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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Fly Fishing Books

It is said that more has been written about fly fishing than about any other sport. Literature about fly fishing goes back many centuries. Being a bibliophile, this is something I really enjoy about the sport. 

On Friday I had a book show at school. Twice a year Shaun of Books 2 You brings his great collection of books for the learners to browse through and buy. His books are very reasonably priced, starting at R20, about $7. He sources his books in England and the US, travelling overseas 2 or 3 times a year to buy books. While he is overseas he always looks for books on fly fishing and fly tying. So every time he comes he brings me 2 or 3 books, his prices are about 1/3 of the normal retail price. This visit was no different and the latest addition to my collection, "John Bailey's Fishing Encyclopedia," has now joined my collection.

Sales at this book show exceeded R15,000, more than two thirds of this being purchased by the learners.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Big beautiful book with big beautiful photos.

Contents page.

This book is not just about fly fishing but about all aspects of the sport, bait fishing, lure fishing, fresh water and sea fishing. 

Some of my fly fishing and fly tying books, the book on the far right is an 1897(?) reprint, on hand made paper, of the 1676, 5th edition of Izaak Walton's "The Compleat Angler," edited by, Richard Le Gallienne. This edition also includes the piece by Charles Cotton, "Being directions how to angle for trout or grayling in a clear stream." Cotton even gives direction on how to tie certain flies. 

Title page of "The Compleat Angler."

Cover of "The Compleat Angler". Good books, on any subject, never date or age, like good red wine they just improve.

Another shelf of fly fishing and fly tying books, this one is next to my fly tying desk. The shelve below has fly tying material stored on it.

Friday, 29 July 2011


This Thando (Th pronounced T), Maria my housekeepers granddaughter. Thando lives with her grandmother while her mother is studying in Johannesburg. When grandmother comes to work Thando comes to. 

Thando has been coming with her grandmother since she was about 6 months old, she is almost 2 years old now.

Thando in her favourite spot to watch the world outside.

When I get home in the afternoons Thando and the three dogs are waiting at the gate. Thando follows me into the house clapping her little hands, for she knows that nKhulu, (isiZulu for grandfather) has brought her something nice to eat. 

Little children have no idea of race, to her I'm just another familiar adult in her life.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Return to normal

Woke up this morning and the cold front was a thing of the past. Still cold but not as bad as the previous two days. The mountains around Estcourt, in an arc of about 250 degrees, were covered with snow, and with the crisp clear air they seemed so close you felt you just had to reach out and you could touch them.  A stunning sight. The Drakensberg range for about 800km, from Berkley East, in the south to Newcastle in the north, was covered in heavy snow.

The N3 highway which was closed for 24 hours, opened at 10am this morning, after the ice on the road had melted. Yesterday there were trucks and cars backed up for 30km at both ends. Today it's traffic as usual, actually more than usual, as all the transport backlog has to be caught up.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Took this photo on my way to work this morning at 06h50, of just a small section of the Drakensberg. The sun is coming up behind me and the suns rays are just lighting up the snow covered slopes of the Drakensberg. My cottage is just a couple of hundred metres to the right of the mobile phone tower seen just to the right of the road.

Took this photo at about 08h20 from the staff room window, overlooking the junior primary play grounds. The Drakensberg can be seen just behind the rise. The children out enjoying the early morning sunshine, after being confined to the classrooms for two days.

Sunset promising another beautiful day tomorrow.

Fortunately for us our bad weather never lasts long, winter just lest us know now and again who is in control.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Winter with a vengeance 2.

Well the weather Sangoma's  (Witch Doctors) weren't kidding when they predicted severe weather. Sometimes when they throw the bones to predict the weather they get it right.

Today's maximum temperature on the sattelite photo below.

The photo below shows the minimum temperatures for today. Estcourt lies right in the dark blue patch, just to the east of Lesotho.

Satelite photo below shows the cold front where it was at 15:00 today, slowly moving east over the Indian Ocean. The weather should be clearing from tomorrow, but another cold front is expected on Friday. Too much of a good thing maybe?

The N3 highway was closed at Van Reenens Pass, where the highway goes over the Drakensberg, heading north to Johannesburg and other major centres. This is the highway that passes behind my cottage, strange to see it so quiet. Fifty percent of South Africa's exports and imports are transported along this route.

The following photos I took this afternoon after school between 14h00 and 15h00.

Rode out of town on route R103, east, southeast, on the road to Mooi River to the top of Griffins Hill as distance of about 9km and took the following photos. Griffins Hill is about 150 metres higher than Estcourt.

It was freezing cold up here with a strong wind blowing.

If you enlarge the photo above you might just make out a farmers pickup truck driving through the snow, the truck is a silvery grey colour, which makes it hard to spot. Looking for missing livestock maybe?

Parked on the opposite side of the road, was an Indian father and his two sons, from Estcourt. The sons had convinced their father to take the to see the snow. Snow is a novelty to us, often falls on the high ground but not so near to town. Half the town was out looking at the snow. 

Taken in town looking towards the Drakensberg. Enlarge the photo by clicking on it and the mountains can be seen just under the clouds.

