Tag Archives: travel

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Dear Reader,

I am reporting to you live from the most incredible country, Australia! The weather has warmed up considerably since its first frosty reception (probably to acclimatise us) and we are now experiencing days of pure sunshine bliss mixed with cool evenings.

There is no way I could invite you over for a coffee because the drink of the day would have to be a cool drink, cold beer or crispy wine. Once you’ve chosen you’re poison, come sit next to me by the pool.

I have a secret to share with you – not a nice one. Yesterday, I think we missed the Grim Reaper by a hair’s breath. I don’t know if you caught the report on the accident at one of the local theme parks on the Gold Coast, a terrible tragedy that took four lives. We were supposed to be at that theme park and when the tragedy occurred we would have been there. It was only by providence that we missed the time slot and decided to forfeit our day at the park, driving past it and going to the beach and shopping centres instead. 

As we lolloped amongst the waves, the news hit the headlines and we were struck with disbelief. Our family is large and the probability of us being on that ride would have been very high. The seriousness of this has stayed with me all night and I had to share my worry with you today. You see, when I travel with my sprogs and Hubble, I always guesstimate the probability of us dying in some freak accident.  As I drive down unfamiliar motorways, I keep a wary eye out for the Reaper, in case he has one of our names on his list.

It’s a morbid way of looking at life, I know, but we can’t live forever. It’s just hard to accept that one of us might not get to see a full life. Maybe.

Anyhoo, shaking off my morbid coat, I can officially re-declare my love of Oz and it’s inhabitants. The place is a mixture of Zimbabwe and England, taking all the best weather, space, technology, infrastructure and  design to create a eutopia that most crave. As we sit sipping our chilled drinks, soaking up the rays and twiddling our feet in the crystal clear water, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a life we should aspire to. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to count our last days on earth in this place, or another like it. We will see what happens.

Well, I’m ready to go in for a dip. The thermal heating has cracked the cold barrier on the water and this sun is baking my shoulders. Fancy joining me for a swim?

Monday Coffee

Blow. Blow. Blow.

It’s blustery, wet and wild today but the coffee house is warm and snug. As much as I’d like to stay here, I have to hustle home in the rain.  It’s packing time.

Yup, we are travelling again and this time it’s to a place just as beautiful as Africa with a wealth of history and grandeur.  Oz. Next Monday we shall be sipping coffee together in the sun and, hopefully, with some new Ozzie friends. 

Writing has slowed as I have been finishing off work-type things and packing for sprogs and Hubble.  The worst part has been choosing a dress to wear to the wedding.  Who knew there were so many styles to choose from? I hate shopping and of course my teenage daughter has been in retail heaven as we have had to top up wardrobes for the trip.  Everyone in the family has grown, apart from me! I seem to be shrinking in size as the sprogs tower over me.

The dress has been chosen and a fascinator to match.  Shoes are packed and the choice selection of comfy shoes. Now the question is, should I download books on my device or stack my suitcase with a selection of good reads?  Who cares if there’s no space for toothbrushes and swimming cozzies? Fine, the others might get a little upset if I throw out their clothes but what’s the point of a holiday if you can’t relax and read?

Maybe I’ll be lucky and find a gem if a book by an Aussie author. That’s an exciting thought. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear from you.

Well, I shall bid you farewell for now.  See you on the other side of the world!

Monday Coffee…or wine!

The fan is on again.  This morning was freezing cold but now the house feels like a sauna.  So much for the end of summer!

Hi! Shimmy closer and enjoy the heat while it lasts.  Fancy a glass of wine instead of a hot beverage? I’m feeling lazy today and have decided to enjoy my Monday Coffee with you in front of the television watching Grand Designs.  I’m a bit obsessed with the show and hope to one day build my own dream home.  I have to admit, that dream seems to be slipping away as time goes by.  Did I mention that I am not a very patient person? The dream seems to be fragmenting into other smaller dreams, which we are enjoying and pursuing whenever finances allow.

One of my personal dreams was to visit the Cheddar Gorge, which I did over the summer holidays.  I am still enthralled by the photos I took in the caves and was pleasantly surprised at the clarity.

I hope to visit King Arthur’s Labrynth in Wales. I’m not sure if it is the same place but apparently, there are caves in Wales which have trampolines in them!

