Author Archives: puppy1952

About puppy1952

I am making the most of the South African Lifestyle and hope with my blog to share some of the adventures my husband and I are having in our retirement. We live at the Southern Tip of Africa in the small coastal town of Struisbaai. Earl and I have a Gecko off-road caravan and we travel around South Africa frequently. We are bird and wild life enthusiasts so are often in game reserves.

Share Your World 9 May 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Sparks

What two totally normal things become really weird if you do them back to back? 

Attend a funeral and then leave to attend a Christening?

What is something that you just recently realized that you are embarrassed by, that you didn’t realize embarrassed you?  

Nothing comes to mind. Very little embarrasses me.

If  Australia (including New Zealand and Tasmania – which I KNOW are different countries); the UK, Ireland, Germany, the USA, and Brazil or Italy were represented by one food, which would it be for each?  

Okay – Australia – Prawns on a barbie. UK – Mushie peas? USA – Hot dogs? Hamburgers? Italy – Pasta of course but also Eggplant Parmigiana or anything made with eggplant.

What might happen if Goldilocks and the Three Bears were set in modern times?

Once upon a modern time, a vagrant child name Goldilocks was at a loose end one early morning. She was hungry and tired after a hard night on the street so she went looking for a kind soul who might give her a free meal. She found herself outside a smart house and rang the bell at the security gate. No reply. Frustrated she pushed the gate and found that for whatever reason it was not locked. Cautiously she made her way up the long garden path and then knocked on the door. Once again there was no reply.

This was because it was Mother’s Day and the Bear family had gone to an upmarket coffee shop for breakfast. While the littlest bear was presenting his mom with a wrapped gift and Father Bear was ordering something more exciting than cooked oats, Goldilocks was wondering how she could break into their lovely home.

The window to the dining room was a crack open and being a somewhat skinny child she managed to squeeze in. Well, there was no food set on the table but the dining area was open plan to the kitchen and there was a big shiny fridge just begging to be opened. Goldi found an array of delicious treats, cheese, ham and avocado pear. In the breadbasket, she found some fresh croissants and she quickly made herself a delicious snack. After this, she felt quite sleepy so she went upstairs and found a cosy bed. “I’ll just take a little nap and when I hear the Bears come home I’ll slip out,” she thought. But what the poor child did not realise was that the house had a silent alarm and just as she fell asleep armed response and the Bears whom they had alerted arrived and entered the house.

“Let me go in first,” said the burly guard with a gun. “We might catch the culprit red-handed.” The family followed close behind and exclaimed in horror when they saw the messy kitchen. Goldi had failed to clean up after herself. They then all ran upstairs and it was Baby Bear who found the sweet child cuddled up in his bed. Now he was a kind-hearted little fellow so he decided not to say a word.

The guard checked every other room and the Bears checked to see that nothing was missing. “We must have disturbed the intruder. No harm done!” said Mr. Bear.

The guard left and it was then that their son confessed that there was a kid in his bed. “Please can we keep her?” he begged.

The shocked parents tip-toed into the room, saw the little urchin and instantly fell in love with her. “Yes,” they said. “She is clearly a neglected street child. We will call social services and adopt her!”

And they all lived happily ever after.

Where was the most embarrassing or inappropriate place you’ve passed audible gas?

I can’t remember such an incident but it was probably in the classroom and the kids were too polite to comment!

Two Geckos at Guano Caves, Montagu

To follow our Gecko Weekend at Glen Oakes in The Hemel en Aarde district, Cathy thought it would be nice to extend our break-away with a visit to Guano Caves. We had never been there and neither had she and Alec but the reviews on the place were good. However, trying to book was not easy. Cathy phoned a few weeks before departure and was told to email. She did this and did not receive a reply. She phoned again and they said to wait 48 hours. She did but still no reply so again she telephoned and asked to speak to the owners. Only then did she manage to book! Because of this, we were worried that the place might not be all that it was cracked up to be but we were not disappointed.

We left Glen Oakes in slightly overcast weather on Monday morning and stopped at Ou Meul in Riviersonderend for breakfast. There was plenty of double parking for our two rigs. We ordered two teas, a cappuccino and an Americano. Cathy and Alec had bacon and cheese omelettes and the Earl and I had spinach and feta omelettes. They were served with sourdough toast and were very good. I also bought some croissants for the following day’s breakfast. It was a lovely place to stop.

Cogmanskloof pass

Check-in at Guano went well and we were assigned Sites 26 and 28 which are next to each other. The sites were big, even and shady. The ablutions were excellent but you need to bring your own toilet paper and soap. If you want a plug you need to pay a deposit of R50 at reception. I am sure this is because some campers walk off with them! The ablutions were clean and Cathy and I were quite satisfied with the ladies’ section. Hairdryers were available. There is a built-in tile bench in each spacious shower cubicle. There is also a long ledge on which to place your shampoo, shower gel, etc. The men told us theirs did not have that but they did have a bench.

Two Geckos at the Guano Gate
Spacious and shady campsites
Full-length mirror as you enter the bathrooms
Basins
Plenty of hot water in the showers

There are also several family bathrooms with baths and showers with double roses on the perimeter of the ablution block.

The camp kitchen only provides washup facilities. All cooking must be done at your campsite. There is a laundry but the washing machine was out of order.

Camp Wash-up Area

The facilities are lovely. There are two pool areas with crystal clear cold pools. In the main pool area, there is an enormous outdoor pool and supertube as well as a heated indoor pool made to look like a Roman Bath. Treatments are available at a spa too.

A beautiful arrangement of pools
A lovely bridge leading to the picnic area

The main pool and indoor Roman Bath are situated near reception, the shop and the restaurant. There are plenty of loungers and there is enough shade. We had a meal at the restaurant on Thursday and found the food very good.

Looking down on the main pool.

Guano Caves Resort has a petting farm and there are a variety of exotic animals to see. They also have rabbits in enclosures and birds in aviaries. I am not in favour of animals being kept like this but they were well cared for.

This poor swan was alone as its mate had died.
There were a variety of different ducks swimming on the ponds
Peacock
Camels enjoying the Karoo Environment
They do blend into the landscape

On Wednesday after enjoying Cathy’s delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and croissants we made our way to Montagu. Earl and I visited Leiwater Bird Hide in Barry Street. How surprising to find a bird hide on the pavement! It overlooks a lovely little dam where a variety of waterbirds nest. We did not see very much but what we saw was delightful.

Common Moorhen
Reed Cormorant
Egyptian Geese and Sacred Ibis

We then met up with Cathy and Alec at the Montagu Museum. There are two to visit and they had already done the first one. After enjoying the second we popped across the road and had coffee and cake at the Rambling Rose which was excellent. Afterward, C and A went to buy wine and we went to see the church museum. Both museums were very interesting and it cost R15 each to see both.

A young boy sitting at the table in his highchair
Sheep guarding the cake display
Cheesecake and apple strudel were delicious. Coffee was excellent

When we were done the Earl and I took a short drive and went to Cape Dried Fruit Packers where we bought some dried apricots, nuts and olives.

Our campsite attracted wild birds which kept us entertained.

Karoo Thrush
Cape Weavers
The ringneck doves called from the trees constantly and also came down when crumbs were available

Overall the visit to Guano Caves Resort was most enjoyable. The water for all the pools comes from a spring at a temperature of 24 degrees C. By the time it reaches the pools it has cooled down so the Roman Bath is heated to 35 degrees C. Unfortunately they were experiencing technical problems so we did not get the full benefit of the really hot water. The pool was, however, warm enough to enjoy a swim each day we were there.

The Roman Bath

It is a lovely venue and we will certainly visit again.

Nine Geckos and a dog visit Hemel en Aarde Valley

Thanks to the hard work and excellent organisation of Colin Henderson, nine Gecko caravans gathered together at Glen Oaks Farm in the beautiful Hemel and Aarde Valley. Nardus and Adelien brought their cute little poodle, Hayley, along too and she turned out to be a source of great entertainment and delight. Noone escaped having to throw the ball which she gleefully chased and then hid challenging her chosen victim to find it.

Gecko 109 and Gecko 81 setting off from Napier
A Camp full of Geckos

Nardus almost didn’t join us as he has injured his back but at the last minute, he decided he just could not miss out. With all the Gecko men volunteering to help him and Adelien they were set up in no time!

Many manne make light work

The facilities at Glen Oaks are rustic. There is no power and no camp kitchen. But there is a Lapa where we all gathered in the evenings to braai. On the first evening, it was very cold so we gathered in the inner section which had a roof but thereafter we sat around the pit fire outdoors. This fire was an excellent source of heat. The weather was fine during the day but a lot chillier at night. We were ever so grateful that it did not rain.

