31 December 2009

Christmas in Auckland

Dear Coco
Hope you had a not-too-lonely Christmas. We had a lovely day in Auckland with Nicky, William, Emma and Shaun and some other people you have never met. Here are Willaim, Emma and Nicky having a champagne Christmas toast in Emma's garden. We had a swim in the sea near Emma's house, but unfortunately there were no dogs allowed there although Kiwis are generally very keen on their dogs. Nicky has a cat called Jeffery. I think you and Dougal would be scared of him becuase he has a very funny face!
We are both still feeling a bit jet-lagged. (But I havent turned into a giant teddy - I am taking the photo!)
love to Dougal and to Gremlin
the Foodlady x x

25 December 2009

Dingos and Beagles

Dear Coco
Yesterday we said our farewells to Lucy (the lordly poodle from Melbourne) and indeed, to Australia and its dingos. We didn't actually see any dingos but saw a strange painting of dingos in an art gallery in Melbourne. An artist called Nyurparya Nelson painted this funny one called Papa Tjukurpa (Dingo creation story) which is about the Ancestral Period in Australia when all the dogs left their camp and travelled to Irrunytju rockhole, where the artist was born. Here the artist depicts the Papa tjiltji (the baby dingos) playing in the sand hills. Bit weird what?This was a better painting of what they look like. And here are some regular schnauzers that came to say hello when we were walking with Lucy in her posh Melbourne suburb. (Their human Alpha Male was an ex teacher from Bishops. )When we got to Auckland last night, a beagle came and sniffed out our bags at the airport. I was a bit alarmed! But apparently it was sniffing for food. We didn't have any food but I think it could smell the rusks and tea we had in those very bags a few weeks ago. Or maybe it could smell you and Dougal.
Any way, we miss you very much. Please send our love to Dougal and Simon and have a happy Christmas. By the time you wake up, we will have finished our Christmas here! Mad.
love from the Foodlady

22 December 2009

Letter from Melbourne

Dear Coco
We are now in Melbourne. You and Dougal would love it here as there are possums in the garden where we are staying. They are like big squirrels with long tails. A very nice Miniature French Poodle called Lucy lives here too. Here she is being left behind while we went sight-seeing.
We went to this park called the Fitzroy Gardens and saw this statue of Diana and her hounds. There was also an amazingly Fairy Tree filled with creatures carved into its trunk.
Steve Booth took us to the beach at Port Philip and we looked for Little Pengins but didnt see any - but we did see was giant Silver Gull! Not quite the flowers we see on our walks, but here are some King Proteas for sale at a market in Melbourne.
Please send my love to Dougal. I hope he is not eating all your food!
Must go to bed now, I am rather tired.
love The FL

21 December 2009

Letter from Changi airport

Dear Coco
Just to let you know that we are missing you already. We had a nice breakfast with your human brothers, and saw a cute little scotty puppy in the brand spanking new Cape Town International airport.
We are now in Changi Airport in Singapore and we spent the day in the city of singapore which was amazing. Here is the Alpha Male at Raffles having a Singapore Sling! And we threw peanut shells on the floor! It is very hot here - not scotty weather.
Battery running out so will continue soon.
Be good and look after Simon
love the Foodlady x x

17 December 2009

Four Fit Ladies

Last, LAST Sunday saw four fit ladies - Sue, Thea, Pauline and the Foodlady - and us two scotties toiling up Steenberg Peak in the heat. An enormous Baboon Spider, Harpactira baviana, was lying in wait on the path, but we didn't notice it luckily or Dougal might have tried to catch it because it was hairy like a rat. There were lots of flowers despite the heat for the Foodlady - including this lovely Golden Orchid, Disa cornuta that Sue spotted. Three fit ladies in the Garden of Eden. There were also lots of Watsonia borbonica, and this pretty pink parasitic plant called Harveya purpurea, the Yellow-throated Inkflower.
While we were having tea and crunchies in the Fit Lady shleter, we were joined by two strange humans with a huge mattress on their back who tried to climb upside down on the roof of the Fit Lady Shelter, then moved on saying that they would return once they had warmed up. We didn't wait for them, and walked on because we were well warmed up ......and even though the Foodlady told us there was Cape Snow all around, it sure wasn't cold snow like what you would find in Scotland! Here is Dougal in the Cape Snow Syncarpha vestita. You can just see Pauline in the background.
Luckily there were a few caves and cracks where we found some shade to cool down in. Here is Thea coming through a shady crack in the rocks. When we were almost home, we met another Scottie who could speak German, called Max, who joined us for a dip in the stream. Tails up!

02 December 2009

Up Pecks with Josie

Last Sunday was a mostly girl walk with Alice (still my most most best) and Pauline (in the photo above), Lucy, Sue, the Food Lady and Josie. Dougal stood in for the alpha male who is still in the ranks of the walking wounded. Standards have definitely been raised with the arrival of Josie who is a very clean, very refined Maltese who only drinks out of her own bowl, and who doesn't eat human or ordinary dog food because she has allergies and needs her own special food. We all set off up Pecks which was very hot. Sue set a blistering pace, you can see her and Lucy in the photo above, behind the clump of Syncarpha vestita (Cape Snow). And here I am near the top - shouting encouragement to the stragglers.
Tea was a rather windy affair, but the rusks were yummy. And some of the humans discovered that a liquorice buchu grew here.... (possibly Agathosma ciliaris).

