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.

GTC Old Girls Reunion and Celebration of Founder’s Day

Grahamstown Training College closed in 1975 but its spirit lives on.   It was the only college in South  Africa that was begun by the head of a religious order and Mother Cecile made sure that although a state curriculum would be followed and salaries would be paid by the Department of Education, the buildings would be owned by the Church and the sisters of the Community of The Resurrection would be involved in teaching and taking care of the students where possible.  There was a strong Christian Ethos at the college and all denominations were catered for.  It was a happy place where we learned to work hard and play hard.  There were very few day girls so a great camaraderie existed among the students who lived together in four houses, Lincoln, Bangor, Canterbury and Winchester.  Although we spent only a short time of our lives there, they were important years that shaped us for the future. 

The buildings still stand and now belong to Rhodes University. Two of the houses, Canterbury and Winchester are still used as  residences today.   Lincoln House is used by the Faculty of Law, the college block by The Faculty of Education and Bangor House by The Faculty of Environmental Science.

On the weekend of Friday 30 November to Sunday 2 December the following Old Girls, plus a few others who popped into some of the functions, attended a reunion and celebrated Founder’s Day in the St Mary and All Angels Chapel.

1. Margie Gordon Antrobus – Winchester – 1966-1968.

 2. Jenny Musgrave-Newton Attridge – Winchester – 1966-1968.

3. Barbie Asher Bennett – Canterbury – 1970-1972.

4. Jenny Timm Borchardt – Lincoln – 1970-1972.

5. Dianne Randell Burrell – Lincoln – 1970-1972

6.  Colleen Bryce Byron – Canterbury – 1971-1973

7. Iona Hockly Cowley – Lincoln – 1970-1972.

8.  Shann Weber de Smidt –Winchester – 1973-1975.

9.  Helen Pnematicatos Fenwick – Lincoln – 1971-1973.

10. Shirley Goercke Fletcher – Winchester – 1953-1955.

11. Pam Roux Gush – Bangor – 1970-1972.

12.  Betty Hartzenberg Hartzenberg – Lincoln – 1956-1957.

13.  Ros Lachenicht Holderness – Lincoln – 1966-1969.

14. Heather Howell Howell – Lincoln – 1957-1959.

15.  Merle Acton Keough – Canterbury – 1967-1968.

16.  Jenny Gowar Mitchell – Winchester – 1961-1962.

17.  Gwynne Fergusson Nieuwoudt – Winchester – 1966-1967.

18.  Jacky Piderit Olckers – Bangor – 1963-1965.

19.  Pam Smith Pedrick – Winchester – 1966-1968.

20.  Helen Powell Renton – Bangor – 1957-1958.

21.  Janet Scorer Rice – Winchester – 1966-1968.

22.  Elizabeth Owen-Johnston Veitch – Winchester – 1966-1967.

23.  Denise Packer Weldon – Winchester – 1963-1965.

24.  Jill Dower Rothman – Bangor – 1966-1967.

Many others would have loved to have been with us but for various reasons were unable to make it.  Astrid Corvett was very sorry to miss it but she finds it very difficult to travel these days.  She wrote to wish us a happy reunion :-

My Dear College Friends

Thank you for letting me be a small part of your reunion. I hope you have all enjoyed the newsletters and the photo albums we compiled which thanks to Liz and Sister Carol are now in The Cory Library. It was a real treat to compile them.  Laurie  introduced the magic of photos and colour and Sister Carol has been wonderful in getting them in the right place.

I have been reading old newsletters when Old Girls were able to take their children – very small – to the reunions and picnics and sports matches and dances were arranged. Now we would be taking grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

I had polio after my first year and the sisters were landed with me with a thumb that stuck out backwards and were very good about caring for me as they could not put me on a train for three days with no one to meet me.  My mother had not replied to their letter.  What a treat it was to be Senior Anglican in my Third Year.

Sister Nonnie/Virginia reluctantly allowed me to take over the newsletter when it became too difficult for her.  Each of our three sons  helped get them good to read as the news poured in.

It is sad that we no longer have a bus from the airport to Grahamstown but we are with you in spirit and look forward to news and photographs.

Have a wonderful time together 

With love from 

Laurie and Astrid Gorvett

Bangor House
Photo credit – Shann de Smidt

Flowering trees outside Canterbury House 
Photo credit – Barbie Bennett

In the past the attendees of the College Reunions have stayed in Winchester and/or Canterbury but because fewer attended this year, it was not worthwhile for Rhodes to keep on staff to look after us so we all found our own accommodation in town.

It was with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that Heather Howell (1957 to 1959) and I (1971 to 1973) boarded a plane to Port Elizabeth.   We were on the first leg of our trip back to our student days!  It’s another hour and half drive from PE airport to Grahamstown and how we enjoyed that drive in  our nippy, hired Nissen.

The weekend started with a welcome dinner at Red Cafe in High Street.  

Clockwise – Betty Hartzenberg, Helen(Powell) Renton, Iona (Hockly) Cowley, Colleen (Bryce) Byron,
Pam (Smith) Pedrick, Jenny (Musgrave-Newton) Attridge, Janet (Scorer) Rice, 
Jenny (Gowar) Mitchell, Merle (Acton) Keough, Denise (Packer) Weldon, Jacky (Piderit) Olckers
I was super excited to meet up with these two Lincoln girls, Jenny and Di – second years in my first – 1971. 

