Friday, October 30, 2009

JR's Christening

As you may know, every now and then I deviate a little off my normal photography routine to post something significant that has happened in my family.

My nephew Jacques Ryan was born on 24 May 2009. His christening took place two weeks ago (yes, yes, I realise its been a while, but I just haven't come round to posting it) at St Marks church here in Port Elizabeth.


He was brought into the church by my Boet's future mother-in-law who was beaming with pride over her first grandchild's big day.

The weirdest part of the christening for me was the fact that they do it through a blessing and a prayer and not with water on the forehead as we are used to. The reason, the minister explained, is that they are a community church and welcome Christen people from all churches and that there are some churches that has a different believe about the meaning of the water. Something like that. Not sure now what the whole reason is, but will ask my Boet next time I see him.

The proud parents coming out the church with JR in his great great grandmother's christening dress. I did make the statement that I hope its the first and last time that he wears a dress.

And lastly cutting the christening cake at the party afterwards. As you can see by now my Boet had changed as we had a braai at his (soon to be) mother-in-law's place with the family.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Morning and evening clouds

This last weekend we went camping next to the Gamtoos River. The camp site is situated between the river and a hill side covered in River euphorbia. The first picture was taken early morning (facing south) before the sun came over the ridge and the second photo was taken just after sunset (looking north). I like the way the Euphorbia made silhouettes against the sky.
For more super shots and views of the sky, visit Skywatch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baby Spiders

While camping last weekend I was out early one morning looking for something interesting to photograph. For me interesting could be anything from a big landscape to the smallest little bug. I was keeping my eyes open for a spider's web with dew on it when I noticed something different. On closer inspection I found it to be a web full of baby spiders.

I headed back that way just before sunset to see if I can get a nice sunset over the Gamtoos River and stopped at the baby spiders again. So this second pic is a different type of sunset photo. Sunset with baby spiders in the foreground.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gamtoos Valley Farm House

The Gamtoos River Valley around Hankey and Patensie is an absolutely stunning area. This last weekend we went camping next to the bottom section of the Gamtoos River at a camp site called Wackey Woods. Saturday morning we drove to Loerie and Melon, but unfortunately not all the way up the valley to Patensie. The area is mainly a farming area and I couldn't help but to stop next to the road leading to Loerie to take a photo of this farm scene. The orange trees are Silver Leave Oaks in flower.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blue air plant flower

Last year at about this time I did a post on my air plant flowers. In the post I mentioned that the ones flowering were plants I received from my mom and that I had some air plants which haven't flowered before. Well, its air plant flowering time again. All the "new" ones had their beautiful bright pink flowers again (see here), while the "old" ones had no flowers... or thats what I thought. I was working in the garden when I noticed one of the "old" plants had a single blue flower. I rushed over to the other "old" one elsewhere in the garden and found one flower on that one too. I am very chuffed to have seen them flowering.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

St Francis Bay canals

I had to go to Cape St Francis a week or so ago for a work thing and got the opportunity to go on a boat trip on the St Francis Bay canals. Unfortunately it was heavy overcast and the pics wasn't as clear and bright as I wanted them to be. Here are just two to show you what the place looks like.
In 1954, Leighton Hulett sold his sugar farm in Natal and arrived with his family at their new farm, "Goedgeloof". They went on to set up a fishing camp. As the camp became more popular, it became busier, and drew more people to the area. In 1956 he began the second phase of development in St Francis Bay. He mapped out 51 plots on his property to form a township, and the first homes were built by Leighton.

It was his insistence on a certain amount of uniformity that gives St Francis Bay its' unique character that it is so well known for today! His instructions, which is still attached to any title deed of properties on what used to be his land, was that all houses had to be white with a black roof. Hence most houses has a thatched roof. In 1968, he began work on a canal development named "Marina Glades". The initial system took eight years to complete and was completed in 1976. Today the marina is one of the most successful marina developments in South Africa and properties on the canals are very sought after. Houses range in price from R2.5 million ($335 000) to R10 million ($1.34 million).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moss

Its been a while since I've done a "Random theme" post. Today's is Random Moss.

Old Man's Beard is found in areas where there is absolutely no air polution. It hangs from trees and is often seen in areas like the Tsitsikamma forest.


A closeup of some lush moss growing on a dead tree trunk which is in constant shade. Its is soft and fluffy to the touch and I imagine home to many bugs and spiders.

