Wednesday, June 25, 2014
We slept in....which was heaven for me. Im generally an early riser (by nature), but I managed to sleep till just after 9 am and woke up feeling like I'd been to a spa. Sleeping in the semi private Thesens Island was fabulous. The only sounds we heard were birds and lapping water. We took our friend to the local Spur Steak-Ranch for breakfast. We struggled to find parking despite the fact that it is currently out of season.....no struggling for these folks who cleverly took the rail car to the same venue.
We chose the Knysna Waterfront for breakfast, its always an interesting place full of hustle and bustle....the nice...happy people sounds. Flag of every country greet people on entry.
This is the waterfront, named for obvious reasons.
We chose the Spur so we could be upstairs and have the view that upstairs offers.
This is a world where toys are expensive and though we dont own any, we enjoyed seeing them moored at the dock in the morning sun. There was a slight breeze blowing which causes that fabulous sound of clinking rigging against metal frames. I love it, it calls to something deep inside my soul.
Additionally we sat next to the bridge which periodically opens to allow larger yachts or catamarans through. Each time a boat is due to go through, a deep siren goes off telling all walkers that the bridge is due to open. Its quite exciting to be there when it happens.
After breakfast, coffee and a lovely chat, we headed out to the wolf sanctuary. I have lived in our area for 24 yrs and never yet been there , so I was pleased that I would finally get the opportunity. Although it started out as a wolf sanctuary, it now has a diverse collection of wildlife and farmyard animals, all rescue cases in one way or another.
The very first sign before we even got inside, was a warning not to tease the animals (this always gets me...why should anyone need THAT warning, but sadly they do) and also not to run. I get too that running we act like prey....but these animals are in large areas, with electrified fences, so how could anyone running cause any trouble?
Unless its that they dont want these wolves to even slightly feel their wild genes???
In the very first cage lies Nalea.
Hubby did not like the wolf experience AT ALL, because he doesnt like ANY animal in ANY enclosure that should be wild and free. I feel the same, but, I do know that once people illegally import creatures from elsewhere as tiny pups, allow them to mate with local dogs and a problem occurs, then this is the next best thing. First choice is to take them "home" and free them. But these no longer know how to hunt for themselves, AND we dont have the food resources for them either. Left on their own, the local farmers will shoot to kill....if they are lucky. Worse case scenario, the animals are injured and left to die a slow painful death.
That being said....
When we found some that were not sleeping, that death stare is hard to explain. It seriously looked at me like I was food. I was in fact grateful that there was a fence between this magnificent beast and myself. Those yellow eyes are fearful to look into.
The photos I took are timber wolves. Timber wolves in the wild are usually found in packs of five to 12 animals. There is one alpha male and one alpha female in the pack. A hierarchy of dominant and subordinate animals within the pack helps them to function as a unit. Only one female in the pack breeds each year to the alpha male. The pack communicates with one another by using body language, facial expressions, scents and vocalizations such as howling. The rules of the pack are very important to them, as instinct tells them their survival depends on it. Subordinate members look to the alpha male and alpha female for direction. Their diet consists of bison, moose, elk, caribou, deer, rabbit, hare, beaver, mice and other rodents, and fish along with other animals. Some people have timber wolves in captivity as pets. Timber wolves living as pets still retain all of their natural born instincts.
For me, its sad to want to keep such a gorgeous animal who should be running and hunting in captivity....but it takes all kinds to make the world go round I guess.
I have no idea what happened, but one moment there was silence and the next a few donkeys were running braying and the wolves were howling....THAT HOWL....is spine tingling. To see them suddenly running along the fence was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. It happened so fast and unexpectedly, I didnt get one photo...mores the pity.
The wolves in general looked pretty well fed and happy enough. Some lay inside their shelters while others lay outside or on top.
They had a petting camp, but charged an additional fee, so I gave that a miss, much as I would have loved to feel what a real wolf feels like, I'm going to guess that it probably feels a lot like a dog and be satisfied with just having been as close as I was to these beautiful creatures. These folks were waiting to enter the petting camp. The wolves appeared to be waiting too. Despite the fact that these could be petted, they were still contained behind double fencing and electric fencing?!
