And again fire…

We can’t even go one day away from this village. There is always something happening. This time the third ‘veld fire’ in a few months time and this time on our side of the village. Luckily for us the wind was in our favor towards the ocean but the fire fighters in this area are making overtime. You have to admire these guys; to put more or less their own life at risk; just to save farms and their crops plus all other properties. We came home late this afternoon and saw the smoke from a distance of 20 km. Most of the fire was at that time under control but I was able to make a few quick shots of the helicopter from our front door….

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Again in the garden

Both, my wife and I, like flowers. Maybe it’s our Dutch background (“Dutch say it with flowers”) but more likely it has to do with the restoration and extension of a historical botanical garden in South Africa that has kept us busy between April 2000 and July 2011. Anyway you find me every day in our garden with my camera and virtually every day there is something new. We live in an area with a subtropical climate (climate zone 10); ideal for succulent plants including cacti. Here are some pictures I shot during the last week or so.

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Looking after Life: A look at the local cemetery

There is a wide variety of cultures in South Africa and every culture has its own way of living with the ‘beloved ones’ who passed away.

Simplified; there are ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ people’s graves. ‘Poor’ does not always mean ‘poor at heart’ and the same applies the other way around for ‘rich’.

But who am I to judge?

I just visited the local cemeteries and took some pictures. Pictures speak for themselves. That’s all.

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The Chilling Chameleon

We are privileged to live where we live in South Africa; an abundance of nature and an amazing landscape. Hidden in the mountains are numerous waterfalls, patches with pristine fynbos and various other plant genera. And than the animals. In the Overberg you find everything from a small bug to baboons and leopards. And they all like to chill every now and than; human beings alike.

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Once upon a time…..

…. in a time when there were less speed-maniacs from Cape Town and Gauteng on the rural roads of South Africa, Frikkie and his wife Riana, so goes the story and South Africans are good story-tellers, drove in leisurely pace their Sunday afternoon ride through the country-side. The car was old, rattling and shaking a bit on the dirt roads but still moving forwards until …… somewhere in nowhere ….. the engine-block fell. The couple was almost home. Optimist as Frikkie has always been he said to his wife “No problem which can’t be fixed” and both tried to lift the engine in place again. But alas, it didn’t work out that way. They left the car after an emotional farewell and taking the registration plates off. The car is still there where they left it minus useful spare parts. These spare parts were taken out overnight and that is also typical South African.

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Barrydale

Barrydale is one of those small towns along Route62 one must take time for once on the track of the world’s longest wine route between Tulbagh and Port Elizabeth in South Africa. During January and February it can be extreme hot (>40 degrees Celcius or >104 F) but chilling offroad at the local Waterfront at the Blue Cow is refreshing. Also off the beaten track is the art deco Karoo Hotel with opposite MagPie where local rubbish is recycled to chandeliers (Michelle and Barak Obama have some in their private chambers in the White House). Just take a turn into the village and walk and enjoy. And yes; the Tradouw Wine Cellar of the Joubert family is not to be missed either.

The picture of the postcard was made last October and as Barrydale is along the longest wine route it seemed suitable for me to add an Alessi bottle-cap.

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Associations and an anecdote

It’s a bit of a tricky image but the reality is on display in our garden. Especially visiting women notice this combination of two cactus species and they are not shy about it; some are even measuring the columnar one…. (47.8 cm I heard).

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But there is more to it. If you look to plants or in details of plants (like stamens) you undoubtfully have associations; especially using some imagination. That makes plants such fascinating objects to picture.

Between April 2000 and July 2011 we restored and extended the historical gardens (with oldest cactus, anno 1910, of South Africa) of Soekershof in Robertson. We ended up with an outdoor collection of over 2500 different species of succulent plants including cacti; by far the largest collection of its kind in Africa. And we had to market this place against the known heavily state financed and subsidized botanical gardens like Kirstenbosch in Cape Town.

One of the slogans to attract people was “Everything you always wanted to know about ……S – E – X ….. between plants but never dared to ask

Visitors from abroad could not find the way and asked to local tourism bureau. Says the representative of this bureau: “Don’t go there. It’s all p – o – r  – n – o – g – r – a – p – h – y in that garden”.

We never complained about it; it was the best mouth-to-mouth advertisement.

P.S. I’ve used spaces and lines between 2 words in an attempt to avoid search machines to pick these and to avoid unwanted visitors of this blog and the obvious spam.

P.S. 2 I used Photoshop to move the two barrel shaped cacti 10-15 cm just for a better composition.

Some more plants and flowers in our garden

Just snap shooting with Sony 16-50mm lens mounted on the A77 camera. Few pics have been cropped but no other editing in Photoshop. Me and my wife Yvonne live in Stanford, Western Cape that was recently awarded with “Best Village Destination in South Africa”. Yes we are privileged! And yes; we do have a very unusual garden with some plants and plant combinations that stimulate one’s imagination. But we’ll come back on this subject in the next posting.

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Ecological sound building

The village we live in is also known as the ‘Bird Capital’ of South Africa with hundreds of bird species of which, in 99.9%, I do not even know the common names. Sometimes it’s better not to know…. But I like to watch them and if the opportunity is there I like to picture them. There is an abundance of water around us with it’s own vegetation where especially weaver birds like to build their nests. These ecological sound structures last a year and are than fully absorbed by the natural cycle and the building materials are sourced and assembled on the spot. Just amazing to see these little guys working hard on their future.

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Watching the Sun rise

Didn’t have to do much to compose this simple imaginary. Recently I cleaned my archive of the past 3 months (approx. 2000 pics and elements erased) so there was not that much left to choose from. To the few elements I kept belong the girl on the swing and the Papiesvlei sheep. Both I used in the past and now for the last.  The two elements were added to a picture of the sunrise near the Robert Stanford Estate on the outskirts of our village. Robert Stanford by the way is the name-giver of the village that was established mid 18-hundreds.

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