Plymoth , UK - 24th April 2008
I've just been made a toyvoager and i'm already going to my first host. Thanks to MrsC who won the competition to be my first host I'm really looking forward to visiting South Africa. I have to get a traveling pouch and sort out all my paper work and innoculations then i can get on my way.
Posted Apr 24, 2008, 12:41 am
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Plymouth, UK - 3rd June 2008
I'm on my way at last . I can't wait to see South Africa, i can barely contain my excitement I got posted today with Titch and Furbles, i don't know where they are going but i hope they have fun. See you soon MrsC
Posted Jun 3, 2008, 1:16 am
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Johannesburg , South africa - 20th June 2008
I made it at last.
I was rudely awoken by what sounded like hundreds of bears for some reason. I was very confused, I thought I was still in the Post Office. A kindly gentlebear named Threadbear helped me out of my box and told me that I had arrived.
I couldn't see what was going on at all, but there were definitely lots of bears... that much I can tell you. Two of them Pinky Bear and Fiona have said that they would help me out until I get my eyes seen to. Here I am with them and another new arrival (I think she is a tortoise or a turtle...I can't tell) her name is Cassiopeia.
Yawn... I am so used to sleeping all day in that box. I need to have a nap now... Could someone please show me where the garden is?
Posted Jun 20, 2008, 9:57 pm
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Spec-Savers, South Africa - 23rd June 2008
Well, it has not been much fun so far, I can't see anything different here than it is at home. Just blurry shapes... waste of time really.
The only difference is the awfull accents. No one here knows how to speak properly at all, they mis-pronounce everything... dreadful really.
That bear that I met yesterday, whatsisname, ah...Threadbear! He said I should try using this, but I kept on bumping my head with it and it was so awkward to carry around. It is also absolutely impossible to dig with just one paw.... I'll just have to stay blind I'm afraid...
Well, I was shuffeling around when I walked into something soft and warm. It took me a while to realise that it was Fi's hand. She picked me up and lumped me in her handbag. Oh the indignity of it all! I demanded to know what she thought she was doing and where she thought she was taking me! She said I should calm down and wait. Honestly!
Next thing I knew, I was being passed on to a very nice young lady. She made me look in a very peculiar machine. I told her it was no use, I couldn't see a thing...
She turned a few dials and said 'how about now?' AMAZING!!!
I could see! I could see clearly, for the first time in my life! I need a pair of spectacles...right now!
She said my prescrition was very bad, but glasses should help. I was to try them for a bit and see how it went...
So I have. I thought I ought to try out reading first...
Hmmm, what shall I read?
Oh this is fabulous! I can see! I sure hope this means Fi will take us out somewhere at last. I want to see Johannesburg, I want to see the WORLD!
Posted Jun 23, 2008, 5:59 pm
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Teddy Bear Central, South Africa - 25th June 2008
What a lovely day it has been! I spent all of it just wandering around the house LOOKING at things... marvellous!
This evening Threadbear asked if we could help him get his bear collection up to date... well, it's not like we had anything better to do...
Apparently, Fi usually plays old records when she works down here. I would have loved to hear them, but she said we really had to work tonight, no stopping to change a record every few minutes.
So we listed to something called an i-pod. What a dreadful racket! I have very acute hearing to compensate for my vision loss you know? I asked her to turn it down a bit.
I was in charge of tying bows. BOWS? Never tied one in my life... Threadbear showed me how... one under, one over, around and..
Umm... bunny ears..over, under, around... GOT IT!
Oh, it's a little twisted...
I'll get it right next time!
I did all of these ones myself!
While I was tying the bows, I noticed something odd. I had thought all the bears were identical on account of the fact that they were made in a factory. But I have a sneaky feeling that Chinese factory workers surreptitiously amuse themselves by giving the bears funny expressions. See for yourself...
Happy (in a knowing kind of way)
Very, very naughty.
Lights on, nobody home.
Fi switched the ipod off just as I was getting used to the music. I was ALMOST going to mutter loudly, when Cassiopeia started reading us a story... a traditional South African tale...
We were all enthralled, even once we had completed the bows on bear session, we sat and listened.
This was my favourite one:
Jabu and the Lion (A Traditional Zulu Story)
There was a young herdboy named Jabu (jah'-boo). He took great pride in the way in which he cared for his father's cattle. And his father had many cows - over 25! It was quite a task to keep these silly creatures out of trouble, away from the farmers mealies (corn) and out of the dangerous roads. Jabu had some friends who also kept their fathers' cattle, but none of them had even half the herd Jabu did! And none of them were as careful as Jabu. It was a sign of Jabu's father's pride in his boy that he entrusted such a large herd to such a young boy.
One day as he sat atop a small koppie (hill) watching the animals feed and braiding long thin strips of grass into bangles for his sisters, Jabu's friend Sipho (see'-poh) came running to him. "Have you heard the news, my friend?" panted Sipho. Before Jabu could even answer, Sipho rushed on to tell him. "Bhubesi, the lion, has been seen in these parts. Last night Bhubesi attacked and killed one of Thabo's (tah'-boh) father's cows. The men of the village are already setting traps for the beast!"
Jabu wasn't surprised by this news. His keen eyes had seen the spoor of the lion -- his left-over kill, his prints here-and-there in the soft earth, his dung. Jabu had respect for the king of the beasts. And since Bhubesi's pattern was to hunt at night when the cattle was safely within the kraal (/krawl/ "corral" ), Jabu had seen no reason to alert the village of Bhubesi's presence. But the killing of a cow! "I wonder," thought Jabu to himself, "if the cow was not left out of the kraal?" Thabo was known to be a sloppy herdboy, a fellow who ran with his head in the clouds. He had been known to forget a cow or two before.
"Woza, Ngane!" (woh'-zah ngah'-nay "Come, friend!" ) Sipho urged, "come and put your cows away for the day and watch with me as the men set the traps!" Jabu slowly shook his head as he looked at Sipho and smiled. "You know me, friend," he returned Sipho's address. "I cannot put the cattle back into the kraal so early in the day! They need to be driven to the river before they go home."
Sipho smiled. "Yes, I thought you would say this. But I wanted to tell you anyway. I will see you later, friend, perhaps by the fire tonight!" And Sipho ran toward the village with a final wave to Jabu.
Jabu began to gather the cows together. He waved his intonga (ee-ntah'-gah "staff" ) and gave a loud whistle. Each cow looked up, then after a moment's pause, slowly started to trudge toward Jabu. With a grin Jabu began to take them to water.
Jabu bathed his feet in the cool refreshing river as the cows drank their fill. It was a fine sunny Autumn day, and if his mind had not been so busy thinking about the lion and the traps the men were setting, Jabu would probably be shaping the soft river clay into small cow figurines for his young brother. Then Jabu heard a sound that stole his breath from him. "Rrrrroar!" came the bellow. The cows all froze, a wild look coming into their eyes. "Rrrroarrrrrrr...." It was Bhubesi, and he was near! There was no time to drive the animals home; the lion was much too close. Jabu slowly rose, looking carefully around, his hand clenched on his staff. He walked purposefully, trying not to show the fear that made his knees tremble, pulling the cattle together into a tight circle. The cows trusted him and they obeyed. "Rrrrroarr...oarr..oarr...aaa!" Jabu listened. Bhubesi was not declaring his majesty or might....it sounded more like a cry for help. Several more bellows and Jabu knew, Bhubesi was in trouble. Somehow this took most of the boy's fear from him. Gripping his staff, Jabu quietly began to walk toward the lion's cry.
Yes, indeed, the lion was in trouble. Jabu found him in a small clearing several metres across the river. He was caught in on of the traps laid by the men of the village. His head was firmly wedged in the barred structure, and the more he struggled, the tighter the snare became. Jabu stood and stared. Never before had he seen the king of the animals so near. He truly was a majestic animal. And a large part of his heart was sore for the creature. Then the lion saw the boy. "Hawu! Mfana! (hah'woo mfah'nah "Oh! Boy!" ) It is good that you are here. Please, help me. I am caught in this stupid trap and I cannot free myself. Please, please, will you come and pull up on the bar that is holding my head here. Please!"
Jabu looked into Bhubesi's eyes. He could not read them, but he could hear the desperation in the animal's voice. "Please, Mfana! Please! Before those hunters come and kill me. Please release me!"
Jabu had a tender heart, but he was no fool. "I would very much like to free you, Bhubesi! But I am afraid that as soon as I did so you would make me your dinner."
"Oh, no, Ngane wami! (ngah'nee wah'me "My friend" ) I could never eat someone who set me free! I promise, I really promise with full sincerity, that I will not touch a hair on your head!"
Well, the lion begged and pleaded so pitifully that Jabu finally decided to trust him and set him free. Gingerly he stepped over to the trap and raised the bar that held the lion's head. With a mighty bound the lion leapt free of the trap and shook his mane. "Oh, thank you, Mfana! I really owe you something. My neck was getting so stiff in there, and I fear it would have been parted from by body by the hunters if you hadn't come along. Now, please, if you don't mind, Mfana, one last thing.... I have become so thirsty from being in that thing, I would really like a drink of water. Can you show me where the river is? I seem to have become confused with my directions."
Jabu agreed, keeping a wary eye on the lion, and led the lion upstream from where he had come, away from his father's cows, since Bhubesi had made no promise about not eating them! As lion drank he watched Jabu with one eye. He was thinking to himself, "Hmmm....nice looking legs on that boy! Hmmm....and those arms are good looking too! Pity to waste such an excellent meal!" When the lion raised his head from the river, both eyes were on Jabu, and this time the boy could see what was reflected there. Jabu began to back up.
"You promised, Bhubesi," Jabu began. "I saved you from the hunters, and you promised not to eat me!"
"Yes," said Bhubesi, slowly walking toward the retreating boy. "You are right, I did make that promise. But somehow now that I am free it does not seem so important to keep that promise. And I am awfully hungry!"
"You are making a big mistake," said Jabu. "Don't you know that if you break your promises that the pieces of the broken promises will come back to pierce you?"
The lion stopped and laughed. "Hah! What nonsense! How can such a flimsy thing pierce me? I am more determined than ever to eat you now, boy," and he started stalking Jabu once more, "and all this talk is just serving to make me hungrier!"
Just then an old donkey happened across their path. "Ask the donkey," said Jabu to the lion. "Ask him and he will tell you how bad it is to break a promise."
"He, wena! (hay, way'nah "alright, you!" ) You are certainly dragging this thing out! So I will ask the donkey." The lion turned to the old creature. "I want to eat this boy," he addressed the donkey. "Isn't that okay?"
Jabu broke in, "But he promised to let me go after I freed him from the snare," Jabu added.