In the camp next to the wolves, there were some wild dogs. Now these were a pair of lazy chaps, they didnt even raise their heads to see who we were. Guess, they are tired of us gaping at them....and we aren't as beautiful to gape at as they are.
In the next camp was a black backed jackal. Their marking are just so incredibly gorgeous. The shiny black spotted backs on tan bodies is quite a site to see. Caught this one at a water hole enjoying a cool drink. Black-backed Jackals are generally widespread in South Africa, they are common in protected areas where suitable habitat occurs. Trouble is, the more we "steal" their land, the more they stray onto farmers lands looking for livestock. They are considered vermin, but despite strenuous control measures in many farming areas of southern Africa remain relatively abundant. They are very light on their feet, almost appears as if they are tip toeing around.
Vermin or not....he sure is beautiful.
Besides the really wild animals, the place had an abundance of tame animals (all rescue cases) and so we moved on from one section to the other. The first chap to greet us was this old tortoise. I wish I could tell how old this one was. I know they can reach 150 yrs of age. The way to tell how old a tortoise is, is to count its rings....like a tree ring, that shows its age, but who has time to sit and count? Plus another problem is that sometimes, if tortoises dont get enough food or water, they dont cultivate the rings either. And if they live through major stress, like a forest fire..they can develop more than one ring that season. So, how old this guys is....is much your guess as mine. Either way, they look prehistoric even as youngsters.
This one was peacefully chomping his way through the grass and seemed to be really enjoying the bits he managed to pull out.
We passed a pen of sheep and goats. A strange fact is that the sheeps white section of its skin was rather rough, yet the black shiny heads were soft as down. They felt awesome to stroke and loved being stroked....so it was a win win for both the sheep and myself.
I didn't get to touch the goats, but I loved how they looked.
This one looked like it had gone out and had a perm.
This one also seemed to have a "perm" but different horns altogether.
Some goats had beards.
And as different as all the sheep and goats were, they were all extremely happy when the vehicle came around with their food....chopped down trees. They looked and smelled like Eucalyptus trees and even the tortoise seemed to be happy at his lot of tree food.
The place had the usual collection of bunnies, emu's, ostrich, donkeys and such but when I came to the pigs.....well.....they were just SO ENTERTAINING. I mean, tell me this isnt just SO UGLY its BEAUTIFUL. This is called a Kolbroek (spotted pants) pig usually cultivated for its fat content.
And how about this sleeping baby pig....how adorable is that?
Hard to believe something so small ends up this size.
This little white/pink (depends how you view it) was also just sooooo cute.
I cant say his adult counterpart was particular attractive though lol
And to think the little fellow could end up this size is mind boggling. This is a landrace pig and it is cultivated for its meat more than its fat content. At this point, I wasn't amused at Justin asking me if I enjoyed my egg and bacon breakfast.....I felt sick at the thought.
Mind you, if pigs could smile...I recon this one was smiling. He/she had escaped the abattoirs and got to spend his day just lying around in the sun.
Some of the babies had escaped their pens and I tried to get a little one to eat off my hand. They were pretty shy, but couldnt resist the pellets in the end.
I think I finally know where the expression "happy as a pig in mud" comes from.
We said our goodbyes to this family of pigs and made our way to the restaurant to have some coffee and a scone before heading home.
It may have been a short time out....but it was wonderful.
Jewel has turned out to be a gem to Axel. Its rare to see the two apart these days. These were snapped in my kitchen. Axel sharing Jewels bed. She's an absolute darling of a dog.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Once we left our kids and grandson back at Fairy Knowe backpackers, we headed on to Knysna. The trip there was pleasant and uneventful (in the best possible way). We drove and saw some new sights along the way like the reptile farm which now has a giant water monitor on top of their sign. I can't wait to go inside this farm on one of my next trips.
People are really clever with the things they can make from scraps. Some of these animals are made from wood blocks, and others from bits of sheet metal. I can imagine a large property with a pair of giraffe standing somewhere.
