Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa

The 10 most photographed spots in South Africa at the moment.
Can you name them and where they are?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waste not, want not.

The drive from Rayton, in Gauteng, to Sun City is about a two hour trip and as the road takes one North west past Pretoria it is obvious to see how arid and dry the landscape is.  Lining the roadsides is the grim reminder of careless folk who have started fires, some by accident, some by thoughtless deed and some  for the sheer pleasure of destroying things.
We wondered how many animals had been injured or had lost their lives in the fires and how many of their homes raised to the ground.  For the tiny animals, mice, rats, birds and the like although there was no sign of their sufferings their plight must have been terrible.  What of spiders and snakes, bees and bugs that had toiled so hard to feed themselves and make a home only to have it destroyed..
When looking at field after field in the same burnt condition as the roadsides we felt such pity for the poor cattle with their spring time calves searching for sweet grass in the blackened desolate expanse that surrounded them.
Passing villages we saw school children running bare foot around the playing fields with only the soccer posts at each end to give identity to what the dusty bits of ground were intended for.  The small homes were mainly constructed of corrugated iron  with tiny windows that gave little hope of ever letting in even the slightest breeze.  Under trees were adults sitting quietly trying their hardest to keep themselves in the shade cast by a few practically bare branches. 
The wind kept up a dance of whirlwinds and tumbling dead plants, and the merciless sun kept glaring it's remorseless heat down upon the cracked and parched earth.
As we drove through the gates of Sun City we entered a world of rich, fat, lush vegetation.  The brightness of the Bougainvillea flowers in full bloom, the water falls and the sprinklers that not only watered the gardens along the roadside but seemed to cool and refresh the hot air as well.  The gardens were alive with birds that chirped merrily as they went about their business.  Baboons and monkeys sat in the shade of huge trees content to watch the world go by. 
Bees, butterflies, ants, grasshoppers  were busy reaping in the rewards of the rich damp hillsides.  Flowers displayed their rich colours as they nodded their heads in the gentle breeze as if they were bowing to the Gods of the forests. 

We drove to our chalet, unpacked and sat outside to drink in the fresh cool early evening air.  Later we lit a fire to cook our dinner and relaxed in the luxury of the make believe world.
The following morning after a huge breakfast we set off to explore the bowl of the crater where Sun City nestles.  We wandered along cool pathways where the trees met each other over the pathways and provided dappled shade.  There was the sound of running water and as we strolled along we were conscious of the water tumbling it's way over rocks and boulders as it made it's journey to cool still ponds hidden in the greenery of contentment.
There were huge swimming pools and mountain high water slides, shady palm trees and slightly damp cool green grass to stretch out on and enjoy the bustle of children playing nearby.  This was a magic land, a creation of abundance where without water everything would battle to survive. 
I asked where all the water that was abundantly apparent, wherever the eyes happened to glance, came from.   Is it piped in from some far distant dam, how much is lost through evaporation, how many litres were used to fill up pools and ponds? 
It seemed we were standing in a cup overflowing with great riches, yet all surrounded by drought stricken barren land. 
Some have plenty and so often waste, while others survive in the land of want.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Johannesburg to Bloemfontein

I really do not like leaving for a road trip late in the afternoon, however sometimes one does not have a choice and so at 3:30 p.m. on a Friday in June we set out on the usually four hour trek from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein. The first half hour was quite pleasant and as we drove along the well known streets of first Krugersdorp and then Roodepoort we chatted gaily about what we were planning to do over a much earned long weekend.
Once on the highway it was not too long before we joined a long queue of cars each patiently waiting to change lanes as the road went from three to two lanes and thus slowed us all down. Through the cows guts of road improvements and the toll gate and then at last we were away from the city smog and could turn up the radio and start to enjoy ourselves. We drove past squatter camps and townships and over the Vaal river and left Gauteng behind us as we entered the Free State. The road was in excellent condition, wide and free of pot holes and we were able to make good time as we passed small towns along the route only stopping once to stretch our legs, then back in the car as the sun started to set and the twilight hour approached.

