Living in South Africa

Snakes and Mileage

How many times do you see this in your car?

300000km

Today the odometer turned over to 300,000km or 187,500 miles. Not bad for a 1991 VW! I didn't have any champagne or would have poured it over the bonnet! But I did take the slow way, back roads to Howick from Ashburton, so that as the dial hit the big number, I could pull over without getting side swiped by a big rig, or "heavy," as they are known here. So just outside Howick, I pulled onto the grassy verge and immortalized it.

It was good to go back to Ashburton for a few hours. The roofers were here at the B&B and were hellofa noisy! So grabbed my water bottle for a Kangen water refill, and headed down the hill. Mick was home and we had lunch together on the veranda.

Absolutely spectacular weather, it's getting a little chilly now but the sun is gorgeous.

Just before I left, when I went out to get my iPad on the veranda, I saw that Gingi had caught something, and wouldn't you know, it was a snake. I yelled for Mick who quickly picked it up with his bare hands! It was a Philothamnus semivariegatus - Spotted Bush Snake, a beautiful, brilliant emerald green with golden reddish brown eyes. It was very small and very slippery! Needless to say, I let Mick rescue him and put him out of harms way in the orange tree! As pretty as it was, I don't do snakes!

Another Farmers Market

chilli sauce Karkloof Farmers Market this morning. After all, why miss one when it is so close, just about a mile away from Stocklands, the B&B where I am staying for a couple of weeks.

This area is the retirement community centre of this country, and I was not alone with my silver hair! Although there were a lot of younger people there too. It is held inside a big metal barn, with some additional stands outside. Lots and lots of home industry type products, and several tart stands. I knew I was onto something in Washington when I started making them. They all looked really good! Several cheese makers, bakers, jam makers and a wide selection of actual food stands, with different breakfast foods; bagels, French toast, omelettes. All very tempting. I did buy some dry cured bacon for Mick as he complains about how much water is in the store-bought bacon and how it doesn’t fry nicely.

Inside-market

Manning that stand was a fellow I thought I recognized, and sure enough, it was Rob who is part of the Conservancy that Mick heads up. He was out of context, but he said, after I asked him about the bacon, “And where is Mike this morning?” and it clicked who he was. Then I saw a face from the past! Tim Lea was manning the Rita Lea, his wife’s stand. She has Rita Lea’s Country Kitchen and makes really good pies – not fruit pies, but different meat pies that she sells frozen, ready to bake. Tim is Rosemary’s brother-in-law. That’s a story with a twist, but not for the blog.

cheese

The place was jammed! Easter long weekend and gorgeous weather has everyone and his brother out. And lots of visitors to the retirement communities! Maybe that’s where all the young people come into the picture, visiting grandma! And incidentally, a source of a lot of “bed nights” at the B&B.

I don’t think I would do well in the hospitality business. Don’t have the patience for the complainers out there. They really have nothing to whine about here; it is four star and very nice. But some people just have to find something wrong with everything. This one couple arrived yesterday evening, and I could tell immediately from the woman’s body language that she wouldn’t be happy with anything. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with the guests much, just check them in when Adele is not here. So I am nice to them, but glad I have minimal interaction with them! I like to choose who I associate with – too picky I suppose.

The internet here is really, really bad at the moment. It’s satellite and for some unknown (though I have a suspicion) reason I can barely connect today. It’s like working on a dial up!Hopefully, once the land lines are replaced with fiber optic cables (all the copper phone lines were stolen in November), the connectivity will be better. Apparently they are in the process of burying the new cables. Makes it a bit difficult to do any research. I am expecting a call from the service provider – customer service here is marginal – and maybe they can fix the problem.

Escargot Anyone?

