Thursday, 26 December 2013

The chocolate diaries... I mean: bush diaries 3 more days of fun

Monday 23

Today was super chilled! Instead of the usual breakfast and get ready for a drive, we had croissants (chocolate of course) and the. Spent the morning relaxing with our various books. This gave me the perfect time to do some photography learning and of course to play with my camera.

With this in mind, I have had my camera for a good few years and have never really bonded with it in the same way i had with my film camera yet when I got it I had thought my photography would go to the next level - well, it did, just in the opposite direction! This book I am reading has helped me to learn how to use my camera's meter (which I had heard of but never actually discovered), learn how to really harness aperture an speed and to generally just get the whole digital photography thing. And... Having my old camera here, I have been playing with the same techniques on it as I have played with some film. I have also braved the world of RAW mode and even started only taking pictures in manual setting!! Scary stuff but hopefully it all pays off - thus far I am quite happy with what I have seen on my LCD. The only thing I could really do with is a longer telephoto lens!! It's really irritating when basic cameras which don't take so long with mathematical calculations can zoom in with their digital zoom. Oh and that's another thing: working in manual setting means suddenly one has to stop and think about what you want in focus, how much you want in focus, how bright you want it... The list goes on!! And when photographing animals or when on a game viewing vehicle with people with fully automatic cameras, you are pressed to do your calculations fast!!

Anyway, I am learning plenty and the below pictures hopefully proves it.

After a nice braai and an amazing nap (I am not sleeping well so naps are crucial to my day), we headed off into the bush to find stuff. We saw the usual animals and were also spoilt rotten by seeing 6 white rhino! This is always a major highlight for us. 

Drinky time arrived and my mom accidentally poured dads drink into my glass which rendered my glass out of action. Unfortunately whiskey is one of those drinks you can't just rinse out of a metal glass - you have to wash it with soap and water. So I had to resort to a foldable glass. Ja... Red wine in one of these is like a shooter glass with a hole in it!! I eventually gave up after messing a fair chunk of glass number 2 on myself.

Another entertainment for me was how my cycling light was stronger than the spotlight I was using so I ended up just using my cycling light. 

At the one dam, we met up with a family we had consistently kept meeting up with. Turns out that they know my moms sisters and have had a house here since the early 90's!! Was nice to go back in time as we chatted about the old days with other people who can be classified as "the old crowd" here. The old crowd here are just different to the new crowd. 

Shortly after we departed from them, they radioed in a lion sighting. They had cubs suckling on a mommy so we turned around and quickly went to where there were! Unfortunately a bunch of other vehicles also descended on the scene and the poor lioness was clearly unsettled as she tried to find a new spot to feed her young cubs. She eventually did find a spot and we left her in peace.

On our way home, we spotted a young civet on the steep concrete road and then an older one at the house.

The highlight of my day however was getting an update from a friend about my dog and what K had been up to that evening. The pictures of my sweet dog child were way better as what's app profile pictures than any awesome bush sighting!! Thanks Carla for the messages and pictures. And thank you Putty and Simone for looking after my little guy.

Dinner was leftovers but I wasn't hungry so had a chocolate.

Tuesday 24 December 

Woke up early again today. Seriously wish I could sleep late!! 

It's funny how every morning starts the same: when I wake up, the sky is clear and not a cloud in sight. Then, after reading or napping, it clouds up and looks like we are going to get rain. Then, as the day progresses the clouds disappear and it gets hot - into the 30s hot. Then, the evenings cool down again and I reach for a thin jersey - although my family think I am nuts cause they are still hot! The evenings are cool and pleasant but can get a bit humid. Accuweather is predicting rain for the weekend so we will see.

After a slow start to the morning as well as bacon and eggs on toast, we were on our way for a drive. At the dam near the house, we saw an elephant just chilling and drinking water. We then headed towards the dams where we heard reports of lion at a dam so we headed off and saw the 6 lion before driving around to try find stuff. In general there is plenty game and the bush is green with a fair bit of water around.

We are seeing plenty birds and I will update the number of birds species sighted thus far tomorrow. (Technically since I am writing this "tomorrow" I could actually say but that would just seem creepy and future-predicting like so I won't...)

The rest of the day was spent milling about with burgers for lunch (I cooked), followed by more being lazy, followed by lazily watching elephant across the river from the deck followed by a nice braai and then bed.

During this chilling, mom and I played some RummyKub and Scrabble. The 3 games of rummy were easily won by me (although the last one was a tad stressful for me because I knew mom had few tiles left and I still had a chunk and had both jokers). The game of scrabble was a different story with mom beating me so bad we didn't even count the scores after! That said, it was still a tough game for both of us.

Wednesday 25

3am and I was wide awake! Not cool and because I was due to wake up in an hour, I decided not to take painkillers and read and catch up on Facebook. (Signal from my bed is fairly awesome if you consider  2 bar edge as awesome.) at 4:15 I crawled out of bed and put the kettle on and got the cooler ready for an early morning drive.

By 5am we were on our way for a nice relaxed game drive. Sightings this morning were quite scarce in general with the exception of the bird life! The morning was cool and was the same as all other mornings - clearl, cloudy, clear - with the exception that the clouds cleared a lot faster than other mornings!!! It was going to be a HOT day. 

After our drive we sat on the deck and chilled in the scorching heat and by 9am we recorded a temp of 28 degrees Celsius on the deck. 

We spent some time going through our bird list and counted that thus far we are sitting at 58 bird species spotted. The birding is getting tough now since we are having to make an effort to identify the little brown jobs (lbjs) which is actually not that hard. That said, we have been fortunate in seeing some pretty amazing birds.

The 3am wake up caught up to me and I found myself nodding off on the hammock whilst attempting to read. Was quite nice chilling despite the growing heat. By lunchtime it was 35 degrees and for all of us, that much needed afternoon nap ended up being a battle between the need to sleep and the need to escape the heat.

Just before we headed out on our game drive I checked the ants and saw that they were closing up their holes - a sure sign that rain is coming - so I optimistically packed my raincoat and jersey for the drive. The drive itself was nice because moving meant less heat. 

You could feel the tension in the air with the animals - they could also smell the rain. Just before warthog pan, we encountered an elephant in a dry river bed which we fortunately saw in time - had we been approaching from the other side, we would only have seen him when we were a few meters from him! We reversed and took another route through the dip. At warthog pan we got to see the herd of elephant, including a mommy with her little one.

Animals were scarce on this drive but steenbok and klipspringers were plentiful which was a nice change.

Sunset drinks were spent watching impala and the sunset whilst sitting on a plain. Noteworthy here is that I had packed a really nice bottle of vino (a 2010 Vergelegen) and had packed an opener but someone had unpacked the opener... (No names but I suspect it was subconscious act of revenge for my accidental breaking of a bottle of gin.) I attempted to open it with my leatherman but ended up deciding that it was a bad way to open a good wine so I opted for my fruit juice instead.

Drive home was uneventful with the exception of an elephant in the road - clearly the elephant are back - and a road that was blocked by a fallen tree so we had to turn around.

Dinner was leftovers and in my case: a roll with chocolate spread.

Hoping for some rain or cooler weather tomorrow.

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