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Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Tomorrow  September the 1st. is officially Spring day here in South Africa. Friday is "civvies" day at school, this means the learners don't have to wear their school uniforms. A competition will be held for the craziest spring hat and the ugliest takkies, (gym shoes). Friday night there will be a Spring dance, so great excitement reigns at school.

Nature seems to be in agreement that it is Spring. Took some photos of the evidence.

These are flowers on an ancient plum tree growing in my garden. Every year without fail it buds produces flowers and a few fruit.Took the photo above, before the sun was quite out this morning. The photo below of a different branch on the same tree this afternoon.

Photo above shows the flowers and new leaves. Trees in the background lose their leaves late so we will only see new leaves on them towards the end of September.

 A tree at school with news leaves unfolding.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


This afternoon while I was reading  I noticed lady watching me.

We could be fishing and you're sitting there wasting time reading!

Ah well.

I might as well have a little snooze.

About seven years ago I found Lady up wandering about on a busy road in the early evening traffic, she was then a pup of about eight weeks old.  After enquiries at the S.P.C.A, the local Vet and an advertisement in our local weekly news paper. Getting no response from anyone, I decided to keep her. At first I thought someone had dumped her near the road, but as I got to know her I realized she was an escape artist second to none, and she liked to explore, even at that young age.  

Maria, my housekeeper, insisted that we name her Lady, after another dog I had, that had died about six months earlier of cancer. The original Lady was a special favourite of Maria's and looked a lot like the present Lady.

(The covering on the couch is a hand woven, fine weave, woollen rug, actually intended as a floor covering. This is quite a big rug, about 3 metres by 2.5 meters, cover the whole couch, and hangs down to the floor in front, the back and the sides. The couch was getting a bit tatty, so I thought the rug would do nicely to cover it.  I bought the rug at a place called KwaZuluNatal Weavers, about 30km from Estcourt, price R300, less than $50. Zulu women weave these rugs on hand looms).

Soon after I took these photos I took my #6 fly rod and we went fishing, and caught a nice 14" bass on a brown and olive bead head woolly bugger. Took a photo of the fish but the light was too bad.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Last week I received a pleasant surprise in the mail. There in my mail box at school were two parcels from Canada, sent to me by Kay of (An unfitties guide to adventurous travel). These two parcels contained  two books, written by her father Gordon Davies, about rivers in British Columbia and his fishing experiences in them. Kay had let me know, a while back, that she had sent me something by mail. If she had sent me the winning lottery ticket I could not have been happier. Thank you so much Kay!

When I was thinking of photographing the books for this post, I decided to use a map of Canada as background. While I'm reading the book I refer to the map to see if I can find the rivers that the writer is writing about. Strangely enough, I have always had a fascination with this part of the world, seems so different to Africa, but just as wild.

The author on the cover of the first book. A quote from the chapter "The Unspoiled Excahamsiks. pp17-18
 ...."A few miles upstream, beyond any well-beaten trails, where I know I am probably being observed by grizzlies, black bears, mountain goats, wolves and eagles, where the green mountains and the white glaciers look down on me from the heavens, I am dwarfed and humbled by God's superb creations.

Strangely, I find that I'm aware of even the smallest of natures wonders - an aquatic bug, a single tiny wild flower, a glossy leaf drifting on the waters surface. And - most surprisingly - I feel a oneness with the natural untamed world. I am content."

Title page of the book. Rivers are indeed living things, but for the most part people treat them as if they are sewers, and sewers they become. (and dead)

Each chapter is headed by a quote, one of my favourites is the following;
"If people would concentrate on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing rods." Doug Larson.

Or the following;
"A river takes the mind out-of-doors, and there is no house like God's out-of-doors" -Stevenson.
I can only say amen to both.

The names of the rivers themselves sound like poetry,  names like Exchamsiks, Kispiox, Babine, Skeena, and Kitsumkallum, too many to mention here.

Not only are the rivers, the fish and fishing in them described, but also interesting bits of history of the area, legends, the indigenous people, early hunters, trappers, explorers  and the first settlers.

(I'm having second thoughts on that winning lottery ticket, if I had it I could experience those magnificent rivers first hand).

