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Saturday thoughts

It’s 5.54am and I’m wide awake. Continue reading

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Quick Pics!

The adventure continues.  Here are a few pics from the Lion and Cheetah Park.

Enjoy!

   
    
 As you enter the park, you are greeted by the sight of one of the big five: the regal lion!

   
    
 Within touching distance of these great creatures, we held our breath when one of the females decided to move to a cooler spot, closer to our car!  Everyone was hissing at me to close my window, but I had to capture her relaxing, curled like a kitten.

   
This is Leo, a South African white lion.  His partner, Lola, is expecting Cubs in the next four months. Apparently white lions are far more ferocious than our brown maned locals.

    
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Meet Tommy.  He’s over 300 years old and has be the longest resident at the park.

 

  
 These little guys are already six months old.  We are hoping to return one day to see them all grown up, probably not as large as Tommy though!

   We were driving around the game park, hoping to catch a glimpse of just one giraffe and instead we’re blessed with a view of four giraffe, zebras, Impala, wild boar and an ostrich.
    
Hidden in the bush next to the car were two zebra.  I screeched, “Stop! Stop the car!”  

Meanwhile, just ahead on the dirt road was a herd of buffalo.  Everyone else could see the buffalo but no-one had noticed the zebra by my window!

   We were always told to be wary of the buffalo.  I don’t know how true this is but, if you see one separating from the herd, move away.  It’s usually the alpha telling the rest to stampede or attack!
I hope you liked our trip to the Lion and Cheetah Park.  Unfortunately the four resident cheetah were poisoned a few years ago and some of the other animals had died from old age.  I hope they do get a chance to replace them as the animals are very well looked after in their own large enclosures where there is less of a chance of them being hunted and killed. Freedom is always the best option, but in a world where few things are preserved and respected, maybe it’s better for them to be in a game park.

A Day In The Sun

Well, day two is winding down and the mosquitoes are circling us like vultures descending on carrion. 

  After a magnificent breakfast, we ended up  spending the day being pampered at a hair salon run by a wonderful lady that was my mum’s friend.  We also took a trip through the city centre which has changed so much. 

Hoopoe bird on the telephone line

The heat mixed with the smell of burning wood filled the backdrop to the traffic chaos on the crowded streets. Cars hooted and flew past in their mad dash to get to different destinations further up the congested roads.  Men, women and children risked life and limb in their brazen attempts to sell water bottles, flags, airtime and snacks to cars stopping briefly at traffic lights.    
Watching the hwindi’s (illegal touts who stand on the sides of roads encouraging commuters into Emergency Taxis, an informal transport link) work their street corners by corralling prospective passengers into an ordered group for the oncoming Emergency Taxis made me think of how ingenious Zimbabweans are.     

With every possible economic and natural disaster washing over their towns and cities, the motto of the survivors is: Don’t worry, we’ll work a plan!

For those of you old enough to have watched the tv show, Macgyver, you will remember  his amazing talents of using whatever he had at hand to create something extraordinary that would help save him. Well, that for me is a typical Zimbabwean. 

Water storage with carious sources of fuel in case the water and electricity are turned off, a frequent occurrence in Zimbabwe

 Everywhere you turn, people are creating/inventing incredible things to help make life easier. I am in awe of their resilience and forward thinking in a time when most are crushed.

A millipede, better known locally as a Chongololo!

Monday Coffee

Good morning!

Our coffee date is starting early today since we have had a few incidents since four o’clock this morning.  Let’s fill our mugs and I will tell you what happened.  You might find it quite amusing.

It all started yesterday when my little son cut Henry’s nose with a scissors.  Yes, I did say scissors. It sounds very macabre but it was a simple mistake.  Munchkin (the perpetrator), decided that he wanted to remove the loose strings from his special blanket and the best way to do that was with a brand new pair of scissors.  We have a rule in our house that covers sharp objects, but of course when the determined Munchkin decided it needed to be done, the rules were bent.

As he sliced through the soft strings with an over-sized pair of scissors, Henry (our puppy) decided to poke his nose closer to investigate what Munchkin was doing.  In that split second the strings and a piece of nose were efficiently removed.  Sad to say, hysterics ensued with a Shakespearean twist; my son threatened to stab himself because he believed that he had severely injured the dog, to the extent that he might die.  My daughter saw the blood, panicked and started screaming and crying.  The older daughter decided to take things in hand and gave them specific jobs to do to make Henry better (fetching kitchen towels to mop up the blood droplets flying everywhere, retrieving salt for a salt water wash for the wound and ice – for Henry, not herself).