We finally got to the town of Knysna itself, and were meeting our friend at Mugg&Bean coffee shop BECAUSE we knew where that was. Once we parked our car and walked into Woodmill lane shopping complex, we discovered that Mugg&Bean had moved. Aargh. Another phone call to be told to go to the Wimpy...ok that was simple enough, it was in the main road. We walked along to where the Wimpy should have been...but they also had moved. Turns out, the small town of Knysna now sports its own mall and everything had moved there....ah well, we walked the few blocks to where the new mall was and saw some stuff on the walk. One was this MOTORIZED BICYCLE. Wow have kids become lazy or what? I know that Knysna is very hilly....but still.
Then we passed this advert for an optician, possibly the worst (creepy) advert I have ever seen for opticians. Must be some new age thing I dont get.
Finally we all found each other and after having coffee and a toasted sandwich we followed her back to the home she was house sitting. The mall is tiny, but one of the noisiest I have ever been in. Goodness the trolleys rattle past constantly sounding like bottles clinking together. Drove me near to scatty.
The place we were headed is called Thesens Island and it is BEEYOOOTIFUL.
It is advertised as....
Thesen Islands is a multi-award winning marina development located in the scenic Knysna estuary on the renowned "Garden Route" of South Africa. The marina is spread over 90ha and consists of 19 man-made islands linked by 21 arched bridges and surrounded by 25ha of tidal waterways. The marina consists of 489 individual homes and 56 apartment units, known as the Dry Mill apartments, situated on its own island within the marina. All the homes are built in a colonial maritime architectural style, conforming to Knysna’s vernacular architecture and its historical maritime and timber connections.
And it IS ALL THAT. These houses start at 8.9 million (843074.572 US Dollars) and go to 15 million (1420912.20 USD). We apparently stayed in the "cheapie" LOL
This is the entrance...very security conscious and because of all the security, nobody locks their homes. This IS impressive, but I lost our house keys in the first week of buying our house and its 14 yrs later and we have never replaced them, nor locked our home LOL so...I guess it wouldn't be a great selling feature to me if I were ever to FIND that kind of cash for a home anyway.
What did impress me, was that its a very slow world once you get inside the security gates. The roads are built over bridges so there is no speeding which suits me just fine.
Every home is situated on the water which reminded me a bit of Dubai without the bling.
This is all about nature since it is build around an estuary and THAT impressed me.
This is where we stayed.
I cannot describe the tranquility of Thesens Island. Most of the homes are holiday homes and since we are in winter, they are unoccupied. Ours belongs to a builder and is in regular use. We had no neighbors home, the water in front of us and behind us the estuary and the birds are in residence. Simply stunning.
The house itself is beautiful. Everything has a specially built place which makes it feel doubly big. Muted shades in all the rooms. Heated towel rails...you name it, its there...and believe me for 8.9 million...there is very little that isn't there. The folk who own it, are in Greece and my friend Anne is house sitting because of their cats. They have a wine cellar under the stairs and 12 bottles of REALLY good wine marked...Anne's box...DRINK!
Hubby and I aren't really drinkers, but we did help her finish a bottle of superb quality dry red.
She will have to figure out how to finish the other 11 bottles LOL
Each home is equipped with Jacuzzi's on the deck, plunge pools, canoes, wave jumpers basically all water toys.
My friend was marvelous in that, she knew we were there for some time out, and the darling that she is, she waited on us hand and foot. She was kindness itself and I was not allowed to lift one finger to help her with ANYTHING. The domestic was there to do the cleaning, but even so, I didn't have to prepare dinner....I almost did not have to feed myself, or lift my glass of wine to my lips. LOL
Justin sitting drinking wine on the deck....we could get used to this life style...I think.
Inside are more toys. From fabulous his/hers cars to top of the range bicycles and then this BMW motor bike. Hubby was practically drooling till.....
He saw the Ducati to the side. Ooh this is so potent, you expect to hear it growl.
