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Happy Halloween!
October 31, 2013

Halloween is here and it is the first time I get to celebrate the Samhain knowing I am now a full time resident in the United Kingdom, after leaving the beautiful Cape of South Africa for good in mid-July, 2013.
The origins of this fete lies in the ancient Celtic festival of the end of harvest in the Gaelic culture where they took stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.
Where and when did Halloween customs originate? The many customs we have today in relation to Halloween have their origins in the religious practices of the Romans and the Druids, therefore dating back many centuries. The Romans worshiped various gods and on October 31, a special feast was held in honour of Pomona, goddess of the fruit trees. Later, the Druids, an ancient order of Celtic priests in Britain, made this feast an even more extensive celebration by also honoring Samhain, lord of the dead. This was normally done on November 1 and it was therefore decided to conveniently honor both Pomona and Samhain on October 31 and November 1.
These Druids believed that on the night before November 1 (October 31) Samhain called together wicked souls or spirits which had been condemned to live in the bodies of animals during the year which had just transpired. Since they were afraid of these spirits, they chose October 31 as a day to sacrifice to their gods, hoping they would protect them. They really believed that on this day they were surrounded by strange spirits, ghosts, witches, fairies, and elves, who came out to hurt them. In addition to this, they also believed that cats were holy animals, as they considered them to represent people who lived formerly, and as punishment for evil deeds were reincarnated as a cat. All this explains why witches, ghosts, and cats are a part of Halloween today.
The custom of trick-or-treating and the use of “jack-o’-lanterns” comes from Ireland. Hundreds of years ago, Irish farmers went from house to house, begging for food, in the name of their ancient gods, to be used at the village Halloween celebration. They would promise good luck to those who gave them good, and made threats to those who refused to give. They simply told the people, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”
The apparently harmless lightened pumpkin face or “jack-o’-lantern” actually is an old Irish symbol of damned soul. A man named Jack was supposed to be able unable to enter heaven due to his miserliness, and unable to enter hell because he had played practice jokes on the devil. As a result, he was condemned to wander over the earth with his lantern until judgment day (i.e., the end of the world). The Irish were so afraid that they would receive an identical plight, that they began to hollow out pumpkins and place lighted candles inside to scare away evil spirits from their home.
When did the modern Halloween celebration begin?

During the Middle Ages (about 600 years ago), the Roman Catholic Church at that time, decided to make the change-over from pagan religion to Christianity a bit easier, and therefore allowed the new converts to maintain some of their pagan feasts. It was agreed, however, that from now on they would be celebrated as “Christian” feats. So instead of praying to thwir heathen gods, they would now pray to, and remember the deaths of saints. For this reason the church decided to call November 1 the “Day of All Saints,” and the mass to be celebrated on that day “Alhallowmass.” In consequence of this, the evening prior to this day was named, “All Hallowed Evening” which subsequently was abbreviated as “Halloween.” In spite of this effort to make October 31 a “holy evening,” all the old customs continued to be practiced, and made this evening anything BUT a holy evening!
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For Mothers on Mother’s Day
May 12, 2013