Sunset came quickly as did darkness and as we travelled along it was lovely to see that even though it was June the farm lands were still looking quite green and we could see that the farmers had in the main harvested their crops and were busy preparing the land for the next crop.
This was the first time I had travelled to the Free State in winter, usually we go there in spring or summer where we see acre upon acre of sunflowers as their heads follow the Sun across the sky.
We arrived in Bloemfontein around eight o'clock and were glad to get out of the car and find a comfortable seat in my sister and nieces lounge and enjoy Chinese takeaway dinner with them as we all shared news and views as to what was happening in ours and their lives.
The weekend flew and we enjoyed going out in the cool air and having picnics and drives around the old city while we had fun laughing and joking about all and everything that happened to cross our minds.
In the evenings we watched movies and snuggled under blankets content with each others company and full tummies after good dinners. After movies we sat and chattered until late into the night before we made our way lazily to our beds.
The days passed so quickly and before we knew it we were packing the car once again and leaving to return to Johannesburg. We left Bloemfontein at midday and took a leisurely drive home on roads that were much quieter than we thought they would be.
The farmers were busy in their fields collecting up the hay into huge round bales that were placed in neat rows throughout the fields. We saw cattle and sheep grazing peacefully. We decided not to bother to stop for drinks but to rather head home and try and beat the traffic.
It was good to arrive back at my daughters flat and as we said our goodbyes and I climbed into my own car for the last hour of the trip I was glad to be back in Gauteng with all its hustle and bustle.
Some home is always such a good place to be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Racism and sexism

Living in South Africa the ugly head of racism often shows itself in many different ways. I suppose most of us have got used to it and in a lot of ways allow any racist remarks that are thrown our way to do the proverbial water off the ducks back thing.
I do not believe there is a single country in the world where they do not have a problem with racism, and although we all love to preach to each other about love thy neighbour no matter what his colour or creed I do feel that human civilization has a long way to go before racism on all levels is eradicated forever.
What I am finding at the moment is that sexism is also rearing it's little head here in South Africa and that although most will say that equality for woman is in the here and now, I beg to differ simply for the fact that the SABC whenever there is some cricket match, soccer match, rugby match or in fact any sport that is played by men at around about 16:45 to 17:30 on weekdays is given preferential viewing over "Days of our Lives".
I am not a fan of cricket, soccer, rugby or whatever and I object very strongly to my daily fix of soapies being held back so that men can rush home early to view whatever sport is interrupting my three-quarter hour of being lost in the ridiculous.
It is about time that the powers that be at the SABC realised that not every South African woman is addicted to sport and that some of us really do enjoy the daily schedule of soapies before dinner. If they insist on viewing the sport then why should the non sporty viewers be punished and if the wretched games have to be viewed live then why cannot the cancelled programmes be played when they have their lunch or whatever breaks, instead on SABC 3 we are given a repeat of the Oprah show which I suppose they consider is a treat. Chocolates and flowers are treats, not repeated programmes.
Woman, especially the working ones, like to get home and relax for an hour or so before the rush of dinner, homework, how was your day, dishes and tidying up starts. Instead of being able to relax and follow our favourite story we are graced with the time we allot ourselves with what ever sport is the flavour for the day and because of our homely responsibilities even if we were interested and would like to follow the entire match, we still have to get up and get chores done.
Come on SABC give the girls a chance and open another channel that is for sport only and leave us to sit comfortably in our armchairs and unwind before the evening rush of feed the family begins.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beware our South African roads!

One gets used to the pot-holed roads we are forced to travel on these days, and there has always been a danger when travelling on country roads that some animal or other will run out in front of the car. For many years there has also been the risk that some kind person will throw stones or rocks as you pass.

Now we have warning signs for high risk hi-jacking areas, where we must be alert to all that is around us so as to protect ourselves and our property.

