And then the rain came

Since my last post a few days ago we’ve had rain, rain and more rain, consisting of  steady light rain petering down to a guti (a fine drizzle) interspersed with several heavy downpours.  My garden is soaking it up!   Or should I say, has soaked it up.  It’s been dry today.  In fact the sun shone for 10 minutes or so!   In these last three days we’ve had 165mm.  I recorded 14mm at the beginning of Feb, giving a grand total of 179mm so far for Feb.  Some areas had far more

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At last I can explore without getting wet” 

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Always nose to the ground .. that’s our Jamesie  !

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Our rain, in the Gauteng area, comes from the Vaal Dam which, is predicted to be at 100% capacity by Sunday.  Surely water restrictions will finally be lifted!  Hope so.

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My spirits were lifted

After our usual early evening walk with James to the veld (greenbelt) the other day,  I felt quite disheartened walking back home down our road.   We used to have a pretty tree-lined road with neat verges of different styles of plantings, whether plain lawns or lawns dotted with a shrub or two, or three, or edged with a narrow bed of flowering plants, be it perennials or annuals.  We, even the not so keen gardeners, were all conscious of keeping our pavement gardens pleasing to the eye.

Times have changed.  Occupants have come and gone.  Some houses are rented with residents who couldn’t be bothered and some have owners who don’t care.  There is only a handful of us left who take pride in our pavement gardens.  One doesn’t have to go overboard with a designer styled, immaculately manicured area!   A simple regularly mowed lawn looks good.  I know we are still experiencing drought conditions even though we’ve had rain and the dams are filling and keeping a garden looking good is difficult.  We haven’t been allowed to use sprinklers or irrigation systems at all the entire summer, but I managed with watering within the allowed times with a hand-held hosepipe.  My lawn is looking it’s worst ever.   There’s nothing I can do about it.  It relies on the rain.  Only when plants are gasping for water do I water them in the evening (within the limits allowed)

So … the other evening when I sat on a garden chair in the front courtyard to take off my walking shoes I felt so disheartened.  Sad to see our neighbourhood as it is, and sad to see my garden.  I need to change things.  I need more indigenous plants.  I need to make it look nice again.

And then I turned around.  The light shone beyond the shady side-of-the-house pathway garden.  My spirits lifted.  It looked good.  I haven’t done too badly as a gardener.  I’ve planted every single plant and laid all the stepping stone paths in the entire garden .. me … myself !!!   I’m doing the best I can in these drought conditions.  I cannot do anymore.  The lawn is ok.   I can’t take a chance and fertilise as I don’t know when next we’ll have rain.  We were supposed to have a storm over the weekend, but it never materialised.   Rain was then forecast for later this week

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I felt so much better looking down the windy path to the back garden.

And then I turned around.  I see these white asters all the time as I walk out the front door, but today, I saw them !  En masse!!!   They are beautiful!!

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In a pot next to the chair on which I was sitting, is a small hebe with it’s tiny pretty delicate flowers clustered together forming one flower ..

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Deep breath !!   I felt good.  My spirits were lifted

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Connor turned 10 !!

Our grandchildren are growing up at what seems an alarming rate.  Bradley is 13 going on 14 and Connor turned 10 the other day.  Erin turns 10 in April.

‘ On this day’  memories on Facebook has featured quite a few photographs taken over the years of Connor’s birthdays, particularly birthday cakes .. all made by me.  When the boys were small and the parties were huge, Jeanette, ordered special themed cakes, as most mommies do … at a price !!!!   One year I suggested making the party cake to save the hassle of ordering and paying those exorbitant prices.  And so it began .. I have made the party cake as well as the ‘ home’  cake for the actual birthday.   A birthday cake is a must for tea on your birthday !!!!!!

I make my usual choccie cake 🙂 unless otherwise requested (plain or lemon sponge)

This year Connor’s party was a very small affair … a couple of friends for a movie and sleepover.  He thoroughly enjoyed it!

The movie … ‘ The Lego Batman Movie’.
The cake … ‘The Lego Batman Movie’  logo with the added Lego 10 and Batman put together by Connor

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The ‘ home ‘  cake, decorated by Connor himself, and served with afternoon tea after school on his birthday ..

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I had fun looking for photos of cakes I’ve made for Connor .. top right is a “Connor- decorated-Star-Wars-special 🙂  others :- emergency services, target for laser quest party, rock climbing, ten-pin bowling and acrobranch …

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‘ Home’  cakes ..

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I can’t wait for our new little granddaughter to hit the party scene !!   Elaine and Bryan are expecting a baby girl in August !!   Yay !!  Great excitement !!  A new grandbaby to cuddle and love … and to make cakes for 😉

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Another butterfly …

This time a tiny one –   ‘ African Grass Blue’  –   on a Jasmine leaf

Genus : Zizeeria knysna
Family : Lycaenidae

They’re quite common in our garden but never still enough for me to take a photograph.  He must be sleeping !!

Not as clear as I would have hoped but it was early evening ..

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Lifecycle of a Citrus Swallowtail butterfly ..

… or part thereof   😉  in my garden .. on my new lemon tree …

.. larvae ..

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.. caterpillar …

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Citrus Swallowtail (Papilio demodocus) in my garden .. on a zinnia flower

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Great Uncle Alexander Keay

What a surprise I got when, during our gym ladies Christmas lunch in November last year, November 11th to be precise, I received a cellphone call from my UK cousin Peter,  who was at that very moment awaiting the start of the ceremony commemorating 100 years after the Battle of Somme at Thiepval Memorial in France.

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,246 missing British Empire servicemen who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918, with no known graves.

I had been following his daily entries on his Facebook page, including cellphone photos, of a tour of the Ypres Salient and sites along the Somme River in Belgium and France, which he, his partner Tony and several other South African friends, were on under the guidance of Kathie Satchwell.

Sounding excited and very emotional he told me that, on the previous day,  he had found my family name printed as “A. Keay” amongst the missing at Delville Wood and asked if it could possibly be a member of our family.   I was caught up in his emotion as he described the atmosphere which surrounded him and felt as if I was standing right there, next to him.  I had goosebumps and tears rolled down my cheeks.  Quite extraordinary!   My mind was spinning as I tried to think of our family history and who was in the First World War.  I have photographs of our Grandfather Ralph in uniform before he married our Grandmother but I couldn’t recall any other photographs of siblings in uniform.   I couldn’t wait to get home to pull out our Granny’s photograph album and my family tree which my Dad put together.

I had forgotten our Grandfather Ralph had had an older brother named Alexander, possibly because he doesn’t appear in any photographs except one, as a child.  My Dad passed away 16 years ago (oh my gosh, so long ago 😦 and I look at his photograph up on the wall above me as I sit here .. where have the years gone)   Wouldn’t I love to sit and chat to him today.  He would tell me the whole story as he probably did years ago, and maybe even several times (!)  but it had slipped my mind after years of not listening to his tales of younger days.

Thank goodness for the  Internet and digital social media as I found Great-Uncle Alexander’s name and more, relaying all the info to Peter in France

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While at Thiepval Memorial, Peter confirmed what I had found on the Internet and sent me this photo ..  (quite a few Keay’s I see !!!  Not a common spelling – I wonder if they are connected to our family in any way? )

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Memories jogged, and we remembered the story told by our grandmother of Alexander’s bravery as he protected a friend and fellow serviceman by covering his body.   An heroic deed or an elaboration of what really happened, no one knows.  My Dad had various medals in a box but none from WW1.  Alexander must have been given a medal, posthumously, of some sort, even a service medal.  I wonder if other members of the family have it … youngest brother Dan, or sister Laura ?  Oh how I wish I could speak to my Dad … … …

I had no idea that Peter had a book printed with his thoughts and experiences of the tour, he and nine fellow South Africans went on.  An emotional journey, one which I connected with and was so very moved by it all.   What a surprise I got the other day when a parcel arrived, from England, containing his book and a handwritten note to me, in a hand so similar to his mother’s !!!!

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Peter, thank you so much.   A treasure amongst our family history to be passed down.

I thought I’d add the photograph, from which Peter extracted the only image of Alexander I have :  l to r – Ralph (our Grandfather), Dan and Alexander

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Scrolling through umpteen websites (then, when Peter phoned me, and now, compiling this blog post)  on Delville Wood, Thiepval Memorial, 4th Regiment – South African Infantry, Battle of the Somme and more, I came across these two photographs of the 4th Regiment troops, in their Murray of Atholl kilts … both photos dated 1918.  Imagine these young men fighting this terrible war in these appalling conditions in kilts !!!

Men of the 4th South African Infantry Regiment take a rest along a road during the march of the South African Brigade out of action of Dernancourt to rest at Condas, 31 March 1918 (Delville Wood Museum)

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Rare and fascinating image of a South African fighting regiment in World War 1. Here South Africans from the 4th Regiment ‘South African Scottish’ perform a traditional ‘African Tribal War Dance’ with drawn bayonets and dancing in their distinctive ‘Murray of Atholl’ tartan kilts. The image was taken at the ‘Bull Ring’ in Etaples, France prior to the troops final deployment to trench warfare 18 June 1918. (Colourised by Royston Leonard from the UK)

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Hubby and I have been to France but our tour didn’t take in the North East.  It’s on my bucket list, not only to see WW1 sites but also do the Champagne area 😉

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Cosmos

No story behind the photograph ..

.. just a cosmos flower captured in the late afternoon  ..

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