My friend putting those babies back to bed
Inside the house, despite its "stuff", when all's said and done, fridges are fridges, chairs are chairs and tables are tables, tv's, microwaves etc....but this chandelier was seriously the most unique one I have ever seen. I guess its what you would call a "talking piece" because why else would one have glasses in your chandelier. Different it certainly was.
As the tide rose, it reminded me why I would also never buy a property on the water. Today's changing climate would make me worry about being so close to a large body of water.
Just look how the tide rose between one picture and the other.
The 3 of us sat around for hours watching the sun set and listening to the sound of water washing back and forth against the deck. It is paradise thats for sure.
I didn't worry overly since Anne was downstairs and we were upstairs LOL
I'm the NICE friend. mwahaha Needless to say, an evening in a home with underfloor heating, towel rail heating, log fires going...wine, roast pork for dinner and super chilled company....I slept soundly and woke up totally refreshed.
The next morning we were going to wake, have breakfast with Anne and we would be off to the Wolf Sanctuary....something that appeals to me.
Houses, cars, and stuff in general aren't my thing. I like them, but Im generally not worried about whether its a tent or a castle.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Our first day, Saturday, was spent at a place called Fairy Knowe backpackers.
The kids went the night before to enjoy a drum circle with about 15-20 drummers. Because of the weather being so bitterly cold right now, they chose to leave Axel with granny&grampa who delivered him to them on Saturday morning and stayed for breakfast before heading on to Knysna where we would have the second day of our two days away. The place was full of really interesting carved-what shall I call them?- decorations, like this elephant and rocking horse.
These creatures (Rhino and wild cat) were made of driftwood.
The place has chalets, rooms with tons of beds and then tenting sites...which is where my kids stayed. The sites are set between magnificent, giant milkwood trees.
It was also the first time I'd seen plants grown in sack cloth against walls. Everything from succulents to ferns of all kinds. Very interesting and doing well
The trees are also dripping with vines which make a beautiful green canopy over the tents.
Each tenting site also seemed to have its own "theme" and this was their "signature."
Axel LOVED IT being a spider-man addict, but when it came to touching the spider, he was a little hesitant. lol Even between the sites, there was neon (glow in the dark) "spider webs" leading you to the fire pits and general entertainment area. I can only imagine how cute/spooky this must have been in the semi-dark.
It had been decided that I would do NOTHING while I was there, which delighted me no end. While the men handled getting breakfast on the go, Izelle, Axel and I walked around the area. The pathways are beautiful, some are just holes in the bougainvillea (still in bloom??) which was great.
We walked among the chalets and looked at the view from the top.
We found a hammock swing which Axel enjoyed......
Almost too much
Got back to the camp site to see the men collecting twigs and such, to start the fire to make our breakfast.
The kids dragged all the way from home, their very own barbecue grid which ended up being a laugh when we saw exactly how many grids were there for the taking. Oh well, better to have too many, than none at all.
While Daniel got the fire and breakfast going....
And Izelle got coffee going for us while we waited....
Axel decided that it was weekend, and eating Marie biscuits (Maria biscuits) and marshmallows was breakfast enough for him.
The backpackers is pet friendly and dogs are welcome. They even have baskets alongside the fire places and stove heaters for the pets. Im not sure if these were visiting dogs or belonged to the backpacker owners, either way, they were having a ball with Axel and hanging around for some left overs.
It was a super stress free enjoyable time as Justin's smile testifies.
Justin got involved with buttering the toast that came off the grid while I totally loafed, because at home...I'm IT for everything. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the time out.
Milkwood trees have the most amazing trunks, all gnarly and strangely beautiful.
These trees thrive in salt water and I almost wonder if that could be part of why their trunks are so gnarly? The delicate, pale-golden flowers of the milkwood are borne in clusters along the ends of the branches and they have an unusual sour-smell. The flowers are followed by juicy, dark magenta-colored fruit that are enjoyed by birds and baboons. Once peeled of their outer skin, they have a grape-like taste. The milky latex, which gives the tree its common name, makes the leaves and the bark unpalatable to grazing animals. A superficial scratch to the bark reveals a bright red under surface - the color of fresh blood. The wood is very hard, heavy and strong. In the past, it was used for ship building, bridges, mills and ploughs. It is very durable even when wet and it shrinks little with drying. It also has tons of medicinal uses from broken bones to dispelling feelings of claustrophobia. So if anyone is on meds for that...you may very likely be drinking the milky sap from this tree.
Breakfast was finally served and this is what it looked like. Toast, with tomato and onion plus a piping hot cup of coffee. I loooove the burned taste of bread off a grid.
I couldn't resist these photos of Izelle and Axel playing.
So, we had eaten and had coffee, spent time with the kids and it was now time to move on to Knysna (pronounced nice-nuh) There we were to meet my friend Anne who's accommodation we were sharing. She is house sitting and with permission from the owners, offered for us to come and join her.
We left the kids feeling light hearted and ready for the next stage of our fun two days away from the nitty gritty of our regular life.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
My word, we have been blown nearly "off our feet" this past week. Everywhere we go, we see evidence of serious damage to property. So often we see sign posts....minus the advertising...they seem to have just blown away completely.
I dont even want to think what happened in the really poor areas where the folks have knocked together sheet metal houses, pieced together with nothing to keep it that way.....my heart just goes numb when I think of those poor folks. Every time we have any kind of heavy rains, heavy winds, excessive heat...the really poor suffer it so much worse. Anyway, hubby and I took a drive so he could go and sort out his company tower problems and this is what we saw......
Starting in my own garden before leaving even.
Luckily this bottle brush tree landed in a coral tree standing in front of it, so it didn't crash right down onto the ground.
This is lucky because my sons motor bike was parked in the shade of the trees and you can see how the tree narrowly missed smashing into the bike. You can see the bikes wheels sticking out from under the tree.
As we left our property and went literally around the corner, we saw a neighbors tree down also. (some photo's taken by me and others by my hubby)
Just before we left town to head out to where our internet towers are, we saw this poor chaps wall. Hopefully they are insured.
While feeling sorry the wall down folks, I realized it could still be worse when we saw this chaps dilemma.
And it just got worse.
Once we left town we saw trees down absolutely everywhere along the way.
The whole drive our car was rocking and being pushed about by the heavy winds.
Thankfully, the wind was bad today, but not the gale force it had been the last few days because hubby had to go up the tower in the wind. You can see by his face, that despite being harnessed in...hes not a happy chappy, and who can blame him when......
You see what happened to the competitors tower. These poor guys must be feeling wretched because ALL their clients working off this tower are currently offline till they get it up again.
Luckily ours was still standing and just needing some minor tweaking from hubby. But then again, luck didnt really play a part. We dont have staff....we have partners. So every job if botched, becomes their money down the tubes. So each job is done with everything taken into consideration....weather in that area, even how to set up any resistance boards etc. Hubby is SUPER THOROUGH in his research before a tower goes up.
The next few photo's are from friends who live in the two major centers on either side of me.
This is from Port Elizabeth...this is what their sports stadium (one we use for assemblies) looks like.
In Cape Town, these photo's were taken from a friends high rise apartment.
At its peak the wind was 85kmph (52 mph) which explains the damage. While we were up on the mountain for hubby to do the repairs, it was not that bad, but still very heavy and the wind chill factor was crazy.
Since our weather patterns are changing, I have promised myself to try and have a fire place in our house by next winter...for sure.
Monday, June 09, 2014
It was very much needed time out from all the young ones...much as we love them LOL
We decided to drive down to the Wilderness area because its always enjoyable in that place.
This is taken from the very top of what is called Wilderness Heights.
Wilderness is a small holiday resort in the Western Cape, and has an incredibly laid back feeling, just what we needed. The drive to get there is also very pretty and scenic. Its green, lush and has houses, but they are dotted here and there and usually not even visible till you are almost on top of them which makes you feel like you're the only people on that mountain road.
