Tuesday, 29 December 2015

December bush trip - days 3 to 6 and pics

Sorry it's a bit delayed but I had to go through my pics...

Bush day 3

This morning I did my usual routine of doing dishes and waking slowly. Slowly the others woke up and the kids found themselves in the lounge investigating the presents by he tree. They tried to guess each and every gift. I told them them that everything was chocolates and that if they kept looking at the presents, the monkeys will take them!

After a slow start to the day we headed off to the pool area - considering the forecasted temperatures, it was the perfect day to relax by the pool!! I was unable to find my costume when I packed my clothes in Jozi so I dressed in comfy running clothes which I knew I could swim in. The day was spent swimming and relaxing around the pool area with a braai for lunch.

At around 4pm we went for a drive. I cannot explain the heat!! It was around 42 degrees Celsius so everytime you stopped you nearly melted. At first we did not see much but then we started seeing plenty elephant, impala, kudu, jackal, warthogs, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra! At one dam we sat and watched some elephant drink then watched as a small warthog family wallowed in the water. Was cute to see. We then ambled home and were fortunate to see the lion again! Was a great to see them so clearly. 

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on the deck and the kiddies finally got to open their presents!!

Bush day 4

We had a nice, slow start to the day today. Reading, playing games with the kids and just chilling. We then prepared the annual feast. Lamb, gammon, salads and more!!! We totally stuffed ourselves full of yummy foodies. My cousin, his wife and kids headed off to the pool whilst the rest of us attempted an afternoon nap. I was so restless!! It was so hot that I felt like I was swimming in sweat.

My cousin etc came across lions on their way back so as soon as they arrived we packed up and went for a drive to see the lions and hopefully try find a leopard. The lions were awesome to see and we had a good sighting of them just lazing around. We then ambled towards the bridge where we had hoped to have a drink. Haha, good joke! An elephant was in the way so we headed home where we had a chilled evening.

As we were heading off to bed, my cousin and I had to get the plastic snake out of he freezer when we realized the gas had run out so at just after 11pm here we were with torches trying to get gas bottles switched and fridges and freezers on again. Fortunately, other than my cousin's wife being pranked with a cold plastic snake in her bed, the evening was uneventful.

Bush day 5

Today was awesome!! It started with coffee and washing dishes (of course) and then the kiddies slowly woke up and I had to play with them as promised - although I would have killed to go read. Once everyone was awake and fed, we headed off to do a drive on Olifants North. North is pretty but you don't see much and it's exhausting driving because it's up and down and is rocky. We did see a fair bit of Impala, giraffe and also a few elephant. The first elephant we passed were opposite our house and we had to turn and go the other way. We had seen them chase cars the day before so knew they were not happy elephant!! We then headed to a dam where we found elephant and tried taking the road next to the one but he got a bit too curious about us and we could not go that way. So long way around we went...

Lunch was a nice simple meal of cold meat. I then opted to rather snooze and read instead of go swim. Was actually nice to spend an afternoon glued to my book for a change. Ok, and watching elephant and hippo at the river.

My cousin them told us that on their way home an elephant had charged them. It's not so entertaining getting so many elephant charging at us. 

The evening was spent relaxing on the deck chatting and enjoying a great meal. As much as I miss my furkids, I think I needed this trip. Lots of laughs and relaxing. 

Bush day 6 - the long road home and some reflection...

I got up as per usual but instead of doing dishes, I reached for the book I am reading whilst having my coffee - Mom had said I must not do dishes, she would do them. I sat and enjoyed the sights and sounds of a glorious bush morning whilst the others slowly stirred.

Once everyone was up and about, I got ready to leave. Because my cousin wanted to leave later than me, I was taking the landie which Mom would collect later. Once packed and ready I said my farewells and hit the road. As I drove towards main camp, I reflected on the year, on this trip and on my adventuring. Something I realized that this was one of the few trips I had done solo and that it was quite awesome. It showed me that I do not need others to do adventures with (although this was great in that the adventure was to another adventure) but that company was always good if around. The new year is going to be very different as I have so much I want to do and of course, my big ride. One thing I have learnt over all these years is: do not let anything hold you back from your dreams. If you want to do something, make it happen!

Anyway, all good things come to an end but fortunately for me, this trip ended on a bonus note: as I was approaching the first exit gate, I came across a herd of buffalo crossing the road. I spent ages watching them as it was a final awesome treat.

Hopefully my Saturday plans will turn into an adventure. Until then... Adventure safe.

Chilled elephant 

Lazy lioness (one of the 2 that we refer to as Dumb and Dumber). It was so hot that even they were struggling!

One of the Dumb and Dumber clan heading off.

The other member of Dumb and Dumber looking very skinny!

Full moon

Lots of baby Impala around!!

Also plenty baby baboons!!

Dumb and Dumber clearly managed to hunt! Both were happy to chill at the dam whilst cars came and went.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

December bush trip - days 1 and 2

Bush day 1

I am shattered!! Yesterday was a long day of running around that started early. The one awesome part of the day was meeting the owner of Cosmic Pets when I got my 2XL (yes, Hayley is that tall and KD is that cute that they need the space of a huge crate). I also got to spend some quality time with my 2 best friends. Our morning walk was an awesome one where they ended up forcing me to run - I discovered I can run and drink a hot chai tea!!

