Visiting The KING…

…..of beasts that is!!

On our last day, in camp, the trackers had gone out, looking for various animals, and had radioed in to say that they had found a male lion.

Johan immediately threw us in the truck and sped toward the area.

As we neared the area, he suggested that we climb out of the cab and get on the back of the truck…


With a lion around…

Can’t they jump??

So, with us settled in the back, we continued our journey.

At one point, we could see the trackers, so knew that the lion must be close…..

Unfortunately, we didn’t realize just how close he was!!

All of a sudden they started yelling and pointing. Michael and I were looking everywhere trying to find the cat. Then there he was…. about 20 yards away from the truck!!

I immediately started snapping photos……

… he slowly mosied his way thru the tall grass…..

Apparently, he had been thru a long night and was ready for a nap.

He looked at us lazily for about 10 minutes…..

and then flopped on his side…..

As Johan started the truck, he circled the lion and Lawrence (as Michael and I named him) turned his head and followed us…..

The best photos were probably at the end when we were driving away. Apparently, Lawrence decided that he would give us a few more poses before we left…..

There is a quote from Robert Ruark (author of “The Old Man and The Boy”) that is the perfect description of what we saw…..

He looked very burly and handsome against a backdrop of green bush, the yellowing grass just matching his hide. he looked at us and yawned as we drove slowly toward him, with all the bored disdain that a prime lion can muster.

Robert Ruark

This is my absolute favorite of all of the shots……

I especially love that it looks like he has “curled” his mane for the sitting!!

This was one of the most surreal things I have ever done, and I love all the photos!! They are a wonderful reminder of an amazing event!!

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10,000 steps the hard way

The next morning we rose early and headed out again. This time we were looking for birds.

Now, birds are hard to photograph so I am not going to give you amazing photos to look at, but want to tell you the story of the day.

It was a TOUGH day physically!! At the end of the day, my phone gave me this update of my “health”…..

The key factors here are 11,776 steps and 43 flights of stairs climbed.

But this day wasn’t easy walking. It was walking thru scrub…..

…scrambling over rocks……

……crossing streams…..

…navigating small “forests”……

….and picking my way thru bog areas too!!

But it was worth it when a flock of Guinea Fowl would fly in front of us……

They were amazing birds and could run almost as fast as they could fly!! It was fun to watch them running along the ground and then finally taking flight…..much like an airliner would taxi before taking off!!

We had three dogs with us …..

…and it was fun to watch them throughout the day. From their ears blowing in the wind…..

….to their antics in the water….

This is Lilly, and she LOVED the water…..

The dogs were used to flush the birds out and it was fun to listen to the tracker, Vusi, talking to them. He would say “Steady Shinga…..slow…..slow”!!

As I said, it was a hard day physically, but SO very much fun and in SUCH an amazing area…..

On one of our moves, we passed this sweet church…..

….founded by one of Robbie’s relatives!!

I loved the stained glass window…..

It was simple but effective!!

I was also able to take a few foliage/flower photos while I was trying to keep up…..

I really like this one as it was a good example of how dry it was….

We spent the deepening light sitting on a pond and watching ducks come in…..

The prettiest ones were the Yellow-Billed Teal (not my photo)….

As the night lengthened we also saw Red Billed Teal, Ibises, and Coots!!

As the sun started to set…..

….I was FREEZING so we headed back to the house.

My thought was to quickly get into the shower and increase my core temperature, but we arrived to find that another group had moved into the house too. It was fun to find out that many of this group had attended Texas Tech University and one zealous alumni had brought a flag, so THIS happened……


The next morning it was time to return to Johannesburg. There were a couple of fun things that I learned along the way…..

They have “speed calming” bumps instead of just “Speed bumps” and the “stoplights”……

….are called robots!!

We boarded our small plane…..

…pleased that another step of our trip was completed.