It was a lovely first evening catching up with friends both from our time and others we’d made friends with at previous reunions.

On Saturday morning we met on Lincoln Lawn for photographs.   

The Old Girls from all over the country who came to Grahamstown specially for this reunion
Back Row – Iona (Hockly) Cowley, Colleen (Bryce) Byron,  Jacky (Piderit) Olckers, Helen (Powell) Renton,
Merle (Acton) Keough, Jenny (Timm) Borchardt, Di  (Randell )Burrell,  Cynthia (Keeton ) O’Ehley, Heather Howell
Middle Row – Barbie (Asher) Bennett,  Jill  (Dower) Rothman, Denise (Packer) Weldon, Jenny (Gowar) Mitchell,
Pam (Smith) Pedrick, Janet (Scorer) Rice, Margie (G0rd0n) Antrobus,  Ros (Lachenicht) Holderness
Front Row – Pam (Roux) Gush,  Gwynne (Ferguson) Nieuwoudt,   Helen (Pnematicatos) Fenwick,
Liz  (Owen-Johnston) Veitch, Jenny (Musgrave-Newton) Attridge, Shann(Weber) de Smidt
Heather Howell and Helen (Powell) Renton – Two of the fifties girls!
1965 to 1969
Back Row – Jenny (Musgrave-Newton) Attridge, Janet (Scorer) Rice, Cynthia (Keeton) O’Ehley,
Ros (Lachenicht) Holderness
Front Row – Pam (Smith) Pedrick, Gwynne (Ferguson) Nieuwoudt,
Merle (Acton) Keough, Liz (Owen-Johnston) Veitch, Margie (Gordon)Antrobus
1960 to 1965
Jenny (Gowar) Mitchell, Jacky (Piderit) Olckers, Denise (Packer) Weldon, Jill (Dower) Rothman
1970s
Shann (Weber) de Smidt, Di (Randell) Burrell, Jenny (Timm) Borchardt,
Barbie (Asher) Bennett, Iona (Hockly) Cowley,
Front: Colleen (Bryce) Byron, Helen (Pnematicatos) Fenwick, Pam (Roux) Gush

Then there were the fun photos.  Some of the Old Girls decided to hug a tree.

Jenny (Timm) Bochardt, Pam (Roux) Gush, Di (Randall) Burrell, Iona (Hockly) Cowley, Barbie (Asher) Bennett

I dared Jenny and Barbie to go into the bell tower and ring the Chapel bell – a job that they each had to do early in the morning to call the students to prayer.

Jenny and Barbie reliving their bell ringing days!

The next bit of fun was going along to Cory Library where there was an exhibition of Training College photo albums and memorabilia. 

Thanks to Liz de Wet who looked after all the TC memorabilia and organised this visit for us
Discovering some sentimental old photographs 
Jill and Denise pouring over the old memories
Photo credit – Shann de Smidt
Shann de Smidt’s photo says it all – browsing through the albums and remembering our student days.

Before going to lunch at The Mad Hatters Coffee Shop we all filed into Chapel to practice singing the Te Deum for our service the following day.

Chapel of St Mary and All The Angels
Photo Credit – Barbie Bennett
Our beautiful chapel

The foundation stone for the building of The Chapel of St Mary and All the Angels was laid on 2 June 1915 and the completed building was consecrated on 14 October 1916. Sister Margaret who was a trained artist painted the fresco in the apse between 1924 and 1929 and she used students as her models.

Thanks to Marcus Mostert for providing the music and patiently coaching the croaky old ladies though their singing.  What an awesome and patient young man!

At lunch time, The Mad Hatter’s Coffee Shop opened its doors and welcomed us with a lovely message on their chalk board. 

 We enjoyed quiche and coffee and once again had a tremendous time catching up with old friends.

Liz,  Merle and Margie
Jacky, Denise, Heather and Helen

Pam, Janet, Jenny and Liz (From Cory Library)

Jill, Gwynne, Jenny and  Ros
Barbie, Colleen and Iona

Denise and Jacky behaving like students again –  Mad Girls in Mad Hats

It is 124 years since The Grahamstown Training College first opened it’s doors to train teachers and we have never forgotten that it all started with Mother Cecile who also started the Community of The Resurrection.  Today the community has just a few sisters faithfully working in Grahamstown.   Some of our Old Girls had tea with them on Saturday afternoon.  One of our oldest members, Beth Denton, who is in her nineties, managed to make it to this function.  Thanks to Barbie Bennett and Shann de Smidt for the photographs.

Gwynne, Beth and Iona
Colleen, Beth and Ros
Margie, Beth and Iona
Tea with the sisters – their beautifully behaved foster children in the doorway

On Saturday evening we all donned our glad rags to enjoy our Gala Dinner.  Reverend Eric Kelly spoke to us about his book  on the History of The Training College – “Faithful to the Vision” of  which most of us are now proud owners.   

Reverend Eric Kelly

After dinner  old girls from the fifties. sixties and seventies shared their memories of college life.  

Heather Howell on GTC in the 50s.

