Thursday, 28 May 2015

Nut a Very Good Bargain

How to crack a macadamia nut - with much patience

We both have a passion for nuts but they are so darned expensive. I was therefore thrilled to pick up a bargain - a bagful of macadamias in their shells,  but oh so cheap.  I now see why.  We have tried everything to crack open these little charmers but their perfectly round, very hard outside with no discernible seam means that we have tried everything from normal nutcrackers (useless) to hammers (a little better) to Youtube - some guy can always make things look easy - to finally a sturdy-looking vice-grip (googled), which, if you are very crafty, you can slowly ease closed over the nut and screw it before it gets a chance to catapault away across the room.  Still it has taken us a good while to extract two perfect little white nuts. We spend about twenty minutes in this frustrating exercise with the result that neither of us can be bothered to extract more than one each.The main benefit is that our net nut consumption is much reduced, which is a help regarding both our weight loss plan and our monthly budget.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A Very Funny Lion story

Google image

During the first week of our trip we met up with my oldest brother-in-law and his wife: their favorite holidays are to go camping in the Kruger Park which is near to their home. Their traveling companions are invariably their good friends, Pete and Jenny. Pete is quite a character and can be a bit naughty at times. One day they came across a lion family peacefully enjoying their lunchtime siesta lying flat-out a little way off in the veldt. Wanting a decent photograph, they needed the lions to stand up, so Pete had the good idea of aiming his catapault at the large male. I will give him the benefit of the doubt as to where he aimed but the result was he hit the lion in the testicles so that the lion leapt up, growling furiously and lashed out at the nearest lioness with a very large paw. Why do women always get the blame? I can just imagine her thoughts: "What did I do this time??"

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Sound Of SIlence

Karoo National Park

So here we are in the Karoo National Park, at the tail end of our three weeks away. So nice that we have such a big family - always someone to stay with all over the country. We began with a week with one sister-in-law on the East coast - a place called East London.  That was where we had the bee stings. Then onto the Natal South Coast - four days with good friends who go way back. That was lots of nice eating, jawing and sight-seeing. Then a long journey through the Transkei (all day), (now part of South Africa and much improved since apartheid days), although one still has to watch out for livestock dawdling across the highway at every turn. Further down the coast we then spent a week at the beautiful Hole-in-the-Wall with more family. Then another six-hour trip to the middle of the country for an overnight stop at a nephew's farm and now this huge park. Our chalet is at the end of the line with a great view of the mountain and scrubland (zebras, antelope mostly - and 22 pairs of black eagles). The thing is  - compared to our other stops - it is amazingly quiet here. It is night-time, we are sitting outside, sipping our drinks, not talking, totally calm and relaxed, watching the crescent moon and the North star. You can hear a pin drop. Well, not quite. The wind is blowing relentlessly but we have our backs to it. The info says that Beaufort West (the nearest town) holds the record for the strongest wind in the country - about 120 mph. I can believe it: I can hear it whistling round in my wine glass. Soon we will eat in the restaurant, dinner and breakfast, then home at last. Another six-hour drive. About 500 miles. Such a big country, such a good trip, such good company.

Lizzie, the Cow-Human

Me and Lizzie

We have had a lot of interesting adventures while away, but there is always something new when we get to one of the farms. At the moment we are at a nephew's place and his wife is particularly fond of animals of all kinds and is normally hand-raising something or other. This time she introduced us to her young heifer, Lizzie, who had had a difficult birth, was rejected by her mother and had contracted an eye infection which made her temporarily blind.  M, my niece, thus doctored the eye and mothered her until she could be weaned.  Now LIzzie thinks that she is a person and not a cow. Whenever they try to put her in a field with the rest of the herd, Lizzie hides in a corner and tries to efface herself behind a tree.  When the family had been away for a week-end Lizzie was found standing forlornly at the cattle grid staring at the road.  Her joy and soft moos when reunited with M must have been a delight to behold.  M had to get out of the car and escort the delighted animal back to the house. Lizzie does have a companion though: there is another cow who is in fact blind:  she has attached herself to Lizzie, rather to LIzzie's mystification, and clearly uses LIzzie as her eyes.  Lizzie's own cleared up after ten days when she was a calf.  She does not really like this devotion and if they are separated, she ignores the other cow's questing cries. When I met Lizzie I was a little taken aback at her 10-month old size (about 1000 lbs) and the fact that she had horns.  Apparently she was as usual hiding away on the day the de-horning was done. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bee Sting Cures

My aged joints
Sting still in - didn't hurt much
Now on holiday at relatives who are retired and  bee-keepers, we spent an intriguing afternoon getting ourselves purposely stung by the little kamikaze doctors, each overcoming our cowardice one by one as we queued up for our punishment. We are assured that bee stings cure all kinds of ailments where other treatments have failed.  The thing is we are all oldish and wary of living on anti-inflammatories and other patent medicines and pain-killers.  Off we went in the car to where they keep their hives, my brother-in-law donned his protective clothing and headgear and went off to gather a glass bottle full of bees to bring back to the house.  Their compatriots back at the hive followed the car anxiously for quite a way and brother-in-law only got in once they had all disappeared. By the time we got to the house all the bees were angrily buzzing around inside the bottle. One at a time they were released whereupon they immediately flew to the window panes whence they could easily be picked up with a tweezer. Once placed on the chosen part of the recipient's anatomy - in my case my worst swollen finger, the captive is squeezed a little harder to make him sting. This hurts somewhat but it is quite fascinating watching the bee run round in circles trying to extricate his tail, hopelessly of course as he will die some moments later.  It sounds cruel, I know, but many of us are a little desperate concerning our aches and pains. My other brother-in-law asked for and received six stings in both knees, his wife had stings in both thumb joints at the wrist, I had two in my finger and our hostess two in her ankle.  The following day we are all itchy, red and swollen and now we await results....... I'll keep you posted. NB As we all stayed very calm during the process, no-one had an allergic reaction which it is thought is caused by adrenalin.  Celestemine was on stand-by just in case. NNBB - I can't post a pic from Internet from my i-pad.