Monday, April 28, 2008

Headin' for the Hills...........

.... and as happy as pigs in you-know-what.... we are doing a "going nowhere slowly" kind of holiday, sleeping where the road takes us. We thought we would zip through the Eastern Cape to Lesotho, but is has been so incredibly beautiful that we can't resist stopping every 5 metres to take pix, and it took us 2 whole days to get off page 8 of our map book! We spent last night in Elliot, and are about to cross the magnificent Barkley Pass. When we arrived here at nightfall we saw snow on all the high peaks YAY YIPPEE YAY. So we both grabbed this last opportunity with electricity and cellphone towers to do a quick post. Now we are really heading off the beaten track and will probably be incommunicado for the next week.......


Friday, April 25, 2008

Skywatch Friday.... Sudan

Pilots always get to see the sky from a very different perspective to us mere mortals. I thought you might be interested in seeing some pix from Sudan. These were taken by a couple of pilot friends, who must remain nameless, as the Sudanese powers that be do not permit photography. (But you know who you are, thanks for the fresh view of the planet)

Sudan is a land of such extremes... It is dry and dusty in the North, but vast areas of the South are swampy. It hardly rains in places, but when it does, there are monster storms, accompanied by lots of lightning.

And of course, there are the infamous dust storms, or haboob. You do NOT want to be caught outside in on of these!

Rain over the Nile in South Sudan.

Lightning over Khartoum

And this is the tail end of this skywatch post... sunrise over Khartoum

I will be away for a while, but there should be some very cool photos of mountains when we know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? Well I don't know what animals they will equate with insane South Africans going to camp in a tent in the mountains in winter!
Cheers for now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

your one stop blog.....

Well it seems like, whether you are interested in nature, politics, art, people, family news, or all of the above you will find it all here, and often all in the same post... I'm afraid today is no exception!
I dare not get onto the subject of Zimbabwe, for your sake and that of my keyboard, I will just post this cartoon from the paper earlier this week, it pretty much says it all!


But I will just say that I am impressed with the stand being taken by COSATU (the trades unions), who are capable of some pretty insane and inane opinions, but in this particular case, in the continued absence of any leadership from our President and his cronies, they are standing up and taking the moral high ground. They have done a great job in ensuring that the Chinese ship full of weapons destined for Zimbabwe does not offload on our coast, and hopefully not in Angola either. So a bouquet to them!

A few overflow photos from interesting items on the PE Daily Photo:

I was so glad to have an opportunity to see the latest sculpture done by Graham Jones, who is, apart from being a brilliant artist, also the brother of a friend of mine. You know you have arrived at an eccentric artist's house when you find a giant fly made from a gas cylinder on the veranda!

He was commissioned by the Sunday Times to do the next in a series of monuments they are putting up around the country, to celebrate the achievements of prominent South Africans. In this case, it is for Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, at one time curator at East London's small museum, who is credited with discovering the fascinating coelacanth, a pre-historic fish which even pre-dates dinousaurs.

Graham made it out of cast iron, so it has a wonderful surface texture that suits the subject perfectly. He has added all sorts of fascinating bits and pieces, and the mouth is stuffed with fishing gut, a silent protest against the wicked exploitation of this hugely endangered species.

Here he explains his passion to raise awareness about these amazing fish.

This is the stainless steel cutout which will eventually surround the base when the 4 and a half ton fish has been mounted at its permanent home at the museum in East London.

A while ago I was doing a series called "now and then" in which I featured historic buildings, as they look now, and also vintage photos of how they looked in the early years of Port Elizabeth history. The first one I featured was a little cottage on the brow of Richmond Hill, which overlooks the bay. Well sadly, it burned out last week.

According to Graham, who lives in the same street, it was inhabited by Nigerian Drug dealers. Such a shame!

And finally, Max's sister popped in from Durban for an overnight visit, and took us out to dinner. Simultaneously, winter arrived with a bang!

It has been so dry lately that the question of where to go in foul weather hasn't arisen. This weekend it did ! Where do you go where you can park undercover and enter the place without walking miles to the car and drowning or freezing to death on the way? And where do you take a bunch of people ranging from 3 to 58, with an assortment of food allergies, and in particular one who has had a bypass recently and is FANATICAL about eating heart friendly food? We found the perfect solution... Carolina Spur at Greenacres. The 3 year old (you know who!) was so well cared for in the play area that we couldn't even prize him away to eat chips, and that is VERY unusual for this particular little gannet!

The gluten/dairy intolerant ones had a ball at the salad valley, and the heart patient was ecstatic to see little heart foundation logos on many of the items on the menu. We had a great evening, and will definitely be back there soon! There was even good food for the "normal" ones in the group (MOI!!! LOL)

After dropping them off at the airport the next evening, we went for a stroll on the beach and ended the weekend on a lovely note!

Cheers for now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Skywatch Friday, Ironman weekend

Friday will be really hectic so i am cheating a bit and posting this evening.

As promised when I featured the Ironman contest the other day, I saved some of the sky shots from last weekend for Skywatch. We went to the Pier on Saturday at sunset, and were there again before sunrise on Sunday for the start of the race. Both times the skies were wonderful, so enjoy!
As we arrived, there was an interesting cloud hovering over Brookes Hill

The sunset started out soft and gentle..

but it soon brightened up...

and lit up the sea too...

until it became really spectacular


.......was altogether gentler, almost monotone, but it turned the sea and wet sand into molten silver....

You can see lots of other Skywatch pictures, the links are over at Wiggers World.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


You probably know by now that Max and I also have 2 City Daily Photo Blogs (Port Elizabeth and St Francis). When we first joined, we thought the hardest committment would be that you have to do a post every single day. But as it turns out, that is not too bad. The hard part is that you are only supposed to post ONE photo a day. Now, for an over the top, larger than life person like me, this is excruciatingly difficult. I mean, I can't even tell you what my favourite colour is, because I am crazy about colour per se, I can get high on colour, I revel in rainbow colours and blends of colours, how could I possibly single out just one? Well the same applies to photographs.

I have always had the philosophy "why just take 1 photo when you can take 50!" And I also feel that in so many areas of life there is the diamond, and then there are the individual facets that make up the whole, and sometimes focussing on some of those tells a more interesting story. When I had my Photographic Exhibition several Years ago, I called it "Series" and it consisted of framed groups of photos, many of which were quite abstract, and made no sense alone, but when seen in a group with others, it made a Big Picture that showed the many aspects of the subject.

Well sometimes the Daily Photo subject has lots of photos that capture somthing different, but we can't stick with them one after the other, day after day, because we don't want the blog to get stale, especially if the subject is a current event. Occasionally (because I also, sadly, believe that many rules are made to be broken.... I wish I was joking but it is true, I really do!) we do stretch the rule and put a few on a post when it is necessary to explain what we are saying. But sometimes it is not justified really, so when that happens, I'll post the overflow here, with a link back to the City Daily Photo blog in question.
Today on PEDP we posted about the Shark Rock Pier, looking all festive for the Ironman Event.
Here are a few of the overflow pix......
The top two were taken on Saturday evening around sunset, and the bottom two at sunrise on Sunday, as the main event was starting.

Monday, April 14, 2008

ironman......iron bars

Well I guess by now you've noticed that I'm a 'feast or famine', 'all or nothing' kinda gal! This applies in many areas of my life, and this blog is no exception. So days go by when I have nothing to say, and then BOOM, a mega-post! Today is a boom if you have a bit of time, make a nice cup of coffee, get comfortable, and I'll tell you about a couple of exciting events that have taken place in the last few days.

Ironman is an event for those loony masochists who like to torture their bodies beyond all reasonable limits in order to win a measly amount of money, or draw attention to themselves......... well that is according to a Pedantic Old Fart who wrote to the newspaper this morning! But for those of us who are slightly more tolerant... Ironman is an event for top triathletes, designed to sort the men from the boys! (Oooops, even this is wildly inaccurate, women also participate in Ironman, so maybe it also sorts the women from the girls?!! ...and our P.O.F. mentioned above had issues with the name too, suggesting it should be Ironperson. Ho-hum, all this ridiculous PC Speak... I guess soon it will be offensive to refer to human beings, we will all be hupersons!) however, I digress....