What dreams to you have for the future?  I’m sure I’ve asked this before.  The beauty of the question is that dreams are ever-changing, ever-growing and we tend to change them as circumstances around us evolve. So, what is your dream?  I dream of visiting Australia and the United States.  Europe would be fantastic, but I think I would prefer to try living there over a period of time.  There is not enough time in this world to do everything, but I shall certainly try to do as much as I can before the Grim Reaper calls.

Speaking of Grim Reapers, have you read my book, One Month To Live? It’s a paranormal short story about a girl whose mother who has one month to live.  Sounds a bit simple, but it has a few twists here and there.  My character seems to have a certain affiliation with the Reapers in the story and doesn’t take too kindly to one visiting her mother.  Then again, she doesn’t take too kindly to most things.

I find it hard to describe this book because it is so quirky and short.  I always fear that someone will choose it over my other books and judge my writing according to that book.  Let’s just call it my black sheep of the book family! If your interest is peaked, click on the pic below to download your copy.

one month to live ebook“Five years I had waited for this day to come. Five years. At last, my mother was going to die!”

You’ll probably finish it in half an hour! Plenty of time for me to top up your wine glass and fetch some lovely Cheddar cheese from Cheddar and salty crackers. Once you’ve finished reading it, write me a review.  It will be interesting to see what you think of it. Right, here’s your glass; have a cracker with some cheese and I’ll wait for you to finish.  In the meantime, I’m going to research Scandinavian self-builds again.

Memories

Last night I had a dream.  I dreamt I was back in Zimbabwe, travelling to all the amazing places we were fortunate enough to visit a few months ago.

I have a feeling that I need to share more photos.  Please excuse the unfocused imperfect ones – they have been included for the nostalgic value.

A shopping centre on the road to Mutare.
Quick clicks as we drove through Mutare on our way to Nyanga.

Look at the backdrop to the high street. My photo does nothing to capture the beauty and the weather was not exactly enticing.

‘Welcome To Mutare’ with Izzy reading her book.

These still give me the shivers.  I can’t say I would ever eat dried worms, but apparently many people love them.

Shopping heaven for any ex-Zimbo – do these products bring back memories?


A true statement from a bumper sticker that encapsulates the mindset of Emergency Taxi drivers!

I will put up more photos in another post as I don’t want to inundate you with just one huge blog post.

Hope you enjoyed travelling with me down memory lane.

Have a great Thursday.

Monday Coffee

Pull up a chair and watch out for the lady with the muffin behind you! She’s teetering on one leg and that oversized mug of tea looks as though it’s going to provide a watery end to her chocolate delight, and probably her pretty blue blouse.

How are you? I’m sorry I missed you last week.  We were either away for the evening or recuperating from an adventure.  It has been a fun couple of weeks and I’ve fulfilled a fifteen year old dream – to visit the Cheddar Caves and Gorge in Somerset. I’ll tell you more about it after we place our order.  What will it be tonight: coffee, tea, latte or something a bit more exotic?  I think I will go for a Darjeeling tea.  I find I don’t drink it often enough and I miss my peppermint tea too.  We have been spoilt with a new Tassimo machine at home which provides a Chocochino fix that is hard to refuse.

20160811_131343170_iOSNow, onto our trip to Cheddar.  We arrived mid-afternoon and we pleasantly surprised to find a quaint little town steeped in history.  20160811_131203528_iOSThe three mile gorge offered spectacular views and a stunning backdrop to the shops and tea houses meandering down the steep hillside.
After collecting our tickets, we made our way into the caves where history oozed out of the pores of the earth.

The smell of damp and the incredible colours of the rocks, stalactites and stalacmites added an air of mystery and excitement to the atmosphere. 20160811_141242239_iOS20160811_142516754_iOS

Austere shapes carved out by water hundreds of years before left dimples and caverns in the rock – one referred to as the Sistene chapel by their discoverer, Lord Gough. I was mesmerised, trying to take in as much of the caves as possible as we walked around. We listened to the special phone with options to follow the numbers posted in various parts of the caves that gave invaluable information on each section of the cave’s history.20160811_134855230_iOS

20160811_144626264_iOSOnce we completed our investigation of the caves, we moved onto the museum located further down the hill.  A kindly gentleman dressed in skins showed us around and showed the children various activities based around the history of prehistoric man. My favourite was sticking my hands in a box to try to guess the odd shapes contained within.  There was a skull, different sized bones, flint stones and shells. Oddly enough, I was the only one willing to shove my hands into the box.  The others watched in glee as I squealed each time my hand touched something new.20160811_145005436_iOS

We laughed our way through the displays, pointing out the different sections of history and where each
family member belonged.  I still believe my eldest belongs in the neolithic age!

Time was not on our sides and we had to move on before everything shut down for the day.  We sprinted down the hill, following other families that were as determined as we were to catch the last tour bus going back up and through the gorge.  Luck was on our side and we made it just in time!

Once seated at the top, we took photos of the scenery as it went by, enthralled by the sheer size of the gorge.  Yes, it is small in comparison to other places in the world, but it is still our special place in England.  Anyway, I haven’t heard of any other caves that have their own Cheddar cellar! We were lucky enough to buy some of the chees that had been cured in the Cheddar caves and I can tell you first-hand, it is absolutely delicious!

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20160811_160526096_iOSOur tour bus dropped us off outside the caves, and sadly, it was time to say good-by to the gorge.  Most of the attractions were closing for the day.  The good thing about buying tickets to the Cheddar Gorge is that, if you don’t get a chance to do everything on that one day, your ticket is still valid for ten years.  That means, you can come back and complete your tours of the other attractions at a later date.  Now that’s value for money!

Needless to say, it was a wonderful day out and surprisingly, even the angsty teenager and stroppy eight-year-old cracked a smile and admitted to enjoying their day.

Have you done anything exciting this past week? How was your weekend?  I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to for your summer vacation.

 

 

Henry Visits the Seaside

Sprinkles of sunlight littered the beach as Henry took his first dip into the ocean.  The water was freezing cold, as always, but that didn’t deter him.  After all, all the other dogs were watching!

With big tigger leaps, he pounced above the foamy white waves, gulping salty water as he chugged along in the water.  Each choppy swish of waves swept over his head but his determination to continue outweighed the salty drink trying to pull him under.
At last he turned back to shore, a smile surfacing as he spotted us and galloped towards us.  His soaking body shook as his wet paws mixed with the sand and he shook half the ocean onto us with relish.  His grin said it all: swimming in the sea was fun!

Once the novelty wore off, his tired body craved fresh water and a blanket.  After a short rest he was up and about again, meeting friends and searching the wind blown sand dunes protecting the beach.  


After a spot of football with some four legged friends, it was time to return home. Unfortunately, with all the excitement, he was sick in the car and decided to do it on one of the sprogs!  She was not impressed at all!  Well, at least it was a safe trip home and a nice hot bath to remove the salty coat on his fur and replenish the clean water in his body.  And what better way to end the day but to curl up on the sofa and doze in front of the telly watching the olympics.

Good-night from Henry and he hopes you had a good Sunday too. 

Great Zimbabwe

 We took a trip to Mazvikadai, a stunning place close to Chinhoyi where there are ponds for fishing just off the main lake.  It’s a resort, though I’ve never explored the residential side of it.

  From this picture you will deduce that they keep live crocodiles.  Now we were told stories of baby crocs stealing bait and attacking the fishing line of unwary fisherman and some family members even warned my younger sprogs to stay far from the water.  I didn’t believe them.  Surely, they wouldn’t allow you to fish with crocs? Boy, was I wrong!
   

 The crocodile enclosure spanned across two sides of the bridge crossing to the ponds, housing the most humongous specimens I have ever seen.  Basking in the hot sun without a care in the world, these creatures secretly watched us, their sparkling green eyes attuned to the slightest movements around them.  I warned my youngest to stay away from the fence dividing us from these gigantic creatures, but found myself drawn closer to their close proximity to the fence.  Some force enticed us to want to get closer, as though what we were seeing was too far fetched to believe.  

  

 My brother scoffed at us and moved us along to the pond where our equipment was being delivered from the car.  Yes, there are gentlemen there to carry your things so that you don’t have to struggle on your own along the jagged paths.

  Upon arrival at our own thatched gazebo housing a large picnic bench and overlooking the splendid pond, my sprogs started screaming.  Up in the ceiling, close to the beams was a giant spider with long black legs and a body, half white-half black.  It contentedly watched our chaotic reaction to its presence from a web intricately woven like a hanging basket amongst the beams.  After a deep breath I told them to just ignore it.  After all, we had seen similar spiders surrounding the lion enclosures at the lion and cheetah park.  They were supposedly harmless!

Once they got over the fact that we had company in the upper beams, they focused on the creatures flittering to and fro between the brickwork on the ground.  Another round of screams were released because of the large ants and small spiders!  I became impatient and told them to get a grip.  We couldn’t avoid all of nature.

  They settled down once we brought out the rods and big brother showed them how to load the worms in the hooks (something they refused to do themselves!). Soon, everyone had their own private spot around the pond.  The fish were very savvy; each time a line was cast, we watched them literally jump out of the way and dance to another safer spot in the pond.  Frustratingly, the tiddlers found it amusing to clean our bait off our hooks if we left the line in the water for too long. 

The day dragged on and the heat pounded down on our heads.  Accompanied by the sound of the various birds hidden in the reeds, the little kingfishers ducked and dived, barely catching the wily little buggers hidden just below the glassy surface of the water.  I grew tired of my spot under a tree.  The smell of fermenting water and the heavy buzz of flies behind me was off-putting, even if the spot was perfect for catching the Wile E. Coyote fish cooling themselves in the shadows cast over the water by the tree’s branches.  I moved back to our gazebo to join my brother who was frying up some boerwors (spicy sausages) as a snack.  

  He asked me to recast his fishing line which was drifting lazily in the semi-cool breeze towards the lily pads.  Excited to do it since he had a really nice sized rod, I hopped to the opportunity.  Unfortunately I underestimated the wind and my ability to cast a heavier rod; the hooks and line went straight past a tree that had fallen into the water and got caught in its branches.  Weirdly enough, this tree was still growing.

I apologised and promised to go retrieve his line.  Big mistake.  It’s only when you do something ridiculously dangerous that you realise how old you are.  I started climbing this tree, telling myself that I had done this a thousand times when I was younger.  

“Just keep your balance,” I muttered to myself, “and you’ll be fine.”

Well my vertigo set in and the green, murky water kept reaching up to grab me.  I decided all fours was the way to go and crawled along the crumbly trunk.  A thin branch was in the way so I batted it to one side, not noticing the sharp thorns poking out.  It was some kind of Acacia plant that was using the tree to support it.  There’s a special word for plants that do this, but it escapes me at this moment.

Long story short, I managed to crawl up to the slender branches jutting out into the water just as my brother reeled in the line.  Disentangling the hooks from the fine, feathered leaves of the tree set it free and I was able to return to the safety of dry land.  My arm was ripped by the thorns but that didn’t bother me as much as the threat of falling into the water.  Later that day, I saw a baby croc swimming further up the pond. I was very glad I hadn’t fallen in! 

 

After a lovely day basking in the sun like the crocs, we packed up and headed home.  I’m sure I saw the fish waving good-bye and laughing at us.  I didn’t mind.  The baby crocodiles swimming just behind them were smiling too! 

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.

Holiday Photos

Hello,

It has been a rainy day today and we have spent it shopping.  The cold seems to have followed us from England and I don’t think my family are too impressed.  The lovely thing about the rain is that it’s warm, not cold, and sounds so serene pitter-pattering on the rooftops.  It’s a pity we can’t light a fire; a family of Hoopoes have nested in the chimney and we don’t want to disturb them.  

Here are a few photos from the past few days…

   
 Two metal sculptures at the top of Argyle Road in Avondale. Apparently they stand on the pavement of a back-packer’s lodge.

   The Catholic Cathedral captured from the car.
 Lovely patisserie in a Food Lover’s Market in Borrowdale.  They were huge and mouth-watering!

  The rest of the shelf of delicious treats.
There are many more and I am preparing a nice post on the artists and sculptors I met at a flea market the other day.  To give you a taster, here is a picture of some of their art:

   
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed a little taste of Zimbabwe.  Join me again for another update on our holiday.

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!