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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Organised chaos.

For the last three weeks I've been working in a state of organised chaos in the school library. It's annual stock taking, has been for the past three weeks. First comes the battle to get all the books back from the learners and the teachers, teachers are the worst. Although I remind every one weeks in advance that they need to return all library material each year it's the same story. A bit like pulling teeth without anaesthetic. 

During the stock take I make use of the opportunity to remove all old, tattered and out of date stock. Above old stock on my work table.

For a decade before I arrived items were only added never removed, when I took over 3 years ago it was almost impossible to take a book of the shelves they were so jammed in. First thing I did was have a big clean up. One of the rural schools just outside of town benefited and received about 2000 books, a few cartons went to a school in Mozambique.

More books removed from stock, mostly old non-fiction. During this year I've added more than 2000 new books to the stock. One third non-fiction and the rest fiction. Last year was slightly less. So space just has to be made.

Above mostly old fiction, my criteria for removing a book, is it old and unsightly and if it hasn't been read in the last 3 - 4 years. A lot of these books will go to class reading corners. I'll have a book sale and the rest will go to schools who have no books.

Shelves on the right part of the fiction section, all completed and neat. When I took over 3 years ago these shelves were all jammed with books, fiction going back to the 50's which no learner today would read. Strangely enough, Hardy Boys books, and Enid Blyton, remain favourites.  

Above part of the non-fiction section. The library has a very comprehensive non-fiction section.

Ideally I should have a lap top with a scanner, (all our books and other material are bar coded), and scan the books at the shelves. Unfortunately I don't have it so I start at one end pack a batch of books on the book trolly, wheel the lot to the PC and do it there, that finished I take them back and repack the shelves.

In spite of my drastic clean out the library still has more than 8000 items in stock.

Tomorrow I start the reserve section, after that teachers resource material. Teachers resource material gets messed more than the rest. Returned to the wrong shelf, put in back to front, upside down and all jumbled up, while they are browsing, looking for something not quite sure what. Will know when they see it.

When I've finished with the above it's the last lap, DVD's, videos & CD's. Then comes the problem of hunting down missing books.

All of this gets done by yours truly all on his ownsome.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Storms of life.

Today was a hot sultry day with the promise of a thunderstorm late afternoon. When I got home at about 2:30 I took this photo below. A Tiger Lily, (I think) in all it's glory.

Click on photo to enlarge.

All afternoon the storm built up, with the sky getting darker and darker. Around 5 o'clock there was a flash of lighting and the skies opened up. Not drops of rain, but solid sheets, with some hail. The storm lasted about 45 minutes and stopped as suddenly as it begun leaving the air smelling fresh and clean.

I looked at the lily through the window and this is what I saw.

It's fragile beauty battered and bruised. By tomorrow it will have perked up, but it will never regain it's former beauty.

Leaves me wondering how I'm fairing through the storms of life. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Fly tying: Threads & ribbing.

While reading the latest post on Jack Lindra's blog Grayling on the fly, , I was reminded again of how important it is to look at other sources for interesting fly tying materials.

A while back I went into a embroiders/sewing shop to look for coloured threads and found the metallic threads pictured below. The lady who ran the shop was curious to know why I wanted embroidery threads, and was most shocked when I told her I was going to use them to tie flies to fish with.

Two containers of metallic thread. The spool of silver in the bottom right hand corner of the container on the right actually belongs in the container on the left. The missing colour is a beautiful shimmering dark green, found after I took the photos.

Different shades of gold, a silver, red, blue, green and copper/bronze.The thread is very fine and useful on small flies. Double it up for bigger flies.

The colours in the container above have a bronze/copper tint running through all of them.

Each reel has 200 meters of thread, more than enough for a lifetime. Composition 60% Viscose and 40% metalliss. Extremely strong.

Metallic Miadeira, made in Germany.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

After the storm bass fishing.

Earlier this afternoon we had a violent storm, lost of noise, gale force wind, but very little rain.

About an hour after the storm the dogs once again forced me to go fishing, (the three of them gang up on me so what can I do). On the way to the bottom dam I took the photo below.

Click on photos to enlarge.

After the storm.

The only place that's fishable at the moment at the bottom dam is from the dam wall itself. All round the rest of the dam is a broad weed bed. Problem was that the wind was blowing right at me making casting difficult. I was fishing with a small muddlers minnow , basically letting the wind blow it back to me on the surface, just giving it a twitch now and then, and keeping the line tight. As I started to lift the fly the bass below struck. Whether it was waiting in ambush or followed the fly I can't tell. Fortunately I was using a 2x leader with 3x tippet so I was able to wrestle it out of the weeds.

Pose for a quick photo.

On my way home later my right of way was challenged by this fresh water crab on the dam wall of the smaller dam just below my cottage.

Not more than 3 inches across but quite willing to defend itself.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fly tying.