The donkey slowly looked at the lion and then at Jabu. "I say," the donkey started, "that all my life these stupid humans have beat me and forced me to carry things. Now that I am old they turn me out and leave me to waste away all alone. I do not like humans." He turned back to the lion. "Eat the boy!" and the donkey moved on.
"Well, that settles that," said the lion as he began to approach the boy once more. Just then Mpungushe the jackal stepped between the two.
"Oh, terribly sorry," he said, "to have disturbed you. I'll be on my way..."
"No!" shouted Jabu. "Wait and tell the lion how bad it is to break a promise."
"A promise?" asked the jackal. "Well, I suppose it depends upon the promise, doesn't it? Why? Did one of you make a promise?"
Lion sat down and rolled his eyes up toward the heavens.
"Yes," Jabu said. And he told Jackal how he had freed the lion from the trap, and how Lion had promised not to eat him, and how now Lion was intent upon doing that very thing!
"Oh, what a silly story!" said Jackal. "My nkosi, the great king of all the animals, stuck in a little trap made by humans? Impossible! I don't believe it."
"It is true," said Bhubesi. "It is a strong and terrible trap!"
"Oh, I can't believe anything is stronger than my king. I must see this thing! Please, will you take the courtesy before your dinner to show me this trap that you are speaking about. Please! Then you can eat your meal in peace!"
So the lion, keeping Jabu in front of himself, led Jackal to the trap. "But you can't tell me that this little thing could actually hold your head! Never! I just can't imagine it. Nkosi, would you mind just sticking your head there so I can see how you looked when the boy found you?"
"Hawu. You are taxing me with your questions. This last thing I will do for you and then you must be on your way and leave me to my dinner in peace." So Lion stuck his head back between the bars just the way he had been when Jabu had found him. Then, quicker that lightning, Jackal threw the top bar in place. Lion was caught fast once again!
"Yes," said Jackal, " now I see how you were trapped. What a pity that you are so trapped once more. But the boy is right, Nkosi. Broken promises always catch up with you!"
Lion roared in anger, but the sound trap held him well. Jabu thanked the jackal and ran back to his cows, who were all patiently waiting for their shepherd's return.
Jabu drove them home and into the kraal. What a day he had had! "Jabu, Jabu," Sipho came running from behind Jabu. "The lion has been caught in the trap near the river! You and your cows missed all the adventure!"
Jabu turned and smiled at his friend. "We have had all the adventure we need for one day," he said. And as Sipho headed back to the hunters to hear the story once again of the mighty lion caught in the trap, Jabu greeted his mother in the cooking house and sat down with a sigh.
Posted Jun 24, 2008, 11:45 pm
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Optometrist, South Africa - 26th June 2008
I have not been doing much lately other than 'eyeing' everything out now that I can see again. I asked Fi if we could send a little something to the optometrist to thank her for checking out my eyes (she never charged me anything you know?).
She said "okay, want to bake her something?" Well, I don't believe I have ever baked anything in my life before, so I thought it may be safer to watch the first time round...
Hmmm! Smells heavenly! Who'll notice if I just nibble one?
Oh, that was worth the trouble I got into! I was brave and iced them, not too shabby for a first time hey?
I had my photo taken with this placard, Fi said I looked like a homeless person begging on the side of the road! How rude!
We made a card and put the photo on the front. Then we popped back into the optometrist and delivered the cupcakes... boy was she surprised! But we couldn't stay and chat because Fi was late for picking the children up from school, always in a mad rush that woman....
Posted Jun 28, 2008, 10:09 pm
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Krugersdorp, South Africa - 28th June 2008
Fi hasn't been feeling to good lately, so we haven't really been anywhere...
Today, MrsF was visiting when her husband phoned and asked her to go to his shop in Krugersdorp (now known as Mogale City), because he was holding a lucky draw to win a fridge and he needed a photo taken of the winner. Fi asked if we could tag along and get to see a bit of the town... so in we all hopped! Nearly all of these photos were taken on the move, so apologies for visible car parts, but Johannesburg is not the place to stop and take leisurely photos on the side of the road...
First off, we had to pass Zandspruit Informal Settlement - a so called 'squatter camp' where the poorest people build shacks in an illegal area (someone else's property, usually). Because it is illegal there are no amenities such as, sewerage, running water or electricity...
These are taxis, the bane of drivers the country over. Most of them are a law unto themselves. Because there is not an adequate public transport system, and Johannesburg is so vast, the masses use these taxis for transport. There are often 'taxi wars', where the various taxi operators fight over routes. They are also involved in accidents because of the reckless manner in which they are driven.
Here we are on the Krugersdorp highway, as it is known...it has a more boring name, the N14... the speed limit on highways/ national roads is usually 120kph /74.5mph.
At EVERY main intersection, you will either find someone begging, handing out pamphlets or trying to sell you something... Springbok rugby cap anyone?
This man was happy to see us! He wanted us to add a mechanical puppy to our little gang. We politely declined...
Krugersdorp, Fi can't get used to the new name, is a mining town, in the distance you can see a mine dump. Mine dumps are found all over Johannesburg, where ever gold is mined. Gold, manganese, iron, asbestos and lime are mined in this area; as well as uranium, a by product of the gold refining process.
Krugersdorp was formed just over 100 years ago, in 1887, on a farm called Paardekraal, when gold was discovered in the area. Just before this, the Boers (mostly Dutch farmers) were trying to distance themselves from the British and create their own republic. In 1880, 6000 men gathered here to fight for their independence... there was a concentration camp built by the British to house the Boer women and children, there is a memorial but we did not see it today.
