Friday, 28 July 2017

July 28th Scavenger Photo Hunt list

I gather Eldest had a hand in choosing these words with more than one meaning.  What a challenge some of them were.  Had to think far out of the box this time. Very far in some cases.   Well done!
 I am once again joining in with Hawthorn Spellweaver photo treasure hunt - to see her blog and links to other people who are taking part, click  here

1.  Crane  

Meet Herpes.  She was a very handsome crane that lived on the jetty on one of the islands in the middle of Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe/Zambia.  She was so named as, like herpes, she never went away!!   She sat waiting for the fishermen to come back in their boats rather than go fishing for herself!! 

2.  Ring

This red lifebelt stands sentinel on top of the hillside overlooking a vast beach in Northumberland. Officially known as Cocklawburn  but we call it the Fossil Beach as it not only has many fossils in those rocks you can see below but also at the base of the hill, especially after a bit of a rockfall.

Looking at the weather-worn post holding the lifebelt makes me wonder how long it has stood guard there and how often it has been used.

One of the many fossils to be found when the tide is out.  This is a small example of a fossil but one of my favourites.

3. Set

In 2015 a friend gave me a large shopping bag full of crab apples and as you can see I made a lovely lot of Crab Apple Jelly.  I did not know the fruit as it is something we did not grow in Africa (I was more used to making guava jelly) but it set beautifully.  Did not last long unfortunately. 

4. Light   


This is a picture of Berwick-on-Tweed lighthouse taken in 2008.  The boys have grown a bit since then, they now tower over their father! The lighthouse has also taken on a much smarter appearance as it has had a coat of paint.  It is located at the end of the pier from where there are tremendous views down the gorgeous Northumberland Coast.  It was built in the 19th Century and guides shipping to the entrance to the River Tweed and Berwick Harbour.  

You may have guessed from my banner picture, the Northumberland Coast is a favourite of ours and where we go each year for a stay in a farm cottage.  We wait till the summer school holidays are over then have the beaches to ourselves - not  that they are that busy in the holiday season.

I must confess to not being the photographer in this case, it was our son - the other tall one in the family!! 

5.  Bow

Strangely enough I don't have any pictures of a bow in my huge selection except this Christmas decoration which is one of my favourites.  He looks edible but perhaps fortunately is not.

6.  Spring    

Many years ago, when clearing out some branches to give more light to my Secret Garden, B cut down a dead tree but left the stump as the roots were helping hold the sloping heavy clay soil from slipping further.  I then found this car spring in amongst the rubbish there and remembering how Hawthorn uses odd industrial finds in her garden,  I put it on the stump. It has sat there for years, only really showing when the branches of that large fern next to it die back and the new branches unfurl.

7.  Open  


I must be honest and admit I did not take this photograph, it was sent to me by my good friend Lynette. She and her husband are taking a year long caravan holiday in their home country of South Africa before moving to their retirement flat in Scottburgh on the South Coast, near Durban.  They are moving around according to the weather, exploring the Rand area till it got too cold then moving to the South Coast for the mild winter there.   What bliss!

They check out many of the farm and road stalls and cafes wherever they are and came across this one near Bela Bela (previously known as Warmbaths) north of Pretoria. Lynette often sends us pictures that she thinks will catch our fancy and this certainly did, we found it very amusing.    

As a matter of interest Toeka Se Dae is Afrikaans and translates as 'Days of Yore'  as it was a very rustic road stall. 

8.  Grand  


Firstly I must apologise for the quality of this picture but as I know many of you enjoy my African stories I thought this one of this very grand dry cleaners in Giyani, in the far north of South Africa, would make a very grand story.

B was transferred to be manager of a psychiatric hospital in Giyani and as always I was guaranteed a job there in the Occupational Therapy Department.  

One of the first things we were told about by the African matron there was to be very careful using the local dry cleaners.  Only take clothes in for cleaning at the beginning of the week we were warned. Seemingly the proprietor of the shop had a second business running from his premises.....he hired out clothes for the weekend from the suits and posh frocks that came  in for cleaning!!   Needless to say we never used that dry cleaners.  But the picture on their window always amused me.  Bearing in mind it was supposed to be a dry cleaners it was strange that the lady in the picture was washing clothes in the traditional African way, on the rocks at the side of a river!!  Another reason we chose never to take any dry cleaning there!! 

As I said above, I apologise for the quality of the picture.  I had to enhance and adjust it tremendously just to get it to look this good or should I say grand.

9. Park  


Our local park in Sough used to have the most wonderful playground until 'elf and safety' decided it needed a new 'safe' one.  Not only did it have this fabulous helter skelter but a rocking horse on a spring that could really rock, a old fashioned see saw,  a long rocking horse that seated about 10, a roundabout that you could jump on and off, old fashioned swings that would go really high and then you could jump off and those double swings rather like a little boat.  There was also the skate park you can see in the background of the picture.  Now all that is gone and it is a very safe, boring modern playground.  So glad our grandsons are long past that age.  Below you can see B watching Youngest coming head first down the helter skelter.