We have had strange weather which is becoming a familiar statement by folks all round our globe. Whats weird is, normally this time of the year we are in full blown winter, but now we have strange hot days with spats of biting cold, followed by a day like this one HOT AND HUMID??? Even the trees dont know what to do, these trees are normally not in flower at this time of the year, but here they are....in full blossom?!
The drive to Wilderness is through the farm lands and its beautiful to see the various animals along the way. This bull was just stunning, and kept in an enclosure which was a thinnest twine type fence which you can see in the picture. Guess, he didnt realize he could bull-doze through it with his sheer size, unless of course hidden in the twine is a small electric current?? But hes beautiful hey, big doe eyes, like he wouldnt hurt a fly...till the cows are in season and then all hell probably breaks loose.
From the top, there is a look out called The Map of Africa and you can see why it is thus named when looking at a map of Africa....natures is amusing!
We passed the farms and finally just as we came over the hill, we had our first glimpse of the sea. The weather was so clear, we could see forever once we cleared the trees.
We had to wind our way down the mountainside, over a lagoon to get to where the restaurants and coffee shops are.
I've often wondered why people plan these tropical palms, they grow to their heights and can only be seen from a distance, but I must say, grown like this, they are very stately and beautiful.
Once we decided where to go, a place called Locals, we sadly discovered it was closed??
We had no choice but to walk and see which one of the other coffee shops appealed to us.
I hadnt exactly planned on walking LOL, my knees were still killing me from the evenings dancing the night before....still the walk is pretty. We crossed the little bridge to get where we were going with its bank of greenery.
We passed this person roller blading with a kid running alongside him, despite his running, he was holding down a very animated conversation. The joys of being young and fit.
I have poor hearing, but even so, there were so many bees buzzing around these red hot poker plants, that I could hear them. Such busy little chaps.
If I was a bee predator, this little one would be in serious trouble...up to his "elbows" in "sweets"
Close by, were some gorgeous strelitzia plants. My ex husbands aunt, could never remember my name and always called me Strelitzia, even our anniversary cards came to Vernon and Strelitzia
These plants are also sometimes known as Birds of Paradise and they really do look like birds when seen en mass. They are striking plants and do well in vases, lasting for nearly 4-5 weeks before starting to drop their petals or lose their color. I love them.
We finally got to a place called Cocomos. Their bright purple tables were a pretty sight and basically how we chose where to go....lol....what can I say in our defense?
I chose a table that was right next to these palm trees which kept us in the shade. It had some forest creeper spilling out of it and the effect was super.
We ordered our food. I chose off a light meal menu and got Moroccan chicken strips with a salad....totally delicious and very filling at a cost of R45.00 while Justin.....
ordered off the main meal menu. He chose hake and chips at R80.00 and I chuckled when our food came, because his was double the price and I had almost as much food as he did at half the price. But all said and done, the food (both dishes) were well prepared and very tasty.
While our food was great, our waiter was annoying. I have no idea why every sentence he said ended with a snorty laugh, but it was quite disconcerting. I'm seriously peaceable, but I finally asked him if he was nervous? He looked at me as if I had gotten there from another planet lol.
I cant say the questions changed anything, so maybe it was just an irritating mannerism which didnt suit me.
After paying our bill, hubby dearest offered to walk back and fetch the car for me which I was happy about and i sat watching the comings and goings of people. This youngster decided to make use of the warm weather and dry his wet suits while having his lunch....clever use of time.
This woman, however took her dog from the front of her vehicle, and put it in the back. I always worry about animals left in vehicles in the heat...but to give her some credit, she did put a bowl of water in with the doggy and opened the windows.
All that was left was to take another scenic route home. This particular way home is filled with huge shady forest trees and is always cool and as good a dose of therapy as any Ive ever had.
I love this area, it puts back all the "calm" into my life and smooths any ruffles "feathers" I may have had before getting there.
I must say that our drive in this pretty area has brought me right down to a fabulous level of calm, as it always does. Now, for a new week of healthy choices, especially as the warm weather has once more deserted us and another cold front with rain has just pulled in. Time for pots of healthy, hot soup.
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