Friday, 29 June 2018

June 2018 Photo Treasure Hunt

Once again Hawthorn has set us an interesting set of picture titles.  I have searched through my  archives and added a few new so hope I have some interesting stories and pictures for you.


 I wracked my brain for something different as I had used yellow rape and flowers previously when I had a sudden brain wave.  Years ago, when living in Central Africa we could not travel without a valid Yellow Fever certificate and I knew I had seen ours somewhere ages ago.  When we found them we were reminiscing when B told me a story I had not heard before.

As a school boy he lived in Mongu, Barotseland, a province of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.  It was a small administrative town in the middle of nowhere!  He had to fly to and from school in a De Haviland Beaver. One year when he was 13 he arrived at Lusaka airport with his Yellow Fever Book only to be told his inoculation had expired.  He was immediately put into an isolation room at the airport then moved to Lusaka Hospital where he again was put in isolation for ten days. He had to take what he needed out of  his trunk which was taken to his school.  He said he saw nobody except a nurse checking his temperature and someone who brought him food.  He had nothing to do, no books to read, nobody to talk to so spent his time watching Social Weaver Birds building nests in a thick clump of bamboo outside the window.  His biggest worry was that he had sneaked a packet of 50 Gold Leaf cigarettes into the bottom of his trunk which was not allowed and he was concerned that he would get 'six of the best' (cuts) when he got back to school.  He had asked that his trunk be put under his bed and he would unpack it when he got back to the hostel. When he eventually got back to school he made a bee line for his trunk only to discover it had been unpacked and everything put away in his wardrobe, but no cigarettes.  Nothing was said about them so he thought that a friendly house mistress had quietly sneaked them out.

This is a copy of my Yellow Fever Book. 

It Starts with a T..............Terrible Tonkenese Twins

We were looking for a Siamese kitten but none were available but I saw an advert for Tonkenese kittens.  This was long before Google or Alexa so I had to go and check them in the library and found they were originally a cross between Siamese and Burmese and had characteristics of them particular were 'aerial cats' which was so true.     

After much pouring over an atlas I found  the name Thai-shan, on the border of Burma and the old Siam, now Thailand.  It seemed appropriate.  

We lived in Richmond, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa where there were huge Forestry Commission plantations of pine. One of these forests was to the left of our garden and formed part of 'our view' and we were devastated when they came to cut it down.  Then one day our little Thai-shan disappeared.  Just like that.  One minute she was playing in the garden, the next she was gone.  We searched and searched but to no avail. Then a couple of weeks later I saw a small article in the local paper saying that since the large plantations were being cut down the Vervet monkeys had disappeared too and the various raptors, who normally fed on these small monkeys were now taking small pets, cats and dogs, and then we knew what had happened to our little cat.

We contacted the breeder again and put our name down for two more Tonkenese.  We had to wait a while till there was another litter.  We chose two and called one Thai and the other Shan. Seemed appropriate.  They were the Terrible Tonkenese Twins.  Whatever mischief there was to be done, they did it.........together. 

They lived up to the description of 'aerial cats', they would both shimmy up the curtains and sleep on the top, or on the top of the bookcases and wall units we had, or their favourite spot - on the bird table (although they may have had an ulterior motive there).

But tragedy was to strike again.  This time it was Shan who disappeared, taken by a python.  Thai was  heartbroken as were we.  She searched and called and called for her sister for ages.  Then we moved house to one  a few miles away as the crow flies.  She would stay at home with us for a couple of weeks then go back to the old house, still looking for Shan.  After a while we knew we could not force her to stay so we very sadly offered her to the new occupants of the house and she moved back there.


As soon as I read the heading 'Lilac' I dashed outside and took a picture of one of the last spray of lilac flowers on a small tree.  I had only just picked a few of the last flowers for a vase.  Thank goodness I did as the 'beast from the East' arrived and just blew off the remaining flowers the next few days.  I did however take more pictures of flowers that were not necessarily lilacs but the right colours. 

It Starts with a G............Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Great Zimbabwe is located southeast of the town of Masvingo (formally Fort Victoria) and one of the best preserved stone cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Site is 722 hectares and name means houses of stone.  Its origin has been debated over the  years with some attributing the ruins to the Phoenicians.  Historians believe they were first erected around AD 1100 and added to up until 15th century with the purpose being more religious and political rather than for fortification.  At its peak it was believed to be home to some 18,000 people who traded in cloth, beads and ceramics from Arabia and China for gold. ivory and copper. It is now believed they were built by the ancestors of the Shona people who are indigenous to the area. (Details thanks to Wikipedia)

It is a strange place, with the Conical Tower within the main structure.  I remember how cool it was walking in the narrow passages on a very hot day. 

My own Choice ....Great Friends

For many years our son and his wife lived a few doors down from us.  They are the owners of Roxy and Jess, two mad Labradors that we saw almost daily.  Jak our cat knew them both from when they were tiny puppies and kept them under control if they got too pushy.  Whenever we went away our son would come across and let Jak out in the morning after feeding him then put him away each evening with his food.  It was always the same, Jak would put up with this for a couple of days then would decide that we had deserted him forever and would never come home again so he just moved in with the dogs.  After his morning breakfast and usual check around ours and our neighbours' properties he would yell at out son's front door then just saunter in and make himself at home.  He slept with the dogs, sharing their old settee.

 Jak with 'his' dogs, Roxy and Jess.
Jess with Jak.

Friday, 25 May 2018

May 2018 Photo Hunt

Don't know what has happened to my month this time.....I had not realised it was the last week of the month and other than think about what photographs I could use, I have done nothing about it.  The penny suddenly dropped and now I am having to do a rush job, not the way I like to do it, especially as the words were my suggestion this month.  So here goes.............


This picture was taken of our Labrador Misty who loved to cool off in the Giyani heat which could go up to the 40's in the height of summer.  She did this on her own accord.  She would alternate between the spray and then lying on the cool grass in the shade.  She had the right idea. 


I have a very old knitting machine, an Empisal No 2, almost the most basic of all.  I was gifted it nearly 48 years ago when we lived in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  It is so basic that I would knit the ribbing by hand, hook it on, then to make it work the knitting needed to be pushed back behind the needles, the wool laid across the now open needles then the work pulled forward to close  them.  The saddle is then moved across to knit one row.  Very basic but effective.  I could do simple cable by moving the stitches across each other, or lines in the work by pushing every 5th stitch back and it was terrific for stripes. I made our children's and our own jerseys for years including a cable cricket jersey with the appropriate stripes around the bottom and neck band.   

I have used it more recently for making long strips for Hawthorne's yarn bombing project.   It was for this that we got it down from the loft.  It has 2 pull out rods at the back . One slides out to enable me to push back the unwanted needles out of the way or the one at the back which holds in the needles and I could carefully slide out to replace damaged needles.  I don't know what I thought I was doing but I pulled out the rear rod which released all the needles which came crashing out.  As always, when I do something stupid like that I call for help from poor patient B who not only carefully replaced the fallen needles but first cleaned out years and years of dirt lodging underneath.  It really was a disaster. 


While on a nostalgic trip through old photographs I thought I would show movement in this lovely picture of Ben, our beautiful long haired German Shepherd who B had trained and used in displays with other dogs handled by Hawthorn, myself and friends at dog shows around Mpumulunga, South Africa.  I love the power in his jump and the movement of his long silky fur as he leapt fearlessly through this fire hoop.  This is only a single hoop in this photograph - he happily jumped through three or four standing side by side.


I love this picture of a fence taken at Long Newton. It is one of our favourite beaches we visit when we are in Northumberland.   After a high spring tide there are always interesting bits of china washed up on to the beach from a ship that was wrecked out at sea many years ago.


This giraffe is feeding off an Acacia tortillis tree or Umbrella Thorn in the Kruger National Park.  The tree has long spiky thorns in pairs. each with a smaller hooked thorn on the side.  The giraffe has adapted to feed off these trees, thorns and all.  They wrap their long black tongues around the leaves and thorns and pull them off.  After chewing the leaves they spit out the thorns.  A clue to the fact than a giraffe has been feeding off a particular tree is the pile of thorns on the ground underneath. 

My own choice

Whilst searching through my KNP photographs for the one above I came across this one of a Vulture Restaurant.   This is something private game parks often do, not only to feed the vultures but also to bring them to one central area for tourists to be able to see them feeding.  We were never in time to see any of these in action but have seen vultures in their natural habitat waiting to feed on a lion kill when the lions have left the area.  


Thursday, 26 April 2018

April Photo Treasure Hunt

This month is going to be different.  For a start I have had a photographic assistant, known to us all as Kate!  I have had Total Knee Replacement Surgery and not been out and about as usual.  So on one of her visits to me in the beautiful Gisburne Park Hospital I gave her my phone and the list of headings and asked her to go around the hospital and take suitable photographs for me.  So it may be cheating a little which is why I have confessed to it now.

Gisburne Park is an 18th century country house set in 1000 acres of parkland in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.  It is a Grade 1 listed building built in 1727 and now used as a Hospital.  It is full of beautiful mouldings and a very grand staircase......I love a grand staircase!    The waiting room is so luxurious.


There were so many swirls it was hard to choose from Kate's photographs but in the end I settled on this one. part of a swirling banister.


This particular moulding caught Kate's eye as the little cherubs were sitting on rocks.  There were so many of these gorgeous panels everywhere.  I would love to be able to explore all the public rooms.


There were a lot of beautifully carved wooden banisters and door and window surrounds but the delicacy of this twirl of wood in with this dainty orchid appealed to Kate.  Only now that I  have inserted the picture I have noticed the carved skirting board behind it.


I was sitting wondering what to use for Letter as Kate had not been able to find anything suitable when I noticed one of my crutches lying beside me had a small label I had not noticed before.  It said on the side......Simply Mad............that's me - Simply Mad!!   I then looked again carefully at the label and realised I had misread ONE LETTER of the word and it was Simply Med, not Simply Mad!!  One letter and the whole meaning changed.


Tucked away beneath a staircase was a scale - what a good picture for balance.

My Own Choice

What to choose...............a photograph of the beautiful Georgian building......

..............or a picture of the domed ceiling in the Round Room which had an amazing fireplace and not to mention a wonderful modern help yourself coffee machine!!  

 ........................or perhaps a picture of one of the delicious meals I was served on a lovely velvety looking black tray with a round tactile condiment set and a good quality paper serviette in a silver serviette ring.  The meals were delicious and the menu extensive.  I kept saying I did not want to go home, the food was too good!  Sausage and mash with Cornish Ice cream and a pot of tea.

So now you see why I have put more than one picture in this section.

PS - I was not a private patient but one on the NHS. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

March 2018 Photo Treasure Hunt

Can't believe it is the end of March already.  Been a grey, cold and often snowy month here in the UK so going through old photographs of the Kruger National Park and God's Window in the Panarama route in South Africa was a very pleasant way to pass the days.  Once again an interesting selection of topics from Hawthorn, looking forward to seeing other participants interpretation of the headings.  Check them out  Here

1.  Hole

There are potholes big and small blighting our British roads and then there are Burke's Luck Potholes, enormous holes formed in the sandstone by years and years of water erosion  where the Blyde River (River of Joy) and the Treur River (River of Sorrow) meet in Mpumulanga, South Africa.  You can get some idea of the size of the 'holes' when you look at the bridge and people at the top of the photograph.

2. Making.

I am at present knitting myself a cable fronted pullover.  I am going through a knitting phase, gone off crochet for a while.  What is it about green and photographs.  It is actually a pretty sage green, nothing like the photographs at all. Lovely Lady always complains about it on her other blog and now I see what she means.  Rug in background is a funny colour too. It is definitely not pink!


3. Reading Now.

I'm not great about reading during the day, it is some sort of guilt feeling I have. So other than the daily newspaper which I read thoroughly and enter the Sunday Crossword competition, I do not have a novel on the go though I have several stacking up waiting to be read.  What I do read last thing at night  is from My Daily Bread and the readings that go with it. 

4  Black and White

I am sure you  have all stopped AT a zebra crossing but how many of you will have stopped FOR a zebra crossing!!!  Photographs again taken in our beloved Kruger National Park, Mpumulunga, South Africa.  No two zebra have the same markings, they are all individual, like fingerprints. 

5  It starts with an .........H

This is a Hornbill being mobbed by starlings at the Skukuza Camp Site again in the KNP.  This time it was taken on an all too brief stay there with Hawthorn and Himself  out visiting us from the UK.  You will see how colourful Southern African starlings are compared to our rather dull black spotted ones here in Europe.  The birds were all after the bread crumbs they were scavenging from around the tents.  There are very strict rules about feeding any of the wild animals in the park but somehow the birds in the campsites manage to get around that rule!!  

6.  My Own Choice.

This month my own choice is a sort of continuation from last month's sad tale about Audrey the Amarylis.  Well the second bud went on to grow and grow and produced not two, three or even four buds but five.  Hawthorn suggested the extra one was to make up for the previous disaster.

For those that did not read about poor Audrey the Amarylis,  the original bud just rotted away after a halfhearted attempt to open..  The picture below is a reminder.


Friday, 23 February 2018

February 2018 Photo Treasure Hunt

Once again Hawthorn has devised an interesting list of topics for us.  A pleasant way to get through what has been a cold and and rather miserable February has been to search through my archived photographs.


I have many lovely snowy views out of our lounge window but this one showing the clear tracks cutting through the pristine snow covered field made by a tractor delivering feed to the sheep at the far end of the field is a favourite. 


While living in South Africa our son had a foundry making mainly ornaments for the tourist shops. This mare and foal are a couple of my favourites.  A lot of work goes into making something like this, many hours of cleaning up and polishing.  B used to help him after work.  The two of them would be grinding and polishing in extremely hot temperatures, up to 40 deg some days.   I don't keep them as clean as I should do. Not a job I am very keen on doing. 


Can you see her? 

It is a female kudu almost hidden in the scrub bush at the side of the road in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.  Also in the picture are a couple of guinea fowl  but to be honest I was not photographing them and only noticed them when searching for this picture.  The kudu will be there one minute and then disappear into the bush the next with their stripes blending in with the long grass.

They are one of the largest antelope in Southern Africa and the male has most impressive horns.  (Picture of male thanks to Google).


Again this picture is taken in the Kruger National Park.  We lived on its border and would visit as often as we could.  Jackal are well know scavengers,  hanging around a lion kill waiting for leftovers. Like our British fox they are smaller than one imagines.  We did not see many as they are nocturnal and this is the only photo I have of the black backed jackal out of hundreds of pictures.  The smaller picture below is once again thanks to Google, but it does show his black back in more detail. 

5.  BUD

Eldest Grandson gave his mother and me an amaryllis bulb in a pot at Christmas.  I waited patiently for it to grow, then when this topic appeared I thought I would photograph it weekly for the whole month, showing its progress.  It started to grow alright but then seemed to have a brown mark down one side of the stem.  It seemed very stunted especially when a second bud appeared beside it and rapidly overtook the original but when I saw Hawthorn's plant at full height with three gorgeous flowers I knew mine was in trouble.  But it still falls under this category so I will chart its progress for you.

5 February 2018
11 February 2018

17 February 2018

21 February 2018
Collapsed overnight

21 February 2018
Propped up. I'm still hoping
the bud will open before the stem
completely dies off.
Kate has rudely suggested my bud looks like Audrey
from the Little Shop of Horrors!  I wonder why?

I give up.  Its too late to find an obliging bud
so here are some daffodil buds instead.
 Much more spring like than my very sad
Amaryllis called Audrey!!!


Whilst looking out snowy pictures for 'White' I came across this beautiful one of a young Roxy, our son and daughter-in-law's chocolate Labrador, lying in the snow.  She loves lying flat and dragging herself on her tummy through the snow.  I thought I'd use it as my own choice as I'm sure there won't be a topic where I can use it for a while. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Scavenger photo-hunt January 2018

Scavenger photo-hunt January 2018

I am so glad that Hawthorn has started the monthly photo treasure hunt.  The only trouble is that I had not noticed when it was due and also unaware of the date - when you are retired dates are not so important especially as time flies by frighteningly fast.  To link up with others joining in click HERE

1.  Yellow.

Every year we go to Northumberland to a farm cottage for a week.  We normally go in September/October after school holidays when it is even quieter than usual.  But in 2016 we chose to go in Spring as I had a hospital date for later in the year.  What a surprise it turned out to be.  All the spring flowers were out and there were just miles and miles of glorious yellow rape fields just about everywhere.  Below is a field of yellow with Bamburgh Castle in the background. 

2. It starts with an ........O

One year we were wandering around nearby Berwick-on-Tweed and came across this charity shop. I was actually after wool for the Kitty Blankets we make for a local cat charity.  There inside was this amazing 'dress' made entirely of Ordinance Survey Maps.  I've been waiting ages for Hawthorn to choose a subject heading where I could use this picture and then when she chose 'something beginning with M' I completely forgot!!  So it is coming in under 'O'!

I actually did get some wool there.  The manager's sister was closing down her wool shop and had donated baskets and baskets of brand new, top of the range balls of wool at £1 each!  

3.  Light

We have had this light for quite a few years - the picture does not show it well but the lamp shade is more light brown than red.   I took a photograph to show Kate that we had put her picture she had done for her Dad of his 'tame' squirrel Emma on the wall above the light.  I was so surprised to see that the pretty pattern of holes on the shade look more like 80 than the twisty chains.  It also throws the 80 pattern on to the wall  behind and we had never noticed it before.  The cat picture framed on the table is a picture on slate of our old beloved cat Jak (I take my  name from him) that Kate had also done for her Dad.

5.  Colourful

On a visit to Empress Sewing Centre in Colne I was so impressed with this display of zips.  I had never seen such a large selection and colour range.  There was another display, equally as large on the  wall on the opposite side of this alcove.

6. My Own Choice

This is Roxy, our son and daughter-in-law's 
chocolate lab.  She will do anything she is
asked and puts up with a lot.