We did find this though..."Oom Paul" (Uncle Paul)...
The first president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, Paul Kruger.
His is the face on and the name behind the Kruger Rand’s (gold coins). The Kruger National Park is also named after him.
This is another famous South African, JG Srijdom, the prime Minister who had Nelson Mandela thrown in prison. A was very pro -Afrikaans, anti - British, and a strong supporter and enforcer of Apartheid.
The memorial stone... translation to follow.
Most of Krugersdorp is run down these days, there are newer smarter areas, but we just drove through the older parts. One thing that strikes you immediately is the sheer number of churches...
That was just a FEW of them!
We also found a few other interesting buildings..
This is the side of the Town Hall, sorry, we missed the front of it which is a lot prettier!
These are some typical houses...
And for some reason, this man and his 'boom box' amused us no end...
Fi says she has been watching this old bus stop deteriorate for years... it is always a poignant reminder of the glory days of the town. She says she always feels like she has stepped back in time when she drives through Krugersdorp, because it has not really moved on from the middle of the last century.
We had a quick stop at the lake, sorry ducks, we have no bread for you...
The paddle boats look like fun, maybe another day though.
Time to head back home. This is the view coming back, Krugersdorp is quite high up. It is hard to translate the amazing sense of vastness of the country in a photo...
We took a shortcut home through Muldersdrift. Here is the sign for Krugersdorp, hiding under a bridge, they will find it one day and change it to Mogale City!
And now we approach Roodepoort...
And a few more shots of Zandspruit...
A typical sight... nothing like an overloaded truck spewing diesel fumes to make you feel like you are in Africa!
This is out turnoff, and that is Johannesburg city centre in the distance...
Posted Jun 29, 2008, 12:42 am
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120m up in the air!, South Africa - 1st July 2008
Fi was feeling rather sorry for us sitting at home doing nothing, so she decided to take us out for a special treat... can you tell what we are doing?
How about now?
She took us up in this hot air balloon called the 'Jozi Eye' (Jozi is a nickname for Johannesburg). Most people call it the ABSA balloon. ABSA is the largest bank in South Africa, it stands for Amalgamated Banks of South Africa... four large banks, that joined together.
It is a tethered balloon, it only goes up and down; though when the wind blows like it did this morning, it also sways sideways!
It is situated in the grounds of the Monte Casino, which is designed like a Tuscan Village. (For some reason the Tuscan theme is very popular in the wealthy Northern Suburbs)
This is the view of the Palazzo hotel as we started going up...
Looking down you can see the Monte Casino Bird Garden’s, they hold shows in the arena.
This is the view all around... it was a bit of a hazy day because it was quite cold. In summer it is much clearer...
I was a little nervous because the net would stop a person falling out but a Toy such as myself could easily fall out and 120 meters is quite a drop!
Here you can see the side garden of the hotel. Fi has had breakfast in there - she says it is very luxurious...
This was our 'pilot'. He held on to me when the balloon swayed a little and I got scared...
Time to come down now... This is the view from inside the balloon.
Feels a bit like target practise!
This is the mechanism that keeps it all in place and controls the movement of the balloon.
Almost at the bottom now, you can see the Tuscan style clock tower and that is the parkade across the way.
Well that was fun! Here is the clock tower again...
These massive doors don't actually serve any purpose, they are just decorative!
We sat in the sun for a bit to warm up, it was rather chilly up in the balloon.
You can see the parkade behind us. The closest you can get to seeing really 'old' buildings in Johannesburg! (Johannesburg is just over a hundred years old, so no old architecture like European cities)
And here is the forecourt, one of the many entrances to the Casino.
On a warmer day it might be nice to go for a swim in the fountain! Hmmm, how do I swim with glasses on?
Posted Jul 1, 2008, 9:11 pm
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Barton's Folly, Hekpoort, South Africa - 5th July 2008
Fi went out this morning and left all of us behind, which we thought was pretty rude. We sat and had breakfast with the children and her husband; then we mostly watched DVDs. All of a sudden at 1pm she came rushing back...and seemed quite upset that everyone was still in their pyjamas! She made everyone hurry up and get dressed...she kept saying we were going to be late....late for what? I sure hoped we were going with!
Next thing we were all buckled up in the car and off down the road. Past Zandsptuit again, past Muldersdrift... along the Krugersdorp highway... the same man selling mechanical dogs at the traffic lights...hmmm, we have already seen all of this...
But then, instead of going up the hill to Krugersdorp we turned right, and kept on driving. Through the Cradle of Humankind (Declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, this 500km2 area on the western edge of Johannesburg is the scene of numerous internationally celebrated archaeological discoveries. Among these is the famous "Mrs Ples", a four-million-old, ape-like human skeleton discovered by Dr Robert Broom in 1947. This area has yielded the most conclusive evidence anywhere in the world as to our human origins.
In addition to its archaeological interest, the area also boasts a wealth of small nature reserves, battlefields, archaeological sites and country restaurants.) And this was pretty much what it looked like:
One "kopjie" (little hill) after another...
After what seemed like hours of driving (it wasn't really, just 45 minutes - we had just never been to the place before and the map we had was REALLY not to scale) we started seeing a different part of the Witwatersberg (white waters mountains - Johannesburg is built on the Witwatersrand - the White Water's Ridge)
And then, a break in the mountains...
THEN, looking up to the top of a kopjie, we found what we were looking for!
