Friday, June 29, 2012

Clean up time..........

Elephants drinking and bathing -
evening at Little Makalolo, Zimbabwe

Yes, we're home again and before I hop into my 
own very ordinary shower today...................

...........unwatched by darling elephants, 
such as here in South Africa............

.........or freezing you know what off 
before riding elephants our first morning in Botswana...........

.........and taking a quick wash and brush up in 
the elegant Intercontinental at Johannesburg's
airport before the long 15 hour flight home yesterday..........

........I just wanted to let you know that as soon as I 
get straightened out after three amazing weeks in 
Africa, I'll be sharing lots of photos and stories from 
our fabulous adventure.........
and catching up with each of you because I've 
really missed you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Riding lessons......................

..............African style!

Chilly morning ride in Botswana, with Chris the handler, aboard huge but gentle Cathy. We were accompanied by her adopted grandson - the cutest baby elephant ever. He swam in the Delta alongside us as we shivered, but thoroughly enjoyed, viewing the magnificent beauty of the African bush from above.

Just a glimpse of what will come once I'm home again - another journey of a lifetime in Southern Africa. Internet very sparse, but tonight I'm able to actually post a pic (although it took forever) and to tell you we are now enjoying Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I'll be back......................

.......I'll return end of June with images 
and stories to share from the safari. 
Thanks for all the good wishes for this trip.

My favorite leopard viewed in Botswana - May 2010

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last garden post....for a while

 As I did a quick flit about the garden today, 
deadheading here and there, pulling 
a few errant weeds hiding under shrubs, giving 
life-saving drinks to pots 
with pretty blooms..........I was a wee bit 
sad to think of all the growing beauty 
I'll miss while riding elephants in the bush etc. LOL!

 No delicate Peace roses and blue hydrangeas there!

The beautiful and fragrant magnolia has lost 
the petals, however I can't toss it out yet 
as it's still so lovely to look at.

 Who did I find in the middle of a large 
loose privet next to the gazebo? 
A Brown Thrasher sitting calmly on a nest 
with two pretty eggs. We've always had Thrashers 
in the garden but this is the first time 
I've found a nest.  Welcome to a new family, 
however I don't think I'll be back in time to 
see the babies before they fledge.

Lastly, the moonflowers are climbing rapidly, 
perhaps they'll be up to the top of the porch 
by the time we return!
Yes, will miss the garden....just hope Nature 
is kind with gentle rain, warm sunshine, 
and we do have kind neighbors thankfully.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

...almost time to say goodbye

It's almost enough to make one want to stay home!  
Just kidding - who in their right mind would pass 
up the fabulous opportunity to 
go on an African safari.
The old World War I marching song comes to mind ~
"Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and smile, smile, smile".......
So smiling I am as I continue to stuff every corner of my kit-bag backpack 
and hope that it gets to its destination safely. 
We'll arrive in Johannesburg Saturday and fly out on Sunday to Botswana's awesome 
Abu Elephant Camp - click to see.
Gotta run, my old clocks are ticking away, lots still to do!
Not sure I'll be able to post or comment while gone.........just know I'll miss keeping up and
will be thinking of you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Berry sweet!

Local strawberries are coming in and they are the sweetest by far.
Berries seem to be available just about any time of year now. Arriving from points far off, surviving cold storage and quick transportation across thousands of miles, you can have your morning bowl of berries fifty two weeks a year. Often they are just not that great - aging and too soft, or hard and tasteless. 

Great sign for sale at SuzAnna's Antiques

I bought this basket of strawberries last week - they were alongside the local blueberries at the grocery store, both from the same farm just a few miles outside the city. They had been picked that morning, probably stacked carefully in a little pickup truck with scraped paint and muddy tires, an old hound dog in the passenger seat catching the breeze through the open window, and driven up the highway, no further than 15 miles or so. They are double delicious, we've thoroughly enjoyed them...........and there are enough left for one more 'bowl of berries' or a strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Would you like to live on a berry farm?
Do you ever go to a farm to 'pick your own' fruits or veggies?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The white garden.................

Leaving the garden at this time of year is really difficult.  
Beauty is everywhere..........but weeds still 
grow and flowers require daily attention. 
The grass needs only a shower, followed by 
warm sunshine, to push skyward, begging 
for a weekly haircut.

This week, prior to leaving we're mowing, 
trimming and deadheading. 
While outside I'm noticing the 
stunning white flowers now blooming. The perfume 
from this Madonna lily (Lilium candidum), an 
Easter pot plant from several years ago 
transplanted to the garden, permeates the
air as I climb the front steps.

In the back garden where there is plenty of shade, 
the white-flowered hosta is in bloom.

Pretty petunias............white with 
yellow centers are my favorite tucked into pot.

 The Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) 
doesn't bloom in my garden. Although I love 
these native flowering trees, prevalent in 
my neighborhood and all over town, they are 
difficult to manage in a small garden, growing 
tall and full and, although evergreen, drop 
messy leaf litter year round.

The blooms are magnificent and the perfume heavy 
and heady. On Friday, my sweet friend Maryann, brought 
me this exquisite bloom from her tree...........
what a lovely gift. Just one of these pure
white flowers perfumed the downstairs 
of the cottage the entire weekend.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why I can't resist going West.....................

I know in my heart that every time I head West toward the North Carolina mountains the spectacular scenery is waiting to blow me over. No matter the weather I love each moment spent there. Although I grew up by the sea in England, and still crave ocean views and salty air, I have to admit the mountains call to me often. These days when I am here at home, slap dab in the middle of North Carolina, I'm torn as to whether I should go East or West.

When in Asheville, small mountain city known mainly for the amazing Biltmore Estate - it's a fabulous place to visit - but not every time I'm in town. After mountain gazing I want to spend time with my Asheville area friends antiquing and thrifting at great treasure all time favorite being ScreenDoor.

 So here's a quick visit to the shop to share the *quirky treasures that caught my eye a week or so ago........and, for a change, I thought I'd point out things I didn't bring home. Of course I'm kicking myself over several I passed up, but moreso over neat things I really didn't see until I looked at my photos here on the laptop! 
Such as, above, the unusual urn, the huge corbel, and that fabulous mirror on the left.

The rusty iron cross is beautiful, and those metal discs could be an interesting conversation piece.

The iron gates with fleur-de-lis tops - gorgeous patina.

Unusual charts - love the toadstools for a kitchen wall.

 The charming 'lodge style' canoe, the table/island with the bottom pot board and great paint finish.

 Yes, I have a lovely santo already, but more would make a great collection!

 I spy more beautiful iron crosses here - locally crafted which makes them special.

 Interesting 'Revolution' sign from Prague - love the wooden spools.

Great iron gate, old photos - love everything in this display.

Vintage chalkware Madonna in lovely muted colors - nice wooden display box.

Exquisite piece, not certain whether really old or a repro - but the colors and facial expressions are lovely.

So, if you have a moment, scroll back to the top of this post to see what I did bring home. As I love old paper and writing, couldn't resist a bouquet of handmade paper roses!

*quirky  /'kwerké/
adjective:  characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits:     
"quirky charm" or 
"unusual in an attractive and interesting way"
That just about says it all!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Singing the blues............. a happy way!

 Early morning baking....................right 
from the oven.  Wonderful friend heading this 
way for coffee and a catch up chat. Don't you love 
to sit with a dear friend and discover all the 
great things happening in her/his life when you've 
been separated far too long?

Vanessa and I have shared our lives for several years, 
and even shared a booth at SuzAnna's Antiques for 
a delightful year, until we got too busy. 
We miss being able to spend all that time 
together, treasure hunting. However, to see what Vanessa 
is now up to, and it's keeping her busy in 
a wonderful way, 
do stop by here A WHITE BARN ~ her painted 
furniture pieces are awesome!
Yesterday we were able to relax over coffee - in 
lovely new mugs she brought as a gift - nibbling my 
'old fashioned blueberry muffins', a favorite recipe.

Right now the blueberries are awesome as the 
local North Carolina crop is in, plump, tender 
and right off the bush. You don't even have to 
~Pick Your Own~ if time is your enemy, they bring 
them right from the farm to the local grocery store, 
and the Farmers' Market on the weekend.

 Here's the recipe if you feel like baking 
something good and quick some morning for 
friends or family.................

Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins 

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon each salt and grated nutmeg
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed/dried, or frozen berries partially thawed
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup sliced almonds, and 2 tablespoons sugar for garnish

In large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, 
salt and nutmeg.  Add blueberries, stir to coat evenly. In small 
bowl beat eggs with fork, beat in milk and melted butter. 
Add to blueberry mixture, stir until just blended.  

Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Sprinkle with almonds and sugar. 
Bake in preheated 400º oven until pick inserted in center comes out 
clean - 15-25 minutes for muffins - (or 30-35 minutes for a 9-inch 
square coffee cake).  Makes 12 regular size muffins. 

If you want calorie count etc. let me know - otherwise to heck 
with it, just dig in and enjoy!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What to wear on a safari...........

Some of you have asked that I share my safari wardrobe before stuffing it into the duffel bag. So here goes.......

There are rules, and some people break them.........perhaps they don't care about respecting the people and wildlife of Africa. You don't wear bright colors and patterns, or even white when participating in game drives into the bush. Neutrals, especially khaki, beige, dark grey and olive green are perfect. Fortunately I adore those shades so preparing for an adventure such as this is easy peasy for me! Famous last words as I look as the piles of stuff growing daily on the guest room bed! Winter will just be commencing and early mornings, evenings, and night time may be quite chilly..... but thankfully rain should be almost nonexistent.

Remember that awesome intro by Isak Dinesen in her memorable book.......Out Of Africa? 
"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills"

Then came the movie starring the wonderful Meryl Streep, striding through the bush in stunning clothes......haven't we always loved that romantic yet strong look? A woman in charge, in a landscape seldom experienced by Europeans in the early 1900's.
Sweeping skirts, petticoats, with linen shirts and silk ties, jodphurs and fitted riding jackets, leather and canvas paddock boots. Beautiful looks but no longer practical for today's game rides into the Bushveldt, and definitely too heavy and bulky for the one allowed soft bag on small bush planes.
Instead, here are some items I'm packing:
  • The safari vest above. Purchased for the previous trip to southern Africa in 2010. Plenty of handy pockets for batteries, photo cards, Altoids etc. Layered over this dark olive tunic sweatshirt and lighter green hemp/cotton tee, these pieces with a pair of comfy black slim pants (which double as dressy pants for dinner) will be my traveling clothes. Note my fabulous Baggallini animal print bag, the most delightful gift received for my first visit to Africa from great friend Sarah at Hyacinths For The Soul in Texas. Still love it Sarah and it has visited a lot of the world in the last two years!
  • A second new vest in olive green, lighter weight and comfy over an olive quilted cotton jacket from Target several years ago.
  • A couple of very lightweight cardigans to layer over short or long sleeve tees depending on the temperature.
  • Subtle printed soft square scarf - large enough to wear as a shawl, or tied at the neckline, even as a head wrap on a chilly morning drive before the sun comes up! I'll be taking at least three scarves.

  • The required brimmed safari sunhat - this one has built-in insect repellent - as does the charcoal gray, warm and quick-dry jersey in the foreground above.  
  • All my lovely flower pins, again very lightweight for travel, are tiny treasures made by my dear friend Patti in Washington state.
  • My now well-worn khaki-green suede short boots, light, comfy and perfect with long or cropped pants and shorts.  My only other footwear will be my Keen 'Whisper' sandals which go everywhere, can get wet, and are very, very comfortable.........and a pair of flat dressier sandals for around the camps and evenings.  Thick, insect-repellent treated socks are a must for me..............and while on the subject of insects, as in mosquitoes, you can see my anti-malarial medication ready and waiting - VERY IMPORTANT not to forget that.

  • Bottoms up!  Three pairs of safari pants, two convert to shorts, the other pair rolls up to become crops.
  • Another pretty scarf to jazz up a plain top for evening, along with a special necklace. The cream bandanna is treated with insect repellent - I found this great last time and was only bitten once the entire trip.  
  • A cheapo poncho ready for the spray at Victoria Falls, and do I see cute little rolls of 'bush toilet paper'? A must-have on a long game drive!
  • Last but by no means least, a little 'bling' to brighten things up in the evenings. Nothing expensive or weighty, just some favorites from friends, mostly handcrafted, loved, and easily tucked in a corner of the bag.  
This of course is not everything that must be stuffed in the main bag..........hopefully the little corners and zippered pockets will allow for toiletry essentials and all the extra paraphernalia we modern travelers require.  Additional carry on bag will be the back pack......a lot has to fit in there! Our total allowance for everything, including cameras, is only 44 pounds due to the very small planes used for transport between the four countries we'll be visiting.

Getting late so goodnight all - I'm off to dream about Africa.