Sunday Post: My Favourite Spot.

Jake’s Sunday Post theme this week is, “My Favourite Spot,” and we are invited to share with other bloggers, somewhere that is special to us; some place where we feel comfortable and content to be.

As some of you know by now, I live next to the Indian Ocean along the east coast of South Africa. The beach is almost on my doorstep, and quite literally too, as I quite often have to sweep the sand from my patio, after we’ve had windy weather.

Walking either on, or next to the beach is a favourite recreation, and hubby and I often do this. There’s always something to catch my eye, and a never-ending parade of ships waiting their turn for the harbour in Durban.

Most of the time, the beach is almost deserted, except for a few fishermen, and the odd beachcomber.

When I’m away in Florida, I really miss this familiar sight.

I love to walk out along the beautiful new pier.

There are lovely mosaics set into the concrete, each one different from the next.

Right at the end of the pier, is a grating, through which one can watch the waves as they crash onto the rocks beneath.

Another kilometer further down the promenade, and you will come to the edge of the nature reserve, where if you’re lucky, vervet monkeys can be seen playing in the trees.

When the day is really hot and sunny, this shady stretch of path is my favourite part of the walk.

Sometimes my legs are feeling tired and I’m dying for a cup of tea, but I know that by the time I get to this point, I’m over half way home. 🙂

This morning, we went to my favourite spot in the mall for a bite to eat,

and tomorrow we’ll be off up the hill to my favourite place for Sunday lunch. My sister’s dog Dingo, will be sure to come out to greet us.

I hope you’re all having a splendid weekend doing some of your favourite things at your favourite spots.

For links to more interpretations of Jake’s theme, just click here.

“Thursday’s Windows” photo challenge.

I saw another photo theme last week at Sandra Conner’s blog. It’s a Thursday challenge, but I’m sure I can sneak in a day late, and she won’t complain. It’s really easy challenge, simply titled, “Thursday’s windows,” so I thought I’d have a go at it. Looking out of my window today, all I can see is grey sea and sky with a generous amount of rain, so I’m staying put.

Last year whilst in England, visiting my mom-in-law, who will turn 100 next year, we took her and my sister-in-law, to the 11th century Chichester Cathedral. I put this next photo in, just to show you what a 99-year old looks like. 🙂

This beautiful cathedral has both Norman and Gothic architecture and has been called “the most typical English Cathedral”.

It has a really majestic free-standing medieval bell tower

The inside architecture has such beauty and grace.

The choir was practising the music for Evensong, and it was just heavenly to sit and listen. Those young boys’ pure, clear voices, transported me to another world.

Now I’ll get to the windows for the challenge.

Here are the ones which most enthralled me. I’m a real sucker for old stained glass windows. Craftsmen of the Middle Ages raised the practice of creating stained glass windows to a high art in the era of Gothic cathedral building, and developed techniques still used today.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to this wonderful cathedral. Have a great, relaxing weekend, doing only what you feel like.

Music, flowers and chocolates

Yesterday was my day for playing the piano at the Mall. As I was driving into the car park, I heard the familiar plinkety-plink-plink of the two elderly musicians, who sit there by the parking ticket machine, day after day, hoping for a few coins to be thrown into their wooden bowl. They’ve been playing there for as long as I can remember, and one of them once told me how much he liked my piano playing. I sometimes feel  a bit guilty that I get paid to play, even though the money means little to me, and I get to sit inside the shopping centre, where it’s bright and cheerful, whereas  they are making music, in order to put food on the table, and have to sit in much less salubrious surroundings. I give them a donation when I walk past, not because I enjoy their music, which is rather tuneless and ponderous, but because I feel sorry for them. How do you feel about giving money to such musicians?

I did enjoy my two hours playing, though, and had lots of smiles and waves. One elderly man, did a little dance around me, holding an imaginary partner for the tango. There was a granny with her grandson in a stroller, and they stopped to listen. She got really excited when the little boy started to move his fingers, as though he was also playing piano. She decided there and then, that as soon as he was old enough, he would have piano lessons. I played that lovely old song, “Moon River,” and it was only when I got home, that I saw on someone’s blog, that Andy Williams, the singer who made this song famous, had just died. I loved his rendition of this song, so smooth and relaxing. I’m sad that he’s gone.