Upon waking this morning my friend Doug sent me a text message on his cell phone:
“Good Morning Sue – and what you think about joining us, – Me ‘n Shaz at Seagulls restaurant for a Mother’s Day lunch? Cath is treating Shaz, so I’ll treat you, seeing as your children aren’t here?”
To fill you in, Cath is Doug and Shaz’ daughter, and Seagulls is a restaurant situated in the tiny holiday village, L’Agulhas which is the last inhabited place at the southernmost tip of Africa.
I do not think my friends know how much it means to me to have received that message today – it brought a lump to my throat and made me feel terribly emotional. You see, I am here on my own trying to wrap up the sale of our home in Cape Agulhas, Graham, (my hubby) is working under gruelling conditions in Uganda on an agricultural project and my daughters, son-in-law and grandsons are all in England. My Mom is eight hours drive from me up the east coast of South Africa. As I’ve visited her recently, I cannot afford to visit her again until our house transaction is through.
With my friend’s kind gesture, it brought me to think of the many mother’s, (including my beloved mother) step-mothers and adoptive mothers who are spending this day on their own.
It’s for them that I write this Blog today:
We, as mothers, have all had mothers and grandmothers, an aunt or god-mother who has been an important part of our life. Someone who kissed a grazed knee or stroked a fevered brow, made us packed lunches and drove us back-wards and forwards on school runs.
A woman who cheered us on at school sport’s day and ran in the mother’s race, and even if she came in last, she was our heroine.
A woman who told us it didn’t matter that our report card was not brilliant, Einstein was dyslexic and look how he turned out!
A woman who kept all our drawings and little notes from when we first knew how to put pencil to paper.
A woman who taught us that fairies and angels really did exist and that the world was full of beautiful things.
A woman who cried with us over our first heartbreak and wrapped us in her arms and made everything feel OK.
A woman who saw us out into the big wide world and kept a lighted candle burning in the window if we ever needed to return.
A woman who saw the wonderment when we ourselves became a mother and we could only understand the burning protectiveness and unconditional love a mother has over her own child.
I think of all the mothers who have to face the death of their own mothers, or the loss of a beloved child. The empty feeling they must have to face each year when Mother’s Day is celebrated. They cannot make a phone call to say “I love you dearly”, but what I do know is Mother’s Day is for remembering our mothers because their spirit remains within us and our children and our children’s children.
The whole world’s most celebrated day of the year is Mother’s Day as everyone has a mother. It does not matter what religion, creed or colour you are, Mother’s Day is important to all of us.
Happy Mother’s Day, – especially to Mothers who are on their own and feel sadness at loved ones who are not with them.
Love and Light to: My Mom, Debi, Kerry, Taryn, Johnno, Lochlan & Mason.
©Susan Cook-Jahme, Freelance Writer

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"Wear the Most Important Hat that Fits"
May 2, 2013

I saw a teapot being auctioned off on one of those shows on TV, and fell in love with it and thought my son-in-law would too. As I could not afford to buy a Clarice Cliff original, an illustration was the next best thing I could give him. So here is an image of my offering:

“chooks for Johnno” Copyright-Susan Cook-Jahme

One thing I have learnt in life, “Wear the Most Important Hat that Fits” when it comes to being creative. Wake up every day and be excited at the prospect of what your are really good at and enjoy doing and you will become successful and happy.

Love and Light,
Susan

Have Camper Van, must Travel, Portobello to Akorora, Banks Peninsula
December 12, 2012

The next morning we took time to explore the Otago Peninsula, driving to Taiaroa Head to see the Albatross Colony fortifications at the extreme tip of the peninsula.

The road ended at Penguin Beach on farmland owned by the Reid family who manage and run a conservation effort called Nature’s Wonders. Here, the world’s rarest penguins, yellow-eyed or Hoiho penguins, (Maori for “Noise-Shouter”) and little blue penguins live in harmony with New Zealand fur seals, sea lions and a vast variety of birds.

“Fur seals look like old Russian men in big hats” I said to Graham.

“Well,” Graham replied, “better not mess with these old Russian men, take a look at their rows of sharp teeth!”

I laughed, “Better not try drinking their vodka, or eating their smoked fish, I guess.”

On our return to the main land, we stopped at one of the many artist’s craft studios, “Happy Hens” to see Yvonne Sutherland’s ceramic hens. Absolutely delightful, they are based on traditional poultry breeds once kept by the pioneering women on the island. They are a well established part of New Zealand folk art and are exported all over the world.

I wanted to buy one so badly, but was reminded by Graham that I would have to carry it all the way back to South Africa, so I left with a brochure and a promise to myself that one day I’d return, live in South Island and have a house full of the bright chooks!

On the side of the road we saw “Fletcher House”, a restored Victorian villa from around 1909. As we are fortunate to have a number of similar houses in Cape Town, we did not bother to stop, but turned down Castelwood Road to take a look at Lanarch Castle.

