‘The Wine Kingdom: Celebrating conservation in the Cape winelands’

It’s a book.   It’s a beautiful book.   And my first published images are in this book :) :) :)

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A short intro ….   In November last year, when hubby and I were visiting family in the Cape, we decided to do a ‘walk through vineyards’ at Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley.   We love walking .. and we love wine !!    Combining the two seemed a really good idea :) :)

We found it fascinating!  Not only did we walk amongst the vines but the route we followed went through fynbos (natural vegetation or Cape Floral Kingdom), through thick riverine bush along a stream, a steep climb to the top of a ridge, along the ridge, then down again along part of trail used, on that day, by hundreds of cyclists in an annual cycling event – Wines2Whales .. and then back amongst the vines again.   We had no idea the walk would incorporate for the most part, a fascinating and interesting diversion into environmental conservation where alien and invasive flora are being eradicated, thus encouraging indigenous vegetation to flourish.  My posts refer :



A few months ago, I was contacted by Sue Ras, Biodiversity Communications Co-ordinator at WWF-SA, if a few of my images from our walk at Bouchard Finlayson can be used for a coffee table book on the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI).  I nearly fell off my chair when I read the email !! :)  I didn’t tell anyone (except Jeanette as she had to help me with photo sizing etc)  .. just in case my photos weren’t included in the book

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Well .. they were !!!   .. and I am delighted!!

Sue arranged for a copy .. for me (see smiley face :)).. of the book to be sent to their Johannesburg offices, which I collected a few days ago.  Wow !!  It’s amazing!!  I didn’t expect it to be that big .. and full of absolutely beautiful photographs !!  192 pages of stunning photos and   “a beautiful story of the power of people working together, re-remembering their role as custodians of the land”  Morné du Plessis – CEO,WWF-SA


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What an interesting book !!!   It’s the story of conservation in the Cape Winelands … reclaiming our natural heritage by committed wine landowners and their communities

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Within only 10 ‘short’ conservation years, between 2005 and 2015, nearly a third of the Western Cape’s wine farms stepped up to be part of this immense restoration of the fynbos and protection of all the associated creatures that call it home.  This has been a wonderful example of how large-scale change can happen collaboratively to have a positive impact at river-catchment level, and landscape-scale – well beyond individual farm gates ”  Morné du Plessis – CEO, WWF-SA

I could go on and on, quoting from the book, as each page I turn is as interesting as the last.  Let’s flip through it  …

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BWI members commitment to conservation :  list of all BWI Champions and Members, including Producer Cellars, and their hectare contribution to conservation …

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11 pages of Conservation Champions : “Over the last decade a third of industry wine producers have committed to reducing their overall environmental impact.  And 10 percent of these are producers who have showcased their efforts as global leaders of environmental sustainability and conservation”

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.. and herein lies my full page spread  …  see big smiley face :)   … walking through the vineyards and fynbos at Bouchard Finlayson ..   (do you spot hubby in large pic? :) )

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I am so pleased to see Vergelegen Estate here : (“under the owner-ship of Anglo American, the estate was the first to be awarded BWI Champion status in March 2005”) I am pleased because this Estate was always my Mum’s favourite.  Whenever I went down to Somerset West to visit her in the Old Aged Home, I always took her there for tea or lunch and a walk-about the beautiful gardens (she loved beautiful gardens), particularly the rose garden where there is a huge bed filled with Sylvia roses .. her namesake :)

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Super book isn’t it?  I’m sure you’d like a copy ;)

This book is for the passionate wine lover who wants to learn more about their favourite farm and it’s unique terroir, the curious armchair conservationist keen to look beyond the vineyards, as well as those who love the splendour of the Cape Floral Kingdom and have the privilege to call this home or the adventurous tourist keen to explore all corners of the exquisite Cape winelands!”

To purchase :
Please contact Vongani Rikhotso at :   info@wwf.org.za
Tel: 021 882 9085

Price : R400 excl. VAT    –  or R456 incl. VAT

… and … blowing my own trumpet here … there’s my name :)  .. in print … in a book !!! :) Yay !!

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Posted in awards, books, Cape, me, photography, South Africa, wine, wine estates | 4 Comments

Lovely lavender … yet again!!

Forgive me ;)   I took these pics the other morning, early .. while sipping my morning tea, when the sky was clear and the air was fresh with a hint of lavender around me,  and the rising sun glistened on purple tips

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Also in my garden is this unusual white lavender.  One small plant which I have unsuccessfully tried to propagate :(  It’s a type of Lavender Stoechas (winter lace perhaps?)

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Bird in a bush …

Every morning a masked weaver collects lavender leaves to line his nest.  Very difficult to capture as he’s very quick .. chirping and nipping off one leaf at a time until he finds the right one!!!   I’m hoping lady weaver will accept his handy work and choose his aromatic nest to lay her eggs and bring up her babies :)

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And there he flies … with his chosen leaf ..


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A stroll .. a lunch .. and a Black Eagle in the park

Continuing from our visit to Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind, (my posts: part 1 and part 2) … hubby and I, together with Mark, Cheryl and Aussie friends, we stopped, on our way home, at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens for a light lunch

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Only in Africa !!!!

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Cape Weaver nibbling on titbits…

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Clivias en masse

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Photos don’t do justice to the brilliant shades of oranges to yellows on the forest floor …

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After lunch,  a stroll to Witpoortjie waterfall ..

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Residents to the gardens are a pair of Black Eagles which nest next to the waterfall …

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We were privileged to see Kendi, fledging of the pair of resident Black Eagles, testing his wings ..  (thank heavens for a zoom lens!)

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Bright midday sun is not ideal for landscape pics ..

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.. zoomed in to a Cape Weaver building his nest over the river   ..   (Zoom lens working over-time in the gardens !!)

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The gardens are spectacular at this time of year (and at any time of year ;) )  … filled with only indigenous plants and trees.   Vast improvements have been made over the years creating a beautiful garden and experience for all

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We sadly bid farewell to our Aussie family and friends, the following day, as they continued their fabulous 52 day journey around Southern Africa .. wishing them safe travels .. and hope to see you all again soon xxx

Posted in birds, flowers, friends, garden, Outing, photography, plants, restaurants | 3 Comments

Flowers for Friday

I’m quite lost when I don’t collect my grandsons from school, like today, being a school holiday.  Jeanette has the day off from work to spend time with her boys.  No doubt I shall end up in the garden a little later when it cools down a bit but thought I’d share some flower pics I took recently.   At the moment the days are hot with no sign of rain unfortunately, so I am needing to get out there to water

Mackaya Bella …

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‘Christmas cactus’ …

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Arum lily …

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Azalea ..

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Camellia ..

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White Japanese Roof Iris ..

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Iris …

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Petrea ..

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Iris …

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Nemesia ..

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Cape May …

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Clivia …

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Pretty succulent flowers …

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Banksia …

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Flowering quince ..

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A very late flowering plum (prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’) … my large bush finished flowering a few weeks ago ..

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Leaves of my new flowering plum .. prunus blireana .. which turn a deep green instead of the staying purple as the prunus above  ..

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One of my favourites at this time of the year … brunfelsia – ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ ..

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My garden is filled with their perfume, especially early morning and evening .. these are three of five I have growing :)

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Happy Friday, and weekend, peeps ;)


Posted in flowers, garden, home | 1 Comment

National Heritage Day

Today is National Heritage Day or National Braai Day, as it’s becoming known!!!!

Both hubby and I are from Zimbabwe.  We are Rhodesians by birth and South Africans by ‘adoption’.    I am a member of the Rhodesian Pioneer Society, as both my parents were born in Rhodesia, so links to my heritage go way, way back!!

The National Flower of South Africa is a King Protea, which I don’t have growing in my garden sadly.  Proteas don’t do well for me.  I’ve tried .. they die :(   I do have Flame Lilies, the National Flower of my home country, but they haven’t popped up yet.  They start sprouting from the ground after the rains start and flower just in time for Christmas.

Soooo .. I can’t show you a King Protea or a Flame Lily – national flowers of our adopted home and our home country …  but I can show you a strelitzia, native to South Africa .. and growing in my garden :)

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Happy Heritage Day !!!!

Posted in flowers, garden, home, photography, South Africa | 1 Comment

Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind and Homo naledi : part 2

Following on from previous post which highlighted Maropeng in the World Heritage Site of Cradle of Mankind, about 50 km from Johannesburg :-

Having been through the most interesting visitors centre in the Tumulus building, Onica, our very knowledgeable guide, ushered us into the Original Fossil Display area where we were privileged to see the Homo naledi fossils. The fossils were found by recreational cavers Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter in September 2013 in a dolomite cave system called Rising Star.  The discovery, which was unveiled at Maropeng, has been featured on front pages around the world.  Homo naledi has been identified as an entirely new species of early human ancestor, which scientists believe may have deliberately disposed of its dead – a behaviour that has been thought to be unique to humans

I was there :) !! ..

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“There were some 1 550 specimens in all, representing at least 15 individuals.  Skulls. Jaws.  Ribs.  Dozens of teeth.  A nearly complete foot.  A hand, virtually every bone intact, arranged as in life.  Minuscule bones of an inner ear.  Elderly adults.  Juveniles.  Infants, identified by their thimble-size vertebrae.”  quote from National Geographic, Oct 2015 by Paleoanthropologist, Professor Lee Berger

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The exact age of the fossils is still to be determined – Prof Berger is quoted in Sunday Times Sept 13, 2015  ” if Homo naledi turned out to be older than two million years, ‘it would represent the earliest appearance of Homo that is based on more than just an isolated fragment’.  But, if the fossils were less than a million years old, ‘it would demonstrate that several different types of ancient humans all existed at the same time in southern Africa, including an especially small-brained form like Homo naledi’  

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In the corner of the display room was a full size reconstruction of Australopitheacus sediba  (I suppose as a comparison)

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I found the whole experience fascinating and extremely interesting ..

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On the way out …

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I couldn’t pass handprints of Nelson Mandela without comparing mine :) ..

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… and footprint of Archbishop Desmond Tutu :)

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Panoramic view from here …

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Hubby and our Australian friends chatting while we wait for the others …

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Intriguing wall with Di in the foreground …

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Walking up to the Lookout Point, I popped into the kiddies cave …

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Lookout Point .. same view as before just higher ;)

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Di, again, in restorative pose :)

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You are missing out on something very special if you haven’t been yet

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Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind and Homo naledi : part 1

We’ve had visitors from Australia staying with us, hence no posts for a while.  Hubby’s cousin, and wife .. Mark and Cheryl … were accompanied by five friends, one of whom had come with them on a previous visit with her hubby about 16 years ago.  So, we had a houseful with Mark, Cheryl, Paul, Carmel and Di, and Ron and Gita staying in a guest house up the road.

One of the things we did altogether was to go to Maropeng in the Cradle of Mankind.

The Cradle of Mankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kms northwest of Johannesburg, in Gauteng province.  The site currently occupies 47 000 hectares and it contains a complex of limestone caves.’

“In the centre of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, and only 10km from the Sterkfontein Caves where some of the most significant palaeoanthropological finds of all time have been made, the award-winning Maropeng Visitor Centre brings the story of humankind’s evolution to life.

The Maropeng Visitor Centre lies on the side of a hill among ancient rocky outcrops, and has been designed to appear to arriving visitors as a 20m-high grass-covered tumulus (ancient burial mound).”   

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For more info :-  http:// www.maropeng.co.za

Hubby and I had never been there before, nor to the Sterkfontein Caves, which I think is a must now ;)   The timing couldn’t have been better with the breaking news from Maropeng, last week, of the discovery of Homo naledi fossils, and has been featured on front pages around the world.      Naturally, I took loads of photos throughout the visitors centre as well as the Homo naledi fossil display … choosing for a post was difficult !!!!!

Part 1 : Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind

Our very knowledgeable guide, Onica stopped at points of interest along the path to the Tumulus building and elaborated on each inscribed stone, two skulls and an insight into what we will experience inside ..

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‘Mrs Ples’ – 2.05 million years old – discovered by Dr Robert Broom and his assistant Dr John T Robinson at Sterkfontein in 1947

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Harry the Hominid greets everyone as they pass  ..

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Going down the ramp ... we ’embark on a journey back in  time to when the world began.  A timeline highlights some of the major events in our earth’s history’ ..

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The boat ride :  was fun!!  Boat seats 4 and being round, it turns as it bumps against the sides.  You have to duck in parts and watch your back etc.  The adventure starts at the present and continues on a trip back through time, retracing the various stages of the creation of our earth, through snow, ice, water, the formation of the earth’s crust and when the earth was a fiery ball of molten rock …

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We then had to walk through the Vortex … a bridge with sides bars (fortunately) through a turning tunnel, with psychedelic colours!!!   Signifies the Big Bang Theory.  It was not long at all, but most of us walked off as if we’d had far too much to drink !!

An audio visual presentation was next, showing how the earth and its continents were formed millions of years ago ..



Birth of the Cradle of Humankind: ‘An interactive zone where cave formation and evolution as a science is introduced via various hands on interactive displays, audio visuals and graphic panels’ ..

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Path to Humanity :  Human evolution is explored through audio visual displays, graphic panels and life-like recreations of species based on the original fossils and environment ..

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Model of location site of ‘Little Foot’ an Australopithecus fossil – about 2.2 million years old – discovered by palaeonthropologist Dr Ronald Clarke.

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Very interesting short documentary of Dr Clarke’s discovery …

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I got quite excited when I saw Prof Phillip Tobias appear on the screen.  As a secretary, way, way back, I worked in a division of a large corporation which dealt with funding for projects, non-profit organisations, University bursaries, sabbaticals  etc and Prof Tobias was a regular recipient :)

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Spot the ancestor …

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Sustainability wall :  ‘the wall explores human impact on the environment and how, as the first species to control the environment, we are impacting on the world as we know it’ ..

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What it means to be human :  ‘9 characteristics that make us human are explored with links to the modern world and the gradual build up of human/environmental interaction over time’ ..

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Part 2 follows:   Onica, ushered us into the display room where we were privileged to see this most extraordinary discovery … Homo naledi

Of course, I made a bee-line for the book shops the following day and bought a copy of National Geographic ..

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