Ailsa’s ‘Liquid’ travel theme.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
~ Mother Teresa

For Ailsa’s theme, I have a few photos to share, all involving the uses of that most necessary liquid commodity, water. Click on any image to see slideshow.

You can click here to see other bloggers interpretations of Ailsa’s theme.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

This is a lovely challenge, and I see that many bloggers have posted beautiful nature pics for the theme.

To my mind, renewal means a bit of respite from the daily grind, and if one is very lucky, even a holiday.

Yesterday, we were on our way to Home Depot for the umpteenth time, to look at ‘stuff’ we need for redoing the kitchen. I spotted a Starbucks along the way, and we pulled in there for a bit of rest and renewal in the form of a cappuccino for hubby and a chai latte for me. I really don’t know why that chocolate brownie is sitting on my keyboard, but it seemed a shame not to eat it. 😀

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my home in South Africa. The summer holidays are coming up, and then the town and the beach will be swarming with work-weary holiday-makers, who have come down to the coast for a bit of well-earned renewal.

Moms will have time to sit under an umbrella and read, whilst dads will become little boys again, as they play sand castles with the kids.

Older couples may prefer to find renewal away from the crowds, and sit contemplating the waves in peace.

Dogs just love to run free along the beach. Their joy and exuberance just says it all.

Some companies send their employees down to the ocean for a few days, for a bit of renewal in the form of ‘Team Building’ activities.

At holiday time, I like to stay far away from the ‘madding crowd’, and find renewal just sitting at the top of our beach steps, watching the ever changing pattern of the waves.

What does the word “renewal” mean to you?

To be taken to more posts on the theme, just click here.

Only four more sleeps.

Only four more sleeps until we are off again on our way to Florida, via England. The six months has just flown by, and we’ve had so much fun. We’ve been for many walks just lately, to get our fill of the beach and sea, because after Tuesday, we won’t see it again, until April next year.

Yesterday, we were out really early, and it was quite cool and cloudy, but still warm enough for shorts and T-shirt,

This cargo ship looked really close, because it was bigger than the rest, but hubby assured me that it was just an optical illusion, and it was much too far away  to swim out to. 🙂

I have to confess that this time, we didn’t make it past the old life guard’s restaurant, because the breakfast smells were so irresistible, and we hadn’t eaten yet, so in we went and ordered eggs, bacon, and two glasses of orange juice. I’m the mushroom fiend. 🙂

It’s not at all smart, but we love to sit out on the wooden benches, watching the waves and the comings and goings on the beach.

Some holiday makers were preparing to go out for a spin through the waves on one of the ‘rubber duckies’.

It took them forever to get their life-jackets on, but eventually they were all set to go, and the SUV pushed them into the sea.

Then it was off through the rocks,

and out into the ocean.

I wasn’t envious, because it looked like a really bumpy ride, and I prefer my sea-going craft to be much bigger than that.

I was amused by this bell and the sign on the wall of the restaurant.

We have seen dolphins on occasion, but I’d need a much better camera to get any decent photos. We’ve ordered a new one for delivery when we get to the States, as their half the price there, and I’m hoping that there will be a great improvement in the quality of my photos. At the moment I just have a 6-year-old Sanyo, and my iPhone. So watch out Phil, you may have competition with those egret and heron pics very soon. 🙂

We walked our breakfast off, and went up into the village to do some shopping. On the way back, I saw a tiny sapling on someone’s grass verge, and it reminded me of that 1970’s Tony Orlando song, “Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. ” Isn’t it cute?

Tomorrow we’ll be off up the hill to take my mom and sister out for lunch, and say our goodbyes, and then it will be down to the nitty-gritty of packing, which as you can imagine, is no mean task. I wish you all a very happy weekend, doing lots of relaxing or exciting stuff, or both. 🙂

Jake’s Sunday Post theme: From a distance

Jake’s theme this week is a lovely one, and I have found a few photos to show you.

The first one is of Alcatraz Island, taken from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. It’s often referred to as “The Rock,” and was firstly a military prison in 1868, and then a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In 1972, it became a national recreation area and in 1986, was designated a National Historic landmark. I was reading some of the history of this island on Wiki, and it was so fascinating. One of the best know inmates was Al Capone, who was incarcerated there in 1934, for four and a half years.

I guess I had to include one sunset shot, and this photo was taken whilst crossing the Nile from Luxor. In the distance is the ‘Valley of the Kings’, where can be found the tombs of the Pharaohs and noblemen of ancient Egypt.

Back on dry land, you can see the pyramids way in the distance. You can tell how far away they were, because my teenage son looks so huge in comparison. 🙂

This photo, was taken whilst skimming across Lake Titicaca from Bolivia to Peru, in a high-speed Hydrofoil. We had a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Andes mountains in the far distance.

This last one was taken much closer to home; in fact from my bedroom window. If you look carefully, you will see a funnel-shaped cloud, which is a tornadic water-spout, way out at sea in the Indian Ocean. This is apparently quite a rare event, but not uncommon off our part of the South African coast towards the end of summer.

I hope you enjoyed my collection of “from a distance” photos. To see what other bloggers have come up with for Jake’s theme, click here.

Ailsa’s Travel theme: Night #2

This weekend our seaside village had a “Winter carnival.” Many people travelled down to our bit of coast, as on Saturday was the “Durban July” horse race at the Greyville racetrack in Durban. This is an annual event, and the main attraction for the Press, if not the punters, are the ladies who go all out to be noticed in their OTT outfits, and especially the hats.

The other event was a rugby match played on Friday night at the Kings Park Stadium, between two of the country’s top teams, ‘The Sharks’ and ‘The Blue Bulls’. Of course our local team, the Sharks won. 😉

Many holiday makers were here for one or both events, and there was a jazz festival advertised in our local newspaper, for Friday evening.

Hubby and I decided to go up about 9pm, to check out the jazz, but were quite disappointed to see that it was just one group playing in the street near to the car park. ‘Beat-Route’ is described as a “traditional funky swing jazz combo, but we weren’t terribly impressed, and the only way to hear them, was to stand in the street, not more than a few yards away.

We thought we would be able to sit and have a drink at one of the bars or cafes whilst soaking up the jazz, but each establishment was so noisy, with its own canned music blaring out, that we gave up, and just took a few night photos for this weeks travel challenge.

Umhlanga’s favourite tapas and wine bar, “The George,”  was full to overflowing with very merry customers.

The lovely aromas were very tempting as we passed the ‘Bangkok Wok’, and ‘Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta’ looked so inviting inside, with candles flickering on the tables. Unfortunately for them, we’d already eaten dinner at home, so couldn’t be tempted.

The ‘Ponta D’Ouro’ Portuguese/Mozambican restaurant is another great place to eat, and above this, is a new Cuban restaurant, which I think we’ll try out whilst our son is here next month. ‘Little Havana’ has already got a great reputation for its wonderful cuisine.

Right next door is ‘Angelo’s Trattoria’, which boasts “the wickedest dessert menu in Umhlanga.” That really does sound like my kind of eating place. Why do I cook at home, with all these interesting restaurants on our doorstep? Probably because hubby always says that he enjoys my cooking the best. 😉

So, after listening to the jazz, and inhaling the delicious food aromas, we decided that it was past our bedtime, and went home. It had been great to be part of the night vibe in our lovely village for a while.

Jake’s Sunday Post challenge: Village

I decided that for Jake’s Sunday Post challenge this week, I would show you my seaside ‘village’ of Umhlanga Rocks, situated on the east coast of South Africa, facing the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Visitors from overseas, as well as all over South Africa, flock to our resort village, to relax and have fun on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The warm subtropical climate means that one can have fun in the sun all the year round. We are so proud of  this brilliant new pier, which was built only a couple of years ago.

This area was once the home of the San hunter-gatherers, but was later occupied by Nguni-speaking people who were unified under King Shaka in the early 1800’s into the proud Zulu nation. It came under British control soon after, and became part of the large estate belonging to Sir Marshall Campbell, who sailed to South Africa in 1850. Indian indentured labourers were brought to work on the sugar plantations, with the result that today this area has a vibrant and colourful multiracial flavour. The sugar plantations in our area have all but disappeared to make way for property development.

In 1869, the first beach cottage was built on a rocky site overlooking the sea. The owners served tea and scones to passers by, and the reflective roof of the cottage was used as a beacon by passing ships’ captains to navigate safely around the rocky headland. This cottage was converted into the Oyster Box Hotel hotel in the 1930’s, and in 1953, this distinctive red and white lighthouse was built right in front of it. This hotel has recently been upgraded to the highest 5 star standards, and is an absolute pleasure to visit. It has some of the best restaurants you could ever wish to dine in.

Umhlanga was a favourite family holiday destination for us for many years, and when we retired, we decided to leave Johannesburg and settle here at the coast, as the climate is wonderful. Over the past few decades we’ve seen a lot of change, and the older hotels have either been refurbished into magnificent 5 star establishments, or demolished to make way for huge holiday apartment buildings such as this one.

The village as such hasn’t got any bigger, but of course it’s changed a lot. There used to be just a  few small shops along the main street, mostly selling buckets and spades, sun hats and swimsuits, but now, there is a plethora of restaurants and pubs in order to cater for the increased inflow of tourists.

The George pub is a well known watering hole in our village.

and of course there are the african curio shops for the overseas visitors.

Holiday makers  and locals alike come here in winter and summer to catch a tan,

paddle around in the rock pools,

do a bit of spear fishing,

or even fly fishing, which I found rather unusual. 🙂

Mostly it’s just nice to relax and watch the surfers doing their thing.

At peak times, it seems a rather overcrowded village to us locals, and we can’t get a parking space for love or money, but for the rest of the year, it’s the ideal village to live in.

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside.

Hi again everyone. As I am somewhat technically challenged; something to do with my being blonde maybe, hubby kindly got the Monday seaside pics out of my iPhone, and here they are:

It was the most perfect day, and as we started out, the beach looked hardly populated at all. Just a few sunbathers, spread out at intervals.

In this photo you can just make out people paddling around in the rock pools.

So many little children playing in the sand, their fathers trying hard to look as though they were also enjoying making sand castles,

whilst the mothers, with their faces covered against the sun, pretended to be asleep, hoping to be left in peace. I know, ‘cos I’ve done it myself. Cool

As we got closer to the bathing area, where the lifeguards are on duty, we could see that many people had decided to turn out for some fun in the sun.


A veritable rash of red umbrellas, which I’ve never seen here before. They were obviously being hired out for the day and what a great idea. One could so easily get sunburned, as it was really warm and the sun was right overhead. Even so, we did see quite a few ‘lobsters’, who had obviously tried to get in a whole week’s sun tanning in only a couple of days, which never works. They looked to be in for a serious case of peeling skin over the next week or so.

Quite a new innovation, is this “luxury mobile spa” tent, in which one is, for a sizeable fee,



invited to lie in full view of the passersby, whilst being pummelled by a somewhat hefty-looking masseuse. I must say that the idea would never appeal to me, but people do very strange things whilst in holiday mode. Laughing Can anyone tell me why this would be called ‘luxury’, as it’s just an open-sided tent with a few towels and a couple of camp beds?

Well, I went to see the eye guy again yesterday and he’s going to do my right eye next Tuesday. He said the surface of my eyes is looking very good, and he was able to do all the necessary measurements. He gave me permission to wear my contacts for a couple of hours a day if I need to, so at least I can play the piano this weekend. I feel quite relieved that the decision has been made, and the end is in sight. (Pun intended) Wink

Have a great day, everyone. Chat again soon



Food glorious food, and a leopard goes to Belgium.

Hi again, everyone. I hope you all had a splendid long weekend. I wonder if any of you South African bloggers were down here on the Umhlanga beach, when hubby and I went walking on Monday. I have some pics, which I’ll post tomorrow, just as soon as I can work out how to get them out of my iPhone.

Sunday was a delicious day, as went off up the hill to my sister’s for lunch. There were seventeen of us, including one very sweet baby boy, who never cried once. He was passed around from person to person, and seemed to just love all the attention.

The braai was well under way when we arrived,

and my mom was sitting out on the patio, holding court. I think she got just as much fussing around as the baby did, and she just laps it up. Wink

My sister had made wonderful salads, which were all very delicious and different.

When the meat was cooked, it was time to tuck in, and we didn’t need telling twice.There were sticky ribs, chicken pieces, and several types of sausage, as well as a plate of thinly sliced fillet. (Apologies to any vegetarian viewers.)

My contribution was a decadent chocolate mousse, covered in chocolate sauce, dollops of whipped cream and crushed Cadbury Crunchie bars, and a bowl of strawberries. Another friend had brought along a plate piled with chocolate brownies, over which she’d scattered a load of chocolate malted puffs, for good measure. This was not a day to count calories, or to worry about cholesterol levels. Surprised

What a feast we all had, and there was very little left over, as you can imagine. Hubby and I decided, as we drove home, that no food was required until the morrow, and we stuck to that.

I’m so happy for my sister, who has sold a couple of her paintings this past week, so she’s very thrilled indeed. One of them was her wonderful leopard painting, which was sold to a Belgian tourist at one of the game lodges.

She’s now busy working on another one, which I’ll show you when it’s finished.

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

The homecoming………ups and downs.

Hi again everyone. Our SAA flight to Johannesburg was really very pleasant and I even got quite a few hours’ sleep. There were several young South African businessmen in our cabin, and as soon as they started chatting to one another, I felt I was home already. Their conversation was liberally sprinkled with those  words and phrases so unique to South Africa, which I hadn’t heard in six months, like “Howzit bru?; Jozi; to die for; hang of a; lekker; braai; jislaaik hey; ja-nee,” etc.. Just listening to them was like a breath of fresh air. I felt like saying the same thing to them that the Americans had often told me, “I just love your accent.”

I have to mention the food we had for dinner, even if it’s only to make my friend “The Asian” reach for another slice of her sister’s chocolate cake. Tongue out

Smoked salmon, with crab, capers and creme fraiche to start, along with a glass of Moet & Chandon:


Followed by beef fillet, roast pumpkin, parsnip and mange tout with dauphinoise potatoes and a very good Uva Mira merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend.

Raspberry chocolate mousse cake was the perfect end to a delicious meal. The choccies are still waiting to be eaten. I so prefer SAA over Virgin.

I always tell myself that when get on the plane, I’m going to drink only water, and have just a salad, but that never happens.

When we got home, the first thing we noticed was how warm the house was, and it didn’t take long to find out that the aircon wasn’t working. The temperature was 29C, so within ten minutes of walking in the door, hubby was up the ladder and onto the roof, checking it out. Two capacitors had blown,

so, being the amazing “jack of all trades” that he is, he went off to buy new ones, and within a couple of hours, it was all fixed again, for the princely sum of R115. Smile We think that it couldn’t have happened more than a day or two earlier, as nothing in the house had gone mouldy or mildewed, which it would have done if it had been off for too long.

Whilst visiting our local mall to buy groceries, I noticed quite a few changes since we left for America. Lots of things had shrunk! The parking spaces are all a lot smaller, the escalators have all got much narrower, whilst the stores themselves seem to have decreased in size. There are far fewer products to choose from, and at the checkout they don’t shower you with free plastic bags. The only thing that hasn’t shrunk is the petrol price, which at almost R11 per litre is so much more expensive than the just under R7 which we paid in the States, and of course the food prices seem to have gone through the roof. Cry

We went for a walk along our beachfront yesterday afternoon. It was good to see that the lighthouse is still there.

The Umhlanga rocks haven’t been washed away,

and the new pier is holding up well. Wink

Today is “Spring cleaning” day, and also buying a new dishwasher day, as the wretched thing decided to finally give up the ghost tonight. RIP

Have a great weekend everyone. Chat again soon.