SO, this weekend, Port Elizabeth played host to Ironman SA, a huge international event which requires participants to swim 3.8km, cycle 108km and round it off with a little 42km run! (Come to think of it, maybe P.O.F. has a point about masochism!)

Normally Mr Farty (who is NOT a pedantic old fart) and I avoid this kind of event like the plague, we hate crowds and battling through crazy traffic and all the hoopla that goes with it. But since we have been doing the Port Elizabeth Daily Photo, we have felt that we need to show some of these things. What has taken both of us by surprise is how much we enjoy them!

It all started with the opening of the season last December, and a recent Cricket match. This weekend, we were at the beachfront twice. On Saturday we got there just after the Ironkids and corporate event had ended, and really enjoyed the buzz down there, the happy crowds, and so many different languages being heard, not to mention a STUNNING sunset. (I'll save those pix for Skywatch Friday).

So we got up before sunrise on Sunday morning, and got down there in time to see 1600 swimmers take to the sea.

All was ready, the lifesaving vessels lined up,

photographers in helicopters overhead to capture the event for posterity,
.........even the seagulls got in on the action....

and tribal dancers were ready to welcome the swimmers back.

The atmosphere was wonderful and seeing the Shark Rock Pier crammed with supporters,

and the sea glinting with a mass of swimmers as the sun rose behind them was something neither of us will forget in a hurry.

...........and they're off.......

1.9 km around the big red buoys, and back to the beach

run through the red arch

and back into the sea to go round again.

and while one batch was arriving back at the beach, and the leaders setting off behind them for the next round, the sun came up behind them and turned the whole scene into a magic glistening silhouette......

The sea rescue crew were alert and on hand to help anyone who needed them

After the leaders had taken to their bicycles for the long road ahead, we took a stroll back to our car, and went home to prepare lunch for 2 dear friends who we had not seen for AGES. I love the kind of friendship where you can meet up after years, and it is as if it was yesterday.

Then this morning, I went to prison! No... really!

And even though I was in a group of "business against crime" delegates attending a presentation by Correctional Services, it was pretty daunting going through the rows of razor wire, and hearing the heavy barred gates clanking closed behind us.

It was a surprising experience. I expected it to be heavy and depressing, but instead it was remarkably uplifting and inspiring.
Correctional Services is a far cry from what it used to be.
In the old days, criminals were put behind bars and the job of the prison staff was to basically make sure they stayed there. These days the South African Prison service is committed to doing everything possible to rehabilitate prisoners, and there are social workers and psychologists and clerics on staff to help them. The vision is to give each inmate an opportunity to develop a healthy self respect, and some skills so that when they are re-integrated into society, they have a fair chance to turn their lives around.
Here is one of the choirs greeting us as we entered Medium Security B.
There are workshops where inmates are taught metal work, carpentry, shoemaking, sewing, mechanics etc, and also farmlands where they raise crops and chickens to contribute towards the food supply.
In the workshops all the furniture and clothing used in this prison and others across the Eastern Cape are produced. The purpose of all this is not primarily to save the Department money, but to give the inmates a sense of pride and usefulness.
this is one of the little courtyards which is surrounded by cells. The new attitude of pride even shows in this garden, which is voluntarily maintained by inmates. There is even a little pond that has been created in the lawn.
Obviously there will always be the hardened criminals on whom all this effort is wasted, but there are also many who made a stupid mistake, but remain basically decent people, and for them these services make all the difference.
One such person is Siya.....
He was sentenced to 18 years, and due for parole after 13. He attended many of the skills development programmes on offer, and was released early because the parole board saw the potential in him. He now runs a personnel agency which specialises in finding jobs for freed prisoners and trying to get the community to give them a chance to get back on their feet. (I have his number if anyone has a vacancy and feels they want to help!)
So all in all a pretty interesting couple of days!