Thursday, September 27, 2007

bloggers against abuse day

Hi, well the big day has dawned, and today is bloggers against abuse day. if you want to find out more, click on the icon on my sidebar. I have been putting ideas together, but have been really ill for the past 4 days, (suspected glandular fever) and to be honest, my brain is like cotton wool, I just do not have what it takes to pull it all together. So I may have a go at a later stage, and in the meantime I will give you links to a couple of websites dealing with child abuse in South Africa, which is very prevalent.
the first is on the south african police site.
and the second is training for teachers to know what to look out for and how to deal with it.
sorry, that's it for now, back to bed!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gone fishin'

You know how your life sort of rolls along in neutral sometimes, one day follows the last, all pretty average, and then suddenly one comes along that is an unexpected gem?

Yesterday was like that. J finished work early, and we had arranged for K, J ,Ethan and I to go out to Seaview to visit I, C and little Amelia. The weather report had warned of pretty foul weather, and for a while the wind was a bit hectic, so we bundled our jackets into the boot (or trunk if you are American. To us here in S.A. a trunk is either a large box-like suicase, something that holds a tree up, or something that hangs usefully on the front of an elephant's face... but I digress...)

When we got there, it was surprisingly pleasant, so the girls and littlies went off to the beach to collect rounded pebbles, and Ian, J and I went off further down the coast to do some fishing.

When I was telling you about some of the Coastal Villages the other day, I stopped at Seaview. The next one along is a place called Beachview, which is similar, houses hugging the first dune overlooking the sea, facing south towards Antarctica. It is a wild rocky section of coastline, with little rock pools, and tiny stoney beaches. But if you carry on a little way past beachview, you arrive at the Maitland River Mouth, one of the most pristine beaches you will find, it is magic! It is not built up, so no village here, thank goodness, just miles of unspoiled beaches.
The Maitlands river flows into the sea here, so in one breathtaking spot, you can wade through the river, swim in the freshwater lagoon formed when the mouth is blocked by a sandbar, walk across miles of wide clean beaches, swim in the sea (not a great idea here, the riptides are fierce)fish or collect mussels from the rocks that start on the Beachview side and continue past Schoenmakerskop to the East, or slide down the huge dunes on one side of the river mouth. (if you follow the link, it takes you to a post done in May, when we stopped by on a day when the wind was HOWLING and I showed a few views of the sand sweeping off the dunes, with the river and lagoon in the foreground.) However, yesterday, we were on a mission to catch fish, so it was all business as we waded into the sea (surprisingly warm) and cast out.

yours truly

There were all kinds of fishermen on the beach, it seems the little ones with wings were way more successful than the big ones..

Some of us were more serious than others...

Max joined us there when he finished work, and wandered around taking pictures, including this one showing that I was only half concentrating on the fishing, because I was taking a big chance with my precious camera round my neck in the waves, snapping away at the beautiful scenery!

As we were packing up, Ian went to cast a final line, and a few minutes later called us to look. A cape clawless otter (usually very shy and nocturnal so seldom seen) was sneaking up the beach near him, on the lookout to score an easy meal from his supply of bait on the rocks! What a magic way to end the day!
In my previous "gotta love africa" post, I showed some of the wonderful inventive ways that people make the best of their circumstances here. Sheila commented "Imagine what they could accomplish with the proper resources..?".
She is so right, there is a level of creativity here that makes Heath Robinson look boring! You must admit this is really clever to get hot water! Given the right conditions, I believe there is enormous potential here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gotta love Africa #2

Last time I used this heading, I featured the wonderful aspects of African wildlife on our doorstep. This time here is a glimpse of the human side, that makes it the unique continent it is! walkman Zimbabwe style!
Vehicle trailer, Zambian style

I cannot take credit for these photos, they were e-mailed to me by a friend, so I can't give credit, but thanks to whoever took them!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coastal Villages

The other day I took you to visit the little seaside village of Schoenies. Today I went out to Seaview, which is a bit further along the coast, so I thought I'd take you along for the ride!

As you know by now, I have a thing about maps, so just to set the scene and put things in perspective, here is a map of the coast, from St Francis Bay in the West, (Which I have already written about ad nauseam!) eastwards towards Cape Receife, where the bay sweeps north in a big curve, into Nelson Mandela Bay. (courtesy of Google Earth, one of my all time favourite toys!!)

Zooming in a bit, here is the stretch from the Gamtoos River Mouth to Cape Receife (Clickable to see a larger view)

The city of Port Elizabeth stretches as far as Mount Pleasant, which is the end of the built up area, and then one travels through an area of unspoilt coastal bush, scattered with smallholdings and farms, towards Seaview and Beachview, which are technically part of the outlying suburbs of PE.

One of the surprising things about this stretch of coast, considering how stunning it is, is that it is remarkably undeveloped and unspoiled. (Not that I am complaining, just surprised that the greedy developers haven't discovered it yet, I hope it stays that way for a long time to come!)
There is a long stretch of coastline before the next spot, called Sardinia Bay. Along here there are many lovely properties, it is a very upmarket area of smallholdings, but the beach itself is undeveloped. I'll share some pix of that later, as I have to find and scan them still.
You travel through Deer Park, which has smallholdings on the landward side and a farm on the sea side, towards the next little settlement, called Kini Bay. It is just a small cluster of beach houses surrounded by pristine bush.
The coastal bush here is very much as it must have been when the 1820 settlers arrived, it is dense, but has no tall trees. Not really inviting if you want to form a town! And because this part of the coastline is known for its strong winds, the sand blowing off the dunes was, according to the early accounts, almost unbearable!
After Kini Bay, you travel on, until you enter the little village of Seaview. This is bigger than Schoenies, it even has a Hotel (currently between owners, and in a state of dis-repair) and a supermarket. But it remains a friendly little village where most of the neighbours know each other.
Looking to the left, you can see right up to Jeffries Bay on a clear day (a world renowned surf spot!)

And the reason for our trip to Seaview? You guessed it, her name is Amelia Kai.
Her mom and dad hired a cottage overlooking the rocks there, and as we stood looking at the waves, we were enchanted to see a huge group of dolphins surfing there! Lucky girl, what an amazing place to start your life on this planet!

Friday, September 14, 2007


I seldom watch day-time TV. Years ago when I was a young mom grappling with 2 littlies, running a smallholding (growing veggies, fixing fences, milking my cow, making jam, butter etc) and simultaneously running a pottery studio, it wasn't an issue anyway, I barely had time to BREATHE, never mind watch TV!

But at the time, I met the middle aged wife of one of Max's colleagues who was very obviously bored, lonely and depressed, and she had got into the habit of mooching around in her dressing gown, watching whatever rubbish was served up on TV all day long.

I felt sorry for her, (especially as South Africa only had 1 TV channel in those days, now we have 4 if you are not on satellite, and even now it is often hard to find anything worth watching!) but I really took it to heart, I never wanted to end up like that.

So it became a sort of unwritten rule chez-farty that the TV did not get turned on during the day, and even now all these years later, it still usually applies. Exceptions are when one of us is sick in bed, and needing mindless entertainment to pass the time, and when expectant daughters-in-law are staying! (In this situation, all rules fly out of the window, we egg each other on wickedly to eat copious quantities of chocolate and gawp at daytime TV to our hearts content!)

I have obviously glimpsed trailers for the odd soapie over the years, and jeered in a superior way at their inane mindlessness, not to mention acting which is so bad that it is comedic. I have often speculated about what motivates otherwise intelligent people to sit enthralled by these shows, and decided it was probably some form of voyeurism and escapism.
However, it was all very clearly hammed up fiction, so, though mindless, it was probably harmless.

The new trend in programmes is way more disturbing, because it now revolves around the real lives of real people being dissected on National Television. The popularity of shows like Jerry Springer and Rikki Lake just blows my mind! In these, there is not even an attempt at altruistic motives such as public awareness of issues or actually attempting to help (as in the case of DR Phil or Oprah.) It is plain straight forward salacious entertainment, and clearly destructive to both participants and viewers.

And it says some frightening things about our society,

  1. that such dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics are common,
  2. that people have so little dignity or sense of self worth that they subject themselves willingly to become objects of public scrutiny and entertainment,
  3. that hopefully more functional individuals find it all entertaining rather than repugnant, and feed the whole sick thing by watching such programmes!

For me an all time low is the sordid one that has been on our TV on Sundays recently, called “The Batchelor.” The whole concept of 25 women being available to throw themselves at 1 man, who gets to screw around with them literally and figuratively, until he rejects all but one, and then in some sort of magical way is suddenly supposed to transform into a faithful loyal guy who would make a good husband to her….it just boggles the mind!

I mentioned Dr Phil and Oprah. They, at least, have the noble stated intention of helping, or shedding light on social issues. But I must admit, I have often wondered lately if it is all as altruistic as it appears. How much do they need to stretch their personal integrity at times, to show things which go beyond what is needed to help the people, or inform us, but which add spice and make “good TV”?

I have been trying to put a label on the way I sometimes feel when watching these shows, and I think the closest word that I can get to is ‘defiled’. There is often good and useful content, but I am also seeing stuff that does go on in many homes, but am I any the richer in my heart for seeing it? Do we need to constantly be exposed to the seamy, sad, dishonest, aggressive or sordid, to be aware that it exists? Will it eventually tarnish or desensitize us to the point where we are no longer shocked or saddened by these things? Will we become so numb that they become ‘normal’ to us?

