Spring Garden

Seems the weather hasn’t quite decided if it is Spring yet.  We have had a few splashes of sun here and there with loads of rain and horrible gale winds.  It hasn’t dampened my excitement with getting going in the garden, although some of the seed I have planted may have blown or been washed into the neighbours garden – might have to fetch my veggies there once they grow. :-)

You may remember the gent I bought our garden bench from a while ago.  I couldn’t help myself and bought this sweet bridge from him a couple of weeks back.  It only cost R200 (± USD $14.48).


The veggie patch is doing well and our cauliflowers are coming along really nicely.


The spinach has also grown in leaps and bounds.  I shall have to enjoy it soon before the garden critters finish it.


The mini cabbages are also doing well after being thinned out.


I planted pumpkin seed which shot up out of the ground a couple of days after planting – they will be thinned out soon too.


Pumpkins for Africa!

Also new to the garden is zucchini – I am thrilled at how healthy they are looking.


Not wanting to worry about stakes and the like, I planted bush beans.


Naturally no garden would be complete without dill and coriander so they were planted too.

IMG_8139I have added a few more things: butternut, sweetcorn, lettuce, rhubarb, carrots, capsicums, parsley, thyme and lavender.  I am sure I have forgotten something in this list.

Our loquats are all ripening but seems the birds are beating us to them all.IMG_7651And passers by are all picking our lemons off the tree before we can.  IMG_8064

At least our peaches are hidden away and hopefully will be worm free again this year.

IMG_7620Now I patiently await our figs.


In My Kitchen – October 2015

As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts. :-)

In my kitchen…

Were some sticky chicken wings – haven’t had them in a while and they were fabulous.

In my kitchen…

Is a quinoa salad, always such a wonderful taste explosion.

Karin's quinoa 2

In my kitchen…

Was some scrumptious macaroni and cheese, unbaked, my lazy way of making it.

In my kitchen…

Is a bottle of Amarula, a gift from my brother Greg and his wife Karin.  I can see getting rid of my winter weight will have to wait a while longer. :-)


In my kitchen…

Is a beautiful gift from Greg and Karin’s children, Tom and Anne.  A decorative whisk.

Decorative whisk

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Sundays River Trash Bash 2015

September 19th marked the annual Internal Coastal Clean Up Day supported by over 90 countries worldwide.  How awesome is that!


I have not been part of the fun the past couple of years as it falls on the same weekend each year as a niece’s birthday in Plettenberg Bay.

I was happy to be part of the volunteer team again this year.


As with all years, there are donations from our community and sponsorship from various companies including The Waste Trade Company, General Motors South Africa, Colchester KwikSpar, Algoa Plastics, PPC Cement and many more.

I was amazed at the wonderful sponsorship and donations this year, affording the kids incredible goody bags and wonderful prizes – it was extremely heart warming.

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Goody bags were filled with so many wonderful things

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There were 150 local kiddies (mostly from Colchester primary school) who participated in the day which started with homemade soup, rolls and apples at registration after collecting their t-shirts.

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Fuelling up before trash bashing

Before everyone set out on picking up what others have carelessly discarded, The Waste Trade Company’s representative Emmy Nxayeka  gave a fabulously enthusiastic and all important environmental talk emphasising the importance of the three R’s:-


“In order to drive environmental change we need to start by educating our youth,” Kay Hardy, general manager of The Waste Trade Company.

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Learning how to care for our environment

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Much excitement to go on the river

The day ended with boerewors (sausage) rolls and cake as well as the much anticipated prize giving.  The children get so excited wondering if they could possibility be the only boy and the only girl to win a bicycle.  Before the final draw for the bicycles, there were 40 other great prizes including backpacks, food hampers and grocery gift vouchers.

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The boys bike is donated by Colchester Spar and the girls bike by PPC Cement

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Lots of lovely prizes

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640kg of trash was collected over 2 hours

In My Kitchen – September 2015

Yippee, Spring has sprung – here’s to it getting warmer and warmer.

As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts. :-)

In my kitchen…

As promised is an updated on the  “Kitty bubbly”.
It was very fruity and I would say bordering on semi sweet but was pleasant enough to toast with and share with friends.  If you are like me and prefer a brut sparkle, this is not for you.

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In my kitchen…

Is Jollof rice spice Pete brought back from Nigeria.  Haven’t used it yet but Jollof rice is a common meal in Nigeria which Pete enjoyed while there so I shall have to find an authentic recipe to try.

Jollof Rice Spice

In my kitchen…

Is a nunu giraffe spoon Pete got for me at the Giraffe Sanctuary when we were in Kenya.  I still think about how sweet and gentle the giraffe are.

Giraffe spoon

In my kitchen…

Is wine which never made it to my kitchen.  I drank it while in the comfort of our hotel room in Kenya.  Imperial vin is produced and bottled in Moldova which is a country in Eastern Europe, landlocked between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south.  Was it worth its price tag of R120, no but it was enjoyable enough as a once off.

Imperial Vin Cabernet

In my kitchen…

Is something else which obviously never made it home but I wanted to share with you.  Each afternoon at around 17h15, the door bell would ring in our room at the Kempinski and we would be handed a single serving of something sweet and delicious.  My favourite was this pistachio nougat with crushed fresh rose petals.  Heaven on a plate.

Kempinski sweet treat

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

The Incremental Photographer Course

My dear friend Moira, who blogs over at Moi du Toi Photography is a phenomenal photographer and she has just recently launched her Incremental Photographer course which is SO much more than any other course out there.  Moira is your personal mentor, guiding you through mastering shooting in manual.

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The course is for anyone who owns a DSLR camera and wishes to improve their photography and will provide you with a solid foundation with which to begin your photographic journey.

During the course, Moira will guide you through the process of shooting in Manual Mode and teach you how to juggle Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO to create properly exposed images, the art of Composition and how to use Natural Light at any time of the day to produce beautiful photographs.

Assignmnet wk 5 side lit

Thanks to Moira, I was able to capture this incredible photograph

Over the 5 week course, you will receive assignments to be completed and Moira will do personal assessments for you with weekly video critiques.

Moira is currently running a special launch price of just USD $69.99 and there are only 10 places available to anyone worldwide so contact Moira today, you will be glad you did.  Class starts in 2 weeks.  I learnt so much and had so much fun doing the course until as you all know, my camera fell and died.


The word photography stems from two ancient Greek words: photo, for “light”, and graph, for “drawing”.
I look forward to teaching you how to draw with light.

Contact Moira to sign up for her incredible 5 week course via her Launch Page or her facebook page.

Nairobi, Kenya

On leaving the airport en route to the hotel (the same one Obama stayed in a week earlier) I caught site of no less than 8 giraffe in the Nairobi National Park which borders the city – only one in the world I believe.  I learnt later that it costs USD 50 (±ZAR 650) per person to get into the national park – madness!


The hotel, Kempinski, Villa Rosa – pure opulence – pucker 5 star!  Thousands of roses everywhere!  The room heavenly; including gown and slippers and for those inclined an iron and ironing board – not doing any of that while I am visiting, even an umbrella! 3 telephones to boot – heaven forbid you have to move to answer the phone. :-)


As we always do on our first evening away, we ordered room service.  Well!  Room service has never been this good, the dining table which was rolled into the room even had a fresh rose with our dinns staying warm in the warming drawer underneath the tray.  Pete ordered a hamburger and I ordered the green thai curry.  Both were outstanding – restaurant quality.  I could get used to 7 days a week room service, especially when you eat in your housecoat and slippers. :-)


The cloakrooms in the gym have a hot spa bath, sauna room and sauna and all the conveniences available for your convenience, even down to slip slops and individually packaged combs and shaving kits.  It was quite cool running in the same gym where Obama did his workouts for a couple of days.


Cool down walk after a 4km run

The second nights sleep was non existent.  We arrived on a Sunday so guess traffic was at its quietest.  Not so for the remaining part of the week.  24 hour seriously noisy seemingly permanent peek hour traffic and you can’t get away from it being in the city.  I was later told the roads are never quiet.  Might explain why they are in such bad condition.

We went to the Westgate Mall which has just reopened after the 4 day terrorist attack and bombing 2 years ago.  It was quite surreal being there after watching the horror on the telly.  So sad what happens in our world every day.

More seriously, our trip was a look-see about the possibility of a move to Nairobi for a couple of years for Pete to head up the start up of a sister company as he did when we lived in Mauritius.  Pete was given a housing allowance which clearly was extremely unrealistic,  he then doubled it and off we went to the estate agents.  Haa.  Well that budget didn’t turn up anything particularly worthwhile either, plus everything in the budget amount is unfurnished.  It is frightfully expensive to live in the city and close surrounds with neighbours right on top of you, a garden, even teeny tiny is a luxury and majority of the buildings are very old, think 70’s with lots of layers of lacquered paint and parquet flooring and avo or pink bathrooms.  We shall take our time until the right place comes along if it must and I shall have to get used to a non village, no space and little freedom.  I have put a spreadsheet together of the costs involved in living in Kenya and it is extremely expensive from start to finish!  We could live palatially for the same cost here at home!

Nairobi in a nutshell – like all other African countries, the city is loud, dirty, busy with drivers hell-bent on going as fast and as dangerously as they can on roads which are in dire need of repair and everything is scarily expensive.  I will say though, they are not aggressive like our local drivers.  The people are lovely and friendly and the further you go out of the city, the more beautiful it becomes.  My favourite was the makeshift nurseries on the side of the road – wish I could have taken a photo.

All the museums and the like are also expensive to visit but guess majority of the tourists are coming from first world countries so doesn’t dent their pockets like it does ours.  As a lot of you know, I always joke and say I want a giraffe and a squirrel to complete our family so Pete took me to the Giraffe Orphanage in Karen and I got to feed a lovely fellow named Eddy.  I am not one for animals in captivity but there is sometimes the need as with the Giraffe Centre, which was established to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe.


I want to bring Eddy the Giraffe home with me

Kenya Giraffe Centre

We also visited the Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) Museum which I loved.  What a life she lived!  It was wonderful being able to put my hands on her very bed and jewellery cabinet amongst other goodies which she sold to a friend, Lady McMillan after the farm went bankrupt and was later retrieved from the library the friend donated it to.  Sadly you aren’t allowed to take photo’s inside the house.  Apologies about the quality of the (phone) photos but my camera died when it fell out of my camera bag.  I am still sick to my stomach about it and not ready to talk about it. :-(



Addo, Addo, Addo

I hope you don’t tire of me sharing our trips with you from our visits into Addo.  We truly are in a special part of the world to be able to see these magnificent animals any day of the week when Pete is home.

