23 October 2011

Up the Corner ...

... and into the mist. We only had two hours today because we had to be back for the rugby, so Paul, Pauline and Sue met us at Kloof Corner and we all set off up the path. Come on you lot, you are getting left behind!
Strong winds were blowing but we were not going up to the top, so we didn't have to worry about the cable car closing.
This is a very pretty flower with an ugly name - Scabious - which means scabby or mangy - another word that we get called by our humans especially when we have been rolling in unmentionable things. (Apparently some species were said to cure the disease of Scabies that is why they got that name.) It looks like a daisy but it is not a daisy - belonging to the Dipsaceae family. Like daisies, it has a composite flower with florets.You can see the black sepal bristles sticking up between the buds. The Food Lady has no idea which species this is. There are three that occur here, but they all look much the same.
Another genus that all look similar is Aspalathus, but this prickly leaved one seems to be Aspalathus cordata.
You can see the Alph disappearing up into the mist.
But luckily he was waiting for us at the top of the steps. This is the end of the path, and it goes over a sheer cliff if you turn right at the top, so we carried on to the left.
Of course, there is the option to go straight up, but no-one took it today.
Lady's hand Cyanella hyacinthoides all wet and blowy in the mist.
The Alph striding ahead,
and Pauline and Sue following. Paul was photographing somewhere further back.
The in-your-face pink Pelargonium cucculatum was flowering, and the Chincherinchees (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) were out - can you spot one growing in a rocky pocket half way up the cliff? And note the lichen fractallating all over the cliff.
We turned round at the start of the India Venster path, and went back to the steps. Do we need to go all the way down again?
The mist was lifting a bit and we got to see a bit of Camp's Bay and Cape Town, but Lion's Head was still hidden in the clouds.
Another prickly plant is Climber's Friend (Cliffortia ruscifolia). It has a good strong root system, so despite being prickly, its a good plant to grab if you have opposable thumbs and are falling. Note the red feathery flowers - they are wind pollinated and belong to the Rose family.
Very soon we were down again, and the FL just had time to snap this beetle in a Roella ciliata flower before we were bundled back into the car and home to watch the All Blacks nearly being mashed up by the French. And then SA won the cricket which was good.

Touch wood the FL seems to have worked out what the problem with the Internet was.

22 October 2011

Posh Dogs

Yesterday we were taken to Green Point Park where all the posh dogs go. In posh parks, though, you have to be on leads. Dawnie came too and disgraced herself by trying to swim in one of the ornamental fountains. She is not posh.
But we managed to look like city slicker dogs as we strolled sedately past kids playing - which I usually find irresistible, but the Alph would brook no unruly behaviour so I resisted.
Checking out the new waterwheel.
Then some balloons escaped from one of the parties and blew past us and into the flower beds in front of the soccer stadium where they popped. Well, that was the end of Dougal's walk!

