Winter sunsets, a canvas of colour!

There is something quite magical about Winter sunsets in False Bay, Cape Town.

It is getting rather chilly here at night with few days of rain which we are extremely grateful to be having as we are in an extreme water shortage at the moment.

This was our sunset last night (Sunday) and just couldn’t resist sharing it on the blog! Would be great to see some sunsets from across the world, so if you like please feel free to share them with us and where it was taken!

P.s please excuse me I had to take these photographs with my cellphone as I didn’t have my camera with me and just wanted to be able to capture the wonderful moment of colours upon the sky before they left!

Fiona

Winter Comforts …

I am not a fan of winter I must say. Cold, grim days & wet weather is not my friend. However there are some highlights to Winter. One of my first & foremost is the fact you get to have wholesome homemade soups with great hot baked bread & lashings of butter! Hmm.

Below is a Pumpkin, Chili & Ginger soup that I made with shavings of Garlic & croutons making for a delicious topping. Accompanying it I had some cheesy bread sticks!

Pop a comment if you would like me to share my recipe with you. Its one soup that clears all the cobwebs, sinus & will fend off any colds & flu to see you through the Winter sick free!

Fiona

soup winter

Thankful …

20160707_112114

Have you ever found that one amazing person whom you are able to love exponentially  & unconditionally experience life’s adventures together, share secrets, be outdoors together,  cry together, laugh together, fall together, be quiet together & continue to embrace all life’s challenges together. A person who is quietly as tough as nails but who is always willing to extend a gentle hand to anyone who needs it.

A dictionary doesn’t contain a word that would describe the type of  person who I share all the above & so much more with.

I am so grateful to have a person who doesn’t see everything the same way I do, doesn’t always think the same way I do and teaches me about different points of views, while continuing to remain open to learn from me too.

I have a strong minded person who isn’t afraid of their emotions, but isn’t as emotional as I am, so that we act as each others balance. Acting as my voice of reason that saves me from drowning in my own seas, and I hope to believe that I am the gentle rain that saves him from his own fires.

Somehow we have the amazing ability to communicate without speaking at times & how silence can also bring a sense of comfort and contentment.

I have someone in my life who knows what its like to build a life from the ground up starting from scratch, to loosing it all and then finding the strength to build it up again. An enduring strength that I am unable to find in anyone else.  A person who appreciates the great moments even in the bad ones!  Our relationship hasn’t always been rainbows & butterflies but I certainly have grown along the journey and  from all the experiences we have shared together.

I love this ambitious soul of a person. Sure, we challenge each other and butt heads at times because of it – but as long as we have the same kind of heart, we’ll fight through the hard times and survive them all.

A “soul mate” relationship doesn’t necessarily mean both partners always share the same views, but that our overall goals and ambitions match. I think this is the most fabulous part & I am so happy to have found a soulmate in Dan!

Love, laughter & a positive attitude  is key to a happy healthy life. Well this is my opinion anyway for what it is worth. Through everything in life, Dan & I continue to strive towards living a happy loving and positive lifestyle with everything we do.

We continue to be our own identity yet we conquer life as one team!

Now days it is so seldom that you find a person that is so willing to take a back seat so that others may succeed,  for these reasons I decided to post this blog and say, Thank You.

Here’s to many more great & unforgettable adventures that lie ahead!

Fiona

Help!

So Cape Nature is at it again, threatening the life of a leopard. They are planning to remove a leopard for catching penguins in Betty’s Bay, Western Cape!

Please click on this link if you are not sure what or who CapeNature is…. http://www.capenature.co.za/about-us/

This is again a disgraceful action by this conservation agency! What is a leopard suppose to do?

I urge you to please send in your objections to romar@capenature.co.za
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.

We have been agitating since last week to prevent the demise or removal of a leopard in Betty’s Bay. A flurry of press releases by CapeNature have been aimed at damage control and to deny them wanting to remove the leopard. We had three people connected to CapeNature and 2 academics confirm that discussion are advanced to have the leopard removed and that their monitoring is merely trying to justify this seeming eventuality. Anticipating negative media, the organization has applied spin about how they are “monitoring” the situation. This has centered around demonizing the leopard (habitual penguin killer/ a juvenile dispersal cat/an incomer) and getting bird enthusiasts to agitate for the support of the protection of the penguins in preference to the leopard.

We must mobilize an outcry before CapeNature again threatens a leopard in the region. Please contact their CEO to object to the leopard being removed.

We have offered assistance to have the leopard GPS collared to enable mitigation of threats to the colony (which is imminently possible), but yet again we have been arrogantly dismissed.

1. It is not unusual to have leopard populate habited places likes Betty’s Bay. In fact we have demonstrated this through our leopard project where we have GPS 32 collared leopards, and hundreds of thousands of hours of camera trap surveyed coverage in the Western, Eastern and Northern Capes. Leopards live happily and undetected in these areas and in towns like Betty’s Bay, Hermanus, Greyton, McGregor, Riversdale, George, Wilderness, Knysna and PE where we have often seen them operating close to houses. The Bettys Bay area (Cape Hangklip, Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Somerset West) and all along the Boland chain this is common. They pose no threat to people in these settings. Only dense urbanization, habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict restrict their mobility.

2. We have just submitted for publication a paper where we analyzed the leopard densities in the Eastern and Western Cape having collected data from the 32 collared leopards and extensive camera trap surveys between PE and Cape Town and inland areas. It is shown that we reliably estimate the adult leopard population between 500 -750 in these two provinces. The problem being that this total is further isolated into smaller meta-populations that have (also through a peer reviewed study) demonstrated genetic bottle necking of these isolated populations. The isolation is caused by habitat destruction and human wildlife conflict. Based on this, the leopard populations are critically endangered in these provinces and continue to be hammered by human wildlife conflict. Only 2 weeks ago a leopard died in a gin trap in the Koo valley, at the hands of CapeNature!

3. Leopards are ultimate opportunists and if vulnerability and availability coincide they will take any food source. Thus they are known to take birds of all sorts, and though there are few land-based penguin colonies it is not inconceivable that they would prey on them when available. (Jackass penguins mostly nest on offshore islands.) The only unusual thing here is that we have a partially fenced colony which in itself is unnatural and thus we are not surprised that the leopard took some of these birds. It is bizarre beyond belief that this is now considered unusual behavior and termed a habitual penguin killer. We have now had 3 people connected with CapeNature whistle blowing to us that they want to remove the leopard for this natural behavior and that they are currently constructing the case to justify this. That is outrageous and completely unacceptable. This is completely natural behavior of the leopard and the fact that CapeNature is trying to remove this leopard from its natural habitat should cause public outrage. We will definitely, and have mounted a concerted effort to stop this crazy logic. In fact, it is lunacy, but not surprising from an organization that is known to be the most prolific killer of leopards in the province. We have repeatedly offered to assist them in trying to protect leopards in general and this one in particular, and advised them to rather protect the colony through fencing, guarding and deterrents. If they want unnatural penguin colonies (in effect a zoo) they need to protect them by building fences and deterring the cat, and not removing naturally occurring predators that are only doing what they are designed to do. This kind of attitude reflects the ingrained antithesis to carnivores by conservation entities such as CapeNature, that are completely unaccountable to their mandated actions.

4. Penguins evolved to nest on islands precisely due to the fact that they are not adapted to withstand land-based predators. Penguins landed at Betty’s Bay and Boulders in Simonstown in the 1980s and survived due to the effect of the human barrier protection offered by fences and development, and have made these colonies effectively zoo-like settings. It is inconceivable that CapeNature is resorting to retributive actions on this leopard who, in its natural environment, is doing what it has evolved to do.

4. The killing of 33 penguins is a known behavior by leopards (and Caracals) that we call “surplus killings”. It is exceedingly rare and the fact that it did so once does not mean, and has never been proven to, that it will do it again. It happens in unnatural settings when prey species are confined, defenseless and cause over stimulation of the cat. Jackass penguins do not naturally colonize mainland areas.

5. This is not a clash of threatened species priorities. This is a clash between people and their worldviews, it is largely a demonstration of a conservation organization rather at odds with its mandate.

Leopards are critically endangered in the region. The penguins are artificially being kept on a partially fenced areas due to their fish sources being over-fished. Manage the latter, and manage the zoo you have created! Don’t threaten completely natural behaving carnivores operating normally in its own natural habitat.

If CapeNature are so concerned, they should get guards and fence your area, and not just jump at removing leopards behaving normally.

Have we all gone mad?

Please send your objections to CapeNature CEO:
Dr Razeena Omar
CEO | CapeNature
tel +27 21 483 0001 | fax 086 532 8013 | cell +27 82 7707079
email romar@capenature.co.za | postal Private Bag x29 Gatesville 7766
physical PGWC Shared Services Centre cnr Bosduif & Volstruis Streets Bridgetown 7764
www.capenature.co.za

Photo credit: Van As van Graan: Pictures of the leopard being targeted.

I urge you to please send in your objections to romar@capenature.co.za
You don’t even need to be a South African citizen to make a difference. Just simply the numbers are needed to illustrate to CapeNature what they are doing is not ethical.

Fiona

Graduation Day 2016

Parents with me on Graduation Day

Graduation Day 15 June 2016, I received my Bsc Environmental Management & Zoology degree through correspondence studying at the  University of South Africa (UNISA).

I didn’t think the day would ever arrive.

5 years later studying part time, 30 subjects passed, 93 assignments submitted and many exams written. I was presented a single piece of paper in my hands  with a conferring ceremony symbolizing I had completed the degree. What an amazing & yet unreal feeling it was … in fact still doesn’t feel real.

Through all my years of studying for it I battled and conquered my nemesis (Chemistry)  and have shown commitment to work independently and all round dedication to complete this degree.

I am grateful for the massive support I had from my parents, my mother in particular who edited and checked numerous assignments before submitting, making sure everything was corrected and best as could be. Her endless support, motivation and forgiveness  as well as understanding of times I couldn’t attend something with her because I had to study was always noticed and appreciated.

Lastly not forgetting Dan who continued to support and encourage me, when I thought I had nothing left within me to carry on. Always seeing a solution with every obstacle I faced and motivating me to see the wood through the trees. His comforting words always re centering me and giving me a new head to face my subjects with. Never forgotten.

Mom, Dad & Dan you have earned an equal share in this degree with me as you all have traveled the long road along side me. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without all of you behind me, cheering me on when the crowds had left! I can’t thank and express my appreciation enough but know I am eternally every grateful.

Fiona

McGregor Meander …

I love exploring the small towns within South Africa. I am making it my mission to travel and explore them as much as I can, now that I get a long weekend every 3 weeks.

With this in mind, Mom & I recently visited McGregor (with our two ‘yorkies’ in tow).  It was our first time to the town of which I have heard so much about and it certainly lives up to its name, such a peaceful & fabulous get away so close to Cape Town.

On the Friday morning when we left Cape Town we took a casual drive through stopping at all the local farm stalls, wineries  & sights en route (as I always seem to do on any road trip)! I had a terrible cold developing but certainly didn’t let that stop me from having a wonderful getaway! We stayed at a fabulous self catering house called Willow Tree Cottage located within the small town (http://www.tourismmcgregor.co.za/PearTreeandWillow). The dogs were able to explore the garden while Mom & I soaked up the Winter sun relaxing. Not many restaurants are open on a Friday evening & those that are generally require a booking in advance as they tend to get booked up on weekends. So after a bit of improvising we had scrambled egg with salad & vegetables! Perfect for a stress weekend that followed suit.

Saturday morning we awoke with cows that were grazing on the boundary of our garden, what a great alarm clock as oppose to waking up in the city with cars, hooters & in my case naval base going’s on. In the morning browsed the town with all its shops including the Saturday morning market. It has a wonderful charming atmosphere to it that I cannot put down on paper. We  then ventured out the town & had lunch in Robertson a much bigger town nearby with various facilities & amenities. There was quite a buzz & hustle among the streets, which created a wonderful atmosphere when walking around the town on a busy Saturday morning.

For any budding artist or anyone who has an appreciation of pottery & the work that is in involved with it, a must see in McGregor is Mill Stone Pottery (http://www.millstonepottery.co.za/millstone/index.php). Paul is a fascinating potter (together with his wife – make a great team) with many years of experience. He is willing to share his ideas, inspirations and works of art with you whilst you browse the calm creative space around you.  I learnt so much about the intricacies of pottery & before we knew it we had spent 2 hours here just absorbing the wonderful surrounds. Mom & I needless to say walked out with a clear mind & hands full of pottered items!

We had a fabulous dinner at Tabaldis (http://www.temenos.org.za/#!restaurant/c5lv), which is the centre of the town and is open throughout the week with menu that change according to what is in season & availability. Temenos is on the same property as Tebaldis & they have beautiful gardens,which make you feel like you are lost in an enchanted garden. It is a retreat where you can escape the race of life and make you feel as though you are a million miles away from the rest of the world. Our weekends days were filled with warm Winter sun whilst the evenings we quite chilly, so made getting into bed with a book after dinner all that much easier!

IMG_2405

Donkey sanctuary outside of McGregor

The Eseltjierus Donkey Sanctuary (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)is a great place to let your children or in our case our dogs out to play or walk around the farm, whilst the donkeys are kept in the paddock. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. They are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment. Was a great stop and experience in conjunction with a fabulous lunch out on the deck in the sun.

Holidays are always too short & before we knew it we were packed & in the car en route home. We couldn’t resist a final stop at this fabulous farm stall which its great selection of pumpkin! Mom thought it was a simple procedure of choosing a pumpkin however before she knew it the shop lady was out to give her advice on just how to choose the right eating pumpkin as oppose to pumpkins which are dried out & kept as ornaments/decorations.

Finally we were on our way home with 2 humans, 2 dogs, a pumpkin & many great memories all round.

Cheers Fiona 🙂

Left Turn

Smits Isuzu

Sundays are a time that most people either visit their families or simply go for a drive. This Sunday I am waiting for the go- ahead to help retrieve this car. I am not a tow truck operator, however I enjoy rigging and climbing so as I live in the area I sometimes get a call to lend a hand (I suspect it may be because I don’t mind carrying cable and chains up a hill).

Part Point

Its the second car to in two weeks!

 

The first car managed to somehow fly from the top right of the picture (where the truck is) all the way to the water at the bottom Left .(Next to the n in my name)

Par Piont 2

It took nearly two days just to get the first car out the water. I am happy to say both drivers are ok.

Drive Safe. Dan