Dogs bonding in their new crate.

We didn't sleep well last night as I was hot and restless. At 12 I got up and tried to sleep on the couch but KD would have none of it. He made me so uncomfortable that I had to go back to bed. By this time I had both dogs in my bed. I got an hour or so and at 2am I was up having coffee, showering and packing. At 2:40 I sorted the dogs out with treats and their breakfast and water and by 2:50 I was out the door and on my way to the farm!!

The road out of Jozi seemed longer than normal. That half hour took forever!!!! And the roads were relatively busy. The next hour and a half was filled with trucks so was busy but I settled into finding a radio station, found a comfortable speed and enjoyed the quiet darkness.

I hit Belfast as it got light so pulled in at the garage for a loo break and also to get a red bull for later.

The next part of the road was not too bad. A few trucks but I was able to maintain a happy speed. Belfast, Dullstroom and Lydenburg were still very much asleep when I drove them!!! The road from Lydenburg to the Pilgrims Rest turn off was scary!! I was able to maintain a good speed but the potholes were bad. There after it was ok and I went over the Abel Erasmus and Strydom Passes with few sightings of other cars. The road to Hoedspruit was uneventful and I used it as a chance for a loo break and to get more coffee. I had made it from home in just under 5 hours which is good going.

A bit of slow driving on the Lydenburg road...

The next part felt really long!! After having cruised at 120 I now had to take it easy on the dust road. I saw the usual lions in the camp, lots of kudu, a few Impala and and elephant on my way in. My car was finally on the farm! When we got it, Dad wanted me to have a car that could comfortably bring me here and 3 or 4 years after buying it, it was finally doing its first farm trip.

I got to the camp and Meagan was there after her surprise at how early I was,  and quickly sorted where my car must go and for someone to take me to the house, so Lukas and I quickly sorted moving my stuff into the bakkie and he took me to the house and quickly unlocked it before leaving me to settle in. 

Got to the house around 9:30 which meant for what would turn out to be a long wait!! I sat around, fiddled with my camera, tried to read, walked around a bit and eventually they arrived. Mom was beyond surprised to see me! Admittedly I was quite surprised to see the look of shock on her face so I rushed up to the car when I could see she was struggling to open the door. She kept asking me what I was doing here!!

Was a worth-it adventure complete!! Thank you to everyone involved in the planning and organizing etc of this!

The rest of the hot afternoon was spent unpacking, sorting and relaxing. The evening was magical. 2 lions started roaring across the river from us and we were able to see the one big male. They roared their hearts out until long after we went to sleepy. I went off to dreamland knowing I would have to post this in the morning...

Day 2....

This morning I woke up earl as normal and did my usual quiet routine of making coffee and washing dishes. The others eventually emerged and mom made a yummy fruit salad with toast for breakfast before heading out. 

The drive was fairly uneventful with a lots of general game. And a few nice sized warthogs with a baby. Part of the reason for the drive was to meet my cousin, his wife and kids and fetch them. We quite timeously came across them on the railway road so the kids and Bianca jumped onto the landie with us. After transferring their luggage we headed home to unpack their stuff have lunch and relax before our evenings drive.

The evening drive was eventful. As we headed towards Pels Loop we heard of some elephant that were on the road but from what we understood, it was further away so we headed down to that road. We had not even gone down the slope to the river (fortunately) when we saw a young elephant heading up the road towards us so we turned around and headed out for a different route than planned. Sunset drinks were enjoyed at a view point looking over a dam where we saw elephant, Impala, wildebeest and zebra. It was really stunning. Then we heard the call! Lions near Kudu drive. So, we grabbed everything and jumped on the landie and headed to watch the lion. 

They were happily walking in the road and 2 vehicles kindly let us drive in front for a bit. After a while the lions veered off to the left and I said to everyone that I needed someone to shine towards our right as I had seem something big cross the road. We drove a bit on and a vehicle drove past us and then decided to turn around. Well, there 2 ladies got the surprise of their life because they turned right into the elephant!! The elephant started heading towards them and mom said I must pass these ladies but they said I must stop. I stopped and they got safely away from the large but not huge elephant. We drove in a bit following the lions and a vehicle behind us got charged by the elephant. This had them fairly close to behind us when I heard their landie' engine change tune and my uncle and cousin shout to me to drive. The elephant was charging the vehicle behind us again and the vehicle didn't shout or anything to get us to move but we moved!! My family said after that the elephant was really close to the other vehicle when it charged again. I think the elephant was not really a grumpy lumpy but rather It was just not happy that the lions were around. The vehicles were just an added irritation.

We then decided to head home the long way around to avoid the elephant but my gut feeling was telling me we were heading towards another elephant but I kept silent with this thought. Guess what... I was right!! As I was about to take a corner, here was a mommy and her tiny baby. I quickly reversed a bit. We could hear the other elephant near us and mom told me to drive past the elephant and her baby. I was happy to wait for her to move off rather as she was right on the edge of the road and honestly, I am a bit nervous of elephant at night. So, I asked if anyone else was prepared to take over the driving and my cousin happily did so. We sat and watched for a while and we watched as one elephant on our right was aware of us but not phased. Then it came around the tree if was eating and it suddenly didn't like us being there!! My cousin reacted swiftly and drove on towards the mother elephant and her baby. In reality, not an ideal situation but we had no choice as we had an elephant coming at us from the side but more by our back so we had to move. He approached the mom, revved the engine a bit and she hightailed it! Baby also reacted and nearly hit the tree it was standing by. The kids on the vehicle were all screaming and the adults all a tad nervous. But, we past the elephant mom with a meter or 2 between us and the elephant at the back at some time after we moved past the mom and baby gave up chase.

We got home safely and enjoyed a relaxing end to the day... 

Today is Day 3 that I am finally posting this so guess I better post some of this info before the rest of the family wakes up and we start our next adventure filled day! Hopefully today I will take more pictures so you don't just have reading in the next few days...

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

More adventures and lessons learned

Even though it's just a few days after our last posting, we have been busy adventurers.

Yesterday I entered my next big personal adventure. In end June 2016 I will be doing a race called "Ride the Berg". I am nervous because I have not done a big race since Liege. But, it's a great chance to get fit again. I am looking forward to a great and fun adventure. So watch this space for how I get fit.

My goal this time is to have a bit more balance though. Which brings me to the next part of my adventure. The dogs and I have been on a major mission to get fit and today we explored Saint Stithians. Have been there before but this was the first time in years!! And it was as good a walk as ever. It's such a nice, varied walk that includes brilliant bird life, varied terrain and a good workout. The walks thus far have really been good bonding sessions and remind me that a good walk is awesome for dogs. Their brains work with every new scent and step. My dogs are so tired but so happy at night. The pups and I have a stronger bond than ever.

This week I have also gotten back to my studies and I am reading up on crate training. It's interesting to read because until a few months ago, I thought crates were cruel. I got a Cosmic Pets playpen a while back and although it did not suit the purpose I wanted it for, it's turned out to be the best piece of furniture ever!!! It not only contains the exploding pillows but is also a sanctuary for the dogs. When there are storms, they go there, when they want to nap, they go there, when they have a prized possession, they go there. It is their sanctuary and where Hayley sleeps most nights. I have hardly ever sat in it because I believe it's their safe spot. What is cool though is that recently a neighbor visited with her kid and the kid climbed in the pen with the dogs. I was nervous because of the sanctity of the pen but: the dogs loved her playing with them in the pen. 

Crating is good for dogs. It gives them a safe spot. Simple as that. I know I have a lot to learn still about crating but this is my simple view. If you have a pup or an older dog, look at training your dog to enjoy a crate.

Another adventure / learning thing we are going to do is film what it looks like from a dogs perspective. Here is a link to what we have previously filmed: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FgL89wuT7wg

I believe this will help me understand what the dogs are reading and seeing and where I am going wrong as a human.

Hayley update: she is healing well. Still struggling emotionally but physically she is doing way better!! Her socializing recovery is going to be tough but she is tough. 

The weekend has a few more adventures planned so watch this space!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Busy week and a half with pups

The last 2 weeks have been insanely dog filled and challenging. (And that excludes how insane and odd work has been!!)

One evening I was sitting at home when a neighbor needed help finding 2 dogs that had gotten out of her neighbor's property. Another neighbor and I responded and we got the dogs back in their yard. It turns out that this lady had gone to check on her neighbor's dogs as she had not seen her neighbor since the previous week. When entering the garden, I found 5 dogs without food or water and a disgusting site as to how he dogs were living. I fed them and the others got them water. We were busy until quite late with these poor dogs and the SPCA were notified.

By the weekend not much had changed (other than the owner of the dogs returning) so I went to the SPCA to speak to them and show a picture of the situation. On the Monday an inspector went and looked into it but sadly the measures we had all put in place masked the whole situation so the dogs stayed on the property. Fortunately for the dogs, the issue was resolved on the Thursday (after much pressure from the trustees and also the owner of the unit) when the tenant gave up rights to he dogs and handed them in at the SPCA. The really happy ending was that the one dog was adopted by the lady who had alerted us all to the problem. The other 4 are at the SPCA ready for adoption.

In between dealing with this crisis, I had my own issue to deal with. Whilst on my regular walk last Friday, Hayley ran up to greet a bunch of dogs and ended up being pinned down by 2 Great Danes. At first I was not aware she was injured until someone pointed out hat she was bleeding not. A human doctor took a quick look and said she needed medical attention. I waited for the owner of the Danes to come out of the yard he had gone into and confronted him. I then took Hayley to the vet where it was found that she was a lucky pup!! A tooth had gone through all 3 layers of skin and had bruised her muscle. She was given painkillers, anti-inflammatories, an antibiotic jab and take home antibiotics. No stitches as the vet was nervous of infection developing under the stitch. Strict instructions that she can't swim until the wound has healed totally not can she have a collar until it's healed. And worst off: limited activity for a few days!!

I have had a miserable little girl!!! The meds left her groggy for nearly a week and the wound was bruised and she wouldn't let me near it for days. On Wednesday night K and her were playing and K got a bit enthusiastic with the game and Hayley had a small freak out. She ended up curling up into my arms and was a bit freaked. I had not realized that she was edgy until then.