Can you believe 3 cheetah broke into the park and they have certainly made themselves at home and we finally saw them.

A quick cheetah lesson:

♥ Male cheetahs (usually brothers) form coalitions while females remain solitary.

♥ Cheetahs weight ranges between 21 – 72 kilograms but average around 60kg.

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♥ The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world reaching speeds of up to 110km/h and can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 3 seconds and a single stride can cover about 7.6 meters.  Only one paw touches the ground at any one time during a sprint.

♥ The Cheetah’s claws are semi-retractable enabling them to grip the ground helping them accelerate as they run.

♥ Their long tail acts as a rudder and helps to maintain their balance while chasing prey.

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♥ A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away.

♥ Cheetahs have black stripes running from the corners of their eyes down to the corner of their mouth. These help block out sunlight, which helps them in spotting prey.

♥ Cheetahs communicate through a series of chirps, barks and hisses.

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Life isn’t always as I would like it to be either and one of the lioness (Josie) met with a bit of a feisty warthog who before becoming dinner left a lasting impression on her.  I was hoping to see her 3 cubs but alas, they were well hidden.  Don’t think mom was feeling all to well either as she flopped about every few steps before settling behind a bush to rest.

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Please let me be while I quietly heal

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Let me tell you a secret…

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Just for Anna :-)

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In My Kitchen – August 2015

Yippee, one more month until Spring.  Can’t wait.♥

BTW:  Pete and I are in Kenya so I may only chat with you when I get back. :-)

In my kitchen…

Village life truly is wonderful, especially when friends give you beautiful spinach from their garden delivered right to your front door!  Thank you so much Wayne and Kelly – honestly was the best spinach I have enjoyed.

KellyWayne spinach

In my kitchen…

Are 2 new custard jugs which I, well, just couldn’t resist, besides, every home needs 2 custard jugs.

Custard jugs

In my kitchen…

Are 2 new sets of espresso cups and saucers, well, just because my other sets do’t match each other – I know, I have issues. :-)

Espressco cups

In my kitchen…

Are mini sauce containers – you know, my other obsession, nunu things. :-)

Mini sauce bowls

In my kitchen…

Is what I would love outside my kitchen.  Wish I could remember where I saw this pic but I love the idea of recycling wooden palettes for a wall garden.  Think I would have one with herbs and the other with seasonal flowers.

palette garden

In my kitchen…

Is a new pack of Daim chocolates which Pete brought home recently from one of his international trips.  Good thing they are so teeny as I feel less guilty after having a whole one. :-)

Daim chocs

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Winter Garden Update

I know I recently shared our garden with you but there have been a few changes since then so for your viewing pleasure (before it starts raining again)…

I could not resit this bench when I saw it for sale down the road from home.  The gentleman selling the furniture fell on hard times and refurbishes and recycles wooden palettes to earn an income.  He lives a very frugal life without electricity and running water and has the most love I have ever seen for his dog and cat.  They are his entire life.  I did not realise until I stopped to make enquiry about the bench that he has the most beautiful fully indigenous garden with veggie patches dotted all around.  Best R350 (± USD $28) I have ever spent on anything.  He even refurbishes the nails before re-using them to make his furniture.

Garden July 2015 3 Rummaging through our leaky old corner back shed I found a piece of sleeper gifted to Pete from our previous neighbours son about a zillion years ago and decided its time to get out into the garden and one can never have too much seating so another bench was made. The cats love this and I often find them sunning themselves on one of the corners while watching over the garden..Garden July 2015 1

From the leaky shed into the wendy house which holds an untold amount of boxes and other storage bits and bobs plus an outdated old satellite dish which I converted into a much wanted bird bath.  Waste not want not I say.  My dad said it should be blue but I thought green blended so much better with the garden.  A few birdies have visited but none I have yet been able to capture on camera.Garden July 2015 2

Going back to the leaky shed, hanging up in a corner was a small ladder which was looking worse for ware so out it came and a quick refurbishment and placed outside our bedroom door with a few potted veld plants and its as pretty as a picture.Garden July 2015 8

On the backside of our bedroom is a strip that never gets any sun and always has a muddy slope of soil so it was morning of laying some unused bricks to make a walk way.  Can’t believe it took me this long to do!Garden July 2015 7

Amongst the unused bits and bobs was a number of pots and bowls which I have started displaying around the garden.  There are a few more to come.  I will take some updated shots as soon as I have been back into the veld for more plants. Garden July 2015 4 Speaking of being in the veld, just over the road from our home is a huge amount of mother in laws tongue which I have potted and standing in a makeshift nursery in front of Pete’s workshop.Garden July 2015 5

After cleaning out the pots outside the front door, it dawned on me we have not had lavender in our garden for the longest time so I had to succumb to spending a little cash on a beautiful lavender bush which I am not able to find in the veld. :-)Garden July 2015 22

