Monday, March 26, 2007

crazy day, so just a quick stroll

Our son-in-law commented this weekend that we are seriously strange people. Maybe, maybe not, I'll let you decide for see it all happened like this...

We woke up early on Saturday, and saw that the sunrise was looking good so we went for a stroll to see the best viewpoint....

As we carried on, we looked through this gate...

and saw how stunning the sun looked through the trees and the shadows it cast across the grass...

then we spotted the stone crosses on the headstones, and you know how I seem to be intruiged by them...
yup, it is an old historic graveyard, we have been past often but never been inside or looked around it.
So in we went, and before we knew it, we were having a fascinating time reading all the inscriptions... so much history here...the dates on the headstones are all in the mid to late 1800s, and life must have been hard, there were so many little children, and most of the adults were in their 40s and early 50s.
(If you want to see the names, dates etc the pictures are clickable to enlarge)
There were many graves with whole families in them, some were so sad, one had 5 kids followed by their 33 year old mother.
Its a long way to Tipperary... there were lots of Irish names.
I loved the old metal railings around some of the graves.

The magnificent trees must have been planted at around the same time as some of these graves were done, they absolutely dwarf the church, even though it is high on the hill overlooking the old graveyard, and judging by the way they lean, they have withstood many gales in the last century and a half!
Sadly the satanists have vandalised some of the headstones, such a shame.

It was a lovely outing... well we enjoyed it, but as I say, J thought we were a bit batty to enjoy a sunrise stroll in a graveyard....oh well add it to the growing list of eccentric behaviour!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

And out comes the old soapbox…..

DebR was chatting about her disappointment in one of Stephen King’s books recently, and said her one rule is that there must at least be a glimmer of hope in the ending. I fully agree with this, it doesn’t have to be a mushy ‘happily ever after’ thing, but I hate ploughing through 400 odd pages, just to be left feeling flat at the end, as if the whole thing was pointless.

I just finished reading an old Wilbur Smith novel, written in 1991 (Elephant Song). It was one of Smith’s usual rollicking adventure stories, set predominantly in Africa, and dealing (with a great deal of perception and insight) with the issues particular to this tortured continent. I enjoyed that aspect of it.

His main character is a larger than life hero, there is also a heroine whose path happens to cross the hero’s at some point, and there is the usual selection of unremittingly horrible baddies. By the end of the book, he had tied up all his loose ends, hero and heroine were alive and in love, pristine country was saved from the ravages of greedy oppressors and exploiters, and all the baddies had met with particularly gruesome deaths.

The odd thing is that, despite all that, I felt I was left high and dry at the end. The worst of the baddies is killed by the hero, and after the lurid description, that is it, end of book, and I sat there reeling from the grossness of the final scene. I almost got the impression he got bored writing this book, and so, having tied up the final loose end, couldn’t wait to put down his pen (metaphorically speaking, it sounds better than “left his keyboard”!)

I was stewing about why I was left feeling this way, and concluded that it has to do with the following:

I have commented here in the past that I seldom enjoy books or movies with 2 dimensional characters, because we all have the capacity for both good and evil to some degree. What got me thinking with this book was that, while the baddies were uniformly evil with no discernable redeeming features, I personally found the so called hero of the piece almost as bad, because I just could not buy in to the motives for some of his actions.

All the nastiness committed came down to 2 things, greed and revenge. The greed of the baddies was, naturally portrayed as inexcusable, while the revenge undertaken by the hero was portrayed as somehow noble… ‘Don’t worry, Johnny, I will avenge your horrible murder’….. and off he went to commit some rather nasty murders himself.

Clouding the issue further was the whole justification that, while in peace time certain acts are not in any way acceptable, it seems that, as soon as a state of war exists (declared or undeclared) it suddenly becomes heroic to perform the same bestial acts in the name of patriotism.

I just can’t buy into this reasoning. I don’t think that sadistic or murderous acts, whether for the nation in a state of war, or for personal revenge, are any more acceptable than cold blooded murder.

The thing about revenge is, whilst it sounds all heroic and noble, it simply perpetuates the evil ad infinitum.….
…You don’t like what I stand for, I don’t like you OR what you stand for, you protest with the odd petrol bomb, I send in a unit or two of my armed forces, you smash a plane into my building, I invade your country, (And I hope I can fool the world into thinking that all this was purely based on “noble” revenge, because the fact is that you also have so much of a commodity I really need….) you kill a bunch of my soldiers, I publicly execute your leader, you……

And so it goes, round and round and bigger and bigger. So tell me, is “greed masquerading as revenge” any better as a motive for killing than Religious fervour or just plain bigotry and hatred? Bottom line, everyone who commits this kind of thing is just as culpable as anyone else. Evil is evil, however it is rationalised or dressed up.

I have done a lot of reading lately about the opening of this continent, the early explorers, the colonial era, the slave trade, the wars, genocides etc.
From the perspective of the explorers, those who lived here when they arrived were uncivilised barbarians, capable of unbelievable savagery. Then you start reading about the acts committed for ‘king and country’ while the lands were being colonised, and you have to notice that the veneer of civilisation on the part of the colonists was extremely thin. No matter how they rationalised it, they committed atrocities equal to any the ‘savages’ lived by. (They just had tea and cucumber sandwiches afterwards, and built a few roads and railways, which made it all so civilised, you see!!)

If violence and killing were made unacceptable, no matter what the motive, so much of the ugliness that takes place on this planet would evaporate.
I realise this is all wishful and pointless speculation, because there are so many vested interests in keeping the world in a state of war that it is never going to end. The theatre may move around and different surgeons may be involved, but the operations will continue!

The bottom line is that human beings are all, (yup you, me, the sweet old lady down the road) ALL capable of some degree of ugliness when provoked enough. I have been shocked at the inner rage and desire for revenge I have grappled with since having a few personal experiences with violent crime recently. I find myself wishing all sorts of nastiness on the perpetrators, and then thinking ‘who are you and what have you done with good old easy-going pacifist Sue?’ Even though my veneer of civilisation is thick enough to prevent me from acting on the thoughts, I have been shocked that they are even there at all!

I guess the best we can do, on a personal level, is to examine our motives and actions, and choose NOT to embark on any form of vengeance, no matter how tiny or petty (I don’t think any of us are likely to commit a revenge murder anytime soon, but even hurting someone with a few well chosen words is a form of revenge…) And we can refuse to condone it or applaud it as noble when the politicians try and sugar coat it and sell it to us.

OK, the soap box has been kicked back under the bed…

More Spring Tide madness...

look at the height of these waves above the main freeway leading into town! Glad we were on the other side of the road!
Daily Pix:

Bonus pics:
Even ugly old powerlines take on some magic when bathed in orange light.
I love sisal flowers...
OK, that’s it for today, Cheers

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


On Monday, after showing you the different moods of the sea at St Francis, we watched the evening news and found out a bit more. It appears that the moon, sun and earth are in a special alignment which only happens every 18 years or so, and that has led to exceptional Spring Tides. (In fact so extreme that Durban and parts of the Kwa-Zulu Natal coast had to have the beachfront properties evacuated, the waves went right into shops on the Golden Mile to counter height, and many roads were completely undermined!!)

So, armed with the trusty Silvia (my camera!!!) i went off to the beachfront to check out the low tide yesterday at about 11 am, and again the high tide at 4.45. Before I show you those pictures, here is another contrast that serendipitously came my way!

As I was parked at the roadhouse (OK I admit, I was getting an ice-cream, a girl needs energy for all this photography you know!!), I spotted something in my rear view window that was a real blast from the past for me.

Here it is... An old (and I mean OLD!!) white Kombi. Back in 1975, when i was living in Johannesburg after dropping out of University, I bought one just like this from some hippies, with the old split windscreen and hinged door on the side! It was old even then, in fact it was a struggle to get it road-worthied. It was done out with a big mattress in the back, and then behind the front seats was a cupboard, with a little galley set up, a hifi with massive speakers... the walls had been cladded with carpet underfelt for insulation and then hardboard panels covered with wall paper covered with beardsley prints of the can can dancers, moulin rouge posters etc! In the space between the bed and the cupboard was a small patch of floor, on which i put a little Persian rug, and above it was a home made roof hatch, through which you could get wonderful views of wild game as you travelled. My dad said it was the most decadent thing he had ever seen and called it my "sex-pit"!!! On impulse, I would pick up bunches of friends and take to the road at a moments notice, often to Swaziland, or Zimbabwe, and had some amazing times in the old bus. I have a photo somewhere, i will try and scratch it out and show you sometime!
Anyway after that little detour down memory lane, as I was editing this picture to post on the blog (I always have to reduce them so they don't take FOREVER to upload), I spotted the new Combi behind the old one, so there you have it, a contrast!
High Tide and Low Tide
Ok, so we get to the tides, here is the bay at Spring low...

and here she is 6 hours later at Spring High.
To give you some idea of how high this is, this is the same tame little rock pool Ethan swam in HERE. It was high tide then too, but normal high tide!!
These guys took a bit of a chance ! I didn't see them catching any fish but I sure saw them catching a wave!
Speaking of catching waves, the surfers were out in force too.
Final contrast, high pressure and low pressure.
Remember learning about Land and Sea breezes in Geography classes at school (in my case, somewhere in the dark ages!!) This week I saw it illustrated perfectly, by a horrible pollution making smokestack! I have been intruiged by the different moods across the park, so often when I take my ddd looking out my front door pix, i zoom in on the distant city, and am collecting a whole lot of different views. This week the factory was belching a lot, and after a day or two it registered that there is a pattern to the smoke direction....
in the early morning it blows to the right (out to sea) because the sea is relatively warmer than the land, having retained more of the previous day's heat overnight. Hot air rises, so a low pressure area is created over the sea, and the air over the land moves in to equalise it.
By late afternoon, the land has absorbed more heat than the sea. which now has a relatively high pressure area by contrast. The air is moving in from the sea to the land, to fill that low pressure area, and the smoke has swung to the left (inland).