On Saturday I took her for her first long walk since the attack (have been doing shorter walks in the week with no socializing). This was her first time out in public and she loved it!! In the afternoon I took the dogs for a short walk to the river  and then a stroll around the complex. We ran into a few of the dogs in the complex. She was a bit of a baby. But settled down nicely and both her and K made friends with dogs they had previously not liked. Unfortunately I think she had over done things and the wound bled a bit.  I hadn't realized that it was still sensitive.

Today I took the pups to the Spruit. Both dogs were in their element as they love the spruit. Hayley was edgy with other dogs and K was protective. Fortunately we bumped into friends walking with their dogs and it was awesome for Hayley. Being knowledgable dog owners, they assisted in letting H calmly meet their dogs so she could settle. I asked if we could join them for their walk so Hayley could be around other dogs. It was good for her as she could make new friends and settle with other pups. 

The walk was good for me as I could see how badly the attack had really affected Hayley. I had thought she was kind of ok. I now know that I have quite a bit of rehab work to do with her. Tomorrow I start her therapy work and am going to base it on a program by Patricia McConnell for nervous dogs. The idea is to help Hayley realize that she can trust me and not be so edgy.

A lesson that I have learnt from this experience is that off leash parks are dangerous places and that we are risking our dogs by going into such environments. This is because people have no control over their dogs and dogs that have a tendency towards aggression can take out their aggression without restraint. There is also the pack mentality that dogs can get into where a bunch of dogs who regularly walk together can go for newbies. Will I return to the park? Maybe but if I do, my dogs will be on lead. Some of you may take this as controversial but: it's safer.

The bonus of all this is that we will now be doing longer, more stimulating walks in different areas. This means that the pups will be more stimulated mentally and will get more exercise which means we can all get a bit thinner! They will still get socialized because we will still go to parks and training. It also means I get to spend more time training my dogs. 

It's funny how 7 years of walking at a park can be changed in one day. I always half expected K to be the one to get nailed as he is cheeky but it was my submissive, friendly and playful dog who got attacked. 

This means new adventures so watch this space for the new chapter.

Below are a few pics including pics of Hayley's injury and a few happy ones.

One of the pups we saved (ok, 2 of the pups). This little girl is so sweet!!!

This pic was taken after a late night with the 5 pups I helped.

KD had a Boobooloon on for a hotspot he was chewing 

The infamous neck wound 

Happy family after Park Run on Saturday

Happy girl tonight

My best friend totally chilled after an amazing weekend of bonding!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Dogs, bicycles and smiles

Been a long time since I have blogged but it's not from a lack of material but rather a shift in my focus. With this in mind: as of January (or December) I am changing the theme images of this blog to include all my adventures. This will allow for dog posts, bush posts, photography adventures and more!

The last few weeks have had some good dog adventures! Firstly: a few weeks ago KD and I had a good and proper fight. He was not happy that I was walking and tried to stop me by walking slowly in front of me, sitting in front of me when I slowed down and running to the park gate when we came close to it. I was so irritated with him but it turned out that I should have listened to him. I had kidney stones and only felt the pain a day or so later. The weekend of my stones we had club competition at dog school and because I was flat, I only took Hayley. Big mistake - she was stubborn and didn't want to work!! Moral of the story: listen to your dog. They are wise.

Before that, I seemed to have had a rough patch with Hayley. Poor baby went down with hemorrhagic gastro and it was spotted by a friend at the park who saw she had a runny tummy. I rushed her to the vet who examined her and said I was fortunate to catch it so early. 12hrs later and I would have a furkid in hospital. She was given medication and a strict diet of chicken and rice. Poor KD was visibly stressed at her being ill and he even let her sleep in our bed. He would not leave her alone. This bug is not contagious but is insanely scary and I got insanely worried about her - she could hardly eat, clung to me more than normal and had no energy to even want a walk. She had just gotten over it and I took her to the park and I think that is where she caught normal gastro because within days of recovery, she was down with normal gastro!! Another week of sleeping in the bed and special diet and she pulled through. What I learnt out of those 2 weeks: watch your dogs when they do their business. It can tell you a lot about their health! And: pick up after them.

Fast forward past all the not to fun bits and the dogs settled and life moved on. A few weeks ago we had a fun day at dog school which involved an agility competition, tunneling competitions and obedience competitions. KD did all 3 and Hayley did just tunnels and obedience.

Agility was a different type to our norm and definitely not one set up for a human who needs a calculator!! We basically had an open course but the trick was we had to score 57 points. Each type of obstacle had a different number of points (eg hurdles = 1; a-frame = 3) and you had to work a course to get up to the 57 points. Just as we were about to start, there was a loud bang which upset KD. This had him bolt towards the car and unsettled him for the rest of the run despite my best efforts to calm him by ignoring the fact that there had been a sound. He ended up coming second in the small dog agility. Pretty impressive!!