This is New Zealand’s only castle, built in 1871, standing regally in its well manicured gardens. It’s walls holding the secrets of tragic and scandalous tales from long ago.

As we discovered there was an entrance fee into the Castle and the grounds, we moved on towards Port Chalmers on Route 1, heading up the east coast.

The views over Otago’s harbour and the landscape were amazing and Port Chalmer’s appeared to boast many artist’s studios, boutiques and galleries. Many of them housed in the port’s original buildings.

“We’ll earmark this place, and come back sometime,” Graham promised.

He knew I was longing to stop and mooch around, but was also aware if I had my way, we would never reach our evening destination, Akorora.

“Did you know that this was the birthplace of New Zealand’s modern export trade?” I asked, “In 1882, the Island’s first cargo of frozen meat left and arrived 98 days later in Great Britain, still frozen. Since then the Kiwi’s have been known as very good frozen meat exporters.”

Graham looked across at me, “Good old New Zealand lamb!”

We travelled through Palmerston, Hampden, Herbert, and Maheno, before reaching Oamaruwhere we parked and had a cup of coffee before setting off to walk on the beach and have a look at the unusual round rocks on the shore.

Known as the Moeraki Boulders, they look as if giants have been playing a game of bowls on the smooth white sands of the beach. A few of them are shattered and the molten centres are exposed.

“Perhaps aliens arrived here, laid eggs and their offspring hatched?” I suggested to Graham.

Actually…they are a collection of fifty round concretions scattered along Koekohe Beach and are among the world’s largest concretions at a whopping 7 tons and 8 feet in diameter.”

He explained as he stroked the surface of one of them.

These lumps of sediment took 4 million years to grow and are bound together by a mineral cement. They started forming in a mud stone about 60 million years ago and were later lifted out of the sea and became part of the cliff line. Centuries of coastline erosion released them from the cliffs and then they rolled down to the beach.”

Smarty-pants,” I said, thinking my version was far more romantic…

As we had spent more time than we had planned on the beach, we decided to drive through Timaru, Ashburton and on to Rolleston where we tuned off on to Route 75, past Lake Ellesmere and over the steep, windy roads of Banks Peninsular, arriving late evening to the sun setting over Akaroa Harbour where we found Duvauchelle Holiday park which is beautifully situated on the water’s edge on Seafield Road at the head of the harbour.

Much to our surprise the camp manager and his wife were originally from South Africa, so we spent extra time chatting to him about the surrounds and what to see.

We learnt that Captain Cook arrived in Akaroa Harbour in the 1770’s, but before him, the Ngai Tahu tribe well before he and his crew ever set site on the place and that it was one of the only places colonised by French speaking natives.

More time to look around tomorrow,” Graham said, “right now, lets start the fire and have a barb-q, I’m starving!”

Don’t forget the wine,” I suggested as I took the New Zealand lamb chops out of the marinade they had been soaking in.

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Have Camper Van, must Travel, Queenstown to Dunedin, (House of Pain)
December 10, 2012

 “Let’s go see Milford Sound”, I said to Graham as I fried eggs and bacon,
“OK” He agreed, “And then we will back-track down to the southern most tip of the island, Bluff, before heading our way up to Dunedinon the Otago Peninsula for the night.”
Full tummies, and happy that we had chosen the camper-van alternative to travel, we packed up and headed down Route 6 over the Mataura River, which runs through Gore, (known as the “Brown Trout Capital of the World.”) After a coffee and stretching our legs, we drove on to Lumsden, turning right onto Route 94, through Mossburnarriving at the town of Te Anau on the shores of Lake Te Anau over the Downs, to Cascade Creek, through the Homer Tunnel in the Southern Alps and bursting out the exit to the sight of Milford Sound.
Buses from Queenstown and Te Anau were disgorging tourists, some fortunate enough to be including a Red Boat Cruise around the Sound, and after that a scenic plane flight back to Queenstown.
We were perfectly happy to sit in the front of our home on wheels and share a bag of crisps, watching all the busy people brandishing their cameras, and take in what is described as the “Eighth Natural Wonder of the World,” one of the most incredible views we had ever seen in our lives. Water from the Mitre Peak tumbled and crashed down, disrupting the slumbering blue waters below.
“Wow!” We both exclaimed, crunching our salt and vinegar crisps. Unable to verbalise how we felt about the place.
We would have liked to stay the night there, but as we still had so much of the island to see, and limited time in which to do it, we returned the way we had travelled. Driving past Te Anau onto Manapouri, then a connecting road (53) to Clifden, where we viewed the historic suspension bridge, spanning the Waiaiu River which was built in 1899.
Soon we arrived in Tuatapereand connected onto Route 1 which leads through Invercargilland down to Bluffoverlooking the Foveaux Strait onto the distant view of the port village of Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island.
“Time for lunch!”, Graham announced as we pulled up at the southern most point of New Zealand.
I clambered into the back and started preparing tuna sandwiches, while Graham took a stroll.
Taking our sarnies to a nearby rock that looked as if it had two bottom sized dents conveniently carved in its surface, we sat and looked out at the sea.
A dwarf sea-gull ambled up to us and told us off for not sharing our tuna with him, “Cheeky! Go catch your own fish!” I shooed him away.
“Didn’t work Babe,” Graham laughed, “he’s summoned his mates…”
Obviously well meaning people who travel to that part of the island throw scraps for the persistent little birds, and as we were not sharing ours, they were fed up.
“Ewww, makes me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”, let’s leave before we are devoured!”
Graham raised an eyebrow, “No, let’s leave before your imagination overtakes both of us…”
Tracking around the outskirts of Invercargill, we travelled on the unsealed connecting road (46) to Fortrose, connecting to road (28) to Tokanui, Papatowai, on through the beautiful Catlins Forest Park to Kaka Point.
“Mmmm, wonder who named this place?” I mused.
“Maybe someone who needed to kaka?” Graham suggested. I gave him a friendly punch on his arm.
Balculutha was our next port of call, where we turned right onto Route1, through the towns of Clarksville, Milton and Waihola, over the Taeri River to the University city of Dunedin on the central-eastern coast of Otago. This is the second largest city in South Island after Christchurch.
It is also called “The House of Pain,” due to Carisbrook Stadium, where rugby, New Zealand’s most popular sport is played.
As it was growing dark, we made our way through the city along the twisty road clinging to the Otago Peninsula overlooking Macandrew, Company and Broad Bays, to our over night camp Portobello Village Tourist Park in Herewek Street, Portobello.
The park was close to a spit that had the Dunedin Aquarium perched at the end, so we walked there to have a look around, but as it was late, the place was closed.
Not phased, we turned around and returned to our camper, ready to settle down for the night.
“Beer?”
I heard the clink of bottles and fizz of the cap as Graham opened our evening sun-downer.

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Have Camper Van, must Travel, Mount Cook to Queenstown
November 26, 2012

Waking up in a camper-van was a new experience. My bed was comfortable and warm. I untangled myself from the duvet and rolled over to look out of the window at the trees shadowing Lake Tekapo.

How different this lush, green Eden of a country is in comparison to the tawny golds and yellows of the African bush that I have grown up with.” I thought.
Morning,” said Graham as he brought me a steaming cup of coffee, “beautiful, isn’t it?”
Yes, not like England, or Europe,” I mused, “The air is so pristine and everything seems to breath easy, you get what I am trying to say?”
Graham nodded, “One could easily live here.”
I nodded, “Now I know fairyland does exist.” The light twinkled, skipping on the ripples over the Lake’s clear, blue glacial waters.
After breakfast, we looked at our map, “Mount Cook looks good, what do you think?”
I nodded in agreement. No one visits South Island, New Zealand without paying homage to that famous land mark, sacred to the Maori’s, their name for their ancestral mountain, “Aoraki.
Driving along Route 8, we stopped to take photo’s at the foot of Lake Pukaki, then on Route 80 to Mount Cook, where we called in at the visitor centre located on the High Dam.
The well informed guide at the centre came across to chat, and told us that the view of Mt. Cook was known as “The Million Dollar View.”
It’s beautiful,” I said as I looked at the massive mountain reaching up to the sky.
Graham put his hand on my shoulder, “3, 753 meters high”
How do you know that?” I asked him, impressed, “Learnt it in geography at school, years ago,” was his reply.
I shook my head, amazed, as always at the amount of general knowledge my husband stores in his head.
The guide went on to tell us that the Lake is a major water source for the upper and lower hydro systems, having been raised in 1950 by 9 meters and again in 1980 by 37 meters to create massive water storage.
We still had a way to go, and turned our backs to the mass of water, “Let’s go catch that mountain up ahead,”
I nodded in response to what Graham had said, “A photo opportunity at every turn in this country!”
The “Lord of the Rings trilogy” came to my mind as we drove towards Mount Cook and its soaring peaks and glaciers. I thought of the film crews who filmed the entire film on different locations in New Zealand.
Here, the ancestors of Aoraki watched as the crew re-enacted the Misty Mountains of Tolkien’s epic tale.
We passed the Glentanner Station, a fully working high country sheep station and then fifteen minutes later arrived at the Mount Cook village, where we went and mulled over a menu at the Hermitage Hotel.
Um, let’s give this place a miss,” we both said at the same time and laughed.
Things on that menu were a trifle expensive and we knew we had enough for a hearty meal and hot cup of tea in our trustworthy camper-van!
In the warmth of our refuge, we took in the vast blanket of snow cloaked over Mount Cook, its peak wearing a flossy hat of cloud.
Kia tuohu koutou, Me he maunga teitei, Ko Aoraki anake.” I read from my travel guide.
Translate,” asked Graham
If you must bow your head, then let it be to the lofty mountain Aoraki,”
A prayer or blessing.
I bowed my head in the direction of the mountain.
I think to to the Maori’s, the mountain represents the elements that bind the spiritual and physical elements of all things together. It is the source of creation and life.”
There was no doubt that there was a powerful sacredness that had enveloped us as we sipped steaming mugs of tea.
We back tracked along Route 80 which winds adjacent to the Ben Ohau Mountain Range and stopped at Twizel, the town of trees.
I could settle here Babe,”
Why?” Graham asked.
Because it’s a great name, – imagine telling people you live in a place called Twizzle!”
I visualised us living in one of the Scandinavian style houses, set in amongst the 250,000 trees that had been planted by the local residents.
A new town, constructed in 1968 in the Mackenzie Basin on land formerly part of the Ruataniwha Station, Twizel takes its name from the River Twizel.
The town survived being bulldozed to ground level once the Upper Waitaki power Scheme was completed, but the residents fought the Government.
They won and in 1983 the town, its shops, houses and facilities were handed over to the County.
It is now known as the “Heart of the high Country” and survives on tourism. In the summer water-sports and golfing and in the winter ski season.
Twizel,” it rolled off my tongue, “Bet the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel was called Twizel…sounds like a kind of sugar stick or cup-cake.”
Come on Babe,” Graham hauled me out of my day dream, “there’s a grocery shop, let’s get practical and stock up for tonight.”
Travelling south, we arrived at a small town called Omaramasituated on the junctions of routes 8 and 83 and as we wanted to reach our camp in Queenstown, we did not stop, but carried on through the Lindis Pass, which links the Mackenzie Basin to Central Otago, saddling the Ahuririand LindisRivers, 971 meters above sea level.
Snow teased the edges of the road and I was once again glad that Graham was driving. The view of the valley way, way below as we drove along had me closing my eyes on occasion!
Arriving at Comwella small town set on the shores of Lake Dunstan, I said to Graham as I looked at the map, “left or right? Both roads are Route 6!”
He leant over from the drivers seat and looked at the map, “Queenstownto the left and Wanaka to the right. Still plenty of time, let’s go right.” he said as he turned right.
Lake Wanaka was nestled in the base of towering mountains and was picture book perfect.
We pulled over onto the side of the road and got outside to stretch our legs.
Coffee?” I asked Graham, “Why not?” He agreed as we moved into the back of the van, out of the cold.
Time to find a place for the night,”
Yes,” I agreed, as we both moved back into the front of our flash camper.
We back tracked down the way we had come, travelling through Cromwell once again and passed through Arrow Junction and on to Queenstown, snuggling the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
We stopped for a while to take a look at Nevis Bungy, on the corner of Camp and Shotover Streets. This is New Zealand’s highest bungy jump and has a 134 meter drop.
Not going on that!” I moved away from the edge.
Me neither,” Graham said.
We got back into the van and drove through the ski town to Frankton Motor Camp on the lake edge.
After a lovely hot showers in the camp-site bathroom facilities, we took a walk into the town where we found a cosy little restaurant.
The side walks outside were full of happy holiday makers all out for a good evening on the town.
The waitress looking after our table informed us that Queenstown was known as the “Adventure Capital of the World,” and that it has half the population in New Zealand in Tourists every year.
Wow,” I took a sip of my wine and winked at Graham, “and we are two of them!”

