"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday 30 April 2011

Where were all the easter bunnies then...?

Sorry about the delay in posting, but RMan and I contracted a head / chest cold from our (caravan) guest at the end of the weekend and we've been completely under the weather this week.

But, Ah! - the 4½ day weekend was a brilliant break.  If only we'd known that this last Wednesday and next Monday were also holidays, we probably would stayed for longer...  Shows how badly we needed a break.  I have never forgotten a public holiday before LOL

But, it was just as well that we went up to the farm this past weekend.  My lemon trees needed our help - big time!

From a distance all looked well, but as I got closer I noticed that the new growth at the tops had been munched, and on closer inspection, I discovered by whom, or should that be, by what...

One of the penalties of farming part-time!
It may be the most gorgeous colour,
but it's not welcome in my lemon tree grove
One had even munched enough
and had gone to hide in its' pupa
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for handing over a tithe of what I grow, but judging from the visible damage done, several tithes had been taken.

So I whipped out the balance of an eco-friendly solution which had been given to me by Diane of Starke Ayres Garden Centre in Rondebosch for the treatment of Wooly Fruit Fly.  (I have googled whether methylated spirits is eco-friendly and have found various sites where it is stated that it is - this is one of them).  The recipe for the solution is:

methylated spirits   {we mixed up roughly 1.5 ltrs methylated
water                    {spirits / 4.0 - 4.5lts water
5ml (1 teaspoon) Kombat® (which contains natural pyrethroid 20gm/lt)
Fruitfly / 5 lts water
5ml (1 teaspoon) dish washing liquid / 2 lts of mixture (this helps the above solution stick to plant leaves)

RMan did the deed - spraying them with gusto.  How many did he find - oh, approximately 40!

Plump and juicy - he should be - my small
lemon trees provided the sustenance...

But - it worked.  The next morning they were all spread out on the Weedguard - in fact the ants were carting them off to their underground nests!  They (the ants) didn't seem bothered by the mixture.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of that as my camera batteries were flat (I forgot to charge them before we left - idiot me!).

And, before the weather changed, we managed to get another row of lemon trees planted...

You can see in the above photo how the first lemon trees, (furthest from the camera, next to the shade cloth windbreak) which were planted during the 1st week of January this year, have thrived.  They have grown 4 or 5 times bigger in the intervening 3½ months and are beginning to peep above the shade cloth windbreak.  Obviously, lemon trees with ambition!

The area was desperately in need of some rain, so, as if on cue, the next morning we woke to the following scene...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
Clouds forming in the north west - a sure sign of rain
By early evening the signs were confirmed...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
Over the Langeberg Mountains the skies were
still clear, but over the farm drizzle had
just started falling
RMan quickly managed to get the foundation laid for his outside power room - we currently have the charge controller / inverter / batteries in the roof of the house - not a good idea! The batteries do give off sulphuric acid fumes, but we had no-where else to put them at the time. Hopefully, next time we go to the farm we will be able to build the walls, take the measurements, and have a solid / intruder proof door made for future isolated, but easy access to the equipment.

The welcome rain which fell for the next two days put paid to working outside, which was fine, because we had plenty to keep us busy inside.  I varnished and then RMan installed some extra kitchen shelves (above and below the counter) and he re-did the solar panel / charge controller and inverter connections (I'll be writing more detail on that in my next posting), finished the electrical wiring inside the house and installed the plugs / light fittings...

(Taken via my cell phone camera)
So now we have 220v available from any plug / light fitting in the house!  To celebrate we switched on a pure copper lamp I had purchased off Bid or Buy for ZAR70.00 (+/- US$ 10.00)

(Taken via my cell phone camera)

It was very scruffy and after a good polish (with sifted wood ash applied via a damp cloth and a dry buff with a clean soft cloth) the true beauty of this little lamp became visible.  It is a brilliant little light which gives of the most amazing mood lighting, with pinpricks of rainbow colours (why rainbow, I have no idea) illuminating the wall.  The inner light globe holder and the on / off switch are made of Bakelite - a sure sign of the age of this lamp.  I'm very happy with this purchase - or should that be theft??  I'm sure, if the lady who sold it to me knew how perfectly it would clean up, and if she'd seen how it worked, she would've charged more.  And naturally, being copper, we won't leave it lying about at the farm when we're not there!  It's going to be schlepped with us and will therefore become a very well travelled little lamp LOL - just like our car radio hi-fi - some things are just not worth taking a chance on...

Seem to recall a Sting CD was playing when
I snapped this pic on my cellphone

We have discovered that we will need to purchase at least 2  - 3 more 105 / 130Ah deep cycle batteries in order to run the freezer on freeze setting 24 hours a day.  However, we do have enough power during the daylight hours to run it on "chiller" setting (it is a multi-function chest fridge / freezer).  In fact "chiller" setting got so cold that 5lt bottles of water, placed on the floor of the freezer, froze solid.  That provided more than enough chilling to get the contents of the freezer through the night - switched off.  And chilled RMans beers to perfection too :-)

Our "absent" neighbour was actually home briefly this past weekend, and another neighbour, Frans, made a special trip to see him in order to give him "what for" regarding his cattle / animals which had wandered up and down the sand road looking for grazing / water.  I have a feeling the SPCA may be making a trip down the sand road to our "absent" neighbours farm in the not too distant future...  But we did manage to give his dog Ou Nooi (Old Lady) and his cat (which MKid named Maxie, but who is actually called Rusty) good hearty meals whilst we were there, and I left a huge pile of food for each.  I hope they eat it before the field mice find it...  I have also asked Frans and Roy to please put a bowl of something out if they see either of them. 

It was just as well we contacted the Easter Bunny (via text message LOL) to find out if he could make a very special early visit in Cape Town before MKid went back up country at the end of March - because we didn't see a sign of him this past weekend...  And I guess he would also have got wet.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Backwards or forwards?

As you all know I am an advocate of simple things - manual kitchen implements, home grown / homemade anything, and I love craft work that encourages my soul to soar.

Mezzaluna - the wonderful smell of chopping herbs
by hand and the promise of the meal to come
I have been told that I have a flair for interior design - not the high end modern stuff, but the honest to goodness comfy and welcoming appearance of a loved home.  I also know that, given the use of what is between my two ears, I can read almost anything and that enables me to produce that which I wasn't aware I could manage.

I love all things simple - though I confess that I am struggling to put my blogging into a comfortable slot - yes, it makes me feel very good to share that which I know / have discovered / feel is important and will hopefully benefit someone else.  My raison d'ĂȘtre has always been that of offering assistance - to be honest, even when it's not always been asked for.  So, some may call me pushy / or controlling, but, hopefully, never overbearing LOL

I have also struggled to explain exactly what it is that is motivating RMan and I with our latest venture - namely moving out of our urban comfort zone and heading off into the unknown in order to live a simple life.  A simpler life.

We have seen that both our children are both also adopting and adapting some of the things they do as a result of changes we have already made in our day-to-day lives.  Yeeha!

Living simply does not mean that we won't have some mod cons on our farm - I have already got the chest freezer,  and I will have to have some type of laptop, in order to keep in contact with loved ones far away / my blog / food for my grey matter.  We will also have a small television - RMan and rugby / cricket / grand prix are inseparable.

And apart from that the old caravan LP gas stove, the dover stove and my solar oven, the Kexin gas water heater and the generator for use with power tools, will also be for our comfort.  The rest of our requirements will be simple.

As long as we have water.  Water is the most important aspect for anyone, and at the moment everything is unbelievably dry.  As I mentioned yesterday, major water storage is on the cards - precious surplus rain water cannot be allowed to flow away unhindered on already sodden ground.

So it was with excitement that I watched a programme on BBC Knowledge the other night.  (I have subsequently discovered that there are only three episodes, which is very disappointing).  The programme is called "How to live a simple life" with the main character being a part-time (how can anyone be a "part-time") vicar, called Peter Owen Jones.  A scruffy, beer drinking, occasionally mild swearing, part-time vicar.  He summed up the simple life in a way that I completely identify with: "It is not so much a going back in time, but a way of moving forward into the future - a better future, a kinder future".  Now I couldn't have put it better than that.

We had an enforced power outage last week - for 8 hours, whilst the switch gear in the substation on our road was being changed.  RMan commented on how quiet it was, which emphasized again how white noise is constantly surrounding us.  On the farm all we have is the noise of the wind (which is more or less constant LOL), Baaarba in the fields near by, or the cows calling their calves which have been purposely separated from them.  We can even, on a rare occasion when the wind isn't blowing too ferociously, hear the birds wings flapping as they fly overhead.  Any vehicle driving down our road can be heard from 3 or 4 kms away - whereas here, in Cape Town, we invariably awaken to the sound of a house or car alarm or a police siren, as the police car rushes to the next emergency / crime scene.

We also watched a programme called "Pickers" wherein two guys travel round the US of A scratching through people's barns to find hidden, forgotten treasures.  That could not happen here - any building, never mind a barn, left uninhabited for too long would result in being broken into, just because it may contain something someone else may want (and therefore feels entitled to take), or because that would make a good building to squat in.

So sad, the disrespect that is paid to other people's possessions.  Or is that a sign of the times? 

Today's younger generation seems to be a throw-away generation.  And angry, judging by the breaking news on most news broadcasts.  Angry at the increasing greed of those in positions of power, at the expense of their electorate?  How many more countries are going to plumb to the brink of collapse, because their leaders are too busy padding their own futures (and those of their family members) with scant regard for the people they were put into power to serve?

Is the distress in the world today, a result of the restlessness which seems to engulf most people - in different ways and for different reasons?

We recently sold an old CCTV screen with two camera's that RMan had in his factory, 20-odd years ago.  It was still in perfect working order, but we were unable to use it.  So it sat in a cupboard until it was agreed that the time had come to pass it on to someone else.  It is certainly the most eco-friendly way of disposing of something for which one has no further use.  The guy who purchased it from us said that he worked for a film company and they were on the look out for things for props - from the 80's and 90's.  The 50's and 60's - there is no problem finding stuff, but after that - nada. Why?  Well, it seems to be because, recently (since the mid-70's), if an item goes 'out of fashion' then it is simply thrown away, and something new is purchased to replace it and bring the owner "up to date".

Have we become a society of "more"?  Is "more" better?  Is "more" making us happier?  Or is more actually causing dissatisfaction and making us unappreciative of what we have, because it can always be replaced - even to the extent of replacing supposed "I do" life-long partners seemingly on a whim.  I find that so incredibly sad.  And again, those in positions of power (leaders of countries, movie and pop stars) are making this option "acceptable" through their very public choices / whims. 

Simpler, to me, is attractive, because there is a consistency to it. There is an authenticity and a pride attached to simple - more than can be obtained from purchasing more and more goods, whether they are required or not.

Surplus goods - for preserviong or bartering
Bartering has a place in this world, more so than one would suspect.  And I think that bartering is the way forward, even though bartering is from way back in time.  For one is not going to barter something grown, or made, with one's own hands, unless that which is replacing it, is absolutely necessary.  I am horrified to read about the new laws in the US of A which effectively makes it a crime for someone to simply give of their time, and effort, to grow produce, organically, and which they then wish to sell their surplus of.

What is happening on this planet of ours?

I crave the simpler way.  Honest, authentic and genuine.  Plenty of honest-to-goodness hard work...

A simpler life awaits us - I can't wait...
... and to feel pride at the end of the day at what I have accomplished, without, hopefully, negatively impacting this planet we inhabit so briefly.

We're off to the farm for a l-o-n-g weekend - enjoy yours and catch you next week :-)

Wednesday 20 April 2011

It's raining

At last.

For the past hour we have had soft, gentle, life giving rain falling in Cape Town.  The first of the winter rains.

Almost a good enough reason to throw a party!  I have a feeling my garden is celebrating - pity I can't hear all the slurping and gulping that has got be happening out there :-)

And this is a 20 lt (5 gallon) bucket which has taken only 3 minutes to fill this full...

18.0 lts in 3 minutes...

... we are definitely going to have at least 20 000lts (approx. 5 000 gallons) storage for rainwater on the farm.  At a push in times of need - that will be 3 - 4 months water for the plants / trees / vegetables, and household use.

We have decided to half bury the tanks - the shale underneath the top layer of clay will form a perfect base for the tanks.

Why waste free water?

Oh, this rain water is so welcome!  I hope it's raining on the farm...

Tuesday 19 April 2011


I am, mostly, a traditional person.

Thus, when MKid came to spend his first term holidays with us last month, we had to repeat what we did last year.  In April 2010, I had just purchased a Stack-a-Tub and MKid and I had planted that up with basil, peas and baby spinach.

The peas sort of worked, I had a rogue tomato plant raise it's head, and that did well, the baby spinach - nada, and the basil - perfect.  Since then I have converted the Stack-a-Tub to my version of a "herb spiral" - that works much better.

But this year MKids aim was bigger, so we planted up an entire (small) raised bed with peas...

RMan and MKids favourite vegetable - peas
... and a small raised bed of each for the last of the onions and garlic, as well as spinach and beetroot.

My broad beans are coming along nicely, although the south easter is playing havoc with them.  I have had to give them front and back support.  I have also sown a row of Franchi Sementi yellow, white and orange carrots in front of the beans - my space is so limited, I have to try and make use of all, and any, space I have.  I can't wait to grow vegetables on the farm - so much space - how am I going to control myself?

Sowing carrot seeds is a breeze
with the Magic Seeder :-)
It is brilliant growing the multi-coloured carrots - come supper time there is a whole rainbow on your plate of food :-)  Did you know that the original carrots were purple in colour.  The orange carrots (full of beta carotene) that we eat today are as a result of the Dutch, many years ago, creating a carrot for the House of Orange - the Dutch Royal Family.

And I am still harvesting egg plants and capsicum - I can't eat green peppers (like fresh coriander and cucumbers, they repeat on me too much) but red, yellow and orange - hmmm delicious :-)  I have a feeling that I am going to have to pickle some...

Tradition works for me - as well as being a repetitive lesson for grandkids :-)  I sent him home with his own packets of pea and carrot seeds so that he can have a small veggie garden at his mum's place.  I can't wait to see how his garden grows LOL

Oh, and, before I forget, I discovered a gardening tip yesterday.  Did you know that tea leaves, especially Rooibos (Red Bush), scattered around vulnerable plants, discourage slugs and snails?  (It must surely also work with normal tea leaves.)  And the Rooibos tea leaves are simultaneously feeding the soil with copper, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese and magnesium.  Now that's the kind of tip I love!

Friday 15 April 2011

Hopefully I can now fly with the sun...

I promised you the story behind my solar oven.

Well, here it is... and a warning - the First Edition of "Gone with the Wind", contained over 1 000 pages - this is also a l-o-n-g story.

On 4th January 2008 I contacted a solar oven distributor (SOD) based in Johannesburg, with a view to purchasing a solar oven.  After a number of e-mails had flown through the airwaves, on 26th February 2008 I paid a 50% deposit.  I was told that the new stock was due to arrive at the end of April 2008.  On the 11th April 2008 I e-mailed the SOD to find out the progress on the shipment of ovens, and how much longer they expected it was going to take.  I was given various excuses, and was told that he expected them to be on the boat within the next couple of weeks.  They would then take 6 - 8 weeks further (the boat trip from Europe where the factory is based).  The owner of SOD did apologize, saying they would get here, or I could have my money back.  However, he was the only supplier of solar ovens in this country at that time, so I had no other option than to let my order stand.

On the 13th of June I again contacted the SOD.  On the 17th June I was then informed that "the company who supplied their ovens in Portugal was closing, and they would not be sending the SOD their order".  I was again offered my money back, and this time I accepted.  This, after 6 months!  I was also informed that the SOD would be taking this item off their web page, as "it was not their way to offer such bad service".

Due to the fact that there were no other solar ovens distributors in this country at that time, in November 2009 I again sent an enquiry to the SOD about a solar oven - using this picture to demonstrate what I wanted, when I placed my order.
Solar cooker with all the bells and whistles
I was advised that they were getting more solar ovens in stock and that they were expected just before Christmas (2009).  Even though the price had escalated by 50% in just over a year, I again placed an order with the SOD.  However, this time I referred to what had happened the previous year, and said that this time I would prefer not to pay a deposit at this stage.  Could he just let me know when they arrive, and I will pay the full price prior to his shipping the unit off to me. 

On the 4th February (after a couple of enquiring e-mails) I was advised that the ovens would only arrive in early March 2009.  On the 31st March 2010 the SOD contacted me and told me that the ovens would be here in a couple of weeks, and that I had to pay a deposit in order to secure my unit.  This I did on the 6th April.  I further asked the SOD to keep in touch with me.  He didn't.

On the 12th May I was informed that the ovens had arrived and that I needed to pay the balance of 50% plus the transport cost.  This was paid within 5 hours of receiving his e-mail.  I was told that the oven would be on its' way to me by the end of the week.  That didn't happen.  Nor did it happen by the end of the following week.

On the 24th May, through sheer frustration I contacted the manufacturer, Nuno, in Portugal, and sent him a copy of all the correspondence I had had with the SOD.  Nuno then obviously contacted the SOD, and I received a very nasty e-mail from the SOD, accusing me of "vociferous nastiness" and I was further requested to "never contact him again".

With the very grateful asistance of Nuno I finally received my solar oven on the 31st March 2010 - almost 2½ years since my first enquiry.

And what I received was this:

Where is the extension mirror on the lid?  Where is the side mirror?  And where is the sundial?  This was not the model I had ordered and paid for.

And - to make matters even worse, the unit arrived broken.  The SOD sent the boxed oven via the South African Post Office, instead of sending it by courier.  The SAPO is not a suitable method of transporting fragile items, and, also, the packaging then was more suited for courier transport than that of the SAPO.

The damaged packaging indicated that someone had tried to pick up the box, found it too heavy, and had dropped it on the one corner.  Or it had fallen off a truck...

Thus the outer lid was broken...

The outer base (oven area) was broken...

and the double glazed, heat retaining glass lid and the hinge was damaged...

I asked RMan to contact the SOD to report the damage (after all  had been requested to "never contact him again").  The SOD was not interested and told me we had to claim from the Post Office.  The Post Office told me they were not responsible for damages, that they would only recompense for missing items.  The SOD was not interested - AT ALL.

After a few weeks of obsolutely no joy re: obtaining assistance from the SOD, I again contacted Nuno in Portugal.

Far too many e-mails then flew through the air, until the 15th October 2010 when Nuno advised me that I would (very) soon hear some good news from the SOD.  I had been dealing with another person, Jean, at the SOD's company since receiving the "do not contact me" e-mail, and Jean advised me on the 19th October that the replacement parts should be in the country "before the end of the year".


They arrived at the end of December.  I was told on the 28th January that going through customs had taken a month, and that they would be sent off as soon as they were unpacked.  Again - many e-mails later - and after being advised of the amount, and paying R160.00 courier fees, I finally received the replacement parts on Thursday, 7th April 2011.

This is what my oven should have looked like, and, thankfully, now looks like:

Hopefully, now I will be able to achieve temperatures higher than 150oC (300oF), and that I can finally use my solar oven without fear!  :-)  (I was constantly afraid that the damaged double glazed lid would explode / crack further given the heat it was exposed to.)

What a journey - and I honestly doubt it would have had as happy an ending without the very kind, and generous assistance of Nuno.  After all, it was certainly not his fault that the package was incorrectly sent through the post.

Thank you once again Nuno - thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have a brilliant product and it has been a pleasure doing business with you - just a pity that the SOD, is not up to scratch.  To anyone considering purchasing a solar oven in South Africa at any time in the future - you have my story above.  Please contact me and I will tell you who to avoid!

P.S.  Apparently, I am not the only one to receive a damaged solar oven from the SOD.  I have been reliabably informed that other people have also complained - but I doubt their story is going to have a satisfactory ending...

Monday 11 April 2011

There is no comparison

I have been impatiently waiting for the curing period of my soap to be completed so that I could try out the soap.  Will it produce enough bubbles?  Will it leave my skin feeling fresh and clean?  Is the perfume strong enough / too weak?

Well, last Wednesday, exactly 3 weeks since the date of manufacture, the first bar was put to the test.

MKid was given the honour of being the first member of the family to try out his Nana's fist batch of soap :-)  There he was, standing in the middle of the shower cubicle, holding the bar of soap - the biggest grin on his face.  Slowly he put his hand under the stream of water, and then, oh, so gently, he rubbed his hands and soap together.  I swear to you - he never lost the grin.

Bless his cotton socks - he then proceeded to complete his shower - humming away contentedly.  His verdict - "perfect Nana".  Music to my ears.  Even the next morning he came to me and said, "I can still smell your soap on my arm, Nana - it's very nice"  :-)  Well, I am a very proud Nana!

Naturally, I couldn't  take a photo of him in the shower - so here's the next best - a photo of him washing his hands before lunch...

Damn!  I feel like I achieved the extraordinary - such a cool feeling!

I have sent him home with three bars - for him and NGirl.

The final result:

Yes, it does produce more than enough bubbles :-)
Yes, it does leave our skin feeling fresh and clean. And softer - much softer :-)  RSon says it is even perfect for his face - leaves it feeling beautifully moisturised.
And no, there was not enough perfume - I only added some fresh honey and a bit of ground cinnamon.  Next time I will add some essential oil.

I can't wait to make the next batch - I'm hooked!

All in all, everyone has given it the thumbs up - and I am thrilled that there is now one less chemical entering this house.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Yet another delay...

RMans' dad passed away in June last year and RMan has just received authorization from the Executors that he may take possession of his inheritance.  So, in place of ambling on to the farm after seeing MKid off at the airport this weekend, RMan will go upcountry for a few days to collect what his father left him.  It is easier for him to fly up there (together with MKid) and bring back the items than to try and organise for a courier company to collect - they won't package.  One of the items is an oil painting, and as it is over 160 years old, we would like to ensure that it arrives safely and in one piece.  So this weekend will be devoted to collecting, securely packaging and returning with said painting safely ensconced in the hold of (hopefully) the same aircraft - but one never knows...  Hopefully, this will also give RMan some closure on his loss.

Although time does heal, it never completely leaves one - I know, for my mother passed away when I was 16, and the ache remains.  There is so much I have never shared with her, and never can.

But next weekend (16 - 17th April) we will definitely be travelling up to the farm - come hell or high water.  It's been too long since we were last there and we're experiencing withdrawal syptoms.

So sad to say goodbye to MKid again - it will probably (and again hopefully) only be in December that we see him again.  Yes, we can, and do, Skype with him, but it's not quite the same - one can't Skype a hug... yet.  It always tears us apart to say goodbye, but at least this time he will not be crying at the airport, as he is led off by the designated air hostess.  This time he will be travelling with his grandad :-)  I reckon MKid is an amazingly brave little guy - here he is, only 7 years old, and he has no problem hopping onto a plane, on his own, so that he might visit with his Nana and Granda.   Bless him.

Red capsicum

Red, yellow and green peppers
waiting to be harvested
He has thoroughly delighted in picking the last of the corn off the stalks, the last of the tomatoes from the vine and the last of the green beans - and then wolfed them down with his dinner :-)  Surely no nicer thing in the world than for a child to see his dinner growing in the garden and then picking it!  Such a simple act, and one which is so easy to take for granted when it happens on a daily basis, but this memory is one which I know will last a long while in his mind.

We'll use this for Eggplant Parmigiana I think
He is also taking NGirl some peppers from the garden - red, yellow and green - as well as an aubergine or two:-)  He says that they won't be too heavy, and that he'd like to carry them himself - I mustn't put them in his suitcase.  I was very impressed how well the peppers grew in the pots - I'll definitely do that again next time.

He has been a brilliant help this past week - helping me to plant the last of my garlic (hope I'm not too late), onions, and peas.  Such little fingers putting holes into the soil and carefully covering up the bulbs / seeds.  He calls them "his vegetables".  And I have to send him progress photo's LOL

We had a friendly robin hop right next to us when we were busy preparing the soil and planting the bulbs - I told him that Roger Robin was looking for any worms which we had unearthed - that tickled his fancy!  He has been feeding the pigeons for me every morning, so now of course, he wants to find worms for the robin too...

Roger Robin certainly has a beady eye :-)
MKid also helped me save some marigold seeds, which he's taking to NGirl, so that she can plant some in her garden :-)  She will also be able to salvage and save some of the pepper and aubergine seeds - so another veggie garden is in the making.

I just love passing suchy earthy knowledge on, especially to such a willing and eager recipient :-)

Monday 4 April 2011

Biodiversity - for the young ones

MKid arrived a week ago.  Never easy juggling "visitors" with on-going work, but, "Oh, so worth it" to spend precious time with our grandson.

We wanted to go to the farm this last weekend, but MKid is going to get together with his 'best buddy' this week, which would've meant a very short trip to the farm.  So we have decided that next Saturday, after we see MKid off at the airport, we will amble on to the farm for a 3 - 4 day stay - and hopfully get a bit done... so much to do, so little time...

The old Greenpoint Stadium
prior to the 2010 makeover
To get MKid out of the house, we took a drive to the 2010 World Cup Stadium complex in Greenpoint.  I had read that within the stadium complex they had recently created a park for the locals to enjoy - what better time to explore it than with MKid.  And a perfect place for him and RMan to kick the soccer ball :-)

Ideal football kicking area
Firstly they had a bout of 'booting the ball' in the parking / fan walk area which is under the traffic circle at the entrance to the stadium complex.  Stunningly planted up with foliage on the outer edge of the bridge circle to mitigate the effects of the traffic whizzing round the inside lanes.

Then we went in search of the park...

After stopping a few people to ask directions, we finally found the entrance.  There is an aquaduct running the length of the sidewalk - this aquaduct feeds / circulates the water for the man-made lakes within the Biodiversity Park and the golf course area.  Naturally, boys, will be boys, and the sidewalk was promptly ignored...

The Biodiversity Park is absolutely brilliant.  And so well planned for children to explore.  They have created a terrific physical "spiders web" of posts and notices for children to follow, which portray, in one instance, the consequences of cleaning a paint tin and emptying that water down the drain, with the first information board setting the scene, and the next stages of the "journey", being the water emptying into the rivers and oceans, and it's effect not only on the water quality, but also on the marine and bird life, depicting eventually how man will suffer from this action as the water, marine and bird life is poisoned.  Very clever - children are far more likely to remember a pictorial lesson, than one they just hear.

Biodiversity dome
The actual Biodiversity Park is a series of interlocking / interleading paths set out almost like a maze.  The paths separate the different areas.  For instance, they have an area which demonstrates how the Khoisan (the original indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa) utilized a minimum of precious wood to build their movable huts - in fact they gave us a good idea for a "boma" (conversation area round a fire pit) on the farm. 

A Khoisan hut, partially covered with "animal" skin

The Khoisan boma
 Then there was a section with beds created and planted up to illustrate the different biospheres of Southern Africa - and the Renosterveld (rhinocerous bush) bed caught our eye - for that is the type of veld we have on the farm.

Between the Biodiversity Park and the stadium, there are different sports areas - and the closest one, the golf course runs next to the park.  The two are separated by a large man-made lake - this is already home to seagulls, ducks, etc. - living proof of the feasibility of what has been created out of what was essentially waste land.

The final attraction we visited, before hunger and thirst overtook us, was the Alemmatic Sundial.  Brilliant - I want one of these on the farm too :-)  MKid was facinated that his shadow, which was cast by the sun, could tell him the time.

A brilliant park and one which RMan and I have mutually decided that we want to return to - perhaps with a picnic this time.

We can do without the music concert which started just as we were leaving - this kind of place should be enjoyed for its' peace and tranquility - the music was, in our opinion, a mistake.

Such a simple concept, a whole bunch of dedicated workers, and the end result - a perfect place to teach children important information on this planet we inhabit so briefly - concerning the number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region, how precious and inter-dependent they are, and how easily mankind can harm them with his thoughtless actions.

I reckon that with this park, the City of Cape Town has gone a long way towards healing the harm that was caused with the building of the world cup stadium.  And once the newly planted shrubs and trees have had time to settle in they will provide another little piece of heaven within a city :-)