Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunset over 2010

I captured this sequence of the sun setting over the Free State flats. This image was taken at 7.06pm
Another image at 7.06pm
At 7.07pm clouds moved across the sun and this was the result. Isn't it beautiful?
A photo taken a few seconds after the one above
At 7.08pm the sun was a hot red orb in the darkened sky. I took several more photos of the sun sinking behind the horizon  (it finally set at 7.12pm) but I thought this a fitting sunset on the eve of the New Year, 2011

For more skies around the world, click here


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Debbie

Many of my blog readers have visited Debbie's blog (here)  Not only did Debbie give up the comforts of suburbia to support John in his quest to carve out a Purpose-driven life in the Drakensberg, but she also home-schools their four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, while caring for a their five-month-old baby boy and a twenty-month-old toddler.

The results of Debbie's commitment to and faithful walk with the Lord, are readily visible. Our precious grandchildren are healthy, happy and TOTALLY unspoilt. Hurrah. They are well-spoken, highly intelligent and obedient. In a word, pleasant and beautiful.  All a testimony to Debbie's unstinting love and care.

Debbie my word for you for 2011 is that not only are you a mother to our four beautiful grandchildren, but that you will still mother, nuture and educate many children on your land.

Bless you , dearest Debz. We love you dearly!

A very special lady, our daughter-in-law:  a wonderful wife to John and a brilliant mother to her four children


Boxing Day

On Sunday, Boxing Day, as we came out of church we met our friends, Julius and Carin at the local cafe. In Marquard everyone meets everyone at the cafe, especially on Sundays after church. The different denomiations finish their worship services at about the same time and afterwards everyone heads for the cafe! 

This day, Julius and Carin invited us to join them for a picnic on their newly-acquired farm a few kilometers from Marquard. Grant and I came home, packed camping chairs, picnic plates, cutlery, salad and vegetarian sausage for me and off we went. Oh, as an afterthought, I packed one of the two Christmas cakes I'd ordered from a young farmer's wife who makes my fruit cakes every year.

My little Nissan pickup, which did me well for the past three years, was sold to make way Big Brother
Grant's new (previously-owned) Nissan Hardbody

In my Christmas Eve blog I said that Grant had made quite a large purchase at the beginning of the week. Well, he sold my little Nissan and bought a high-rise, hardbody Nissan. It 's a two-wheel drive with a diff lock so Grant will be able to take us almost anywhere off-road and bundu-bashing. Grant was thrilled to be able to "test" his Nissan on the dirt road to the farm. Not that we needed any hardy vehicle on the well-maintained and recently-graded road, but he wanted to see if his vehicle had any rattles. (result: no rattles)

The farm road leading to the homestead and the allotted picknic spot

We arrived at the allotted picnic spot to find Julius like a little boy. He has just bought this farm and kept telling us to look at the view. I took MANY photos as did everyone else with cameras.

We also met Carin's brother, Theus and his wife, Lynette who are lecturers at the Faculty of Economics at Rhodes University. For years now, Carin has been trying to get us together with this couple as Grant and I knew Lynette's brother, Hanre, while working on the diamond mines in Namibia. Hanre's wife, Annelise was my sister's best friend at school, so the connection goes way back! It was wonderful to meet them and we spent a lovely day, as only the Free State can deliver in summer, out in the bush. 

We enjoyed a delicious braai (BBQ) followed by Christmas fruit cake and coffee. Then we just relaxed, yarned away and enjoyed the day.

It was after 5.30pm when Julius asked us to pack up and follow him to a spot on his farm from where we could watch the sun setting.

 Another hard day's work in Africa! Lol. There's one thing South African's can do, and that is enjoy the outdoors. Above is Grant, Julius (newly Esquired!) and Theus, Carin's brother all enjoying a day in the bush
My beautiful friend, Carin, her e80 year-old mum, Anna and Carin's sister-in-law, Lynette (PS I only noticed later that I had my ISO too high hence the darkened features on faces, grr)

 Carin and Julius have a  Dachshund called Nicholas and Carin's mum and dad have one called Oscar. Nicholas and Oscar are great friends and also very much part of the two families. They were on the picnic with us.  Here Oscar does his begging trick for his 84 year-old master 

 The view which Julius is so proud of, and rightly so. It's beautiful!

Off to the other side of the farm. Julius wanted us to watch the sun go down from a place which he had discovered

We stopped at an ancient mulberry tree which was laden with fruit. Delicious but so messy...

Like I said: so messy! Theus said I should write a story called: Murder under the Mulberry Tree!
This calf needed his supper and had no problem with the humans who had invaded their space that evening
Jules sweet talking a cow

Julius indicating the beautifully private spot from which to view his farm!
Carin photographed Julius on the border of his farm. If you enlarge the photo you will see the two sausage dogs (Dachshunds) in the long grass
The sunset was spectacular from Jule's Spot as we dubbed the beautiful place he took us to in order to show us the view over his farm

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My weekend, my world, continued

Thanks to all my blogger friends for the comments on my blog yesterday. I'm intrigued that Kadotjie, the game we enjoyed as a family on Christmas Eve, is played all over the world, albeit with different names and slight variations. On Saturday, Christmas Day Grant and I were invited to Lourie and Celia for lunch. Another great day with family, extended family and friends.

In South Africa we enjoy hot (very hot) weather at Christmas time. Above the men sit and chat before lunch

All the ladies were asked to make a dish for Christmas dinner. I made a roast leg of lamb with fresh sprigs of Rosemary and roasted new  potatoes

Once again Celia set the table with a specific theme: this time with a tablecloth she had made from material with a Christmas scene. The white crockery and Christmas serviettes in glasses, completed the setting

The beautifully set table laden with dishes of meats and vegetables
Lots of roast turkey, stuffing, ham and mutton interspersed with a bean salad, roast vegetables and a potato and pumpkin bake

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My weekend, my world

I'm awfully late posting for today, but here it is. On Friday night, Christmas Eve Grant and I were invited to Angus' in-laws who live down the road from us. We have known Celia and Lourie since forever (more than fifteen years) and really got to know them when we joined their church, Marquard Christian Ministries, in 2007. Then our younger son, Angus fell in love with their younger daughter, Angus and suddenly we were related, Ha! In our culture, our children's in-laws are referred to as our brother- or sister-in-law.

Now my sister-in-law, Celia has just had her kitchen refurbished. She and Amanda asked if I'd like to come and see it when it was completed about a month ago. To which I said, no, I will see it at Christmas, because they'd invited me and Grant to have Christmas day luncheon with them and their family. But here I was seeing it on Christmas Eve and what  beautiful kitchen she had created from three tiny, quite poky rooms. Where I stood and took the photo below, used to be Celia's office. At the end of the row of tables, where Ilze, Amanda's sister, Hester (with her back to the camera) who is Lourie's sister, therefore, Celia's sister-in-law  and Celia were preparing a salad, used to be a small, closed in kitchen and behind them at the end of the long room used to be the scullery. Isn't it beautiful now? All open plan with clean white lines.

The table on Christmas Eve was decorated with a pink polka dot table cloth and white crockery

After dinner, we all gathered in Celia's sitting room around the Christmas tree. Ilze, Amanda's sister had photos of all present attached to the tree. While the children were receiving their  gifts, each adult had to fetch his photo from the tree and tell the company about a highlight in 2010. He/she also had to say what he expected from 2011 

Amongst other presents, our Marquard grandson, Joel received this "bike" from his maternal
grandparents. It is a new concept in South Africa and called a "Ybike" It apparently will teach him balance and co-ordination as he moved about on the wheels. Being the grandson of biker parents and grandparents, he took to this toy immediately. Above his dad guides him while his four-year-old cousin (in a very womanlike manner!) shows him how to turn the bike. Fortunately they drove past the cat who was also part of the Christmas Eve family get together

After the gift-opening and coffee and cake (phew!) we all adjourned back to Celia's lovely kitchen where the tables were arranged to accommodate people around them facing each other. We were about to play a game called Kadotjie. (Pronounced Cu-doy-key) I subsequently heard that this word is Dutch and means "small gift/gizmo or doodad". Celia and Amanda bought a pile of inexpensive gifts and wrapped them. These are placed in the middle of the table. A dice is thrown by the participants and if you throw a "six", you may take a gift. Of course, you don't know what you are taking. Many people threw many sixes and their gift pile was high. Others only entered the game in the final throes of the first round. When the pile in the centre was depleted, you had to open your gifts. Many were cute, many were strange gifts! Then round two starts and  the first person to throw a six may take anyone else's gift. By now you may have begun to like certain of the gifts you drew from the centre pile, but this only encouraged others to take this from you. Of course, great fun and laughteer ensued with every throw of the dice! Norman, married to Hester (who is Lourie's sister and Celia's sister-in-law, LOL!), collected many gifts in the first round, not least a box of Sally Williams Nougat (candy) which he kept saying, "I hope no-one wants my nougat!" Bad move!  Almost everyone zoned in on  his Sally Williams Nougat!

Norman with his stash of presents!
The gifts are small and often funny/perculiar. As soon as you open your pile of gifts, you display them for all to see. The dice is thrown again and the person who throws a "six" may now look around and take any gift which catches his fancy. This leads to great hilariousness as by now each person has taken a liking to a doodad he owns and hopes against hope that no-one else decides to claim it. In the photo above, amongst a set of pins, a fairy scissors and a rubics cube, was a box of Sally Williams nougat. This brand of nougat (candy) is of great quality and absolutely delicious. Norman originally won the nougat and at the first opportunity, Grant claimed it from him. I subsequently claimed it from Grant (no sharing in our relationship, HA!) and minutes later, Celia threw a six and claimed it from me! 

By the same token, Celia had a gas stove lighter in her pile of presents - see in photo above - and when I threw a six, I took it from her. Minutes later when Angus threw a six, he leaned over and claimed it from me! When Grant threw a six, I said, "take Gus's lighter!" And he did!  As I said, this game caused much laughter and fun.
Some people were chatting, some were arranging hot drinks; others were taking photos (ahem!)  and yet others were playing card games which ultra-big playing cards!

We eventually left for home at some late hour (Grant and I are early - to - bed people!) promising to meet up again for Christmas lunch. More about Christmas Day in tomorrow's post.

For more worlds out there, click here

Monday, December 27, 2010

The weekend of Christmas!

Can you remember what you did on the weekend of 24 - 26 December 2010? You never know when you may need an alibi! Gattina of Writer Cramps hosts this fun meme. Do pop in, join and tell us what you did on the weekend.

Our weekend was absolutely action-packed and fun-filled. We spent Friday night and Saturday with family and extended family celebrating Christmas. On Sunday after church we were invited to a picnic with friends and their extended family.

It is all too much to post about here. I'll do posts for tomorrow and Wednesday to really elaborate on all the fun, special times together and delicious repasts we all enjoyed.

Grant made quite a large purchase this week which he said could pass for a gift for both of us.  Spending Christmas Eve with Angus' in-laws, the arrangement was that each adult bought a gift for another adult. I bought an electric wok for Amanda's sister, Ilze.  Grant bought a torch which can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter to re-charge, for Lourie, Amanda's dad. Lourie and his wife, Celia, are great caravaners and campers and he loves any gadget which can simplify his life in the outdoors.   

Ilze's husband, Leonard, bought Grant a stick-on pad for our motorbike tank. When we use the tank bag on a long trip, this strip protects the shiny tank from scratches! Men and their toys!

Celia gave me a voucher which can be redeemed at my own personal hair-dresser, bless her. I also received a bottle of green figs preserved in syrup. Yum. Grant and I enjoyed deep-friend Camembert with green figs in syrup. (I have posted a recipe for this in the past)

Shadow was greatly interested while I wrapped gifts on the kitchen table on Friday night. At one stage,  he grabbed the gold ribbon and dashed into the scullery with it!
I eventually managed to wrap the gifts despite the cat's interference!

For supper on Christmas Eve, Celia and her daughters made delicious lasagne and a huge Greek salad. I took along my stock standard Focacia Bread which always goes down well (pun intended, lol!) I've posted this recipe under "Baking breads" label

For more fun posts on the weekend, click here

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Laid back cat!

My yoomens went out on Friday night and on Saturday and left me all alone at home. Their excuse was that they were socializing/having dinner with their family down the road. Humph! What about my dinner? Mmmm?

For more post on pets, click here

Mushrooming beauty

One of my favourite places in South Africa is Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Herewith (again!) an image which I took of Mushroom Rock overlooking the campsite and Parks Board offices in the park. We always stop at this centre and enjoy the coffee and sandwiches which we pack. We always pop into the little supermarket to greet the ladies working there, whom we've known for more than fifteen years

For more beautiful scenes around the world, click here

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I love You, Lord

I love You, Lord
and I lift my voice
to worhipYou
oh, my soul rejoice
Take joy, my King
in what You hear
let it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear

Friday, December 24, 2010


A juvenile White-browed Sparrow-weaver on my garden fence

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegetable garden update

Even though I don't have detailed photos of our vegetable garden, I felt I should post these to prove that my garden is THRIVING! We cannot wait for the young gem squashes (one has already appeared under the vines) and new carrots. The basil and chives are also almost ready for use.
With all the summer rains we've had since October, my vegetable garden has flourished. Here I have runner beans, bush beans just behind that, chives, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin and gem squashes (none of the last six are visible in this photo!)
Here in front of the runner beans are my first lettuce heads just beginning to form. Behind me (not photographed!) are tomatoes, chillies and coriander. To the left of this photo, across the lawn,  the sweet basil, brinjals (aubergines), green peppers and swiss chard plants are shooting up fast and furious. I'll go out there shortly (when the rain stops, ha!) and take some more photos.

To all my precious blogger friends who may be going off to spend the season with family and friends,  may your Christmas be blessed and 2011 be a Christ-filled year. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A lily a day

Day lilies (Hemerocallis spp) are not indigenous but they are full-up in the Free State and can always be relied on to provide beautiful colour in the garden. The above species is Hemerocallis Stafford, a decidous plant which rewards the gardener with prolific blooms in the summer months. Each bloom only lasts one day, but the next day the new bloom opens so you don't even notice the gap! I also played around with my camera while taking this photo. I used Super Macro feature and although I had other more centred images, this one had the best backlighting for my post. I love the way the shadows play on the stamens and the clarity of the buds-in-waiting just behind the open flower. I can never get enough of nature, can you?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My world in a nutshell

A small part of my remaining garden which is as large as the one I had next door, except our home and outhouses fill a large portion
One crazy cat with his head through the fence

I am allowing Shadow to meander around the garden without the leash. I still keep and eye on him but he seems to be getting wiser and more confident as the days progress. (Notice how inquisitive he is!)  Perhaps in the New Year I'll be able to trust him to go outside on his own and remain within the garden area!

Eddy slides along on her ear enjoying the thick lawn. Angie keeps watch (no time for frolicking when you're the only dog on guard!)
Megan enjoying a roll on the lawn !
A juvenile Red-Throated wryneck spotted in the garden last week

Two weeks ago I posted about a "lifer" we spotted in the garden: A Red-throated wryneck. You can read about this here. At the moment these brood parasites are very active in the garden much to the distress of the Black- Collared barbets who's nests they're probably using "illegally".

A brood parasite (there are many in the bird world) does not have it's own nest. It lays its egg in another bird's nest which normally has the legal eggs in it, and flies off. The egg hatches before the original eggs and as soon as these hatch, the intruder nestling kicks the other baby birds out of the nest. Tghis bird is then raised by parents who have no idea that have an imposter in their midst. Often the parent birds are also much smaller than the fledgling. Above is a juvenile Red-Throated wryneck which the Black-Collared barbets were dive-bombing in an attempt to frighten it away from their territory. I didn't get a photo of the irate barbets and eventually the wryneck flew off across the neighbour's yard. It was back in the garden again the next day and is still around. I'm not sure whether it bred out in my garden and who raised it.

For more worlds out there, click here

Monday, December 20, 2010

A mid-week weekend

Can you recall with ease what you did on the weekend of 18/19 December? You never know when you may need an alibi! Gattina of Writer Cramps hosts the fun meme, What did you do this weekend? Do join us and tell what you did for the weekend.

Ironically, Grant and I seem to have our weekends mid-week. We left home (by car) on Wednesday in pouring rain and arrived at John and Debbie's home at 2pm. It was still raining and continued to rain during the night and the next day. Most welcome summer rains for the farmers.

We had a wonderful time and of course, took Christmas gifts for the little ones. We also popped down to Durban (a two-hour drive from the Berg) to see Grant's 82 year-old mum who is fit and well. Praise God for that!

We drove back to Marquard on Friday afternoon and spent a quiet weekend at home. Grant has had flu and been in bed for most of the weekend. A nasty strain has been doing the rounds in town for the past three weeks; I was laid low with the same malady last weekend !  I had time to do all my admin, filing and of course, blogging!
As it rained heavily the whole week (the sun eventually appeared on Friday) Grant and I travelled down to Kwa-Zulu Natal on four wheels instead of two

A very excited four-year-old (just visible behind his sister in the photo) watches as Granddad removes the front-end-loader tractor from the box. Granddaughter is holding her talking doll
Debbie and John kindly gave their comfortable bed on the mezzanine to me and Grant. They slept under the stairs on a camping mattress. Here Debbie is with their two youngest babies

The smallest female Hedges takes the steps down from the mezzanine one at a time!

The two oldest children had a grand time playing with their new toys on the lawn
Somehow, while we were away, Felix was frightened by something in or around the house. Don't ask me what! I spent the best part of Saturday afternoon hanging over the wall...
...trying to coax him down from the neighbour's tree.

For more posts on what people did over the weekend, click here