Monday, November 11, 2013

Bats, bangs and Peter's house.

Today's blog is bouncing all over the place - a real mixed bag!

I had a response to last week's post of the animal kingdom invading La Rochelle, and I was asked by a Blog Reader whether or not we had bats flying in as well as kingfishers? Well they are here in numbers, and I simply never mentioned them because they are a constant, and not as a result of changing weather or freak hailstorms. Beneath the tower of the hotel is a crawl-space, and here lives a healthy colony of.......bats. Lots of them. They fly into the veranda of the hotel every evening seeking out the bugs attracted by the lights. So silent - you never even notice them until you look for them, as they are like fleeting shadows.

The following picture has been posted on the blog before - about a year or so ago, but it is a stunning photograph, and well worth repeating - just to prove to the White Horse Inn that.... yup, we got bats!

But there have been other visitors into the hotel. Yesterday morning a group of Americans were making their way to the car when they spotted this little fellow in the courtyard of La Rochelle. He is a centipede-eater (though I wrongly identified him to them as a slug-eater. I just got my bugs mixed up!) and he is extremely rare - only being found in this little patch of Zimbabwe, though he is found in other parts of Africa in different guises. In fact, the first time I found one, I thought it was a baby Spitting Cobra; only folk from these parts would know what he is. But a pretty snake all the same:

This past week we travelled to Peterhouse - the school that my daughters attend, for Speech Day. The night before the junior school, called Springvale House, always puts on a fireworks display - this being about the time of year that Guy Fawkes tried to blow his government up. (What an astute fellow he must have been!!). I am not a photographer, and my poor old camera has been through many wars, but I must say that though I took many pictures of dark and starless skies - I managed to get one 'bang' almost perfectly....

Before the ceremonies the following morning, tea and snacks were served under the shade of a large tree which dates back to my own time at Peterhouse. What an old tree it is! To the side and presiding serenely over the day-to-day life of the school, is the Chapel, where Prize-giving was to be held.

The Speech Day and Prize-giving Ceremonies took place in the Chapel - this is from the front looking back at the entrance

For folk from abroad, the concept of stained glass windows in Africa seems a strange one. This is a closer view of the stained glass window, which was commissioned especially for the Peterhouse Chapel, and which incorporates many of the symbols of the school - first and foremost being a strong Christian tradition:

The massed Senior Choir, comprising both boys and girls in spite of the fact that it was the Girls' School Speech Day, sung 'Awaken the music', and then there were speeches and prize-giving. This is the Mixed Senior Choir performing in the chapel, with the organ pipes forming a perfect frame:

One of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the day, was the announcement of next year's Head Girl - replacing this year's Head Girl - Kudzai Zinyengere, who has carried out her duties exceptionally well under difficult circumstances. Next year the Head Girl of Peterhouse Girls will be Heidi Christen - an extremely popular choice if the reaction of the school is anything to go by, and I am sure she will prove very level-headed in the job. Here she is in a hut in Nyanga with my daughter Cara...

Here's wishing Heidi all the very best for 2014!

Have a great day!