Always at the ready to lend a hand is my beautiful boy who has an incredible knack of bumping me off my feet more often than not when I am trying to take a photo – there are loads of blurry shots in amongst the few I manage to salvage.Garden July 2015 21 On the backside of our lapa is a long bare wall so  a narrow bed was made with a variation of 2 flowering bushes – one is a yellow daisy of sorts and the other is a blue/purple spur something or another.  I am never very good at remembering names of plants.Garden July 2015 20

I hope its not too late but I finally planted last years sweet pea seeds – I saved just the violet colour ones.  Can’t wait for the fragrant flowers for vases throughout the house come Spring.Garden July 2015 6 All things going well, we will have some tasty cauliflowers – I have no idea how long they take to grow but the plants are looking very healthy. :-)Garden July 2015 16

There is also some healthy happy looking spinach.
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Seems we will also have some mini cabbages at some stage – think I will have to thin this bed soon.Garden July 2015 9 - Copy

And finally is a pot that nearly broke my back.  Our lovely neighbours were kind enough to gift the pot but it was up to me to get it over the wall and obviously I could not wait for help and had to get it over myself.  Not sure if it was the coat of paint or all the rain which has left one of the plants looking a little worse for ware. Hopefully a little TLC will get it all perky again otherwise out it comes.
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How is your winter garden or summer garden if you are in the northern parts of the world?

Running Update

Somewhere between my Running Slow post and today my 5km became 4km and then 3km where I seemed to settle.  This was over a period of 10 months and then it happened, the unthinkable, the dreaded, unwanted, ever more difficult to shake off weight gain!  A whole 4 kilograms!  *Screams*  No rocket science involved that less calories burned with the same food and wine intake equals weight gain.  Urgh!

Trail runners

Before I realised there was all this extra weight running around with me, I started getting shin splints – seriously painful shin splints which needless to say did not help my times and it took me the better part of 2 months to figure out buying a pair of inner soles for my runners would solve the problem.  Oh, joy of joys, it was like running on air.  Bliss.  Soon 3km became 4km – yippee.  See, the 5km excuse at this stage is its winter and gets too dark for me to be out that long – that’s my legitimate reason.  You believe me right?

Inner soles

Speaking of winter running – what a pleasure,  I find summer running incredibly draining – the heat is just too much for me, even though I am a summer lover, just not for running.  Makes sense right?

 Anyhoo, seems I am back on track which is awesome.  Here’s to being back up to speed with my 5km daily runs before summer gets here, oh, and I seem to have lost 2 of those 4 sneaky kilos. :-)

How’s your exercise routine going?

Emma’s Ellies

The lovely Emma over at Surrey Kitchen asked if I would do a guest post on her favourite animal, the elephant and even though she has visited South Africa, she never got to see any babies so I set out to share as many babies as I could find in our park in the Eastern Cape; Addo Elephant National Park.

Do pop over to Emma’s Ellies to see a few adorable pics of some baby ellies and some fun facts too.

Earth’s Essence Pinotage

A short while back, I entered and was the lucky winner of 4 bottles of Earth’s Essence Pinotage on Tandy’s blog, Lavender and Lime.

Earth's Essence

Traditional KWV wines are fabulous so I was excited to try this “new age” way they are preserving Pinotage:

By utilising a revolutionary natural process using indigenous Rooibos and Honeybush during the winemaking process their powerful anti-oxidants protect the wine naturally negating the use of added sulphites or preservatives.

Firstly a label on a bottle of wine will either entice me to buy it or look past it on the shelf of the bottle store and I must say the Earth Essence label is very eye catching and your eye is immediately drawn to the bottom of the label “No Sulphites or preservatives added“. Not to mention the wonderful name – Earth’s Essence. The shape of the bottle and screw top are also pleasing, so a good start before evening opening the bottle!

Now, I am not a fan of Rooibos tea so was slightly sceptical about the whole Rooibos flavour but was a greatly mistaken.  This wine truly is fantastic.  So as not to undermine this great wine, I quote the makers:

This Pinotage shows upfront fruit sweetness with prominent cranberries, Turkish delight and dark chocolate aromas.  Nuances of nuts, Rooibos, Honeybush and sweet basil are complimented by the grippy tannin structure and the intense, lingering finish.

 What a wonderful wine!  Thank you again Lavender and Lime, Earth’s Essence and Tin Can PR for the awesome prize.

In My Kitchen – July 2015

It seems I spoke to quickly last month as we have had a month of cold days.  One month down, 2 more to go.  Here’s hoping they pass mildly and that Spring shows her beautiful face with warm days.

In my kitchen…

Can’t think why I never included this a couple of months back.  It is a bottle of bubbly Pete bought for me when we were in the Game store in Maputo, Mozambique.  I only wanted it because of the kitty picture.  Still haven’t opened it so have no idea whether it is drink worthy.

Gatao Bubbly

In my kitchen…

Is a kitty mould from my wonderful neighbours Dean and Lesley.  I think I shall use it to make a few catnip treats for my fur babies.

Kitty mould

In my kitchen…

Is a birthday present from my brother Chris and sister in law Elmien and their 4 littlelies.  Thanks guys!  I hope you will come and visit soon so I can make a few cupcakes for you.