I often feel as if I am crossing a personal boundary too, I suppose I could describe it as that guilty feeling one would get while peeping through a keyhole and spying on someone, whilst knowing it was reprehensible to do so.

If seeing other people’s real-life pain and trials as entertaining is becoming the norm in society, why on earth are we shocked and surprised when crime rises, kids run wild, and people have forgotten how to respect themselves or others!

So, I guess, there was some merit in that unwritten rule, and I am glad I have not seen more daytime TV over the years. I may be ignorant about many facts that have been revealed, but I am relieved that I still find it all offensive enough that I can only stomach it in small quantities!

here ends the rant.... have a nice day!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today we welcome a beautiful new little person to the planet, she is still waiting for a name (mom and dad want to get to know her and be sure it suits her) but she is fit and well and they are a delightful little family. All her grandparents (Max and Sue in South Africa, and Judy and Charlie in Spain) are delighted.

(Not to mention her little cousin, the look on his face when he heard she had arrived says it all!)
Her auntie K had a brainwave, so today we went around town taking photos, to put in an album for her, so one day when she is much older she can look back and see how her birthplace looked on the day she was born, and what changes have taken place since then. We did shots of some building developments,
like the soccer stadium that is going up for the 2010 World Cup,
and also the hospital she was born in (and the peacocks who hang about outside!)
K also wrote the date in the sand on the beach and we photographed it with the pier in the background.
We had to fill up with petrol while we were driving around, so we also took a shot of the fuel pump, and the hectic price of fuel in S.A. at the moment. I wonder what changes she will see as she grows up?

And then, ta ra ra ra........ the results of the blogiversary giveaway...
our official adjudicator picks a name out of the hat....
and the winner is.............
congrats Shirley, hope it fits in well with the new home. Send me your snail-mail address and I'll send it off next week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the final countdown

Well by all accounts, tomorrow should be a big day.....firstly because our granddaughter is due to make her appearance in the early morning (ceasarian) and secondly because it is my 1st blogiversary, so the draw for the giveaway painting will take place. (If you haven't entered yet, go to this post and leave a comment.)

Normal life (for me a balancing act between painting and researching the history of our suburb, for a book) has been on hold a bit lately, with the kids staying and all the excitement of getting ready for the new arrival, but tomorrow they will move into the fancy hospital suite, and from there to a seaside cottage they have rented for the rest of their stay, before returning to the nether regions of the continent.

And today, I realised with a jolt that my next solo exhibition, in East London towards the end of October, is looming, so I need to get my butt into gear!

The Hotel at the Port is in the process of negotiating with new operators, so we got to go down there on Monday afternoon for a meeting, it was great to be back there, even if only for a short time.
We had an excellent dinner in the Port Hole Restaurant, before retuning home.
The view was great.
I must also hand out bouquets to our local municipality. Last week I wrote telling them of the anti-social behaviour in the Park opposite us, and yesterday they fitted floodlights to the streetlamps, facing in on the Park. Great service!
There has also been a notable increase in visible Policing, in fact the trail of red lights in this picture is from a passing Police van. I hope that this makes it a less attractive place for those responsible for the illegal nocturnal activities!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Along the coast from Port Elizabeth, past the point of the Bay known as Cape Receife, toward Cape Town, is a cute little village called Schoenmakerskop, (literal translation shoe makers head!) which is affectionately known as Schoenies.

It consists of a string of cottages along the cliffs, overlooking some parallel bands of rock which form lovely rock pools as the tide goes out.
The view towards Capetown is wonderful.
The residents are a close-knit community who fiercely guard the environment around them.
The great thing about Schoenies is that, if you want to see whales, you will hardly ever be disappointed there.
It boasts a little restaurant (indifferent food and service, stunning views!) and not much else. So yesterday we went there for lunch, and a stroll. The restaurant is called the Sacramento, after a ship that went down here in the 17th century. It was salvaged a few years ago, and one of the canons is still there as a memorial to those who died.
Mr Farty went down the boardwalk to the base of the cliff (I chickened out because the old knee didn't fancy the climb back.)
And we did see lots of whales, but far away, so sorry, crumby photos again.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

travel update

Hi, I promised yesterday to add the link to Kirsty's interesting outback post.... here it is. Thanks Kirsty.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

blog travel

One of my favourite things about blogging is the fact that I get to 'travel' all over the world, on a miniscule budget!

And not just to the tired old tourist standards, that I can see on any travel poster, but also to the magic 'secret spots', those quiet everyday places around people's homes, the sort of spot a tourist would generally whizz past on the way to some major attraction. The sort of spot that, as a resident, you take for granted, until you become a blogger.