“When unexpectedly asked to speak on “GTC in the 50’s” I thought it appropriate to use the memories of Janet (Louw) Welsh who died in 2010. “

Extracts from an address given by Janet at St Cyprians Cathedral, Kimberley 

20 February 2004.  (The historic facts have been omitted.)

I arrived at GTC in Jan 1954 – a bit apprehensive,never having been to boarding school, and yet excited as this was the beginning of a new phase of my life.  I was duly installed in my cubicle on the second floor of Canterbury House which had been built onto the college block in 1907 and was the first of the Houses for boarding students.  The whole floor had obviously been one large dormitory which was now divided by partitions into cubicles.  The partitions reached neither the floor nor the ceilings.  Each “cube”contained a single bed, a chest of drawers, a wash-stand with jug and basin and a curtain behind the door which served as a wardrobe.  There was barely space to open the drawers and with arms outstretched one could touch both sides of the “cube”.  There were 3 bathrooms with incredibly small baths and a red line painted to show the maximum amount of water allowed.  There were 2 separate loos.  The modern miss would probably have turned tail and run!  In retrospect they were 2 very happy years in which we covered a vast amount of work, had lots of fun and formed friendships which still exist 50 years later.

Rules we had aplenty, and some students found them very tiresome and too much like the boarding schools from which they had so recently been liberated.  There was so much work that we didn’t really have much time for gallivanting.  In summer we rose early and sleepily dived into the (often) pea green swimming pool to train for the Bronze Medal life saving certificate which we all had to do and some of us were crazy enough to go on to do the Silver Medal in our second year as this ensured a good symbol for Gym at the end of the year!  In winter we rose early to play netball and when it was too dark to do that, we had a literature lecture before breakfast so that we had time for netball when it was light!  It was a scramble to make beds, tidy “cube”and dash off to breakfast at the correct time.  Breakfast and dinner in the evening were “formal” meals, so if one was late and arrived after grace had been said, one walked the length of the hall,up onto the stage to the Sister in charge and apologised.  We then went to Chapel.  Lectures began at 9:00 with breaks for tea and lunch and finished at 3:30.   Sport began at 4 o’clock.   Most evenings, after dinner we attended chapel – especially the Anglicans – other denominations had some evenings off.  We then went to“study” and had to be in the college block working until 9 o’clock, after which we returned to our residences for coffee and biscuits…. known as “Table Mountain biscuits” because it was said that during the making the raisins had been thrown into the dough from the top of the mountain and very few had hit the target.  The coffee had stood on the slow combustion stove in the basement since the early afternoon, so it contained “whales” ……. our term for the floating bits of skin.  “Lights out” was at 10 p.m.  On Saturday mornings we had to be in the College block until 12 noon.  We could only go to town for essential shopping – nobody ever defined “essential”!!

Each hostel had a Sister in charge plus a Matron.  We had tiny Sister Ethelwyn, of indeterminable age and false teeth that didn’t fit so clacked when she spoke,but she was very sweet and kind.  We called her “The Mighty Mouse”.  However,our Matron was another story…… a real tartar…… and heaven help you if she took a dislike to you for some real or imagined transgression.  During my second year we had Sister Joyce,who seldom spoke and frequently sat on the lawn trimming the edge with nail scissors!   The academic staff was headed by Sister Truda, a rather aloof woman, and a deputy-principal Sister Madeleine,an ethereal lady who didn’t walk but glided and she was very approachable.  She had a room in Canterbury at the top of the stairs on our floor.  She succeeded in frightening the wits out of one of my friends when she glided, fully robed in a white night dress and cap, from the bathroom in near darkness where she had been bathing by candlelight.  Most of the lecturers were lay people and most were very good.

Needless to say, some were rather eccentric and some a bit weird. The gym mistress was a real character …. a sergeant-major.  When you stood teetering on the edge of the pool and she yelled from the opposite side “JUMP!” you jumped.

For gym and sport, we wore 4 gore skirts (you know how straight the hems hang?) in a dark blue, just above our knees, with shapeless lighter blue shirts, white socks & black tackies. So as not to tempt the gardeners we wore longer ordinary “over skirts”to lectures!!  What an assortment of colours, shapes & designs these were. In winter we wore long navy socks with this garb.  Each term each student was assigned a gym class at one of the local schools, so we set off laden with all sorts of apparatus – balls, tins, beanbags, a bat or two, ropes & hoops, for your appointed school dressed as above. Oh! … and lesson notes.  If the school was distant you went by bike,yours or a borrowed one.   If your gym class was at the Convent you did not include any exercise which would expose the little girls’ panties!   At least we wore white for tennis matches.   Tradition had it that our 1sttennis team would play against St Paul’s (College of the Transfiguration).  When the match was at College, we had chocolate cake for tea & for the return match they had cucumber sandwiches to offer.

