Sunday, December 26, 2010

Purple flowers

We are heading away on our annual holiday and this year it takes us up to the majestic Drakensberg. I'll be back online early in the new year again so I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy New Year.  May 2011 bring lots of happiness and tons of awesome pictures.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Summer Christmas feast

We like to get together as a family over Christmas with my family coming over on Christmas Eve and my in-laws on Christmas Day.  We normally eat way to much over the period, but we'll worry about that in the New Year.

Because Christmas falls in the summer down here in South Africa, we as a family don't do the whole traditional Christmas meal thing, but rather opt for cold meats and salads.

This year we started with prunes wrapped in bacon made in the oven followed by a hake (fake lobster) starter.  The main consisted of gammon, salt beef, beef tongue, Hong Kong Chicken, carrot salad, potato salad, pasta salad and Greek salad with a desert of ice cream with a whole nut chocolate / condense milk sauce.  On Christmas Day we had a braai with the in-laws and Mother-in-law brought her traditional trifle. 

Merry Christmas everybody!!! Hope you didn't eat too much...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ruined house

One of those unwritten rules of photography (and life) is to never venture somewhere potentially dangerous or unknown while you are on your own.  Always make sure you have backup.  Not that a guy like James Bond listens to that kind of advice.  But James Bond I'm not, so I ventured as far as the door.  There are a couple of old houses at the bottom of South End in Port Elizabeth that is literally falling apart and I decided to have a closer look.  Unfortunately I was alone so I didn't venture further than the door for safety reasons.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saltpan flowers

Its amazing how you often see a photo opportunity and when you go for it you find a whole host of others.  I stopped on the Swartkops Road between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage to get some photos of the old Swartkops Power Station and the flamingos on the salt pans and also ended up with little yellow flowers with the salt pans in the background.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sukume Museum

The Human Dignity Center in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth recently opened a small museum on their premises to act as a window into the culture of the Xhosa people.

The Sukume Museum and Xhosa Cultural Centre also tells the story of Walmer Township, known amongst the black people as Gqebera.  During the Apartheid years the residents of Gqebera resisted forced removals as the area was close to their work places and they would have ended up unemployed if they had to move to the opposite side of town. 

Part of the Human Dignity Centre has a program where locals produce hand made crafts.  The Sukume Museum also gives them an outlet for their items.  Chaos Boy is busy scanning the price list to see what something he is interested in costs.

Some of the handmade items

Monday, December 20, 2010

Proudly South African

I know that this beautiful country of ours has many problems, but I am very proud to be a South African and is very patriotic.  I probably would have made a great American cause they know what it is to be patriotic.  South Africa has what must be one of the most beautiful and recognisable flags in the world.  Although there is no official symbolism attached to the flag, it does represent what is going on in the country today.  Black, green and yellow are the colors of the African National Congress which is the ruling party, while the colours of the former Boer republics flags (red, white, and blue) have also been included.  The Y shape represents the convergence of South Africa's diverse society and unity.  The red stands for bloodshed, blue for open blue skies, green for the land, black for the black people, white for the European people and yellow for the natural resources such as gold.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Horse jumping

The South African Junior Equestrian Championships took place at the Port Elizabeth Riding Club over the last week or so and I popped in with the Rugrats for a quick look.  A quick look you may ask? They were bored after 10 minutes and doesn't matter how much I was enjoying it, we had to move on.  I did get a couple of photos before we had to hit the road though.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The sun peaking through the tree tops

The sun peeking through the tree tops on a visit to St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Port Elizabeth City Hall

The Port Elizabeth City Hall is one of my favorite historic buildings in the city.  What makes it even better is that it is surrounded by a number of other historic buildings.  The City Hall stands in the Port Elizabeth city centre on Market Square.  In the photo the Old Post Office is visible on the left while the two buildings on the right are the Feathermarket Centre and Plein Huis.  In the foreground is a replica of the cross planted in the bay by Bartholomeu Diaz in 1488.

The beautiful city hall was built between 1858 and 1862 from the design of Robert Archibald who became the city's first Town Engineer in 1860.  Unfortunately the city hall was gutted by fire in 1977 and a number of paintings, including the only portrait of Elizabeth Donkin, was destroyed.  The building was fully restored and reopened in 1981.

The city hall was originally built without the clock tower which was added on in 1883.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hairy caterpillar

I found this hairy caterpillar taking a stroll down my driveway and crawled around with it for a little while taking some pictures.  I couldn't find it in my The Wildlife of Southern Africa book and only found two or three pics of it on the internet.  Unfortunately non of them had descriptions, so for now it will have to stay nameless. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orange Lacquered Bracket

I was at a Christmas party over the weekend and found these Lacquered Bracket fungi growing on tree stumps lying in the garden at the venue.  They grow up to 500 mm in diameter and is found either singly or in groups.
They are corky in texture when young, but turn woody when they mature and is found in Summer and Autumn.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clouds at sunset

Earlier in the week after my Donating Blood post on Port Elizabeth Daily Photo,  Seamus asked me if my camera was an extension of my body like my arms and legs because I take photos of everything.  My camera is always in my backpack which goes everywhere I go, even when I pop down to my local supermarket for bread.  You never know when a one in a million photo opportunity may present itself.  Here is another example.  Last Sunday evening was our Christmas carols service at church and as I got out the car I noticed how beautiful the sky looked.  Off cause my camera was in my backpack in the car boot, so I got a couple of pics before I had to run to catch up to the family who was entering church already.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Penguin release

The main objective of the South African Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) based at Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth is to save and rehabilitate the endangered African Penguins which is found on the islands in Algoa Bay.  Once the whole rehabilitation process is completed, the penguins are released back into the bay to return to their colonies.  I was very fortunate to be at such an event the other day where ten penguins were released.

After the crates that they were transported in to the beach were overtunred, the penguins headed for the water.  Eight of them were still juviniles while the other two were dressed in their full adult "tuxedoes".

When they got to the water they seemed a bit hesitant to enter and only after a while and some coaxing headed off into the waves.

Follow my leader

There was a large group of school kids on a beach outing and after the release the teacher asked SAMREC's Animal Manager, Jared Harding, to explain to them what just happened.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carols by candlelight

Saturday afternoon we bundled the family into the car, packed a picnic basket, grabbed the camping chairs and headed down to Settlers Park for the second annual Carols by Candlelight in Settlers Park.  The day was a bit of a windy one, but the location for the event was down in the valley and very well sheltered.

The event was organised by the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA) and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and forms part of the Baakens Valley Recovery Program.  Over the years the Baakens Valley and Settlers Park has started to become a bit of a dodgy destination with the wrong elements taking refuge in the valley, but through the efforts of various parties this is changing and the people of Port Elizabeth is taking back what is one of the city's biggest natural assets.

The program was lead by the Salvation Army Brass Band and the vocal talents of the fabulous Niqui Cloete-Barrass, Marelize Barnard as well as MC on the night, Anna Pouw.

During the show the kids were called to the front and asked to sing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" with the performers.  All the kids had a chance to sing into the microphone.  Here Drama Princess, in the pink windbreaker, is awaiting her turn.

The evening was stunning and I honestly think that people don't know what they are missing when they don't support events like this.  I really hope that Carols in Settlers Park will grow from strength to strength as it has the potential to one of the great events on the city's events calender.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Painted Reed Frog

Admiring the little spekboom trees in one of the local plant nurseries the other day, a slight movement caught my eye.  A little Painted Reed Frog was sitting on one of the branches and tried his best to be invisible when I brought the camera closer. 

Painted Reed Frogs are found from Swaziland in the north to as far south as Port Elizabeth.  While those in the north are striped, the painted reed frogs in the Eastern Cape are spotted.  They normally have pink limbs with adhesive discs on their toes.  Usually found in reed beds close to water, they have a short, loud, piercing whistle.

Friday, December 3, 2010

St Georges Park

St Georges Park is said to be the oldest proclaimed park in South Africa.  The park was officially opened on 6 August 1861 to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the visit of Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, to Port Elizabeth.  The park can be explored via the various paths running through it. 

It has the potential to easily become a botanical garden like the one in Kirstenbosch in Cape Town.  The paths take one through large shady areas covered in trees that has been around since the early days of the park, while open grassy areas are ideal for picnics and kids to play in.

Slap bang in the middle of the park is a big fish pond and standing there quietly I spotted a number of monster koi (or I hope that's what they were).

Except for the park section itself, St Georges Park is also home to the famous St Georges Park Cricket Ground, the PE Bowling Club (South Africa's oldest lawn bowling club), the historic Pearson Conservatory, St Georges Park swimming pool and the St Georges Cemetery (one that I actually haven't visited - note to self) amongst others. Every first Sunday of the month Art in the Park also takes place in the park.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Palm tree silhouette

I was waiting for a meeting the other day and sat playing around a bit with my camera.  The sun was behind the palm tree outside the venue and the palm leaves with the weaver nests hanging on them was very nicely silhouetted. *click*

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