The mountain centre right of the picture, with snow cap, is NtabamHlophe, isZulu for White mountain. Took this photo just before I turned of right onto the farm where I live. This mountain is about 16km from my cottage. The Drakensberg can be seen behind it.

Tombi lying with her head on my foot, while I write this post. Whenever I'm working at the laptop or tying flies this is where she lies, just has to make contact with me.

Made a big pot of bean soup last night, will warm it up for supper tonight. Should keep me warm in more ways than one. 

Weather photos from:

Monday, 25 July 2011

Winter with a vegeance

Up to now our winter has been reasonably mild, chilly on some days with one or two days very cold. Today it's different with a huge cold front sweeping in over the sub continent from the southern oceans.

Above a map showing the maximum temperatures in South Africa to day, Most of the country was 15 degrees Celsius or less. Large part of central South Africa had a maximum of 10 degrees Celsius or less.

The map above gives the minimum temperatures. Most of the country was below 7.5 degrees Celsius, with a large part below 2.5 to 0 or minus degrees Celsius.

Satellite photo showing the cold front moving across the country at 15h00 this afternoon.

Heavy snowfalls are expected over high lying areas and farmers have been warned to bring their livestock in to shelter. This cold front is expected to last until Wednesday. 

So much for sunny South Africa.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Spent some time this evening tying some flies for a fly fishing trip I hope to take Saturday.
Size 12.

Something I saw on some one's blog. My impression of an "ausable bomber."

With two "wiggle tail" flies I tied. The photo's aren't very good took them with my Black Berry camera.


Nothing rushes Cat, takes things one at a time.

Cat sitting in his favourite spot soaking up the winter sun and watching the antics of dogs outside.

Here's looking at you.

Cat looking at Sissie outside.
The hardest par of Cat's day, grooming.

Tombi getting into the picture, and Cat putting the finishing touches to his toilet.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Shades of pink, grey & blue

Click on photos to enlarge.

The last rays of sunset light up the evening sky.
Could have spent the next ten minutes photographing the changing sky, but it was just too darn cold!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Willem Prinsloo's Peach Brandy.

Herman Charles Bosman wrote about people in the Groot Marico, "back velders", South Africa's equivalent of the Hilly Billy's of Appalachia.

 Map of the Groot Marico region.

Quote: "There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa." 
Herman Charles Bosman.
I believed, as I got on my horse, and set off down the Government Road, with my hat rakishly on one side, that I would be the best-dressed young man at that dance.
It was getting on towards sunset when I arrived at the foot of *Abjaterskop, which I had to skirt in order to reach Willem Prinsloo's farm nestling in the hollow behind the hills. I felt, as I rode, that it was stupid for a man to live in a part that was reputed to be haunted. The trees grew taller and denser, as they always do on rising ground. And they also grew a lot darker.
All over the place were queer, heavy shadows. I didn't like the look of them. I remembered stories I had heard of the witches of Abjaterskop, and what they did to travellers who lost their way in the dark. It seemed an easy thing to loose your way among those tall trees. Accordingly I spurred my horse on to a gallop, to get out of this gloomy region as quickly as possible. After all, a horse is sensitive about things like ghosts and witches, and it was my duty to see that my horse was not frightened unnecessarily. Especially as a cold wind sprang up through the *poort, and once or twice it sounded as though an evil voice were calling my name. I started riding fast then. But a few moments later I realised the position. It was Fritz Pretorius galloping along behind me.
 "What's was your hurry?" Fritz asked when I had slowed down to allow his overtaking me.
"I wished to get through those trees before it got too dark," I answered, "I didn't want my horse to get frightened."
 "I suppose that's why you were riding with your arms round his neck," Fritz observed, " to soothe him."
I did not reply. But what I noticed was that Fritz was also very stylishly dressed. True, I beat him as far as shirt and boots went, but he was dressed in a new grey suit, with his socks pulled up over the bottoms of his trousers. He also had a handkerchief which he ostentatiously  took out of his pocket several times.
 Of course, I couldn't be jealous of a person like Fritz Pretorius. I was only annoyed at the thought that he was making himself ridiculous by going to a party with an outlandish thing like a handkerchief.
Excerpt from the Short story Willem Prinsloo's Peach Brandy, by Herman Charles Bosman.
 *Abjaterskop:  Name of a hill.
*Poort: Pass

  This is one of the few places where you will still find a manual telephone exchange. Maybe the only place on the Planet?


Here's a blog I follow. Beautiful pictures. Worth a look.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Fishing 2.

Picture the scene, a hot summer’s afternoon with the African veld stretching away in the distance. Behind us the red dirt road winding up the mountain, and in front of us a small stream,  flowing between reeds and rushes. The stream itself was only about one metre wide at its widest, flowing into a pool about five metres wide and about 15 metres long. Most of the pool was surrounded by reeds, except for an open spot nearest the road.

My mother had packed a picnic basket and the family made them selves comfortable under a shady thorn tree. One very happy small boy though, was preparing to fish. I attached the reel, threaded the line through the guides, attached a float, a hook and put on a few worms. (All this I might add with my dad’s help).

