Saturday, 29 September 2012

Flower Feedback: Mac Mac 2 & 3

It seems some flowers just draw more attention than others.  This week I received two messages from Mac Mac Falls.  The first one came from Sonja Botha, who sent me this lovely photo of her two children:

Hi! We are Marco an Chante Botha and we were sight seeing for our holiday. The sights we saw were wonderful and it is an experience we will remember always!

The next message came from Igmar Grewar:

We visited Mac Mac Falls yesterday and found your flower at the lookout point. Here is a picture with my two daughters, Karla, Lisa. The photo was taken by my wife, Karin. We live in Henley on Klip, Gauteng, and we are on holiday in the Hazyview area. All the best to you and your family. 

Two lovely South African families in the same beautiful place.  Thanks Guys!  I love hearing from all of you!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Flower Feedback: Malgas 3

I just love it when I get messages from flowers I've planted weeks ago!  This beautiful photo and message comes from Belinda Britz.

Hi, I am Belinda Britz. I came to Malagas Hotel with my husband Alan Britz and son Jack Britz. My husband came for work reasons and we just came with to enjoy the beauty of the Breede River. What a beautiful and relaxing visit to the Malagas hotel.

I agree, Belinda, Malgas is such a tranquil place. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Flower Feedback: Union Buildings 1 & 2

On one day I received two different emails from the Union Buildings!  I am so happy to see that local people still visit the place.  The building and the gardens are so beautiful,especially in Spring.  When I was there I only saw tourists.

The first message came from Kyra Scheepers and her husband:

We are the parents of 3 children. We come from the West-Rand and have come to Pretoria for the day. We came to the Union Buildings to pray for our government. Thank you for your efforts.

My pleasure, Kyra.  Thank you for praying. And for the message.

The next message comes from my friend Christelle. We met via Facebook where she is the driving force behind the fantastic group called Ons Hekel (We Crochet). We have since met in person and know we are kindred spirits.

Here is her message:

Today I took the Dad and the Boys on a treasure hunt at the Unions
Buildings.  We live in the valley behind the ridge on which the Union
Buildings are located - the President's "backyard" :-)

It was a cool, crisp spring morning in Pretoria, with some thunder in the
air and the rain already chased us away after breakfast at the farmer's
market. Since your photos already show the beautiful buildings, I went for a
view over the city.

A lovely day to find an African Flower .

Fantastic! Thanks Stel.

Friday, 21 September 2012

African Flower Chain: Link 24 - Final Flower

Back in Pretoria. 

Before we started I knew I wanted to put the last flower at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
 When my husband and I first got married 21 years ago, we lived in a small apartment in the bottom of the Union Building's garden. We lived in a building which was used to house the people working on the construction of the Union Building - before 1910.  It consisted of 8 one-bedroom apartments. It was in the days before cell phones and we had a ticky-box (pay phone) in the stairwell, which was right outside our window.  We all used it as our home phone and whenever it rang (especially late at night) we had to get up, answer the phone and then go and call who-ever the call was for. We could hear all the conversations going on in the stairwell and knew exactly what was going on in all the other tenants lives!
Sadly the building does not exist anymore. But the memories do.

I made 30 flowers and the plan was to plant one every day. In the end things didn't work out exactly as planned.  Some days passed without any flowers being planted and on other days I planted more than one flower.  I tried to only plant flowers in places which 'felt right'. I had all sorts of 'rules' I made for myself before I started, like I would not plant it in commercial places like shops and malls or on private property, and I would plant one everyday, etc.  

In the end, the chain - like life - took on it's own path.  There were places where I thought I would like a flower, like in Namaqualand, but it rained so much we couldn't go where we wanted to. There were other places where I never meant to plant one, which just felt right. A few of them are in commercial places and a few are on private property. Because that is where they are meant to be.

I planted 24 flowers on route.  While we were in Reebok with our friends form Dubai, I gave one flower to my friend Kine.  She has a special place she wants to plant it and one day she might want to share that with us. Or not. 
That meant I had 5 flowers left, which I tied into a garland and attached to a lamppost in front of the Union Buildings.

The chain is now complete.

We traveled for 28 days over 6800km's.  We passed through all 9 provinces of South Africa. We saw beautiful places, met wonderfully warm and friendly people and fell in love with South Africa all over again.

South Africa is still the country of our hearts.

African Flower Chain: Link 23

It was the last day of our trip. We had to be back in Pretoria by evening. We did not want it to end. We wanted to keep on driving and driving.  There is so much more we still wanted to see.

The night before we discussed our route: shall we take the obvious route over Lydenburg and head straight back to Pretoria on the N4, or shall we take the long route over Tzaneen and Polokwane? We decided to take the shorter route.  But on the day, when we came to the T-junction, guess which one we took?  The long route. 
Of course.

