Good morning dear Blogger friends. The sun has been out since Thursday, so this morning Skabby and I were able to go for a walk on the farm road. A very happy dog indeed.
I'm currently writing my blog from my cottage in the Drakensberg, Champagne Valley, Kwa-Zulu Natal; South Africa
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Another walk !
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Good morning dear Blogger friends. Last week as I got out of my car, which I had parked in the car port, I noticed an interesting shadow. The sawn off tree next to my parking was throwing a shadow across the muddy driveway. This same tree - an alien, jacaranda - has far reaching roots which causes a bulge in my bedroom carpet. While my dearest Shadow was still with me, he used to rush into the room (from outside!) and sharpen his claws on this carpet covered root.
Monday, April 25, 2022
Good morning dear Blogger friends. Two weeks ago I posted about my long and freezing cold day at the licensing bureau. You can read about this here
Although my eyes have been lasered 24 years ago, I failed the eye test. I had to have a formal eye examination at the optometrist in town and subsequently was prescribed reading spectacles.
I made a trip to town this week and collected my glasses.
Sunday, April 24, 2022
While, back at the ranch...
...the three cats do what cats do best: SLEEP!
Dear Blogger friends. I have neglected posts about my kitties. It's a year this week that my dear Ambrose, kitty journalist, went across the Rainbow Bridge. He used to nudge me to allow him to post - I kid you not!
The weather is cooler and I have to fight for a corner to sleep on my single bed. The three cats, two already quite rotund and very heavy, take up their positions and that is where the stay. All night!
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Sunny day; will walkies
Good morning dear Blogger friends. At last we had a third sunny day which dried up the muddy farm roads.
At midday, I leashed up a very, VERY excited pooch and we set out for a walk.
As we headed up the road on the way to the dam, I took in the calm and bucolic scene of the cows grazing in the top paddock. While focusing on the animals, I ensured there was plenty of sky as it was a deep blue. When Europeans visit South Africa, they always remark about how "high" the sky is. A very quaint way of describing our big sky all year around.
Friday, April 22, 2022
Good morning dear Blogger friends. Friday is generally my day off. This morning I was up at 4 and started to clear out my wardrobe: changing from summer dresses and shorts to winter tops and jackets.
I also did all the household cleaning as when Thandi arrived at 7.30, I wanted her to start ironing, which she has done. We have plenty of linen to be ironed and she is the expert!
While I was cleaning the bath and basin, I looked up and saw that my light fitting was very grubby. It was full of dead bugs and dust. Knowing that once I pulled the stepladder to under the light, I would need a star screwdriver to remove the plastic fitting and wondered where I could start looking for the lone screwdriver that I knew I had - somewhere!
I remembered a natty ladies' toolbox that I had bought way back in 2006. Now, 16 years later I had use for it. LOL!
I trust you are all having a great Friday.
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Muddy tracks and reflections
Good morning dear Blogger friends. As you may have heard in the news, the Kwa-Zulu Natal East Coast and surrounds, has been hit by floods causing loss of life, livelihoods and possessions.
Our farm road is kept in pristine condition by Farmer John to enable the milk truck to enter and leave without becoming bogged down. Over the years I have learnt to negotiate the muddy road with aplomb.
Returning from my Weigh-Less group last Tuesday (one of the only two sunny days that week) and noticed reflections in several puddles in the road. I stopped and took photos
When I downloaded the images I saw that not only were there reflections but that the tracks were interesting too.
Well, I think so!
Monday, April 18, 2022
Easter Sunday Service for real
Good morning dearest Blogger friends. During the South African Lockdown years, some 700 days long, many gatherings were banned. Business meetings, weddings, After Tears Parties (traditional SA wake) and church services.
However, this year Easter services were held all over the country in different denominations. For me, who work most Sunday mornings cleaning the holiday accommodation, I don't get to church all that regularly. Today, being Easter Sunday with a long weekend tagged onto Monday, my guests only check out tomorrow.
So I attended church in town.
Chatting to Joan, one of my Weigh-Less members and the oldest in my groups. Joan is 82 years and still farms outside the town
Sunday, April 17, 2022
Papa goes walkabout
Dear Blogger friends, the Hedges kitties are doing what they do best in cold weather: hogging Mum's narrow bed and sleeping all day and night. I will be posting several dozens of post of their winter pastime. Lucky kitties.
Meanwhile, Papa who has his forever home with my brother Philip, not far from where I live, had settled in well.
However, on Thursday Philip woke to find Papa had gone out in the night and still wasn't home. Oh dear. I panicked thinking he may be making for the Central Berg.
Mid-afternoon, my brother sent me a WhatsApp: Papa had just walked in, pulled his favorite cushion from the chair and settled on it.
Papa telling Unca Booch that he just took the air; what's all the fuss about?
Friday night he slept all night in the linen cupboard - a favorite spot of his. This cat knows how to make himself at home:) And spent all day sleeping.
I have not heard from Philip about last night, but it rained all day on Saturday and last night, so perhaps the cat will decide to stay warm and dry from now on.