You know how they say a rolling stone gathers no moss. We'll, this one isn't round thus doesn't roll.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tsitsikamma coastal sunset

Sunset in the Tsitsikamma National Park isn't always the most spectacular as the sun disappears behind the cliffs and mountains fairly early, but I did managed this pic during our last visit to the park.
Want to see more pics featuring the sky? Visit Skywatch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Triangles

When I took this pic I had no artistic intentions other than getting a picture from close to the sand with the river as a backdrop and the boat for some perspective. Only once I downloaded the pic did I realise that there are four, just about perfect, triangles in the picture.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sour Fig

A little while ago I did a post on the Natal Creeping Fig with its purple flowers. In that post I mentioned that it is related to the Sour Fig (Carpobrotus edulis). I found a Sour Fig the other day and took some photos of it to show you what it looks like as well.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pyramid

Over the last couple of years I have taken many pictures and has done a couple of posts on the Donkin Reserve, in particular the lighthouse and the pyramid. On my last visit, not wanting to take the same ol' photies again, I was looking for a different angle of some sorts. This is what I came up with this time around.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fire

I've posted so many nature picture lately that I thought I'll post something totally different today. I nearly used the word "anti-nature", but although fire is natures biggest enemy in most case, it could also be its friend. One case that comes to mind is 'Fynbos' (also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom). Fynbos consist of about 8500 different plant species but covers the smallest area of the all world's biomes. The seeds of a lot of fynbos species drop down and could lie underground for years waiting for the next fire. When a fire comes it burns down all the old plants and the heat causes the seeds to germinate and grow after the next rains.
This fire was a small veld fire that was burning next to my hotel on my last visit to Johannesburg. I could get nice and close and because it was night it made for a nice pic.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dusk on the river bank


The Sundays River at dusk taken from the ferry jetty at Sundays River Backpackers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spooky full moon

A spooky full moon peeking past the branches of a spooky looking tree on a spooky fog cloudy evening. Not quite Halloween yet, but soon....
Taken about a week and a half ago on our camping trip to Sleepy Hollow. (Spooky name as well)
For more (probably not so spooky) pictures of the sky from all over the globe, visit Skywatch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wind and sand

I have done a couple of posts on the Sundays River and the Colchester dune fields before on the Port Elizabeth Daily Photo. During my last visit there the wind was howling and the sand was blowing all over the show. Now we all know sand and cameras aren't the bestest of friends, but I braved the wind and sand to try and get a couple of photos of the sand blowing off the dunes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Heather (also Erica)


Erica flowers are also commonly known as Heather or Heath.
Bursting forth in splendor, the Erica with its upright plumes of brilliant blossoms can be described as simply elegant. The colorful blossoms vary in size and shape (depending on the variety) from tiny to several inches in length but all the blossoms are exquisite in shape and detail. Ericas are native to South Africa with many species originating in the Southern Cape .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sulphur Tuft mushrooms


When you see a scene like this you tend to want to sit down and just watch quietly to see when the pixies and fairies arrive.
These are Sulphur Tuft mushrooms. They normally grow on dead hardwood trees and can be up to 70 millimetres in diameter. The stems are 50 - 200 x 2 - 10 millimetres and join to other stems at the base. These I also photographed at Sleepy Hollow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sleepy Hollow

Driving out to Sleepy Hollow just outside Port Elizabeth on a drizzling Thursday, my mind wandered to the tale of Ichabod Crane. I wondered if at some stage during the weekend I would encounter a headless horseman who would hurl his head (or some shape of pumpkin) at me making me throw myself into a bush or a stream. Or even worse, disappear forever. But luck was on my side. Three days of absolute natural bliss and not a wandering spirit in sight. Except maybe the apparition in the nightdress heading for the ablution block one evening, but she may have been staying in one of the caravans.


Sleepy Hollow is situated just off the Blue Horizon Bay road west of Port Elizabeth (but still within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole) and is a fully functioning caravan park and camping area hidden away in a beautiful valley. Its so hidden, there isn't even a sign on the road, and having been there I know why. I would keep it a secret as well if it was mine. The property has it all. A meandering stream, swimming holes, abandoned mines, a birdwatchers paradise AND very little cellular phone reception. What more would you want for the perfect weekend getaway?

The main activity at Sleepy Hollow is being close to nature and you practise that by either walking or just sitting in you camp chair listening to the birds. The property has several trails criss-crossing the valley taking you to all kinds of interesting spots to explore. Some of the trails are a bit steep going up (or down, depending which way you go) the side of the valley, but they are all fairly family friendly. Most of the trails take you either to a view point overlooking the valley or just somewhere interesting. Does it really matter what the destination is if its only part of the journey? Ok, that just sounded corny, but its true after all.
We spent the weekend there with the Rugrats (Chaos Boy 7 and Drama Princess 4) in tow and they went everywhere we did. Actually, we had to keep up with Chaos Boy who is a bit of an explorer at heart. Pity there is no new places for him to discover anymore. Or is there? Every time he saw one of the signboards pointing out the trails and attractions he ran ahead and knew exactly where to go even before we got there. Everything is well sign posted and paths are well laid out while the picnic spots along the way is well maintained and the grass kept short.


The main trail from the camping area is the Ouma Coffee Trail (don't ask me why the name is called that, cause Ouma never brought us any coffee or other refreshments while walking the trail) which follows the Maitland River up the valley. Most of the other trails as well as the attractions are accessible from this trail. About 600 meters up the trail you get to see the first of three swimming holes in the river. Olienhout swimming hole is the place to be in summer. Its not too deep and relatively close to the camping ground. A hundred meters further upstream is Naboom swimming hole while the big Sleepy Hollow swimming hole is another 500 meters or so along. At Sleepy Hollow swimming hole there is a foofy slide across the water and according to Aunty Bettie its a good 30 feet deep. Personally the water in the river was a bit fresh for me to take a dip. If I get to come back in summer I may just take a plunge, but that brave I wasn't this weekend.

The highlight of Chaos Boy's weekend was exploring the old abandoned mines on the property. There are three old silver and lead mines which date back to the late 1700s. We were informed about these in advance so as soon as we got to the mines, I produced a couple of torches and in we went. Mine 3 is the best one to go down in as I could just about walk up straight, but a guy like Bakkies Botha (Springbok rugby lock) may have some problems. At one stage the passage makes a kink and this means that the light at the end (or in this case the start) of the tunnel disappears. This also meant that whatever just brushed past my ear was more at home in the dark than we were, but soon we got to the end of the tunnel. It was here that I noticed some kind of winged mouse hanging from the ceiling of the tunnel and knew what had just whispered in my ear. Oh well, back to the entrance we go. Quickly.

Another one of the paths will take you, somewhat scrambling over rocks most of the way, all the way up a small gorge to Sleepy Hollow's waterfall. Although not recommendable to anybody pushing a pram, its not too difficult getting to the top. The prize at the top of the gorge may not be the Niagra or Victoria Waterfalls (actually due to the current drought you will probably have more water spilling out of the bath when the Rugrats are cleaning up) but its beautiful. There was a trickle of water flowing over the lip at the top making its way down the side across the moss covered rocks and down the little stream. Heading back down I allowed the family to get a bit ahead of me cause all along the path there are little waterfalls making for the ideal long exposure waterfall shot.

Although we were there with the family and had an awesome time, I would love to spend a weekend at Sleepy Hollow without the Rugrats. You know, the type of weekend where you plonk yourself down in your camp chair with a book and just soak in the surroundings. Even with kids running around the ko-ko-ko-ko sound of the Knysna Loerie, the chwop kewoook kewook call of the nightjar, the fast doo-doo-doo-doo-doo Burchell's coucal, the koi-koi-koi-tjatajatja of the guinea fowl and the occasional call of the fish eagle, and is always present. So it may be an even better idea just to go and find a rock or spot somewhere and suck in as much nature as possible. Plus don't forget your birding guide.

All in all Sleepy Hollow truly is one of Port Elizabeth's best kept secrets. Whether you go there to picnic, to hike or for a overnight stay, its a wonderful "close to nature" experience. Taking down the tent and heading for the gate, I was already going through my dairy in my mind checking when the next long weekend is. Its definitively one of those spots where I would go back to for repeat visits. In my bag my camera sat with loads of pictures about streams, ponds, birds, flowers, insects, mushrooms and so much more.
I wonder if the headless horseman will make an appearance next time round.

Unfortunately they don't have a website, but for locals wanting more information, contact Anton at afbotha@csir.co.za or 0846751348. Also try Bettie at 083 6600817.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cloudy streaks

Driving home the other afternoon I couldn't but help to stare at the sky in awe. There was the most amazing cloud streaks painted on a brilliant blue sky. As soon as I got home I grabbed my camera and ran out on the street to get a couple of shots. I couldn't really choose only one for here, so I posted the best three.


For more great Skywatch pictures from all over the world, visit here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bark Spider

During our stay at Sleepy Hollow we went on a couple of the trails they have around the valley. The one morning we ventured up to the lookout point and took the new Rooikat Trail down into the valley. As it was only marked the day before, we were the first visitors to take it on and it was still very rough going. But still it was worth it. On the way down I noticed these tiny (the biggest ones were no more than 10 millimeters in diameter) little mushrooms (fungi) growing on a tree and while the family walked on I sat down to get a couple of close-up shots of them.


After two or three photos I noticed the slightest bit of movement between the mushrooms and found this little guy. According to my The Wildlife of Southern Africa guide it's a Bark Spider. They are mostly nocturnal and remove their web at dawn. During the day they rest perfectly camouflaged against the bark of a tree. Their colouring imitates bark and lichen and due to their size (8 - 22 millimeters) and camouflage are very rarely seen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flower bugs

I'm still searching for nice wild flowers to photograph for the wild flower photo competition so at Sleepy Hollow last weekend I was attracted to any and all flowers I could find. The light wasn't too great for flowers in general, but I did find lots of little bugs and goggas on the flowers worth taking pics of.