10   My Own Choice

So many of you had such complimentary things to say about my secret garden I thought I would share this picture with you.  It is not a very pretty one, I must admit, but it makes me feel good when I see how far B and I  have got making our Secret Garden. 

When I stand admiring the cool greenness I deliberately shut out this part of the lower garden behind me.  As I have said before, we are last flat in a group of four.  Nobody else has bothered to do anything to theirs although we do occasionally cut back the ivy in the next door garden before it smothers the trees there. If I turn round and look under our bridge and our neighbour's decking, this is what our garden looked like in 2002 when we started working on it. 

Hawthorn helped us terrace the top bit and put in steps down the centre. B put up a fence to make me feel more secure working down there. There is an 8ft drop down over the edge to what we call the moat.  Together we cleared enough rubbish to fill just less than 200 black bags, 144 of which we found in the garden. (It is very windy higher up at road level and bags had been left by the refuse collector and blown down there).  It was filled with dead shrubs smothered by the wild honeysuckle that grew there, dead pot plants, 7 very dead Christmas trees, many still in their stands, nappies, toys and of course beer bottles and cans. Lovely!  

Our son and daughter-in-law gave me flag stones for my birthday that year so we laid paths. B dug out blocks of clay so we could make beds filled with compost and grit to improve the soil.  He also laid a sprinkler watering system as part of the garden is very dry under Leylandii trees.  Our grandsons, now they are older, help with odd jobs down there during their school holidays. Hawthorn has given us many shade plants from her garden to help fill it.   So it has been a family effort. But worth it. 

 Just a reminder of how my secret garden looks now. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday 30th June's Scavenger Photo Hunt list

Another interesting list of topics reflecting June's 30 Days of Wild.  Not been out much this month so have again had to rely on old photographs. 

1.  The setting sun

Contrails reflecting the colours of the setting sun.  Picture taken from our lounge window.

2. Your local wild place 

(anything from a dusty corner with spiders to nature reserve covering acres of land!)

I'm cheating here.  This is no longer my local wild place but was some years ago.  We lived a few kilometres from the nearest gate into the vast Kruger National Park and we spent many happy days there.  We would book into a rest camp for a few nights.  

The picture below is of a group of young Impala females standing in some welcome dappled shade of a thorn tree.

3. Mug of your favourite drink in the garden

We love sitting in the sunshine having an afternoon far this summer that has not been as often as we would have liked as our garden is a 'wind tunnel' and the wind makes it unpleasant sitting there.  Hopefully in July summer will come  back again minus the wind.

4. My kind of beautiful

I love peonies.  They are not something I grew in Southern Africa but always associated with  an English summer.  So I am thrilled that mine flowers each year, even though they grow in a pot.  I never get many flowers, not enough to pick anyway, so I treat myself to some from the supermarket each year. 

5. Look to the skies

We live under the flight path of planes to and from Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool airports so on a clear day have lovely criss-cross patterns made by the contrails. I often wonder who is aboard; are they going on holiday, or perhaps on a business trip.   Then recently I read in the paper that the clouds that form from the drifting contrails have an official name....homomutatus or cirrus aviaticusI looked it up and found the following which I though interesting. 

 Persistent contrails are of particular interest to scientists because they increase the cloudiness of the atmosphere.The resulting cloud forms are formally described as homomutatus, and may resemble cirrus, cirrocumulus, or cirrostratus, and are sometimes called cirrus aviaticus. Persistent spreading contrails are suspected to have an effect on global climate

6. Mini beasts

A Bulgarian Tiger Moth looking for a garden perhaps.

I could not resist using this picture too. 
A bee recharging it's batteries on a solar rock in a tub on our neighbour's decking.

7. Rain

I don't like grey days but the rain does not bother me.  Perhaps because it was so special when it only fell in our  short 'rainy season' in Central and Southern Africa from November to April each year. 

8. Something summery

I love this section of my garden......really summery. Since taking this photograph a week ago (when the sun was shining!) the lilies on the right of the picture have come into bloom. B very kindly made wooden staging on three levels so I could get this effect. 