If an eagle were to fly over the Witwatersberg with the mighty Magaliesberg to the West, it would see an old English blockhouse defending the break in the mountains which de la Rey and his men named ‘Hekpoort’.
Barton’s Folly is an English Blockhouse built during the Boer War (1899 – 1902) referred to by the locals as the ‘English War of Aggression’. Barton’s instruction was to build a fort to separate the Boer Commandos in the Brits area from the Witwatersrand. There is some confusion relating to the name: firstly it is argued that the fort did not succeed in its aim – a folly; but more likely because it differed from the typical two storied blockhouses of the time and was therefore something ‘foolish in design’ or something other than what it appeared to be.
Barton was a career soldier who served in the Gold Coast, the Zulu War of 1876, Egypt and China. Having been wounded at the Tugela River, he was transferred to Krugersdorp and had to face the military genius of de Wet and de la Rey.
Far from the cool meadows of England, he built the fort and one can easily imagine him standing on top of the hill staring at the distant Magaliesburg and thinking of home.
This is his monument – BARTON’S FOLLY.
We were so busy looking at the fort that we missed the turnoff! According to the map there was a second entrance so we had a look for it, in hindsight we should have done a u-turn and gone back...
We ended up driving along a dirt road that was rather overgrown and at one point we had to pass a low lying thorn tree that scratched the whole side of the car...ouch!!!!!
Finally though, we arrived at the restaurant. We said happy birthday to the birthday "girl" (31!), gave her her gifts and climbed down to the river where the children were fishing for crabs (luckily the crabs were too fast for them!)
Cassiopeia wanted to go for a little swim but the water was freezing. It wasn't very full either as it doesn't rain in winter here.
Fiona and I weren't feeling brave enough to get any closer, when all of a sudden a strong gust of wind blew me right into the water! I am very, very light, which Fi says is wonderful for posting but not so wonderful for posing! Just as well my glasses are kept in place by an elastic band...losing them would have been a disaster!
Fortunately Fi rescued me and took me back up to the bathroom for a wash.
The other two sat and waited while I was dried off... it smelled so nice in there! There was a scented candle burning...
On the way out of the bathroom we spotted this pretty tea set...Fi has a thing for old tea sets, even though she doesn't drink tea.
We had a little sit down on a chair by the fire place, I wanted it lit because I was feeling a bit cold! It only got lit just before we left.
Just above the fire place was a photo of the fort (or blockhouse). I wanted to go up and see it myself but there was fat chance of Fi climbing up the hill with us.
We passed the cakes on the way out to get some sun... looks yummy!
Fi popped us on this pillar so we could warm up in the sun. The fort is at the top of the hill behind us but you can't really see it from this angle....
Man! Another gust of wind sent me overboard again! Fi said I need a weight round my neck not a tag!
The other two had a ride on a pony, I wasn't taking any chances, that's for bloody sure!
They found some balancing poles and persuaded me to have a try .
I was understandably reluctant at first, but they weren't very high.
The birthday girl's husband was teasing Fi about taking photo's of toys. Next thing she said him, 'just hold this one up nice and high so I can get a photo of the mountain in the background!' Without thinking, he did, and then she said 'well now you are part of it all!" Ha ha ha..she is so naughty!!!
Then it was time for tea so we all trooped inside and had sandwiches and cake. Scrumptious! The restaurant has a thatch roof, this is what it looked like from inside.
One of the dad's said he would take the children up the hill to see the fort. I desperately wanted to see it, so did Fi's children... so her husband took them (Natalie went on his shoulders...all the way up and all the way down!!!!) And much to everyone's shock...Fi took us up! Remember she was dressed for a party and not mountaineering... and this is what the first bit of the climb looked like!!!
But up we went...over the rocks with nothing to hold onto: Fi, her dodgy knees, three ToyVoyagers in her hand and a camera...
The door was firmly locked, so we could not get in.
The view from up here was spectacular...
You can just see the roof of the restaurant from up here.
We peeked through this window and we could see why the door was locked, no floor, with a very deep bottom and the place was full of rubble... not safe at all. Luckily I never fell in this time because no one was going in after me, that's for sure. It would have been tickets for me.
And for those people who read this and know Fi (and her penchant for flat surfaces), and don't actually believe she climbed all the way up...
We, and Fi's knees, were quite glad to get back and have a drink and a sit down.
Well, it was getting late, the sun was starting to set and it was time to head home.
As we got in the car, little Nats said 'well that was such a nice party" and we all agreed with her. Then the camera battery went flat, so that was that!
Posted Jul 6, 2008, 10:55 pm
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On way to Pretoria, South Africa - 9th July 2008
I have to tell you about the most amazing day I have ever had.
Fi packed us all into her bag (we have got used to sharing space with a camera and a purse), and told us we had a really long journey ahead of us. First, we needed to stop and buy some water and snacks (and just as well because the trip took way longer than expected).
Next we met up with Fi's friend Lara and her Mom, Stephanie. We all climbed into Lara's car and off we went, heading for Pretoria, to meet a lady called Julie.
The trip started off uneventfully, with us just looking out the window and seeing the usual houses and businesses. Then we went through a place called Kyalami (there is a famous racetrack by the same name here) and Fi pointed out a castle to us! You may think, what's the big deal? Well, South Africa is a relatively new country (well as far as architecture goes) so there are no real castles. This one was a home, then a hotel.... and now the scientologists have bought it...
