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Travelog for: Synapse

Maple Ridge, BC, Canada - 30th June 2008

By: AbbyB

Synapse was mailed today to MrsC, along with three bears for Threadbear.  I'm sure none of them appreciated being squished in a box together in the sweltering heat, but at least it's colder where they are going.

* Posted Jul 1, 2008, 12:38 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Johannesburg, South Africa - 22nd July 2008

By: MrsC

I finally arrived in South Africa after being cooped up in a small box with three bears. Not a very stimulating environment for a brain cell let me tell you...

Well, I have just been hanging around here waiting for something to happen, and nothing really has. It is pretty cold and I feel a little shrivelled. Fi tells me it is still another month and a bit until it is officially spring. I never knew the seasons were different here from back home, you learn something new everyday...

This was the weather report about an hour ago. It has since changed to 'cloudy' for today, and it actually has gone all dark and grey... where did the blue sky go?

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So technically, it is the middle of winter...someone want to tell that to this peach tree?

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Fi says that it blooms very early, every year, then it gets hit by a 'last hurrah' winter cold spell...

But it is very pretty while everything else looks so gloomy.

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She also said that if I want stimulating while she is busy, I should go and find a book to read...

Hmmm...cookery books? Nah...

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Craft books....some other time...

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The classics? Plenty of time for those...

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Ahhhh! This is more like it....

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The Great Book of Humour.... see you later, I'm curling up to read a good book.

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* Posted Jul 24, 2008, 11:00 am Last edited Jul 24, 2008, 11:01 am by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


The Olympics, South Africa - 26th July 2008

By: MrsC

I was very upset to have missed the tour of Johannesburg that the others went on, so Fi said she would make it up to me soon, but for now we were all invited to a party and the theme was 'The Olympic Games'. We were all quite excited to represent our countries!

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First up were the equestrian events. Whoa Nellie! The others laughed at me and said I should rather attend the 'special' Olympics! Cheeky... I might lack grace but I made up for it in skill and I managed to complete the course.

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We sat out the sprinting as we stood no chance against these fine athletes...

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I gave the javelin a go though, don't worry, the car was just fine!

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All four of us, together, could not make the weights even budge. Natalie showed us how, declaring "they are not so heavy!" Show off...

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We were so quick at throwing discus that the photos were blurred! No point in showing you!

Next up was boxing... I had a little problem with my gloves at first...and... well actually, I was seriously compromised by my lack of arms...

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After all of that physical exercise it was time for a drink and sugar boosting snack...

This was the only swimming going on today, this is the Winter Olympics!

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I stand corrected, here are the synchronised swimmers...

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We sang a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' to the birthday boy and tucked into some scrummy cake.... cutting that cake was also an Olympic event!

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Finally it was prize giving...

The bronze goes to Canada! Represented by me, so HA to those who doubted me!

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Joint silver to Australia and England! Represented by Jubilee Bunny & Fiona

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And the winner is.....ta da! The superior athlete, Pinky Bear from Germany!

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What a fabulous day!

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But now I need to go home for a hot bath and a muscle relaxing massage...and a good book.





* Posted Jul 27, 2008, 5:29 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Science Lab, South Africa - 31st July 2008

By: MrsC

I am so borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrred..............................
I have just been hanging around doing nothing interesting at all.

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Fi says if I would just stop whining for five minutes she will take me with her when she picks up the children from school.

10 seconds...

1 minute...

2 minutes 35 seconds....

3 minutes 47 seconds...

4 minutes 58 seconds...

I did it! Can we go now? I don't get. Why is she glaring at me like that? She is the one who said five minutes.....OH I see, five African minutes is a LOT longer than five Canadian minutes.

I'll just read my book and ...ho...hum...

37 minutes and we are off!

Now this is more like it! I can learn all sorts of stuff here...

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Oh dear! I wonder how many 'minutes' he was waiting for?

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Hello! No, don't worry! I don't really care much for salad, it's all yours. Really, you don't need to hold it so protectively!

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The chameleon was hiding under a piece of bark and wouldn't come out to say hello. But this other bearded dragon popped right out to meet me...

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What a very curious little chap!

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So, Fi, what exactly is this stuff again? Oh gross! Shed snake skin! Uh...there isn't a snake under all this is there? Oh, good...just checking...