One of the "books" I bought myself this month was Tim Rolston's "Essential Fly Tying Techniques". What's so different about this book is that it comes on a DVD. The "book" is a 117 pages long. Contains text, 80+ full colour graphics, 30+ video clips, 24+ techniques and 14 complete flies. The video clips are embedded in the DVD so you don't need to go online to access them. The DVD is interactive, you have complete control, over the video clips, pause, reverse or forward. Furthermore you can highlight text or "write" a note for yourself regarding a particular bit of text or graphics and several other features.

The beauty of the video clips is that you can see exactly how a certain technique is done or how a particular fly is tied.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Photo taken on a background of brightly coloured marabou feathers. I bought these feathers at a craft shop last week in Pietermaritzburg.

Tim Rolston is a fly fishing guide in the Western Cape, member of our national fly fishing team and author of several books on fly fishing and casting techniques. Tim has a blog, . One of the video clips can be seen here. email:

Injasuthi Nature Reserve.

Had our first real rains of summer today, about one month later than normal. Weather service says it should clear by tomorrow, so I can go fishing on Saturday. Last Sunday the Injasuthi stream was so low I wondered how the fish kept their backs covered. Thought I might take a trip to Reekielyn and fish the Mooi River for brown trout on Saturday, or may back to Injasuthi for Rainbows.

Here are a few photos of the camp at Injasuthi which I did not include in my last post.

Two of the eighteen chalets available at Injasuthi camp.

The grounds a very neat and clean. Big signs at the entrance, no noise, no music. Nothing spoils a wilderness experience than having to listen to someone Else's idea of music, blasting from their boom box.

Picture taken from the entrance to the camp. Day visitors park under the trees on the right, camp site for tents and campers just around the bend to the right.

Looking down the Injasuthi valley to the east. The Berg is behind me from where I took this photo.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Rainbow trout / Injasuthi stream.

Decided to try my luck this past Sunday, on the Injasuthi stream in the Injasuthi Nature Reserve, part of the Drakensberg wilderness area. The Injasuthi stream was stocked with rainbow trout more than a hundred years ago, so all the fish that you might catch here are wild trout. All the original rainbow trout ova came from the Kamloops area in Canada.

Well I'm almost starting to believe that I might still become a fly fisher one day, I managed to land four fish, loose several, and miss numerous takes.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

The road approaching the camp at Injasuthi. There are seventeen 6 sleeper chalets, two that sleep 8, and several camp sites, there are also several caves that can be booked further into the mountains. This area is favourite hiking and mountain climbing venue.

Injasuthi peaks visible in the gap, height about 3000m. 

Final approach to the camp, the bridge in the middle foreground crosses the stream shown below.

One of the dozens of tributaries that flow into the Injasuthi river. The water here is safe to drink as is, needs no purification, is ice cold and absolutely delicious. These small streams also hold trout, small stream fly fishers dream. 

The Injasuthi stream above, after a long drought reduced to a trickle. As unbelievable as it looks there a fish in that unlikely looking water. My first strike occurred just out of picture, upstream, in a pocket not much bigger than a kitchen sink.

Above first rainbow of the day, caught in the middle reaches of the pool below. What made it more enjoyable is that I caught it on a 2 weight, T F O, Finesse series rod, that I made up myself, from a blank, etc., ordered from J Stokard in the US. The fly was a #14 RAB that I tied a few days earlier. This was the first time that I'd used a RAB dry fly and I was most impressed. Lands like a feather and almost seems to dance on the water.

Tail end of the pool. Had several fish rise to my fly here, but turn away at the last second, them I noticed that the last bit of the 5x tippet was visible on the surface. Treated it with my home made degreaser, (Fullers earth mixed with dish washing liquid), problem over.

Same pool as above, but upstream. All the fish were holding in the main current against the far bank.

Second rainbow of the day, the RAB can still be seen in it's lip. This fish fought until it was quite exhausted. Took me a while to revive it and eventually swam away vigorously.

Third fish of the day. All the fish in pictures I see on other blogs seem to pose decorously for their picture, mine refuse to keep still, they flap and flop about, unwilling to pose. This one was in the middle of a flap as you can see.

I caught a fourth rainbow of about 3 inches, this little fish tried to bluff me he was a tuna. 

To really enjoy the fishing here one needs to spend several days exploring the stream, there are many kilometers of fishable water, not counting the tributaries, so you need to camp there. Next project is to get a nice reliable tent, (sleeping bag and inflatable mattress I have), just a few other bits and pieces of camping equipment needed. 

I have camped at Injasuthi twice in the past, both times I was rained out by torrential rain. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

RAB Dry fly.

More links to patterns for the RAB dry fly.  This link gives step by step tying instructions with photos.

RAB footprint on the water. Photo 

An original RAB. Photo

The following link gives detailed tying instructions and photos of the RAB in the photo above.

Early Christmas gift.

