27 August 2012

Tea in the rain

No rain was forecast on Windfinder.com so Alice, Maddie, Paul, Pauline, Sue, Leanne from Prince Edward Island - and lately from Robben Island - and us four set off into the Great Green forest of Cecilia - all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
Some exotic blossoms (Malus domestica?) were also fooled into thinking that spring just might be in the air ...
Dougal is not interested in flowers or spring, and was chasing goblins and little forest mice,
and avoiding lurgies and water sprites in the rushy rivers.
But then it started to rain but we were quite sheltered in the forest.
Every surface was covered in moss and ferns and everywhere was dripping wet.
Leanne leaping across the Rooikat mountain stream.
Inside the crown of a Forest Tree Fern (Cyathea capensis) is this "maiden hair fern"-like growth that distinguishes it from the Common Tree Fern (Cyathea dregei). (This is when its good to have Alice with us!)
As we emerged from the deep dark woods, we saw a rainbow through the blossoms of the Sweet Pea/Keurtjie trees (Podalyria calyptrata)
that got brighter and brighter. Just look at that gorgeous Afrotemperate Forest! They say that all this CO2 in the atmosphere is like steroids for forests and our Cape Peninsula forests are doing rather well.
Sue and Leanne decided enough rain was enough, and wisely left us to carry on up Cecilia Ridge without them.
Alice spotted this pure white version of the normally purple Spiky Purple Gorse Muraltia heisteria on the way up.
We got to the Great Dog Highway on top in an icy cold wind and we didn't see any dogs - and hardly any humans either. We were hoping to sneak into the Overseer's Hut for tea but there were people in it and a SANParks car or two up there (one nearly ran us down - I don't think it saw us in the mist and rain) so we just carried on down the road and eventually got out of the wind.
Alice and Maddie looking cheerful.
Anyone for tea?
Paul was too cold to stop for tea so he carried on down, and we settled down to tea in the rain.
with this sign to mark the spot.
Tea over, we carried on down through the drippy grass,
keeping an eye out for things that lurk in the mist.
The Alph and Pauline looming up.
I needed a little help coming down the ladder.
A beautiful old Peninsula Conebush (Leucadendron strobilinum). These Peninsula endemics grow on the margins of forests and in other relatively fire-safe habitats that burn infrequently.
A visitor - Erica versicolor - not a Peninsula native.
Dougal having to re-cross the rushy Rooikat river with its river monsters like this Taniwha which seems to have mistaken rainy Cape Town for the rainy places of its homeland of the long white cloud, Aoteoroa.
Good smells that needed investigating, and a very wet Pauline.
And, yay, some dogs to say hi to at last!
Featherhead Phylica (Phylica pubescens var. pubescens) coming up in the newly cleared veld above the carpark at Cecilia.
We were pleased to see Paul safe and sound in the car park - luckily he had not been led astray by the Food Lady's instructions about non-existent benches. Now - home to dry, warm and cosy beds!

26 August 2012

A walk in the Park

Last Friday we went for a lovely walk with Kerryn and Kerryn's mom Sue, and Georgie, in Tokai Park. There was a special place for dogs to swim, so I swam in a patch of sun. There were lots of other dogs, and horses. And little tiny benches made out of logs of wood - maybe for fairies? This is Kerryn with Georgie. Romulea rosea coming up in the paths.
For more on the restoration of Tokai Park, click here for an article in a recent issue of Veld & Flora.

19 August 2012

The Biscuit Thief

This morning we arrived at Silvermine Gate 2 to be welcomed by a smiling and cheerful Mr Pakkies.Alice and Maddie had met us earlier, but when we arrived in the carpark, what a surprise! Not only were Sue, Thea, Paul and Pauline there, but this tall Aussie guy in an Aussie hat came strolling over and suddenly there were exclamations and kissing. It was Guy from Melbourne who had read my blog and had turned up to surprise us all. Up the Amphithalea ericifolia path of dog poo we went, all the way up Steenberg till we collapsed for tea. Guy, Paul, Sue, the Alph, us two, Alice, Thea Maddie and Pauline. There were lots of delicious things to eat, so can you blame me if I saw the gap and snaffled up the Alph's Melissa's Farmstyle rusk? Here is Dougal choosing what he would like. (Photo courtesy of Alice.) Yes, I am a bad little dog I know but I enjoyed the bit of biscuit that I was allowed to eat! And no-one was really cross at all. In fact they all laughed so I don't feel too guilty. The Alph says I will get a sore tummy from all the sugar but I will take my chances. Guy from Melbourne and Paul discussing lenses and apertures. Yikes, but look what is creeping up on them! Better get on with the walk guys! A China Flower - member of the buchu family - possibly Adenandra villosa. We were all spread out in the colourful winter fynbos. Leucadenron laureolum maybe? Can't quite see the characteristic groove in the cone. A dead bee that had got stuck into the rare, endemic to Silvermine Sticky Heath (Erica urna-viridis). More amazing colours (although us dogs can't appreciate the gasps and exclamations because we can't see colours of course but we just love it whenever our humans are happy). This is the Tree Pagoda (Mimetes fimbriifolius). The Tree Pagoda is also endemic to the Peninsula and classified as Rare on the Redlist.Its specific name ‘fimbriifolius' refers to the fringe of hairs that is found on the margins (brim) of the leaves. The leaves have three tips - which distinguish it from the very similar (when not in flower) Green Tree Pincushion (Leucospermum conocarpodendrum viridum). These ericas (maybe Erica glabella) were making a splash of purple all over Steenberg.Stopping to smell the flowers ... or rodents in our case. We are also quite a colourful lot. Purple Gorse (Muraltia heisteria). Omg! Look at this Rock Scotty Dog. Quite spooky. Maddie pretending to be a rock monster too. (Photo from Alice.)
It was a lovely cold and crisp walk and the humans really enjoyed Guy's surprise visit. Hope to see you again one day soon Guy!