun was setting over the farm as always, on Thursday. Just the end of another perfect winter's day.

Or so I thought.

At 5.30, my neighbor, who is head of the primary school in town, drove up the farm road towards the gate. Just below the houses, she stopped as there were three kittens in the road. ** She got out of her car; two of the cats ran into the grassy paddock. The third one came up to her and jumped into her arms as she was bending down to pet it. 

With their large pack of 20 dogs, all she could do was to stop at my garden gate, phone me and ask me to come and take the kitty from her. 

When I got to the car, she was hugging it tightly. Nine loves cats but she cannot have one in her house. I said I would keep the kitty overnight and give it to my friend, Coletten on Friday. Nine drove back down the drive where she had asked her husband to see if he could catch the other two cats. 

I brought the rescue into my cottage and within half an hour, Nine knocked on my door. It was dark and the other cats had climbed under a farm trailer, so they had to abandon the search. She spent quite a while cuddling the rescued cat, already quite at home on my bed and then wished me good night. 



The new kitty

72 hours later - it's firmly ensconced in my household and is here to stay.

Asleep on my shoulder
Favorite place? ON MY PILLOWS!
Lotsa toys to play with

It's a very confident little cat

I'm not sure of its gender, so it has no name yet. Nevertheless, it has settled in and taken over. 

To introduce the kitten to Skabby, I held it at his face and told him it was a baby kitty. And not to be rough. Skabby, the gentle giant, gave it a sniff and lick and accepted it as part of our family. Good boy Skabby!

The three resident felines? Uh-oh. Mama and Chappie stormed outside in a huff and have been watching proceedings from under a shrub in the garden.

Missy? Well Missy, muttering words like imposter, not acceptable, unbelievable, wrapped a small bag of kibbles and her favorite Shawn the Sheep toy, in her cuddly blanket, tied it to end of the a stick and with it over her shoulder, stalked off into thickets at the bottom of the garden. At last count, she was seen camping out on top of the cowshed roof. ##

Bloggers note(1): ** Thandi tells me that the local folk often dump unwanted cats on the side of the road. At least, these perpetrators had the forethought to dump the young cats near human habitation. 

Blogger note(2): ## While the three older cats are NOT impressed with the new kitten, they do come indoors at night. Whereas before all three slept on my bed, now Mama and Chappie find other warm spots in the house to sleep. Missy still sleeps on the end of my bed but growls (yes, growls) incessantly. 

So that is where we are at in the Hedges menagerie. 


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Saturday walk and critters

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. Once again, I have been absent. But here I am back again.

Skabby and I have managed several walks here on the farm. Most times we see something different. But, always,  we see interesting things.

This mama cow warned Skabby not to come any closer - note his wariness! 

Further along, Skabby sniffed out a newborn calf sleeping in the grass
Along the road we saw this seed-loaded trailer stuck in a rut
Vick brought a tractor to pull it out

A Lab will always test the waters; the muddier the better
Skabby has imprinted the dam over the years: it's HIS dam! 
Red-knobbed coot on the dam

On the way back, we stopped to photograph the cows against the mountain peaks with snow

I'm linking to Saturday critters with Eileen here


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Bovine wisdom


Lying down to avoid the chilly air


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Cats doing what cats do best!

Good morning dear Blogger friends. As indicated in my previous post, the mountains are quite white with snow, making the surrounding areas cold. 

As always the cats in the Hedges household, have it made. During the night, on an electric blanketed bed. (the yoomen squished in somehow at the top) and during the day in a sun puddle. 

Nocturnal bliss 

Missy: butter wouldn't melt in her mouth when she returns from her escapades in the garden and rests on the sunny bed

And an update on Papa living with my brother, Philip in his pet hotel! 
Papa enjoying a glorious sunny winter morning


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Saturday critters and snowy mountains

 Good evening dearest Blogger friends. Here I am trying to upload photos of my walk with Skabby earlier this week. I have had to send my notebook for repairs and upgrading to my son, Angus in the Free State . Ron has kindly agreed that I may use my farm office notebook here at home. Without a traditional computer: specifically a laptop, I am lost. 

