Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Two Very Different Items


My Dad wrestling with a crocodile – not something you see every day.

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These penguins look very much alike, but there are two of them and they do look very cute.

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As do these adorable young vervet monkeys.

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Man and machine – applying lime to the wheat fields.

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Have a look at Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge to see more entries in this week’s challenge – Two Very Different Items or The Number Two.

An Alien Encounter


Before I left Zimbabwe I lived in a beautiful house on the banks of Mazwikadei, a large lake which serviced our farmer neighbours. Being in a rural area we often had wildlife in the garden; kudu, duiker, genet and the odd wild cat.

Once a farmer’s cattle roamed into the garden, creating quite a stir with the dogs – and with First Born. He had just got home from school when I heard him calling from his bedroom:

“Muuum! We have too many animals in this house already! What have you gone and bought now?” I looked out of the window to see what he was talking about: 1-61954_469168182455_1077579_n But the most unusual and disturbing visit by far occurred in the middle of a cold winter’s night.  The boys and I were alone in the house (their Father was away) and I had all the dogs inside – for our protection and for their warmth.

1-197992_4828222455_7753_n At about 2am the dogs woke me, barking frantically to be let out. I could see nothing obviously threatening through the window so I opened the door and was nearly knocked off my feet in the dogs’ desperate scramble to get outside. They tore off to the water’s edge, still barking and snarling and then suddenly went silent. There was a quiet whimper, a thunder of feet on the lawn and they all tore back towards the house, and me.  By now I was standing barefoot on the grass, a few feet from the front door and in an instant all the dogs were huddled behind me, shaking and whining and peering around me towards the water. These were not all small dogs – two Great Danes, a couple of Labrador-sized rescue dogs and a miniature poodle – we must have made an amusing sight, had anyone been around to witness this.

It was very dark and I could see nothing but then a sound began to register – a strange shuffling noise accompanied by a scrunching, scraping noise which I could not identify. The noise stopped for a moment, everything went quiet and I took the opportunity to dash back into the house, dogs close on my heels, to fetch a torch. Armed with some light we all ventured back into the garden and I crept as close to the water as I dared, shining the torch in all directions and looking for Goodness knows what.

The scrunching began again, I flashed the light towards the noise and saw two specks of light – about a foot apart – that seemed to be dancing in time to the scraping, a few feet above the ground. My blood ran cold and every hair on my body stood up. My legs became dead weights and for a minute or two I was rooted to the spot, unable to move, think, react. What alien being was this?

Then one of the dogs growled, the light specks stopped moving and in a moment a large, grey shape came into focus.

Not someone you want to bump into in the middle of the night

Not someone you would want to bump into in the middle of the night

We were looking at a hippo making a midnight feast of the long grass growing on the edge of the dam in the front garden!

Both boys slept through the excitement but I wish I had woken them up. This was the first sighting of a hippo in our lake and no one believed my story – I took no photographs and for a long time jokes were made about ‘pink hippos’ and alcohol.

A few days later I was vindicated when the hippo appeared in the bay in broad daylight. The dogs were a lot braver this time around. 1-33653_475750722455_379878_n 1-33653_475750727455_5519209_n The hippo hung around for a few more days and then disappeared forever.


This is my first entry into Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge.

“Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category.  We’ve all taken them and like them, because we just can’t hit delete and get rid of them.  There is never a theme to this challenge, so what is an odd ball is all up to discover and photograph.”

I’ve always loved the first photo, of the cattle in the garden (it is a scanned copy and unfortunately I have lost the original) and thought it would fit nicely into this challenge. And it is pretty odd to have cattle gazing at you from your front garden.

Allergic to ‘E’ Challenge – Things That Go Bump (and Hiss)!


Thank you to 4 Year Old Adult for nominating me to take part in this fun – and challenging – challenge. Hopefully the exercise will nudge me out of my apathy and get the creative juices flowing again.


It was a cold misty night in May, I was dozing. With a start, I sat up. A sound … A crash, a thud, a growl and a hiss. What was that? Not a python – too loud. Nor a croc; too far inland. I slowly spun around, looking into dark shifting shadows trying to spy a hungry wild animal lurking – stalking its human snack. A touch, soft and light against my shin and a low rumbling purr. That darn cat!

Who? Me?

Who? Moi?


Did anyone see what I did there? A paragraph written without using the letter ‘E’ – it’s not as easy as it seems!

Anyone who wants to can take part but to keep the chain going I nominate these bloggers (I know the rules say to respond within 24 hours and I understand not everyone has time on their hands so, because I can, I have changed this to 5 days. Also, it is not compulsory to take up the challenge but it would be fun if you did):

Wright Outta Nowhere

Perth Words… Exploring Possibilities

Edwina’s Episodes

Frankie Kay

From Balderdash to Epiphany

Mynuttydubai

The formal rules for accepting this challenge are:

1) Write a whole paragraph ( a paragraph sounds easy right?) without any word containing the letter “e” (still easy for ya?) then comment here and link back to this URL: https://redefiningrandom.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/allergic-to-e-challenge/
2) By reading this you are already signed up.
3) Challenge at least five bloggers to do the challenge. They must do it within 24 hours or it is considered as failure.
4) If you fail or pass, suffer in the Page of Lame.
5) If you win, wallow in the Page of Fame.

Go ahead, show us your creativity. Good luck.

A Step Back in Time: My First Guest Blogger – Peter Taylor


My last post was a collection of some of my favourite photos which I took on a recent visit to Ainsdale Beach, which is in Merseyside, close to Southport in the Northwest UK.

In that post I mentioned that Ainsdale was one of the places my Dad, Peter Taylor, most liked to visit when he was a child growing up in Manchester and today I am delighted to have him here with me reminiscing about those days.

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Peter Taylor – “I’ve always been interested in herpetology and the attraction of Ainsdale is that it is the home of Britain’s rarest toad, the natterjack, and rarest lizard, the sand lizard, both of which have a specialised habitat requirement – sand dunes.

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Ainsdale Dunes

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As a child, our annual holidays would be at Gronant, a small coastal village in Flintshire, North Wales. Gronant had, in those days, extensive sand dunes (which I believe now no longer exist) where natterjack toads and sand lizards thrived.  Gronant was a train journey of several hours from Manchester, whereas with Ainsdale, during the long summer days, I could cycle there and back in a day, with several hours to spare in which I could play around and so was able to visit with ease.

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Ainsdale had, and still has, extensive sand dunes which are now protected but weren’t in my early days, and there was a healthy population of natterjacks and sand lizards.

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This way to the natterjacks!

This way to the natterjacks!

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I used to catch natterjacks and take them home to Manchester, a practise that is now thankfully illegal!

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There were natterjack tadpoles in this pond

Natterjacks are the most vocal of the British amphibia and some people complain about their nocturnal mating calls!

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The red squirrels didn’t interest me all that much, mainly because in those days they were still relatively common and not considered threatened. The red squirrels now exist in the wooded area to the south of the reserve near Formby.

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Formby Squirrel Reserve

There were no motor ways in those days and far less traffic than is the case now. For most of the way I would cycle along the East Lancs Road which had a cycle lane making it pretty safe and I always went with a friend.”