Friday, July 31, 2009

Sunrise over Guinea, West Africa

With my plans to go up the the Sudan, North Africa, getting under way, I thought I'd better post some of the lovely sky shots I took between 2004 - 2006 while living in West Africa. When I first joined the gold company I worked for, I was set on as temporary staff and only worked a 5 - day week. (Later on when I got a contract, I had to work on Saturdays as well, urgh!) Until then, I used to run from our house in the camp down to the air strip (800m/500 yards) every Saturday morning, run the length of the strip (1.25 km/.8 mile), turn around run the length of the strip back and then run up to camp again. (total 4.1km/2.5miles) Not much to real marathon runners, I know, but it was a good warm-up exercise for me before going into the gym and working out for another hour.

I always had my small camera in my hand, strapped to my wrist and took many photos along the way when I stopped for a breather - which was often!
As I said above, I thought I'd better post some of the sky photos I have of this beautiful country which stole my heart while living there. Once I get to North Africa, I will have so many scenes and skies to photograph, I will constantly be posting them on my blog.

These photos were taken in July 2004 in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere winter. This season is called the dry season. There is often a pall of dust hanging in the air, called the Harmatan, at this time of the year and you can go for days, even weeks without seeing the sun. This day, however, the sky, although slightly cloudy, was clear. The sun rose majestically over the African bush as only the sun in Africa can rise.

This is the end of the strip. When I got here, I noticed a pall of mist hanging over the African bush. Beautiful...
After turning at the end of the airstrip, and jogging halfway back up the runway, I stopped to take this photo and all the following ones. (A girl has to catch her breath, you know!)

I wished I was an artist and could capture this beauty on canvas

Africa, always in my heart and part of my blood.
Wild, beautiful and untamed.

For beautiful skies from around the world, click here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wherever your treasure is...

Don't store up treasures here on earth where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves can break in and steal. Store up your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. (Matthew 6:19 -21)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Trip Arrangements Continue

At last, my temporary passport. All South African passports have the new Coat of Arms on the cover now. (See the old Coat of Arms on my identity document)

The arrangements for my forthcoming trip to the Sudan to visit my husband will feature regularly for the next few weeks on this blog. For those of you who have not followed the first posts, if you interested, you can read about this here and here.

Now, any South African (and probably many bloggers from across the world) will relate to the effort I’ve had to put in to renew my passport. Last week on Thursday my husband Skyped me and reminded me that my temporary passport might be at Home Affairs. (I’d just about forgotten but my husband is so excited and keen for me to come up he had NOT forgotten, LOL) I duly telephoned the offices and was told there was no application in my name. I replaced the telephone, took a deep breath and dialled the Home Affairs number again. I asked the switchboard operator to put me through to passport collections and contrary to the first operator’s question of” when did you apply? Oh no, there’s nothing in your name...” he merely put me through to a back office (I presume) I gave the lady my identity number which she obviously punched into her system and said there was still no temporary passport issued in my name. However, she said she would follow it up with head office and asked me to phone her back at 4pm that day.

Once again my husband Skyped me at 5 to four and asked if I was going to phone Home Affairs about my passport. (I was glad he couldn’t see me blushing because I’d just about forgotten AGAIN!) When I phoned the lady in question (I’d taken down her name) she said she’d spoken to her supervisor and together they’d decided to issue my temporary passport without having the thumbprints verified (which was the reason why my temporary passport wasn’t issued on the day I applied for it) She said I could come and collect it on Monday. Although I was thrilled about my passport being ready, I had to wonder why suddenly I could get it without my thumbprints being verified. This makes me think that when I applied for this document on 16th July and my thumbprints didn’t show up on the computer, they did show up later when this clerk verified them.

On my return trip, I was first at the traffic control post and managed to get some photos

If you’ve seen my previous post you’ll know that to collect any identification documents from where I live, entails a trip of 120kms/75 miles. Normally this trip along one of our National highways takes me an hour. However, there has been serious road works for the past three years and you can expect to stop and wait at two traffic controls for a minimum of 25 minutes each. On Monday I waited twenty minutes at the first traffic control and fifteen minutes at the second.

Once I’d done some shopping while in the city, I drove back home. Yes, along the same route with the “Stop/Go” detours. This time I took many photos. At the first stop, I was first in line. I decided to photograph the lady who operates the communications system between the two points. Obviously she tells the other operator which car is first and which car is last in line. How else can this method work?

I "tiptoed" through the detour which was rough and rutted. Eventually when I got out on the other side, several cars overtook me which made me smile. They would have to stop and wait at the next stop which was only a few kilometres ahead.

The detour is very rough and rutted and I kept to the 80km speed limit

At the second "Stop/Go" traffic control, I stopped behind this lovely new Mercedes. However, it wasn't long before a soft drink/soda can flew out of the passenger window littering an area that was already strewn with rubbish

Sure enough, when I got to the next “Stop/Go” traffic control, all the cars which had sped past me were waiting in front of me! I pulled up behind a beautiful large C-class Mercedes. I could see by the license plate that it was this year’s model. As I watched, I saw a soft drink/soda can fly out of the passenger side window. Now, anyone who is South Africa will know that this country, as beautiful as it is, has a huge litter problem. We have landfills of garbage at the entrances/exits of all the towns and cities and our roads are often littered with bottles, cans, plastic bags and fast food cartons.

I pressed my horn but the occupants of the car obviously didn’t hear me. I was just toying with the idea of going to the car window and asking him to please pick up his can when the driver opened his door, got out and walked to the back of the car. He opened the boot/trunk and removed an attaché case. Aha, I thought, an intelligent young man. I leaned out of my car window and, after greeting him, told him that his passenger had dropped a can out of the car window. He nodded and turned back to the boot. I opened my door, leaned further out and asked him politely if he’d like me to pick up the can and place it in his car boot. He turned to look at me and when he saw I was serious, he walked to the can, picked it up and placed it in his boot. I thanked him profusely and we parted friends!
When the light turned green and the traffic control officer turned the board to “Go”, we all engaged gear and moved on through the detour. The rest of my journey was uneventful and I arrived home at 1pm.

Every driver's secret fear: an oncoming vehicle on your side (in this case, the ONLY side) of the road. This was a construction vehicle which moved off to the side...
Miles and miles of detour
This part of the detour does not look as bad on the photo as it is in real life
Gravel banks looming up on the side, half prepped road surface.
Graders, bulldozers, scrapers and tip trucks swerve on and off the road in between the oncoming traffic
Approaching the end of the second detour. Note the line of traffic waiting for us to pass
At last. This is the road surface we can expect the whole highway to be like once the construction is completed

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Two weeks ago while Debbie and I were enjoying a cuppa in the garden, she suddenly clutched my arm and pointed to my large pond. A Hamerkop had landed on the rocks and was doing a recce around the water's edge.
This 500g/1lb bird stands about 57cm/24inches high is very difficult to photograph. I'm not sure whether it's shy or whether my dogs (especially Eddy who loves to chase birds) have frightened it in the past. Debbie grabbed my camera and managed to get a few photos before it took off in flight.
If you enlarge the first photograph, you will see where it gets its name from. The Hamerkop (which means "Hammerhead" in Afrikaans) has a distinct backward projecting crest. It's diet consists of frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects and small fish. It would get the first three in my pond but that day it did not stay for dinner.

Click here to see amazing images of other worlds.
Photo credits: Debbie Hedges

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pursuing More of Jesus Part 3

This is the final part of the three-part series on how to pursue more of Jesus. I trust whoever has read these posts, which you can find here and here, have been inspired to follow Jesus and live a life of victory; a life which is filled with blessings and motivated by His unconditional love.

Pursue more of His love in your home
As you give Jesus more of your heart, He will fill it with more of His love and that will overflow into the lives of the people with whom you interact each day. When you allow God’s love to flow through you, it will empower you to love even those people who are difficult for you to love. There are people whose personalities or behaviour make them seem completely incompatible with you. Rather than avoiding or tolerating difficult people, choosing to show God’s love to them will bless you in the process. At the same time God will use them to grind off the weak edges of your character to make you stronger. Ask Jesus to help you love people sacrificially. Instead of loving only those people who meet your needs, with whom you get along, who make you feel good, who do things for you, who give you things you want, who respond with love, and whom you like, choose to demonstrate to love everyone, regardless of whether or not you like them or how they respond to you. When you love someone sacrificially, your act of love becomes an act of worshipping Jesus.

Pursue more of His courage in your convictions:
Be willing to stand out and speak up for Jesus in all areas of your life and with whoever you meet. Take a strong public stand for the uniqueness of who Jesus is; for the truth of the whole Bible. Be prepared for the necessity to live a life of integrity, purity and humility in order to please God. Rather than live a lifestyle that simply blends with that of non-believers, show people the difference that your relationship with Jesus makes with your attitude and actions. Pray for the courage to stand by Biblical convictions when others pressure you to be complacent or politically correct. Ask the Holy Spirit to use your conversations with others to glorify God in whatever ways He guides you to do so. No matter how much pressure you encounter to compromise your convictions, decide that you will never give up, shut up or let up, because of your love for Jesus.

Pursue more of Hs nearness in your loneliness:
When you feel lonely remember that Jesus is always with you. Pray for more awareness of His presence close to you and take comfort in it. Although other people may sometimes abandon or disappoint you, Jesus is always there for you. Remember that Jesus is much more than just a man, prophet, teacher, preacher, icon or symbol. Jesus is God Himself and He loves you!

Pursue more of His answers to your prayers:
It’s an incredible privilege to be able to go to God at any time and in any place with your prayers. Jesus has promised that when you ask Him for anything according to His will and believing in His power to act, He will answer. Whenever your prayers seem to go unanswered or turn out opposite to what you asked God to do (such as when you prayed for your career and you are laid off; you pray for a loved one’s healing and he/she dies) trust God anyway. It's difficult, but with His grace, you can do it. Remember that His ways are not your ways, and He will act according to what’s best for you from His unlimited perspective on every situation.

Pursue more of His glory on your knees:
Embrace God’s purpose for your life single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. Stay focussed on what God wants for your life and do all you can to fulfil that purpose well. Let your determination to do the work God has for you, lead you to make wise choices like: less sleep, more prayer; less TV, more studying God’s Word; less shopping and more tithing; less eating and more worship. Serve God faithfully to glorify Him every day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Formidable Lady Refected

Cathkin Peak looms up on the left of the photo
The same peak reflected

The huge mountain silhouetted in the background, is indeed a formidable lady. You can read about her in my post here.

I took this photo from the church we attend when visiting John and Debbie in the Drakensberg.

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fun in the Garden

C'mon, Eddy. Let's play...Whoohoo, this is fun!

Mmm, John, are you sure this is compost?

For more images of pets around the world, go to Pet Pride

Friday, July 24, 2009

Red-Headed Finches at Sunset

These images of the male (above) and female (below) Red-headed Finches were downloaded from the Internet

The Red-headed Finch is a common resident to most of South africa, its range extending into the Namibian interior. It does not occur in the South-western and East coast region of Southern Africa. Favouring arid and semi-arid grasslands, this little bird is endemic to the Free State. Over our town in the Eastern part of the province, these birds, which occur in huge flocks in non-breeding season, are visible overhead every morning and evening. As the sun warms the flatlands, they rise as one man [bird!] from reeds at the town dam and flock to the farmlands beyond the town. Every evening as the sun begins to set, these valient little birds, leave their daytime smorgasbord of wheat and grass seeds, and flock back to the other edge of town to roost.

As can be expected they exasperate the farmers who lose thousands of tons of wheat a year to these voracious little birds. Who is to blame? The raptors, like the Lanner falcons, whose diet is almost entirely made up of smaller birds (such as pigeons, doves and the little passerines ie, finches) have been inadvertantly poisoned by the same farmers who intend to descimate the numbers of the finches, pigeons and doves who wreak such havoc on their crops.
Last night as I waited for my spinning class to begin, I climbed onto my little Nissan (pick-up) roof and snapped away at the amazing phenomenom of these hundreds,no thousands of birds flying over town to the dam to roost for the night. I used my long lens and clicked continuously for 15 minutes. When my instructor arrived and I packed my camera away, I looked up and the stream was still coming in. The previous evening I watched them with my binoculous and timed them. This stream of birds continued for more than 25 minutes before I had to go into my class and still had not let up.

The stream of birds flocking in goes on...

and on...

and on...

and on...

This sequence of photos took me sixteen minutes and the stream of birds was still coming over when I packed up my camera and went into my spinning class

For more beautiful sky images, click here