The next event we signed up for was Tunnels. K did his first run and did pretty well but kept overshooting the tunnels because he kept misreading me - I was at the end of the tunnel as he was entering. He did around 34 seconds which I thought was ok. I then entered Hayley for the fun of it. Um... Ja. Madam decided the tunnels made for good shade and stopped towards the end of most of the tunnels for a break. Hayley is definitely NOT an agility or tunneling dog!!  I entered KD for a second run and he was a gem. He took nearly 5 seconds off his first run!!!!! He knew the order and ran to each tunnel in order and I am sure if we had done a third run, he may have taken more time off but... Off to obedience we went! (K ended up getting second in small dog tunnels - proud mommy!!!)

My normally great dog was not great in the ring. He was tired and grumpy and wanted out of the ring. This resulted in me reading him as such and faulterinf badly as a handler! Add to the fact that he hates playing fetch and we had a really bad first shot at an obedience competition. (The judge even told me after I ran Hayley that I should leave KD to agility as he is clearly not an obedience dog!!) Then came Hayley's turn and WOW!! She rocked it. She was at my side looking at me during heel work, she did a fetch (although she did try head for shade when she had her ball instead of return to me). Aside from the fetch issue and her mistaking wait for a stay, she impressed me and I was sure she had done well but sadly she had major handler issues and lost tones of points because of what I did. She has definitely improved over the last year and has shown herself to be my obedience dog whereas KD is my agility dog. 

Each dog seems to have their strength and its up to me in the new year to work on their strengths and help them enjoy the type of work they prefer. 

It's odd but recently I looked up at my wall of achievements and realized that although my cycling achievements were great for a short while, I missed out on possibly great times in other aspects of my life such as with KD. Learning curve out of that: keep balance. Don't focus on one aspect like work or cycling. Enjoy your life as a whole. 

A week after that was our silver canine good citizen test. The KUSA Canine Good Citizen program is aimed at encouraging dogs with good manners in the home and community and to encourage and stress responsible dog ownership. (For more info, please go to this link: https://www.kusa.co.za/index.php/kusa-schemes/canine-good-citizen-test/306-canine-good-citizen) I honestly did not think either of my dogs were ready and because I had been so busy, I had hardly trained. The big day came and my brother was on hand to assist with handling my dogs (my mom, aunt and uncle and sister-in-law also came but I think they got really bored). The first exercise was the "stay" and Hayley surprised me!! She went into a down and was rock solid!!! K on the other hand was not a happy camper and would not listen and I had to tether him. The other exercises went well and K was actually a bright spark with his road work! He walked calmly, sat at each turn and was a little ace. The recall exercise was another interesting one for us. K was not going to leave my side!! Hayley did her usual "lemme think about this" gimmick and stayed bum to the ground until she decided it was time and then she did a goofy jump and sprinted to me.

Next year we start in a new class at school. It's really sad to leave the class we have been in because both dogs have progressed so well and we have made good friends in our class. But: Hayley was a bright spark and as a result of her bringing her toy back to me, we now move up to the clever dog class. This is the first time we areovong up a class from her merit - normally we move thanks to KD. I am proud of how she has done in the last year and I know that it was only possible as a result of the time and effort I have put in with both dogs. 

If you want a well behaved dog: spend as much time as possible in training and bonding as you can!!

My life has not all been dog though. I am back on the bike. I had been running but due to some warnings about the impact on knees, I decided to rather refocus back to cycling. I have had a stop start come back and had to settle on a goal ride. I had set the Jock ride as my goal as its a bucket list item but then a good friend told me about another race. After much debate, I have settled on this mtb stage race which I will tell about once I have my entry. I will tell you that it's a great one!! This last week has been great for my energy levels and for my training although I have a long way to go before I am ready for my big ride. One thing I can promise is this: I am focussing on enjoyment and not on racing. 

The end of the year is now here and as work gets busy with one of my busiest seasons, I also find its time to reflect on the year that has past and look forward to a few days off in a few weeks time. It was a busy and extremely stressful year but was a good one. I have gained some good friends and had many memorable experiences. Stay safe all and have a great December. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bush Day 15

The last full day of the bush adventure has come to an end. Tonight I wrote in our visitors book and for the first time ever, I struggled to write. It was not out of emotion, lack of things to write or even writers block but rather for the fact that in the last 15 days I have seen so much and had so many experiences that I felt like I wanted to just edit my blog postings a bit to include certain things and sightings that I could not blog about and then just print the blog and paste the pages and pages into the book. But no, I had to do a summary that included loads of scratching out as I corrected my facts. This was definitely one of my most entertaining trips yet!

I just wish that my friends could have been here. (Being a public space, I will not use names.) I think that in each of your own ways, you would have loved to have been here this way and you were all missed.

That said, moms friends were quite something! I have spent a few days gaining insight about mom and her social life. It was quite fun to be around these ladies and when the elephants trumpeted, they definitely added humor! 

An interesting thing about leave is that in the first week you are still wired and stressed. Week 2 you start relaxing. I definitely found this. If my 2 adorable dogs were here, I could  handle another week here but, I miss them so am ready to return home to get cuddles from the kids. 

So today... This morning I had a slow wake up and only woke up at 6. I then dozed and pretended to sleep until 6:25 when I gave up and went to make coffee. I took my iPad and a book thinking I would have at least an hour before the others woke up but surprisingly, they all woke up within half an hour of me. (Do people not sleep late on holiday anymore? Or is making coffee at sunrise the new trend? Or... Did they just not want me to do housework...)