Yesterday was my best friend’s birthday, so when she popped in to see me, it was time for a bit of spoiling. It had to be an orchid, my favourite flower; something to remind her of me whilst I’m away in Florida,

and something delicious, which I know she wouldn’t buy for herself. 🙂

Today is  a lovely Spring day, and will be great for a walk along the beach, so I’ll see you all later.

CBBH Photo Challenge: Repetition

Marianne at ‘East of Malaga’ blog, has a monthly photo challenge. September’s theme is ‘Repetition’. She says, “In everyday life, repetition can often seem tedious.   However, with creative use in photographs, repetition can give an image a real impact.   Evidence of repetition can be found all around us, not only in nature, but more often in man-made objects too.”

I have a few pics to share with you which say to me, “repetition.”

The first one is taken in downtown Lima, Peru, at the San Fransisco church. This 17th century Baroque church, originally had a normal graveyard for its members, but when space became a problem, the skulls and bones were removed from the graves and thrown into a deep pit.  This pit, over time, became the last resting place for most of Lima’s dead, and today the remains of some 25,000 to 70,000 people are stored at the catacombs. Until 1808, the bones were just heaped up in there, but in 1943, when the place was opened up for archeological excavation, it was decided that the Catacombs would have more appeal if the human bones were arranged artistically. They placed the skulls together in a center pile, with same length arm bones radiating outward, and matching leg bones extending beyond the arms; a rather grisly sight indeed.

On a less macabre note, here is the interior of the Mezquita Catedral (Mosque Cathedral) of Córdoba. This beautiful building has a very interesting and varied history. The vast central hall has 856 columns, made of jasper, onyx, marble and granite, and is absolutely breathtaking to behold.

The terraced rice paddies of Bali, also speak to me of repetition. As well as the repetitive lines and tiers of these paddies, can you just imagine how tedious the work must be? After the fields have been plowed and raked, the messy and back-breaking work of replanting can begin. This is often done by whole family units; men, women and children.  All day long, they trudge barefoot through the rice paddies, constantly bending over.  I read that on average, it takes fifteen people, four days to plant out an area of 1 hectare.

On a brighter and more relaxing note, here are dozens of deck chairs on the beach in Phuket,  just waiting for people to finish breakfast, and come down to relax in them, whilst watching the waves.

More chairs here, but this time at a family friend’s house, overlooking Lake Tahoe. They were being set out for our son’s wedding a few years ago. There am I on the balcony, and my son is down below looking up at me. What a lovely occasion it was. 🙂

If  you enjoyed my ‘repetition’ photos, why not do the challenge yourself? To see more bloggers’ interpretations, just click here.

I would like to introduce you to two of my favourite bloggers:

Cathy, an English teacher in Oman, has some fascinating experiences and lots of beautiful travel pics to show you. She’s super friendly too. 🙂

Gemma of first and fabulous, is a retired teacher, and full of fun and great photos, as she takes us through her daily life.

I hope you will take a moment to visit my two friends. You are sure to enjoy.

Shooting people for Jake’s theme.

So yesterday found me out and about with the early morning walkers along our beach path.  Jake wanted people, so my iPhone and I were on a mission to shoot a few unsuspecting victims. It was quite easy to get shots of people from a fair distance away, so I got the fishermen who are an almost permanent feature of our beach. There is our port city of Durban in the distance, and the white structure you can see is the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Moses Mabhida Stadium. If you look for the tree sticking up on the right, you will be looking at where I live; not actually in the tree, but just to the right of it. 🙂

I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle people head on, so sneakily got their back views in my sights. This woman’s dress would be very good for target practice. 🙂

This beach vendor wears all of her wares, as she wends her way to her stand, further along the path. She must have had at least a dozen hats on her head.

These young ladies came bouncing past us, and ran joyously down onto the sand for a frolic in the waves.

We saw many joggers, and dog walkers, and also a few dad’s out with babies in strollers, probably giving their wives a much-needed Sunday morning lie-in.

There were only a few people on the pier,

and a couple of long board surfers, were paddling their way out to sea. They were doing really well, but shortly after I took this photo, they both fell off their boards.

