Two patterns that never fail to please:

I never tire of seeing zebras. The stripey pattern of each zebra is unique. The other pattern that superficially looks the same as every other, unless you look carefully, is that of giraffes. The bonus on this one is a Red-billed Oxpecker.


… when advertisements and magazines and shops encourage an image of glittering decorations, tables groaning with food, the imbibing of lots of drinks … and the notion of families and friends having a great time together. Yes, they say, ’tis the season to be merry tra-la-la-la-la. The pressure is on for the ‘perfect Christmas’. Forget the tinsel and the shiny paper, I say; forget the lashings of food that no-one can finish, I say; focus on what is good and true in your life.

Focus on family connections and the affection that threads real friends together. Focus on what makes you happy. Focus on showing that love and affection by being with your nearest and dearest instead of fretting about the perfection of presentation and the cost of gifts. The real gift is you.

What William Shakespeare is reputed to have said about friends is equally true of family:

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.

Take time to just ‘be’ during this run-up to Christmas; listen; love; and let the spirit of the times enfold you.


It was the poet John Donne who first told us that no man is an island, implying that we cannot live entirely without contact with other people i.e. we do not thrive in isolation. Simon & Garfunkel sing the refrain, I am a rock / I am an island, claiming to be self-sufficient – for the time being anyway. To isolate ourselves is neither possible nor a good idea claims the philosopher, Karl Popper (1902-1994). According to him, we are social creatures to the inmost of our being.

True: so are many other animals in their own way, which is possibly why we enjoy scenes such as the ones below as they reflect the empathy we have for others and connect with our desire to be regarded as being ‘special’ to someone.

Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park


Zebra in Addo Elephant National Park


Yellow-billed Storks in Kruger National Park


Giraffe in Kruger National Park


Springbuck in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park