In the summer terms, one was allowed out on 5 ”week nights” and in winter 3 per term,some of which had to be used for “cultural activities”. We had to be in by 11 p.m.   St Paul’s College used to occasionally have a “Balloon debate” and some of us went to this cultural activity.  I can’t remember what a balloon debate was. Sometimes we babysat for priests’ families. That meant you usually got a nice tea. We could also go out on Saturday evenings until 11…… not to restaurants, not that many of us could ever afford to do that and on Sunday evenings we went to “Church & Social” until 10pm. Most denominations had a young peoples’ gathering after evening worship but that didn’t mean that all who signed out for this went there. We had to sign out whenever we left College grounds and sign in on return.  Hotels were out of bounds unless accompanied by your parents.  First Years were allowed to attend 3 dances and 2nd Years 5.  One of these had to be your own house dance and in your final year the leaving students dance. What scheming went on to get partners!  If one girl in your group knew a student at Rhodes, the poor fellow would be asked to get the required number of blind dates for her friends.  Once he had them there was the matching up of tall and short — all by telephone.  When you were called to the door, you hadn’t a clue who would find waiting for you and most of your friends, who were still waiting for their dates, were hanging out of the windows to see who you had got.   Some were fine, and some were disasters.  Luckily, it was not far to get home if it was a College dance and you had to be in by 12:15!!!

Sadly, college closed at the end of 1975.

Having been the “voice” for Janet’s memories, I would just like to add that in those days one became a qualified teacher after 2 years and as I did a 3rd  year in IST (Infant School Teaching), I was allowed to cast off most of those rules.  They did not apply to qualified teachers!  We still signed out and had to be back by the time the person at the door went off duty and I think hotels were off limits to 3rd years too.

I arrived at GTC 3 years after Janet but during my first 2 years conditions were very much the same except that we had gym lessons before breakfast and not netball, so it was less complicated by the lack of day light as we simply switched the lights on in the gym. We had an exam every Saturday morning as by then they had introduced a system of “continuous evaluation” ….. which helped me lose my fear of exams.

We did, however, have the same rules for Formal Meals and I once attempted to avoid the apology for my tardiness by crawling to my table on all fours,but the excited voices and the swiveling heads plotted my progress to such an extent that I was obliged to stand up and walk shame-facedly to “top table”.

Thank you to Heather for sharing Janet’s and her own memories.  

Janet (Scorer) Rice had us in stitches reminiscing about her and her friends’ antics in the sixties and Helen (Pnematicatos) Fenwick spoke about how grateful she was to have made it to college at all.

Janet (Scorer) Rice – Once the ring-leader of the mischief makers – Now the chief organiser of our Reunions
Now pillars of society but mischievous students back in the day.
Pam (Smith) Pedrick, Liz (Owen-Johnston) Veitch and Jenny (Musgrave-Newton) Attridge
Two of the sisters, Shirley (Goercke) Fletcher, Helen (Powell) Renton, Denise (Packer) Weldon, Jacky (Piderit) Olckers
Barbie (Acton) Bennett, Pam (Roux) Gush, Iona (Hockly) Cowley,
Jenny (Timm) Borchardt, Di (Randall) Burrell, Shann (Weber) De Smidt
Terry Mitchell, Jenny (Gowar) Mitchell, Mother Zelma, Colleen (Bryce) Byron, Heather Howell

Thanks to Barbie Bennett for creating such beautiful table decorations and Gwynne  Nieuwoudt for lending her stunning candelabras.

On Sunday the weekend ended with a memorable Founder’s Day Service led by our own Jenny (Gowar)Mitchell.   Once again she gave an inspirational sermon using kitchen spoons as an object lesson!

Thank you Margie Antrobus for all you did to see that the Chapel was ready for our use and that the service went smoothly.

Thanks too to Pam (Roux) Gush for accompanying us for the singing of the hymns.
Janet brought in the Canterbury Candle and reminded us of its story 

There was a beautiful Jacaranda Tree outside Canterbury House but it had to be felled when Rhodes did renovations to the building.  The girls were very upset about this so their Warden, Coral Waite, arranged for a branch to be cured and then carved into a candle stick.  Ms Waite later married and became Mrs Surtees.  When she and her new husband left Grahamstown, they donated the candle to the Presbyterian Church.  Every time The Old Girls have a reunion it is lent to them for the Founder’s Day Service and it
is lit in remembrance of all deceased Sisters and Old Girls. It has become a tradition for the youngest “Old Girl” to carry it out at the end of the service. 

During the service some of our Old Girls read prayers and the Gospel Reading

Cynthia O’Ehley – Prayer for Educational Institutions
Merle (Acton) Keough – Prayer for Children
Shirley (Goercke) Fletcher  – Gospel Reading
Helen Renton -Prayer for our Country
Sister Carol – Prayers for Religious Communities and for our Homes
Shann our youngest Old Girl carries out The Canterbury Candle while, Betty one of our oldest, follows with the flowers which were placed on the graves of deceased sisters.
Old Girls paying homage to the late Sister Lilian Frances

After Chapel we said our final goodbyes and enjoyed a delicious Tea on the lawns outside the chapel and in front of Lincoln.

The sisters with their lovely children
A lovely spread
Carol (Woodhead) Prentis, Ros (Lachenicht) Holderness, Denise (Packer) Weldon
Liz chats to one of our older “Old Girls” Shirley Fletcher who is in her eighties and still teaches at Kingswood !

What an awesome weekend it was!   Heather and I spent an extra night at our lodgings as did Janet, Jenny and Pam and we all met for dinner at Gino’s on Sunday night.  Once again we behaved and laughed like the students we used to be before returning to serious business of being adults the following day!