Daily Pix:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sherlock Holmes strikes again!

It was a dark and stormy night… (well to be accurate it wasn’t stormy at all, …yet)

A certain lady, well known for her erratic sleep habits, was awake and pillow punching at 2am. Since she was in the beautiful Port St Francis, she decided to make good use of the time by taking some night shots over the water. At this stage it was so still that the lights left long reflections in the mirror-like water of the harbour
….like this. (the storm came later…but that is another story.)

While enjoying the cool night air, and playing with settings on the camera, our insomniac became aware of 4 shadowy figures behaving strangely at the entrance to the jetties. One after the other, they started climbing over the railing, and clinging to the side of the guard-house, they edged around to the path leading to the bridge which leads to the yacht jetties. Our enterprising observer immediately set up the tripod in that direction, and photographed the “breaking and entering” in progress.

When she saw the 4 hanging around the yachts, she toyed with the idea of phoning the police emergency number, but was still not sure that an actual crime was being committed, and not just a drunken prank. So she crept out, and went up to the top of the hotel, then out around the side to try and see the emergency phone number on the National Sea Rescue Building, next to the guard house.

Unfortunately there was no way to see it without standing in a place where the 4 intruders could see her. Having learned her lesson after the injuries inflicted the last time she accosted an intruder, (you can read about that here and here) she kept out of sight, and returned to her balcony to watch and see what they were up to.

Suddenly, the silence was broken by the chugging of a motor, and a boat came in from the sea, and headed towards the yacht that the intruders had climbed aboard. Aha, thought our watchful guardian of the law…. It must be a drug deal about to go down and this is the rendezvous. But the boat went past the yacht and the 2 people moored it and then walked right past the yacht, ignoring the others. They got to the security access gate, and found that it was locked, and the guard was not in the guard-house. They went back onto the bridge and whistled, and within a short time a security guard appeared around the corner and unlocked the gate for them.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to report her obsevations to someone in authority, our intrepid sleuth scurried back upstairs and caught up with the guard as he was about to disappear around the corner again.
She explained what she had seen, and voiced her concern that perhaps the yacht was being broken into. The guard assured her that the 4 people she described were the owners of the yacht, and had already told him they would be sleeping onboard. They had told him they would be arriving very late, and had asked for his key. He had refused to part with it, so they had obviously decided that, in his absence, they would get in another way!

Our would-be crime buster slunk back to her room. Fortunately, since her husband slept through the whole thing, and no-one knows about it, she doesn’t have to admit to feeling rather foolish for her ridiculous paranoia (obviously brought on by watching too much TV and having too many recent brushes with criminals)!
The (previously mentioned) storm…..
During the whole paranoia incident, the wind rose steadily, from nothing at 2am to really howling and whistling by 4am.
In the morning, a walk to the harbour wall revealed that a huge fleet of chokka boats (read more about them here) was drawn up outside the harbour wall, obviously sheltering from the coming storm.
The waters of the bay were relatively calm, compared to the open seas beyond the point, which were extremely choppy.
During the downpour, the fleet assumed a ghostly appearance as they rode out the storm.
Later in the afternoon, the sun came out, and the wind dropped below gale force. The sea took on a lovely deep blue, and the bright colours of the boats gleamed.
and the cloud remnants looked wonderful with the sun going down behind them
Most of the boats stayed where they were during the night, with their powerful banks of lights blazing to attract the little squid. (These halogen lamps are each larger than a man’s head!)
At sunrise, they were just turning them off, but the sea had risen during the night, and yesterday’s peaceful bay was running a large and erratic swell.
As if to reward the sailors for their courage and patience in riding out the storm, the sunrise was spectacular.
The kids came out to join us for lunch, and we went round to the penguin rehabilitation centre. Needless to say the wee E adored the whole thing, all those boats and waves and penguins... so cool!
With the Equinox a couple of days away, the seas are already building up to some extreme spring tides. By late afternoon yesterday, the waves were pounding so hard right over the harbour wall that it was impossible to walk to the end without a serious drenching.
It is hard to give you an idea of the scale of these waves, but if you look at the top smooth section of the harbour wall, (click on the picture if you need to see it bigger) that is the height of the inside walkway, and the wall is so high that you cannot look over it without standing on a step 500mm high. So bear in mind that this is high tide, and there is still about 4 times the height of the smooth bit below that, showing above the waterline!
We finally returned to the car and very reluctantly managed to tear ourselves away and return home,
......the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

A lovely surprise in the post!
Today 3 lovely ATC's arrived from Janet. Thanks so much, Janet, I love them. I don't have my camera with me today, so can't show them to you, but watch this space!

Daily photos: