It is time to delve into some random patterns that might stir up memories or comment. The first is a cairngorm brooch my son used to wear on his plaid as part of  his piping uniform. These have thankfully been dispensed with as they are far too hot to wear during our summers.

Here is a detail on a canon in Fort Beaufort.

At this time of the year we scan the horizon for clouds that might just bring us rain.

After the rain comes the joy of seeing drops on the leaves around the garden.

Leaves on their own make attractive patterns too.

Lastly – part of a buffalo.



Some houses are as neat as a pin: nothing is out of place. They are so tidy that one is almost afraid to leave a dent in a cushion when rising from a seat. Interestingly enough many such houses are sans books. I have always felt more at home with the ‘lived in’ look: enter a home and there is a book with a bookmark; someone’s jersey drapes over the arm of a chair; cushions carry the indent of the last person who leaned into them.

Halt right there! I understand there is a fine line between looking ‘lived in’ and being downright untidy. I have indeed visited homes in which one has to move magazines, bags or even clothes off a chair before being able to sit down.

My home looks ‘lived in’ – sometimes too lived in, despite my daily efforts to keep it clean and reasonably tidy. I marvel at people who manage to maintain the ‘neat as a pin’ looks. It is not the furnishings and drapery that make the difference, however, it is the inhabitants. My husband has a tendency to colonise every empty surface in our home: books, papers and magazines vie for space on a table along with a clip board, pencils, TV remotes, coasters, rubber bands and journals. Even the small table where I like to display a vase of flowers ends up being covered with keys, spectacles, pipe fittings …

I kid you not.

Every household must have a collection of odds and ends that have to be kept somewhere. Where do all those ‘neat as a pin’ people keep their pens, screwdrivers, glass jars, string, recipe books, library books, tins, and anything else that ‘might come in handy’? Do they toss everything away on a regular basis and turn their backs on DIY? Perhaps they call in professionals to clean, to mend, to do the ironing, and to generally keep their homes looking ship-shape.

Psst … they do not hoard!

This must be part of the solution to sustainable tidiness. A friend once told me that “If I cannot find a home for something then it must go.” Ruthless. Just like that! Where are we to keep the books and treasures of our children? Where should we store the extra bedding that has accumulated over the years? How does one get rid of books that have been read, enjoyed, and which remain loved or are still useful references?

Sort. Be ruthless. Focus. Stop being emotional. Just do it.

… I am finding it a very slow and difficult task indeed.


November is a month that seems to have sped by. I have been on the road more than usual and we have had inconvenient time slots for power outages – all of which have contributed to the late posting of my monthly overview of the birds visiting our garden. The third of November heralded the blooming of the first Pompon tree flowers and now our garden is brightened with the trees covered in beautiful pink blossoms.

November is also the start of having pesky mosquitoes around and is the time from which I can expect ants, spiders and beetles to land on me from the shady branches I sit under whilst watching birds! The first bird to draw my attention was a Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul displaying the avian version of panting in the heat – called gular fluttering.

We have experienced temperatures of up to 36°C, so there has been need for all of us to pant a little! Red-eyed Doves are more sensible and generally remain within the shade of the trees and have seldom been seen in the open during the hottest parts of the day. The heat has meant that Cape White-eyes have been visiting the nectar feeder regularly – they have also been enjoying the apples and pears. The Bronze Manikins continue to delight as they fill the feeders with their little bodies.

While the Laughing Doves generally gather in the nearby trees for at least twenty minutes before coming down to feed, there are always a few of them that prefer to filch seed from the feeder rather than joining the masses on the ground. I found the antics of this one particularly amusing.

Southern Masked Weavers have been kept busy feeding their chicks. I enjoy watching them stuff their beaks with fruit to feed their chicks perched nearby. At one point this month the Cape Weavers appeared to be the dominant weaver in the garden. They have now been usurped by Village Weavers.

The Common Fiscals have also been taking food away for their chicks. Meneer still seems to prefer the titbits I offer in my hand rather than helping himself from the dish. While on the subject of feeding, it has been interesting to note that the Black-headed Orioles have shown a definite preference for meat over fruit, which makes me think they too might be feeding chicks hidden somewhere in the dense foliage.

To round off, the Hadeda Ibis chick has made the successful progress from being nest-bound to walking around the garden in the company of one or both parents.

My bird list for this month:
African Green Pigeon
African Hoopoe
Black-collared Barbet
Black Cuckoo-Shrike
Black-eyed (Dark-capped) Bulbul
Black-headed Oriole
Bronze Manikin
Burchell’s Coucal
Cape Robin-Chat
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Diederik Cuckoo
Fork-tailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Woodhoopoe
Grey-headed Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’s Cuckoo
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Olive Thrush
Pin-tailed Whydah
Pied Crow
Red-eyed Dove
Red-throated Wryneck
Red-winged Starling
Southern Boubou
Southern Masked Weaver
Speckled Mousebird
Speckled Pigeon
Village Weaver
White-rumped Swift
Yellow-fronted Canary


A few readers enjoyed the glimpse of zebras in my post on the landscape of the Eastern Cape, so I thought of providing a few more pictures of them for your enjoyment. These photographs were all taken in the Addo Elephant National Park. The first shows a zebra in a field of gazanias. It is wonderful to see how this park transforms into a floral wonderland once the first spring rains have fallen.

While we often see herds of these beautiful creatures in the open grasslands, occasionally one or two walk purposefully next to the road. What a joy it is to see them from so close.

This one has a particularly intricate pattern on its back.

While this one shows recent battle wounds. Males attack each other quite fiercely to gain or maintain breeding rights.

During the winter, even dry grass contains some nourishment.

Lastly, a photograph to demonstrate how useful zebras find their tails to ward off flies and other biting insects.


On this road trip we will stop along the Highlands road to look across the valley towards the Pumba Private Game Reserve.

Look at all that beautiful space covered with natural vegetation.

We stop further along the same road for a closer view of some of the indigenous forests which are, sadly, interspersed with pine trees and wattle.

Travelling south, towards the sea, it is always a pleasure to spend time driving through the Addo Elephant National Park. The natural vegetation was cleared many years ago for farms and has still not recovered, even though these farm lands have long since been incorporated into the park.

Should we decide to travel northwards, we might pass rocky outcrops such as these near Riebeeck East.

We might decide to stay over at the Mountain Zebra National Park so that we can enjoy the open vista of grassland interspersed with acacia trees.

As the day draws to a close we can appreciate the beauty of these mountains near Tarkastad.

Of course it would take more than a day to cover all of this ground, but it gives you an idea of the kind of scenery I call home.