28 November 2011

A Skeleton Walk

We were left at home this Sunday. Dougal had a sore foot (which is better now), and I elected to stay and keep him company. The gale force Southeaster had nothing to do with my decision whatsoever! (Dawn was in her bush hiding from the Alph.) So as it was only the Alph and the FL, it was rather a skelton walk.
They took advantage of our absence to walk up one of their favourite paths, Donkergat, which they used to do often with Sam and Tombi (our predecessors) before the meanies at Kirstenbosch banned dogs.
A scary Pterodactyl tree in Skeleton Gorge.
Not really our favourite kind of path.
An unfurling fern frond.
On these eastern slopes of Table Mountain you often see the weed, Field Woundwort (Stachys arvensis), which originally comes from Europe, Asia and North Africa. It has a lovely minty smell when you brush past.
A closer look at the Field Woundwort flower.
Skeleton Gorge was sheltered from the roaring wind, but the path to Maclears Beacon had disappeared into the Southeaster cloud and it was mighty chilly (which we Scots actually like!).
Tea break at the top,
where the photographing phoodlady phound some Senecio grandiflorus plants with their phunny phat buds. These woolly plants are endemic to the Cape Peninsula.
They chose to come down Nursery Ravine - which was also surprisingly sheltered from the Southeaster and full of people and flowers; like these pretty Stonecrop flowers (Crassula pellucida).
A sticky end for this moth - caught in a Drosera hilaris. Not so hilarious for the moth!
Near the bottom of Nursery Ravine, they walked through the wild area of Kirstenbosch - again something we canines are prohibited from enjoying - where they saw lots of flowers like this rather odd Lady's Hand (Cyanella hyacinthoides),
lots of Blue Sceptre flowers (Aristea capitata),
and lots of Watsonia borbonica.
Having a rest in front of the enchanted pond in Kirstenbosch before hurrying home to us.

26 November 2011

Meeting Luke

On the 18th November we joined the Timoneys and Luke for a fantastic weekend at Riversong. When we arrived, supper was all ready and the wine open. Here is the Alph - well, the Alph's left cheek and arm, Caroline, Katherine, Paul, Luke and Helen. Dougal and I were out and about having a scrounge around for tortoises and other exciting Cederberg things.
The next morning we set out for an early morning botanize with the Food Lady
who found some firework flowers (also called bloodroot or Dilatris ixiodes)
and some White Orchids - Disa harveiana subsp. longicalcarata.
After breakfast we set out again on another walk - our lucky day! We passed lots of interesting things, including these Grey Conebushes (Leucadendron pubescens) with sticky, hairy cones and lots of enticing smells,
but is got rather hot for us scots and we were grateful for to rest in some restio shade.
The Food Lady is fascinated by this rather disgusting plant which is all sticky and covered in dead and dying goggas. To make these poor hapless insects' lives even more miserable, this tentacled leafed bush is stalked by assassin bugs that are immune to the stickiness and go about injecting and sucking up any trapped gogga. Luverly. Read about them here.
At last we reached the cool tadpole pools where we all had a swim and Luke found a little snake eating tadpoles. Instead of leaping out he just stayed in the water and watched it as it swallowed the fat tadpole near his foot.
After lunch the humans relaxed at the cottage - here is Luke and Caroline (with the bunch of flowers that Era had very kindly placed in the cottage for us and a delicious fruit cake that Helen had baked),
while I did some tortoise hunting and Dougal did some mousing.
Then, official walk number three! Whoopeee. We went to the river for a swim in the lovely warm evening.
Caroline and Helen walking home again.
The boys wasted no time getting the fire going,
while the kitchen team were also working hard - Luke just moving from one to the other, and occasionally chatting to us too.
Another gastronomic extravaganza with the promise of rich pickings for us dogs - especially seeing as I was not allowed to chew up my tortoises.
Some night visitors - a Ribbon-wined lacewing,
and a rather terrifying scorpion that wanted to share Luke's bed on the veranda.
The next morning there was rolling thunder - and Dougal was reduced to a shivering wreck. He thinks that getting up on the bed is going to help! What a drip.
It was quite rainy and bleak outside, and I was rather reluctant to go out to investigate the tortoise population. Finally we decided to take the plunge and got to the bottom of the driveway before the rain forced us to turn round and go back to the cottage where we stayed put until it was time to pack up and to home.
Dramatic skies over Du Toits Kloof.

13 November 2011

A cool walk

Everyone chickened out of the Sunday walk because of the rain, but as soon as there was a break, we two and our humans headed for the misty hills. We parked at the new Cecilia Park parking spot, and set off up the path past these beautiful pink watsonias that towered above us Scotties. They are Watsonia borbonica and lots of them have now come up in the Granite Fynbos in place of boring sterile pines - which unfortunately are still plentiful here as you can see further up, despite the poor sad shouters for shade's misguided laments. The species name borbonica refers to Ile de Bourbon, now RĂ©union, as apparently it was thought to have come from there when they named it in the dim and distant past (in the 1700s sometime!).
I don't think our humans have these funny shaped Wild Card Permits for dog walking like what is shown on the board. Nor do they carry trowels to keep us under control. But they have a family Wild Card on a piece of paper though, so maybe it includes us.
We saw many waterfalls.
A silene of sorts - Silene undulata or bellidoides. It belongs to the carnation family.
Misty mountain top with two indigenous Mountain Cypress (Widdringtonia nodiflora) trees and a dead pine emerging from the forested slopes of Table Mountain.
Another waterfall in Cecilia Ravine - usually our best cooling-down place but today we didn't need to cool down as it was just a cool day all round.
Some grass caught in the flash - possibly Rooigras (Themeda triandra).
The Foodlady's little orchid that featured on an earlier post - now flowering and showing that it is a thread orchid - Holothrix villosa subsp. villosa.
In fact, there were lots of little thread orchids growing under a rock on the path back from the big Cecilia waterfall.
Me having a shake after a swim in the river that leads back to the car park.
The magic forest path, with yellowwoods and asparagus ferns and a stream that always flows.
Back in the cleared area next to the car park were lots of Garden Acraea butterflies - these two entwined on a Larkspur Baroe (Cyphia bulbosa) - a member of the lobelia family.
We were having such fun we just didn't want it to end ...
so Dougal had to be forcibly removed to the car - most undignified!