The inner Lapa
The braai masters at work

Gecko people are special people and it was the best experience to see so many of our twins parked together at the same venue. We enjoyed some lovely conversations, shared camping stories, joked a lot, and had many laughs.

Like when Francois dried Susan’s hair with a leaf blower! – “A Blow-job of note” quipped Cathy!

On Saturday we all set off to Stanford and took a river cruise down the Klein River. It was just the most awesome experience. Our guide on the Lady Stanford knew his birds and for those of us who were into bird-watching, this was an extra bonus. As we set off, a Purple Heron flew into a tree and posed, and that did for me straight away. I was in heaven.

Setting off on the cruise (Photo by Colin)
A good start to the cruise – Purple Heron
Susan and George
Diane, Hennie and Francis
Colin produced some sherry! Cheers!
Yellow-billed Ducks
Egyptian Geese
African Darter
Female Pied Kingfisher
The African Queen was also on the river
Colin on the top deck doing the Titanic Thing!
Alec called down to his wife, “I’m nuts over you!”
Karen and Johnnie
Naked Lady tanning on the jetty 🙂

After the two-hour cruise, we went to the Birkenhead Brewery for lunch. Pottie and Nida joined us there and it was great meeting them too. While we waited for lunch to be served we were taken on a short interesting tour to see how their craft beers were made. Afterward, some of us did a beer tasting. The Earl ordered a Pot Belly Pilsner which was delicious.

On the Brewery tour
Colin’s photo

Our food was served promptly and I heard no complaints. It certainly is a lovely venue and if you’re ever in the Stanford area this is a good place to stop for lunch.

Beer Tasting (Photo – Colin)

On Sunday, we all had a quiet day at camp and just enjoyed each others’ company and the glorious weather. My friend, Sonja, had baked two carrot cakes for me and insisted that I take them along to camp and give everybody there a slice. This I did on Sunday afternoon and all agreed that it was delicious.

Thank you Sonja
The outer Lapa and pit fire – Right side Standing -Johnnie Seated Mari, Francois, Cathy Alec
The outer Lapa -left to right, Louis, Rika, Diane, Colin, Nadus, Adeline

On Monday morning after a leisurely start, everybody started to pack up and by 11:30 Alec, Cathy, Earl and I had bidden everyone farewell. We stayed another day so as to avoid travelling on a public holiday. WIthout Colin to make the fires we decided to abandon braaing and went to the Plaas Kombuis for lunch. It was a good decision and we can highly recommend this as a place to go when you’re in the area.

Plaas Kombuis
Excellent food

We left this morning and are now happily settled at Guano Caves Caravan Park where the weather is just stunning.

Two Geckos happily set up at the shady campsite of Guano Caves

Share Your World 19 April 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World

In your opinion, what do you buy way more of than most people?

I don’t buy a lot of anything. I spend money on experiences rather than things. Maybe I spend more on holidays than most people.

When I peep into shoppers’ trolleys, I am horrified to see tons of junk food. Perhaps I spend more on healthy food than other people? I spend money on ‘expensive’ foods like avocado pear which some people refuse to buy because they find them overpriced but then they fill their baskets with fizzy drinks and cookies. I’d rather have the avo.

Which workers have the worst jobs?

There are many yucky jobs that people perform. What could be worse than fixing blocked toilets? And how about cleaning up a gory crime scene? Perhaps the pay is worth it!

Opinion.  John Cage is a composer who composed a piece named 4’33” for any instrument. The performers are instructed not to play their instrument for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Is this music or is this art?  A combination of the two?   Neither, it’s stupid.  Your opinion?

I think John Cage was arrogant. He was trying to make a point that there was no such thing as silence. There would be some sound. But so what? People go to a recital to hear music, not ambient sound. He tried to make people feel guilty for not listening properly! In my opinion, that’s just rude. Of course, he caused a great stir and perhaps it was just his intention to attract attention and ruffle people’s feathers. Quite funny actually.

How good are you at drawing?

I am absolutely useless at drawing. So many artists have told me that ‘everybody’ can draw and that they could teach me to draw. It hasn’t happened yet. My drawings are worse than a pre-school level.

I did not draw this – mine would be worse!

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)

Feel free to share one amazing thing you’ve experienced (any time frame).

Credit for meme goes to Lauren 

I love Lauren’s meme. My hubby and I have just spent the Easter Weekend with our daughter Lauren. We visited Mountain Zebra National Park and immersed ourselves in nature. The wildflowers were beautiful, the animals amazing and we just loved the birds. It was an awesome break-away.

An unexpected trip to Mountain Zebra National Park

This Easter we planned to visit the kids in Plettenberg Bay. But our grandchildren needed to get to Queenstown for a very important Twenty-First Birthday celebration. So our daughter asked if we’d be prepared to help with the logistics of getting them there and back and perhaps include a trip to Mountain Zebra National Park. Absolutely no persuasion was needed! The only negative was that there were no caravan sites available at such short notice but we could get a family cottage for Saturday and Sunday night. This was probably just as well as Lauren would not have enjoyed sleeping in a tent in the very cold temperatures that hit over the weekend!

On Thursday morning we left Struisbaai and travelled in the pouring rain to Plettenberg Bay. We stopped at a Die Skeerhok Padstal just outside Heidelberg for breakfast.

The weather was cool and overcast but the rain had not yet reached Plett. Simon had just returned from a school camp and regaled us with wonderful stories of his adventures while our son-in-law fortified us with strong coffee and snacks. Our daughter Lauren and granddaughter Shan returned from school soon after that and there were hugs and delighted greetings as we had not seen them since Christmas. Lauren teaches Grade 2 and Shan is doing a learnership in the foundation phase and loving it.

After dinner, we had an early night as Shan was eager for us to get on the road before the crack of dawn. She planned to get to the game farm in Queenstown as early as possible to surprise her boyfriend whose birthday they were going to celebrate! Indeed we were all up before the sparrows and after a warming cup of coffee hit the road at 5 am. Lauren drove all the way giving The Earl a well-earned break after the stress of driving in inclement weather the day before. It rained most of the way to Queenstown too but Lauren handled the conditions superbly.

After breakfast and refuelling we made it to the farm by midday. Jordan was hugely delighted as he was only expecting Shan to arrive on Sunday. What a wonderful welcome we had from his parents who put Lauren, The Earl and me up for the night. Jordan’s maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents were there too and miraculously there was room for us all as well as some of Jordan’s friends. Everybody was super friendly and we had enormous fun.

The kids enjoying a delicious Mac Cheese and Venison Pie for lunch
They had two pet springbok on the farm – Rage and Gracie who is still a baby
The Earl was delighted to bottle feed Gracie

Etienne (Jordan’s dad) took Earl, Lauren, Granny Denise and me on a game drive. We were delighted to see a variety of animals including Sable antelope, waterbuck, blesbok, zebra and some lovely birds.

A beautiful Sable Antelope
Some curious waterbuck and blesbok

The drive included a scary ride up a steep mountain but the views were worth it.

Before dinner, the adults all sat around the kitchen table and played sevens while the kids socialized on the enclosed verandah. It was all wonderfully entertaining.

There was some hectic competition but Granny Denise, I think, won most of the games!

The weather was chilly but the warm and friendly company more than made up for it.

The next day Lauren, Earl and I left at around 8 o’clock and made our way to Mountain Zebra Park. Our early start meant that we could have two full days in the reserve and what a great time we had. We treated ourselves to having our meals (Brunch and Dinner) at the restaurant and the catering and service were excellent.

Here are the highlights of our visit.

Soon after entering, we found this Spotted Eagle-owl
Our cousins were everywhere and gave us a huge welcome.

We have visited the park several times but have never found the lions. Imagine our joy when we could show Lauren the male! He was trying to hide in the long grass but we still got good views of him. The females were nowhere to be found.

Please look at us Your Majesty
So you found me at last!

After greeting the lion we went to check in and have brunch. After that, we took a walk around the camp.

Too chilly for a swim but Lauren agreed that the pool was lovely

We had a brief rest and then went out again. In the distance, we saw an eagle on a rock. It then took off and we saw it land again. Luckily he did not fly away and we were able to drive right up to the spot.

Verreaux’s Eagle
Yes, it was cold but a leg stretch was necessary. Lauren protecting me from the lions!
Different from the Blue Wildebeest are these Black Wildebeest with their attractive white-tipped tails. Their horns are also a different shape
These two were having a confrontation
The Mountain Zebra were decorating the landscape.
A baby

The best part of MZNP is that there are wonderful views.

Lauren was dying to see Eland and on our last afternoon, she was delighted to get a few.

Eland
Zebra not wanting to be left out.

Over the two days, we very much enjoyed the birds.

Helmeted Guineafowl
Swarms of Red-billed Quelea were everywhere
Ant-eating Chat
Familiar Chat
Buff-streaked Chat
Acacia Pied Barbet
Common Ostrich
African Spoonbill
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark
Female Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

Our two-day visit was really awesome. We left on Easter Monday at 7 am, had breakfast at the farm and then drove all the way back to Plettenberg Bay. The kids had thoroughly enjoyed the Twenty-First celebrations. More relatives and friends had arrived and it was extremely festive.

Lauren and Earl shared the driving, we stopped at Colchester for lunch and arrived back at 6pm.

Earl and I left the following morning, met our sister-in-law and her kids for breakfast at Vic Bay, stopped in Bredasdorp to do a few chores and arrived home at 3 pm. What a great Easter Weekend.

Share Your World 12 April 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World guest hosted by Tena.

Do You Prefer Salty Foods or Sweet Foods?

I am addicted to salt. A habit that drives my husband crazy is shaking salt onto my hand and licking it. And I always add salt to my food. The Earl is convinced that I will get hardening of the arteries because of excessive intake of salt but according to my doctor, it will do me no harm. I have lowish blood pressure and my body needs salt for that! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I also like sweet stuff – especially chocolate.

Would you rather be in a place where it is excessively hot or excessively cold?

I am lucky enough to live in the Western Cape with its mild Meditteranean climate so summer is usually hot and dry and winter cold and wet but temperatures seldom fall below 6 degrees C. We often travel further north in Africa where it gets very hot and I don’t mind that.

I prefer the heat to the cold. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to deal with extreme cold like in Arctic countries. Working your life around such conditions must be exhausting.

I have skied down the Alps but I’ve never built a snowman!

Favorite Mode of long-distance travel (Bus, Plane, Train, Automobile, or other).

We don’t have a good train service in South Africa so long-distance travel has to be by car or plane. It depends on how quickly I want to get somewhere. I enjoy long road trips and going nowhere slowly. We don’t do more than 500km per day before stopping to camp overnight and there are so many great places to stop at and explore.

I once did a coach trip in Europe and that was awesome. Travelling in a luxury bus is very comfortable.

Cruising is another preferred choice to high-speed dashing from place to place by plane.

A Cruise Ship I once travelled on.

What was your favorite holiday growing up? (You can also use American holidays or appropriate holidays from your country)

Christmas was a big thing in my family growing up. It was a huge affair with all the family gathering together. There were plenty of cousins around so we had the greatest fun, usually at Granny’s house. There was a huge pine tree in their garden and my grandfather would decorate it with lights. He and my grandmother made Christmas very special. It was a magical time. The week before Christmas they would take my siblings and me on an outing to the city. We would visit every department store, go to Santa’s Grotto, sit on his lap and list the gifts we wanted him to bring. I always wondered how he managed to be in six different department stores at once. At each store, we got a lucky dip filled with toys of inferior quality. Each year our grandparents complained that the quality got worse but we didn’t mind at all! The best though was having lunch at The Wimpy in OK Bazaars – a rare annual treat for us.

Another part of Christmas I loved was attending Midnight Mass. We would go to sleep early, wake at 11 pm and then go to church and sing Christmas Carrols which I loved before the service started. On our return, we would have hot chocolate and open one present each. It was such fun.

Adderly Street Cape Town in the 1960s – Ok Bazaars on the left

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Gratitude Section

What gave you the most gratification this week?

I was not well this week. An attack of diverticulitis had me on antibiotic medication and drained my energy but I was still able to be up and about between regular naps. While lying about I browsed through old PowerPoint presentations of the grandkids growing up and past holidays and that made me feel good. We have had so many good years.

How the Grinch stole Christmas – Christmas Eve 2011

Share Your World – 4 April 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Sparks

Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule?

Throughout my adult working life, I was a morning person. I had no trouble going to sleep early and waking up early. I was that irritating person that greeted her less enthusiastic colleagues chirpily while pouring a cup of coffee before the morning staff meeting. (Coffee is an essential food for teachers, chirpy or not!)

On holiday in game reserves, it is essential to be out at dawn. No problem – I would rally my sleepy travelling companions and make sure we were out there bright and early.

Now that I am retired, things are a little different! I can still rise early if I have to but these days I go to sleep later and rise later too. I am still more productive in the morning but I can certainly do stuff at night too.

Can people change from early birds to night owls? – Yes, I think so. Can night owls change into early birds? I can’t see any of the night owls of my acquaintance ever changing into early birds. If they couldn’t during their working lives, why should they try now?

What’s the biggest vehicle you’ve driven?  If you don’t drive, what’s the biggest vehicle you’ve ridden in? 

The biggest motorcar I ever drove was a Volkswagen Caravelle and I loved it. We sold it when we moved to Struisbaai in 2015. Now I hardly drive at all. The Earl drives a Ford Everest and I do drive it on occasion but it is not as easy to drive as the Caravelle.

What wonderful memories we made during the ten years we owned that amazing vehicle. I used it to transport kids to school outings and sports matches etc. We could pile kids, dogs and luggage in and still travel in comfort and above all it was a superb safari vehicle. However, there was many a time that I was mistaken for a minibus taxi! It was sad to see the disappointed faces of potential passengers trying to climb aboard while I explained that I was not able to transport them to their destination.

2005 – Me at the wheel of our brand new Volkswagen Caravelle – On our way to Kgalagadi

What songs would be played on a loop in hell?  (Suspend disbelief for this one, it’s cool not to believe in Hell, but let’s use our imaginations to answer.  Of course one can always skip the questions they find odd too.  And yes, I took into account that individual tastes will influence individual choices.)

Chris de Burgh’s Spanish Train comes to mind.

(Deep and chewy philosophical question):     What does it mean to be a person?  What constitutes “personhood?” (there may be some diverse opinions, but we’re all mature adults in here, so be respectful of others please).

To be a person you have to have self-awareness, reason, morality and a sense of responsibility toward others. You need to know the difference between good and evil. There is good and evil in us all but some of us are human and others are monsters.

A human will have a conscience, feel remorse and work to improve him or herself.

The problem with people is that they are also “sheeple.” Monsters will take advantage of them.

A monster has no morals, no conscience and feels no regret for doing harm to others. Monsters in History are Hitler, Idi Amin, Sadham Hussein and the like. Rapists and sadists are monsters. Anybody who needs to have power over others is a monster and does not deserve to be called nor treated like a person. Something in their DNA is wrong so they are therefore not to be considered a person.

How evil was this guy and what does it say about gullible people?

GRATITUDE SECTION (Always Optional)

How were your spirits (mood) over the past week? 

I have been in good spirits. These are the small things that made me happy.

Our gardener did a wonderful job dividing and transplanting the clivias that were crowding other plants in one of our beds. He even created a lovely brick border without being asked. We are just so blessed.

The Earl’s protégé, Sam, who is spending a few days at Breede River surprised us by popping over for the afternoon. It’s an hour and a half drive! We had a lovely lunch together.

I got new linen for two bedrooms and some new towels too – this is because we now have our house with a holiday letting agent and we needed to upgrade a bit. Good news – we have tenants for Easter!

The bananas were going off so I made banana bread with almond flour and it was delicious!

Friends from Cape Town are moving permanently to Struisbaai and were here getting their new home ready for the final move. It was so good to see them.

I could go on as it is the small things that make me happy.

Cape Bird Club Beginners’ Outing

Last month I presented a Beginners’ Course on Zoom for the Cape Bird Club. This culminated in an outing to Strandfontein Nature Reserve on 27 March 2022. Click here to find out more about this reserve which an Important Birding Area

Members of the Bird Club assisted with leading and about 14 beginners were taken around the park in five vehicles. It was a beautiful sunny day with little wind so conditions were perfect for bird watching. Thanks to Priscilla Beeton, Johan Schlebusch, Joy Fish, Heather Howell and Earl Fenwick.

The two-part course prepared the beginners with basic birding skills and for what they were likely to find in the park. Each of them had a specially compiled checklist of birds they might see and there was great excitement when they were able to identify the birds they had learned about.

Here are some of the birds that obliged us.

Yellow-billed ducks were enjoying themselves
Showing off her beauty
The red-billed teal turned his back on us
Cape Teal and Red-knobbed Coot greeting each other
Reflective mood
The ponds were calm and the pelicans were enjoying the sunshine
This is the life
Greater Flamingos – not quite in their adult plumage,
Pied Avocets contentedly swimming
This bird sports a recurved bill
A Black-necked grebe was a real treat to see
The Little Grebe is more common
Fulvous Ducks – Not often seen at Strandfontein – A real treat
Cape Shoveler
The Glossy Ibis has a decurved bill
Reed Cormorant
We saw an African swamphen but I didn’t get a good photo so I’m cheating with this one taken a while ago.
Black-headed Heron and Sacred Ibis

I might just have been more excited than the beginners at seeing all these lovely birds.

