26 May 2015

Intaka to Tokai

On Sunday the Food Lady left us again to go and do her birding. What humans do for fun! We just chase birds. Anyway, this is Intaka Island which is a beautiful wetland in the middle of the city.
There were lovely walks - but presumably not for dogs - although the Food Lady did see a Labrador swimming in the river near the apartments as this is all wall to wall housing development.
Some of them most attractive!
The Food Lady was happy to see that she is not the only one who cant spell or proofread.
There were lots of exciting birds to see like this Purple Heron,
and lots of Yellow Canaries eating Camphor Bush (Tarchonanthus littoralis) seeds.
And the Food Lady got a certificate. And she met Antje and Bernard who came walking with us once a while back with Thea. (Click here to go to the post.)
Then when she EVENTUALLY got back, we all went for a lovely walk in Tokai Park. It was lovely to get into the cool cool pool.
Not a hellovalotta flowers around - but some pretty Suikerbossie flowers (Protea repens) to get the Food Lady off birds and back into flowers.
We bumped into a pod of Cairns who were very friendly and, like Scotties, kept heading off with the wrong humans.
I think winter is coming ...
as it gets dark rather early now. Looking forward to a snooze in front of the fire at home.

18 May 2015

Riel dancers and cedar trees

Dear Coco
On Saturday, after we left you so early in the morning, we drove out to Clanwilliam, over the Pakhuis Pass and down a very bumpy road to Heuningvlei to help plant some endangered Clanwilliam Cedars (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). All the local schoolchildren and visiting kids were busy planting seeds when we arrived.
Several of the Heunginvlei dogs were there too,
enjoying a tummy-tickle in the watery morning sunshine.
We all set out into the mountains with bakkie loads of people and cedar trees,
and planted trees in inaccessible places. These trees have been grown and cared for by an upmarket hotel called Bushmanskloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat and they host the day in conjunction with CapeNature and local schools.
Before lunch we were treated to a lovely dance by the Under 12 members of a local dance group called the Nuwe Graskoue Trappers.
Here is an excerpt from the under 12s dance.
Then after a delicious lunch provided by Bushmanskloof, the champion dancers from the Nuwe Graskoue Trappers entertained the guests. (There is more about them on UTube. The head chef at Bushmanskloof, Floris Smith, trains these SA dance champs.)
They were such fun that lots of people and kids joined in the afternoon's dusty dancing,
but some of us preferred to watch.
Soon it was time to hit the bumpy road
back to Pakhuis Pass.
We were booked into a rather ordinary farm cottage at Kleinfontein Farm where we chilled with their two lithe and friendly dogs we called Bonnie and Blythe,
then went for a walk in the rocky Cederberg scenery with them,
exploring the dassie-rich rocks in front of our little cottage which you can see under the green roof.
It is very dry at the moment, with no real rain yet, but lots of these teeny tiny stone-plants (probably Conophytum minusculum subsp. minisculum) were flowering in amongst the lichen.
After an early night (there was loadshedding out here too can you believe it! so we just got into bed and read our books) we set off early on Sunday morning. This is a view of Table Mountain from Malmesbury. As always, it was good to get home to you, the Lad and the Boston Terrorist - and Kerryn and Phil and the most delicious Sunday roast - thanks Kerryn!.
lots of love from the Food Lady

11 May 2015

A bridge of silver ...*

Waiting and waiting for our walk. We are off to the mountain whose name we don't like as it sounds too close to the human's really-really-cross swearword. Pauline and Philip and Harvey are coming too.
There, but still waiting!
The start of the walk was rather bleak - burned old pine tree trunks from a previous fire, dead and singed Silver Trees, and ashy sand.
Then suddenly in the middle of the grey ash and singed Silver Trees we came across a clump of Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia uvaria) flowering brightly. The Food Lady was happy to see them.
The Silver Trees (Leucadendron argenteum) are even more silver now - with a carpet of silver beneath them. We noticed that some of them are still alive on top and many of their stems are hardly even blackened, but apparently they are re-seeders, and usually the trees are killed in fires but the seeds are released en masse after a fire.
We hope Jayne doesn't mind that her rare and endangered Silver Trees are rather burned - but at least there are lots and lots of seeds around for a new generation - "the jewelled vision of a life started anew."*
The scramble to the top of the Swearword Mountain is steep and I needed a helping hand every so often. Luckily the path is still clear - as the burn was not so intense here.
Up on the top the path skirts the burned area - and there is lots of new growth coming up - even though there hasn't been much rain yet. These are Fire Daisies (Capelio tabularis).
Tea and bubbles to celebrate the Alph's milestone birthday - and Mother's Day. You can see the Swearword Mountain in the background - but it was already occupied by millions of hikers so we had tea below it.
We saw lots of birds including this Pied Crow and some White-necked Ravens, and a Lanner Falcon.
The Lad and Harvey rushed off crazily to meet the hikers as they filed past below us. Such uncool behaviour!
We finally reached the top of the Swearword Mountain - with its wonky beacon -
and we surveyed the extent of the fire below us. This is looking back to Tokai - with Muizenberg on the far left and Constantiaberg on the right. The fire came scarily close to the vineyards of Groot and Klein Constantia and Buitenverwagting.
Constantiaberg - all burned.
But when you look down, all is re-sprouting and growing and there are insects and spiders crawling around, and abundant birds too. Amazing! These are Aardroos or Common Ground Proteas (Protea acaulos) re-sprouting from underground stems. There were also lots of seeds in the flowerheads.
Back in the unburned fynbos on the way home I decided to give them all a scare and did one of my disappearing acts. Philip and the Food Lady eventually came back to fetch me. Its just that sometimes I think I can find a better way home.  
Back we trudged, under ziplines and past fancy new restaurants.
There are always interesting dogs and smells on the other side of the fence!
An autumnal scene for the last stretch up Hout Bay drive to Constantia Nek,
where there were lots of happy screaming children
and busloads of happy smiling tourists.
Home to breakfast and a box of Mothers Day chocs from Phil - and a lovely Skype for the Food Lady and the Alph with Simon in Korea.
*“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jewelled vision of a life started anew.” Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams.