Monday, 27 October 2008

Blog Updates

We are back in Canada now but will be continuing to do regular updates of some of our past travels and activities - please see below.

You can check out our Facebook photo albums which are linked and listed on the right hand side of the blog here.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Sunshine Coast

Not much sunshine on the Sunshine Coast for us - cloudy and rainy again today - but it was good to catch up with another old friend. Above - Lois McKee (left) who visited us in Canada with Kathy in 1993. On the right is her husband, Keith, who we'd not met before and who is Kathy's brother.

In the evening we enjoyed another delicious meal with Allana and Skilly, our hosts - this time sushi made by Skilly.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Family Visit

Today we went to visit Jenny's step-aunt, Janet Sutherland, who lives in Buderim. After tea at her house in a retirement village we went for lunch at the beach front at Mooloolaba - one of the more popular and upmarket areas of the coast. After that it had cleared enough for us to take a drive up to Point Cartwright and for a walk up to a view point by the modern light house. Below is the view looking down Buddina beach. To the left - out to sea - we saw a pod of whales swimming south for the summer -unfortunately too far out to get on a photo.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Yesterday we flew from Perth to Brisbane and are staying with Allana (daughter of Kathy and John Tosswill) and John Skillington at their beautiful home in Kiels Mountain on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane.

Today we went to Mudjimba beach just north of Maroochydore where we enjoyed some sun, beach and a picnic.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Trees Ahoy !

In many parts of the South West there are big tracts of Karri trees growing. The Karri tree is unique to this part of Australia and they can grow up to 90m tall - one of the tallest tress in the world. They only reach their top height in 100-125 years and can live to be 350 years or more.

Today we drove down to Pemberton and went to the Gloucester Tree which contains a fire look-out platform at the top - about 61m above the ground. (See more information below about these unique structures and the history behind this particular one.) Tim and Gordon climbed to the top on the metal-spike ladder/stairway - an amazing experience with photos below :

A view of the tree (with the bottom part cut off) the platform is just visible at the top

The start of the ladder/stairway

Gordon begins the climb

Trees ahoy - the view over the surrounding forest from the crows nest on top

Tim and Gordon relieved that they made it to the top

Gordon on the final descent

Excerpt from the WA Department of Environment and Conservation web site :

The Gloucester Tree, in Gloucester National Park, is probably Western Australia's most famous Karri tree. This 60-metre-high giant towers above the forest surrounding Pemberton. In the past, foresters maintained a regular fire lookout from its lofty crown. Today, visitors climb to the cabin in its upper branches for sensational views of the surrounding karri forest.

The Gloucester Tree was one of eight lookout trees built between 1937 and 1952 in the karri forest. The construction of fire lookout towers in the tallest trees of Western Australia's karri forest was the practical response to one of the most serious threats to forest communities in the South-West.

The Gloucester Tree lookout was built in 1947, in the highest of the tall karri trees near Pemberton. The floor of its cabin sits 58 metres above the ground. The tree was one of a group on a ridge overlooking the Eastbrook in an area that had not been logged when timber cutting operations of the Pemberton Sawmill passed through. Conveniently located just three kilometres from Pemberton, it gives a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

The suitability of the tree as a lookout was verified by forester Jack Watson after an epic climb. Using climbing boots and a belt to scale the tree, it took him six hours to reach a height of 58 metres and return. The ascent was made more difficult by the massive girth of the tree, some 7.3 metres, and the fact that limbs had to be negotiated from 39.6 metres. This feat is claimed to be a record climb, and is widely recognised in forestry circles as one of the greatest efforts of courage and endurance in the Australian forest.

Pegging the ladder, and lopping of the branches, was carried out by another legendary south-western forester, George Reynolds. During this work, a branch which he had cut through twisted in its fall and snapped off a number of pegs. George remained aloft for several hours while his assistant Len Nicol repegged the damaged section from below.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Bridgetown Break

Today we drove down to Bridgetown in the South Western part of the state. The News had rented a holiday house for the week - as seen below, nestled on a hill with a beautiful easterly view over the Blackwood River valley. The area reminds us of a mix between Wales and Inyanga - very beautiful.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Marsupial Fun

Today we visited the Marapana Wildlife Park near Rockingham where we are staying south of Perth, Australia.

Cai loved feeding the animals - a deer (above) and then he got a chance to pat a baby kangaroo (called a joey) in it's mother's pouch - below

Since the friends we are staying with know the owners of the park we got special treatment to visit the koala bears and to get up close to them

Above - a baby holding on to its mother and chewing on a eucalyptus leaf; below - an adult in a typical position in a tree

Above - Cai got to feed the adult; below Jenny holding one of the adults - a female called Crystal who is very cuddly

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

G'day Mate

Today we arrived in Perth, Western Australia after a good flight from Johannesburg although very restless for all of us being that it was overnight but with a 6 hour time change.

We were met at the airport by my old Plumtree friend Tim New who had had to "chuck a sickie" - take a day off work "sick" - to do so ! Reminded me of a book I read many years ago called "Lets Stalk Strine" - an amusing tome about how to talk Australian.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Rugby Fun in Durban

Pete and Gaye are avid rugby fans and have season tickets to the games in Durban. They were able to get some extra tickets for this afternoon's very important Currie Cup match between Durban Sharks and Pretoria Blue Bulls.

Pete bought Cai a Sharks t-shirt so that he would be sure to cheer for the right side ! (Cai thoroughly enjoyed the game)

It was one of the best rugby games any of us had ever watched and closely won by the Sharks to elevate them to the top of the standings

Afterwards we enjoyed the Durban tailgate party which has supposedly been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world .... with rump steaks fit for a king and cooked to perfection

Gaye and Jenny celebrate the Shark's victory and a reunion after many years !

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Pietermaritzburg Visits

Today we drove up to Pietermaritzburg where we caught up with Andrew and Clare Clarkson, who we saw a lot of in Zambia, (left and right below); Clare's sister Karen (second left) and Anne Lowe, Clare's Mum, (second from right)

Jenny and Cai were delighted to see Andrew and Clare's new baby, Leo Keith (second name same as Gordon's - both after Leo's granfather Keith Harvey)

We also caught up with Jenny's step-mother, Bingie (Ingrid) Tanner, who now lives in Maritzburg and who was pleased to hear that she is a (step) great-grand mother !

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

uShaka Marine World

Today we visited uShaka Marine World the re-vamped Durban aquarium which we used to visit when we were kids

Highlight of the visit was the dolphin show which featured a total of nine dolphins in three separate group perfornaces - quite amazing

For Cai the other highlight was seeing a diver in one of the large tanks feeding the fish and many varieties of rays

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Durban Reunions

After 5 months in Zambia we have embarked on a fairly long journey back to Canada visiting family and friends along the way.

First stop is Durban, South Africa where we are staying with Gaye and Peter Goodridge. Gaye and Jenny were at high school together at Eveline and it was through Gaye that Jenny and Gordon met back in 1974 ! Gaye and Peter were at the Eveline reunion in France in April so Jenny had seen them there but Gordon had not seen Gaye since 1988 and never met Peter before ! In the photo below we are celebrating at a Portugese restaurant called Mozambik in Ballito.

We also caught up with Gordon's aunt (Rita's sister), uncle and cousins who also live in Durban and who we had not seen for 20 years ! From left - uncle Pat, Jenny, Cai, cousin Chris and his wife Roseanne, Rita (also visiting), and cousin Marion.

Monday, 18 August 2008

August 17 - Saying of the Week

Cai is speaking very well - long sentences, clear diction and amazing comprehension. The other day he said to me "I've got a snotty nose. Do you have a kleenex ?"

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Zambian Bird List

Here's a list of birds that have been seen around the farm house or with-in a 20km radius while we have moved through the area since late March. Many of them are very common but several have never seen before, so quite exciting. Likely some of the more unusual ones are wintering in Zambia before moving south again for the summer.

The list will be updated as new sightings are made with the more recent ones at the top of the list :

Stonechat (July 10)
Longbilled Crombec
Miombo Rock Thrush
(July 1)
Bluegrey Flycatcher (June 30)
Yellowbellied Sunbird
Tropical Boubou
Viloetbacked Sunbird (June 29)
Greyheaded Bush Shrike
Chispot Batis
Blackheaded Oriole
Black Flycatcher (June 28)
Namaqua Dove
Green Spotted Dove
Yellow White Eye
Fortailed Drongo
Blue Waxbill
Cape Turtle Dove
Swainsons Franklin
Pied Crow
African Pied Wagtail
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
Heuglin's Robin
Blackeyed Bulbul
House Sparrow
Lilacbreasted Roller

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Victoria Falls Fun

During her recent visit to Zimbabwe Jenny took a week-end break at Victoria Falls with Carol.

Above : viewing the Falls; Below : enjoying dinner at The Boma Restaurant

Above : going for an elephant ride; Below : feeding their "steed" after the ride

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sunset Shadows

Cai and Bumpa watching the sun set with some interesting shadows on the garden wall

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Bronwen's Zambian Outfit

The headmaster of the school and his wife were very taken with Bronwen and all her efforts in connecting and working at the school and in the community. So before she left Zambia they took her to a tailor in Kapiri, had her measured up and this traditional Zambian outfit made for her. They had a matching one made for their own daughter, who Bronwen had interacted with, as a reminder of their Canadian "daughter" !

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Watermelon and Campfires

In the abscence of a supply of grapes Cai has been quite happy to have watermelon instead. A good thing as they are in season right now and a large one can be bought for the equivalent of $ 1.20 !

We have been enjoying lots of campfires in the evenings around the fire pit built by the Taylor team.