Monday, May 31, 2010

Home from Africa after an awesome trip................

The last photos I captured on my way from Mala Mala for the flight back to Johannesburg on Friday, were these sleepy gals at the side of the trail.  My return travel to North Carolina was a long 27 hours total, arriving here Saturday evening.......... I'm feeling a lot like this myself!  How perfect though to return home from the trip of a lifetime.......oh yes it truly was........stretch out on my own bed and relive each amazing experience of the past three weeks.  I feel like a true adventurer having seen and done things I would never have imagined possible at this time of my life!

I have so much to share with you once I get over 2000 photos of Africa please be patient.........and know that I am already planning to return again!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pink Saturday.........coming home!

Happy 2nd birthday PINK SATURDAY!!
......and thanks Beverly for making it all possible.
In celebration, pink roses for you today.

Long flights, Johannesburg to Frankfurt to Washington, D.C. to Raleigh!  Tonight I should arrive home, with tales to weave and wonders to share.  It will take me a few days to get back on track, upload and edit all those photos, get back to my laptop and into blog mode again, and get some sleep.....meanwhile just want you to know I'm on my way!

Happy Pink Saturday...............and of course visit Beverly at How Sweet The Sound for lots of real pink posts today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heading home soon................

This is our last camp, meaning my safari is coming to an end.  MalaMala has received many travel awards including  "Top Hotel in Africa" by Conde Nast Traveler, and "World's Best Hotel" by Travel and Leisure

I'll need a little time to get over serious jet lag and back in the groove, then I'll be posting words and images from my African adventure!

See you soon dear friends.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pink Saturday.........thinking of you

I bet by now I'm missing my little cottage ~ as much as we love to travel there really is 'no place like home' is there?
I'm wondering how my garden is know, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"
  DH will do his best hopefully to keep things growing..........perhaps Spring rain has fallen, that will help.

Will there be pink in Africa?  Will I find something pink to photograph and share with you......hope so!
Stop over at Beverly's How Sweet The Sound there is never a lack of pink!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of Africa........................

These images are from a Botswana travel brochure.................hopefully I'm taking some just as beautiful to share with you when I get back!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pink Saturday...............

Although I'm far from home and laptop, I did leave you some pale pink for today!  These roses were the flowers I was loving to look at while rushing about doing all the last minute things required before a big trip.  I mixed them with Lisianthus, love their green buds.

I'm hoping there will be something pink to bring back from Africa to show you later - perhaps flowers, birds or flamingos!  Meanwhile, hurry over to visit Beverly our now famous Pink Saturday hostess at How Sweet The Sound for more pink.  I'll be leaving a little 'pink post each Saturday while away.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Off to Africa.................

Sunrise ~ Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

Today we fly from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa.  A long journey over the ocean to a new continent. One stop to refuel in Dakar, Senegal but we cannot leave the plane - you know how a stretch would feel so good about then, sigh!  On arrival in the early morning, 15 hours later, we'll have a day and night in Johannesburg, then fly to Botswana to start a two week safari. 

I've left a few posts for case you stop by.  Unable to carry a laptop with our limited luggage allowance, and Internet not available except for emergencies in places where we'll stay, I just hope to regale you with photos.......and more photos, after I return on May 29.  See you then.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Up and away........................

My friend Elinor sent me this hilarious card along with that great Journal, wishing me a safe, fun adventure - I added the caption!  Hopefully I'll be laughing with the zebras too!

Tomorrow is the big day. I'll be flying to New York, staying overnight at an airport hotel where I'll meet up with Paula and Jen.  We'll then be heading to Johannesburg, South Africa Thursday morning where we'll join Babs who is flying in from England. Please go back to sleep Icelandic volcano so the air spaces are clear!

Wish me luck please - flying is always a little unnerving and not my favorite pastime!  Bye for now.

Farewell garden delights.......

It's hard to drag myself away.....even to Africa......when the garden is just coming into bloom.  The hydrangeas are covered in their lovely pale green flowers, a few just starting to show their Summer blue dresses.  Most likely they'll be in all their glory when I return, which reminds me I must tell DH to water, water, water - they love to drink on hot days!

This old Jasmine I really thought had died last Fall. I cut a lot of it off and didn't expect much if anything this year.  Spring arrived and brought it back to life with more blossoms and heavier perfume than ever, amazing.

Recycled bedroom curtain panels ~ a little front porch privacy now the trees have been removed from the driveway...........and blowing in the breeze prettiness.

Annual Morning Glories and Moon Flower seedlings up already.  I scatter these all around the garden where they can grab on to climbing places...........and here in pots to train up the porch for Summer shade.

Herbs are doing well, variegated sage from last year is healthy, next to it lemon thyme with basil seeds sprouting - they get tossed everywhere also, never can have too much much basil for the Summer tomatoes.

Clematis climbing the front steps

It's always hard leaving the garden at this time of year.  I just hope it rains the perfect amount, the sun shines down warmly, and gentle breezes blow until I get back.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Friendships are so special...........

I love my early mornings sitting here in the dining room communicating with each of you.  You are a very special group of friends.  Some I know only online, others I've had the great luck to meet in person over the past three years since I started Across The Pond, and now this new blog, A Breath of Fresh Air.  Each one of you has enriched my life in some special way, each one of you has truly become a cherished friend.  My only regret is that all this didn't happen when I was younger. Dear ones, I'm getting 'long in the tooth' and the computer came along too late!! I find myself eager to tag along with you 'youngsters' such as Vanessa, Mary Ann, Anna, Jenny, Janna and others (you know who you are), who love what I love, who are embracing the old and thrifted, the shabby and chic, decorating, treasure hunting, sewing, painting, and making wonderful homes for your families.

Perhaps you feel I've gone a little overboard in my posts leading up to the big trip.  I do know that I will, as always, miss my home as I travel so far away.  Maybe you're tired of reading about my 'next adventure' and saying to yourself "why doesn't she just keep quiet and go". As you know, I travel a lot, but I'm so thrilled about this trip and so grateful that it's all due to a wonderful friendship of many, many years.  I know my life will be enriched..........and I plan to make every moment in Africa special so that I can always remember it happened because of a very dear friend. 

Be good to your friends, they are important in your life. Never take them for granted.  They help make your days special and, over the years, they light up your life in such a special way they truly make you shine.

I'm feeling a little tentative as zipping up the bag time gets closer.  My DH makes jokes about being eaten by lions and trampled by elephants..........but is sweet enough not to have taken out a million dollar life insurance policy on me as he expects to welcome me home again!  I have visions of falling in the Okavango Delta waters and being a crocodile's dinner!  Yeah, yeah, I know, just get on with it and go......I will, I am!!!!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My NEXT ADVENTURE..............

Yes, we English gals "The Four Broads Abroad"
(Paula, Jen, Babs, and yours truly), will be off on our safari this Wednesday, May 12. 
Excited? You bet! 
Nervous? A wee bit!!!

This NEXT ADVENTURE will be a new one for three of us....whereas Paula will be ticking off visit #17 to Africa......thank goodness we have an experienced leader to hold our hands and carry our baggage - just kidding, she has enough to carry with all her camera equipment!

My compass - on a very special chain which belonged to Paula's late husband who loved Africa almost as much as we loved him.

Paula has been to just about every known corner on the planet but Africa remains her favorite...............mainly because of her interest in the animals.  She's been to places that are still 'no place for a lady' or anyone else who isn't fearless and very gutsy, believe you me!  Having a generous friend who is willing to take us with her, show us the amazing sights and sounds of a continent most of us would never have the chance to visit, and do it all in a first class way, is fabulous. 
Once again, true friends are the best.  I am definitely blessed.

Postscript:  I received another gift!  I just have to show you the hilarious, but extremely thoughtful travel gift, from my dear friend Jenny of SuzAnna's Antiques.  When I stopped at the shop to say goodbye yesterday, she handed me this with a giggle and beaming smile!

A necessity for bush game drives when you can't hold it any longer! I've been told that first the guide searches behind a 'pea pee bush' to make sure there are no lurking lions, or worse!  Then you uncross your legs, cross your fingers instead, and hop out with your little roll and pray you'll be safe! There are no porta-potties in the African bush!  Thank you Jenny, I'll definitely be thinking of you dear, often!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pink Saturday ~ Mother's Day

HAPPY PINK SATURDAY..........sending special good wishes to all Mothers, Moms, Mums, Mamas and Mommies out there as we celebrate Mother's Day tomorrow.

My beautiful pink rhododendron opened last week for an early celebration.......

.........and here was a visitor, stopping by to share the nearby bird seed.......which by the way has been dropped under that feeder and is growing into nice healthy plants!  Looks like I'll have a sunflower patch this Summer!  Guess taking the trees down and opening up this little area to more direct sun has benefits after all.

Stop by How Sweet the Sound to wish Beverly a Happy Mother's Day, and take time to visit some other Pink Saturday participants on this special weekend.

I wont be stopping by your pink blogs for a couple of weeks as I can't take my laptop on the African safari!  I am leaving some scheduled posts though so stop by when you have time.  Will miss you but hope to have something pink to show you from the big adventure when I get back!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mismatched bits of everyday life..........

Parsley and Lisianthus.

Looking around and seeing bits I'll miss when I leave next week.  The little jar of whatever is pretty on the kitchen window sill.

Richly perfumed Jasmine and sparkly crystals on the front porch.

A pile of books awaiting a good read ~ I'm taking just two paperbacks on the trip.

Baby wrens in the planter.....I think their parents read the sign!
Erin of The Painted Garden painted the lovely WELCOME sign which I won in her very generous giveaway last year.  Visit her here - she has just been published in a great article in Country Almanac's Container Gardens magazine.  It features Erin's colorful Southern California container garden which inspires her to paint beautiful flowers, with help from her most handsome and adorable canine Studio Assistant, Bentley......who can come visit my flower garden any time!  See him with the sunflowers on my sidebar.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Treasured gifts.......from treasured friends

I'm such a lucky duck!  Friends from all over have sent me such special gifts to take to you know I have to squeeze them in my one duffel bag, the gifts not the friends, unfortunately!
The fantastic little Baggellini bag is from dear Sarah at Hyacinths For The Soul in Texas. This is perfect for stashing my passport, personal papers, reading glasses, lip treatment, Altoids, and that large size package of Imodium, lol!!  I love that it has two long adjustable shoulder straps, wide and skinny - perhaps one for 'feeling fat' days and the other for, well you know, those days we all hope for after living on lettuce for two weeks!! Sarah obviously has great taste in accessories.....imagine finding a bush print in the perfect shade of olive to dress up my khaki duds!  Love it Sarah and thank you so much.

Talk about perfect jewelry for travel when safety, space and weight means leaving the diamond tiara and dear-to-the-heart sentimental pieces at home for a trip into the bush........well my longtime sweet friend Patti in Washington State came through!  Her new venture into making beautiful beaded jewelery, also includes these featherweight, pretty and wispy flower pins with teeny beaded centers. Patti explained how this would be perfect on those boring tee shirts when I need to 'dress for dinner'.

OK - who knows what the pin is made prize but would love to hear your thoughts!

Here's the link to Patti's Etsy shop, Patrician Crafts where you can see her lovely jewelry and other handmade items. Thank you for sending such a perfect 'jewel' Patti.  I may not be dressing like Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, but I'll at least have a few little special adornments tucked in my bag.

The journal......such a gem with both lined and plain opposing pages which means writing and sketching, which I'll give a try as I'll be without my from my North Carolina friend of 33 years, Elinor.  My next door neighbor when we first moved to Raleigh, she has remained a dear, loyal and generous friend all these years.  Elinor travels often and knows what makes a journey easier.  Another travel gift she gave me many years ago was the Totes pack-away nylon's perfect, I've used it a zillion times, and it will be going to Africa too! Thank you Elinor, you always know what I'll love.

The watch?  What about the 'bush watch' looking all ready to tick across thousands of miles on my wrist?  This is my little gift to myself as I don't want to take my good watch.  This is just a Timex, and it's a actually a man's because they don't make it for a woman - but I loved it when I saw it.  With the push of the button the face illuminates in the dark.  I'm not sure just how dark the African bush gets but as we're 'out in the middle of nowhere' much of the time, perhaps a little light will be welcome when lions are roaring in the night - hopefully in the distance, not outside my 'tent'!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

French magazines versus packing...........

I'm packed.........for the fifth time!  This is it, no unpacking and repacking between now and next Wednesday! For some reason that whale of a duffel bag is stuffed to the gills, but I can honestly say I don't have many pieces of clothing for eighteen days!  It will take a lot of mixing and matching of these bush clothes to create outfits.  Luckily the color choices of khaki, olive drab and more khaki, will allow perfect color coordination.........even in the early morning darkness as I stumble, still sleepy, to the Range Rover for the first game ride of the day.

So why, you are wondering, am I showing photos of French prettiness today.  Let's face it, one has to keep those little attacks of nerves at bay.........especially after some of the dreams I've been having lately (involving very large and wrinkled grey creatures with big ears - and cats that definitely aren't domestic kitties).  What could be more calming than making a nice cuppa, sitting down with my new copy of a pretty magazine showing my favorite decorating style, country French.

I've managed to buy a subscription to my very favorite French home/decor magazine CAMPAGNE  DECORATION.
Could only find it when in France, however recently discovered the Canadian company ExpressMag where I've subscribed to fabulous UK Country Living for many years, also offers this gorgeous French publication, and many others.  Expressmag is very reliable - their rates include delivery to your mailbox and are reasonable compared to magazine rack prices.

Tomorrow I'll show you some perfect gifts I've received in the mail ~ from dear friends ~ and I'll definitely be tucking these treasures into a corner.......somewhere!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Elevenses, then back to Brazil.......with SuzAnna's in the bag!

Gorgeous wicker loveseat with pretty floral cushions from Jeannie of Uniquitiques booth - visit her adorable shop in Hillsborough, NC.

Sharing some of the latest pretties on display at SuzAnna's Antiques.  Wooden shoe trees - no, I will not be tempted, not going to collect those.  Silvered crumb trays - already have one so will let you have these!

Pretty painted frames also in Jeannie's Uniquitiques booth.

I was at SuzAnna's Saturday to meet up with friend Vanessa of Vanilla Lavender and her mom Celia who has been visiting from Brazil.  We had some fun times during the past two weeks and I'm really going to miss that lovely lady now she's gone back - carrying an extra bag full of pretty purchases for her home.  Even though I couldn't speak Portuguese, and she doesn't speak English, we still had a ball.  Thank you Vanessa for translating!

Waistlines appear to be back.........of course when you're my age they are just a memory!

Vanessa and Celia, the sweetest mom and daughter..........
came for elevenses (that's mid-morning coffee or tea with a sweet pastry or cake snack in England!) in the gazebo...........

..........and of course were given the garden tour.  I love to show friends around my garden and at this time of year it's looking good before the Summer heat arrives.  Celia I'll miss you and look forward to your return......and I may just come to Brazil to visit you some day soon!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Carolina wrens are back............

Winter tree image ~ the Carolina wrens are year round here.
The Carolina wren is waking me from dreamland these bright Spring mornings.  These tiny but extremely vocal birds are always in my garden.  I'm certain the original family has instructed its offspring it's a good place to hang out.  Makes me happy.  I truly love these spunky little birds who constantly sing their many songs......perched in the trees, on the back fence under the magnolia tree, on the front porch, and the finial on top of the gazebo! 

If you followed my former blog, Across The Pond, I'm sure you'll recall how many times I posted on our wren families building nests each Spring - in the kitchen window box or on the porch.  This morning one woke me very early, singing gleefully in the tree right outside the open bedroom window.................

...........most likely calling its mate!  Two days ago, while sitting here posting early morning, I noticed a pair of wrens flying back and forth to the porch with catkins and soft skeletonized leaves in their tiny beaks.  No doubt what they were up to, home building again, a tucked away nest in the planter by the front door.   This always holds faux greenery and hydrangeas and the pic below shows two of the four babies that hatched there in 2008.

Wrens in the front porch planter 2008

I'm showing you these because I will be away while this year's little miracle occurs.  I may see eggs before I leave, but hatchlings growing chubby and strong, then fledging into the big wide world, I'll sadly miss.  Wrens are wonderful parents, both mom and dad caring for the babies needs, and keeping the nest spotlessly clean.

I'll be leaving instructions for DH ~

Open and close the front door quietly

Keep the porch light off as it's directly above the nest

Count the eggs 

Write down the dates when the eggs hatch

Count the babies

Mark the date they fledge  

I'm sad I'll miss another miracle of nature - but know I'll be viewing spectacular ones while visiting Africa!