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Ooooh! Giant African Land Snails! What a mess they have made on the glass...you can hardly see them...

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That's not a snake is it? Oh of course not, it has legs...

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Miss? Miss? I can't see the board from here. May I move to the front?

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I'm not sure what that was, but I never want to meet one up close and personal.

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This is (was?) a Wildebees...looks like a very large goat if you ask me!

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Hearts, eyes.... what about brain cells? We are supremely important, I demand representation!

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Time to go already? Wait just a Canadian minute...I need some chalk and ah...ha..ta da!

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Okay, let's go but we had better do something exciting this weekend, I NEED stimulus.


* Posted Jul 31, 2008, 8:05 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Out in the sun, South Africa - 7th August 2008

By: MrsC

There are quite a few new ToyVoyagers visiting Fi, the children are on holiday, spring is definitely in the air... what better excuse for a picnic?

We all gathered outside in the garden, even Threadbear and Eloise joined us as it is so nice and warm today. Fi provided quite a nice spread...

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NormaNikkers was very excited so find a strawberry that was almost the same size as her (guaranteed not genetically modified...hmmm....)

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Bullet made friends with one of the dogs...

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Oh...groan...I ate too much! We all settled back to listen to a story...but it was so nice and warm, and our tummies were full, the birds were singing (you could hear them so nicely when the neighbour switched off his angle grinder!) and the blanket was soft...

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3248/2741079284_02313dde9f.jpg?v=0

...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...Hmm? Ah ...what? Me? Sleeping? No, I'm just looking up at how blue the sky is....really!

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* Posted Aug 10, 2008, 11:06 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Teddy Bear Central, South Africa - 7th August 2008

By: MrsC

One of the new TVs to arrive, is a little bunny called Gracy, she has come to help Fi and Threadbear sort out all the bears and soft toys that they have collected... and believe me when I tell you they need all the help they can get... what a mess in Teddy Bear Central... look...

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Of course, we got roped in to help too. We had an 'Indaba' (Zulu word for a gathering or meeting) to try and decide the best way to go about sorting every thing out.

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I, being a brain cell, came up with a great solution. We open up the very large boxes and tape the bottoms. Then we stack the large bears at the bottom and fill up with medium size bears then the smaller bears, so they don't end up crushed after all the hard work Threadbear and Eloise have done sorting them out. We count them as they go in.

THEN, we write down the box number and the amount of bears in each box. Each box gets a little yellow sticker with the same information on it.

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Once all the boxes are full, we stack them neatly to one side. Once they are out the way we can tackle the rest of the mess...

Everyone  agreed this was a fine plan and got to work...we made very sure WE didn't end up in the boxes!!!!

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Some of the bears still need ribbons and some of them need a bit of fixing up... like this poor bear who has bad cataracts...

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Ah! Much better....

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Fiona is sewing up some holes in a bear skin rug....

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Oops! Not a rug! Bullet helps her add stuffing while she holds it open...don't get lost in there!

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Almost done...last few stitches...

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Doesn't look very happy about her renewal does she?

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Oh, silly me. Pass the black wool please....

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Well, we sorted out bears for HOURS, and we packed four of those huge boxes...BUT... we still weren't finished and we were tired so we called it a day.


* Posted Aug 10, 2008, 11:25 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Origins Centre, South Africa - 8th August 2008

By: MrsC

Well. What do you know! No sorting out bears today, we are all in the car and heading...um, just where are we going?

To someone's house...oh, it's Vicki and her children. But we are not getting out the car, she is getting in her car! We are going on a joint expedition: two Moms, four kids and TWELVE ToyVoyagers! That should be fun...

Boring, we have been stuck in traffic for AGES due to road works, but here we are at the University of the Witwatersrand, wait, we are driving through, right up to the gate on the other side. Were we just taking a short cut? Nope, now I see where we are going...The Origins Centre

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Now we can all truly say we have been on the African continent!

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We stopped to read the plaque, on the way in.

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It says: On Dec 23, 1924, Raymond Dart discovered the Taung skull, which proved humankind began in Africa. Using one of his wife’s knitting needles, he scraped through rock for 73 days to reveal the million year old face of an early human baby with a full set of milk teeth.
As you walk in to the museum, you go through a giant representation of the world made of hand woven wire. Wow, that must have taken the artist ages to complete...