9. Urban wilderness

We have an unusual garden. Our flat is the last in a row of four so we are able to have a greenhouse, shed, two large compost bins and a garden made up entirely of  small trees, shrubs and annuals in pots of various sizes on the tar driveway without restricting access to the other three residents. But as the building was constructed in the side of a hillside which was cut away and our driveway goes up the hill and round to the back of our flats. our driveway and front door seem to be on  ground level even though from the front we live in a first floor flat.  There is a bridge from our driveway to the front door which crosses over the gap where originally shrubs and trees had been planted but most had been strangled by wild honeysuckle.   We opened up a bit of the railings to make a gate and with the help of a step ladder we are able to access a sort of hidden garden, all green and shady. We had to bring in masses of soil and compost as it consisted of heavy clay and subsoil.  It was on a steep slope so it had to be terraced as well.  Here is a collage picture of our 'urban wilderness' with the bottom right picture showing our bridge and the sheer drop down another eight feet to ground level.  B put up a wooden fence to keep me from falling down that last drop!!  With the help of B and Hawthorn I  have now got a lovely garden with winding paths, steps and an arch that earlier this year was covered by a lovely yellow honeysuckle all irrigated by hidden mist sprays. This is my hidden urban wilderness.

10 My own choice

Keeping with the wild life theme this picture was taken outside the side window of our lounge.  A large Goat Willow (Salix caprea) tree had been growing there and we hung bird feeders from it.  We had regular visitors from a variety of birds and the squirrels would come to the window demanding nuts.  The mother squirrel used to bring her babies here and they would nibble the bark, I liked to think they were after the salacin from which Asprin is derived  to  relieve teething pains as the adults never chewed on it. Sadly the tree was damaging the fence around the school playgrounds so the council came and cut it down.  It is regrowing again at great speed. Perhaps one day we can hang bird feeders up again.

Friday, 26 May 2017

May Scavenger Photo Hunt

Well Hawthorn, you have made it difficult for us to choose which ones to select with your much longer list!  I know I for one prefer to not have to choose,  just do your selection!!  Makes it much harder, even with the greater selection.  But here goes with my eventual selection.....

1.  Piano

This is a picture of my father taken in the Broadcasting studios in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in about 1948. Before the war he had his own band and played professionally for Tea Dances in hotels in Eastbourne.  (As a point of interest here he had very flat feet and was colour blind so was ineligible for the Air force or the Army so he, together with his whole band, was called up and became members of ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association,  and travelled around army camps entertaining the soldiers).   

After the war we travelled overland through Africa down as far as Lusaka where he joined the Central Africa Broadcasting Corporation.  He also played at dinner dances in the largest hotel there as well as recording half hour programmes of 'Music for Sundown' broadcast on a Sunday evening.  He would buy sheet music of the latest musical shows and films and then put his own touch – 'adding the twiddly bits' he used to call it.  When this photograph was taken at Broadcasting  House he must have told me he was working on ‘Buttons and Bows’ which was from the 1948 film The Paleface, starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell.    I was only 6 at the time and misunderstood what he was doing and for many years I thought he composed it! Pity he didn't....think of the royalties!  


2 Group

A group of eager faced Brownies and Guides waiting to shake hands with Lady Olave Baden-Powell when she visited Lusaka as part of her tour of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Swaziland and Basutoland, all British colonies in those days.   (Modern day Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho). I remember how excited we were as all the packs gathered at the Lusaka Girls School in March l950 but although this was a very important day for all the Brownies my main memory of the event was trying to find the girl's toilet and having to ask one of the 'big girls' (presumably a girl guide) where they were!  

Lady Olave Baden-Powell with her daughter Chief Scout Betty Clay.  Our Brown Owl was Mrs Palmer and her daughter Ann with fabric hat is to her right and I am on her left wearing the regulation brown hat. 


3.           Silhouette 

 This was not one of my original choices but after seeing such a spectacular sunset a few  nights ago (the one mentioned in an earlier post by Hawthorn) I decided to use the silhouette of the trees over the road.  I do have a problem with photographing sunsets at certain times of the year.  I get such an excellent view of the vast skies outside our window but the sun often gives too much light which can mess up my photographs, especially such brilliant show as this one.  I was using my camera phone which I had only had a couple of days and have not tried out various settings yet.  In  hind sight I should have taken them with my proper camera. 

4.     Avocado

I love avocados but find the ones available here in the UK very small.  The Haas is minute and the  larger one is only a bit bigger.  Perhaps we have been spoilt.  In the Southern Hemisphere where we lived for so many years, they are huge.  When we were living outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, we had an avocado tree just outside the kitchen door.  It had not had much of a crop the year we moved in and we were advised of a local tradition to improve yield.  One was to bang some large nails into the trunk - perhaps there was a lack of some mineral in the soil but the one that intrigued us was to take a big stick and beat it!  So B did just that.  Gave the trunk some huge wacks.  Not sure which of the two worked but all the time we lived at Khami it produced the largest avocados we have ever seen. We knew them as Custard Avocados which could only describe the creamiest fruit you  have ever tasted.  I had a Salter scale in those days, one of those with an oval shaped bowl and the fruit filled the dish almost completely.  From memory, I seem to think they weighed 3 lbs or more.  Below is a normal Haas, looks large but it is on a very small chopping board!!  Compare it to normal sized sprig of mint next to it.  

There, I knew I wasn't dreaming. I have just googled 'large avocados' and there they were on sale in a certain supermarket here in the UK described  as a rare supersize fruit weighing an average of 3 lbs and coming from just four trees grown by one of the world's biggest suppliers in South Africa.  (They have forgotten to count our tree in Zimbabwe ..but well that was 40 odd years ago! )  It is described as having a fantastic taste with a rich, juicy, buttery texture and creamy flavour.  Just as I remember it.   

Sadly that is not me in the picture, just some pretty girl in the shop advertisement which I snipped off Images on Google. After typing the above I realise that perhaps neither of our methods used above worked, it must have been a large variety all along and we just made sure it had lots of water!!  

5. Chocolate Cup Cake 

Take your choice, there are at least a dozen there, actually a bakers' dozen, I have just recounted, the rest are lemon buns.  Each year I would bake my daughter-in-law 3 dozen iced cupcakes for her to take to the office on her birthday.  I am no expert but had lovely fun decorating them with butter icing.  Sadly she and our son have now moved to Scotland, a bit far for me to make them for her this year!! 

6.        Weave  

After years of resisting it, I finally learnt to crochet in about 2009.  I had never been interested as most crochet articles in my days in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) were either doilies or toilet roll covers!  So why bother!! 

Hawthorn did not knit or crochet other than the little she had learnt as a school girl. But then suddenly she started crocheting;  her sister-in-law taught her one holiday on a beach in Northumberland.  

I looked with envy at the work she was producing so decided......anything she can do..........I may not do better but at least I can try. So between H, daughter-in-law and other Knit and (K)natter friends I finally managed it.  The first large article I made was this huge blanket.  Looking at the photograph I can see uneven tension and other errors.  But I was not happy with the stripes, too obvious, so Hawthorn suggested I weave (there is the word I was waiting to use) cream wool through the holes in the work using a large darning needle. You can see where I had started it.  I had made it with carpet wool which was heavy enough to start with but with the extra cream wool it became very cumbersome and not very cuddly or sniggly at all.  So it, together with my next similar effort,  ended up with son and daughter-in-law's Labradors.  They loved them, they weren't fussy!! 

7.  Bush

Now here is a word that means different things depending where you live.  Here in the UK it is a plant, a shrub in the garden like a rose bush but to us that have grown up in southern Africa it has a totally different meaning.  Here  you would go for a walk in the countryside, wandering around in woods or forests, across green fields but to me a walk in the countryside is a walk 'in the bush'.  That conjurers up memories of walking in long African grass, more often brown than green or sitting quietly in the car in the Kruger National Park (KNP) watching lion, buffalo, giraffe or the smaller creatures like some of the varied bird life walking through the bush.  In fact just writing about the bush and searching through our many photographs  makes me feel quite 'bush happy' bringing back memories.  These photographs and the one below had been taken with a very ordinary camera, no fancy zoom lens.  The lions had just appeared out of the bush and were about to cross the road ahead of us and the elephants were just browsing by the side of the road.

8.  Long

Yet another African story and again in the KNP.  Hawthorn and G (Himself) came out from the UK to stay with us and we booked a few days in a rest camp in the Kruger.  The advantage of staying rather than doing a day visit was that you could get up early, grab a cup of coffee and get out into the park just as the camp gates open at 5 am, an hour before the main gates for the day visitors.  We had done just that and were driving back towards the camp for breakfast when a leguaan or monitor lizard at least 1 metre long crossed the road in front of us and disappeared into the long grass at the edge of the road. We had stopped and I was peering out the car window watching where he had gone trying to see him again when I realised I was looking between two large, light coloured straight 'poles'.  I suddenly realised these were not poles but the legs of a giraffe just beyond where the leguaan had disappeared and I was staring under his belly. Wow, he was enormous with the longest legs that went up and up.  When you remember that when a giraffe gives birth standing up as they do, the new born baby drops 2 metres or more to the ground, it gives you some idea of how tall they are.  

9.  Green

Today, the hottest day this year, B and I went to Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, Yorkshire for a walk along the river and picnic lunch.  We go each year about this time as my mother's ashes were scattered there some years ago and I know how much she loved sitting by the river where we had our lunch today.  It was lovely and cool walking along under the towering trees. There were still plenty of bluebells about and huge banks of wild garlic were in full bloom, When I checked over my photographs I saw this one and thought 'how cool and green that looks' so it had to be my choice for this topic. 

    10  Sharp 

Well, what can I say about this display I saw in a second hand shop in Colne, Lancashire but .....Ouch!!  

PS   Hawthorn, the long list was not so bad after all.  I kept changing my mind about which topics I would choose as I found more suitable photographs.