Anyway, the gals got carried away looking at photo albums and I snuck off to do my core exercises and then shower before the workers came to do the stuff we needed around the house. I was the wise one because when the guys came, I was showered and ready for the day and the others weren't! 

Once the guys had covered the umbrella, cleaned the braai and done some general work around the house, they left and the others could get ready for the day. Whilst they all got ready, I bonded with our outside table and landie and oiled the beautiful railway sleeper wood. 

As soon as everyone was ready we headed out on a drive with our first port of call being the office. Not far from the office we came across a few elephant in the road and knowing how grumpy the elephant have been lately, there was no way I was going to even try pass them!! So, we turned around and went the long way around, up Kudu Drive (where we found more elephant) and down Mica Road (which is just up the road from where we had been with the elephant earlier). We had a pleasant drive after that and only saw one more herd of elephant.

At home we had amazing eland burgers and relaxed before mom and I started the pack up process. 

This evening we headed out to North to meet up with friends and try see the lions. However, as we approached the spot we were meeting at, we found a tree in the middle of the road!! Unfortunately we didn't have any rope to pull the tree out the way and although there was a way around the tree, the one bit would have been tight and mom was not happy with me trying out the 4x4 capabilities of another one of her vehicles (in my defense, I am pretty good when it comes to 4x4 but she was concerned about a rock so I backed off). Fortunately our friends arrived on the other side of the tree and told us the view point was in walking distance so we grabbed our drinks and walked the last short bit.

We had a really nice time at the viewpoint and I got to meet a friend of moms who I have heard loads about (she is a Nikon fan) and I had her and another tannie tell me how much they have heard about me.... 

On our way home we had one vehicle warn us of elephant on our way back. Seriously!!??! For us, there were 2 ways home: the seriously long route or the route which they said we must not go. I opted for the route with elephant on it. Yes, getting revved is not fun but today the elephant were mellow and quite honestly, as cautious as I am, there elephant cannot keep dictating where I drive and where I don't drive.

The rest of the evening was mellow and for the first evening in a while, I am about to switch off my lights before 10! (It's not even 9:15!)

Once again, this was a special trip and I think mom and I needed the break before the next chapter begins for us. (Maybe next year we will need another long bush trip!)

I may blog tomorrow but, at this stage I have a few adventure ideas but the next 3 months are going to be busy helping pack up my childhood home so no adventures will happen unless they involve the dogs. On the cards for next year though, I am tossing up between a ride or 2 and a run. So let's see what happens. But for now, I am mellow in my bushveld dreams....

Ok, bushveld dreams did not last long because just after bedtime the bush exploded with the magnificent sounds of a roaring lion. There is nothing quite like that sound!! The rest of the night the bush was very awake with the sounds of hippo, lion and jackal and then in the early morning the fish eagles and birds a

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Bush Day 14

Every day when I write in my notes which day it is, I feel like I am typing a letter like a castaway.. Whilst out driving today I realized how boring my typing has been so, I am going to try write properly tonight.

Last night I got carried away reading and playing tile rummy so ended up only going to bed well after 11. I woke up at 5, dozed a bit but at 6:20 I was over the pretend sleep so I got up to make coffee. I had this perfect morning planned: coffee and email followed by core exercises and maybe a bit of extra exercise and then reading on the deck. All before the other 3 woke up. Haha! The one who had partied the hardest woke up before 7!!!! At least I got through the coffee and emails part... Mom was the last to wake up and we all ended up in her room with our coffee. I ducked fairly quickly to continue my planned morning and managed to get half way through my core exercises before I heard "where is Di?". I quickly finished and got busy with getting ready for the day. 

I know not everyone is brave enough for our outside shower, but personally that is my daily treat here. There is something so awesome about it.

Anyway, after getting decent for the day, I settled down to a very important task: tile rummy. I am becoming more of an addict than I was all thanks to one of mom's sisters who showed mom and I the iPad app.

Once everyone was ready, it started raining so we had to wait until the irritating light drizzle stopped before I could bring the Landie around and we could head out. Part of everyone's getting ready was the one friend who is a hairdresser giving the other a quick trim - first time ever we have had salon services here!! The drive itself was fairly quiet. We did the river road on both sides of the river then went to try look at a view point but it was overgrown so we found another spot and had a drink (I really need to attach a wine bottle opener to the keys). We then meandered home.

The drive home ended up having some entertainment. At one of the dams we came across 2 elephants. The one kept trying to chase a Black Stork away but he bird kept coming back. Elephant charges, stork backs off, elephant stops, stork comes back.... Eventually the elephant moved off and his friend was left to defend the dam. This guy also tried to chase the stork but this stork was clearly over these 2 and started moving towards the elephant. The poor lumpy got a bit nervous and it looked like he was trying to hide in the bush!! 

For lunch, one of moms friends made us a steak starter that was yum!! It's called "mashonshan" (spelling??) which is apparently Sotho or something for "picking". It's basically a rump steak that is scored into cubes without going all the way through. You then rub chilli and garlic salt and the. Just seal the outside on a hot fire the cut it up and serve as a starter. We didn't have chilli or garlic salt so she used my homemade sauce which I think is mild with some mixed salt. It was super yum!!! Only thing I would do differently is use a hotter chilli sauce (normally mine is a lot hotter but that was a bad batch that was too mild). Half of us found it mild, the other half found it a tad hot.