Cucake recipe book

In my kitchen…

Is a jar of homemade pickled onions made for us by our friend Cazzie.  They are nearly ready to be eaten.  Can’t wait to taste what they are like with the chilli.

Caz picked onions

In my kitchen…

Are Sistema mini sauce and salt and pepper containers from friends Frans and Yolandie.  It was part of my birthday gift from them.  They know we always take a picnic with us on the boat or when we go into the park so these containers will be very handy.

Sistema containers

In my kitchen…

Is a Thai Green Curry paste, which I am sure will be used quite often through the winter cold nights.  I use it most often for coconut curry.

Woolies Thai Green Curry Paste

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Pearl Barley

Do you ever have those days where you are looking for something satisfying and hearty to eat but don’t want a protein packed sandwich or the leftovers from the previous evening dinner isn’t what you feel like… Well, pearl barley is a perfect fit for those days and couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Pearl Barley

Pearl Barley


1 large onion sliced
2 large garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece ginger grated
2 scant teaspoons of dukkah spice
1 cup pearl barley
5 cups chicken stock


  1. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until tender.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and dukkah spice and fry for one minute.
  3. Add the barley and chicken stock, bring to a gentle boil and simmer for approximately 45 minutes until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.


Swaziland & The Kruger National Park

We had the most wonderful few days away in Swaziland and the weather was heavenly!

Our breakaway started with a night’s stopover at my folks which is always a wonderful treat and after breakfast the following morning Pete and I packed the car and hit the road.  Before I knew it, we were at the border post.  A quick three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg  – fabulous!

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Swaziland has beautiful rolling hills and mountains.  Sadly the autumn weather wasn’t kind enough to give us a clear view but they were breathtaking nonetheless.

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Unfortunately for Pete he had to work the whole day after we arrived which left me to my own devices for a leisurely long breakfast, followed by tea in the room with my feet up on the bed doing a crossword before heading to the pool for some additional R&R followed by what I thought was a necessary run around the very hilly golf course.  All that relaxation leaves a girl a little plump around the middle!  Pete took me on the route the day before when we arrived and I almost thought he was joking about how steep some of the inclines were – I had to go up on my toes otherwise I would have rolled back down.  Needless to say these were the most challenging runs of my life!  I wish I could capture it on a photo so you can see how steep it all is.

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Pete treated me to the best meal of my life in the hotels in house restaurant, Planters – a quaint welcoming and elegant restaurant/bar.  It was lovely to dress up and put on some lippy for the evening out and I have truly never eaten a better steak in my life!  The wine and company weren’t half bad either. ;-)

Planters 2

Seems our waiter had the shakes when taking our photo. At least I look slim and young. :-)

Sadly 3 days later it was time to leave Swaziland  and decided to do one more stopover en route back to the folks and went into the Kruger National Park, a sister park to our Addo where you know Pete and I spend lots of time.  Holy macaroni!  We weren’t anticipating much excitement as we could only spend a couple of hours in the park (it is HUGE – you need 5 days or more to cover its magnificence) before heading to our overnight accommodation but were we in for a serious surprise!

Kruger map

No sooner had we entered the park and driven  around 1 km when we were graced with the presence of 2 snoozing rhinos!  We have only spotted one in our park which we may never see again so this was incredible!  I snapped away frantically thinking we would never have such an opportunity again but wait…there was more!  We were squealing with delight by the time we left the park as we saw no less than 13 rhinos – all with their horns.  Now that I am typing this it worries me that some revolting poacher may read it and hunt down these near extinct magnificent animals for their horns.  What idiots to think their horns are an aphrodisiac.  How can keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails possibly be an aphrodisiac.  They can just as well grind up their own hair and nails, but I am getting off the point.  I have always said to Pete that a giraffe and squirrel will complete our family – he ain’t buying it. :-D  Well, the second I spotted a graceful long legged beauty, I whacked Pete so hard on the arm, I am sure he has a permanent bruise!  I couldn’t believe how incredibly lucky we were.  Short of putting in an order before heading into the Kruger, I couldn’t have asked for better viewing.

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We also saw loads of Impala and a couple of buffalo, a pair of vultures and a wildebeest (gnu) and some fascinating birds!  What a treasured couple of hours in the park.  Must say though the toasted sandwiches we ordered for lunch were revolting.  No matter as the viewing was out of this world.

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We enjoyed 2 more sleeps with my folks and had a wonderful evening with my brothers and their families.  Unfortunately my one sister in law and her youngest weren’t able to join us as the little one was sickly.

3 siblings'

Two brothers and a sister

Guess we will just have to go back and visit again soon.

Apple Crumble (The Cake the Buddha Ate)

Nothing like a comforting piece of apple crumble hot from the oven with some custard or cream to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold wintry evening with aromas from the spices which are beautifully intoxicating.

I adjusted the recipe slightly by increasing the spice quantities and placing the entire crumble on top of the apples instead of mixing a portion of it in with the apples as with the original recipe in the book, The Cake the Buddha Ate.