Took a trip to the Pietermaritzburg this morning and went to the Midlands Liberty Mall. Two of my favourite places there are Exclusive Books and Cape Union Mart. Gave Exclusive Books a miss as I have already bought three books this month, but went into Cape Union Mart after my more serious business was completed. Cape Union Mart is a outdoor man's paradise, anything you want for hiking, camping and outdoor activities, hiking boots, tents, rain gear, etc.. This is the sort of place with lots of goodies you really don't need but just must have.

All I really wanted to buy is a cap with a flap at the back to keep the sun off my neck while I'm fishing. Bought the cap and on the way out saw a pair of pocket sized binoculars for R199. Stood and hummed and hawed as to whether I should buy them and then decided I would. Got to the till and when the cashier scanned the bar code the price came up R125, (about $15.60 US). The binoculars were on a special promotion for one day only.

Binoculars and new cap. (8 X 21 magnification) that's what's written on the binoculars so I suppose that's what it means. I'm not the worlds most technical person.

View of the binoculars. Tested the binoculars this afternoon when the dogs forced me to go fishing. For the price they are quite amazing.

The carry pouch which threads onto your belt.

Binoculars folded up, measures  9 X 6 cm, (about 2 1/2 X 4 inches) fits nicely in the top shirt pocket.


For those of you that are serious about keeping fit, here's the latest in workout video's.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Fly tying.

Some amazing flies.

Check out the link above to see the RAB by Tony Biggs. (RAB = Red Arsed Bastard) Much like the American Variant style dry fly.

House built on sand


"He who builds only on visible and tangible things like success, career and money, builds the house of his life on sand. We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. The only solid reality is the Word of God."

Pope Benedict XVI.

I'm not a Catholic, but I thought this was well said in light of the economic times we live in.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Dark Side.

Here in Africa we live close to the Dark Side, very close.

This fact was brought home to me again by this headline in one of our local news papers: "Local man beats Tokoloshe". 

Tokoloshe a figure from Bantu folklore described as a small, hairy, imp like, evil creature that can be called up by a Sangoma, (witch doctor), to inflict harm on others. Below is an artists impression of what a tokoloshe might look like.

To the Western mind this sort of story just seems a load of hogwash, in Africa where most people are steeped in superstition and witchcraft, it's very real.

To get back to the news paper story:

Local man, *Mandla Mvelase, was walking home after finishing work very late last Tuesday night, when he was allegedly confronted by a Tokoloshe. Mandla says that seconds before he saw the Tokoloshe he felt a cold shiver run down his spine. He was walking along lower Canna Avenue near the Forderville Hall at approximately 23:15 when he felt the Tokoloshe 'jump' at him. Mandla says it was an extremely strong 'being' that was trying to push him down the bank. He described it as being short with baby-like features, and laughed eerily. Although terrified he remembered what people told him about not showing fear, so he started lashing out at the Tokoloshe with his backpack. Mandla says that he kicked it and swore at it as it scurried away into the darkness. Visibly petrified, Mandla said that this is the first time he had experienced something like this.

Speaking to other members of the community, we found that many people believe that Tokoloshes do exist.

From KZNews 08 November 2011, page 2.

Headline on the front page of The Natal Witness: Nicolette: Raped by a Tokoloshse. (10/11/2011)

The photo above shows Nocolette Lotter in court, who together with her brother Hardus, and her boyfriend Mathew Naidoo, are appearing in court on charges of murdering her parents in 2008. Nicolette claims to have been repeatedly raped by a Tokoloshe. Both siblings are claiming demon possession as part of their defence.[_id]=71581

Motive for the murder, money.

I Googled the term Tokoloshe and found that this sort of thing has been reported in many news papers in South Africa.  

Above: Front page headline in one of the biggest circulation news papers in South Africa.

News paper poster, 1987.
Even our local humor reflects the belief in tokoloshes. Cartoon above "Madam and Eve." A rip off of the white madam with her black domestic, Eve.

The belief is that your bed needs to stand on brick to increase it's hight above floor level, so that a Tokoloshe can walk under your bed without bumping it's head. If it should bump it's head on your bed you're in big trouble.

This insidious belief in witchcraft and the occult has the effect of making Africans very fatalistic, not much you can do to change your fate, what will be, will be. This leads to people not taking responsibility for their own actions, you blame someone else, neighbours, Tokoloshes, or just plain bad luck.

* The name Mandla means strength or power.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Silver lining.

Quote: "If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; or even if he has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him."

Oswald Chambers, My utmost for His Highest.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Update; vegetable garden

After the hailstorm we had two weeks ago my new vegetable garden was almost completely flattened. I had my doubts as to weather the plants would recover, but except for the tomatoes all the other plants have made quite a remarkable recovery.

The row of lettuce I planted seems least affected, while the cabbages on the left still have a way to go.

Above, the spinach took a beating but is recovering. It has been a very hot dry period these last two weeks and the water supply very erratic. So apart from the hail the plants have had to cope with drought.

The green peppers and aubergines are coming on nicely.