TAKING A BREAK

The year has started with its usual nonsense of having to be here, do that, go there, pull this, load that. We need a break – a real one – albeit out in the open. This pile of sand left over from some or other building operation is not only warm, it is soft and good to roll around on. Hey! We almost blend into our background – no-one will take much notice of us!

And so it was that I happened upon this pair of donkeys fast asleep on a pavement in the suburbs. When I stopped to look at them they opened their eyes, looked at me then fell back. The one on the right then bestirred itself to have a good back scratch while it rolled – then they both had more shut-eye.

TWO DROUGHT FLOWERS

I happened upon a ‘survivor’ in our local Currie Park. This Giant Candelabra Lily had miraculously missed being chomped by the Urban Herd that have eaten most of the saplings planted there over the years to provide shade.

The background to this lovely flower shows that between the cattle and the drought there is no lawn left; a brave Vachellia is valiantly putting out new leaves from what is left of its stem; and a ‘visiting card’ has been left on the right.

A real bonus for my drought-stricken garden has been the magnificent blooming of Spekboom for the second summer in a row!

CHEVAL-DE-FRISE

Who would have thought that events from the 1600s would give rise to a name still used today as part of a defence mechanism?

A cheval-de-frise was originally a movable obstacle covered with spikes attached to a wooden frame that was used to obstruct cavalry. Such objects were apparently first used in the Siege of Groningen that took place in 1672 during the Franco-Dutch war, when that city was besieged by the troops of the Bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen, who wished to push deeper into the Netherlands. The Frisians lacked cavalry and so the name is a French reference to these ‘Friesland horses’. The victory is still celebrated as a local holiday in the city of Groningen on 28th August each year.

These days the term cheval-de-frise can also refer to a row of nails, spikes, barbed wire, or broken glass set on top of a wall or fence to deter intruders. This is a typical modern version:

While this version would not fit into the above description, it is also a form of deterrent for ‘intruders’, only in this case these electrified strands have been employed around certain waterholes in the Addo Elephant National Park to prevent the domination of the water by elephants so that other animals can get a fair chance to drink too.

This alpaca, whose job it is to protect sheep, is safely behind another kind of razor wire:

Sometimes spiked railings such as these are used as a deterrent:

These spikes appear to be more decorative than useful:

Here is a serious obstacle to deter intruders!

Sadly, this type of cheval-de-fries is becoming all too common around both businesses and homes:

DONKEY DALLIANCE

Apart from the various Urban Herds that invade our town, there are a number of donkeys that are let loose to find their own food along the grass verges – sadly many of them also break open the plastic bags of garbage if they are not collected in time. Some residents have started to place large containers of water outside their gates for the donkeys to drink – where else are they to find water in a drought-stricken town? Sometimes there might be a single donkey such as this one:

We came across these frisky donkeys in a side street – it is spring after all:

Three is a crowd

THE URBAN HERDS ON SUNDAY

These were the first two animals of one of the Urban Herds to walk past my front gate on Sunday.

Another Urban Herd temporarily blocked our way along Somerset Street later in the morning.

They ambled down African Street quite oblivious to the vehicles travelling in both directions.

Part of yet another Urban Herd had made itself at home in someone’s garden. I couldn’t help wondering if they have become adept at opening gates.

We saw these two looking bewildered at the side of the road on our way home. They both sniffed at the air and turned their heads in different directions. One mooed loudly and they seemed to be listening carefully for a response. After a few minutes they set off at a steady pace in the direction of the bridge on the main road – doubtless to join the rest of their herd which had gathered on the outskirts of the suburbs.

Having seen enough of them for one morning, we didn’t follow them.

IMPOSING GARDEN GATE

This rather imposing garden gate caught my eye recently.

A paper sign reads along the lines of: Please use the gate next door. This gate does not work. Then I wonder, has the stone work shifted? The wooden gate has swollen? The shrubs next to the path have become overgrown?