We passed through the J.G. Stydom tunnel, where we met more local crafts people. The lady below were weaving mats with rolled up strips of magazines and news paper.

Just past Magoebaskloof we came to the small village of Haenertsburg

We stopped in the main street at a quaint little coffee/book/antique shop called 
The Pennefather for a cup of coffee. Here we met the owner, Beth Green, who introduced us to her pet potbelly pig whom she says is also the Mayor of Haenertsburg!

When I asked her permission to attach my flower to her windmill, she insisted that she (and her pig) should be the first people to be photographed with the flower!

May I introduce you to Beth and the Mayor.

Flower Feedback: Three Rondavels 1 & 2

Again I received messages before I had time to blog!  The first message came from Celeste.  She and her family was there later on the same day we were there!  Thank you Celeste for reacting to the flower.

Hi there! Here is a pic of my 2 daughters at your flower at the 3 Rondawels. We are from Randfontein, Gauteng and are here on a family holiday.

The next message came from Kulani. 

Thats me,Kulani.I was at Three Rondavels exploring Mpumalanga places with my
Boyfriend Sipho,who took the photo, I had a great time in South Africa..Africa
is the best in tourism.

Thanks, Kulani and Celeste!

African Flower Chain: Link 22

Further down the escarpment we came to another breathtaking sight: 

 The viewpoint is above the Blyde River Canyon, right on the edge of a sheer drop, with only a steel railing between you and... nothing.

From this viewpoint you can also look back along the escarpment where we just came from.  No matter from which way you view this area, it is still spectacular!

Three Rondavels refer to the three mountain peaks shaped like rondavels (round huts with peaked grass roofs as built by the local people of the area) across the canyon.

Flower 22 is on the railing at the lookout.

Flower Feedback: Mac Mac

The problem with falling behind on my blogging is that I am receiving feedback on flowers I haven't blogged about yet!  I received this message from Ria Du Toit more than a week ago.  Sorry for the delay Ria! I am happy to know my flower cheered you up!

Ek is nie een wat rond kuier en plekke verken nie maar na 'n stresvolle jaar het ek besluit om die Sabie omgewing te gaan besigtig en hoe wonderlik is dit nie om die blommetjie daar te vind nie.  Die MAC MAC waterval is asemrowend mooi en met die blommetjie het die lewe weer vir my begin sin maak.  
Dankie ek was op die regte tyd regte plek daar.

African Flower Chain: Link 21

 From the falls we followed the road along the escarpment to our next stop at God's Window. From the parking area a path takes you to several look out spots from where you have breathtaking views across the Lowveld 900m below.

What a sight! The name God's Window becomes very obvious when you stand here.  You can see forever!

The path winds through different types of vegetation varying from grassland to rain forest. Truly gorgeous.

Flower 21 is at the very first lookout point closest to the car park.

African Flower Chain: Link 20

 Our trip was in it's last few days and we still wanted to see and do lots of things! On this specific day we stopped at many beautiful places and I left a few flowers along the way. This is a part of the country I use to visit often as a child but had not seen for many years. It was good to see it was still as beautiful and breathtaking as ever and that the viewpoints, places of attraction and sights were in good condition and well maintained.  

One thing that was different was the traders selling their goods everywhere. It seemed like most of these people come from the surrounding countries to sell their craft and handmade products.

We saw this man in the parking area at the Mac Mac  Falls. He was selling his wooden carvings. Some of them was really good, but this trip was for looking and experiencing, not buying...

..that was until I saw the hand printed table cloths with the nice African prints on them. Had to have one!

Flower 20 is at the lookout point above Mac Mac Falls. The Fall is 65m high and is named after the many Scottish miners who panned for gold in the river during the 1870's gold rush in the area.

African Flower Chain: Link 19

A while ago I told you about my mother who had to move house after my father passed away.  Before we started this trip I helped my mother pack their old house for the move to her new home. She decided to move to White River to live close to her sisters in the area where she grew up. 

(can you see me reflected in the window? ha-ha!)

Now it was time to visit her in her new home. We spent a wet and rainy weekend with her and the rest of the family. My uncle and aunt owns a fresh produce business with a roadside shop, or padstal, as it is known in Afrikaans.

I left my next flower on the gate of their Rooiploeg Kontrei Winkel. If you are in the area, go in and say Hi to my Mom for me. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Flower Feedback: Great Brak River

Remember Val Marsh from Augrabies? I received another lovely email from her this week, this time from her home town, Great Brak River. She found my flower on the bridge and sent me a picture or her lovely daughter.

Hallo again,
Yippee, we found the flower on the wooden bridge at Die Eiland, Great Brak
River. That makes it two...the first was at Augrabies.
The pic is of my daughter Carly Marsh, who has just returned from Thailand
where she did a Dive Master Course. She'll be returning to the island of Koh
Tau at the end of the month to continue her diving.

My husband and I spent a great few weeks on Koh Tau in 1995. We were backpacking through South  East Asia back then. Oh, the glorious days before responsibilities...

So how great is it to mention Groot Brak (as we refer to it) and Koh Tau in one post? Two of my most favourite places in the world...

African Flower Chain: Link 18

After a very long stretch of driving through Natal (the only province where we did not sleepover), we had a shorter trip into the Lowveld of Mpumalanga. From Badplaas we headed for the mountains bordering Swaziland. We passed through some rural areas and then left civilization behind completely.

This must have been one of my favourite drives.  The views were spectacular and the scenery absolutely gorgeous.  The fact that we were the only people around made it even more fantastic.

We crossed the Komati River before it started it's decent into Swaziland and Mozambique.

The only traffic we came across on this beautiful road.

Once we started our decent into the Lowveld the vegetation changed from bushveld into Pine and Bluegum plantations.  The Lowveld is one of the major forestry areas of South Africa. We passed quite a few logging sites and even more trucks loaded with logs on their way to the saw mills.

The mountains we just crossed are considered to be the oldest in the world and scientists date it back 3.5 billion years. It contains some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet.

At the bottom of  the mountain pass we came to the beautiful town of Barberton. It originated in 1881 when gold was discovered in the area.

A statue of Jock can now be seen in front of the Town Hall in Barberton,

where you will also find my next flower.

African Flower Chain: Link 17

From the Eastern Free State we followed the Van Reenen Pass down the escarpment into Natal. We passed the Sterkfontein Dam with it's hydro-electrical power station. 

I've been in Natal many times before but always on the coast or in the Drakensberg.  This time we passed through the highveld and the Battlefields of the north-eastern parts of the province.

Growing up in the 'old' South-Africa, my husband and I know the history of the Battlefields reasonably well. This is where Boer and Brit fought it out and also where the Voortrekkers had many battles with the Zulu's. 
Our children however, having been schooled internationally, missed all these history lessons. A stop at Bloedrivier, a memorial commemorating one of the major battles in Boer history, was therefore a must.  

I really recommend a trip to this site. It is very well maintained and very informative.  A new museum is being added to the site to commemorate the Zulu history. 

My flower is on the wooden bridge at the entrance to the memorial.

Flower Feedback: Malgas 2

What's even more fun than receiving a message from a flower which I thought has gone missing, is receiving two messages from that very same flower in the same week! This message comes from James Butler all the way from England.

I saw your flower on the Malgas Pontoon on Friday 7th September. I apologise for the delay in sending this to you – but we had no ability to transfer photos to an email until we got home.

My names is James Butler and I am from England.  My wife and I were on our way from Knysna to De Hoop when we saw your flower, and I loved the idea!  Only now I am home and can read your blog do I realise I could also have seen one at l’Agulhas and Hermanus!  But then the beauty of your chain is in discovering them when unawares, not in looking for them, I think!

Your blog, through the flowers, shows the way people from all over the world are crossing paths all the time – we are all disparate, yet connected (in this case by your great idea).

South Africa is a beautiful country with huge potential.  And the Malgas Pontoon has to be the most serene mode of transport I have ever enjoyed!

I look forward to seeing who else finds your flowers.

Thank you James! 

Flower Feedback: Malgas 1

Just when I think one of my flowers has either been removed or no-one has noticed it, I receive a message from that very photo!

Hendrik and Emily Vermaak of Somerset-West has sent me this lovely photo and message from the pontoon at Malgas:

Picture taken on the Malgas pond, of my wife Emily - we've been together for 48 years, married for 42. Retired for 8 years. Returning from a re-union function at Witsand (14th September - 16th September 2012)
Re-union was of retired South African Airways Pilots and Flight Engineers.

Thank you, Lovely People!

Monday, 10 September 2012

African Flower Chain: Link 16

From Bloemfontein we headed east towards the Lesotho border. At Ladybrand we turned north and followed the road hugging the mountains.

The eastern Free State has always been one of my favourite places.  The colours of the veld, the soil and the sky can not be recreated anywhere else.  The sandstone mountains and the cherry blossoms only adds to the magic.

We reached the small town of Clarens in the late afternoon.  I have spent many weekends in Clarens as a student and thought I knew what to expect.  I was wrong. The town has grown quite a lot since I was a student (many moons ago). Fortunately it has not lost any of it's charm.

I chose an orange flower for Clarens. To match the colours of the mountains.  

It is attached to a lamp post in the Windmill Centre, in front of the Blou Donki Art Gallery.