HAVE A WONDERFUL SUNDAY
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Snow on the Central Drakensberg
Good morning dearest Bloggers. I cannot imagine that people in Europe or North America are excited by snow. But we here in sunny South Africa and after a HORRIFICALLY hot and rainy summer, are thrilled to see white capped mountains earlier this week.
Recently we have had heavy rains here in the mountains. These eased up by Monday this week. However, huge weather arrived on the Eastern Seaboard of South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal's North and South Coast and Durban in between.
There have been devastating floods, large losses of life and peoples' homes and possessions swept away in the torrents.
Here in the Central Drakensberg, at last the farm roads have hardened and Skabby and I were able to go out for a walk. The first in almost four weeks.
Friday, April 15, 2022
Holiday accommodation in Champagne Valley
Good morning dearest Blogger friends. Once again, Thandi and I have been working very hard at cleaning after, and preparing for guest at The Bunker.
What a blessing this business has been since our president reopened tourism in mid-August 2020. We have not had a single weekend free. Since the international guests have started visiting South Africa again, we even have mid-week stays.
Thandi and I have our separate tasks cleaning at the unit. However, we both start together, stripping the kingsized bed of linen, making the bed with a fitted sheet, adding a top sheet and together we have to fit the duvet cover to the inner.
Then I cover the pillows, puff up the decorative cushions and add the rolled towels at the end of the bed. Each one of these get a small bar of chocolate.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
A day in the life of...
a South African citizen in the 21st century!
This week the day arrived when I had to renew my driver's license. I only have Fridays available to do my private business, so...
...yesterday morning I started out early to the nearby town of Estcourt to do the deed. Only thing is I had not dressed for a drastic change in the weather; from a previously sultry autumn day on Thursday, to a wet and icy cold morning. I only realized how cold when I was slithering along the muddy farm road and decided it was not worth trying to turn around to come home and add a winter jacket to my ensemble.
When I arrived at the licensing bureau at 7.45am and saw all the other people dressed in leather- or padded jackets and warm long pants, I knew I, personally, was in for a very chilly experience. In fact, when I arrived at the outdoor reception area, the lady taking down our details, mentioned the cold and asked if I didn't own a warm coat.
I took my place - I was number 20 - in the queue, on a plastic chair to the rear of the open sided waiting area. And proceeded to freeze. Within five minutes, my hands were stiff with the cold and no matter how I tried to hug my arms to my body and huddle over in a ball, I continued to freeze.
I was duly approached by the photographer who asked me to accompany him. He took me to a little room where he seated me in a chair and asked me to face the camera in his hand. He took a photo, told me that I owed him R50/US$2.50, while he printed three copies. The room we were in was so warm, I had the hysterical urge to not only pay him for the photo, but to offer him a sum of money if only he would let me wait it out in his "office" . Of course I didn't and armed with my photos, I stepped back out into the cold.
Back in the queue, at number 20, I continued to freeze. At 8.15 I decided to give this exercise a miss. I got up and told the receptionist I was going into town. I may or may not return.
In the center of town, I found parking in the street where there never is an available space. Seeing this as a good omen and feeling much cheered, I decided to look for a warm jacket or hoody. I walked up the street to Milady's, a franchise ladies boutique. As I stepped inside, I was enveloped by waves of warmth and greeted by several very friendly staff members. This cheered me even more. I never dither over purchases. I know my size and I know what I like (normally it's bling and I generally home in on the turquoise, peach colored and even beige items, as long as the latter has glittery bits on it!
I chose three items and walked to the back of the store, where another friendly assistant showed me to the fitting rooms. I immerged with my choice (a padded turquoise jacket) over my arm and the other two items back on their hangers. I made for a shelf with gloves of which there were only dusty pink ones. I took a pair. Then I spotted a special offer on reading glasses so I took two pairs. They wouldn't warm me, but they were on special...
At the counter, the saleslady rang up my purchases, I swiped my bank card and I said, if it was OK with her, could I wear my new clothes straight away! She agreed and I left, feeling a lot warmer and happier than I had for hours. Now that I was comfortable once more, I felt able to face the bureaucratic challenge of attempting to renew my license again!
Back at the licensing bureau, the queues had not moved one centimeter. I asked the receptionist the reason and she said that on Thursday the card machine had been offline, so they were first completing the people's applications from the day before and then would start with Friday's lot.
I sat down on my plastic chair, much more comfortable now, and prepared to do what we have learnt to do for the past quarter of a century in this country: that is to wait.
And wait some more.
By now the Friday queue had begun to move forward and a clerk asked me to be seated on plastic chairs far ahead and on the veranda of the main building. This was a lot warmer and by now I only had one person ahead of me, a lady who told me she was number 19. She was at the door of a small entrance hall to several offices.
At 10am, a clerk called me to follow him into this office. My heart soared! A perky gentleman with a grey pointed beard and grey hair peeking out of his beanie, took my identity card and filled in the office license form. Once he'd established my physical and postal address, he asked me to wait in the queue again.