Is it now time for warning signs to be put out to alert us to heavily overloaded vehicles that are exceeding the speed limit?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pretoria Restaurant restores faith

We moved to the Pretoria area eighteen months ago and since then have been on a vain search for a restaurant that not only serves good food but also provides a good service where the staff are up to date on what is on the menu, what ingredients the different dishes contain and the service is good and prompt.
Coming from Johannesburg we are used to good service where the dishes are served in the correct order and the food is hot. Here in Pretoria we have had the main course served before the starter, the food served cold after a long wait - probably because the waiter forget to collect it when it was ready, and a total show of indifference when we have complained about the service. At some restaurants we have been served the wrong food and when queried, the waiters have been unable to remember what we did order.
Even in the quick service fast food chain restaurants where one knows roughly what will be on their plate we have been given the incorrect burger i.e. beef instead of chicken. We were beginning to think that perhaps the one hour drive to Johannesburg was worth time and petrol simply for a well presented meal that delivered all that was promised on the menu and was served by staff that know what is going on and expected by patrons of their restaurant.
Yesterday we decided to go to the Menlyn Shopping Centre in a last vain attempt to find somewhere we could eat out and actually enjoy a meal.
The centre was astir with the anticipation of the Super 14 final match and all the eating places were busy and so we wondered around looking at menus and for what looked like somewhere nice to sit quietly and enjoy lunch. As we approached "Cappuccinos Cafe and Pizzeria", a polite well spoken young lady asked if we would like a table. Good first impressions always count and so we followed the waiter she had called to a table and were seated comfortably, handed the menus and asked what we would like to drink.
Drinks ordered we settled down to have a good look at the menu and were delighted to see that it gave descriptions of what the dishes contained and that there was a good variety to choose from.
Our order arrived in good time, was well presented, the plates and the food were hot and on tasting all on our plates we were both able to pronounce to the waiter that we were very happy with what we had ordered and lunch was in fact very good. As we were busy eating a young male staff member approached us to ensure that we happy with meal and service, we could only give him a positive reply about everything.
We will definitely go to Cappuccinos again and look forward to feeling happy to take friends and family there on special occasions.
As a final afterthought - the prices were reasonable and the servings large - but when one is happy with the service and the taste then these perhaps are irrelevant.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The road to Natal

We had to go to Natal on a business trip last week with a detour to Hattingspruit, a small village near Dundee on the way. We left Pretoria just after four in the morning and drove under a very beautiful starry winter sky, until we hit coal country. It was as if we were driving through a steam train tunnel, the air was thick and heavy with coal dust and visibility practically nothing. If the smog/fog was not enough the road was worse than the usual potholed disasters that we seem to find whenever we make a trip to anywhere, even the local supermarket.
As we were getting close to sunrise time we kept looking out for the glimmer of light in the east that declares the beginning of another new day. Fat chance, the smog was too thick and heavy for us to do anything but carry on driving in the hope that sooner or later we would get ourselves out of and off this man made road to hell.

Finally, after dodging trucks and numerous waits at road construction sites where there was only traffic going one way at a time we started seeing the first promises of light and life away from this Dante's hell of coal dust and pollution.
Yes, there still was a Sun, and as we went in and out of patches of despair and into what seemed to be a landscape of half dead trees and grass trying to survive in an atmosphere of foul air and dirty, smelling water holes we wondered what the God's were thinking about man's efforts to clean up the Earthly environment. Not very much I would imagine!

We finally made it to Hattingspruit, only one hour late, did what had to be done there and continued on our way to the coast. Wherever there was a sign of habitation, be it a small hut on a hill or a town or city we seemed to see signs of pollution, some just tiny wisps of smoke others great factories bellowing out their waste to the world.
Do these huge almost archaic looking monsters, that sit almost as if stalking us, ever get checked by any government officials as to what they are befouling our air with and why are they still doing it anyway? Or it it the usual South African attitude of well it is only a small percentage of the worlds pollution so why does it matter, speak to the big boy polluters in other countries first.
South Africans seem to be rather fond of complaining about things, but seem less willing to get off their seats, rumps or whatever they happen to sit on and get things done. We really are a rather lazy nation.
A short stop for body comforts and food and drink and back on the road for the final downhill drive to Durban and the coast. How great it was to see the sea, and to walk along the beach at Scottburgh with the waves lapping up to our bare feet.
Life is really so good but with a bit more effort from everyone it could be so much better.