THE RED BOOK ENGINE


Midway through our Open Garden viewing in Elgin, we stopped at Peregrine Farmstall for lunch. Tramping around gardens left us with an urgent need for refuelling and Peregrine was the perfect place. The Farmstall is renowned for its pies and when I’d finished my big Springbok pie, I could quite see why . It was crammed full of spicy meat, the flaky pastry was light and golden , just like you hope it will be, and seldom is! In short: the perfect pie.
After lunch we wandered into the garden for a smoke break, and to my surprise, this is what I found.

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(Thanks to Nina Ganci for the photos)
Burning books? Oh, the horror! My mind immediately zoomed to Ray Bradbury’s classic SF novel Fahrenheit 451. The curious title refers to the temperature at which paper will burn, and the novel is a dystopian fantasy about a world where books are regarded as dangerous. There’s a special police unit which hunts them down and burns them. *

 

I strolled around the big vehicle , which has been retro fitted to serve as a Book Truck , a shop on wheels, stocked with current popular fiction, a large selection of kids’ books, and a small non-fiction section.

 

I looked around for the stallholder and found Christy . There we are in the header pic. We got chatting and I discovered she loves books, particularly literary fiction and historical fiction.
Christy told me that the mobile Burning Books project is an offshoot of her bookstore in Grabouw: Liberty Books.

 

Would you believe she saw an ad in Gumtree for a classic imported 1955 Green Goddess fire engine – which goes to prove you can buy and sell practically anything on Gumtree! Only snag was it was situated in Dannhauser, a former coal mining town in the Northwest of Kwa Zulu Province. A tad under 1500 kms away from Grabouw. But, where there’s a will etc … Luckily Christy’s husband is a classic car fundi/expert and engineer, who was able to do the conversion of the truck from fire engine to bookstore.  After the refit, at the end of June this year, they parked the truck in the Peregrine Farmstall garden. Due to its success, it hasn’t moved since!

 

I asked Christy about her choice of name for her project. Apart from the fact that she enjoys alliteration, hence the name, she said :
“Because a fire truck is a vehicle designed to rescue people and property from burning I thought it was fitting to name my bookstore, housed in a fire truck, “Burning Books”. Repressive regimes throughout history have been “Burning Books” and destroying them to attempt to contain the spread of dangerous ideas. Obviously, this is antithetical to what I’m doing: buying books from charity shops (thereby saving them from the destruction of pulping), in order to release second hand books back into the world, giving them another chance of life. “
A noble vision, from my book fanatic’s point of view, and a delicious irony in the name, don’t you think?

What booklover doesn’t fantasize about owning their own Bookstore? And then to own a happy red book truck – that’s gotta be the bright red cherry on top!

 

* Footnote: I hesitated before adding the following grim footnote to an upbeat post, but nevertheless, it’s important current issue in our country, regarding the freedom of the Press, and the need to prevent State censorship. Not to forget protecting our citizen’s Right to Freedom of Speech. I need to connect the dots between these ideas and the present uproar in South Africa about the publication of The President’s Keepers – Those Keeping Zuma In Power And Out Of Prison (Paperback) – Jacques Pauw. His expose has rattled the cages of the corrupt and powerful, and Pauw has been threatened by our State Security Agency . Naturally the enormous publicity has caused the book to sell out. More irony. Banning books is a relic of our bad old apartheid past, and must never be tolerated again.
https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2017-11-11-ive-got-more-dirt-on-ssa-
https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/nzimande-sacp-like-jacques-p

 

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THE WORST THING ABOUT OUR WATER CRISIS (JAP)*


 

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Do you know what I hate most about Cape Town’s water crisis? Not the two-minute-only showers, every other day. Not watching my garden dry up and wither away. Or only flushing the toilet once a day (although this runs a close second). So what else could possibly be the problem ? I hear you ask. I’ll tell you. Dishwashing. Huh? What? Dishwashing?? Yes. You see I own a dishwasher and have done for years, ever since I immigrated nearly 40 years ago. Being a single parent, working all day, maid-less for the first time in my life, and since dishwashers were on the market, it seemed the obvious solution. Which it was. Brilliant solution. But the machines use an awful lot of water, so …. Need I go any further? There! I’ve got that off my chest. I can see you shaking your collective heads as you click CLOSE. We all have our personal stumbling blocks, and this is my current one.
*(Just a Paragraph: when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph; random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

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HEAVENLY GARDENS


Occasionally a much anticipated outing exceeds expectation. For years I’ve wanted to see the annual Elgin Open Gardens event and this past weekend, Nina helped make my dream come true. On Sunday we drove out to Elgin to visit the gardens on show. The weather was perfect. Sunny and hot, with just enough breeze to offset the heat.
After reading the brochure giving a brief description of the 18 show gardens, we decided to limit ourselves to three gardens. As this was our first visit we weren’t sure of the distances involved, and this proved to be a wise move. Not that we traveled a huge distance overall, but driving on gravel farm roads when you don’t really know where you are going is time consuming. Plus half of Cape Town was also in Elgin to see the gardens, so traffic was often congested on the narrow gravel roads.
Elgin is famous for its apple orchards. Other deciduous fruits are grown in the area too, and the views of farms and estates were stunning. Here is a general view of the Elgin area, en route to Highlands Road.

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Another general view, this time from the hilltop area of the Auld Earn garden, with a protea bush (our national flower) in the foreground.

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And a close-up of the protea.

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Jenny Simpson’s plantswoman’s garden at Auld Earn was worth the slog up and down steep hills, along challenging narrow farm roads in our modest saloon car – how we wished for a rugged 4×4, but we got there in the end. And it was worth it for the views, and the riot of mixed plantings on the property.

 

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For me the highlight of our visit to Ridgelands, Elgin Vintners on Appletiser Road, was the charming and unusual Fairy Garden. It was set in a shady corner, planted with brilliant green ground cover and tiny delicate flowers, which formed the backdrop for the miniature figurines of fairies and woodland animals peeking out from the foliage.

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Nina had a ball photographing the many roses at Ridgelands, and to enjoy more of  her pics  see the link below. Here’s a sample

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I’ve left the best until last. Fresh Woods – owners Peter & Barbara Knox-Shaw . Walking through the garden I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven! Here’s the description from the brochure:

Rambling, romantic plantsman’s garden with major collection of heritage & species roses; many rare trees & shrubs, some wild-collected, incl. rhododendrons (esp. Maddenias), serrata & wild hydrangeas, deutzias & over 70 Japanese maples; also collections of cyclamen, epimediums & lilies; woodland garden under pine. Bamboo walk. WFRS Award of Garden Excellence 2003. Featured in Remarkable Gardens of SA (2012); Gardens to Inspire (2013), Veld, Vlei & Rose Gardens (2011) and Old Roses: Survival & Revival in SA (2015).

The woodland setting provides enchanting, dappled shade, with twisty little footpaths leading to yet another surprise or treasure. I love azaleas and there were plenty, ranging from the small to the giant:

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Next to the bamboo grove was a tiny pond, guarded by giant leaves – an accurate description, when you see me standing next to the plants, to illustrate the size of the plants. Perhaps one of my readers will know the name of the giant plants ? I’m baffled.

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Who hasn’t dreamed of a leafy fragrant pergola? This one has blue/purple Petrea at the base, another of my favourites, with pink roses higher up, and wisteria as a roof. Gorgeous!

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But my favourite was the Japanese maple tree area. I loved the delicate leaves, that etch themselves so clearly against the background , while the different coloured foliage ranging from vibrant red to pastel spring green is breathtaking.

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I could rave on for hours but will stop here. We’ve already diarised the date in our 2018 diaries and can’t wait to go back next year. If you live in Cape Town, the event will be open for one more weekend only, 4 and 5 November 2017. Do not miss the opportunity!
All photos in this post are by Nina Ganci, and you can see more of her wonderful pics on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nina.ganci. Be sure to visit her page, as I’ve shown only a fraction of her pics .

 

 

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SHONGWENI FARMERS’ MARKET


 

Over the years on my visits to  my Durban Family (eldest daughter Helen & family) I’ve been taken to the nearby Shongweni Farmers’ Market. It was a scant 5 kms down the hill, sited on a rough, grassy hillside, inevitably wet and muddy, packed with people and their excited dogs. For some reason, Durbanites  saw the Market as a great Saturday morning venue to exercise their dogs, and the ensuing tangle of dog leads, frantic barking and  occasional dog fight were  part of the fun. All this amongst families, toddlers, pushchairs,  shopping baskets, vendors unloading their products, lost kids and runaway dogs. Happy family mayhem. I loved it.

Then – oh no! the market moved. The land lease expired, and another venue had to be found. Which it was, close to the nearby Shongweni Dam.  This, however, is 12 kms from Helen’s house, so I was heaved briskly out of  bed at 0530 on Saturday morning  and told departure was in 25 minutes. Apparently the parking situation, plus the  inevitable traffic tailback on a skinny country road, has to be avoided at all costs. Fair enough.

And so it was I stood at 0630 on a damp, drizzly hillside, peering at rows of  corrugated iron roofs, and neat  cement walkways. Clearly no more mud at the new, bigger, smarter market. To my relief, plenty of families, toddlers, and dogs in evidence :

I must admit the new market is orderly, clean, vast,  and offers a huge variety of merchandise. For example – huge mushrooms, being sold by an elegant vendor. Note the funky guineafowl table covering.

I do love the colourful Zulu beadwork, but it’s a hell of a price nowadays. I cherish my antique strings of beads bought for virtually nothing, twenty years ago. The baskets are not beaded, as you might suppose. They are made from thin wire. Originally weavers used to gather scraps of electric cable left behind by Telkom or Eskom. They would strip off the external plastic covering to get at the 4/5/6 strands of fine wire within, which would be colour coded. Whether the baskets are still made this way I don’t know, but it may partly account for the enormous amount of  of telephone cable  theft ….   Roll on the introduction of fibre optic cable!  The downside will be less – or no – beautiful woven baskets.

There’s food of course. What would a country market be without food?  Locally made cheeses; locally grown coffee; and the ethnic bakers – Greek, German and of course, Indian, this being Kwa-Zulu Natal  which has one of the biggest Indian populations outside of the Indian continent.  I had my heart set on samoosas and a few Pakora*but alas! the market was so big I never managed to find my way back to the Indian food stalls.

I couldn’t take pics of the foodstalls due to the crush around them. But  I’m including a bad pic of the man selling pesto. Unfortunately his colourful pots of pesto didn’t come out well in the pic, but you can clearly see the smart new roofing. Which was welcome on such a drizzly, misty morning.

Me & my cellphone  will never win any prizes for photography.  But I did catch one pic of these fun dog biscuits!

I enjoyed my visit, and would love to go back another time. But the old country atmosphere has gone. The new version may well be out in the country, but now its much more organised and businesslike.On the plus side,  the public loos are a great deal better.  Ah well. Things change. But luckily the  vendor’s smiles stay the same.   Howzit, Barry!

 

*deep fried potato cake – beyond delicious finger food and death by cholesterol, but when you eat one you really don’t care. Actually, stopping at one requires superhuman willpower.

 

 

 

 

 

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SUN ‘n SUSHI


A beautiful day so I drove up to Melkbosstrand for an ad hoc al fresco lunch : sushi by the sea.

 

 

I stopped off at my local supermarket and bought sushi. And you Sushi Snobs can stop raising your eyebrows. Their sushi is delicious. I stood and watched them make it – fresher than that you don’t get.

 

 

And of course there was an opportunistic gull, beadily looking out for a dropped crumb. Sorry bird: no crumbs associated with this lunch.

I reminded myself I should do this more often. Just 11 kms up the road is a pretty little town with a superb stretch of coast. I’ll be taking more picnics to Melkies beach.

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IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD


FLOWERS

Sometimes everything works in your favour. Just for once!  Such was the case when Nina & I visited the Postberg Flower Reserve within the West Coast National Park  last  week. The Reserve is only open during Flower Season, in August and September, when our fabulous Spring wildflowers pop out. So I thought I’d share our lovely day with my readers. And also to show the more positive side of South Africa instead of the usual drama and disasters that blights our country.

Firstly here is a  pic of my faithful photographers standing in a field of flowers.  As I have said before  we’re the perfect combo – she likes to take pics and I  like to go on outings

.I couldn’t resist this pic – the carpet of purple flowers was gorgeous. Thanks to the strangers who provided perspective for Nina’s pic.

 

This was the one and only patch  of cerise flowers we saw – a genuine shocking pink!

Not so dramatic, but still beautiful.  If you look carefully at the two close-ups you will notice more tiny flowers in the pics. The white background is a mixture of sand and pulverised shells.

 

What a glorious day we had!

 

 

 

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THE PLEASURES AND PERILS OF SOLO LIVING


I’m going to start with the pleasures, before I get on to the topic of the perils. I enjoy living alone. I’ve earned it. After years of boarding school, followed by life in a girls’ hostel, then marriage and family, having my own solo space is a privilege and a joy. Plus, I’m a cranky old lady with an equally cranky old cat, so not an ideal housemate. Chocolat and I have worked out a harmonious sharing agreement. She dictates, and I salute. Works well.

One of the solo pleasures is having control of the TV remote. I never have to watch sports programmes which bore me witless and neither do I have to endure horror movies, or ultra violent crime series. And, perhaps best of all: I don’t have to endure the male habit of surfing restlessly from channel to channel, flicking endlessly from programme to programme, just when I’d started to watch and enjoy something.

Another major pleasure is being able to eat meals ad lib, ad hoc and add plenty of fruit and yoghurt, please. For one glorious week, after my younger daughter’s wedding, I ate trifle for breakfast. I left others squabbling over the left-overs from the braai*, and quietly removed the remnants of the luxury trifle. The most sinfully delicious  breakfast week ever.
Now I have to relate one of the perils of solo living, having cheered myself with happy reminiscences. Bolstered my courage, as it were.

Spiders. Big, enormous spiders. Lurking ominously on the bathroom ceiling. At nine thirty at night. I don’t do well with spiders. Little ones I bravely swoosh into an empty jar and hurl them outside into the garden. But a spider the size of a teacup saucer? Uh-uh. Not going to happen.

My knowledgeable friend tells me it must have been a rain spider. Thanks for the helpful info. That night, I neither knew nor cared. The crunch was: the spider and I could not remain under the same roof. Especially as I was preparing for bed. Can you imagine? An inquisitive spider exploring my entire house, including my bedroom ? Aaarrrggghhh.

Summoning every speck of courage, I armed myself with a broom and despatched the insect. Awful. And then I had to sleep with my bedside light switched on all night, just in case … irrational, I know. Ridiculous – I know.

I told you, I don’t like spiders. To the extent I’m not going to Google a pic to head up this post. I just can’t. Consider this a public exposure of my Achilles heel.

*braai – barbecue

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*(JAP) INTERNET PASSWORDS


 

 

Whilst happily browsing in a bookstore on Saturday, and fighting the urge to buy yet another notebook, I found a spiral bound, hard-covered notebook  with the title “INTERNET PASSWORDS”.  My first reaction was: what a good idea!  All the passwords in one place, quick and easy reference. No more ratty little bits of paper.  And then I thought: Hang on a mo. If the password notebook is on your desk, or in public view, then what is to stop other people from snooping? Or – even worse –ransacking your bank account? Spending thousands on your on-line shopping sites?  Maybe not such a good idea. I wonder where you keep your passwords?  Because I have different passwords for most of my accounts, I have to write them down, that’s for sure.  And I’m not telling you where I keep them. Yes:  I confess to having  a nasty suspicious nature. Actually, the word ‘password’ is a misnomer.  Swear words usually ensue, on this topic.  Especially when trying to persuade some nitpicking electronic genie to accept your new password.  Too short.  Too long. Not enough numeric symbols. Too many alpha symbols.   **!!@#!**&%#$@!!!!**

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

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*JAP* BRICS BANANAS ??


 

 

Really? Bananas from Ecuador, for crying out loud? Now I realise why it cost me R6-77 in Cape Town for two bananas. What a crazy price. But I suppose if the fruit has been air freighted from the north-east of South America to the very tip of Africa in the South , the price is bound to rise. South Africa produces bananas  on our southern coast in Kwa Zulu Natal; as does our neighbour Mozambique to the North of us. Not to mention Malawi  even further North.  South Africa joined the trading bloc BRICS  – BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs“), before the induction of South Africa in 2010. BRICS – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRICS

Thanks Wikipedia. What would we do without you? Global info is wonderful but I’m not so sure about global trade deals . They  certainly wreck the price of bananas.

 

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

 

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GRANNY GOES GAMING


 

 

Proof – I really did go! Here’s the ticket stub, and the indestructible, hard to remove armband that gets you through the door.

Why? I hear you ask.I’m a self-confessed wrinkly, who doesn’t play electronic games. All true.  But I’m a dedicated fan of The Big Bang Theory  and brainwashed by the Uber Nerds, I was hoping for a Comicon style display of glorious Star Wars costumes down at the Gaming Expo. I have to say, I was disappointed. I spotted very few. What I did see was enough  PC Monitors and big screens to thrill every gamer in Cape Town. Nerdvana heaven, without a doubt.

The gamers were there in sober blacks and greys,  throngs of spindly teens with ratty locks and deathly white complexions, clearly unaccustomed to the Great Outdoors or meat and three veg. I had to resist the maternal urge to dash up and force feed them. There were quite a number of hefty Dad-type men in attendance too, and not all of them were clutching kids by the scruff of their  hyped up necks.  Some women, but clearly on kid duty, and I spotted only one of my contemporaries. These events are not really Granny territory, but hey!  You never know until you give it a bash.

Bash being the operative word. All I could see on the mega-screens were un-ending battles with exotic creatures demolishing opponents with brilliant red starbursts. And not to forget the death-defying cars zooming through canyon-like cities. I’m not a boy. I could care less about fast cars. Give me style and padded luxury any day. James – bring round the Rolls.

 

 

 

Another reason for my attendance were the advertised Board Games. I’m looking for a particular board game and hoped to find it there, but no luck. To my astonishment I spotted big piles of boxes of Monopoly and Cluedo on the Games stands. There was merchandise to gladden every gamers’  heart: figurines, hats, costumes,  and I even spotted Harry Potter lingering over the trinkets.

 

 

The pic I missed: a 7 year old little boy, wearing a brown Jedi robe, with an enormous fluorescent green light sabre clipped to his belt. The sabre was so long, it trailed on the ground behind him. Ag shame.

Never miss an opportunity to wear your pink Princess outfit.  Despite all the sexy girls prancing round in lycra, the Pink Princess was the prettiest girl there.

 

 

Will I go to another Gaming Expo?  I very much doubt it. Unless the cast of The Big Bang Theory happen to be in attendance …

Because   my faithful photographer Nina could not accompany me , I am responsible for all the blurry, second-rate cellphone  pics – photography is  not my strong point.

 

 

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