Back to the drawing board!
From 11am I watched people going into this building. Some worked there and others seemed to be customers (like I was). I spotted three traffic officers going in; one on his cell phone while he stalked through the door.
At 12.30, I asked a gentleman who had been leaning against a pole in front of number 19, why so many people had entered these offices yet no one had emerged. He said : "The person has returned from lunch". We had been waiting an extra 90 minutes while the man who did the eye tests and completed the necessary forms, was at lunch. There was obviously no relief officer in this business...
Finally number 19 and I moved simultaneously into the cramped entrance hall behind three other people. What bliss and warmth and... the end seemed in sight.
By 1pm my predecessor had been called inside. Within ten minutes I was beckoned into the office where a millennium before I had stood to have my form completed. Number 19 was on a plastic chair next to partition which separated us from the examining officer; I sat opposite her.
She was called into the inner sanctum, as it were, and a clerk motioned that I should take her seat. At this stage I began to panic. What if I failed my eye test? I closed my right eye; all seemed clear. I closed the left eye, and all was blurry. Oh dear...
Within ten minutes, number 19 had passed her eye test and armed with her documents was on her way to the pay desk. Oh to be a young forty-year-old again.
Then I was seated in front of the examining officer. After greeting me politely, he inquired whether I wore glasses or contact lenses when driving. I said no, I had had my eyes lasered 23 years before. He sanitized the area where I would rest my chin to enable my eyes to see into the machine. There was a toggle within reach of my hand.
He brought up the image. It is always the same image. A LARGE printed E. This letter is on it's side, on its back and on its other side and upside down. You indicate with the toggle which which way the "legs" are facing. Then the officer flashes a light at your right; you need to toggle right and then left, and you toggle left. Then he brings up the little blighter of an E again. This time is is miniscule in size. The officer said: Gogo (grandmother), you need to react quickly. To which I told him I can barely see the image.
He asked me to sit back and told I had failed the eye test. My right eye is the culprit. However, he said he would test me again. Which he did and I seemed to react reasonably well until it got to the tiny image E which I told him again, I can hardly see !
He announced that I would have to go for a formal eye test and as it was quite late, I could return on Monday. No need to sit in a queue; just come straight in. As I passed the clerk leaning against the pole outside, he asked, did you get it Gogo? I said, no I failed my eye test.
At the outdoor reception desk where they were starting to pack up for the day, the lady asked: did you get it Gogo? I said, no, I have to go for an eye test in town. So she said, OK see you on Monday. I smiled and thought to myself, you don't know this gajima gogo (racing grandmother)
When I arrived at the optometrist, she had an open space and said she would test me immediately. The consultation is R250 /US$12. She duly tested me and although she was able to give me a certificate, because I was unable to read the last two (again very small) lines of letters on her chart, she had to indicate that I would need to wear glasses to drive. I told her I would order a pair from her.
Back in the outer office, her receptionist gave me several frames to try on. I chose a turquoise one. (no surprises there, LOL) I swiped my bank card depleting my bank balance of another R1800/US$90. While the receptionist wrote out my receipt, the optometrist phoned her supplier and ordered my new specs. They will be ready after the Easter weekend.
The certificate; proof I had my eyes tested and will be receiving specs for driving
Happy as Larry that I'd made such progress, I drove back to the license bureau. The clerks were piling up the plastic chairs and storing them indoors. The receptionist smiled broadly at me (you can imagine, we had been together so long, we were almost family!) and said I should hurry to the examining office.
I did, and after I had handed the eye test certificate to the officer, he clipped it to the green form, handed it to me and told me to go to the pay office and pay for my license. At the pay desk, the lady behind the glass partition took the forms which I slide through the gap on the counter and asked me if I would like a temporary driving permit. I said no. So she said: you need to pay R250 and R140/US$7. Wondering why she didn't just give me a total amount, I slid two R100 notes and one R50 note under the glass. And behind it, I place one R100 note and a R50 note.
She entered all my information on the system, went to the back of the office and copied my identity card and returned. She took the R250 and issued a receipt. She asked again if I would like a temporary permit, to which I replied no again. She then said: you give me R140 (saying it : one-forty) I pointed to the one fifty currency and said she could give me change. She then leant forward and said: you need to give me ONE PHOTO!
As so often happens, communication breaks down.
I handed my photo over, she stuck it to the form and sealed it with clear tape.
And told me she'd finished with my application and I was free to go.
Thanking her and wishing her a great weekend, I glanced at the clock up above the partition.
Six and a half hours.
At least I have applied for a new driver's license card and although the day cost me in excess of R3000/US$150 (clothing purchase included), at least by the first week of June, I will have my card. And it's valid for the next five years.
HAPPY SATURDAY TO YOU ALL
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Driving off the farm last week, I stopped to watch the "dry herd" of cows in the paddock next to the road. Thinking about Gaelyn, who has reminded me that "light" is of paramount importance for a photo, I snapped away at two cows and their reflections in the dam.