Saturday, 27 August 2011


No fishing today, it's cold,wet and miserable outside. The dogs, Cat, and I are all snug and warm inside.

Took some photos while fishing yesterday, of trees reflected in the water.

Flourishing tree above.

The trees on the left are dead, the flat topped thorn tree on the right is just starting to show new buds after it's Winter sleep.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Training by Cat the cat

Cat has been taking a lot of trouble training me how to do things his way.

Here's the fridge.

Now open it and get me some milk, and a bit of cheese, thank you. (Cat has lots of patience, I'm a slow learner).

First bass of Spring.

Officially Spring starts 1st. of September here in South Africa, but the bass don't know that and they are getting very active.

Excuse the camera shake, must have been slightly excited to catch my first bass of Spring on a fly.

Not very big but worth the effort. 

The fish took the fly so gently I almost didn't notice.

Caught the bass on this fly that I tied last week on a bass hook, deer hair body, elk hair collar, and long grisly hackle.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Cat watching me while I'm working at the dining room table.

 The dark triangle in the top right hand corner is the shade of the reading lamp. Cat is good at watching work being done.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Berg Winds

Since Sunday we have experienced Berg wind conditions here in KwaZuluNatal. Berg winds are mountain winds, know as Fohn-, or Foehn winds in Europe and Chinook in North America. These winds are caused by a high pressure system lying over the interior of South Africa, this forces the air over the escarpment and down the lee of the Drakensberg.

As the air descends it heats up, so called adiabatic heating, the temperature increases one degree Centigrade for every 100 metres decent, or ten degrees for every 1000 metres. Temperatures can rise by as much as thirty degrees Centigrade in a few hours. These winds can have a velocity varying from 10km per hour to over 100km per hour and can be very destructive. Sunday the wind was very strong, but yesterday and today just a breeze, but the temperatures here in our district rose from the mid teens last week to the high twenties yesterday and today.

This time of the year is also known as the fire season in KZN, these hot, dry winds are very conducive to fires. A fire driven by a 100km an hour Berg wind is unstop able. No farmer dare leave his farm during this time, as a fire could wipe out a lifetimes work.

Berg winds eventually put every ones nerves on edge, it's a hot debilitating wind that wears you down. Research done by Universities in Germany have shown that suicide, (known as Fohnkrankheidt, Fohn disease), increases by 10% during the Fohn wind season in Europe. 

A cold front has moved in again across the country and by 6pm the weather had turned decidedly chilly. According to the weather forecasters this should last until about Saturday. Tomorrows temperature will drop to a minimum of about 4 degrees Centigrade to a high of 17.

The sunset made up for it all.

Reflected sunset.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Lift off.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Cell phone tower, silhouetted against the setting sun, looking like a rocket blasting  off into space.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bass flies.

Tied a couple of bass flies yesterday. Big and buggy with lots of movement.

Used a large bass hook, tail of soft brown hackle feathers, deer hair collar, and spun deer hair body.

The hackle feathers are about three times the body length to provide lots of movement.

This one's tail is long soft grisly hackle, collar of elk hair and spun deer hair body.

This photo shows the length of the hackle relative to the body.

Friday, 19 August 2011


I can't resist a sunset. I'm filled with awe at the unending variations.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Spring 2.

Today was a freezing cold day but all the signs of approaching spring are here. Winter is reluctant to let go it's icy grip.This afternoon it warmed up a bit and I took the dogs for a walk again.

 A sure sign of spring, a black wattle tree in full bloom. Black wattle are native to Australia and were the basis of a very lucrative industry where the bark was used to make tannin extract from the bark which was used to tan leather. Other synthetic products have mostly replaced it now.

Managed to get a couple of photos of Sissie, here she is in mid stride.

Coiled like a spring ready to dash of.

Alert and ready to go. Looks a lot like a thorough bread race horse.

Another sing of spring, a terrapin lying in the shallows basking in the late afternoon sun. Being cold blooded creatures you don't see them in winter.

Was actually trying to take a photo of the cormorant in the willow tree, little black spot right at the top on the right.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


The weather went from freezing cold this morning, (my car looked like it was made of crystal, it was so covered with ice), to warm this afternoon. So concerned about getting the ice of the windows and get to work, I forgot to take a photo.

At about 4:30 this afternoon I took the dogs for a walk. The thought of going for a walk always drives them mad with joy. While I'm putting my boots on, they wrestle with each other, race in and out of the cottage, get in the way while I'm trying to tie my boot laces, and generally try to hurry me up.

Click on photos to enlarge.

On the way I took this close up of a weathered old fence post. In the Southern hemisphere the moss grows on the south side of trees and on posts, like this one above. To find your way at night you have the Southern Cross, a bright and beautiful constellation of stars.

Sissie caught in full flight, ears flapping, a perpetual motion machine, she only knows one speed, and that's full speed ahead. It's as if she's scared that she will miss something if she doesn't cover as much ground as possible.

First leaves of spring on the top branch of a thorn tree.

Thorn tree, caught in the last rays of the setting sun.

The pathway home, Tombi and Lady in the middle distance. Sissie is somewhere in the tall grass, out of sight looking for adventure, new experiences, who knows?

Tombi and Lady investigating an interesting scent, while Sissie gallops out of picture to right. She found the scent Tombi and Lady are investigating, but she's off to find something new.

Another sign of Spring, black wattle tree in bloom. Soon this tree will be a mass of blooms. Not good if you suffer from hay fever.
The lane approaching the cottage from the south. My cottage lies on the left fork where Lady is standing. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Freezing cold.

Another cold front passed through this week end dumping loads of snow on the Berg and heavy rain. So far we have had four snowfalls on the Drakensberg this year, most years it's only two, sometimes only one. The N3 highway was once again closed for several hours. 

These cold fronts always seem to pick the week ends. I've been living in Estcourt permanently since 1993 and I can't remember it ever being so cold. Long time residents and people born here say it's the coldest in more than thirty years. So much for global warming. I suppose the "experts" will tell us it's because of global warming that the winters are so cold!

But the sky cleared late this afternoon and the sunset promised good weather for tomorrow.

Another cold front is predicted for this Friday. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Below are a couple of flies I've just tied.

Click on photos to enlarge.

On the left is an Elk hair and CDC caddis and on the right is a South African fly the DDD, (Duckworths Dargle Delight)
The origin of this name is a story on it's own and too long to tell here.
The DDD above with deer hair tail, spun deer hair body, and a dark brown, almost black saddle hackle about twice the hook gap, maximum two turns around the hook. The spun deer hair is trimmed slanting backwards in a cone shape, not too neatly (trim the deer hair before tying in the hackle). Underneath it's trimmed flat so it doesn't obscure the hook. I tied this one 0n a #12 dry fly hook, though a heavier and bigger hooks work just as well.

A very buoyant fly, can be fish through rough water, and can be used as a strike indicator with a nymph suspended from the bend of the hook. Works well in still waters to. In still waters it's fished almost static with a twitch now and again. The takes on this fly can be quite dramatic.

Can be tied in any colour, and I've found that  large, yellow DDD's fished at dusk are almost irresistible to bass.

Above elk hair caddis. I tied this one with a tail of elk hair, dubbed body of synthetic olive green dubbing, and under wing of  olive CDC, and an over  wing of elk hair, almost twice as long as the body. This fly is tied on a #14 dry fly hook.  this fly can be used to imitate small grass hoppers. Also a very buoyant fly.

Looking  to buy a digital camera in the R2800, ($350 to $400) price range. Any one have any suggestions on a good camera.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Setting moon.

Taken at 4am Friday morning. It was freezing cold outside and my car was covered with a layer of ice.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Moon setting over the N3 highway behind my cottage, almost full moon but not quite. To the right you can see the headlights of approaching long distance trucks,this time of the morning the highway is always very busy. Long distance truck driver have a really tough job.

Why was I up so early? It takes me about two hours to really wake up, and on Fridays we have a 6am prayer meeting at our church, which I like to attend. So if I don't get up early enough I just won't make it.

Willow tree.

Willow tree against the setting sun.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Took the dogs for a walk after 5pm for the first time in almost four months yesterday. One of those quiet perfect evenings. 

Click on photos to enlarge.

Long shadows stretching over the valley.

Textures and winter colours.

Gloaming, a lovely word to describe the soft light of evening.

Thorn tree silhouetted against the sunset.