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Here is a welcome home for humans, guess they never expected us to visit!

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And...

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Actually, our journey did not begin there. We kept bumping into a camera crew who were filming, they glared at us and we swiftly moved on! The room we missed was full of Stone Age flints and tools. It was cleverly called the 'journey to the microchip'. When humans first started using 'tools' they were rather crude and clumsily shaped big stones. As they progressed, the tools became smaller and more refined.

We also missed the skull collection, but we came back to it afterwards...

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This is a replica of the famous Taung 'baby'.

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And this is the even more famous 'Mrs Ples', who lived just up the road from Fi!

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Here is her tag. It says:

STW% (Mrs Ples)
Approximately 2.5 Million Years old.
Found in 1947 by Robert Broom at Sterkfontein Caves, this fossil hominid was originally classified as PLESIATHROPUS TRANSVAALENSIS.  The individual was later incorporated into the species AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFRICANUS. Broom argued that the remains represented a middle aged female at the time of death. From this, the name 'Mrs Ples' from the original genus has stuck. Recently a number of researchers have argued that the specimen actually represents a male.

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The next few sections were all about time lines of human development on the different continents and DNA...

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The next section, the main focus of the museum, was about the San. You are probably more familiar with the term 'Bushman'. The story of the San is an incredibly sad one, and I am warning you now, you may need tissues...

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There are a lot of untruths that people believed about the San...

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This is the replica of a burial of a five year old girl. She was clearly loved, her parents have placed shells, necklaces and other items in the grave with her.

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The San were noted for their rock art, a rich history of their lives, but not easily understood.

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Some of the rock art is easy enough to understand, it was either engraved or painted on rocks, depending on the area it is found in. These are Elands, either engraved or painted..

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This looks like a Wildebees.

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Here is an original and a repaired reproduction.

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This is another myth...

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The San were one with nature, nomads that had no fixed property. they hunted when they were hungry, they travelled, following water. They had a rich spiritual heritage as well. They did what was known as a 'trance dance' (the oldest human ritual) where they danced themselves into a trance in order to speak with the gods, or make rain.

All of this was about to come to a brutal end, with the arrival of the European colonists...

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The colonists, took the land as their own, the San were forced out. Starving, they hunted the animals that were now the 'property' of the European settlers. They were killed or arrested as a result. They were slaughtered in their thousands.

We are going to skip ahead a bit, to the exit of the museum, where the beautiful poems of the San are written on animal bones...

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This one says: 'I am the wind that blows away the footprints of the dead...'

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I can't remember their names, but there were two people, a lady and a gentleman, who realised that the San were being exterminated without leaving a written history behind. They got permission to have some prisoners brought to them to record their stories, to teach them the San language and to tell the stories of San history.

Read them, weep...

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A British soldier had been sent to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho to find a Zulu King who had escaped from the British. When he reached Lesotho and saw how vast and mountainous it was, he realised that his task was impossible. He forgot about catching the errant Zulu as he discovered the San rock art in the area. He did a study on it, and got the remaining San to interpret the images that they portrayed. He published his findings in a document that was promptly forgotten by everyone.

Decades later, it was found and was the 'Rosetta stone' of San art, helping to unravel the secrets of the San paintings and engravings, as the few San that were left no longer drew on the rocks.

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Okay, back to the main exhibit. We watched another short film (we had seen a few on the way through - bushmen hunting, the Trance Dance, rain making)

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This is the story of a San hero. He was a chief who fought off the Boers. He handed himself over when he realised that his people were in danger. He was taken away to a prison in Pretoria on a train.

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His people painted the story on the walls of the Makgabeng Shelter, and it is a rare depiction of trains in San art.

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Another form of rock art also exists in South Africa, known as Khoe art. No one knows for sure who the artists were, but it is distinctly different from the San art. Whereas theirs was animals, people and mythical beasts, this is all geometrical shapes.

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The museum exhibits now move on to Bantu rock art, but here is an interesting article on the Khoe and San if you care to read it.

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Bantu art focuses more on initiation rites than story telling. (Initiation is the passage from childhood to adulthood)

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This is a beaded figurine that is part of an initiation ceremony.

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This one is part of a Northern Sotho male initiation ceremony.

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It dates to the late 1800's. The crocodile was turned upside down and covered by a small thatch structure known as 'The Elephant". Food was placed in the crocodile and the initiates had to eat it without using their hands. The crocodile and the elephant are chiefly symbols. In this context they are to remind the boys of the role of the chief as provider and protector of his people.

The children were starting to get a little restless by now, luckily, in every few rooms there are computers that the children can play an interactive game on. They have to answer questions on each display and solve puzzles. The hardest one was moving blocks around to form the Khoe geometric pattern! We helped Natalie, as she was at a disadvantage, not being able to read! She managed to get the highest score....

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One of the displays, was Perspex blocks with the names of all the tribes in South Africa (LOTS!)

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When a light shone through them, the names were displayed on the floor...

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Well that was the end of the museum...

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But we stopped in the shop to have a look around...

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Lots of 'recycled' craft, look:

Cleaning liquid buck...

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Chip (crisp) packet bowl...

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Soft drink can jewellery...

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And this was pretty funny!

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Well that was pretty interesting (and a bit sad). Maybe one day I will get to see more rock art in some of these other places...

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* Posted Aug 12, 2008, 12:33 am Last edited Aug 12, 2008, 12:51 am by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


The Lion Park, South Africa - 24th August 2008

By: MrsC

We have been all sitting around the house lately not really doing much and we were all starting to get bored of reading books, and doing puzzles, so Fi packed a picnic bag and piled us all into the car. The children asked where we were going and she said -"wait till we get there then you'll see!" Ooohhh ! I do like surprises...

It wasn't a very long journey, about 10 or 15 minutes. None of us needed to read what the sign board said, we could tell by the picture!

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We stopped at the ticket office to get our tickets and a map - that was for the children to look at; Fi said the place wasn't that big that you needed a map... We also bought some jelly beans and postcards (of course - what else?). Then we stopped at the loo because you can't get out the car for a pee unless you want to be eaten for lunch. That made me nervous and I had to go back in for another little tinkle.

Fi said we would not see anything from the front seat so she put us on the dash board and told us not to mess about - as if!

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Oops... NormaNikkers got so excited she fell off... Fi gave her a cross look and said that we had to calm down or we would be in serious trouble. The two children in the back laughed hysterically, because that's what they usually get told.

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You might have heard about all the terrible fires across South Africa lately. In winter it is so dry that the grass catches fire so easily; add a strong wind and it is a recipe for disaster. Quite a large part of the Lion Park was burned, luckily this happened before all the wind started or the animals would have been trapped. The fire was stopped as it could not cross the dirt road; in high winds that is no obstacle at all. You can see the new grass is growing through already and it must be very sweet and tender; those greedy buck never lifted their heads once the whole time we watched them.

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This zebra was standing right next to the road!

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Wait! I need a photo taken with it...

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Oh, they are so far away I can hardly see them...looks like sable antelope and zebra...

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And the wildebeest are so far away you can barely see them either.
I suppose the lions will be even harder to see...

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Talking of which! There are strict rules: windows are NOT allowed to be opened. You have to stay IN your car at all times. Do not feed the TOYS to the lions. Okay, I made the last one up...but don't okay?

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Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! THAT is the king of the beasts? No, no,no! That is a giant pussycat!

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And um....HE would be the king of the beasts...thank goodness he is sound asleep...shhhh! Don't wake him up...

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Okay, now we sat back and watched an African soap opera unfold:

That is it! I have had enough! I am going to find another pride of lions to live with - you all take me for granted!

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Yes, especially you Lioninna! I could get my claws out and have a real cat fight but I just couldn't be BOTHERED!

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What are you lot looking at?

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I am NEVER going back. NEVER! They can beg, they can plead, it is too LATE!

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We huddled together hoping she would not spot us... and I  slithered off the dashboard and took NormaNikkers with me...oops!

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Just then there was a little whimper...then a wail MOM! Where are you going? Come BACK...

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That of course was too much for her... her maternal instincts kicked in and she turned back. I stayed on the dash but so flat and heavily camouflaged that I may as well have stayed on the seat!

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Oh dear... I sense trouble... look who just got up to see what was going on.

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Just what do you think you are doing!? How dare you leave my pride without my permission? I am the KING!!!!

Ummm...I'll never do it again...now just let me get to my baby

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Mom? Where did you go? Can I go too? Pleeeeeease? Can I have rollerblades and a skateboard? Huh? Can I? Mom! I'm talking to you...

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Then we drove on to the next camp. We were playing a game to see who could spot the lions first. NormaNikkers nearly wet herself with excitement when she spotted them.

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Boring, they are asleep...

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We started driving by.... she was quite sound asleep...Oh hey! These are WHITE lions!

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Oops, our squeals woke him up....

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Time to move on I think.... may I have some jellybeans?

We stopped at the picnic area because we were all feeling pretty peckish by now.
We found a table under a tree because it was also very hot.

And then we had a visitor.

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She got REAL close...

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Shane showed us that she was very gentle.

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So I got a little closer to meet her.

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Well that's not something you do everyday!

Time for lunch, oh my head is burning I need a hat. Oh thanks Fi! Now, what is there to eat? Boiled eggs, cheese sarmies (sandwiches), fruit, crisps and Swiss roll... where do I start?

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This is an African Coral tree. They bloom at this time of the year. The leaves only grow a little later so the red looks quite spectacular against the blue sky. There is one of these trees on every block, such a nice way to end winter...

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Well lunch was good! Time to see the other animals in the enclosures. Most of them are hiding because of the heat; mid day is not the right time to look for animals!

But she is cooling down on top of her hutch... she acknowledged our presence with a flick of her tail but she wouldn't turn around. Come on cheetah, smile for the camera!

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We all stayed away from the ostrich!

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And we wisely stayed away from feeding the giraffe... the children's arms were covered in slobber eeeeuuuwww!

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They had to wash their arms three times to get it off!

Hmm what does this say?  Lion cubs... yadda, yadda, yadda entrance yad...what? Surely you are NOT taking us in there!?

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Oh! So sweet... so sleepy.... lets leave them that way shall we?

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Well that's more excitement than I can handle in one day... time to head home and have a nap!



* Posted Sep 4, 2008, 12:39 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Johannesburg, South Africa - 28th August 2008

By: MrsC

You will be happy to know that 'The family C' is quite a regular family, that just has a normal home life.

This is what happens on a Thursday... well it is school holidays, so it is a little different from usual.

Fi is usually first up.

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After a visit to the bathroom, she switches off the house alarm (this is Johannesburg remember - crime central)

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Switching off the alarm usually wakes Shane up...

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He feeds his fish before he does ANYTHING else, so he doesn't forget - they are his responsibility.

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Shane usually makes enough noise to wake the dead when he is 'being quiet' - this wakes Natalie up (but not when it is a school day!)

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Next Fi unlocks the passage gate. (This is Johannesburg! You have as many obstacles as possible...)

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Then she lets the dogs out. They sleep inside in winter as the one has hip problems and the cold makes her very stiff.  No photo of this because they were in a rush to get out and bark at someone. They will be fed a little later on and then again this evening.

Once everyone is awake, they have breakfast. Usually something quick like tea and toast and some fruit. Fi has water or juice, she says tea is vile. The children like Rooibos tea (red bush tea) which is a South African tea and apparently an acquired taste. It is well known for its health benefits. All meals are eaten at the table, as a family.

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Then Fi has a bath and gets dressed. The children get dressed and brush teeth. (If it was a school day, this would take place at about ten times the speed. School starts at 07.45 and it takes 20 minutes to get there through the morning traffic; it takes five minutes when Fi fetches them at 13.30.)

Thursdays are paper collection days - this is a free service that not enough people make use of. There are twenty houses on Fi's street - only four of them put out paper for recycling. Money is donated to the SPCA (Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals) by the company that collects the paper, dependent on the weight they accumulate.

I was a little worried I'd be left in this box and end up recycled!

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On Monday the refuse (trash/ rubbish) is collected. During the week it is stored in these big black bins - they were made compulsory last year. Before that everything went out in black plastic bags that dogs tore apart or things fell out of and injured the refuse collection men. Fi has two, but since she started recycling she uses a quarter of one bin.

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This is the recycling bin...Fi gives everything a rinse before it goes in here. Believe it or not, she pays for this service; it is a private company that collects it and separates it and sends it for recycling. A huge amount of items are recycled but they are usually scavenged out at the rubbish dumps by people who sell it to earn a meagre living..

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On Thursday a free local newspaper is delivered. In this area it is called the Randburg Sun. It has local news, crime reports, school news, motoring news, sports news and a classified section. And Fi never took a photo of me reading it!

Fi likes to check her e-mail first thing in the morning (addicted? - surely not!), the middle of the morning, mid day, mid afternoon...you get the picture!

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So, what do you suppose everyone else is up to? Dad has gone off to work... Shane is....ah! Sitting in the sun reading a book (takes after his mother who always had her nose in a book)

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Natalie is in her room playing with her dolls.

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She is telling us a story...

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Usually the two of them are making something crafty, or digging holes in the garden but today they are going to friends for a picnic so they are trying to stay clean.
There are all sorts of nice things in here for lunch...hmmm...

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We stayed behind when they went out to visit their friends. Before they left, Fi closed all the windows and put the alarm back on. Insurance won't pay out if you are robbed while out and the alarm was not activated.  Most houses also have an electric fence around the perimeter wall and several vicious dogs. Fi has no electric fence and her dogs are huge and scary looking, but not vicious (unless you have four legs and fur)

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What was the first thing the children did when they got back?

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Straight up a tree, talking to the children next door! They are like two monkeys. They pretty much stayed up there until it was bath time.

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Fi started preparing supper while they were outside. She either cooks things that are quick, or if it takes long it must be something that can be shoved in the oven and takes care of itself. All meals are made from scratch - Fi tries to stay away from all the nasty stuff that goes into processed food but she is not that fanatical.

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The vegetable peelings go into the compost bin... and this meal is going to be shoved in the oven to take care of itself!

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Ah! This is Fi's favourite time of the day...look who is back from work!

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But it is Thursday so he gets changed and goes off to play squash.

Fi and the children sit down to eat supper...oh that smells heavenly!

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After dinner, they usually play a game like 'go fish' or dominoes. There is no television in this house, it got struck by lightning and was just never replaced. The children watch DVDs on their computers and play computer games when they need 'screen time'. This all happens upstairs in the family room. No PCs are allowed in the bedrooms.

Then the children brush their teeth and it is time for bed...

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First they choose a CD to listen to while they fall asleep. Some are music and some are stories. Roald Dahl is a favourite. The big empty gaps are from the CDs that are in the car...sometimes they get home and they won't get out the car until the story they are listening to is finished!

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Usually Dad reads them each a story, (he does night duties and Fi does day duties) but as he is off playing squash, Fi reads to us. Here I am all tucked up with Natalie - that doll seems quite startled to see me!

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Story time is over, goodnight kisses and hugs and love yous are exchanged... Natalie is listening to Disney's Silly songs. She likes classical music (actually, she just likes music!) and even better if it has funny songs to go with it!

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And a few minutes later Shane is sound asleep...

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Fi spends the rest of the evening on the internet, writing postcards, making something or sometimes reading. She goes to bed around midnight or one.

Her husband sits up and works till three or four, sometimes later!
Then it is off to bed, lock everything and activate the alarm and hope you pass the night without incident.








* Posted Sep 4, 2008, 11:32 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


The Library, South Africa - 29th August 2008

By: MrsC

I asked Fi to tell me about the history of South Africa, but she said "you know, for such a 'New' country, South Africa has a LOT of history...in fact, some of the OLDEST history in the world! We'll have to do some research, I can't remember it all!"

So, off we went to the Library. The staff were most obliging, allowing us to take photos (I won them over with my charm and astounding intellect)

Oh, there were more books on the subject than we thought there would be...long lengthy tomes....hoo boy, which one to choose?

We went with the most up to date one!

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Right, in the beginning... The earliest fossil evidence of  our ancestors (pre-human) has been found in an area known as The cradle of Humankind. In a nutshell, that means that this is where humans first started.

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There was simply too much to read! So.... we cheated a little and found this on line (we'll intersperse it with our corresponding photos)

A short history of South Africa

People inhabited present-day South Africa for thousands of years. Khoisan groups are the oldest surviving inhabitants of the land, but only a few are left in South Africa today.

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Bantu tribes migrate south from central Africa, settling in the Transvaal region sometime before 100. The Nguni, ancestors of the Zulu and Xhosa, occupy most of the eastern coast around 1500. In 1497/98 Vasco da Gama discovers the Cape of Good Hope.