Heather, Jenny, Janet, Pam, Helen

Thank you Janet, Jenny and Pam for your brilliant organisation of this reunion.  Thanks too, to Barbie, Margie, Gwynne, Pam Gush, Jenny Mitchell and others who helped to make this such a successful event.  

We do not want these reunions to end.   If you are reading this and wishing you’d been there, please plan to join us in two years time – it might be at a different time of year and The Fab Four – Janet, Jenny, Pam and Liz will let you know in good time.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 20 – Mata Mata

Thursday 15 November 2018

We made a late start this morning.  Earl managed to get some plastic sheeting from one of the staff at the park shop and he and Tony did a good job of sorting out the lack of a back window.

Our Camp at Mata Mata

We had an excellent “Earlie” breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato, bacon and banana and then set off for a game drive at half past nine.

The Hide overlooking a Water Hole

Peter Derichs had produced a series of guides to various game reserves in South Africa called Peter’s Guides.  The snippets of information I have given on the names and places in the Kgalagadi come from such a reference –  Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – by Peter Derichs”   

Kgalagadi means ‘salt pans’.  It is part of a 89000 square kilometers sand field which has a red colour caused by a thin layer of iron oxide on the sand grains. 

The park has two rivers – the Nossob and the Aub which are mainly dry and only flow when there are heavy rains.  There are many years between flooding and the average annual rainfall is 200 mm.  To meet the water needs of the animals, over 86 water points have been provided. These were previously powered by windmills but now most are solar powered.

Today we followed the Auob riverbed road  and checked out each of the waterholes until we reached the Kamqua picnic site where we had lunch and then drove back again.

The Aub River is part of an ancient drainage system and runs in a southerly direction until it joins the Nossob River near Twee Rivieren Camp.  There are 18 water points in the river.

A Swallow-tailed bee-eater in full song
Secretary bird
Male Ostrich seeking shade

Chat fly-catcher
The animals really rely on  camel thorn trees during the heat of the day

The quality of the water at Craig Lockhart bore hole is good.  Craig means rock and Lockhart is a person’s name. It is derived from the French word Loche meaning a fresh water fish.  It is assumed that Lockhart was a name given to a fresh water fisherman.

Craig Lockhart is a good place to spot birds. We spotted a black-breasted snake eagle.  He did not seem to want to pose for his portrait but I managed to get a reasonable shot.

Black-breasted snake-eagle trying to hide
Namaqua dove
Red-headed finch

The Gemsbok were enjoying a drink until theu saw the bullies arrive.

When the wildebeest show up the other buck make way

The Gemsbok allow the bullies to drink until they all scatter  when predators arrive

—  Even though these ones are much smaller than the  grazers they are treated with wary respect
Did you know that giraffe sometimes sit down!

Dertiende en Viertiende Boorgat (thirteenth and fourteenth bore hole) were originally known as Kleinskrij and Grootskrij – small and big diarrhoea.  This is because when a surveyor named Jackson camped there his oxen ate tsamma melon and drank the poor quality water which gave them diarrhoea!

Hopefully the tawny will not get an attack of the runs!
A rather grumpy looking wildebeest

Kamqua like all the picnic sites in the park is not fenced so one must be on the lookout for wild animals when getting out of the car.  Fortunately I have never seen any animals passing through while I’ve been there but cheetah are often in the vicinity.   Kamqua means green pothole.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure Day 18 and 19 – Windhoek to Mata Mata

13 November – Windhoek

Sadly we had to leave Etosa National Park today. It has been the most awesome visit ever and we are full of all the amazing sightings we have had in the 10 days we’ve been here.
Today we headed to Windhoek and once again checked into AnJo Villa.   We had a long afternoon’s rest and then went to do some shopping before having dinner at Jo’s Beer house.

14 November – Mata Mata

We had an early breakfast at AnJo’s and were fueled and on the road by 7:45.  It was a 6 hour drive to Mata Mata border post and we only stopped for fuel and then a brief snack break on the side of the road.

The last 250 km was on a gravel road.  Our Everest has new tyres with tread meant for rough roads and we were going well on the excellent road.  A few stones were kicked up by the tyres and I hoped that the front windscreen would not get any nicks.   Suddenly we heard a loud bang –like a rifle shot.

What was that – I yelled

In a dead calm voice the Earl replied,  “The back windscreen just shattered.  A stone must have thrown, bounced off the caravan and smashed it.”

He didn’t even stop, saying that there was nothing we could do till we got to Mata Mata.

Our smashed back windscreen

It was to say the least a little nerve wracking as the glass kept caving into the back of the car and stones flew in and landed right up front!  It happened at 2 pm and we arrived at the border post at 3.  We were checked through by the Namibian Border Control and then just had the car checked by officials on the SA side at Mata Mata.

We set up camp and then dealt with the shattered glass.   It was a mission to get all the glass cleared away.   We did not put up the sides of our canopy so Earl used one of them  to cover the hole where the windscreen was for the night
Pat and I spent a short time in the hide overlooking the waterhole and saw some jackal, surricates, ground squirrel and birds.  


Then we went to prepare supper. Just as we started there was a stir and Earl went to investigate.  Just three lions, he reported back, so we dashed for cameras and binoculars, left everything and dashed to the fence.  What an amazing start to our Kgalalagadi visit.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 17 – Okaukuejo

12 November 2018

Today we first went to the waterhole then had breakfast in camp.  We were out by 8:15 and had a lovely morning.

First of all our birding was most rewarding 

Crimson-breasted shrike – National Bird of Namibia

 

Sabota Lark
Purple Roller

Then we went past Gemsbok vlakte and on to Olifantsbad. 

On the side of the road we found this broken-horned steenbok

Spot his wife over the road

There is a picnic spot and long-drop near Olifantsbad and I wanted to have a pit stop there before going to the waterhole but The Earl wanted to check it out first.   If nothing is there he tends to resist waiting a while before leaving.  I wanted to have coffee and a snack in the car at the waterhole, giving us time to sit and wait for the creatures to arrive!

I was quite cross that he wouldn’t listen to me – – – but not for long. As soon as we came in sight of the water hole I spotted them – A whole tribe of ellies drinking.  And that’s not all – there was a variety of other game too.  It was awesome.

Spot the Red Hartebeest Baby following his mommy.

 

Still wobbly on his legs

We spent over an hour watching and photographing.

Then we went past Gemsbokvlakte again and enjoyed another half hour watching all the plains animals drinking. 

A mom and dad ostrich were standing in the sun with wings spread to shade their chicks – It was so sweet.

Are you guys okay?
It’s cool and shady here, thanks Mom and Dad

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 16 – Okaukuejo

11 November 2018

Today was overcast and we had a few drops of rain but the wind died down.  We made our way to Sprookwoud some way away but did not have very good sightings. The animals are clearly closer to the camp.

We stopped at a picnic site for breakfast and found dozens of thirsty sociable weavers.  We poured water into the empty bird bath and they stormed it with gusto. A bul bul tried to join them but they would have none of it.   Then a little goshawk swooped on them and they scattered in fright. Suddenly I heard a splat and couldn’t see through my right eye! I removed my glasses and found that a frightened bird had crapped on them!

Everybody thought it was very funny!

Back at camp we went to the Waterhole and saw a lovely collection of game.

We went out again in the afternoon but saw very little.

Northern Korhaan – female

Sabota Lark
Quite an effort just to get a drink

Zebra and Gemsbok
Approaching the water hole
Elephant and springbok enjoying a drink toether
Typical Etosha scene
Greater Kestrel

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 15 Halali to Okaukeujo

10 November 2018

Today was ‘pack up and go’ and ‘set up and rest’ day.  I was up at quarter to six, had a shower and started putting things in their correct places in preparation for towing the caravan.   The Earl cooked us scrambled eggs and by the time Pat and I had tidied the dishes he’d lowered the roof, pulled up the stand and put the electrical connections away.  We soon had the canopy dismantled and rolled up and Pat and Tony had their tent done too.   So at 8:15 we departed for Okaukeujo.  We took the direct route but The Mools took a slow drive stopping at waterholes.

We did pop into Rietfontein as it was easy to maneuver the caravan there.  There were vultures on the giraffe that the mating couple had killed yesterday.

 We had a few other interesting sightings along the way but there were long stretches of not very much.  When we did see animals there were gatherings of hundreds of mixed species. 

We saw a big male lion in the distance – he was walking toward a pan where there were herds of herbivores and they were clearly aware of him.

Big herd of zebra
Springbok find a shady tree

We were excited to find some interesting birds on the way.

Greater Kestrel
Double banded courser with chick

Northern Black Korhaan

We arrived at Okaukeujo at 10:15. 

Entrance to Okaukuejo

I went to check in and was told I could not do so before 11.  The conversation went like this.

“No check in until 11.”

Now I understand this for chalet accommodation – they need to clean the room, make sure it’s ready for the next occupants – but for camping? Well, maybe if the site has been left in a mess – but most campers are responsible and don’t litter! 

“Really?  For camping?”

“YES!”

I put on a desperate expression – “But we’re towing a caravan – can’t we just park it and check in later?”  

She looked put out and said I could park it outside reception.

“There is no caravan parking available,” said I.  “My hubs is looking for a place as we speak. Please just let us park and we’ll check in later.”

She didn’t look happy but she gave in and agreed.  I thanked her profusely – got the site number and off we went to set up.  When we saw some of the tiny sites we were worried that the one assigned to us would have no shade and be too small for our Gecko Off Road Caravan plus the Mools’  tent but were pleasantly surprised when we got to Number 23-  It was in excellent nick and had a lovely shady tree which hosted the sociable weavers’ nests.  Other birds liked the tree too and we saw white-bellied sunbirds, masked weavers and scarlet chested sunbird.

It was hot!  We set up quickly and went to check in properly at 11:15.   Then we popped into the shop for bitterly cold sparkling water and ice cream!

The Earl then had a nap while I edited photos and did my diary.  

The Mools arrived an hour or so after us, set up and had some lunch.

Our Campsite

We then we all set off for a drive leaving around 4:30 pm.  The trip up had yielded very little so we weren’t expecting too much. All we hoped for were some interesting birds.

Well we were in for a surprise – We saw some cars staring across the veld toward the mopane trees.  On the tree line I spotted the first lion.   Then another and still two more!  We followed them for awhile. 

The first lion

Then some more

“They’re probably heading to Gemsbok Vlakte Water Hole,” said The Earl.  It was quite a distance for them to walk so we left them and carried on to another waterhole – Olifants Bad.  On arriving there we saw a few cars watching the guinea-fowl and other birds making quite a commotion.   We saw nothing until a ‘jeep-jockey’ called  – “Just drive around those cars and look this way,” he said, “There’s a leopard drinking at the edge of the pond.”  So we did but it took a while to spot the well camouflaged creature.   We watched her drink for a second and then she was up.

She was off!

She turned around and headed off through the mopani trees.  She was escorted by a tribe of Praise Singers in the form of admiring guinea-fowl!  They kept pace with her and we guessed that so long as they could see her, they were safe!

Leopard escorted by her praise singers

We followed the other cars who wanted to see her emerge onto the road on the other side of the trees. They were waiting for her and when she emerged everyone started reversing. We ended up being in the best spot and got some stunning shots of her before she disappeared though the tress on the other side of the road.

We saw her coming through the trees

Right next to the car

Wow!  How trilled we were to see this creature so seldom seen in Etosha!   We were on a high as we travelled toward Gemsbok Vlakte. There was nobody home when we arrived and no sign of the lions. Then we saw and heard a jackal howling.  “That means the lions are nearby,” I said.  We drove along the road a little while but quickly turned around when we saw the four rulers of the jungle marching determinedly across the veld toward the waterhole!

Rulers of the Vlakte
Slaking their thirst at Gemsbok vlakte water hole

It was awesome to observe them slaking their thirst.  The skies were darkening and a storm was brewing. 

There was thunder and lightening.  It was time to return to camp before the gate was closed. Suddenly the wind picked up and caused a dust storm and visibility was so poor The Earl could scarcely see the road! Fortunately it cleared and just before arriving home we spotted a rhino.

At Camp we were  just in time to secure all of the canopy and tent poles.  Many of the over-lander tents were blown over and campers were scurrying about to secure them.

We decided that making fire was going to be a problem so we bit the bullet and dug deep into our pockets to pay for an expensive meal at the restaurant!   It was worth it though and a wonderful way to celebrate our lovely sightings.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 14

9 November 2018

I only woke up at quarter to six this morning and hopped up to go to the showers.  Our little camp was still very quiet when  I returned although The Earl had risen and gone to the ablutions too.  I called to Pat who sleepily replied that she was awake but not dressed!   I put on the kettle and soon we were all enjoying coffee and rusks. 

We decided not to go to the waterhole this morning. I thought this to be a bad move as I was sure we’d see more there than on a game drive – but I was proved wrong!  Today we had the most awesome day as my photos will demonstrate

We visited several waterholes and each one had something special to amuse us.

Of course we stopped for birds along the way.   Our national bird the blue crane and national animal, the springbok appeared in the same frame!

We also saw Norther Black korhaan for the first time this trip.  A major tick was the red breasted swallow, which The Earl spotted.  

Imagine our delight when we pulled into our breakfast stop – Springfontein Waterhole and saw a honeymoon couple right out in the open.  When lions are in love they spend all day together and mate ever 10 to 15 minutes!  We spent over an hour with these two love lions while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.

First they had their backs to us

But soon they turned to look our way – we were in the perfect spot

He cuddled up closely

While watching herds and herds of zebra and other grazers at Salvador I spotted a huge male lion making his way toward the smorgasbord.   As they became aware of his approach the animals stood to attention and only relaxed marginally when he flopped down under a shady tree.

Watch out Zebra – Lion approaching!

While the lion takes a nap, let’s have a drink!

On our way back to camp we came across cheetah!  Cheetah are not seen very often in Etosha so we were thrilled to see three on a kill.   They were behind a thorn bush so photography was tricky.

One of them was kind enough to look up from his meal and almost look at the camera

After supper we sat at the waterhole for an hour or two.  Rhino and elephant came down to drink.  No flash photography is allowed from the hide but I got one or two of the rhino before it became too dark.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 13 – Halali, Etosha National Park

 

8 November

I was up by five thirty this morning.  I made coffee and woke everyone at quarter to six.  By 6:15 we were all at the waterhole and spent an hour or so there.  It was awesome watching the birds and then the animals come down in turns to drink.

First we watched black-faced impala and guinea fowl drinking in the early light

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then a marabou stork flew in, landing like a Boeing  into the shallows.

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A little later kudu arrived

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Lots of little birds were flitting about too.

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Golden-breasted Bunting

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Black-crowned tjagra 

The Earl cooked breakfast and then we went for a drive just after 9.  

We were delighted to see herds and herds of plains animals  The zebra population is certainly in no danger of extinction in the Etosha National Park!

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Plenty of zebra

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This baby tried to hid behind Mommy

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Double Banded Sand-grouse came down to drink too.

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A springbok and kori bustard barely greeted each other as they passed by each other.

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We came across a rhino without a horn  – removed to prevent poaching?  I don’t like that idea.

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We saw these boys at a distance and then they came closer and closer.  They were on their way to a waterhole.

We made it a short day today and returned to camp at 14:30.   Pat and I did some laundry and we all had a swim in the pool.

For dinner we did chicken curry in the Remoska Pot.

