Category Archives: Photos

The Winter Solstice 2021

Winter Flowers 1 – Plumbago

Haiku 250

A bleak mid-winter

While seasons keep on turning

Another solstice

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Winter Flowers 2 – Poinsettia

Today, Monday 21 June 2021, is the winter solstice down here in South Africa. It is the shortest day, the longest night, of the year. For most of my readers however, it is quite the reverse, as you reach mid-summer in the northern hemisphere.

Winter Flowers 3 – Lavender

For us, the sun will now start returning; though to be honest, I can’t say it’s ever been far away!

Winter Flowers 4 – Honeysuckle

However, winter proper has yet to come. July and August are the coldest, wettest months in Cape Town. Actually, I hope we do get some decent rain, as once again, our “rainy” season has been fairly dry so far.

Winter Flowers 5 – Viola

Dotted among the text in this post, are photos from my garden.

You would hardly know it is winter!

 

post script: A bleak mid-winter refers to one of my favourite Christmas carols; In the bleak mid-winter. 

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For those interested: Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate; warm wet winters and dry hot summers. However, South Africa is very big and other parts of the country have completely different climates. Some places north of the Western Cape have snowfalls in winter and many places are much colder. Johannesburg, 1400km to the north of CT, has hot wet summers, but cold dry winters. When we lived there the temperatures dropped to minus 8C one winter, and the fountains froze in town!

 

The Phoenix

The Phoenix 1

Haiku 249

Mythical fire bird

Wings aflame as you fly off

Mystery intact

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I heard a bird singing somewhere in the bare branches of my neighbour’s winter tree. It took me a while to spot him, but I couldn’t make out his species.

Suddenly he took off, with a flash of his wings.

The Phoenix 2

It was a Phoenix! The mythical fire bird.

And in a blinding light, he vanished!

How fortunate was I, to witness this extremely rare bird, from my back garden!

 

post script: I think from his size and song, he was a Red-winged starling. It explains why his red wing feathers lit up as he flew away, with the sunlight shining through them from the behind.

 

The Lonely Cloud

The Lonely Cloud

Haiku 248

How unusual

A cloudy day in Cape Town

Sunny tomorrow!

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This is what passes for a cloudy day in Cape Town!

Although this photo is from a few months ago, during my blogging absence, it still remains the norm. Unless it is actually going to rain, the sky is clear most days.

It was very odd to see this tiny wisp of a cloud, alone in a bright blue sky.

And you will all know the famous line, from William Wordsworth’s poem;

I wandered lonely as a cloud . . .

Well, I never knew a cloud could be lonely, till I saw this one!

 

A Little Potty!

Blue Pot Flowers 1

Haiku 247

Day by day by day

Keeping busy in Lockdown

By going potty!

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During our endless Lockdown, apart from the usual chores, I have kept busy by reading many books, watching far too much Netflix than is good for me and spending the rest of the time on YouTube clips!

It was while surfing YouTube that I came across a short clip on brightening up your garden pots, with a little spray paint. I thought this was a great idea! All the plant pots on my stoep are years old, and the ones that came with the house, decades! These have lost their original paint over the years and were looking very sorry for themselves.

So I trundled down to the local hardware store and selected a few cans of spray paint. I’ve never painted anything with spray paint before, having used paintbrushes or rollers to paint the house in the past. I thought it would be a lot of fun, and as the plant pots are small, not too expensive.

Blue Pot Clean 2

The two pots above are the ancient ones that came with the house. Although looking very sorry for themselves now, they are painted, so wouldn’t need a primer.

Not sure how to go about cleaning them, I scrubbed them very well with a solution of sugar soap, rinsed them and left them to dry.

Then came the fun part!

Blue Pot First Coat 3

Wearing a proper, well-fitting face mask, to avoid breathing in paint fumes, I placed the pots on newspaper and sprayed away.

Blue Pot Second Coat 4

Again, not really sure what I was doing, I just laid down a thin layer of paint, thinking it would be better to build up a few layers than try to spray thickly.

Blue Pot Third Coat and Soil 5

This colour is Electric Blue and I wondered if it might be too bright. However, once I’d placed the pots on the corner of the stoep and filled them with a red dianthus and some lilac violas, it was just right.

Blue Pot Flowers 6

I also planted many new freesia bulbs and have been watching these sprout over the weeks. They should start flowering in August.

Blue Pot Flowers 7

So a hobby started to pass the time has provided many hours of enjoyment and I still feel cheered when I see my bright Electric Blue pots on the stoep.

 

post script: I realise some countries will immediately assume potty refers to a child going to the toilet! Where I grew up in the north of England, it meant silly, daft or slightly crazy. 

 

Exquisitely

Daisy 1

Haiku 246

Gloriously gold

Petals absorbing sunshine

Glow exquisitely

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Daisy and bee 2

This exquisite flower, an orange Cape Daisy, entices insects to itself, with alluring scents and ultraviolet markings, hidden to us. Here is a Cape honey bee making use of all this bounty, though I don’t think it’s the same little guy from my garden the other day!

How lucky are we, to enjoy Nature’s beauty, even if it was never meant for us!

 

Flower seen at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town.

 

Drownded!

Viola in pot

Haiku 245

Hang in there my dear!

Had too much of a good thing?

I’ll save you *now now!

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It’s not unusual to have rain at this time of the year here in Cape Town. It is winter and the rainy season (such as that is) after all.

But instead of a few days here and there with a little light rain, we have been having nothing for weeks on end – and then a deluge!

In March, it was totally dry until we got all the average rainfall for the month, in one day! This pattern has continued.

Fortunately, we don’t get floods in my area, though many places in CT do.

Still, as you can see from this little pot, the other day it got more rain than it could cope with, and the Viola was gasping for air!

The pot doesn’t have a drainage hole at the bottom, so I had put stones in and then planted the viola in an old plastic pot that does drain, and placed that on top. Mostly the system works very well.

But hey – Deluge!

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post script: * “now now” is a commonly used South African expression, meaning at once. There is also “just now”, which means in a moment, later. These are direct translations of the Afrikaans expressions and used in South African English. For further explanations, try here.

post post script: This is not the post I had planned for today, but, with an unerring sense of perfect timing, I returned to Blogging just as we went back into Loadshedding. Today’s power cut is for two and a half hours before lunch, so no time for a post with many photos that need editing!

post post post script: I really wanted to title this post “Drownded”, just for fun, but thought it might be too daft. On looking the word up, I find it is a real word.

Drownd is an archaic form of drown, and drownded an archaic form of drowned. 

So, daft it is!

 

Busy Little Bee

Cape Honey Bee on Honeysuckle 1

Haiku 244

Busy Little Bee

Buzz from flower to flower

Pollinate away!

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Cape Honey Bee on Honeysuckle 2

Hard to believe it is winter here in Cape Town, when the honeysuckle is in full bloom.

And bees are hard at work collecting nectar and pollen, while pollinating the colourful flowers for the next generation.

Cape Honey Bee on Honeysuckle 3

This little guy is a Cape Honey Bee  Apis mellifera capensis and is indigenous to South Africa.

 

Catching the Red-Eye

Red-Eyed Dove 1

Haiku 243

Catching the Red-Eye

Involves stealth and much patience

But mostly Dumb Luck!

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Many pigeons visit my garden, scratch around in the grass, drink from the dog bowls and splash in the bird bath.

Red-Eyed Dove 2 – Photo page 197 of Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa

Most are either the small Cape Laughing Dove, (25 cm) Number 4 in photo above, or the larger Cape Turtle Dove (28 cm) Number 3 above.

One day here was this giant, quite unique and bigger than all the rest (33 – 36 cm) Number 2 in above photo.

He is a Red-Eyed Dove, the largest of the ring-necked doves, with a thicker black neck band and a very prominent Red Eye!

Red-Eyed Dove 3

Conveniently, he posed on top of the tree trunk and I was lucky enough to snap a quick photo. He even caught the morning sunlight on his face for a perfect portrait!

 

post script: I’d heard the expression, “Catching the Red Eye”, probably in American movies! It refers to a late night flight that arrives early the next morning.

 

Solitude

Solitary Walk

Haiku 242

Social distancing

Gathering for some fresh air

While oceans apart

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I took a stroll along Muizenberg beach, Cape Town. It was very windy, which was great as it blew the cobwebs away!

Yes, there are people in the ocean in the photo above. That’s about as close as I got to anyone; except when I treated myself to a latte from the little coffee shop.

I sat on the sea wall, wind in my face, as I sipped my hot coffee; just enjoying the sea view, and the illusion of freedom.

Then I slipped my face mask back on, returned to the safety and isolation of my car, and drove home.

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Lockdown Rules for South Africa

Wear a face mask at all times
Keep two metres away from anyone
Sanitise your hands at every shop entrance

It was easy to maintain the legal two metres apart here at the beach, as most people were way off in the distance. Even so, we all wore our face masks; it is the law outside of your own home, even when driving alone in your car. You are allowed to remove your face mask temporarily to eat or drink, as long as social distancing from strangers is maintained.

 

Hope

Spiky Red Flower

Haiku 241

A New Hope – Because

Not all spiky balls are the

Corona Virus

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I spotted this unusual flower at Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens, Cape Town, South Africa.

After a year spent mostly at home, I ventured out one morning to wander round this most beautiful of places.

It did not disappoint.