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From 1652 the Netherlands, the Dutch East India Company, establish the Cape Colony. In subsequent decades, French Huguenot refugees, Dutch and Germans settle in the Cape. By 1779 European settlements extend throughout the southern part of the Cape and east toward the Great Fish River. There the Dutch and the Xhosa fight the first frontier war. Due to the French occupation of the Netherlands, Britain occupies the Cape Colony in 1795 and establishes it as a British colony in 1797. Dutch rule is restored in 1803, but in 1806 Britain annexes the colony again. The Cape Colony becomes a British colony and a basis to obtain more possessions in southern Africa. Dutch settlers leave the Cape Colony in what is called the "Great Trek" and move inland to found New Holland in 1837 (named Natalia in 1838), the Holland-African Republic in 1852 (named South-African Republic in 1853) and the Orange Free State in 1854.


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In 1843 Britain annexes Natalia and establishes the colony of Natal. During the 19th century Britain introduces elected assemblies and grants africans and coloured who met certain franchise requirements the right to vote. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 leads at the British conquest of the South-African Republic in 1887 as the colony of Transvaal. Independence is restored in 1884. As a result of the Boer Wars between 1899 and 1902 both the Orange Free State and the South-African Republic finally lose their independence.

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The Orange Free State becomes the Orange River Colony in 1901. The South African Republic becomes the colony of Transvaal in 1902. The Cape Colony merges with Natal, the Orange River Colont and Transvaal into the Dominion called Union of South Africa, a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, in 1910. South Africa becomes a parliamentary state, but the suffrage is limited to whites. Louis Botha of the South Africa Party (SAP) becomes the first prime minister. In 1912 the South Africa Native National Congress is founded and eventually becomes known as the African National Congress (ANC). Its goals are the elimination of restrictions based on colour and the enfranchisement of and parliamentary representation for blacks. Botha is succeeded in 1919 by Jan Christian Smuts. In 1924 the National Party (NP) wins the elections, bring James Barry Munnik Hertzog to the premiership. In 1931 South Africa becomes fully independent. In 1939 the SAP takes over and Smits becomes prime minister again.

Since 1948 South Africa is ruled by the NP and Apartheid, the complete segregation between whites and blacks, becomes the official policy of the state.

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Under Prime ministers Daniel François Malan (1948-1954), Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom (1954-1958), Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd (1958-1966) and Balthazar Johannes Vorster (1966-1978) the apartheid policy develops. After a referendum in 1960 Verwoerd's government establishes the republic, named Republic of South Africa. In the early sixties ANC-leader Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and many other anti-apartheid leaders are convicted and imprisoned on charges of treason. The ANC is forced underground and fights apartheid through guerrilla warfare and sabotage. In 1976/1988 South Africa establishes the so-called independent republics of Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana and Venda. In 1978 Pieter Willem Botha becomes prime minister. Since 1984 South Africa is a presidential republic and Botha becomes president. In parliament the liberal Progressive Federal Party (PFP) of Helen Suzman forms the opposition against apartheid.

Botha is succeeded in 1989 by Frederik Willem de Klerk. In 1990 De Klerk announces the unbanning of the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups. Mandela is released from prison. In 1991 the last apartheid acts are abolished and a long series of negotiations leads in 1993 to a new constitution. South Africa becomes a non-racial parliamentary democratic state. Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana and Venda are re-incorporated into the country. The elections of 1994 are won by the African National Congress (ANC) and Nelson Mandela becomes president. Mandela concentrates on national reconciliation, tries to forge a single South African identity and sense of purpose among a diverse and splintered populace, driven by years of conflict.

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In 1999 Mandela steps down and Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is elected president. The main opposition party is the liberal democratic Democratic Alliance (DA, successor of the PFP), the former apartheid party New National Party (NNP) and the Zulu party Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).



Phew, that was REALLY BRIEF... but that was the basics.

If you look at this next photo, you can see all of the flags that South Africa has had in its history.