After dinner we went to the waterhole. Earl decided not to come. Pat and I stayed from 8:30 to 10:30 but Tony left after he’d seen enough rhino standing perfectly still to last a lifetime!   Pat and I were determined to see elephant and two large males appeared as soon as Tony left!   The rhino made a hasty retreat at their approach and hung in the shadows until they left.

During our vigil hyenas came and went and  we counted 10 altogether.  There were also a total of 10 rhino coming and going during the evening.   Lovely to see that these endangered creatures have escaped the poachers’ guns.

We also saw a genet.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 12 – Namutoni to Halali – Etosha National Park

7 November 2018

I booked three nights in each camp so that we have two full days to enjoy each one.  So today would be treated as a pack up and set up day. We got up at 6:00 had a leisurely breakfast then packed up camp.  By 8:30 we were on the road, The Earl and I ahead as The Mools wanted to visit the Fort Shop before they left.   Because we tow a caravan we did not do any detours to waterholes.  In spite of this the main route of 70 km directly to Halali produced some lovely sightings

The dry arid regions are popular with secretary birds and we were thrilled to find two today.

We continued to stop for the odd jackal and giraffe but were not expecting anything to exciting.

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Then half way to Halali we saw two cars stopped on the side of the road.  “Probably rhino,”  I said to The Earl but as we drew nearer I spotted her in the shade of a bush just a stone’s throw from the road

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– A female lion feasting on what we think was the remains of a giraffe kill.  There were two uninvited guests whom she could easily have chased off but she generously allowed them to chew on a bone or two.

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“There must be others,”  I said, scanning the area with my binoculars.

“I looked,” said The Earl – “Nobody else here”

“I think I see them under that tree,”  I replied.

“No – they’re just logs!”

But then one of the logs flicked an ear!   “One male and three females”  I informed him.
A little while later the dining female got up and went to join the pride.

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They all sat up to greet her and then the male decided he needed more nourishment and went off to the kill chasing the jackal for good measure.  We watched for a bit longer and then made our way to Halali well satisfied with our morning.

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It was just after 11 when we arrived.  We checked in, went to the tourist shop to get a few supplies and then got our caravan set up on site 8 before the Mools arrived.  I was worried that they would miss the lions but although they’d detoured to a waterhole they did get to see them.  They were all under the sleeping tree enjoying a final chew on the bones.

The Mools were soon set up and we had a bite to eat and a nap before setting out for a short game drive at 15:30.

We visited Nuanasa waterhole where we had fun watching the antics of golden breasted bunting, cinnamon breasted bunting,  Cape glossy starlings and red headed quelea.

Goaz is always a good water hole to visit but there wasn’t much to see today.  However, we enjoyed the few zebra and impala as well as the Egyptian geese and redbilled teal.

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When we got back to camp we went to the waterhole, then went back for a braai.   After supper Tony, Pat and I went to the waterhole for an hour and saw a rhino with a baby, another rhino joined them for a while and then they went their separate ways.  A few hyena also visited.

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Halali has the best water hole of all three camps.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 11 Namutoni, Etosha National Park

Apologies to my regular followers for not posting every day. The internet in the bush is slow and won’t even think of obliging  to upload my photographs!  My diary is up to date so I will post when I can.  There probably won’t be another until I return to Struisbaai.  Today I’m in Windhoek but then it’s The Kgalagdi  where there’s no internet at all.

6 November 2018\

The picnic sites in Etosha are not great so we usually stop at a waterhole and have brekkie in the car.  This can be tricky when it comes to pouring coffee and dishing out cereal but a chopping  board, balanced on Pat’s file which just fits over the box of field guides makes a suitable table.

When we parked off at Groot Okvevi, there was not much to see except for a few doves and starlings taking the waters.  We sat and watched for a while and then other birds appeared to entertain us. Then a dear little steenbok appeared and timidly took a drink before scampering off.

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The Earl captured the reflection so beautifully

After that the action really began – we munched on cereal and boiled eggs while watching zebra. Then a family of four kudu emerged from the bushes and took turns to drink.  They became very alert and then something frightened them and they sprang out of the water and further up the bank.

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A pregnant hyena came loping down the from the thicket and plunged straight into the water.  She sat down up to her neck and the other animals could only look on and hope she’d leave soon. But she was enjoying her bath and stayed for ages.   Tony quipped – I think she’s planning a water birth!

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We also enjoyed watching Namaqua and Burchell sandgrouse fly in to the water’s edge take a drink and then fly off again.  This happens in waves and is fascinating to watch.

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We spent about three hours just at this one waterhole.  The hyena did eventually leave the water but she plopped down under a nearby tree and had a sleep in the shade.  When we returned in the afternoon, she was back in the pond.

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We went back to camp just before 11 and spent some time at the Camp Waterhole then rested till 2:30 when we went out again.

After stopping off to see our pregnant hyena we drove some roads and the highlights were at Tsumcar waterhole which is really popular with the in-crowd.  Not sure what the waiting list here is but it’s always busy.

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This warthog had fun rolling in the mud

We also enjoyed the shore birds

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Marsh Sandpiper

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Kitlitz Plover

We arrived at another waterhole just in time to see the elephants come down for their evening drink and bath.

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Our day ended with a delicious chicken stir fry.  Pat and I prepared the ingredients and Tony cooked it expertly on the Skottel.

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