After he starter I made us a quick braai and we had a late but yum lunch which was followed by a siesta. I opted for some tile rummy followed by reading and watching game.

5pm came and only one of the others was awake so I grabbed mom's infamous mask which I had brought with the intention of giving my brother a fright. I then went to her room and told her it was time to go for a drive. I then put the mask on and walked into her room. She got a tiny fright.

Our drive was quiet. We had hoped to see hyaena, leopard or something but only saw general game, elephant and jackal. At Hide Dam we came across 2 hippo which were out and we had to wait quite some time before they moved out of the road. We then slowly headed home. As we were going down this one steep, concreted road we were all talking a bout what we would do if we came across an elephant on this road. This has always been something I have been nervous of and considering one elephant was near there when we headed out, I knew he was somewhere close so I knew the odds were good it could happen. As I saw the end of the concrete I felt relieved that it was not there. But then, I heard someone say "elephant", then a trumpet that was so loud I knew it was right by us! I did not know if it was just a trumpet or a charge cause no one was talking, so I accelerated and got over he next 2 bumps so fast that I know that had my brother been on the landie, I would have been told my fortune in 20 different choice words!! As I accelerated we all packed out laughing at the humor of it all - we had just been talking about finding an elephant on that road!! I turned the next corner and stopped cause someone had wine on them. Turns out that she had been taking a sip of her drink when the elephant trumpeted and she got a fright which resulted in her having red wine all over her face! As I pulled out my phone to take a photo, I was asked by someone to please go as we needed to get home. I obliged and we made it home safely.

Dinner was a simple meal of cheese and biscuits which we enjoyed whilst watching the genet below the house.

I cannot believe tomorrow is our last day here. It really has been a special trip and although it took a while for my body to wind down, I am finally relaxed. 

Tomorrow we have some packing up admin as well as some serious lion finding that we have to do. Until then, I am off to dream of elephants....

Friday, 8 May 2015

Bush Day 13

Cannot believe I have been here 13 days!! I have relaxed so much - I had forgotten what chilled feels like. 

I woke up nice and early - seriously wish I could sleep late but I do actually enjoy the quiet time. Anyway... There was no orange sunrise thanks to the clouds - the weather has turned and we have gone from super hot to cool, cloudy and windy.

Made myself some coffee and shortly there after, one of moms friends woke up so helped her sort coffee. Mom followed shortly after and we sat and relaxed in the lounge until the other friend woke. We then sorted breakfast, I did core exercises and we started the day.

Our drive took us past the office and a few dams but the game was very scarce.  We saw some elephant but fortunately very far away. Had some good vulture sightings (cape and bearded) which was nice!

The afternoon was spent having lunch, reading, playing tile rummy (yes, I am an addict) and snoozing.  

This evening we had a special sighting of a nyala bull drinking from the little pond at our entrance. This was followed by an evening spent around the fire in the lapa.

As I type this there are 2 hippo having a massive fight. Think we are in for an entertaining night with these 2.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Bush Day 12

Just thinking back to yesterday's walk and what we learnt from the guide... Did you know that you can burn elephant dung - it will keep mozzies away. Also, if you boil it in water and then just drink the water it can help heal a multitude of ailments. 

Today was a busy admin day. I started my day by doing my usual: dishes. Seriously love doing them! (No sarcasm.) Yet at home it's a hated chore. After breakfast and core exercises, I did stock take of all tins and drinks and checked expiry dates. Sadly, by the end of it I smelled like a brewery from all the beer I had to open up and throw down the drain. I found it interesting how the one brand (one I personally don't like) when it expires, it nearly explodes when opening yet the other brand (that I like) doesn't. After that I sorted the Landie and then helped mom with a few things before we headed to camp to fill the Landie and wait for her friends to arrive.

Oh wait! Whilst we were doing house admin, the elephants came down. Was unusual for them to come down so soon but it was so nice to see them. 

Anyway.. So we sorted Landie and the admin mom needed to do at the office and fetched the gals. We spent the rest of the morning / afternoon relaxing on the deck.

At 4:30 we headed out for a short sunset drive. We went along the river road but had to turn around half way because the grumpy lumpy was near the road and we could hear him give the vehicle in front of us a good talking to! We ended up having subset drinks on the causeway and then did a very short drive on north before heading home. Fortunately no lumpy incidents today!

Wind has picked up again tonight and I suspect a change of weather is coming. Best part of the wind: no bats flying around!!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bush Day 11

Dreamt of elephants - must have been thanks the the one that went off with his trumpeting all night. Woke up at 4 and dozed until just before 5 when I got up to make us coffee. Today was walk day! At 5:50 we maneuvered around and through the tree to our Landie and then drove off to Olifants North. On our way we were treated to Grumpy Lumpy giving us a trumpet but he was far in so no stress this time!

The walk was guided by an unarmed but knowledgable ranger named James. He took us along the ridge above the old airfield, stopping at various trees, dung and spoor to explain things. Although we didn't see much other than antelope in the distance, the walk is scenic so that makes up for the lack of game. Although: I think it would be so awesome to come across lion or something on the trail! The only thing about this walk is that it is an out and back route which could be improved if they made it a loop. Other than that, it was a nice walk which we all enjoyed. 

After the quick 2.6km walk, we went to friends of mom for brunch where we spoilt to a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, pawpaw, onions etc. We then chilled on their patio for a while until the heat started and we decided to head home before it got too hot.

Spent the rest of the afternoon watching the elephant, fending off monkeys, reading and snoozing. The afternoon was ended with 2 games of tile rummy before packing up for a short drive.

Our intention with the drive was to go up to the top dams as we had not been there in a few days but someone called in elephant from there so we opted out of that. Fortunately for us, we came across a huge herd of buffalo at spaghetti junction so we watched them then headed to the airstrip where we had a stunning sighting of them. We then meandered past a few dams before slowly heading home.

Whilst eating dinner, we were treated to a huge civet which came to visit. They really are beautiful!

I called it an early night at 8pm as I wanted to read. Plus, we had a log day today and our next visitors arrive tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Bush Day 10

This morning was D-Day for the bank. Mom and I headed to Standard Bank to finally try sort our stuff out. Fortunately for us, they felt like being helpful today and we came right. After the bank, we went for brunch followed by some shopping (coffee, milk etc) before returning to the reserve.

Spent the afternoon relaxing on the deck and watching a herd of elephants on the other side of the river. Was interesting to watch how a bunch of baby elephants were being looked after just 3 adults in an almost nursery school fashion. These 3 herded the babies to the water, and then guarded over them whilst alternatively taking turns at getting water and having mud baths.

As we were about to get ready for a drive, a lone elephant came and munched at the trees around the house. Was great for a few photos but mom was not too impressed by him breaking branches by the house. Eventually he moved off and we went off on our drive. 

The drive was fairly quiet. We saw the usual Impalas etc but with way more steenbok. It was almost like there was a steenbok on every plain. On the way home it got dark so we started shining with the spot lights - I multi tasked with driving and shining - and we were fortunate enough to come across a pride of lion in the road. Within seconds of seeing the lion, an elephant came out of nowhere and started mock charging us with full trumpeting sound effects! Both spotlights had been on the lions so we had not seen him. Mom urged me to drive faster but there was no where to go! I was already quite close to the lions tails and much closer and I would have become a part of the pride!! Fortunately the elephant gave up and kept quiet. We had a great sighting of the lion before they ducked into the bush near the causeway and we lost sight of them. 

As we drove into our driveway we realized that the elephant from earlier had left us a not so nice surprise - a tree pushed down in our driveway! And Murphy's Law, I was wearing slops. (I am normally so paranoid about wearing takkies on drives but for some arb reason, I didn't.) We had to bundu bash our way around and through the tree to get to the house and we had to abandon our Landie where it was. Then: when we got inside and started preparing dinner we realized the gas had run out so I had to switch over to a new bottle and relight everything. Fortunately the excitement for thee evening was over and we were able to enjoy our braai in peace.

When I went to shower, I could hear the elephant in the bush nearby. Poor elephant spent the night being grumpy and trumpeting lots. Definitely not a happy lumpy.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bush Day 9

Before I start the day... For those following the blog at the moment, I am sure you have noticed the delay in postings. The reason is that I type at night then post the following day when I have signal. Then the blog site sends the email out the following day. So apologies for delays! Visit the blog around lunchtime every day for the latest updates.

Today I woke up with Bertie Bat squeaking with the sunrise so I decided that since it was cold, I would get up. I did the dishes, made my pics smaller (for posting), tried posting but signal was terrible, then I did my next core workout before mom came in to make breakfast. Not long after, the other 2 emerged and we had breakfast and packed them up. 

I drove them to the office and got them off safely before heading home and helping mom get ready before friends from Olifants North arrived for a drive and lunch.

The drive this morning was way better than yesterday!! Plenty general game but the veld really does look bad. There is a shimmer of green but that is superficial. There is so little actual grass and the tall grass you see around is not the edible stuff. We are in for a very long winter. 

Mom had made a really yum chicken pasta salad along with rolls and a pea salad which is one of my favorites. 

After the visitors lefty we settled down to afternoon time - ie reading and sleeping time. I have so enjoyed my 20 to 30 minute naps!! They are so refreshing despite my not sleeping deeply that I wake up feeling great. After snooze time, mom did some sewing whilst I played games on my iPad. We had some impala, nyala and waterbuck visit the front of the house - shows how quiet just 2 people are!

Sunset came and we watched the moon rise and mom said I had to get some photos so I played with shots of the moon and then of the colours on the river bed before we settled down to a sunset drink. The bush just had sounds of bugs and the river with a bit of lion far away followed by the sound of a leopard a bit further down the river. 

Dinner was left overs followed by us laughing at how it was 7:30 and we were both ready for bed. An hour later we were locking up. I came and read and started typing this whilst downloading something to my phone. (I know... I should be on it less but wanted to listen to something.)

Just as I was typing up the last paragraph or 2, I was treated to roaring again. The lions are definitely closer and I am guessing that tonight they may pass in front of the house. I am hoping they roar from in front of the house - the sound of lions roaring close by is one of the most amazing sounds.