But... it is SLOW. So very very slow. 

I just had to show this dear boy's exuberance at getting out for a walk !
A pair of Red-billed teal on the dam
I was tickled by this image of the pair of Spotted Thrush in focus with the ibis out of focus just below the rim of the lawn. I took this photo from The Bunker patio which has a lawn terraces above
Snow is always exciting to South Africans. We have had snow in April and now it has snowed heavily at the end of May

I'm linking to Saturday Critters with Eileen, here 


I'm back!

 Dear Blogger friends. Once again, the monthend tasks in the farm office, with my Weigh-Less groups and admin,  and delivering, Avon,  has encroached on my writing time. At the same time, my Bunker occupancy has been solid and ongoing. 

Ron, my neighbor, landlady, employer, friend, Weigh-Less member and Avon client, has been at the Kruger Park. I have been in her office and mine every morning this week. 

On Wednesday, I had four online Weigh-Less groups, with members clocking in from all over the world, from 3am to facilitate our differing time zones. By 13h00 I did my talks online to motivate the members and encourage those who needed it. 

At 14h00,  the Chairman and founder of Weigh-Less, Mary Holroyd,  linked me on an hour's  video WhatsApp call with other the Group Leaders. It was good to touch base with the others and hear what our boss had to impart for the month of June. 

On Thursday Thandi and I cleaned The Bunker after Irish guests had spent two nights there. As we drove off, I said to Thandi in Zulu, there are no guests booked on the sites (I use the word computer so that she could understand) to arrive this weekend. She replied, never mind: they will phone you. 

Lo and behold, no sooner had I dropped Thandi at her taxi rank that a lady phoned me from the nearby town of Ladysmith. She said they were parents of a learner at the school in the Valley and could she book The Bunker. When Thandi arrived for work on Friday, I told her there were guests coming; she said I told you so! 

On Friday, before Thandi arrived for work though, I looked up from my desk and saw her daughter, Thombi in the doorway. She said her mother was caught up at the clinic, and she had sent her to help me. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Loadshedding in South Africa

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. I've finally finished leading and coaching my sixth Weigh-Less group.  Tomorrow I do my last group in the Valley. Then I am finished until Tuesday 2pm. 

Meanwhile, the bane of a South Africa's life is the continuous Loadshedding - especially during the winter months. Our energy supplier is under severe constraints and we, the consumer have to suffer the consequences. 

We generally have 2.5 to 5 hours of loadshedding in a day. We are given our schedules and have to do a dance between having electricity and power outages.

If you are the type of person who doesn't like surprises, you need to plan for these periods. I am one such a person. I ensure that my laptop, smartphone and wireless dongles are always charged. I have two chargers plugged into the cigarette lighter in my car. I also recently bought a power pack which I keep charged. Just as a back-up! 

I also have a strong handheld torch; I have a headlamp and I have a nifty light in a jar. All of these are battery operated. 

My light in a jar shines very brightly in the dark
This is what the jar light looks like 

Here on the farm if we have loadshedding from 6 to 8.30am, that is fine. The generator is started in order for the cows to be milked. The same goes for loadshedding between 14h00 and 16h30 when the second milking of the day takes place

Any times out of these periods, we have NO power. 

As you can imagine this phenomena has played havoc with businesses. The traffic lights (called robots here) normally don't work for a day after loadshedding! And of course, your household appliances take a beating with the irregular power.

Up at my holiday accommodation, my guests always have power. The owner next door has a large generator which kicks in automatically when loadshedding starts.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Drawing the eye

 Good morning dear Blogger friends. Last week I posted about the changing seasons and different autumn shade of the trees in the Valley. It was a grey, overcast day, which made the trees looks even more vibrant. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

To weigh or not to weigh?