Yesterday morning, I looked out my window and saw this marvelous creature racing across the grass! You can see by the size of the blades of grass, how big he is! And they say, "Things are bigger in Texas!"  This escargot, at about 8 inches long, would make dinner for a group of six. For the next two weeks, I am house sitting (or bed sitting) Stocklands Farm B&B for Evie. She and Roland are taking a trip to the western part of the country, a favorite of theirs, and tracing the path of Archbell, who is the subject of the book she is in the process of writing. The B&B is in Howick, about half an hour from Ashburton, and a completely different climate. Cooler, more temperate, but very beautiful. I really don't have to do much, basically just be here from about 4 pm on, as the help leave then.

So I have the days to myself, and am set up in Evie's office so very comfortable.

Looks like ecology is getting back on track, so I have a lot of work ahead of me. I feel so much better, having a focus now, instead of being in limbo. When the full funding comes through and I know what direction the company is going, then I will make decisions about where I am going!

Excitement on the (Horse) Farm

Here I was, minding my own business on the veranda, enjoying the day, searching the internet for jobs, when I heard this funny noise coming from the aloe garden area. Got up and looked around the corner and there were 10 horses of various colors, grazing on the grass! Well! I'm not a horse person but I knew I better keep them out of the vege garden before finding out who they belong to! I thought for sure someone would come calling from the road, but no!

I'm out there, trying to keep them from wandering into the garden in front, standing guard, never showing fear! They actually were very friendly, and very pretty! And thinking - what the hell am I going to do about this?

Hmm, I thought. I know the neighbors have a donkey but not horses! So I called Mick - no answer. Called Debbie - no answer. Texted Debbie - and a response. Oh joy! Find Bheki the gardener from next door and tell him the horses are out!

Great consternation over there. Which gate was left open? Who left the gate open? Why was the gate open?

So Bheki comes rushing over and starts shooing them out and they took off into the open field and galloped around with him chasing and waving his arms! Finally, they all headed for the wide-open gate (which no one knows how it was opened - or no one is saying) and they returned home.

Not really home. Mick says Van has various horses come daily to graze - so I guess it's horsey day care!

La Playa

lighthouse Whenever I spend time at the beach and at the cottage, it reinforces the idea of where I want to live.

  • Where it's warm
  • Where I can swim every day
  • Where there is household help

I feel so much better both physically and mentally in that sort of environment. So something to work towards - actually this isn't anything new; I have simply refined my "wants," leading more and more towards La Playa in Mexico.

The cottage was as wonderful as ever; warm, clear, lovely. We had a fantastic thunderstorm overnight which left the air fresh and soft in the morning. And the water was so clean and clear. The first morning it was very still and the waves were perfect at Green Point so a lot of surfers were out.

Well, let me clarify that statement!

By California standards, there were hardly any guys out - maybe six or seven, but here, at this spot, that's quite a lot. They were all riding short boards when I thought they should have had longboards! But they were having fun, so that's all that counts!

catherine-yoga

Catherine (goddaughter) and I spent some time with Keith Cunningham, a member of the Clansthal Concervancy as I am going to do an article about the Conservancy and the ongoing effort to create a marine sactuary between Clan and the Aliwal Shoal. The Shoal is already a Marine Protected Area (MPA) so this was the start of the research. It's a very popular dive spot, about 5 km (3.5 m) offshore and was named after the sinking of the three-masted vessel "Aliwal", captained by James Anderson in 1849. There are two wrecks near the reef; the Norwegian bulk carrier "Produce" which sank in 1974 and the Nebo which sank in 1884.

Keith gave us a great tour and I decided to also do something for ecology about the indigenous plants. Also a lot of research required!

Conservancies in this country are the grassroots effort at conservation. With the government in such disarray, with so little understanding of what needs to be done, local people have come together and created conservancies around the country. Many are contiguous and it seems like there needs to be more communication between these all-volunteer efforts to enable them to become more effective.

Another interesting article idea! Oh dear! I think I am setting myself up to be too busy!

Mick and Debbie are gone for a couple of days and I am taking care of the "livestock." Cats, chickens and ducks! But now, I am sitting on the veranda, it's about 82F (26C) at 6pm. I have my drink (gin) and a little country music in the background and a thunderstorm lightshow happening all around, but no rain!