We managed to resist the tempting smells coming from the kitchen of the beach-side restaurant in the old life-guard station. We had a much healthier breakfast option of fresh strawberries waiting at home. I couldn’t however resist sneaking a pic of these two life guards keeping watch over the bathers from their tower at Bronze Beach. Well one was keeping watch, whilst it seems the other one was catching up on his sleep. 🙂

Right at the end of the path, the sand sucker-upper, was getting himself geared up for the day.

Some people have to work, whilst others can just relax and watch the waves.

By this time, my tummy was telling me that it was past my breakfast time, so it was quick march for the 2 kms back home. That strawberry smoothie went down very well indeed. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my random Sunday morning shootings. For more takes on Jake’s theme, just click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

For the WordPress photo challenge this week, we are invited to share a picture which to us means “solitary.”

Now, those of you who know me, would be very surprised indeed if I did a post containing one solitary photo, so here are just a few for the theme. 🙂

High on a rooftop somewhere between Machu Picchu and Cuzco in Peru, we spotted this ceramic bull sitting in complete solitude. These bulls, known as ‘Turitos’, are placed on the roofs of houses, to represent happiness, wealth and fertility. Sometimes there is more than one Torito, together with other symbols such as crosses and pots of flowers.

Here is a woman fruit-seller making her solitary way up this steep set of steps in Bali. I think she sensed that we were watching her, because she turned and looked at us.

A Hindu statue sits in solitary silence on the edge of one of Bangkok’s canals.

Here at this lovely resort in Charleston, South Carolina,  you can have the whole beach to yourself  if you desire solitude. Just pull up a deck chair. 🙂

Today, I didn’t have too much solitude, because I was out looking for people to “shoot” for Jake’s Sunday Post theme, which I have still to do. (No people were harmed during the shootings though.) 😆

Weekend theme: Blue

My friend Viewfromtheside , wants something blue this weekend. Her request immediately brought that sad song into my head,

“Blue, blue, my world is blue, blue is my world now I’m without you.”

The words are a bit morbid, so I tried to think of a happy blue song, and the only one I could come up with was that old Irving Berlin song. “Blue skies smiling at me.”  I wonder why when we’re feeling down, we say, “I’m feeling blue?” I couldn’t find a definitive origin, even on Wiki. Surely blue is a happy and very popular colour, judging by the number of people we see wearing blue denim. It’s also the colour of the sea and the sky, when we’re having a perfect weather day.

There are so many different shades of blue to choose from, and the bluest place I’ve ever found myself in, is the Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra) on the coast of the island of Capri. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates an intense blue reflection that illuminates the cavern.

Sea creatures live in a permanently blue world, even in the captivity of our local uShaka Sea World in Durban.

I love the blue tinge of this photo taken on the beautiful Greek Island of Mykonos, which is named in honor of Mykons, son of Anios the son of Apollo. The folk band, ‘Fleet Foxes’ sang, “And you will go to Mykonos, with a vision of a gentle coast.”  Our cruise ship only stopped on this gentle coast for only a few hours, but we really enjoyed our time in this magical place.

Closer to home, this morning, the sea and sky doesn’t look quite a blue as usual. I think we’re in for some rain this weekend.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, with not a hint of  ‘The Blues’. To see more takes on sidey’s blue theme, just click here.

Ailsa’s Travel Theme: White

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Jimmy Hendrix

Ailsa’s travel theme ‘White’, is in honour of the 30th anniversary of ” International Day of Peace.” She has some wonderful white images on her post, which you really mustn’t miss.

My contribution to the theme is a few of my whitest nature photos, starting with this one from our 2010 trip to Wyoming. On our way to Yellowstone National Park, we encountered some of the snowiest and coldest conditions that we’d ever had to drive in, and this was in May. 🙂

From cold to hot, here is one of the amazing geysers we encountered. It looked just like a boiling cauldron, and to see the snow and ice around the rim was really bizarre.

Here we have more white water, but this time at Niagara Falls. What a wonder to see this breathtaking sight from the Skylon viewing tower.

Talking about white water, I thought I’d slip this one in of our son having fun at the start of his white water rafting adventure at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

When our daughter and family were living in Vancouver, we went up to Whistler for the day. It was certainly very white there, and I don’t think I’ve ever shivered so much in my life.

Of course, nature isn’t all about hot, cold and wet; there are also the beautiful wild animals. We got quite close to white lions at a wild-life park in Johannesburg. This was the Big Daddy of them all,

and I’m sure you wouldn’t want me to forget the gorgeous white tiger cubs, would you? 😉

I hope you enjoyed my white pics, and wish you all a very happy, relaxing, and peace-filled weekend.

Mom’s huge pie, and Robin to the rescue.

What a lovely time I had today. Hubby and I drove up the hill to meet my mom and sister at one of our favourite lunch venues, the ‘Pot & Kettle. The weather was beautifully sunny and mild, so we sat outside on the balcony which overlooks the ‘Valley of a Thousand Hills’. This is an area of great beauty and tranquility, where rural Zulu people still live in traditional homesteads, in the densely folded hills.


Of course, it was quite difficult deciding what we all wanted to eat and drink, but eventually mom went for the chicken pot pie, which when it arrived, had us all gasping at the size of it, especially for someone as tiny as my mom.

Anyway, she decided to eat the filling and potato wedges, and donated the pastry crust to my sister to plop on top of her son’s dinner this evening. Her exact words were, “He’ll think he’s died and gone to Heaven when he sees this. ” 🙂

I had the much healthier option of grilled calamari and veggies, which was delicious, but not nearly as photogenic.

We had such a fun meal, with lots of chatter and laughter. My sister told us that a beautiful sunbird had flown into her kitchen yesterday. The poor little thing flew around in a panic, and couldn’t find its way out again. It stunned  itself  when it hit the window glass, and ended up, clinging to the kitchen curtain. My brother-in-law gently picked it up and place it outside on a plant pot, where it sat for about half an hour, totally traumatised,  with its beak open. (The cat had of course been quickly moved inside the house.)

As my sister watched, a robin flew down to have a look at the sunbird, and after hopping around the pot a few times, it flew off, and then, returning at great speed, dive-bombed the poor bird, so that the sudden shock galvanised it into action again, and it flew away. How wonderful that birds, even of a different species, look out for one another, and when sensing that something is wrong, will work out what to do about it, and then act. We can all take a lesson from this, I’m sure.

After our lunch, we went for a stroll around the craft shops next to the restaurant. Here you can see that we also have Hillbillys in South Africa. They’re not exclusive to rural America. 🙂

This mural painted on one of the walls outside, is very typical of African art.

I was amazed to see that inside the foyer of our restaurant, there was so much Chinese stuff for sale. I sneaked a couple of shots, just to show you that they’ve even infiltrated rural Africa.

It was so great to spend family time together, something I’m going to miss when we return to Florida next month. I’m sure the six months will fly past, and there’ll be so much to do there, including my new kitchen. It will be wonderful to meet up again with the friends we’ve made, and also our family in New York. Thank goodness once again for Skype.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, has me wondering why we find everyday life in strange countries that we visit, far more interesting, and photo worthy, than we do our own everyday life. Do you think that a foreigner would bother taking pics of the never-ending digging up of verges along our stretch of road?

Maybe they’d find the necessity for this ugly security fence, really fascinating. 🙂

What could be more inspiring than a workday traffic jam in South Africa?

Wow, just look at this rubbish dumped by some odious person who couldn’t be bothered to drive to the dump!

I guess it’s just so nice to visit a different kind of everyday life, and that’s why we take vacations.

Wash-day in Lisbon, can be so picturesque, and worth a photo indeed. 🙂

Market day in Marrakech somehow seems far more exotic than at my local market.

Maybe it’s because we don’t see this sort of scene back home.

Our markets are far more sterile and well-ordered, and you don’t have to watch your step to avoid the donkey poo. 🙂 ( We all look as though we’re on a pilgrimage, with our heads bowed.)

We don’t usually go around taking photos of workers going about their daily routines at home, so why do you think that we do it on holiday?

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t dream of going up to my local fish counter with camera poised at the ready.

And the mode of transport there, is much more photogenic than the SUV’s in the car park of my local mall.

No boring old truck  or  panel van for this merchant. He’s got his donkey loaded up to the hilt.

All these people are just going about their usual everyday business, and now here they are, displayed for you all to see, on WordPress. 🙂

For more interpretations of the theme, just click here.