Then you begin to see your surroundings through different eyes, and realise that, while they may be routine to you, they are fresh, fascinating, possibly even exotic to those from different parts of the world.
I often see comments from bloggers, sick and tired of long grey snow bound winters, surfing the posts of those from the opposite hemisphere, and relishing the pictures of bright sunny surroundings and masses of summer flowers. Conversely, there are those sweltering in heatwaves, who are refreshed by images of rain and snow.

So here are a few links to some of the blogtravel I have enjoyed recently.... (not at all comprehensive, it takes ages to find them, but it's a start.

Cheesy of williamette valley Oregon usa, went here last weekend to do some deliveries...
and Terry of Portland Oregon has wonderful scenery on the Fanno Creek trail for her daily strolls (see Fruitful post.) She has also recently shown us great images of Mexico.
Sheila from Ontario, Canada is a well travelled lady who has a gift for showing her travels in a really interesting way.
Over in the UK, Ruth who lives in Suffolk has shown us some great outings to the surrounding villages, including this one of tree carvings in Bellevue Park, Sudbury.
And CJ, originally a South African, now lives in Otter Ferry, Scotland. She has shown us the scenery on her way to work here and here.
Shirley Goodwin showed us some lovely views from her home in Oamaru Creek new Zealand. She has now moved to Christchurch, so I look forward to some cool views of that soon!
Her friend Donald Lousely has a fabulous site showing views of central otagu.
Ali from Te Puna near Tauranga, also in New Zealand, showed us the unique Moeraki boulders on south island. It is worth browsing through her archives, she does very informative posts on growing kiwi fruit and other farming activities we might not see otherwise.
In Australia, Kirsty from Queensland visited Sydney, and showed us glimpses of the picturesque suburb of Balmain. She also gave a fascinating glimpse into an outback farmstead, but I can't find the link, as soon as I get it I will post it for you.
And of course, here in Africa, I often do posts to show our country.
Then, there is one with no particular country, but probably the most travel... 1000 days nonstop at sea chronicles the voyage of Reid and Soanya on a lovely old schooner.
But I have saved, what is for me, the best for last... an old blog now, but full of the most wonderful images of Antarctica....stunning stuff!

Bon Voyage!


Don't forget to go here and leave a comment, if you want a chance to win an original oil painting in the blogiversary giveaway. You only have till the 12th to comment, draw is on the 13th.

Friday, September 07, 2007

gnomes and hi tech parenthood

In the maX files, Mr Farty caused a stir recently with his post on Gnomes.
It seems there are a few closet garden gnome lovers around, Mr Farty included, but I must hasten to tell you that I am not one of them. I do get a chuckle from seeing them coyly peeping out from under other people's bushes, but have no personal aspirations to host any in my garden.
Several years ago, we were the leaders of a youth group, and the topic of gnomes came up. A friend had 2, so I got her to give me one, on condition that I painted her other one. I chiselled off bits of my one, and remodelled him until his clothing resembled the sort of leotards sometimes worn by wrestlers. The idea was that, since gnomes are kitsch anyway, I would push it to the max (no pun intended!)
Anyway, here you see him being remodelled,
and all dressed up in his leopard skin leotards and purple really camp gnome! When one of the girls in the group, who had expressed a particular dislike for them, had a birthday, we gave it to her as a tongue in cheek gift. Much to her relief, we got it back shortly afterwards and gave it to another guy in the group (whose name, coincidentally, was Guy!) Guy became quite attached to the gnome, but I am sure his mother was relieved when the other chaps in the group kidnapped it one night, and gave it to another girl for her 21st!....After that we moved and I lost track of them, I wonder what became of it?
And now for something completely different..........
It was delightful to welcome Ian home on Wednesday, and have the whole family together for a meal last night. It seldom happens, these days, that we are all in the same town at once, so it is a rare treat to be surrounded by the whole tribe! Naturally, he and C were ecstatic to be together again after a month apart. And Wednesday was my sister's birthday, today is C's birthday, and the baby is due on Wednesday, so it is a time for celebrating all round!
On his first day back, off they went to look for baby stuff.
Wow, it seems that the simple things of childbirth and parenting that prevailed when our babies arrived are a thing of the past. Gone are the basic push chair(stroller), carrycot, car safety seat and pram of our day. Now you get a super designer all- in- one gizmo, which costs about the same as a small second hand car. The only problem is you apparently need a pilot's licence to operate the thing! We even hauled out the teddy bear which we bought for our eagerly awaited grand-daughter, so that her parents could practice on the scary gizmo without causing actual bodily harm to the baby. (Note that they did quite well in the end, and no teddy bears were injured in the making of this blog!)

However, it does fit in very well with our family's obsession with all things 'Macho'. After all it is a Jeep! And no doubt the super supension, pneumatic tyres, snake retadant fabric, built in GPS and compass (OK a LITTLE exaggeration) , hub locks on the front wheel (for real!) etc will be very useful back in the less civilized areas of our continent, where it will come into its own as an all terrain vehicle!