Jack of all trades?

I think what makes the difference between someone who is an expert at something and someone who is not, is the ability of that person to face repetition.  That’s why I am a jack of all trades and master of none.

I do not like repetition and reworking anything. I rarely read a book twice or watch a movie for a second time. Once I have learned to make something, unless each item is totally different with its own challenges, I will probably not make it again, unless I can eat it 🙂

This issue in itself presents a problem for me when it comes to my art and painting.  When I choose a picture to paint, I need it to be a little challenging, however, once I have spent some hours on it and feel I have stood up to the challenges, I get a little irritated if it is not finished and sometimes walk away from it and do not finish it for quite some time.

Last week I decided to paint a picture that I have painted before which is very unusual for me.  The reason for this is that I painted it originally using digital media (ie on a computer program with virtual paint and brushes using a mouse).  I liked the picture quite a bit and decided that I would like a real live painting to hang or sell, so I attempted it in acrylic.

By the end of my painting session I was quite tired of the picture again and my brushes were shedding hairs for some strange reason so it is not finished yet and needs some further work.  I think I will give it a few weeks though before I come back to it. My mind is already on my next picture…..

Answering your questions

A few days ago I asked you if you had any questions about my life in the bush, and today I will be answering them.

The first question came from Jocelyn from O Mighty Crisis (and from Quin)

What foods do you wish you could have easy access to…but don’t?  What do you crave?

Although our home is quite isolated, we are about 23 km’s from the nearest town. In town there are two national chain supermarkets which carry most products that we need on a daily basis although sometimes our choice is limited. For instance, it took us some persuading to get the supermarket to stock my daughters favorite breakfast cereal.  Before that, we got people to bring some to us when they came to visit.  She still wants another variety too but I’m not sure if it is still being sold in South Africa (Fruit Loops?)

Things like tahini, that I need to make my own humus, is not available, so a couple of us from our town place orders when someone is going to a city.  Other things we crave sometimes are Kentucky Fried Chicken and Sushi (we can get a limited amount at one of our restaurants on a Friday evening only – and then you have no choice).



I think because there are quite a few luxury international safari lodges in the area, the shops tend to stock most of what we need.  Besides food though, we have a very limited choice when buying shoes and clothes and prefer to drive a few hours to do that kind of shopping.  There are also no fabric stores, movie cinemas, home decor stores, or book stores, and we don’t have a functioning fire station (a few homes burned to the ground recently) or a decent hospital.

The second question came from Greg from Greg’s World

What is a legavaan?

Well Greg, it’s kinda like a huge lizard. (rock monitor)

(image from here)

(Varanus albigularis),  the legavaan or white-throated monitor, is a species of monitor lizard found in southern Africa. It is the second longest lizard found on the continent of Africa and the heaviest bodied.

Last week Cleo, my dog, had a run in with one at the pool. She barked at it and grabbed it in  her mouth and tossed it into the air until I called her off.  The legavaan didn’t seem to care much but moved off eventually.  Cleo is very lucky that it did not hurt her.

Question 3 comes from Sweffling from Stopping by woods

Which animal/s do you have the most difficulty keeping out of the house and allied to that, which animals wish to come in and share your house during the winter?

Luckily, because we have extremely mild winters, most animals are quite happy to stay away from human habitation in our area.  The creatures that give me most problems are squirrels because they like to make their homes in our thatch roofs. We have to regularly rescue birds that have flown inside and release them and on a couple of occasions have had to remove snakes from our cottages and relocate them. So far we have not had any inquisitive mammals who would like to move in (thank goodness).  On the insect front, it’s really another story. They ALL want to live with us and it’s an ongoing battle to keep our cottages reasonably insect free without resorting to poisons.  I must admit that even although I am considered a greenie, and I save and release spiders,  – cockroaches, flies, mosquitos and ants get sprayed.

My veggie garden on the other hand gets many visits from all types of buck, porcupines and hippos.

Question 4 is from Mark of The Idiot Speaketh

What is the strangest ANIMAL or creature that you have found taking a secret dip in your pool?

Now I know Mark is longing to hear about gorillas, and constantly teases me about them, we DO NOT have gorillas running wild in South Africa.  The strangest thing I have found in the pool is a long extremely thin worm like creature that wriggles and squirms its way across the surface of the pool. It is so thin that it almost looks like a hair and is a few inches in length.  I have yet to find out what it is.

Other creatures we fish out of the pool are bees, frogs (lots of frogs), huge beetles, grasshoppers and unfortunately once a drowned snake.  The larger animals on the game reserve don’t even come to drink the water from our pool.  They are fussy and I think prefer chlorine-free that they get from the river and watering holes.


I hope you have all learned a little more about us and our home.  If you have any more questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll do another post like this if necessary.











Homemade ginger beer

Growing up, my mother made a lot of ginger beer in summer just before Christmas.  She had the most amazing bottles that she used, glass covered in wicker and I remember lying in bed at night hearing a cork pop every now and then.

As spring has begun here, and the weather is toasty hot again, I thought there would be nothing better than having some ice-cold homemade ginger beer to sip on while lying next the pool, watching the giraffes meander past.


  • +/- two 5cm bits of fresh ginger (my mother used powdered ginger as fresh ginger was hard to find)
  • a lemon
  • 4,5 cups of sugar
  • a few raisins
  • 2 litres of boiling water
  • 4 litres of room temperature water
  • One 10g pack of instant dried yeast
You will also need a 6 litre container or bucket to make your beer in.
  • Grate the ginger into the bucket (unpeeled is fine)
  • Grate the rind of the lemon into the bucket and squeeze the lemon juice into the bucket
  • Add the sugar
  • Add raisins
  • Pour the 2 litres of boiling water over the sugar/ginger and lemon and stir till the sugar dissolves.
  • Top up to 6 liters with cool water
  • When the temp of the mixture is about body temperature (this is important – it must not be too hot) sprinkle the yeast onto the ginger beer and stir gently with a wooden spoon.
  • Cover the bucket and leave overnight. I sometimes leave it for 24 hours so timing here is not essential as long as it has had a good few hours to brew.
  • Sieve the ginger beer through a clean dish towel.
  • Bottle the beer in plastic or glass bottles with tight sealing lids. (I use plastic recycled fizzy cold drink bottles)
  • Leave in a cool place for two to three days. Release the pressure in the bottles twice a day. Leave for longer if you want a more alcoholic beer. If it tastes too sweet leave it for another day before refrigerating.
  • Once the ginger beer tastes just like you want it, put the bottles into the fridge.
Serve with ice.

Creativity – make time

I find that when I had less time available to me and I was more stressed, I made more time for my creative side.  Since I left my job, I have not been painting nearly as much and I should. I get so much joy from it.

Remember this?

It’s taken me about three months to get back to this painting. Last night I worked on the colours a bit more and started on my tree.  I just love getting lost in a painting.

A little bit more work and it should be finished.

On another note – our sign for Jackal’s Den has arrived. Made for us by Vanessa from Splinters.

I need to live with it for a while before I decide where I am going to be hanging it.  It will be near our entrance but I have about 5 spots to choose from.

What do you do to stimulate your creativity and how often do you make time for it?

Happy feet

You know how families develop their own words – normally stemming from a child who mispronounced something. I have met families where nick names are rather strange and others who have peculiar words for objects. It sometimes sounds really strange when you see four grown adults in a family calling something a boo-boo, and they all know what they are talking about.

When I was growing up our family was no different, and to this day common household items are still called strange things like a “hot ‘n trot tray”  (from Salton Hot Tray), my daughter being called a Bean, and macaroni is lekkeroni.  At the ripe old age of 18  the Bean found out that Harper Lee wrote the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and not “Tequila Mockingbird” and that chutney was not chuckney.

A common word in our family is “fud”.  This is our word for a paw. So all our pets have fuds not paws and the dirty marks they make on the floor are fudprints.

Our Cleo is still a little unsure of her new surroundings and in order not to lose her fuds she keeps them all in one spot when she sleeps.

What strange words do your families use?

New additions to the farm

Late yesterday afternoon we took delivery of 6 nyala ( one male, two female and three babies) and 4 ostriches (near adults – sexes still to be determined when they get their adult plumage).

I was there to capture the moment.

I hope they had a good first night in our reserve.  I’m off to see if I can find them and see how they are doing.

Reach for the stars

Guess what has happened at my little hide-away in the bush…..



Yep – I have reached for the stars and am now connected to the internet via satellite.  This aerial on my cottage points to an antenna on Mariepskop mountain (see here) which in turn connects me to you via a little metal object orbiting the earth.  Amazing isn’t it?

Regular service has returned to “The Slowvelder”.  This makes me happy.

Between land and water

Just like the hippo, I currently find myself  “between land and water.”                      

Having worked my final day at the packhouse mid May, I have been without  internet access except for fleeting glimpses using my cell phone. I hope once I have a steady income to be able to set it up at home and continue my regular blogging. I miss it so!

I have really enjoyed the last two weeks, spending most days on the farm in the sun as winter starts to settle in.  The leaves are finally starting to fall and we have nippy mornings and evenings. The beauty of this area is that right throughout winter we will have sunny days and blue skies with temperatures in the mid 20’s (C) at midday.

For two weekends I had the pleasure of having an old friend of mine, Sue, come to stay on the farm with us.  I met Sue years ago at my scuba diving club when we were both living corporate lives in the city. Interestingly, we have both chosen to opt out of that fast paced world and spend our time in nature doing the things we love most.  We discussed how fast paced our new slow lives are. 

Sue is now a freelance safari guide and spends her days during the tourist season taking people into game reserves and during her off-season she works as a scuba dive master, mostly on the Mozambican coast. 

On one of our drives around our reserve we spotted hippo lazing in the river.  I have tried on many occasions to get a picture of them but because it is really dangerous to get too near them I have not succeeded with my small camera.  Sue took the above photo of them with her camera for me so now I am able to show you proof that we have them on the reserve.

Because of all the time Sue spends in our game reserves and National Parks she gets many opportunities to take some fantastic photos (and she is a brilliant photographer.)  You can view them on her blog – Coral Wild, and read about her interesting trips too. If you are looking for a fantastic safari experience in South Africa, contact Sue – her details are on her blog.