Then we went through Midrand, which is about halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria... and over to one side, we spotted THIS!!! That looks like a Russian church!
Fi says she needs to find her way there one day... ah there is a map on that website...
Just a few kilometres away from our off ramp, we hit a traffic jam...and we sat...and we sat....and we sat... for an hour! Thank goodness we had water and snacks. We had berry and nut bars (delicious!), dried mango (heavenly) and droëworse (dried, spiced sausage - a local treat - odd for foreigners but the best thing since sliced rusks to a South African!)
Eventually we got moving again and there was no visible cause for the hold up, ten more minutes and we reached our off ramp only to have to stop and pay at the toll gate...
This was the Zambezi Drive Toll Gate. The Zambezi is a South African river.
We had reached the far end of central Pretoria... we met Julie at a petrol station and she said it was still another hour's drive to our destination! We soon left town behind, and headed into the countryside...
Posted Jul 11, 2008, 3:28 pm
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North West Province, South Africa - 9th July 2008
Well we were headed for a rural town called Makapanstad… Makapanstad lies 50 km to the North West of Pretoria, in the south eastern corner of a portion of the former homeland of Bophuthatswana to the east of the Crocodile River. Although farming is practiced in Makapanstad, it does not conform to the stereotype of a rural area where agricultural practices are used as a main source of livelihood. Vegetation predominates on the landscape and settlement is sparse. Most adults are unemployed and many seasonally migrate to the urban areas in search of work. Incomes are low and 67% of the population earns less than R300 per month.
Okay, R300 buys you a nice meal for two in a restaurant… the people who live in this town are POOR; they were forced to settle here during the apartheid years when they were not allowed in ‘white areas’. The towns they lived in were called ‘locations’. Most of them are from the SeTswana or Northern Sotho tribes.
After leaving Pretoria, you can see the landscape starting to change…it gets drier and more sparse but also very African! This is the bushveld; you will see what I mean as we continue our journey.
You drive through many similar towns, this one is called:
In stark contrast to the high walls with electric fences in Johannesburg, are these little fences made from sticks and wire, mostly to demarcate land ownership, but also to keep animals from wandering in. These are typical houses with outside toilets, called a ‘long drop’!
It is not all doom and gloom, there are nice houses too.
This lot were clearly aiming for a Jo’burg style wall without the aid of cement!
This little boy was sorting rocks out for a wall too. He was still at it when we went past him to go home.
There were quite a few innovative little businesses along the route too, like this ‘car wash’. He had a very lush garden from all the water.
There were of course people hanging about, but that is to be expected. If you have no job you can still chat with friends and keep up to date on the news.
This photo brings a tear to my eye. The house is made of scrap sheet metal but the owners are so house proud, that they have painted it. Do you see how neat the garden is? These are people making the most of it. Amazing and very humbling….
You would think that these suburbs would have been renamed by now, no? We all know the penchant for name change around here…
We passed through Tswaing but we had no time to have a look at the Tswaing Crater, it sounds interesting enough to come back and look at one day.
Now, remember I mentioned the animals that wander about?
And… a man taking his bull for a walk…as you do…
This is how babies are carried - throughout Africa.
I think this is a prayer meeting.
This is a school…no grass at all, but immaculately clean.
A municipal clinic…
And an end to the petrol crises! Fi said she wonders how long she would last on a donkey cart in Jo’burg! Two minutes, probably….
Every little penny counts, and everyone is trying to make one…
Oh no! Sixteen more kilometres….
Posted Jul 11, 2008, 9:14 pm
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Makapanstad, South Africa - 9th July 2008
See what I mean about looking African? Don’t know about you, but I think it is beautiful…
It is so dry out here, a careless cigarette butt sets everything alight, even back in Johannesburg there are two or three veld fires at any given time during winter. Sometimes there is controlled burning, to clear the area of overgrowth,
Finally, Julie turned off…where did the road go?
Look! How cute is this thatch roof with the buck design?
After much bumping about on the dirt road, waiving to children and avoiding chickens, we arrived at our destination!
Now before I tell you the story of what goes on in this house and why it was so important for us to visit, I’d like you to read this:
This is our heartfelt story. It has a sad beginning but because of it the lives of others will be changed forever. Martha Letsoalo started the heartfelt project with Julie Masureik after her son Emanuel died in prison wrongly accused and sadly abused at the age of 25. His files to this day have never been found.
After stealing what little money Martha had and promising to get Emanuel out of prison, the corrupt lawyer left her broken hearted and disheartened by the legal system in the country. With no husband to depend on, no job opportunities and three grandchildren to feed - Martha did what came naturally to her – she found a way to survive. The heartfelt project is her story. It’s about who she is. It’s about her children. It’s about the lives of the women and families in her community. It’s about the sadness that happens on a daily basis in a little place called Makapanstad. And the big difference one small heart can make to the happiness of others. Together, Martha and Julie started creating and designing the heartfelt products using traditional handcraft skills, felt and beads. Today they are sold within South Africa and the UK.
There are now ten women employed by the heartfelt project. Each day they come to work full of pride and hope. Creating each heartfelt design out of love and strongly believing that they can make a difference - not only to their own lives but to the lives of the community in which they live.
Each heart sold by the heartfelt project helps to feed and clothe the ladies and their families. It also gives back to the community by donating a small portion to a local charity to help fight TB, HIV/AIDS and look after children and old aged men and woman within Makapanstad. Its aim is to heal the hearts of people who don't have the opportunities we have on a daily basis. And to fill not only the ladies hearts but many others with hope.
