Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Of Blooms, Boulders, Diesel Tanks and Dust - Part 1

Ok, so as some of you know, we were away recently on two weeks R&R. Friends, call them Mr and Mrs C, put together another epic trip along the lines of the Kgalagadi Park trip last year, only this time it was to be up the Cape West Coast and into the Richtersveld National Park.

Also, this time, the scenery was to be totally different as, except for the Richtersveld and its rocky landscape, we would be going to view the annual flower blossoming of the West Coast which is a globally-known phenomenon.

Yeah, I know...me going to look at flowers. You lot must think I'm off my fuckin' head, but it's something that I'd been told has to be seen to be believed so I was looking forward to it. Really.

As has come to be expected of our long holidays, I was asked whether I would be compiling a travelogue, but this time I decided I wouldn't for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they are time-consuming to draft on the trip and infringe on socialising time. Secondly, I wanted to chill out. Thirdly, I figured I'd use the old adage "a picture paints a thousand words" and use images and descriptions to describe each stage of the journey.

So...grab a drink of choice, sit back, and expect to see some great photos and maybe get your itch going to head out on such a trip with your travelling partners...

Day 1 - Tietiesbaai (Titty's Bay)

We left home around 10h30am on Sunday 14th August, with the Mazda-rati packed to the gills. We were only a half hour late from our agreed meeting time, but that seems typical of us to be late. Meeting up with the C's, we headed out for the highways and byways that would get us up the coast and to our first campsite, which was just over 2hrs away. Not a long drive for the first day, but we would use the additional hours in the camp to hone our tent-pitching skills again and to repack some stuff that would not be needed until a later stage.

On our way, we stopped off at Postberg, where the flowers were in full bloom and where we bought a laminated sheet with pictures of all the different species we might expect to see in the area. I figured it would keep SWMSBO occupied and not so bored as I was doing all the driving. We marked off each specie we saw with a felt-tipped marker so that we could keep track.

The spread was quite magnificent and I don't believe either of us had seen so many wild flowers in one spot before. There were blooms of all the colours of the rainbow with patches dominated by a specific colour in many instances.

The flowers spread out from the ocean's edge, with the wind creating waves of petals.

Looking like a blanket of snow, these white flowers spread right up the side of the hill in front of us.

Yellow blooms dominated this particular patch of ground.

The Mazda-rati, looking quite shiny. She would look totally different upon our return home, as you'll see later.

Mrs C, who would be the official videographer, doing her thing. She narrates all the clips so that Mr C can put together a travel video.

More flowery snow...

And another view of it...

A close-up of some of the blooms...

The back of the packed Mazda-rati, showing the new sliding drawer system I installed a few days earlier. That is a story in itself, but basically I bought the pre-made shelving system and bins, lined the system up in the bakkie (including space for the deep-cycle battery box on the right of the photo), hauled it in and out a dozen times while I drilled holes and fitted permanent bolts through the bodywork, then slotted the system into place, ready for the journey. Both the upper and lower shelves slide out, making it very easy to get to the back of them.

What you cannot see, however, is the other stuff packed behind the shelf system. Two twenty litre diesel jerry cans, a bin load of spares and parts, a number ten gas bottle, some fishing gear, two dozen Windhoek Lager cans and a case of Savannah bottles (it's about time they came out in cans too).

To the left of the shelves is a "boot bag" containing an assortment of camping stuff, including braai grids, rubber mallet, axe, spare tent pegs, panga, and the bottle jack (which would also come in handy later, but not for a puncture).

On the top shelf were two large water containers, an easy-to-fold-out gazebo, a large fishing tackle bag, a bin of pots, pans and kitchen utensils and, most importantly, the "dop" bin, where we kept the larger bottles (3x Cap'n's Organ, 1x Laphroaig 10yr old Qtr Cask, a couple of bottles of wine, and the coffee pot.

Of the six bins on the lower shelf, one contained tools, one had lighting and electrical stuff, another had cleaning liquids and cloths, while the remaining three had an assortment of foodstuffs.

The inside of the cab did not get away unscathed either. The back seat was taken out and, on a board I had made last year, the Snowmaster fridge was hooked up to the deep-cycle battery. For the first time, a small camping wardrobe was also included for our clothing. It's an amazing thing that, though it has three shelves, folds away into a briefcase size shape that can be packed away at home when not in use. Still, we needed more space and ended up filling all the nooks and crannies with camera equipment and binoculars, shoes, toiletries and medicine bags, and "padkos". That car was loaded.

Lastly, our camping table, mattresses and sleeping bags were packed (crammed) on top of the top shelf stuff, leaving very little space for fishing rods. I eventually strapped the rod tube to the roof for fear of breaking it inside the cab.

A side-on view of the extended drawer system. It made our lives so much easier than last year, where we had to lift out plastic bins full of stuff, then load them all back in at night to prevent marauding animals from getting into them. This time it was a case of lift a latch, slide out shelf, open box, take out thing, close lid and slide shelf back into place...much easier, and less strenuous on my back.

The campsite, sheltered from the wind, with place for a fire on the side of the rocky ledge to the right.

Tietiesbaai is named in honour, not for a particular part of the female anatomy, but for a rock formation on top of a hill. It just so happens that this rock formation does, in fact, look like a favourite part of the female anatomy.

The bay, to the side of our campsite...

A couple of art-farty photos...

The surf was huge on the day we arrived and it pounded the rocks in front of us all night long.

These gulls were hanging about expecting a feed, but left rather disappoiunted when the sun set.