Here is a list of what we saw.

  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • Cape Teal
  • Red-billed Teal
  • Cape Shoveler
  • South African Shelduck
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Spur-winged Goose
  • Western Cattle Egret
  • Little Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Black-headed Heron
  • Kelp Gull
  • Hartlaub’s Gull
  • Reed Cormorant
  • White-breasted Cormorant
  • Sacred Ibis
  • Hadeda Ibis
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Great White Pelican
  • Little Grebe
  • Great-crested Grebe
  • Red-knobbed Coot
  • Common Moorhen
  • African swamphen
  • Blacksmith Lapwing
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Pied Avocet
  • Common starling
  • Red-winged Starling
  • Little Rush Warbler
  • Cape Bulbul
  • Black-shouldered Kite
  • Jackal Buzzard
  • Three-banded plover
  • White-throated Swallow
  • Greater-striped Swallow
  • Cape Weaver
  • Common waxbill
  • Lesser Double-collared Sunbird
  • Cape Spurfowl
  • Spotted Thick-knee
  • Blacksmith Lapwing
  • Common Tern
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • Cape White-Eye
  • Little stint

Struisbaai Ramblings

When I am not off caravanning, cruising the oceans or helping out at Fishing Tournaments, I enjoy a fairly quiet life here in Struisbaai. I am often asked, “What do you do all day?” Isn’t that just the most difficult question to answer! I do everything I used to do when I worked only at a slower pace and how wonderful it is not to rush from one activity to the next. I now have time to read more, potter in the garden, learn Italian and blog. And every day I enjoy a long leisurely walk. The creatures I see in my garden and on my walks bring a great deal of pleasure too.

Orange-breasted Sunbirds enjoying the sprinkler
Witogies joined them
While the Cape Robin decided the bathtub was a better option
Tortoises are frequent visitors
And just the other night this young Spotted Eagle Owl and three of his siblings called from the roof and the lampost outside our house

Struisbaai boasts the most beautiful harbour and I visit it almost every day. There is always something interesting to see – the fishing boats coming back from a day at sea, the stingrays swimming in the shallows looking for titbits from the chukkie crew members as they clean their fish. The cormorants and gulls don’t miss a chance at a free meal either.

From the harbour I usually go along the boardwalk to our lovely long beach which is stunning at low tide. Sometimes I might be lucky enough to see something out of the ordinary.

Always lovely to see a Cape Bulbul
And a handsome crowned lapwing
Many people paint and then hide rocks for others to find – I found this one but decided to leave it for someone else. It looked so pretty there.
This Rock Kestrel eyed me but did not fly away
A Little Egret decided on seafood for breakfast on this particular morning
Sammy Seal was tired of swimming so came ashore for some R&R
And a bit of grooming
The beach is wonderful for long walks, swimming, fishing, windsurfing and kitesurfing
A favourite South African pastime – This is the first time we are using our new braai with its new chimney – No more smoke in our eyes!
The colour of the sky at sunset is just stunning

Share Your World 21 March 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Sparks

What very common thing have you never done?  (this one probably is a recycle, but I don’t think it’s terribly recent?)

I have never taken recreational drugs yet I am a child of the sixties!

Are we morally obligated to be charitable, if we have the means to?

Yes, I believe with great privilege comes great responsibility. To be charitable is to help people in need. Anybody can do this. It’s not about donating large sums of money. The world is a tough place for many and if we could all be just a tad more charitable we could help a great many more people. How much does it hurt to give an old shirt to a homeless person or help out a friend who needs a favour? It’s the small things we do for each other that make the world a better place.

What is the most amazing fact you know?

That on Earth life springs up in the most desolate places but the grass won’t grow in my garden in spite of lots of TLC!

Is the universe trying to tell me something? Like, don’t plant grass let stuff just grow where it wants to?

A tree growing out of a rock – Go Figure!

What’s your favorite sandwich and why?

May I substitute a croissant for the bread? Smoked salmon, green fig preserve and camembert cheese go beautifully inside a croissant. Ham and cream cheese will also do.


GRATITUDE SECTION   (As always optional)   

Please feel free to share something you find inspires you.

People who put their fears and doubts out of the way and go for new experiences and adventures inspire me. I have just read an awesome blog all about that. May I share the link here?