I walked to the edge of the pool and cast, float, hook, and bait a short distance.  Then I sat down to wait for a bite. For all my nagging to fish there I had my doubts as to whether such a small piece of water could actually hold any fish.

The surface of the water was as smooth as glass, and the float just sat there. I really started to think that there weren’t any fish, when suddenly the float was pulled under. My heart almost stopped, and I struck with more force than was necessary. There was no finesse in the way I played the fish. My only thought was to get it out before it got off the hook. After a short tussle,  I pulled out a Tilapia of about half a pound. A giant of a fish for me.

My excitement and happiness knew no bounds, I literally shouted for joy. It wasn’t just that I had caught a fish, but also that there could be fish in such an insignificant piece of water.

That was the only fish that I caught that afternoon, and I never nagged to fish there again.

This happened more than 50 years ago, but I remember it as if it happened yesterday. The scene, the emotions, all indelibly etched in my memory. Nowadays I never drive past a piece of water without thinking what fish it might hold, and the memory of that long ago afternoon returns to me. 

Mysteries Internal: A Second Date.

Mysteries Internal: A Second Date.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fishing 1.

What makes fly – fishing unique? Is it unique or is it an idea that’s been attached to it? There are easier ways of fishing, all you really need to catch a fish is a piece of string, a hook, and a worm. Are the fancy rods, reels, floating lines, intermediate lines, sinking lines, leaders and tippets necessary?

When I started fly-fishing about seven years ago, it was something I always wanted to do, I even bought a couple of books about it in the 70’s, (I still have those books). As far as I knew fly-fishing was just for catching trout, other fish weren’t exalted enough to catch by this holy method. In any case where would I find trout? Other fish could be found in any piece of water, but trout needed clear mountain streams in places that were out of my reach.

I have always fished. One of my earliest memories is a hook in the calf of my right leg. My uncle Ralph cut the point and barb off the hook with a pliers, and pulled the hook out. He praised me for being brave, and said I was now a true fisherman. (I hadn’t caught a fish yet). I must have been between five and six years old.

While we were living in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in the 1950’s, I remember nagging my father to stop at a stream that ran about 100m below the road on the way home from boarding school. This was when he used to fetch my brother and I from boarding school in a small town called Chipinga. This happened every time we passed this spot, at least once a month. My nagging was to no avail. At this point I must have been about nine years old.

Then one Friday on our way home from boarding school, my dad suddenly slowed the car, and turned off the road to the pool. In the boot of the car he had a small rod, reel with line, floats, hooks and a can of worms. “Now you can fish for the next two hours he said.” I was delirious with joy.

To continue (as they say in the classics).

Day & Night.

Interesting video!

Champagne Castle

Took a drive out to the Berg yesterday and took some photos.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Neat farm in the Champagne Valley, this is a working farm but also a conference and wedding venue. One of those places where you pay through your nose to tie the knot.

More photos of the same farm. This farmers has some very serious fencing.

Distant view of Champagne Castle from the same farm.

Closer view.

This photo of Champagne Castle taken from the grounds of the Dragon Peaks Resort. 

Next to Dragon Peaks Resort is the famous Drakensberg Boy's Choir. A boarding school where boys up to the age of about 13, (when their voice breaks) study music. The choir tours all over the world every year.


Here's an interesting web page. In SA you have to pay the Govt. for any water pumped from a  borehole you paid for, it seems in the US you have to pay for rain water you have collected.

As the piece says soon you will have to pay for the air you breath, Universities and others already own 20% of your genetic code, so you will soon have to pay them for the body you inhabit!

Gorges of Gorges Grouse beat me to this one.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Please do not disturb.

This is so good!

From the blog of mad priest, he's good too.

Worthwhile blogs.

Here's a blog worth looking at, the blog is good, the are comments are just as good!!


Village Gossip

The Italian Leprechaun owed me for a favour I did for him, I choose as repayment breakfast at the Village Gossip. Village Gossip is a tea garden/restaurant, serving teas/coffee, breakfast and light lunches, right on the main road in Estcourt. It's also the oldest settler cottage, circa 1850, in Estcourt and a National Monument.

Click on photos to enlarge.

 View of the cottage from the tea garden.

View of the front veranda.

Tables set out on the veranda. The black board on the wall has the day's menu.

National Monuments plague on the wall. This means that this building may not be altered in anyway, or additions made.
Part of the garden seen from the cottage veranda.

We choose to have breakfast inside rather than in the garden or on the veranda, at 10 Celsius it was a bit chilly. The interior of the cottage is a bit of a museum with all sorts of displays. Breakfast was ham, eggs, sausage and toast, good dose of cholesterol with which to start the day. Home made marmalade with the toast.

Detail of the fireplace. Note the yellow wood floors, an indigenous timber that would cost you an arm and a leg if you tried to purchase some today.

This Nescafe add was especially made by the Nestle coffee factory in Estcourt for display in the cottage.

Quite a few people have that blood type. Mine is tea, but I did have a big pot of filter coffee for breakfast.

Display of hand made dolls, someone in Estcourt makes them. The photo on the top left of the display cabinet is of the Anglican church in Estcourt, also built in 1850.

Close up of one of the dolls. The realism of these dolls is quite uncanny.