Cows, bees, spiders, monkeys and magic

#ParadiseLife at the moment is a mixture of awe, awesomeness and awe-fulness all rolled into one. It resembles the best and the not so great of my existence here in my mountain paradise. We have had snow followed by a splendorous show of spring and apparently, as we are about to throw a mighty spring party, it is going to snow on Gaika’s kop again tonight!! This means that we will have snow hunters and flower sniffers arriving in a communal tsunami wave this weekend. Jaribaaaaaa!!!

The magic
Just to remind you (and me) of the magic of my paradise life here in Hogsback, let’s backtrack and have a quick reminder of the wonder of snow….

And to show you why you just HAVE TO make your way up to Hogsback for the #spring #hogsbackcelebrations and open gardens (last week)…..

Sooo, you  may ask, where is the awfulness in all of this? Clearly it is all so , so so fabulously awesome!! Well that brings me back to my old “favourites”…

The Bees.
The beekeepers assures me that the bees loves my cabin because it is such a happy space. And I have to say that I love my bees. Note, I even call them “my bees”. But I am absolutely gatvol of encouraging them to not squat in my house. Despite taking precautions to deter them from coming in (jeyes fluid etc etc), the stubborn little critters keep swarming back. And we even had a Bee War between different Bee warlords for the best spot in my cabin.  So now I am sitting with 3 bee hives, one in an old spot in my floorboards above Jaap’s, and 2 in new spots high up in my cabin and bedroom ceilings where I cannot get to them without breaking my neck.  And when it is super hot, like it has been this past week, they happily swarm around my lounge, buzzing  away, leaving a perpetual buzz in my brain, even when I am not around them.

My attempt to seal the hole in the roof where they were sneaking through to play in my lounge, was quite catastrophic. I ended up squirting silicone everywhere except the hole from hence they originate, including my hair, my clothes, the couch and the walls. The silicone descended like snow flakes ….EVERYWHERE. I am still peeling strips of silicone off places that I rather not mention.

The cows

Just as I reminded myself that I am so glad that the lush greenery is providing for the cows down in the valley, as I have not entertained them for a while, a whole new crew of cows came wondering over to munch and gallop across my terraces. They are tame and totally not scared of me. If I chase  them (screaming and shouting), they just move a few trots (just out of strike distance)  and then stop to meditate, munch and throw me loving cow-eye looks. I am starting to think it is God’s way of making sure that I get some exercise in between my dead-lines.

It also forced me to check out my own Ilifu garden and I am glad to report that, even though the garden has gone a bit wild and wacky, everything is in full bloom and looking quite amazing, cows and all!!

The monkeys (and baboons)

I just returned from doing a late night cow-run and have just settled back into the comfort of my bed, when I heard the happy tap dancing of monkeys on my roof. There must be some delicacy hidden in the gutters between my bedroom and dining room as they where happily scratching and screeching on my roof.  I took a copper pot from my bedroom fireplace and flung it against the ceiling, hitting and shattering my antique lampshade on the way down. Cry. At least it had the required effect on my furry friends, with them scuttling back into the forest.

The Spiders

Spiders are fantastic. Just like bees we cannot survive without them. They eat the mosquitos, which I hate more than anything, anything, anything, so I generally do not have a gripe with them…Except when they bite me when I am leisurely sipping a fabulous fountainy gin and tonic while having a very rare midweek work break outing. Not on.

The End? 

So I am being asked all the time how I am going to get rid of the cows, the monkeys, the bees…. I don’t know. Loads of advice are forthcoming from all and sundry, on and off the mountain, but I am still waiting for the answer to present itself. In the mean time I got Justice to venture up the ladder to seal the bee hole before the heat set in again. (It has gone from 30 something degrees to huddling in front of the fireplace, in one day). Tomorrow we will have our #spring #hogsbackcelebrations with something for everyone, snow and flowers, gin and tonic, potjie and picnics, you name it we have it here…along with the birds, bees, monkeys, cows, spiders and other goggos.  Come visit, the awesomeness far outweighs the awfulness! And the awfulness is actually awe-full!!

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A cow story #paradiselife

In Hogsback we don’t chase cars or pavements, we chase cows. These four legged, agile, garden trampling, flower gobbling, leather cladded creatures stroll leisurely from garden to garden, munching on anything and everything.

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Considering that the cows we have here in Hogsback, can graciously jump over fences, there is nothing much that you can do to keep them out of your beloved garden. It must be all the special herbs and spices that they munch on all over the village that gives them superpowers beyond imagination. I no longer think that the cow that jumped over the moon is just a story. That particular cow must have come from Hogsback.

So I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking there is an earthquake. My whole cabin is shaking and my cat is hanging onto my hair in fear and trepidation. A quick squizz out my window quickly reassured me that it is not the mountain that is shaking, it is a very large cow scratching herself on the corner of my cabin, in the moonlight.

My fear turned into fury. I managed to hobble into my slippers and grab a stick. By the time I reached the bottom of my stairs, the gathering of grazing cows had danced down to the next level of my garden munching on takeaways of snow drops and other remaining delicious greenery.

cow6If anyone thought that cows are slow moving, gracious animals, I want to dispel that notion straight away. They are, as I have mentioned, agile sprinters, jumpers and record breaking endurance munchers that could easily represent us at the next Olympics.

So before I knew it, I was standing, in my pajamas, with mud soaked slippers, in the moonlight, at the bottom of my garden, wondering #whattheheck. Those who know my garden will know how steep it is, and those who know me, will also know that I am not your average, jumping, running, athletic type. To get back up to my cozy bed will be a long haul in the dark.

When a cow was found in the main road, not quite alive, my cow story became a murder mystery. Who killed the cow? I just want to state for the record that I was not involved in any way in this part of the story. As a matter of fact I had a firm alibi. The fact is that I really liked cows, up until the point that they trampled the remaining remnant of my blossoms not devoured by the goat mafia that terrorise my abode from time to time. So no, I wont hurt a cow.

cow4They say that when life deals you lemons, add gin and tonic and throw a party. So I have decided to stop being a cow-ard and make my “hide”-away a cow sanctuary. Bring your mother in law, send your ex, book in your boss who is making your life a misery…for that matter, send all the cows in your life and come and hang out at Ilifu! So what if I don’t have a prize garden, and if things are going a bit wild! We will figure out a way to make face masks from the abundant cow turds and biltong from the rest.

See you in paradise. Weather you are a cow or not. #paradiselife

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Mud slinging and thank you’s- another day in paradise

bAfter months of rain and more rain, Hogsback, as I have mentioned before, is completely water logged. This means my driveway has become an exciting, extreme sport, mud slide. I had to, over the last few weeks, on occasion give a few of my guests a push to get rid of them, as in getting them through the mud and out my driveway.

As I am blessed with a good solid car, aptly named Hogegina, I have, untill today, not had a problem sliding and slipping out of my driveway. I just put my foot flat, hold onto the steering wheel and try not to slide into my gate on the way out.

cToday, however, she decided to dig in her heels. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have not bothered washing her for quite a while. Why bother? One trip up my lane and she is once more covered in mud. So, on this bright and sunny morning, which has been a rarity in itself, I did my normal reverse and got ready for takeoff similarly to a plane coming to a complete halt just before official liftoff. Only, this time, there was not a sliver of traction. We were stuck, with our backside in a bush, facing the right way, but with no movement whatsoever.

At first I did not panic. I can do this. I have never been a stuck-in-the-mud. Nope, not my style.

dMy staff diligently appeared to come and lend a hand and by this time my paying guest also made a guest appearance to see what the commotion was all about. After placing the necessary re-enforcement in place around my tyres, I braced myself and my willing volunteers (guest included) positioned themselves to give me a push. Goooooo. Alas, no go. I tried this way and that, but it only resulted in Hoggegina’s arse sliding further into the hydrangeas, dangerously close to the edge, and my poor pushers having an early morning mud shower. I am looking forward to reading the raving guest review on trip adviser.

eSo, to make a long story short, I was, after all, a stuck in the mud. My dream of joining my neighbour for her birthday breakfast, was fast disappearing and I would have had to to un-order my pre-order and go and make my own breakfast. Bummer. As I opened the car door, I realised that my cutesie slipper boots were not going to deal well with the thick mud pool through which they would have had to shimmy. So I had a choice. Either I stay in the car till the sun bakes my driveway into a drivable state, which could take a few months, or I swallow my pride and yell for help on my local Hogsback village Whatsapp group and be the hossip of the day for days.

gWhich is what brings me to the moral of this story. There is no place like Hogsback. I love, love, did I mention…love, my village and in particular, the village people. Sure there will be hossipping about the way I go about rounding up the village guys to help me with a diverse range of calamities like …flat tyres (thanx Mike, Jeff and Fritz), putting the fire out in my bedroom (thanx Pete), a broken tumble dryer (thanx Nic), a burst geyser (thanx Wayne), bee extractions (thanx Mike and Shane) and various other household emergencies (thanx Mike and Jeff). If I haven’t mentioned you, it is not due to lack of gratitude, but rather a lack of memory, so sorry and thank you.

But today I have to yet again say thank you to Vincent. He has been there on numerous occasions rescue-ing me (and Santie) after a mini tornado, helping to dry up after my bedroom got flooded (that was not my fault) and pulling me out of the mud in record time. See the quick response time in the Whatsapp transcript. Big BIG BIGGG thank you! I even got to breakfast without my eggs or cappuccino getting cold. Again, big thank you!

So what can I say apart from thank you? Another day in paradise.

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Bees and gardens- another day in paradise

6After the gentle evacuation of the two meter bee colony in the roof of Jaap’s place, my cottage looked like world War 2. There was splatters of honey everywhere… On the floor….. On the walls…oozing from the gaping hole that was once a ceiling Sadly, lots of little dead bee soldiers died of heartbreak from losing their queen… Either that or they got stuck in the thick layer of honey that covered the walls and floors. I do know, however, that they were happily relocated to their new home at Tera khaya. Lukhanyo Shane Eades says that they are doing well over there and seems content and buzzing around in their new abode.

1So this morning I could not face the sticky carnage and left my staff to do a clean up operation while I go and join the garden club outing to the Shire Eco lodge in Stutterheim, were we were taken through a nursery with wondrous indigenous bulbs. There were lots of amazing… plants and trees and growing stuffies … Some which are very rare and take years and years to blossom. All I know is that it is inspiring to listen to someone who obviously loves what he does and have the patience of Job.

3My gardening knowledge has increased exponentially and I can now tell the difference between… a plant… and a tree… and maybe some of the weed looking thingemelings in my garden may just be a little treasure of a rare plant. One highlight of the excursion was sniffing a seed that smelled like heaven.

I must just mention that the main talking point was…. how hungry we all were as we viciously fought to get a taste of Jenny Newman’s sweeties that she tried to hide in her bag. Stutterheim turns out to be just as waterlogged as Hogsback and after our extensive plant tour, we perused the accommodation at the Shire Eco Lodge, which is truly charming and romantic.

As our tummies were getting the better of us, we moved along back to Stutterheim to a delightful little Bistro serving a unique bufet lunch of njammy quiche, curry, lasagne and salad, with a Malva pudding to finish off this well deserved feast. This was the perfect conclusion to a mellow morning of chatter and garden inspiration. All I can say is that it is definitely worth while joining the Hogsback garden club.

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5When I give up my day job, I will most certainly start paying more attention to the finer details of garden nuances and maybe even get my hands dirty with sand. For now I am still totally intimidated by it all and am quite happy to allow my vast garden to enjoy the freedom of abundant growing (only curbed by the occasional goat trimming. This must be how my technophobe teachers feel about my high tech workshops! Luckily the Hogsback Garden Club happily allows garden-phobes like me to join in the flowery fun and are well known for fabulously marvelous social gatherings- something I can at least join in with, without getting my hands full of sand!

When I got home, a few lost bees were still trying to figure out what happened to their palace, but I spoke to them nicely and pointed them in the direction of their new home across the valley.

Thus come to a gentle end…..another day in paradise….

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Christmas 2017

spChristmas in Hogsback is extra special for a number of reasons. Firstly, our little village is far, far away from the materialistic chaos of malls, shopping and towns. This means that you can really focus on what is important without the stress of “jingle bells” urging you to spend money which you do not have. I, for one, have for the last few years, instituted a “Kaggel Kakkie” Christmas, which means that everything and anything (un)useful or fun gets wrapped into a big pile of presents underneath my “real” (as in a branch from one of my pine trees) Christmas tree, to be distributed in a fun way on Christmas eve, by Christmas father himself!

Secondly, there is a holiday vibe of happiness that permeate the village and surrounds, echoes through the forests and spills down the waterfalls. The sense of peace and tranquility even extends to the visitors, who seems to go with the flow, happy to let go of their troubles and stresses.

Thirdly, in all the time that I have been “living” in Hogsback, most of the Christmases have been cool, even cold at times, with rain and mist. This adds to the mystique of an almost snowy Christmas, with everybody huddling around a warm fire, sipping sherry, talking, playing games and just being. This year was no exception.

The most important reason for being in Hogsback over this time is the Christmas services. The evening before Christmas, families gathers at the little chapel, St Patrick on the Hill, where the children gets a chance to build the nativity scene and we sing all our favourite Christmas songs. This year we all wore Christmas hats and the little chapel was filled to overflowing with happy faces and hearts, big and small. As we trickled out of the church, we were filled with awe as we listen to a young man from Grahamstown, playing joyful songs on his bagpipe with mist swirling around him. Very special indeed!

We celebrate the Christmas meal and present sharing on the night before Christmas. This year I had the pleasure of having my mother, my sister Ellie and her family with me. It is truly a great blessing to be surrounded by family over Christmas. As always the kaggel kakkie present ceremony went down well. At the end of the day we know who our real present is and He is not wrappable.

We usually have our Christmas day service in the arboretum under the canopy of trees, but this year that was not to be. I was initially upset about this and tried to think how we could capture the forest feel somewhere else in Hogsback. We ended up having our Christmas sermon in our little Chapel and what a wondrous occasion it was! The chapel was, again, filled to the rafters with happy faces gleaming with the joy of Jesus! Margaret was back in top form and assured us that peace for the world start with each of us- we are the peaces!

We were again lead out of the church with joyous bagpipe music and I could feel God smiling down at us with streaks of sunshine through the mist. Joy to the world! Christmas in Hogsback is really a place to rediscover God’s gift to us!

How blessed are we to celebrate christmas in this blessed place!!

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