20 October 2011

Lost in the forest

Uh oh, they are going off in the Land Rover WITHOUT US. How can that be! Hey! You have forgotten something! Come back! Nope, we have been abandoned today. How depressing.
Turns out they had quite a tough walk so maybe it was just as well. Pauline, Paul and Thea came and they went up the Great Dog Highway to the top past some Orgidekies (Disa bracteata) which is a seriously bad weed in Australia. (And we don't care as after the rugby, and after stealing our Acacia name, Australia deserve everything they get!)
Thea and Pauline on the Great Dog Highway with some alien grass along the way.
Fonteinbos (Psoralea pinnata)
and Psoralea aculeata.
A stinky little orchid (Satyrium pumilum) that smells like rotting meat to attracts fly pollinators.
And while the FL was snapping away at flowers, Paul was more interested in Mandelbrot set patterns like this lichen,
while Thea demonstrated what another lichen, old Man's Beard, is all about ...
The Food Lady then dragged them through wet slippery forests, and through deep dark caves
with strange dinosaur-bird rock monsters,
and over slippery rocks with drippy branches overhead, draped in Old Man's Beard. Not for Scots.
Tea on the top - Pauline, Thea, Paul and the Alph.
The FL was happy to see lots of these impressive Sissies - which is what the Alpha calls Dougal when he is reduced to jelly if he hears the tiniest of popping noises. Their real name is Brachysiphon fucatus and they like growing on the top of the mountain. Grootkop is in the background.
Not really Scottie-friendly territory. This is on the edge overlooking Orange Kloof - Grootkop sticking up on the left.
Then they really went over the top and came back along the cliff face
with good views back to Hout Bay.
This little fern was to commemorate the victory of the All Blacks over the Aussies (thanks to the cellphone link with our human brothers).
On the edge - Paul doing some fractal photography,
and Thea crawling through yet another cave.
They stopped for a snack and to admire the view, and this little fynbos ant ran away with a piece of peanut.
The FL thinks this may be the Peninsula Conebush (Leucadendron strobilnum) - one of the Table Mountain endemics but she needs Alice to come back on the walks!
Pseudoselago quadrangularis.
The Sky Dam - De Villiers Dam - where we have had many interesting dog encounters on the Great Dog Highway.
Star-eyed Aristea (Aristea spiralis) on the way back to the car. And they were both rather tired so we never got to go our for a walk until the next morning. It's a dog's life!

Apologies for the late blog but we have been having Internet problems.

10 October 2011

Mink and Manure

Yay, our favourite place in all the world! The Constantia Greenbelt. Not quite on top of Table Mountain but on the slopes of our favourite mountain in all the world. (You can see it in the background.) That's me with my tail up in Le Sueur Meadow. Sue came with us - me, Doog, Dawnie and the humans - and we met Pauline here.
Sue was happy to see that the river was called the Pilot River, which was good because the humans were all feeling rather depressed as the referee in the world cup match let the inferior Australian rugby team win over our vastly superior Bokke. What with the two best teams, Scotland and South Africa, out of the running, there is not much left to keep our interest. We hope, for the Alph's sister's sake, that New Zealand thumps the rest, although our human brother is rather hoping that France will win. I also like France because I am named after Coco Chanel - who is famous for inventing the little black number.
Squirrels and other dogs kept Dougal happy, and me and Dawnie were happy to dip into the Pilot River to cool off as today was fiercely hot.
This part is called the Alphen Trail. The Greenbelts are managed by Cape Town City Parks, and they are an absolute pleasure, even though the Food Lady calls them a giant puppy class because of all the other dogs. But that's what we dogs just LOVE.
There are not many indigenous plants, but lots of pretty flowers like these nasturtiums from South America,
and these Allium triquetrum weeds from Europe that just love shady spots.
We then crossed the road to rub shoulders with the mink and manure set (here is the manure part of the equation with the mink part on its back) and set off on the Klaasenbosch Trail which we haven't done for ages as it is quite quiet and secluded and the we like to have the Alph with us when we do.
This part of the Greenbelt is famous for having a few of the rare and endangered Knysna Warblers that we have heard a few times but never seen. The Alph is reading a noticeboard all about them.
The warm air was heavily perfumed with fragrant jasmine (originally from Asia) which belongs to the olive family. Of course, being a dog, I preferred the scent of fresh horse manure - in fact it was so tantalising, I ate some.
We looked at the large and loud houses - this was about the nicest one - a couple of acres of Cape Dutch house, the stables of which were ten times bigger than our humans' whole house and garden put together! and we decided we could just cope with this "little" garden cottage behind the barred fence of this large estate.
We ventured deeper into the forest ...
with large spreading tree ferns that come from Tasmania ,
and parasitic plants like the Branched Broomrape (Orobanche ramosa) that originally comes from the Mediterranean area.
Soon we had looped the loop and come back to familiar territory, but sadly that meant our walk was just about over.
A quick drink from the drinking fountain,
then the Alph had to chase us back to the Land Rover!