Buddha apple crumble

Apple Crumble


500g self-raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon – I used 1 tsp
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cardamom – I omitted this as I only have pods
⅛ nutmeg – I used almost ½ tsp
½ tsp salt
250g butter, soft
2 cups brown sugar – I only used 1¼ cups
500g apples, cooked or 1 x 725 g tin – I cooked 4 large red apples in a about 2 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp brown sugar
½ cup raisins – I omitted these because I was plum out of raisins
½ cup chopped nuts – I omitted these because I was plum out of nuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a pie dish.
  2. Gently work the flour, spices, salt and butter together between your thumbs and fingertips to form crumbs.
  3. Add the sugar and blend with your fingers to retain the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  4. Combine half the mixtures with the apples and raisins, and place in a dish, alternatively just place the apples and raisins in the bottom of the dish followed by the entire crumble mixture on top.
  5. Sprinkle over the remaining crumbs and then the chopped nuts.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with custard or cream or possibly even ice cream if it isn’t too much of a wintry night.

In My Kitchen – June 2015

It is officially winter.  So far, so good; here’s hoping the rest of winter is as mild.  In fact, the weather has been so good that I have been spending as much time in the garden as I can so the start of this months post its just outside my kitchen, around the corner outside the back door.

Just outside my kitchen outside the back door…

I have been filling pots with a few flowering winter plants to keep things upbeat for those cold days.

Back door June 2015 4 Back door June 2015 3 My precious little boy was around to help take a few photos.Back door June 2015 6As you can see he was being very helpful!
Back door June 2015 5 Back door June 2015 1 And I have transformed the herb patch into a flower patch.Back door June 2015 2

In my kitchen…

Is a flask I have had for the better part of 15 years which I used on a daily basis for a long while and then Celia mentioned in post how she is now officially an old Chinese woman as she has an insulated flask on my kitchen bench to which I commented: “Eek! I must have been an old Chinese woman about 15 years ago when I got one of those insulated flasks – I made my tea in it for years. Hee hee.”  So Celia, not that I am Chinese but I will be honoured to be an old woman with you. :-D


In my kitchen…

Is the most precious birthday present from my cousin Renee.  I thought I was spoilt with the lovely mug and chocolates until I opened the wrapping to find a gift voucher for a pedicure!  Oh how I cannot wait to redeem it.  Thank you so much Renee for spoiling me so very much!

Birthday pressie 1

In my kitchen…

Is a wonderful birthday gift from my friends Wayne and Kelly who were also kind enough to have me over for a Spanish Omelette breakfast because my Pete was away on my birthday.  Very special to spend the morning with you both.  Thank so much for spoiling me so much.

Birthday pressie 2And if that is not enough their darling little granddaughter made me a birthday card!  Thank you sweet little Abby, you are a pure delight to be around with your sparkly personality.
Birthday card abby

In my kitchen…

Are more birthday pressies from friends.  Thank you so much Wayne and Cheryl for including me on my birthday at your home for a roast dinner!  You can make me roast potatoes any day of the week and still to get a beautiful bottle of wine was very special.  Thank you too Bertie and Mags and Tony for the the wine and chocolates.

Birthday pressie 4

In my kitchen…

Is the prettiest cake platter and server from my sweet neighbours and friends Dean and Lesley.  You guys really spoilt me with the lovely gift, thank you so much!

Birthday pressie 5

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Our dear friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial links all our monthly instalments on her blog so we won’t have to miss out on any of the wonderful kitchen views and as always a big thank you to Celia for the fun of being able to pop in around the world to see what everyone has to share every month.

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.


Pete has whisked me off to Swaziland for a little getaway so I will be a little scarce for a short while. :-)

To quote Wikipedia:  Portulacaria afra (known as elephant bush, dwarf jade plant, porkbush and spekboom in Afrikaans) is a small-leaved succulent plant found in South Africa.  It is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen upright shrub or small tree, usually 2.5–4.5 metres (8–15 ft) tall.  In the wilds of South Africa, large plants do survive the winter frosts by growing dense enough to provide their own natural cover. Drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, it will endure desert sun and heat once established. Cuttings root very easily in most potting media.  In southern Africa it is commonly eaten, usually as one component of a salad or a soup.”

Garden May 2015 5

Must remember to use the leaves in a salad next summer

And to quote The Spekboom Foundationan: “Spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is compared to that of moist, subtropical forest. This remarkable plant is unique in that it stores solar energy to photosynthesise at night. This makes spekboom thicket 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical rain forest. Each hectare of spekboom could capture 4,2 tons of carbon yearly.”  How cool is this plant!

“The miracle plant of the twenty-first century: Stef Delport The Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) is truly the miracle plant of the Eastern Cape and the Sundays River Valley. The Addo Elephant National Park is privileged to be the centre of the Spekboom region. The Valley Bushveld Biome (Xerix Succulent Thicket), of which The Spekboom certainly forms the main part, occurs mainly in the Eastern Cape’s river valleys of the Gamtoos, Sundays, Fish and their surrounding areas.

The Xhosa name for the Spekboom is iGwanitsha and in English it is known by the descriptive name of Elephant’s Food (and not as the Pork Bush according to the wrong direct translation from Afrikaans) as it forms up to 80% of the diet of elephants. An elephant eats up to 200kg of Spekboom leaves per day.

During this process they can strip almost all the leaves off the tree, but the tree very soon sprouts new growth. The broken or down-trodden branches also develop new roots and grow again as part of the thicket. Thus Spekboom flourishes if it is grazed upon, trodden and fertilised from the top. The destruction of large areas of Spekboom in the Eastern Cape was actually the result of over-grazing these bushes by grass and bush herbivores such as goats and sheep, which stripped them from the bottom and, in this doing, destroyed the Spekboom and the micro-climate under their protective thickets. The eyesore this resulted in is clearly visible for all to see on many farms. The Spekboom is a herbaceous shrub and the only specie in its genus and restricted to the south-eastern regions of South Africa. The Spekboom prefers summer rainfall with warm summers and a temperate winter climate. The occurrence of large numbers of Africa’s big game in this area can be mainly attributed to the presence of the Spekboom. An interesting fact is that in the Spekboom regions of the Eastern Cape, virtually no large anthills of termites are found. North of the Kei River the tropical termites occur, while the temperate region termites are found south of the Eastern Cape Spekboom region.

Spekboom 1

The first Europeans to penetrate this part of the Eastern Cape were hunters who came to the Sundays River Valley as early as 1702. Thus, fifty years after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape, this Valley was already known for its elephants, thanks to the abundance of the Spekboom. The Spekboom was known in Europe at an early stage.

In 1771 the well-known botanist, Linnaus, reported that one was flowering in Italy and when the French Revolution started in 1786, another was flowering in Vienna. Early travellers through southern Africa noted the occurence of Spekboom. In 1834 Thomas Pringle wrote in his African Sketches: “The Spekboom, with its light green leaves and lilac blossoms” ….. and later he refers to…” browsing on the succulent Spekboom, which clothed the skirts of the hills.”

In the Cape of Good Hope Almanac of 1843 we find: “One of the most valuable shrubs … is the Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra). It is found in great abundance on the stony ridges and affords excellent food for those large flocks of sheep and goats…. In severe drought the bush is truly invaluable.”

Today the Spekboom supports the tourism industry of the Eastern Cape with its many game farms, nature parks and the Big Five which are being reintroduced to their old natural habitat everywhere. Today, an ever increasing number of farmers are moving away from veld-destroying goat and sheep farming to sustainable game farming.

Spekboom 3

The Spekboom flourishes in areas with an annual rainfall of 250 to 375 mm and warm summers. It reaches heights of 2,5m to 4,5m with a trunk which averages 20cm in diameter and can live up to 200 years. It has succulent green leaves of 1,3 to 2mm long. These are stubby or rounded and are joined by a small stem. It flowers in spring or early summer after good rains and has pink or light purple hermaphroditic flowers which produce good honey.

The fruit is small, berry-like, pink and transparent with 3 small wings and need follow-up rain soon after the fruit drop to germinate.

The Spekboom is exceptional as it uses 2 two methods of photosynthesis:

1. During the winter months when it is cool and damp, ordinary photosynthesis and better growth occur.

2. In dry conditions, winter or summer, a process is activated whereby the plant opens its stomata and ‘inhales’ carbon dioxide and builds up acid inside the plant. During the night the stomata are closed and the acids are broken down to release carbon dioxide inside the plant without losing moisture through its stomata. The available moisture is then stored by means of these carbon compounds in the leaves, stems and roots of the Spekboom.

Thus the Spekboom is an exceptional plant as it can utilize both these processes. These facts have been established thanks to the physiological studies by scientists in especially America and Japan.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s scientists realised that the Spekboom functions differently to other plants.

The Spekboom is even more special as its humus cannot burn. Thus a fire cannot destroy it and its organic material, as well as the carbon dioxide taken from the air, is finally stored in the ground. Studies done in the veld show that an average patch of Spekboom can capture up to 4 tons of carbon per year.

Global warming will eventually have catastrophic consequences for mankind.

One of the reasons is that carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere and this causes global warming. The Kyoto Protocol endeavours to halt this process by, among others, creating Carbon Sinks which will remove large quantities of carbon from the atmosphere in a natural way. Research has proved a Xerix Succelent Thicket and especially Spekboom in the Valley Bushveld to be one of the most successful Carbon Sinks in the world. A Spekboom can remove up to 100 times more carbon from the atmosphere than a pine tree of similar size can do. This type of Bushveld only occurs in South Africa, Mexico and Spain, but has been virtually destroyed in the latter countries. The Spekboom is thus going to cause a mind-boggling revolution in farming in the Eastern Cape. Millions should eventually be available to pay farmers to have the Spekboom veld restored by decreasing their livestock or planting Spekboom. At present projects are afoot to replant hectares in the vicinity of the Sundays River and Baviaanskloof with Spekboom. So, perhaps, in future, farmers will use the Spekboom to farm with carbon.

Spekboom 2

Nowadays trading is already taking place with Carbon Debits and Carbon Credits. Countries such as Germany and others which signed the Kyoto Protocol, are assessed and penalised with Carbon Debits because of their excessive pollution of the atmosphere as a result of the high

CO2 emissions of their vehicles and factories. They then have to buy Carbon Credits to neutralise their outstanding debits.

Farmers in the Eastern Cape who participate in this system and who have their carbon deposit evaluated by German certifiers, will be able to trade their carbon credits on the open open market. Sums of anything from $1 to

$600 per hectare, depending on the density of the Spekboom area, have been mentioned. So farmers will be able to sit on the stoep having coffee, while their Spekboom bring in the money.

Another fact contributing to the Spekbooms reputation is its ability to stimulate milk production. The traditional Xhosas believed that the grandmother should start eating lots of Spekboom leaves a month before her first daughter would give birth. A few days after the birth of a daughter, the baby was handed to the grandmother to suckle so that the young mother would be available to fetch wood and water as the grandmother aged. I mentioned this once to experts on grazing of the University of the Free State and they could confirm that research showed that the milk production increased considerably when cows grazed on Spekboom.

Spekboom is the staple diet of bush grazers such as kudu and other big game.

It is also digestible by herbivores like cattle, providing it is consumed with other available plants suitable for fodder. Thus it is an exceptional habitat for game as it not only provides food when grass and smaller bushes are no longer edible in the dry winters, but also serves as shelter during bitterly cold weather because of the moisture in the Spekboom which maintains some of its heat at night and thus acts as a good insulator.

Spekboom also differs from other bush shrub as it is edible for people. The leaves, which have a slight lemony taste, are suitable to use in salads.

The Spekboom is rich in manganese, cobalt and especially magnesium. It also contains large quantities of the micro elements, iodine and selenium.

Millipedes use concentrated iodine as a defensive mechanism and this explains the presence of large numbers of these in the Eastern Cape Valley bush. This also sheds light on the movement of thousands of millipedes across the tar road near Uitenhage, where dense areas of Spekboom occur next to the road.

People have been planting Spekboom as hedges over hundreds of years.

Spekboom branches take root quickly and start growing when put into the ground. By merely planting branches in the ground close to one another, one can create a living hedge which is ideal to enclose one’s property. Black stock farmers have used these over centuries as fences for a kraal. The stock could then maintain the inside of the kraal by grazing on the leaves and protruding growths, while the outside could grow freely.

We hope the symbiosis of people, big game and the Spekboom will lead to fruitful ecological and economic co-existence in the Eastern Cape in future.

Spekboom, the miracle plant of the Eastern Cape, may eventually be known as the saviour plant of the Eastern Cape.”

Garden Update – May 2015

It has been quite a long while since I have shared a garden update so here are a few close ups of our wintery garden for you.

Garden May 2015 19

A little rusty but still works a treat

Garden May 2015 17

Young and tender Brazilian pepper corns

Garden May 2015 5

We have planted spekboom around the perimeter of our garden – can’t wait for it to fill out – need to do a post on this incredible plant

Garden May 2015 12

Pete’s protea keeps on growing and growing

Garden May 2015 8

Our very first and only olive

Garden May 2015 2

Poor pot has been waiting forever for something to be planted in it

Garden May 2015 1

The last of the fig leaves

Garden May 2015 3

Love how ferns are green all year around

Garden May 2015 4

Quite normal having coral in the garden

Garden May 2015 6

Water tank tap is nearly hidden

Garden May 2015 16 Garden May 2015 15 Garden May 2015 14 Garden May 2015 13 Garden May 2015 11 Garden May 2015 10 Garden May 2015 9 Garden May 2015 7

Garden May 2015 18

A lot of cat claws have been sharpened here


Teavivre Tea take 2

The lovely Alison at Teavivre sent me a second batch of teas to test.  I had so much fun with the first lot that I couldn’t believe I didn’t find time before now to try these.

Teavivre tea

As with my first review, please bare in mind the following is my layman explanation of these teas.  You can view the Teavivre website for any health benefits, caffeine content, their origin and pricing etc.

First up was the Tie Guan Tin Oolong Tea (Anxi Monkey Picked Ma Liu Mie)

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea 1I loved how these leaves opened gently when I poured the water over them.  The aroma reminded me of jasmine but softer and slightly sweeter and had a lovely light refreshing taste.
Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea 2

Second up was the Goddess Oolong Tea (Tie Guan Yin Iron)

Goddess Oolong Tea 1This was quite similar in smell and taste to the first tea although I would have to say had a very slight bitter taste at first.
Goddess Oolong Tea 2Then it was onto the Milk Oolong Tea (Taiwan Jin Xuan)

Milk Oolong Tea 1This tea has a slight grassy nose with a flavour which I would kin to black tea – I did not really pick up a milk aroma.  Might have to try this one again.

Milk Oolong Tea 2

Next up was the Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea (Taiwan Monkey Picked Ma Liu Mie)

Taiwan Tie Guan Yin oolong Tea 1

The leaves of this tea didn’t seem as tightly packed as the others and had a beautiful smooth soft taste – I think this may be my favourite.
Taiwan Tie Guan Yin oolong Tea 2
Finally it was the Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea (Da Hong Pao Big Red Robe)

Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea 1The leaves of this tea were very different to the others and was the only one which had a slight brown tinge to it once brewed.   It is regarded as the king of Oolong among all the Chinese Oolong Teas and one of the China’s Top Ten Teas.Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea 2I  am not sure my palette is sophisticated enough for these teas but I thoroughly enjoyed doing my own little tea ritual all the same.

I was not remunerated or asked to do a review on these teas. I did a this post as a courtesy after receiving the tea.