This one is of the early dawn, the following morning. We had spent a rather cool evening in front of the "flammetjie", trying to keep warm, all bundled up in an assortment of warm clothing which would, by the end of the trip, probably never have the smell of campfires washed out of them ever again. Certainly, the memories would never be washed out. Yes, it was cold, but we had plenty of liquid warmth to keep us in good spirits and chatting away for a few hours. When we retired for the night, we spent a very pleasant night in our new "360 degrees" sleeping bags, which were rated to -5degC. In fact, they were so snug, only on one occasion did I sleep with anything more than my birthday suit on and even then that was undies and t-shirt, probably cos I had had a couple too many Capn's.

Right, that's the end of part one. Look out for more, coming soon...

Another "musician" fucks up the national anthem...

Just like the idiot during the France/SA rugby match a while back, another musician does it on live TV. This time, however, one I respected for his voice and talent as a member of Just Jinger, Art Matthews.

Art Matthews fucks up the anthem

I know he's been in the USA for a while, but I never expected this from him...knob.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A last post before I go on holiday...

Yes, I go on holiday today for two weeks. We're going up the Cape West Coast, camping with friends, and will end up in the Richtersveld for the annual flower blooming. Apparently the flowers have already started showing themselves, so we should be in line for a good show.

Anyway, the reason for this posting is to show you a photo of a shell I picked up on a local beach last weekend. I'd never seen anything like it before but immediately thought it was in the Nautilus family...and I wasn't far wrong.

It is in perfect condition, with both sides equally shaped. At its longest point, it is only seven centimetres long, but I have seen articles that mention it can achieve lengths of up to twenty centimetres.

Meet the Paper Nautilus, which according to a website I found, is neither made of paper, nor is it a true nautilus. It is not even related to the nautilus, though both are cephalopods. It is, in fact, an Argonaut (argonauta argo) and supposedly "lives in pelagic habitats of the subtropics and tropics. Pelagic habitats are those of the free ocean water away from the bottom, especially at the water surface." What it was doing in Cape waters, I have no idea, especially seeing as the water was 12degC on the day I found it, which is definately not sub-tropical.

Here is the rest of the article...

The argonaut's shell is special among all molluscs. It is only built by the female, and only as case for the protection of the argonaut's eggs, that are placed inside in long threads. The female argonaut lives in the shell's entry and guards the eggs, until the young hatch. At the ends of the first tentacle pair the argonaut (argonauts like other octopus relatives have eight tentacles) has got wide sail-like flaps. Usually the female argonaut holds these flaps spread over the shell, but they also serve it to catch prey that swims into them.

The male argonaut is much smaller than the female. While the latter reaches a size of up to ten centimetres, the shell being up to 45 centimetres large, the male only reaches less than 2 centimetres size. The male argonaut is special because of its altered third tentacle, that is kept in a pouch until it is needed. Like among other cephalopods this tentacle is called the hectocotylus. The male argonaut, other than its larger relatives, often leaves its hectocotylus behind, the latter finding the target on its own. It seems obvious that the male argonaut dies after copulation, as no argonauts with their hectocotyli grown back have been found so far.

Generally living argonauts are difficult to find, possibly because of their pelagic way of life. Much more often their shells, sometimes, masses of them, are deposed on the shore by the sea. That way they also find their way into collectors' packs.

The scientific name of the paper nautilus, especially the largest species, Argonauta argo, is of mythical Greek origin. The argonauts were a group of Greek heroes that, led by Iason, travelled to Kolchis to gain the golden fleece. The were called that way, because their ship was the Argo. In Greek argonaut means "who travels on the Argo". The argonaut's discoverers probably mistook its sail-like flaps as a locomotive organ and thus drew the similarity to the mythical Argo.

Here is a photo from a Wikipedia article that shows the nautilus in its shell...amazing...

Anyway...see you all in a couple of weeks...take care...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I tell ye, I nearly wet ma'sel'...

...absolutely fuckin' brilliant...

Fuck knows what Homer Simpson has got to do with it though. I believe it's sung by a guy called Rockin Jock...

For want of something easy to post...

...some random photos from my camera phone...

I plugged my phone into my laptop to charge via the USB port and came across some old images I took some time ago. Perhaps you'll like them...

Sunset on Noordhoek Beach - 5mins roadtrip from the house.

Another view...looking north towards Hout Bay.

The view from our city office. It's the only thing we'll miss about the place when we move buildings towards the end of the year.

This bastard was trying to steal our baits and fish as we reeled them in.

This bastard obviously doesn't know how to treat a fish when he's caught it. Hanging it by the throat is NOT the way to do it. Incidentally, it's Bobby Skinstad. I took the pic straight off the telly.

I found this spoor when we were out in Clanwilliam in April, not far from the cottage we were staying in. The phone pouch measures 12x7cm, so it's probably a lynx spoor (rooikat in Afrikaans).

I wonder if the unfortunate surfer ever claimed his board back? I wonder if the surfer even made it back to the beach? Just about pissed myself laughing at the notice though...

The first course of my dinner one night, in Abu Dhabi. You'll find more about the trip in one of my older posts. The chilli sauce with these kebabs had me sweating and my nose running to the extent that the waitress asked if I needed more serviettes to blow my nose into...cheeky bitch.

This ornately handcarved elephant was located at the entrance to the restaurant in the Abu Dhabi hotel I stayed in. If I could have, I would have brought it home in my sutcase.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Creature Comforts...

This is a story from a 4x4 website sent to me by a friend...

I had an email from a friend in Zimbabwe yesterday and she sent me this picture and story that I thought was delightful.

They had been away at a game park and on the first evening while sitting in front of the fire in the bar, in walked a fully grown wart hog. He walked over to the bar and without a word the bar man handed him a pillow.

He took the pillow, put it next to the fire and promptly lay down with his head on the pillow and went to sleep where, apparently he spends the cold nights there. Then in the morning he’s off into the bush again! My friend,Cynie, says that if the barman isn’t there he’ll grab a pillow off one of the couches!

Here he is: