Cruel April Fool

This year has been a very dry one for us. Our records show we have only received 245mm of rainfall. Compared to last year’s 1,500mm that’s abysmal, and it would have been a disaster farming-wise if we weren’t able to draw water from the Zambezi River for irrigation.

But dry weather makes ideal harvesting weather and we started lifting soya beans by hand last week in anticipation of the combine arriving on Monday to finish the job.

Our peanut crop was also ready for harvest  and so last week it was all systems go! The ‘new’ second-hand peanut harvester we bought earlier this year and the tractors had been serviced, 50 extra hands had been hired and Piet was up before light, doing last-minute checks and reminding everyone of their duties.

Within minutes Piet realised something was amiss with the peanut harvester. It was blocking up with nuts and debris and just not doing the job properly. And so the frustrations began, and continued throughout the week and over the weekend.

Piet and the farm mechanic tinkered and tapped, removed parts, cleaned and then replaced them. They swore (a little), paced and scratched their heads. And they sweated! Temperatures (and tempers) were rising and clouds started forming on the horizon.

Eventually, on Monday, Piet conceded defeat, phoned around a bit and with a lot of perseverance and a little luck found a mechanic who specialises in fixing peanut harvesters – we are expecting him to fly in from Johannesburg today.

On Tuesday morning Piet realised that rain was inevitable, so he arranged to have some of the harvested nuts moved into our old managers house (our sheds are too full with next season’s fertilizer) where they would stay dry – the mechanic will need some dry material to test the machine with. Normally the harvested nuts are windrowed and left to dry in the fields – because it is normally dry at this time of year.

Then on Tuesday afternoon those clouds rolled in and it started raining. And it rained. And rained. And rained. It rained all through the night and only stopped at around 10 o’clock this morning, April 1st.

The offending peanut harvester hiding in shame

The offending peanut harvester hiding in shame

A new use for the manager's house!

Come on in – grab yourself some peanuts

A pile of peanuts. (At least these ones are dry)

A pile of (dry) peanuts.

These are not so dry

These are not so dry

Soggy windrows - and it's threatening to rain again!

Soggy windrows – and it’s threatening to rain again …

The soya-bean combine waiting for a sunnier day

Waiting for a sunnier day

Certainly an April Fools Day for us, although not a particularly funny one.

My Butterfly

My Butterfly – by Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963

Thine emulous fond flowers are dead, too,
And the daft sun-assaulter, he
That frighted thee so oft, is fled or dead:
Save only me
(Nor is it sad to thee!)
Save only me
There is none left to mourn thee in the fields.
The gray grass is not dappled with the snow;
Its two banks have not shut upon the river;
But it is long ago–
It seems forever–
Since first I saw thee glance,
With all the dazzling other ones,
In airy dalliance,
Precipitate in love,
Tossed, tangled, whirled and whirled above,
Like a limp rose-wreath in a fairy dance.
When that was, the soft mist
Of my regret hung not on all the land,
And I was glad for thee,
And glad for me, I wist.
Thou didst not know, who tottered, wandering on high,
That fate had made thee for the pleasure of the wind,
With those great careless wings,
Nor yet did I.
And there were other things:
It seemed God let thee flutter from his gentle clasp:
Then fearful he had let thee win
Too far beyond him to be gathered in,
Snatched thee, o’er eager, with ungentle grasp.
Ah! I remember me
How once conspiracy was rife
Against my life–
The languor of it and the dreaming fond;
Surging, the grasses dizzied me of thought,
The breeze three odors brought,
And a gem-flower waved in a wand!
Then when I was distraught
And could not speak,
Sidelong, full on my cheek,
What should that reckless zephyr fling
But the wild touch of thy dye-dusty wing!
I found that wing broken to-day!
For thou are dead, I said,
And the strange birds say.
I found it with the withered leaves
Under the eaves.

With all thy dazzling other ones

With all thy dazzling other ones

In airy dalliance

In airy dalliance

Precipitate in love

Precipitate in love

Tossed, tangled, whirled and whirled above

Tossed, tangled, whirled and whirled above

Like a limp rose-wreath in a fairy dance

Like a limp rose-wreath in a fairy dance

I found that wing broken today!

I found that wing broken today!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ephemeral”

Oh How I Love to Be By the Seaside

Rio Savanne was a favourite holiday place for us to visit when my children were small.

Situated just north of Beira in Mocambique it was far away enough from civilization for us to completely unwind and relax and getting there was relatively simple and quick.

I say ‘relatively’ quick but it was still close to a twelve hour drive from our home. However, compare that to the 18 to 20 hours it took to drive to Coconut Bay – our other favourite destination – and you will get my point.

Then, there was the ‘relatively’ not so simple issue of the Fronteira, or border crossing.  The first time we crossed over, just after the civil war in Mocambique had ended, I think we were the first customers they had had for many years – no-one really seemed to know what to do with us (although in subsequent years that air of puzzlement and feeling of ‘organised chaos’ didn’t change, so perhaps that is just the way it is done).

We had managed to squirrel away a few US Dollars for the trip and our first hurdle occurred when we tried to use that to pay for our visa.

Não! Não! Metacais!” the clearly frustrated Immigration official told us.

Ok, so where can we exchange Dollars for Mocambican Metacais?

Banco! Banco!” The bank, we assumed (correctly).

He gesticulated wildly towards a scruffy building adjacent to the equally scruffy one we were in and we started walking off in that direction.

Espera!“, Wait! He was becoming more and more flustered. So we waited while he took his pen (the only item that had been sitting on the counter) and locked it away in a room at the back.

He returned with an enormous bunch of keys and together we all traipsed across to the Banco. We had to wait while he muttered under his breath, rummaging through all those keys and trying them one by one in the door lock (there were only two buildings at the Fronteira, what all the other keys were for was anybody’s guess) until he finally exclaimed “esta aqui” and scurried inside.

He now obviously had his Banker Hat on. He went behind the counter and once there he put out his hand for the $100 bill, took it over to a till, opened it and rummaged around for a bit, all the time mumbling something to himself.

Then he shrugged, turned to face us and with a triumphant “non” he held both palms upwards, that universal gesture which means “there’s nothing”.

Now what? We can’t pay in US Dollars and the bank has no Metacais! Our holiday is doomed to never start! My children’s father started to become hot under the collar (and it was hot – we were all sweating) and one of the boys started to cry.

Another “espera!“.

Our immigration official-come-banker crossed back to the other side of the bank counter, removed that metaphorical bankers hat and put on his Money Tout Hat. He dug his hand deep into his pocket, removed a whole fistfull of notes and we entered into an illegal currency exchange right there*. In the bank. With the immigration official.

Looking at the current Rio Savanne web site it seems things have changed a lot since those early days, when we used to park our vehicle on the other side of the river and have all our camping gear ferried across in a small wooden boat.

1-boat 15

Here you can see the village on the other side of the river where our vehicles were parked

1-boat 16 1-boat 14 1-boat 17 It always impressed me how effortless it seemed for these men to move all that stuff! 1-boat 13 In those days the only accommodation was the tents you took with you and the only food you ate was what you cooked for yourself on a wood fire. 1-sunset rio savanne 2 When the tide was low we could walk for what seemed like miles along to the mouth of the Rio Savanne, the boys always taking along their fishing rods and me my camera. 1-rio savanne 1 I love the patterns the retreating water makes in the sand. This was the days before digital photography, so I had to take pictures sparingly. But I was quite pleased with some of the results and thought these next few pictures will fit in very nicely with this week’s Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge theme, Abstract Photography. Pop over to have a look – there are some wonderful entries this week. 1-abstract 5 1-abstract 4 1-abstract 1 1-abstract 2 * In case you’re interested, a hundred US Dollars got us approximately twenty three million Metacais.


I’m sure many of you are sick of the sight of it but I’ve not had many opportunities to see snow (to be precise, twice) so when it snowed on Boxing Day while I was visiting my family in the UK I was delighted.  That the snowfall coincided with First Born’s first night in the UK – and his first ever experience of snow – made it all the more exciting.

As the first flakes fluttered down we all rushed outside, immediately built a snowman and then gathered as much snow as we could to throw puny snowballs at each other. Our laughter and screams of hilarity drew confused neighbours to their kitchen window and we laughed even more when we heard one of them comment “Oh, it’s OK. They’re foreign”.

It's not much to look at, but it's Ours!

It’s not much to look at, but it’s Ours!

Foreign antics

Foreign antics

The following morning my Dad took us all for a long walk around Shire Hill. I  love the crunchy noise the snow makes when you walk on it!


The snow had hardened by then but that didn’t make the views any less spectacular.



Looking down on Glossop from Shire Hill


More snow was flung around.


And again the neighbours came to have a look.


What’s with these foreigners flinging snow all over the place?

Half way up the hill we found this poignant memorial and we stood still for a moment, the only sounds coming from the wind whistling through the trees and the occasional plaintive bleat from the sheep.

Come and sit for a while, and remember me

Come and sit for a while, and remember me

We all felt a little sobered, so it was a great relief to the eyes to see a small splash of colour among the white to cheer us up. First Born’s reaction was delightful – “But that’s so English!”.




Walking on Sunshine Blog Hop Party

This weekend, to celebrate the Partial Solar Eclipse in the UK, a Super Moon and the arrival of the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News is hosting a Blog Hop Party and everyone here on Planet Blog is invited!

We’re heading into winter in this part of the World (although you wouldn’t think so with the sweltering temperatures we’ve been experiencing) so I guess that makes today our Autumn Equinox.  Happy Spring Day everyone else!

I follow and read so many wonderful blogs – each one is unique, inspiring, funny, entertaining, awe-inspiring. Every day when I visit my reader I learn something new, see something beautiful, laugh, sometimes cry. I love the way blogging brings people together, turning strangers into friends. I would like to link to every one of them but for the sake of brevity I have chosen to only highlight three. You can see a list of some of the other blogs I follow in the menu bar on the right – they are all worth a visit.

I want to thank Savannabel for giving me the courage to go ‘live’ with my blog. Had it not been for her egging me on I would still be writing secretly, for myself. Her blog is beautifully written and illustrated and her delicious recipes, all made with a unique local twist, are interwoven with interesting stories of life in the Zambezi Valley.

The first blog I followed is one of my favourites. Rachel cleverly winds her story around the amusing antics of her two (very cute) dogs, Cricket and Butterfly on The Cricket Pages. I try not to ever miss an episode.

One fellow blogger in particular has made a huge impact on my life. She has been my rock and my inspiration, and (with help from her husband) she has taught me just about everything I know and made me who I am.

She has a remarkable story to tell and I hope that you will take the time to go and read it at I Had a Life in Africa (the link will take you to her About page).

Ladies and Gentlemen, at risk of being accused of nepotism, I introduce to you Dendy MacToodle, AKA My Mum.

Dendy MacToodle

Dendy MacToodle

walking on sunshine








If you want to join in the fun this is all you need to do:

1. Choose a fellow blogger who you think spreads blog love.

2. Write a short post about them.

3. Entitle your post Walking On Sunshine Blog Hop Party (so others can find your post).

4. Create a pingback to Hugh’s post, so that the link appears in the comments section, so that other participants can read your post.  Click here for details on how to create a pingback.

5. If you are not sure how to create a pingback, then copy and paste the link to your post in the comments section below Hugh’s post (so that other participants can read your post).

You can mention as many bloggers as you want in your post and write as much about them as you want, but try to not make your post too long.  You can also use Hugh’s Walking On Sunshine Weekend photo in your post if you want to.

Enjoy the party everyone and keep spreading the blog love.



Naughty Potomanautes

Yesterday morning I hadn’t yet put on my glasses when I surfaced from the bedroom and went into the lounge.  I glanced across at the fish tanks, as I normally do, and noticed something strange. There appeared to be a mythical, multi-legged beast with two heads writhing around on the floor of the tank.



Glasses on, I peered closer. It seems there was a wedding last night. 1-IMG_3404 I made myself a cup of coffee, pulled up a chair and settled in to watch the show. (I know this might seem like a weird thing to do, but it’s not every day you see a pair of river crabs mating in your living room.) Three hours and a couple more cups of coffee later things had not progressed much, so I turned to Google to find out what I would be missing if I left them alone to carry on their, um, business … What I learned was that crabs usually mate soon after moulting, while their outer shells are still relatively soft and supple. Also that females of many African river crabs species (Potomanautes sp.) ‘give birth’ to live, perfectly formed baby crabs – unlike sea crabs which lay eggs that hatch into a larval stage before metamorphosing into little crabs. Another thing I learned is that the crab mating act can sometimes take many days to finish (!), so I gave up being a voyeur and went to work. In the evening when I got home they were still at it and only finally parted at around 8pm. I leave you with a short video I took. This is pretty much as exciting as it got and I think you will understand why I didn’t stick around to watch more.

Something Fishy

My interest in aquaria was rekindled a couple of years ago when First Born and his delightful English Lass built me a 720 litre fish tank for Christmas.


Building the stand

We collected sand from a beautiful beach on a near-by island on the river. The sand is bleached white and squeaks when you walk on it.

Collecting sand

Collecting sand

Catching stock

Catching stock

5       6


We don’t own a TV – only because we don’t want to, not because there is no service – and it was a novelty to have something to watch in the evenings.


The filters had not yet cleared the water but that didn’t spoil the viewing

Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) - striped water dog

Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) – striped water dog

"Pink Happy"

“Pink Happy”

A couple of Squeakers

A couple of Squeakers

A trio of Banded Jewelfish

A trio of Banded Jewelfish

A series of unfortunate events resulted in this tank breaking. We managed to salvage some of the glass and used that to build a smaller tank but we had to release many of the fish back into the Zambezi.

Knowing my passion for fish keeping, this last Christmas Piet had another tank built for me while I was away in the UK visiting family and I returned to the most wonderful surprise.

My next project will be to create a ‘planted tank’, using vegetation that grows here in the Upper Zambezi River.  In the mean time Piet and I love to sit of an evening, sipping on a Mozi Lager and watching our fish live out their lives in our living room.

African Pike

African Pike

Our ‘Local’ in Muizenberg

We recently spent a (very short) week in Cape Town. Tucked away in a side street in Muizenberg we found Oroboros Tapas Bar and after one visit it became our ‘local’.

Most evenings we would sit at a table on the pavement, testing every brand of craft beer on the menu and watching the World go by.


It did taste chocolatey!


Dangerously delicious!

Cape Town Rocks!

Cape Town Rocks!







I love that Muizenberg is a dog-friendly place and at most places you go to you will see people walking around with their four-legged friends, some even stopping by in a restaurant or cafe for a bite to eat and a drink.


To see more pictures of wooden benches visit Travel Worlds.