Etsy ears

Let’s imagine for a moment that South Africa’s postal service wasn’t shot (and I had a beefy budget).  I think it’s fair to say I’d shop-til-I-dropped on Etsy.  Not that it’s easy to find exactly what you want on the site.  It’s super frustrating in many ways, much like sifting meticulously through sale rails (a skill I don’t have).  You know the good stuff is there, you just can’t find it without trawling through the worst of flea-market trinkets.  And then, voilà! You happen upon beauty!

Here’s my fantasy list (on an ear theme … it’s mid-winter here and my ears are possibly my best feature right now).

Mkuze Game Reserve

It’s been years since I last went to a KwaZulu-Natal game reserve, but the three days I spent in Mkuze (part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park) were bliss.

The most unexpected part of the trip was the lack of fences around the camp (bearing in mind that the park has all of the Big Five).  This meant that on two out of the three nights we were there, we had enormous bull elephants munching leaves right next to our tents. So close in fact I could hear their teeth grinding and their bellies rumbling.  It was quite wonderful!

The park teems with delicate nyala and impala, and you’ll be visited at night by delightful bushy tailed bush babies. Another highlight was a teeny weeny rhino, still wobbly on its short, fat legs, and glued to the side of a very wide, very protective mum.

The KwaZulu-Natal parks seem pretty under-resourced and are, like all of SA’s parks, under attack by poachers.  Two rhinos were killed the week that we were there, and a large male lion was caught in a bush meat snare (and thankfully rescued and repaired).  That little rhino was such a lovely sight, but so bitter-sweet.  It’s hard not to feel a little hopeless when you look at the stats, not just of poached rhinos, but elephants, lions, and just about every walking, climbing, swimming creature.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Fever trees everywhere

IMG_7745

IMG_7754

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Hello little one!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Fancy hairdos from the resident crested guineafowl 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Spot the kudu!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Bloody Marys in the bush 

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Four days in the Kruger

Is there anything better than time spent in the bush?  I love big cities and I love travelling to foreign destinations, but the quiet serenity, expansive space and clear ebb and flow of life found in a reserve like the Kruger is impossible to beat. I love the excitement of driving around the park, never knowing what you might come across around the next bend (spindly legged impala? lumbering rhino? clucking franklin?).  I feel like an utterly privileged guest in a place teeming with life.

I’m a sucker for the SAN Parks camps inside the park.  The smell of the thatch bungalows, the green tiled bathrooms and the SAN Parks emblem on the sheets and tiny teacups all invoke such strong memories from my childhood, and I still prefer to stay in camps like Letaba, Shingwedzi and Shimuwini than in the camps on the edges of the park.  This time though I stayed at Ngwenya Lodge, which looks out over the Kruger (and the Crocodile River, which attracts a huge amount of game), and is a 10 minute drive to the Crocodile Bridge gate.

My goal for this trip was to take as many photographs as possible.  I have a bit of a thing for elephants – the more time I spend with them and observe them, the more I want to integrate and interact with them – and this trip was all about elephants! I saw more ellies than I think I’ve ever seen in my life!  Over the course of the four days we must’ve seen about 300 elephant in total, and some really huge herds with lots of babies (you’ll notice plenty of different sized ellie bums in my pictures!). It was quite amazing, and has further entrenched my wish to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya … as soon as possible!

Amongst all the large eared and liquid eyed antelope, some highlights were seeing rhino – less than normal though, which makes me so incredibly sad and indicates the extent of the rhino poaching crisis in the park – and three lionesses with very distended bellies on a wildebeest kill.  The Kruger remains one of my favourite, and one of the most soul soothing, places on earth and certainly one of the best wildlife destinations in Southern Africa.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

11062250_797013300387434_8038803187776106547_n

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

IMG_7311

Grey hair don’t care

I’ve long had grey hair.  And by long I mean prematurely – literally since I was teenager!  It started as a shock of white on my front hairline, and I’ve coloured my hair ever since (every shade imaginable).

At the beginning of last year I decided I wanted to experiment a little and see how much grey hair I actually had (long before this article on grey hair becoming the hallmark of cool … ha!). The answer is I have a lot of it!  Luckily for me it’s silver, not yellow, but it still takes some getting used to!

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I’d suggest keeping the ends dark (if you’re brunette).  I think it gives the look a more deliberate feel (as opposed to ‘she rather let herself go, didn’t she?’).  A great, edgy cut is also essential, as is hair in peak condition (I use vegan friendly Kevin Murphy).  Polished personal grooming is a good idea (a work in progress for me), but most important I think is an eccentric personal style.  (You’ll probably also have to have a pretty thick skin … it’s amazing how many people have strong opinions on ageing and letting your grey hair out, feminists included!). IMG_6694

IMG_6985

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Terrariums

I’m not really what you’d call ‘green fingered’, but I do try with my veggie garden and my house plants (and I think that in this instance practice does make perfect).

I’ve long had a soft spot for terrariums and their mini landscapes.  They are so beautiful and intricate, and meet all my requirements of both form and function ;-)

I stumbled across Angles & Earth the other day, and their terrariums are pretty mesmerising in their exquisiteness.   They’re based in Cape Town, and you can buy online, or take a terrarium class, which sounds dreamy.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.09.36 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.10.17 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.10.40 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.06.30 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.10.57 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.09.57 PM