 Good afternoon my dear Blogger friends. As many of you know I run Weigh-Less groups : in venue and virtually.

The biggest challenge for a member is to face the scale once a week.   In venue, as the member enters the hall door, I can see whether she is ready and keen to get onto the scale or not. Then it is up to my leadership and guidance to encourage the member who has gained weight or congratulate the one who has succeeded losing weight that week. 

A while ago I snapped Chappie and Missy respectively as regards their attitude to the scale.

Chappie, who, at 5kgs, is over her healthy weight , refuses  to get onto the scale
Missy, a petite kitty, is always quite happy to hop onto the scale! 

NOTE: 3kg  = 6 1/2 pounds and 5kg = 11 pounds 


Monday, May 16, 2022

All in a weekend!

 Good morning dearest Blogger friends. On Saturday Thandi and I cleaned The Bunker for incoming guests arriving on Sunday. I left the key in the normal drop box and we came home. 

I naively imagined the guests would be at the accommodation around 2pm. 

Not so. 

WHY do people leave leaving home, for a destination unknown, so late? 

At 6.30 last night the guest phoned me and told me where they were. I was appalled. They were still about three hours away. 

She phoned me several times telling me where they were. At one stage she said they were at a turnoff, which she named - so I said now you are 3km from the T-junction to Winterton. 

Twenty minutes later she phoned to say now they have Spioenkop Lodge on their left. My heart SANK!  I realized that they were going in the wrong direction! I said you should be in WINTERTON.  She said we were in Winterton and we turned and took this route.  

Oh dear.

I always send a pin drop and no one ever gets lost. I send a series of photos of where exactly to turn into my driveway; the sign saying The Bunker just inside the black security gate. 

I send specific images to show the exact entrance to The Bunker
When they arrive at the gate, they can see The Bunker sign inside

I told them to make a U turn and go BACK to Winterton. 

They finally phoned from Winterton at 7pm. I kept her on the phone until I was sure they were on the regional road facing  the Central Drakensberg.  

They phoned again from the T-junction (5km from where I live) and I told them to keep STRAIGHT.   She promised to phone me when she sees the turnoff to the Drakensberg Boys Choir School. This is 1km before The Bunker.

She DID phone from the boys choir school turnoff. I stayed on the phone as it was about 600m to the turnoff in the photo above. Then they PASSED The Bunker turnoff and I had to guide them back. This time, they went too far south and drove into the Highlands Estate driveway. I asked them to reverse and turn UP again. Mrs was peering into the dark and saying she cannot see anything when MR said: I can see the driveway with  the sign to The Bunker inside.  


 I guided them into the driveway, opened the gate remotely and all they had to do is follow the brick paved road onto the patio which is THE BUNKER. 

Of course everything is MUCH easier in the daylight! 

I personally felt as though I had been driving in the dark for six hours! 


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Different day; same domicile

Good evening dear Blogger friends. 

 The days of winter are mild, cold and short. But the cats are in one place and one place only! 

On my bed! 

The three Hedges cats in the best place in winter! 

And an update on Papa: he has taken to my brother as if he has been there all his life


an update on my first Parkrun walk in three years: 

I MADE it. 

5km in 54 minutes. 

All the local runners and (fast) walkers, came past calling out how nice it was to see me on the track again. I walked with my friend, Jenny Hall and, of course, we solved the world's problems on the way. Ant Muirhead, my 82 year-old walking partner from before Covid,  was just behind us and gave me a congratulatory hug at the finish! Next week I will volunteer again, although I will try to walk at least once a month this year. 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Leggy critters, birds and a farm scene

 Good morning dear Bloggers. 

This week I rescued several spiders from my bathroom at home and one from the bathroom at my office. When I gently pick up the arachnid, using a facial tissue, and transport it to the safety of the garden, my thoughts always go to Sandra who does not like spiders! 

