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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Festive season??

This time of the year is called the "festive season" here in the good old R of SA. Well for many it becomes a season of tragedy and immense sadness due to the carnage on our roads at this time of the year.

Last Saturday the Italian Leprechaun and I went to fetch a friend from hospital in Pietermaritzburg. As we got on to the N3 highway heading south I knew this drive was going to be no picnic. The traffic was bumper to bumper on both the south bound lanes and and almost as bad on the north bound. There is no room for evasive action if someone should do something stupid in front of you.

At the small town of Mooi River (Pretty River) +- 30km south of this point in the photo below is the "Mooi toll plaza". Traffic south bound going through the toll was +- 6,000 an hour, not counting the heavy trucks which average 5,000 a day on this road. Heading north the count was +- 3000 an hour.



Looking south, from here the N3 stretches 200 km to the port city of Durban on the Indian ocean. At Durban the N3 crosses the N2 highway heading north and south just inland of the coast and all the seaside holiday resorts, the destination of all the inland holiday makers. People pay thousands of rands for a few days stay at these resorts, some never get there or if they get there some never get home.

 I took this photo on Sunday morning and the traffic has reduced to a trickle. The day before was a totally different story, the south bound on ramp where we joined the flow is just around the corner on the left.



Looking north, the N3 stretches for more than 400 km to the city of Johannesburg, after that still further north to our capital city Pretoria, and the further north still for hundreds of kilometers further.

No one drives a small car any more, the bigger the better and it had better be a 4 X 4 SUV or you are a nobody. The speed limit on our main roads is 120 km and hour, about 70 mph, but few obey this rule. Most of the highway is under average speed camera coverage. The authorities collect millions, (maybe billions) of rands in traffic fine, never seems to change any-ones speeding.  

In spite of cars being bumper to bumper on both lanes there are the weavers who look for the slightest gap and weave from left to right into these gaps as they pass others at excessive speeds. Even when you have no where for you to go, you will get some fool behind you flashing his head lights at you to get out of the way.

After collecting our friend at the hospital we took the N3 heading north. We were about 20 km north of Pietermaritzburg when the first ambulance passed us red light flashing and sirens howling then a police car, another ambulance. I lost count of the emergency vehicles that had passed. 

About 30 km further we came to the scene of the accident on the south bound lanes, shattered  vehicles scattered in all directions, bodies lying everywhere. One large SUV was lying on it's side with it's roof ripped off and the bodies of two children still strapped in the back seat. One amazing thing though is the fast reaction time by the emergency service in situations like this, (lots of practice I suppose). At this time of the year all emergency services are on high alert 24/7.

How did this happen? Well people are stupid, selfish and think they own the road. Hundreds die on our roads during the so called "festive season." During the June/July school holidays the results are the same. 

At the moment the road authorities are adding a third lane, especially on steeper parts of the road, eventually the whole of the N3 highway will be a 6 lane highway, doubt it will make much difference though.

South Africa has one of the most stringent learner drive laws in the world. You have to been trained by a register'd and licensed driving school, then you get tested and get your learner drivers licence, more training by the driving school then tested for your drivers licence, fail one part of the test and you start from the beginning again. But once behind the wheel of their own car all this seems to be forgotten at once.

My father taught me to drive and told me that the most dangerous part of the car is the "nut" holding the steering wheel.

Will be travelling north about 600 km on this highway myself on the 2nd January, not looking forward to the trip.







Sunday, 19 October 2014

Magic moment.

On Saturday the Italian leprechaun and I did our monthly trip to the big city, or the mall to be exact. We got there just after 8 am, the huge parking lot was still empty, inside all the shops were still closed, but the "Mug $ Bean" coffee shop was open.

We took a table right at the opposite side of the coffee shop where the class partitions were rolled back. Just outside, about 10 meters from our table, was the kiddies play area, with all sorts of ride on, or ride in machines, that rock and sway, and have lights that flash once the necessary token has been inserted.

While we were eating I looked down to my right and there right next to the table looking at all these kids delights stood a little black toddler, not two years old. I looked around and saw his parents sitting a few tables away watching him.

The little one stood there quite still while we ate, babbling away in his baby Zulu at us and we babbled back. We finished our breakfast, paid our bill and stood up to leave. As I was about to walk off I felt a small warm hand take mine, he was coming with me. 