Ke a go leboga
One day, Fi was playing on the internet, as she does, and somehow, somewhere, she found the link to a website about The Heartfelt Project. Before she had even finished looking at the website, she had e-mailed Julie and asked if she could help by sending bits and pieces that she had lying around her house (trust me on this one – LOTS of crafty stuff around here!)
Juliee e-mailed back almost immediately and said ‘yes please!’ and so a box (full of felt scraps, buttons, beads, floss and other bits and pieces) was despatched to Makapanstad.
Then, one Saturday morning, Fi and a group of friends were sitting at their monthly scrapbook class and one of the ‘girls’ was leaving and going back to the USA. She had a few items that she could not take with her and left them to be distributed amongst the rest. Fi picked up a packet of embroidery floss and said ‘this can go to the Heartfelt ladies… Then Lara asked who they were. The story touched her heart and made her do this….
So, to cut a long story short (I am writing rather a lot, sorry!), today was the day we were delivering the ‘collection’ and getting to meet these absolutely awesome ladies and to see up close their beautiful work.
We were literally welcomed with open arms. And I am talking about US the ToyVoyagers!
Here are the ladies, hard at work…
And here we are in the middle of it all! Fiona, Cassiopeia, Threadbear and I, interrupting the calm.
Cassiopeia is camouflaged!
Just how cute is this felt hippo?
Anything that is made here, gets the trademark heart logo on it…
The women have a natural working rhythm that even we could not disturb, they just went on with the important task at hand… Fi could learn a lesson or two from this…
Nothing goes to waste; all these teeny scraps are taken home and turned into cushions.
We were very graciously served a cup of tea!
Julie phoned Martha, the lady we had come to see, as she was at the Post Office. She was so worried about missing us! We promised to stay put and Julie drove off to fetch her.
We had a little nosey around while we waited…but first we had a little rest…
Fi was going to pose Threadbear in the mirror, but decided against it!
This is the front entrance… and us of course…
Water is precious, as much as possible is collected… like rain water from the roof..
Very pretty red flowers and some unusual trees…
Then, you know Fi, she wandered out the gate. You can’t take her anywhere!
She went to see what the donkey cart was up to, well nothing! It’s a donkey cart! The men, however, were delivering fire wood.
This poor man had been fixing that bench the whole time we were there and he had just stopped for a tea break when she bothered him for his photo! Honestly! But he said it was fine….
The house has a lovely little veranda, Fi’s house doesn’t and it really needs one.
Evidence of chickens… they were all hiding though.
This room is going to be converted into a workshop so the ladies can move out of the small room they are in and poor Martha can have her dining room back! Pinky Bear, there is a message for you!
Then a bundle of energy arrived! Wow, Martha is a live wire! She hugged and kissed everybody , yes even us!
She gave Cassiopiea a good looking over and said that they were going to make African tortoises next!
Look at all the lovely things they make!
Martha was very taken with Threadbear! And after chatting to her for a bit he suddenly said, “Fi, when I have reached my goal of 500 bears for the Teddy Bear Clinic, I am going to start a collection for Martha and the rest of the Heartfelt ladies…” Martha kissed him some more and then took him off for a walk and a chat! We thought we may have to pry him away from her!
Well, too soon, it was time to say goodbye as it was a long trip back and Fi had to fetch her poor abandoned children (okay, one was with a friend and the other was having fun at the school aftercare, but she FELT like she had abandoned them)
This is Nthabiseng, the youngest member of the group, the lovely Julie and the amazing Martha.
Posted Jul 11, 2008, 11:21 pm
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Heading for Jo'burg, South Africa - 9th July 2008
Well, we started our long trip back on the dirt road again. We waived at more children, avoided the chickens again and saw lots of thorn trees... they like the dry weather...
This road looks pretty endless.
At least there are lots of distractions along the way to keep you alert... like this...
And this... African ingenuity at it's best!
How to recycle an old pick up truck, or as they are called here, a BAKKIE... especially with the current price of petrol.
How to avoid the overhead costs of having a shop...
Most Africans are Christians, they were converted by the early settlers. There is a huge group called the Zion Christian Church or ZCC. They wear handmade 'uniforms' of either blue, white or green and they hold their services outside, usually in a ring, under a tree (the earlier group that we took a photo of may have been Zionists.) This is a local church (not ZCC).
Leaving the NorthWest Province (which has been renamed Limpopo - of course) and back in Gauteng Province!
Oh dear.... something is on fire...
...and it's not the veld, that black smoke is usually from diesel...
Well, we couldn't see what was on fire so we turned our attention to this odd advert for 'chicken paint'... as we got closer, we could see the 'and', they were selling chicken AND paint... as you do...
This is the Bon Accord Dam, so we very near Pretoria.
This is the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, part of the University of Pretoria. Their main focus is on infectious diseases. Glad Fi had no time to stop and visit... I might have caught something tropical!
Ah... here is Pretoria at last or Tshwane, as it has been renamed... Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa (they have not one, not two, but THREE capitals... and eleven official languages - they like to keep every one happy!)
We drove through the boring bit as it was the quickest way home. Maybe Fi will come back another day with other TV's to see the interesting parts.
Up ahead is a cement factory...
A closer view of the PPC (Pretoria - Portland Cement) factory which has been here since 1892 and now has branches all over the place. (Even all the way up in Botswana!)
Remember me telling you about the 'street vendors' at every intersection? Well Fi always wondered who bought the rubbish they sell... the answer is: truck drivers! This one bought a monkey for twenty bucks.
First a fire and now a flood!
Caused by a burst water pipe, I see.
A museum! Oh, no time to stop...but it looks so interesting!
The central post office sorting department... boring...
And...YIKES!!! C Max! Let's hit the accelerator and get out of here! (C max - is a maximum security prison and someone ONCE escaped from it)
Phew, safely out of Pretoria/Tshwane.... there is Sandton in the distance, unless they changed the name while we were gone...
Time to pick up Fi's car and fetch the children. Wonder where we will be off to next?
Posted Jul 16, 2008, 10:04 pm
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Johannesburg, South Africa - 18th July 2008
Today we celebrated Nelson Mandela's birthday...
And Fi has said we are in for a busy weekend, I can't wait! This is my last weekend in South Africa, I hope we see something nice...
Posted Jul 18, 2008, 4:32 pm
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Botanical Gardens, South Africa - 19th July 2008
This morning we had to get up early because the children had a school function to attend. The school has an annual fund raiser called 'The Big Walk'. All the children and their parents meet up at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and do a sponsored walk from one end to the other.
(One of the great escapes of Johannesburg, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort, is almost 300 hectares of landscaped and natural veld that is a haven for birds and a popular picnic spot for Gautengers.
Despite development that is threatening encroachment on this beautiful garden, set against the backdrop of the magnificent Witpoortjie waterfall, this is still the home of a breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles that nest in the cliffs alongside the waterfall and no visit is complete until they have been sited. Enthusiasts arrive armed with telephoto lenses and tripod stands in an effort to capture these beautiful birds, and will sit for hours until they appear. Over 600 plant species and 220 bird species, as well as a number of reptile and small mammals such as antelope and jackal, occur naturally in the Nature Reserve and there are several wonderful walks through the garden and a trail up alongside the waterfall for the not so faint hearted.
One can arrange guided tours along the Roodekrans Ridge and through the Nature Reserve part of the garden, and the dam and wetland area with its bird hide alone is worth the visit, particularly at sundown just before the gates close. There is a lot of shaded lawn on which Jo’burgers while away balmy days with a bring-along picnic. The gardens have adopted a ‘carry-in carry-out’ litter policy that means you take home any rubbish with you, and an outcomes-based schools’ environmental education programme that caters for school groups in the garden.
There is a wonderful nursery, a gift and book shop and a restaurant; and over Christmas and on selected weekends, the grounds play host to sundowner concerts. But the star of the show is the garden itself with a succulent rockery, a cycad garden, the water garden with water-loving plants and a series of ponds that flow past the restaurant and its walks and trails.)
This year it was a little different. The children got a list of twenty questions and had to find the answers in the gardens... they get sponsored per correct answer.
So off we set... and Fi apologises for the lack of photos of us, but the children get sent off according to the grades they are in and we had five grades rushing up behind us! No time to stop and pose for photos...
Shane reads a plaque to find an answer...
Because it is winter at the moment, there are not too many flowering plants but the succulents were putting on a beautiful display of colour...
There are many different types, most of them are from the aloe family...
Were you paying attention? Did you see us in that last photo?
How odd are these plants? The roundish ones are one plant...
Question 4. Which plants out lived the dinosaurs?
Answer.... these ones! Called cycads...
I have no idea what these are but they are pretty cool...
like the French poodles of trees!
A regular strelitzia....
... and some unusual yellow ones...
Question 5. Which plant is known as the water bottle of the desert?
Answer: this weird looking plant from the deserts of Namibia. It is related to the grape! It loses it's leaves and 'grapes’ (which are poisonous) in winter in order to survive, and it stores huge quantities of water so it can withstand drought...
This is too hard to read (and I have told you all about it already) but you can see it looks better with leaves!
Now, talking of weird.... don't these two trees look like they come straight out of a Dr Seuss story?
These pretty little flowers are called "plough breakers". They have very large, tough stems, that grow underground. When land was cultivated for farming, the stems would break the blades of ploughs!
Yay! We reached the waterfall... the halfway mark!
Pretty little clivias, still showing a bit of damage from the locust swarm a while back when Fi came here with Pinky Bear.
We started going uphill, thank goodness Fi had us in a bag, my little legs would never have made it! This is the view from up there...
A little higher up... and it looks very dry here, this is winter in the Highveld... very dry and ready to burn at any moment...
Oh look! A sign telling us why it needs to burn!
What a relief... going downhill now... and we reached a dam...
We sat in the hide for a bit to 'look for birds', of course with 500 children around, the birds were also in hiding. And really Fi was just sitting to have a rest! And if you are wondering why I am facing the wrong way? Once bitten, twice shy... I wasn't taking chances on falling in cold water again thanks!
Question 18: name the plants on the side of the river with white spotted leaves...
Answer: Arum lilies! So pretty...
Question 19: name the river...
Answer: Crocodile! Funny, there are no crocodiles in it...it is very low as there is no winter rainfall in Jo'burg.
Hello! What on earth are these odd things?
This was the last thing we looked at before we left.
Did you know: 8 out of 10 people in South Africa use traditional medicine or go to a traditional healer with their health problems?
Wow, that's a lot of people!
It also says:
Grassland plants can reach a great age, as old as trees!
I have never actually ever thought about that before, but now that I have read that it makes perfect sense!
Posted Jul 19, 2008, 10:19 pm
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