Dougal really likes this walk and got stuck into some serious rodent hunting, forgetting his alpha duties completely. Can you spot him in this photo?

27 November 2009

What we've been up to...

Life has been interesting here, even in the absence of walks. We have met a human cousin grown up a bit - Vincent - who is not very interested in us. But we are quite interested in him especially with possibilities that chocolate cakes just might slip off his plate. His dog brother in England is a large black Labrador called Jethro so I think he is not too sure of us short scots.
With Opie Dopes staying we have had a great many visitors. Here are Dougal and Gabriel sizing each other up. Dougal has been really really good and has not as much as lifted his lip to any of the kids. Now Opie Dopes has gone back to Greyton, and life is rather dull again. Roll on Sunday!

14 November 2009

Hoerikwaggo trailing in the rain

Stay at home again! Sue won a prize that she shared with all the non-wounded walkers - a trail and an overnight stay at the no-dogs-allowed Slangkop Tented Camp in Kommetjie. After a hellova lot of organizing and many phonecalls and emails, this weekend was decided upon, and then the heavens opened! So we scotties didn't mind missing out too much as getting soaked through is not really my idea of fun. They decided to go ahead with the walk, and met up in the drizzle at Red Hill Road with two very charming SANParks Mandatory Guides called John and Sukile, and all the supper and sleeping gear was put in a bakkie to be taken to the camp at the other end. Sukile and Caireen are in this photo.They then all set off along the road to the Kleinplaas Dam - Sue, Richard, Lucy, Caireen, Sandy (who has a PhD in Oceanography) and Lisa (her sister who was visiting SA from London and forgot to leave the British weather behind when she came), the FL and the Mandatory Guides. The patchy sunlight became light drizzle, then a heavy drizzle... but the Foodlady was very happy to see a few of these unusual little orchids, Disa purpurascens (bloumoederkappie) around, and a stray ray of sunlight just lit up this bloodroot flower, Dilatris corymbosa.Some astonishingly large caterpillars were decimating the watsonias along the path - apparently the larvae of the Pine Emperor Moth. By then it was VERY wet and I am glad to report that at this stage we were curled up at home in warmth and comfort.
They eventually got down to the Slangkop Tented Camp where they changed, had lukewarm showers and got down to some serious tea, coffee, cider and wine drinking! Here are Sandy and Caireen in the Lapa. The Alpha Male and Wyndham joined the soggy walkers for more drinking and joyous times in front of a fire that Sukile made. Here they are inspecting the accommodation in the camp with Sue. Sue and Caireen thawed out and ready to party the night away...and Lisa and Wyndham in front of the fire...and Lucy and Stephen. Richard dealing with the most delicious looking sosaties... wish we'd been there as sosaties beat tea and dog biscuits any day....
The Foodlady says Thank you Sue for the most fantastic - if a bit soggy - experience in a very beautiful spot! Just look at the Slangkop Lighthouse in the stormy evening light. Beneath the domes are very cosy and comfy tents we hear where a good night was had by all to the steady dripping of the rain and the crashing of the waves...

02 November 2009

Walking to the Waterfall

Today we walked up Rooikat (all these cats that we never see!) Ravine to Cecilia Waterfall which is a good walk because you are guaranteed a few dogs on the way. Not quite as doggy as the Newlands Dogwoods, but good enough. Dougal had a bit of a stand-off with two black snauzers so he was happy. Looking back towards the path we were going to walk along we were a bit alarmed because it looked like it might have slipped down the mountain, but luckily it hadn't.
Sue was there today, and Richard and Lucy (so Dougal didn't have to be the alpha male today as our Alpha is still off walks because of his tendonitis) and Caireen was back after a hellovalong break! Josie, another Maltese came along too but she thinks she is a human and treats us with disdain. See what I mean.
We had tea under the waterfall, and I tried to make friends with Josie, but she wasn't interested.
The Food Lady saw lots of interesting plants, including this splendid Liparia splendens, the mountain dahlia (which is not a dahlia at all but a pea). We came out into the newly cleared area which is starting to look less like a volcano blast site. There were lots of good, good smells... and some orchids and bulbs coming up on the cleared slopes, like this not-quite-open Moraea bituminosa. The flowers only open after midday and die by the end of the day.

And this Acraea horta butterfly on some Quaking Grass. The males are a beautiful dark orange. This butterfly is full of cyanide and it is thought that it gets the cyanide directly from its host-plant, the Wild Peach, Kiggelaria africana. You can smell the cyanide if you crush a leaf. (The anti-herbivore defence system of this tree seems to have backfired on it because by providing the acraeas with a means of defence against predators, it contributes to the success of its chief enemy.)