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Stormberg here we come

We were met at Kat River by David, our guide for the next stretch of our trip. We drove about 2 hours to the Stormberg area of the Eastern Cape……

This was a COMPLETELY different countryside…..

….with huge plains ridged by tall mesa-esque hills…..

Isn’t this view amazing…..

I love the lone tree!!

And as you get further onto the plain, the mountains in the background emerge…..

We arrived at our home for the next three days…..

It had a British Country feel to it and the rooms were amazing….

….with sweet common spaces for relaxing…..

Our first breakfast was wonderful, including toast….

(Don’t you love these toast stands!!!)

and Bramble/Raspberry jam….

Our hosts were Robbie and Angela Streeton. Robbie’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather purchased this property and used it as an inn for people traveling across the area. At one point, he kept oxen on the property and when travelers would arrive with tired oxen, he would trade them for ones that were fed and ready to go. Much like the pony express but not as fast!!

Much of our first day out was spent glassing for animals….

I asked our guide, David, to take pictures of me glassing, and all of a sudden my phone appeared in the binocular lens. This is the photo……

Is that a person or a character from Dr. Who?

We were looking for game animals and Stormberg did not disappoint!!

As we left the house, we saw this flock of Blue Cranes….

….and herds of Blesbok….

We saw several Ostriches and even found a nest of their unfertilized eggs…..

Through out the day we saw Black Wildebeest, Springbok, Ground Squirrels, Ducks, Bat-Eared Fox, Yellow Mongoose, Warthog and Egyptian Geese!! It was quite an assortment.

Even thought this area is gorgeous, it REALLY comes into it’s own at sunset…….

The sunsets got prettier…..

….and deeper……

….and more exciting as night approached…..

As we left, it was fun to see the silhouette of these antelope on the horizon….

Unfortunately it also got COLDER as the night fell…..

At this point I was wearing almost every piece of clothing that I brought!!!

When we arrived back at the house for dinner, they surprised me with a birthday cake (a day late but so VERY sweet)……

It was a great first day in Stormberg!!

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Kat River roundup

Before we head to our next destination, let’s just do a quick montage of all of the other stuff that happened at Murray’s place!!

Each morning there are pots of coffee and water sitting by the campfire…..

I found this scene to be comforting!!!

One of the nights was Murray’s parents’ 54th wedding anniversary and we were invited to be part of the celebration. It was so special to help celebrate with Andre & Val…..

We ate in an upstairs room that was decorated and set up beautifully. We had a menu…..

The food was amazing…..

And we had Malva Pudding for dessert…..

We have enjoyed this dessert twice now so I looked up the recipe and will definitely make it at home. You can check it out HERE.

There were several interesting decorations in the main sitting area, starting with these bowls….

….but my best discovery was a fiber art piece hiding under a display….

It was much larger than I expected so I asked two of the camp staff to help display it…..

Isn’t this a great design!!!

Speaking of the staff, our chef was Lamie….

She was originally Murray’s Nannie and has been with the family for a lot of years!!

Her assistant was Poosh…..

She was always busy working at some task!!

I made a quick spin around the property one morning and enjoyed seeing some of the flora of the area. This cactus reminded me of Texas…..

As I was wandering around, I noticed this small cactus laying in the path…..

This is a form of a jumping cholla, and I knew enough about it to know that there was a “parent plant” somewhere around. Sure enough, about 2 feet away I found this one…..

If you have never seen these plants, the “nodes” come off easily as you brush past them and MAN are they sticky!!!

You also have to watch out for a number of trees with thorns….. LONG THORNS…..

Finally, I wanted to share an amazing live wreath that they had….

The bottom portion of the wreath is a section of a bike/motorcycle tire that has been filled with potting soil and the succulents are planted there…..

It was gorgeous!!

So it is time to say good-bye to Murray’s place and Kat River…..

Now it is time to move on to our next place…..stay tuned!!!

While I enjoy all aspects of the wonderful art of quilting, I equally enjoy presenting inspirations and stories from around the world. To make sure that you don’t miss a single one, be sure to subscribe to this blog!!

Out and about in the Kat River

I had one day moving about the Kat River area and then one day when I wasn’t feeling well so I sat in this chair in front of the fire…..

Plus, it rained off and on all day so it was a good day to be inside.

Of course, “inside” is relative since this area was open at the front. You could walk further back into a sunroom that was so comfortable…..

But more about that later.

The area terrain was different from any that I had experienced in Africa. It was very hilly and EXTREMELY rocky. I was thankful for the hard-soled shoes that I was wearing but desperately wished that I had brought my trekking poles too!!

We spent all of the morning on top of a ridge, looking into a long valley. As the sun moved further into the sky we sat and watched and “glassed” (looking thru binoculars)……

….and slowly the animals appeared.

This was my view for much of the morning…..2 trackers to my left and Michael and Quinney on the right…..

Because of the distance, photographing the animals was almost impossible but it was very sweet to watch them appear at one end of the valley and slowly saunter to the other end.

I did manage to get one photo of these nyalla females…..

This would have been a great place to use the telephoto lens but I wouldn’t have wanted to carry it as I scrambled over the rocks!!

As the morning rocked on we also saw warthogs, buffalo, and Kudu.

We were accompanied by Quinney’s dog, Cane…..

He is SO WELL trained!! If he got out in front of us, Quinney would simply point behind him and Cane would obey and come and sit behind Quinney’s left leg. It was fun to watch!!

Interestingly, there are very few flowers. Of course, this is mid-winter so that may be part of the problem!

I did find this one flower that was gorgeous…..

Quinney told me that it was “Bauhinia galpinii” and is called the “Pride of the Cape”. After seeing this one example, Elliot (one of the trackers) pointed out this bush that was fully engulfed in orange flames…..

I also saw one bird with iridescent blue wings and would see flashes of the blue and orange flowers as I glassed the area. It was gorgeous!!

As we were hoofing it along, I stopped to take a photo of this tree….

One of our trackers (Frinda) had to wait for me but he smiled and said that it was one of his favorite trees too!!

There was also this beautiful Shepherd’s Tree….

It is a protected tree in South Africa and is often called the “tree of life” because it offers sustenance to both humans and animals.

Finally, for the morning, we came across a young Kudu that had been killed by a leopard. I was amazed at how clean the bones were…..

Apparently, a leopard doesn’t like to share!!!

When it was time for lunch, we watched Quinney unpack our feast for the day….

The main course was a classic South African dish called Bobotie (pronounced ba-boor-tea). It is considered a true comfort food. The dish is a minced, curried meat casserole with an egg custard topping.

It was served with “Mrs. Ball’s Chutney” and it was YUMMY!!!

I feel like this is turning into a food blog, but I have to tell you about our dinner!! We had Eland “Filet-mignon”. We watched as they prepared the marinade using olive oil, mustard, ketchup (tomato sauce), and Worcestershire sauce…..

A healthy amount of chopped garlic was added….

The meat was very lean and tender before they started, but they used this interesting machine…..

….to tenderize it further.

Murray repeatedly pressed the sharp tines into the meat to do this…..

the meat was added to the marinade and left to sit for several hours….

When it was time to cook the meat, they placed it on a well-heated grill and then proceeded to sprinkle olive oil around it……

This kept the flames up and helped to brown it better. They repeated the procedure every time the flames died. I had never heard of doing that….have you?

The leftover marinade was cooked down a bit and TONS of black pepper was added…..

The meat was sliced and was PERFECT…..

AND, as is typical for any “braai” (the African term for BBQ) the men enjoyed their time around the grill, especially our chefs, Quinney and Murray!!

So that was one…..very busy…… day in the Kat River Conservancy!!!

While I enjoy all aspects of the wonderful art of quilting, I equally enjoy presenting inspirations and stories from around the world. To make sure that you don’t miss a single one, be sure to subscribe to this blog!!