Closest to me is the Dutch East India Company flag from 1679;
next the British flag (before the incorporation of Ireland); the Batavian flag; the Union Jack; The South African Union flag and lastly the present day flag of the democratic South Africa (first flown on 10 May 1994)


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Here is a closer look at the present flag. Fi tells me that before it was first unveiled, there was an uproar by the Afrikaaner nation at the loss of the old orange, white and blue flag. But since the new flag was so pleasant to look at that it was soon embraced and waved proudly at sports matches!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3490/3303908579_22cc3ca71a.jpg?v=0


The previous National anthem was in Afrikaans  with an English version that followed. The first stanza of the new anthem is sung in Xhosa or Zulu, the second in Sotho. The next stanza is the first part of the Afrikaans anthem (Die Stem) and the last stanza is the English version.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3469/3304741968_7bc846f328.jpg?v=0

These are the National symbols:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3330/3303908463_8c3b0d7877.jpg?v=0


And there you have it - a (very) short history of South Africa!




* Posted Sep 6, 2008, 3:59 pm Last edited Feb 24, 2009, 7:30 pm by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Johannesburg, South Africa - 1st September 2008

By: MrsC

Well, they say all good things must come to an end... it is time for me to move on now and learn about the Netherlands.

Fi says she will miss me! I think I can safely say that I left my mark...

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3118/2833414084_6a9ce7c79c.jpg?v=0

Off to the Post Office I go!




* Posted Sep 6, 2008, 4:07 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Leidschendam, The Netherlands - 6th September 2008

By: Charda

Today I arrived in the Netherlands! It's so exciting to be in Europe.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4043.jpg
My new host didn't really know what to feed me. She murmured something about potassium and sodium, but decided to give me a book instead. It's really interesting! The book is about Dutch procedural civil right. I wonder what else I'm gonna learn here!
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4046.jpg

* Posted Sep 7, 2008, 8:13 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Leiden, The Netherlands - 8th September 2008

By: Charda

Our host had her first class of the semester today, so she took us along with her to Leiden. This is me in front of a typical Dutch windmill.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4047.jpg
Our host still loves this view. It's so Dutch.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4053.jpg
So after we took these pictures, Charda went to class.
She is following a course about 'Gender and Sexuality in Literature' this year. Today's course, so the course on Monday, was called 'The Desire for the Other - Gender and Ethnicity'. I wasn't allowed to come out of the bag, but of course I still listened from within the bag. It was really interesting. I learnt about Frantz Fanon, Margaret Mead and Lilian Smith. I hope I'll get to go to more classes. This is really good stuff for a brain cell like me ;)

* Posted Sep 8, 2008, 8:34 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


Leidschendam, The Netherlands - 15th September 2008

By: Charda

Today two new ToyVoyagers arrived! They are called Roots Bear and HitchaRideDooey. Apparently the others wanted to welcome them with a group picture. I didn't even notice them.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4057.jpg
Then they called me.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4059.jpg
As you see, I was reading. It was a really interesting article about being British. But I put the magazine away for a moment and joined the others.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_4060.jpg
So we finally got a group picture together. Our host apologizes for not doing many updates lately. She is working a lot, even six days this week :o , so things will get better...eventually.

* Posted Sep 15, 2008, 9:11 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


The Hague, The Netherlands - 21st September 2008

By: Charda

Last Friday a new tv arrived, called Beatritsche!
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/IMG_2384.jpg
Today we accompanied our host to her work. She wasn't able to take any pictures there, so we just sat inside her bag and listened to the security people who were guarding the bag while our host was working. After just a few hours our host came back, fetched the bag from the security people and went outside. She then took us for a small walk through The Hague. Here I am in front of the Buitenhof. This is where the government convenes and where they take all the big decisions.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00203.jpg
Here I am in front of a statue of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. He was a Dutch stateman in the 16th century.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00205.jpg

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00214.jpg

This sofa was made of mosaic tiles for an art project in the city. It wasn't really comfortable, but it was pretty.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00215.jpg
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00216.jpg
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00217.jpg

This is the other side of the Buitenhof. The little tower in the middle of the picture is where the prime minister resides.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00220.jpg

Here's another Dutch statue called 'Kleine Jantje'.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00225.jpg

This is the skyline of The Hague. The building on the left is the railway station, the central station of The Hague.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00232.jpg

And to top it off: here's me with a Dutch lamppost.
http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f233/Charda1982/DSC00236.jpg

* Posted Sep 21, 2008, 11:12 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page


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