What to do now? 

The Leprechaun saw my dilemma and held out his arms to the little one, who reached up and happily allowed himself to be picked up, he then carried him back to his parents. Well the little guy was not happy about that, he thought we were going to take him to all those magical rides.

Wish I'd thought to take a photo of him, cute as a button. 

Wheat.

Ears of ripening wheat in the last rays of the sun.

Click to enlarge.


Food for the nation.


Standing tall.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rain.

It rained buckets last night, from about 6pm until just before midnight, one of our typical summer storms. All the weather "fundis", pronounced fundees, (  self proclaimed experts,from the the Zulu word mFundis, meaning teacher or preacher, and now very much part of SA's colloquial English) predicted a long drought, so much for their prediction!

But my post is about the flower photos I took yesterday.

Click to enlarge.

We had a light shower the night before.



Rose leaves with rain drops.


My camera's lens was touching the bottom petals of this flower.


The epitome of "delicate".


Mauve beauty.


One of my aphorisms is "nature is hairy", and most of my photo's show it.


Very small but pretty.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Minniture Dynnosaur.

Took this photo of a Skink while I was sitting on my veranda yesterday.

Click to enlarge.


This skink is walking across a vertical wall as easily as you would walk across your living room floor. Note the iridescent colours reflected from it's scales. When attacked by other animals skinks are able to shed their tail, which thrashes about distracting the attacker allowing the skink to escape. It doesn't take too long and the skink grows a new tail. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Flowers of the African veld.

Most of the flowers shown are so small as to be hardly noticeable, but when knows where to look treasures are revealed. One can spend hours photographing them, you find one then you see another and another.

Almost every flower has it's insect life and if the flowers are small the insects are minute.

All these photos were taken down on my knees with the camera lens millimeters from the flowers with the camera set on macro mode. Late afternoon or early morning is the best time for this kind of photography.

Click to enlarge.


Delicate perfection.


The grass stems around this flower gives you an idea of just how small it is.



Lacy yellow. This flower has an insect visitor a tiny beetle, look bottom left.


This delicate flower is tiny, yet on the bottom left there is an insect that is tinier still.


I cropped the rest of the photo above so that it is easy to see the insect.


When it comes to small this one wins first prize, on the left is a bud about to open, and there will be an even tinier insect to pollinate it.


A delicate bouquet in mauve.


Last rays of the setting sun shining through the petals of this flower, enlarge this photo and look closely, you will see a speck of an insect.


Delicate grass seeds back-lit by the setting sun.


Focused. My friend and fellow teacher, a k a the Italian Leprechaun, trying for similar shot as the one above. 




Saturday, 4 October 2014

Addo National Elephant Park.

After my last post I looked up some info on the Addo National Elephant Park and found it's official web site.

www.sanparks.org/parks/addo.

Be sure to watch the video.

Addo elephant rescue.

Addo National Elephant Park is situated in the Eastern Cape province near the city of Port Elizabeth. Here in South Africa when we talk of Port Elizabeth we just say PE.

I got this story and the photos by email from a friend.

In the photos below you will see adult elephants trying to rescue a baby elephant which had fallen into a water hole and could not get out.


You can see the baby just under the head of the young elephant in the water.


Addo park rangers brought a backhoe to try and make a slope in the vertical banks of the water hole so that the baby could climb out. The adult elephants became very agitated at the sight of this big machine and would not let them near the baby.


The rangers managed to drive off the adults so that they could help the baby.


Two rangers jumped off their pickup truck and ran to help the baby. Mother elephants are very protective of their babies, so what they were doing was extremely dangerous.


Baby elephants are very heavy but they managed between the two of them to lift the baby onto the bank.


Other rangers came running to help.


The rangers ran off to get back on the pickup and out of moms way, but baby had other ideas and ran after them.


Mom could not see her baby because of trees and bush in the way so the ranger put baby on the truck and drove to an opening where she could see her baby and put it on the ground.


Baby still wanted to go with it's new found friends so mom had to chase after it.


Relieved mom and her baby together at last. The little elephant had been trapped in the waterhole for 3 hours. This rescue took place on the 27th of August 2014.

Never approach a wild elephant, never ever get between elephants and their young! If you should see any wild animal in trouble contact the park rangers as this photographer did. 

As they say in the classics, "don't try this at home".

The history of Addo Elephant Park and it's elephants is a very interesting one, I will do a post on it soon.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Fibonacci spiral, Fibonacci numbers and the golden mean.

What I'm about write about might make me seem to be an expert mathematician, well don't be fooled, I'm not! My teachers never thought so. I can do arithmetic, plain old adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying, but not the other fancy stuff, just never got it. All the information I've used can be found on the internet.

When you start photographing really tiny flowers, you have to get real close, down on your hands and knees, (getting down is the easy part) these close-up photos reveal things you would not usually see. You see intricate design! 

Click to enlarge.



Look carefully at the florets in this flower and see the spirals, these spirals are known Fibonacci spiral, and you find them everywhere in nature. If you enlarge this photo you will see the minute insects that call it home. Why were these tiny flowers, which most people would never see, made so perfect and beautiful? And with most of them it's literally here today gone tomorrow. 




This illustration that I downloaded from the internet, shows clearly how these spirals look. The numbers 21 and 34 are known as Fibonacci numbers. A daisy for instance has 34 petals, I haven't counted them personally.

Fibonacci number sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144,... .



Another Fibonacci number is the number five, count the stamens on these tiny flowers, (the camera lens was millimeters away from the flower) there are five on each one. This delicate little flower brings to my mind a ballerina dancing.



Every one of these tiny flowers has five petals.



Drawing of a Fibonacci spiral. The rectangle within which the spiral fits is called the "golden mean".



Fibonacci spiral in a spiral galaxy.



In a nautilus shell.


In a hurricane.


The Parthenon in Athens Greece is the most famous man-made examples of the "golden mean".

Who or what was Fibonacci? Leonardo Fibonacci (1170 - 1240), was a mathematician, the most renowned mathematician of his day, who lived in Pisa Italy. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

First rain of summer.

Yesterday afternoon it started to rain softly, it rain softly for most of the night it has been raining all of today.

Click to enlarge.


When I looked out my front door this morning I saw this rose and rosebuds sprinkled with rain drops.


This opening rose looks almost like a strawberry, good enough to eat. 

It's been a long dry summer, this is the first rain since May.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

First fish of summer.

Bass fishing in South Africa usually takes in the summer, that is all the month's that have and "r" in them.

Took a #6 fly rod down to one of the farm ponds and tried my luck, well first cast and I caught a nice small-mouthed bass. These bass are real fighters and give you a good run for your money.

Click to enlarge.



+/- 2 lbs.


Same fish, photo by Enrico Bucceri, a.k.a., the Italian Leprechaun. The following photos were all taken by Enrico.


I look a bit startled here, but this photo gives a nice idea of the size of the fish.



Tombi watching me cast. I think I have mentioned it before, Tombi means young girl in Zulu. Not so young any more +/- 14 years old now.


 Strike!



Second bass, small but gave a good account of itself.



Third fish, slightly bigger than the second. I caught four fish and missed several, think the hook was a bit blunt. 

My fly was a large "woolly bugger".

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Grandfather & grandson.

My landlord, Owen and wife Sue are looking after their grandson Ben, the son of their daughter who lives in Durban. 

Click to enlarge.



I love my granddad. 

Owen Moore and his grandson Ben on granddad's modern steed. The first words that Ben learn't to say are ganda-ganda, Zulu for tractor. 

A real son of the soil, and a humble man with a deep Christian faith. Owen is supposedly retired and his son is farming now, but Owen is up at sunrise and still going at sunset.

Owens great-grandfather was Sir Frederick Robert Moor, 1853 - 1927, the last Prime Minister on the Natal colony, from 1906 - 1910. In 1910 Natal colony, Cape colony and the two ex Boer republics of the Orange Freestate and the Traansvaal, (Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek), amalgamated to form the then Union of South Africa, which became the Republic of South Africa in 1961.

Sir Frederick Owen Moor was a member of the Natal legislature from 1886 - 1910, Prime minister from 1906 - 1910. A minister in the first Union cabinet under General Louis Botha and the senator in the Union senate from 1910 until his death in 1927, he was also a member of King Edward VII's privy council.

Strange how people who really have "it" never flaunt it, I had to search for the above information on the internet. Owen's son Dave seems to have inherited his great-great grandfathers drive, apart from owning two farms he manages several businesses at the same time, not interested in politics though.