I arrived on the scene to find them in hysterics and assumed the worst – the dog had turned on them and had bitten them.  Either that or they had decided to go for a full on Sparta match and had hurt each other severely.  In my defence, I couldn’t make out the squeals, cries and blubs. It sounded a bit like, “Henry blub me…loooook!  I blub Henry! Waaah!” I quickly checked them for bites, wounds, black eyes, anything to warrant the torrent of panic.  But, all I could see were two little children crying in my arms, pointing at arbitrary locations of the house.

It only dawned on me that something was wrong with the poor pup when my older daughter carried him to me, his little nose bleeding at the top and his little face in a state of shock.  She yelled, “Henry’s been hurt.  His nose has been cut off!”

That got my attention!

After examining the squiggling worm of a puppy, I established that he would live, albeit with a little piece of nose missing.  The salt wash cleared any debris and we couldn’t apply anything because he kept licking the area.  It looked painful, like a nick from a razor-blade.  He wasn’t too fussed and wriggled away, trying to lick me and give me his paw.  Whilst this intensive examination was going on, both children continued their symphony of tears and blubbing. As calmly as possible, I explained that he wouldn’t die from his wound, but would be in a lot of pain for a while until the wound closed.  We went into detail about how the blood would clot and form a protective shield over the wound and that we should try to discourage his licking it off before it could dry.  That shut them up. Science and a delivery of facts usually does.  Pity my heart didn’t get the message. My blood pressure was sky high.

Roll on the rest of the evening.  I was busy changing my bed covers when lo and behold, a mess of children and pets rumbled up the stairs.  Henry transposed himself on top of my nice, clean duvet and proceeded to empty his bladder.  My screams of horror did nothing to stop him.  His little face quivered in fear and I resisted the urge to chase him down the stairs and out the back door so that the punishment of a few minutes outside might clear his memory on rules of ablution.  My mistake.  Later that night, whilst fast asleep in my cosy, freshly made bed (again!), little Henry must have been having a nightmare and released his bladder again.  I awoke to the warm, wet feeling of something spreading on my side.

Henry, wake up!  You’re wetting the bed!

Yes.  I know.  I was talking to a dog.  A dog that seemed to understand what I was saying because he woke up and flew down the stairs with me in time to do his major business in the garden.  Phew!  Drenched on the side and half asleep, I went back upstairs to run a bath and change the bed.  Of course, Hubble was awake and moving the wet bedding before it hit the mattress.  A cacophony of cats were howling downstairs so I trudged back down, barely thinking as I opened the front door to let them out.  I heard a trundle of steps coming down the stairs behind me and assumed the Hubble was bringing down the soiled bedding, but no, it was Henry.  As quick as a flash he slipped out of the front door and ran to the open green at the front of our house.

“Henry, noooo!” I yelled, remembering only after that my neighbours were fast asleep.  There I stood, watching this dog, this bane of my existence, relieving himself again and sniffing the air as though weighing the possibilities of freedom.  Slowly, I tiptoed towards him in my pyjamas (still wet), barefoot and wild haired.  The closer I crept, the more skittish he looked.  I gave up.  There was no way I would chase this little cretin in my dirty pj’s with no shoes on cold, wet grass.  I went back inside to change into my leggings and jumper.  By the time I returned downstairs, the Hubble had enticed him back inside with a slice of ham.

Grrr.

The Hubble giggled.  He handed me a cup of tea and giggled again.  I had forgotten about my hair.  I did see the funny side later, after draining at least half my cup of tea.  It was five o’clock in the morning; humour is in short supply at that time of day.  By the time we had our baths and cleaned our bed, it was already time to get ready for work.

So, that’s why we are having an early coffee date today.  I’m tired!  I’m sorry I’ve hogged the time, but I just had to share this ridiculous moment of our lives.

Now, your turn, tell me about your weekend. :o)

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Book Tuesday: Just So Stories

Welcome to Book Tuesday.

First, let me start by apologising for missing last week.  If you follow my blog regularly, you will know that I am currently in the process of selling my house, so everything is a bit topsy turvy at the moment.

To make up for it, I thought we could discuss the wonderful Rudyard Kipling’s collection of Just So Stories this week.  I am a keen collector of old books and stumbled upon a copy of Mr Kipling’s book in a tiny bookshop hidden at the back of a Garden Centre.  The little shop stocks all sorts of memorabilia from time past, including a wonderful array of encyclopedias (outdated now of course).  My attention was drawn back to the book recently because we were covering the stories in the school where I work.  It gave me great pleasure to hear my daughter explain a Just So story to me and declare her favourite!

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Rudyard Kipling wrote the collection of stories about how the modification of certain animals came about by man or some magical force for his eldest daughter Effie and illustrated the first version of the book.

When the first three were published in a children’s magazine, a year before Effie’s death, Kipling explained: ″…in the evening there were stories meant to put Effie to sleep, and you were not allowed to alter those by one single little word. They had to be told just so; or Effie would wake up and put back the missing sentence. So at last they came to be like charms, all three of them,—the whale tale, the camel tale, and the rhinoceros tale.”

My favourite story from the collection would have to be How The Camel Got His Hump.  I have managed to find a copy on the internet with illustrations from Mr Kipling and couldn’t resist sharing it with you.  It’s not a very long story, but definitely a worthwhile read.

HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP

OW this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump.

In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, and the Animals were just beginning to work for Man, there was a Camel, and he lived in the middle of a Howling Desert because he did not want to work; and besides, he was a Howler himself. So he ate sticks and thorns and tamarisks and milkweed and prickles, most ‘scruciating idle; and when anybody spoke to him he said ‘Humph!’ Just ‘Humph!’ and no more.

Presently the Horse came to him on Monday morning, with a saddle on his back and a bit in his mouth, and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come out and trot like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Horse went away and told the Man.

Presently the Dog came to him, with a stick in his mouth, and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Dog went away and told the Man.

Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on his neck and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Ox went away and told the Man.

At the end of the day the Man called the Horse and the Dog and the Ox together, and said, ‘Three, O Three, I’m very sorry for you (with the world so new-and-all); but that Humph-thing in the Desert can’t work, or he would have been here by now, so I am going to leave him alone, and you must work double-time to make up for it.’

That made the Three very angry (with the world so new-and-all), and they held a palaver, and an indaba, and a punchayet, and a pow-wow on the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing on milkweed most ‘scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then he said ‘Humph!’ and went away again.

Presently there came along the Djinn in charge of All Deserts, rolling in a cloud of dust (Djinns always travel that way because it is Magic), and he stopped to palaver and pow-pow with the Three.

‘Djinn of All Deserts,’ said the Horse, ‘is it right for any one to be idle, with the world so new-and-all?’

‘Certainly not,’ said the Djinn.

‘Well,’ said the Horse, ‘there’s a thing in the middle of your Howling Desert (and he’s a Howler himself) with a long neck and long legs, and he hasn’t done a stroke of work since Monday morning. He won’t trot.’

‘Whew!’ said the Djinn, whistling, ‘that’s my Camel, for all the gold in Arabia! What does he say about it?’

‘He says “Humph!”‘ said the Dog; ‘and he won’t fetch and carry.’

‘Does he say anything else?’

‘Only “Humph!”; and he won’t plough,’ said the Ox.

‘Very good,’ said the Djinn. ‘I’ll humph him if you will kindly wait a minute.’

The Djinn rolled himself up in his dust-cloak, and took a bearing across the desert, and found the Camel most ‘scruciatingly idle, looking at his own reflection in a pool of water.

‘My long and bubbling friend,’ said the Djinn, ‘what’s this I hear of your doing no work, with the world so new-and-all?’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel.

The Djinn sat down, with his chin in his hand, and began to think a Great Magic, while the Camel looked at his own reflection in the pool of water.

THIS is the picture of the Djinn making the beginnings of the Magic that brought the Humph to the Camel. First he drew a line in the air with his finger, and it became solid: and then he made a cloud, and then he made an egg–you can see them both at the bottom of the picture– and then there was a magic pumpkin that turned into a big white flame. Then the Djinn took his magic fan and fanned that flame till the flame turned into a magic by itself. It was a good Magic and a very kind Magic really, though it had to give the Camel a Humph because the Camel was lazy. The Djinn in charge of All Deserts was one of the nicest of the Djinns, so he would never do anything really unkind.

‘You’ve given the Three extra work ever since Monday morning, all on account of your ‘scruciating idleness,’ said the Djinn; and he went on thinking Magics, with his chin in his hand.

‘Humph!’ said the Camel.

‘I shouldn’t say that again if I were you,’ said the Djinn; ‘you might say it once too often. Bubbles, I want you to work.’

And the Camel said ‘Humph!’ again; but no sooner had he said it than he saw his back, that he was so proud of, puffing up and puffing up into a great big lolloping humph.

HERE is the picture of the Djinn in charge of All Deserts guiding the Magic with his magic fan. The camel is eating a twig of acacia, and he has just finished saying “humph” once too often (the Djinn told him he would), and so the Humph is coming. The long towelly-thing growing out of the thing like an onion is the Magic, and you can see the Humph on its shoulder. The Humph fits on the flat part of the Camel’s back. The Camel is too busy looking at his own beautiful self in the pool of water to know what is going to happen to him.

Underneath the truly picture is a picture of the World-so-new-and-all. There are two smoky volcanoes in it, some other mountains and some stones and a lake and a black island and a twisty river and a lot of other things, as well as a Noah’s Ark. I couldn’t draw all the deserts that the Djinn was in charge of, so I only drew one, but it is a most deserty desert.

‘Do you see that?’ said the Djinn. ‘That’s your very own humph that you’ve brought upon your very own self by not working. To-day is Thursday, and you’ve done no work since Monday, when the work began. Now you are going to work.’

‘How can I,’ said the Camel, ‘with this humph on my back?’

‘That’s made a-purpose,’ said the Djinn, ‘all because you missed those three days. You will be able to work now for three days without eating, because you can live on your humph; and don’t you ever say I never did anything for you. Come out of the Desert and go to the Three, and behave. Humph yourself!’

And the Camel humphed himself, humph and all, and went away to join the Three. And from that day to this the Camel always wears a humph (we call it ‘hump’ now, not to hurt his feelings); but he has never yet caught up with the three days that he missed at the beginning of the world, and he has never yet learned how to behave.

*************

I do hope you enjoy the Just So Story.  Do leave a comment and tell me which story is your favourite.

Thanks for reading.

Do Tooth Fairies Visit Dogs?

  Henry, our little Sprocker Spaniel, lost his first tooth last week.  It came shortly after my youngest sprog lost his little incisor.  Excitement over seeing the tiniest tooth ever, possibly the same size as a fairy’s tooth, kept the children up way past their bedtime.  The inevitable question was asked: “Will the Tooth Fairy visit Henry the same way they visited me?”

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it, but it stopped me in my tracks.  Do Tooth Fairies take care of the rest of the creatures populating this earth?  Are there stories of their adventures whilst snaring a tooth from a candid crocodile or wrestling a canine from a conniving carnivore?  I feel my alliterations running rampant over this post!  Okay I will stop.  Back to the serious matter of the extended hours of a Tooth Fairy’s day.

After the precious little tooth was carefully placed in a plastic bag for safekeeping, my youngest two begged for me to leave it out in case a little ethereal creature wanted to replace it with a gold coin.  I reminded the children that Henry would find no purpose in receiving a gold coin.  Of course it opened the can of wormy questions on what would be left for our canine companion. Again, I had to think fast and create a different scenario to the normal gold coin for a tooth scenario.  

My final answer as I tucked the little angels into bed was, “I honestly don’t know!  If a raccoon loses tooth, or a mouse drops one in his house, I don’t know what happens to them.” Sometimes honestly and logic override fantasy…but not too often!

  

Photo Friday

Thanks for the inspiration to do another Photo Friday Neems!  Please click on her name and check out her site.  It brought a smile to my face on a dreary Friday afternoon. Continue reading

Do you live in Somerset? Help please

For all those living in Dorset and the surrounding areas, please read this. Thank you. 😊

Windsor

Our trips to various local beauty spots took us to Windsor. I had forgotten how amazing the swans were on the riverfront and we had to spend at least half an hour feeding and admiring the elegant creatures. Even though a couple pecked me because I couldn’t feed the greedy little critters fast enough, it was worth the pain from their rather large beaks!

The town was packed out with students and tourists clamouring to take the best picture of the castle and its surroundings. We took our place amidst the chaos, battling for prime position to capture my brother and his wife in front of the well guarded entrance to the castle. Then onto the cobblestoned alleyway to find The Crooked House which stands at an odd angle, with its tea rooms overlooking the shops and castle.

We retreated to the high street and train station where we found the highlight of the day…the sweetie shop!

All in all, a lovely day!

Autumn

Whilst we look to the wilting fiery coloured leaves for divine meaning, and watch the dying moments of summer, I search for the little delights awaiting the early evenings and wet afternoons.

One of my special guests usually makes his or her appearance in the midst of summer and then during the colder moments of autumn, ready to find a warm safe place for winter. Instead of talking in riddles, I will show you! Continue reading