One of the visiting spiders in my space this week

Yesterday I drove out to the Valley to deliver Avon to several customers. Once again the view was stunningly beautiful - all golds, reds and russets. I stopped several times to take photos. Unfortunately I didn't have my Canon in the car. My smartphone takes photos, but as a scenic capturer, it leaves much to be desired. 

A peaceful farm scene

Leaving a resort, I stopped at a to photograph an ibis sitting on a log and a pair of Egyptian geese on the dam.

Interesting focal point of young "Dev's" signature! 
As I walked to my car in the shopping center car park, 
I stopped to photograph a wildflower on the verge

I'm linking to Saturday Critters with Eileen here


Friday, May 13, 2022

My first Parkrun in three years

 Good evening dear Blogger friends. Tomorrow, is an auspicious day for me. 

For the first time in three years, I will be doing the Parkrun 5km circuit again. 

In December 2016, three weeks after Winterton Parkrun started, Grant and I joined. We never missed a Saturday until the week he passed away in November 2017. He, in fact had become the official Tailwalker. I enjoyed the challenge of improving  my time and would try to finish in under 45 minutes with Ant Muirhead as my walking partner.

By November 2017, I had completed 50 Parkruns. In the middle of 2019, I had completed 70 Parkruns. In August of that same year,  I had surgery and convalesced for six weeks. When I returned to Parkrun, I asked to be a volunteer. A most enjoyable task.

April 2020 - Covid put paid to all gatherings and Parkrun was stopped for the next 18 months. In October 2021, the Run Director WhatsApped me and asked if I'd like attend a meeting for Volunteers as we were reopening Winterton Parkrun that week.

Here I am scanning Petros Hlongwane, our fastest runner. Petros had completed his 50th Parkrun that day

I have volunteered every weekend bar three (when I was away for my BIL's funeral in the Free State, and when I was convalescing from Covid earlier this year) To date I have done 60 stints.  We volunteers have been encouraging other runners/walkers to take their turn. This Saturday I was not needed. Hence the decision to hit the trails after many years!


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Hey ho, hey ho... to clean we go! 

Wednesday is my longest day in the week. I start answering WhatsApp messages from 3am. Motivating and congratulating Weigh-Less members from all over the world who send their weights in on my phone. I eventually do my motivational talks (I have four groups in two sections) by 14h30. 

Which is fine

On a normal day

However, yesterday I had guests checking out after a five-day- stay and International guests checking in at 14h00.

I dealt with about 50% of my online members before 7.30. Then popped over to Ronnie to ask if I could have the morning off from the farm office. Of course, she said! 

So sporting our picks and shovels bags, buckets and mops, off to the mountains Thandi and I went. 

We met the guests; I let them out and then Thandi and I stripped the linen off the bed and remade it with fresh bedding. As I've mentioned before, Thandi and I do certain jobs together and then we continue with other separate tasks. 

After I had dusted and polished the wood surfaces; wiped the TV screen, mirrors, door handles and light switches with sanitizer, and set out the Continental breakfast food  (Thandi was busy in the kitchen at this stage), I decided to help her by cleaning the bathroom. 

C'est moi cleaning the shower cubicle
Thandi mopping the floor tiles
The guests at the top were honeymooners who had postponed their wedding twice because of Covid. They were finally married in October last year and the bride booked The Bunker for May this year

The guests below came from the Free State; he works in India for three months and comes home for three weeks. They decided to spend this holiday with us here in the beautiful Berg

Previous guests sent me this photo of their stay at The Bunker

By now it was 10.30 and I could continue with my online responses while sitting in The Bunker. Oh,  the wonder of technology.

 Thandi was working on the patio by now and finally she, too,  was finished. 

After dropping her at home at 12noon, I returned to the farm. I loaded the washing machine with linen brought from the accommodation. I then proceeded to deliver my motivational talks online. 

Eventually all was done and I could have lunch at 15h00! 

All in a day's work for me and Thandi...