Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some screen-savers for the girls.

So today - an answer to a question to the blog.

I have had a regular reader from Russia ask me whether we have flowers at La Rochelle. Quite aside from silly foot photos, he said that he thought La Rochelle had a Botanical Garden, and yet I don't ever show flowers. So today is just pics of flowers - courtesy of a guest who stayed last month - Ted.

All of these pics were taken over a three day period, and show (I hope) the diversity of floral life here at La Rochelle - if you just look around you!

And for all you girls out there - maybe one of these would make a good screen-saver for you?

The beauty of the Botanical Gardens at La Rochelle is that there are a lot of 'exotics' - plants from all over the world. While this annoys the purists, it does mean that we have something in flower pretty much all year round. This is winter in Zimbabwe - which means that the aloes are in bloom, and all is well with the world.....

There are in fact three distinctly different types of aloe in flower right now.

The aloes flowering means - sun birds. Lots of them, at this time of year.

Then there are the flowering plants - hands up who knows what this is called?

And the flowering trees - always a feature of La Rochelle....

And another of the same...

and a different flowering tree

With, as a final pic, a shot of the stream that flows through the garden almost all year round. This photo was taken down near the place that we host the wedding ceremonies.

So - in answer to your question, Ivor, "Yes - we do have flowers at La Rochelle"!

Have a great day

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Put your left foot in, put your right foot out!

Today's blog was inspired by a sign posted at our local Chicken Supplier and, as I like to do - here is a challenge for you all: Can you tell me what they are selling?

So the 'BUTION' part comes from the word 'distribution' cut in half. But do you need a closer look at the last item for sale? Here you go.......

So - here's the answer: Walkie-Talkies are bags of chicken heads and feet. And they are very popular in the local Supermarkets indeed. If you didn't know - and guessed right, consider yourself highly intelligent!

Here, then, a bag of  'Walkies' - in other words, just chicken feet. I could show you a bag of 'Talkies', but that is a little graphic, even for the "Sorry for that!" blog.

It looks as though some of the Walkies actually tried to escape....... but failed!

 So we eat feet? Of course we do. Herewith (for the second showing) a choice cut of goat ready for sale at our local butchery....


and some specially selected pork roasts, at our local pork shop....

 Sooooo............. they say 'You are what you eat'.


Which means that - to foreigners, we Zimbos must look pretty odd - considering our diet!

Here then, a couple of Zimbabweans admiring my now-flowering petunias, as we must appear to a foreigner........


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Have a great day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some small steps for mankind....

This past week-end, my wife and I went to Nyanga, for a rather special celebration - which turned out even more special than any of us had anticipated. Here are a couple of pics from our travels...

First off, for those of you who live outside of Zim (and we have regular readers of this blog from Ukraine, Russia, UAE, Lithuania, as well as the Aus, USA and UK folk) Nyanga is our highlands here in Zimbabwe. If you look at the relief map of Southern Africa, the largest feature are the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa - and the name refers to the fact that they look like a dragon's back. However, if the tip of the dragon's tail came off (like a lizard's tail can do) - then that is what our Nyanga, Chimanimani and Vumba mountains look like - the the dragon's tail. Thrashing about on the floor behind the dragon!

Here are some of the mountains visible on the way to Troutbeck where our ceremony was taking place...

Nyanga is cold - but we went there for the dedication of a child - a simple but poignant ceremony where thanks are given for the life, and the Godparents witness him being 'returned' to God. Nyanga is a great place for such ceremonies. Here is the view from the house we stayed at, and as this is our winter here, the frost lay 'deep and crisp and even' on the ground early in the morning:

Here is Riley and his Mom during the dedication. Riley has just turned 9 months old:

After the dedication, we had a "braai" - basically chicken, beef steaks, pork chops, sausages and kebabs grilled over hot coals, and then served with salads and sauces. Was this the really special thing that happened for Riley? Nope - this is normal Zimbo life:

So what could be greater than Riley's dedication, followed by a braai? Well - not long afterwards.....he started to walk! Just like that! A little wobbly at first, with lots of hands ready to catch him. But walking all the same! So here, for posterity on the "Sorry for that!" blog - is indisputable proof that 9-month old Mr Riley is a walker:

He was initially tempted across the floor by a bottle of nail varnish (polish?) - as you can see above, and this may cause him some odd fashion penchants when he grows up. But never mind that - he walked! For the first time. And I was there to see it. How cool is THAT???

And just look how well he was walking by the end of the evening! A real professional!

Have a great day! (But understand it won't be half as great as Riley's day was!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Parable of the Sower.

Before I start on today's blog - just a note from the past......

Regular readers will recall the blog titled "Stealing candy....... from a baby or two", posted on 7th June (you can see the old posts on the right of this page if you didn't read that one) in which I explained how we had set a trap to catch a thief. I also promised to let you know what happened, and the answer is....nothing much. After a couple of days of waiting, no-one came to steal again, so Shakemore - my shadowy figure in blue cap, was sent to 'Mad' Theresa's kraal - where we found the lost rucksacks and plastic lunch-boxes.

We spoke to her parents, and it turns out that Theresa had been perfectly normal, until a child of hers died - and that is when she went a bit loopy. Under the circumstances we asked the parents to make sure she didn't come and steal from us again - and let the matter drop. No pics, and no blog.

So now today's blog - and I promise that everything pictured is genuine - no 'doctoring' at all!

Most all of you have heard the "Parable of the Sower", and so when we decided that we would plant some petunias, we decided to make sure that we would sow our seed in fertile ground. We got some compost, fertilised the soil, and planted the seed in a nice straight line.......

And we are on the cusp of having some pretty cool (pardon the pun) flowers. They sure are coming along.......

Having taken great care to plant them out nicely, nurture them and feed them, we then watered them pretty much every day. It is hard to water such a narrow flower bed, but they are coming along nicely. Can you see which is the best petunia we have managed to grow?

Yes - you spotted it! The biggest and best plant is there - growing in the concrete, from a seed that fell onto stony ground! Believe it.

And we are not the only ones who like the 'stony ground' petunia! The dogs think it is pretty cool too...

So the lesson here is - if you want lots of plants - fertile is good. But if you want really big flowers, then sow your seed in stony, or even better, concrete ground.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Try and explain this? BOOM!!

Today we have one of those delightful 'African mysteries' - of which I am so fond.......

"The mystery of the unexplained booms". Brought to my attention by Sarah and Richard-John Palmer - thank you.

Two members of the group we recently hosted remained behind with after the others left, and the photos for todays blog were taken by Dana Warren on his way to Harare Airport - many thanks.

In case you don't know Dana - he was the only American to stay in the hotel over the entire month of June 2013 who was able to hold a wine glass properly. (Please see my blog titled "Un-bee-leave-able" posted on 28th June). He and his wife Julie accompanied us to the Greek Club in Mutare for a meal the night before they left - and I must state here that this is the best half chicken I have eaten in a very long time. A lot of effort & care has gone into upgrading standards there - highly recommended.

The thing is this. On the way to Harare, in an open field adjacent to the main highway at Macheke, there are two booms - facing each other. They are beautiful - with new paint, graduated boom arms, rubberised catch-plates, cemented legs, and perfectly balanced. But............they serve no purpose that I can see.

I know that some of you will have thought that the 'boom' referred to in the title today is an exclamation at the end of a sentence for emphasis (don't ask me how I know that - but I do!), however these are genuine metal booms. Here is a real, steel, hinged and painted boom - with the highway in the background, and the assorted waiting bus passengers, vendors, vagabonds and smoke from fires used to roast mealies who will all confirm that this is, indeed, a main arterial road.

So here is ......... a boom in a field:

And........there is not just one of them - there are two - facing each other.

Another view looking away from the road - this time showing the complete lack of roads, buildings, or nuclear power stations in that particular Macheke field... But with the booms standing proudly! (The one in the background is a little tricky to spot - but it is there!

Another view of the booms - taken facing south and the second boom a bit easier to spot - with the balancing rock of Macheke in the background....

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who can explain what purpose these booms serve, can write to me with suggestions. The prize will be global exposure in the worlds' best-loved-blog!!

Have a great day! BOOM!!!!!!Link to purchase "Sorry for that!" in book form

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stand back Escoffier. (And all other classical chefs!)

Those of you who know Mutare well will have had occasion to eat at the 'Pork Club' - otherwise known as the Portuguese Club.

Quite aside from being politically incorrect, calling it the 'Pork' Club is very misleading because when you eat there you have a choice of chicken. Not pork. Chicken.

Just that.

Chicken. Flame-gilled. The only real decision you have to make is if you want the left side of the chicken.....or the right side of the chicken.

Spiced with peri peri, it can be mild, medium or hot. But that's your choice - half-chicken and chips. And very nice it is too - to be eaten with the hands only!

So when a family relative - Erin, came home at age 19 after leaving at age 9, those folk who knew her gathered at the Portuguese Club for chicken. Here, then, our merry band...

And here are the misguided youth of Mutare. Kind of scary, no?

And just how do you cook 24 half-chickens so that they are ready at the same time? Well, the check-list is quite simple really...

1) Build a brick fireplace in your kitchen
2) Fill it with really, really hot coals
3) Find a chef
4) Buy a nice white uniform for the chef
5) Find him a pair of long tongs so that he won't get burned as he turns the chickens
6) Get 24 half-chickens and smear them with peri peri
7) Cook the chickens over the open flames turning constantly
8) Serve when ready

Oh well.........6 out of 8 ain't bad!

or.......wait, has he got tongs in his other hand? Let's see.........

Nope! No wonder the chicken is so tasty! (Very!)

Have a great day!