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Have Camper Van, must Travel
November 24, 2012

The bed and breakfast facilities in New Zealand are all well appointed, with friendly owner/managers. The people we stayed with happily shared their knowledge of South Island with us, the best places to visit and how to go about booking a camper van for less than what was advertised by the rental companies.
What we found valuable information was that we should ask the company to show us their vehicles that were more than four years old. The reason for this is that the insurance premium on them is as not as high as the new vehicles they tout, and if you are not in the know, the rental agent will get you to sign up and you pay almost a third more for a newer model!
As we wanted to visit my uncle who was in hospital, (one of the main reasons for our trip to New Zealand) we decided that we would visit him first, then spend the day looking around the city, spend another night with our lovely B and B hosts, then go and find the camper van of our choice the next day.
Christchurchis a beautiful garden city, nestled on the coast with the Southern Alps creating a breath-taking backdrop. It is the gateway to the Canterbury Plains which spread westwards towards the mountains.
South-East of the city leads on to Banks Peninsula, which is formed by two huge volcanic craters and extends into the Pacific Ocean, like an old gnarled sharks-tooth.
After looking around a very modern shopping mall and having a bite to eat, we took the historic inner city Christchurch Tramway.
Although the tickets are valid for two days, we knew that this was the best way to see all of the city in one day, as it took us past Cathedral Square, Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum and the Botanic Gardens.
In the evening we had a slap up meal at a local Indian restaurant within walking distance of our B and B.
Upon our return our hosts had waited up for us and had coffee and biscuits laid out on the kitchen table. We felt that we were visiting good friends.
At breakfast the next day we mentioned that we were going to book our camper van and asked where the rental agencies were located.
Oh, close to the airport,” said our host, “No worries, I’ll drive you there,” he said.
So off we set, Graham sitting “shot-gun” in the front passenger seat and me squashed into the back seat with all of our suitcases and travel bags.
It’s OK Babe, not too far to go…besides, you are little, so you fit in there with the luggage perfectly.”
Yeah, that’s me, economy sized!” I though to myself.
Our Holiday Home on Wheels
After going to a couple of places, we ended up with a six berth camper from Maui Rentals. It had all living, cooking and sleeping equipment included, air-conditioning and bathroom facilities, 24 hour road service and a handy road map and travel guide.
(Oh, and if you are wondering why we went for a six berth, we did not feel like making up beds, then folding them away to have a sitting area. Too much trouble, and we were on holiday!)
Glad that Graham was at the helm and I was the navigator, we drove to a large shopping area where we stocked up on groceries and supplies before setting off in our up-market Mercedes-Benz camper.
Where are we going?” I asked Graham,
Dunno, let’s have a coffee and look at our map,” he said as he parked outside a coffee shop.
We found a table close to a window, ordered coffee, cheese and ham pies, then spread the map out over the table.
Here” Graham said, pinpointing a place with his finger on the map, “ Lake Tekapo”
OK Babe, let’s go” I agreed in a flash, “looks a really good place to spend our first night!”
Taking the road along the east coast, then onto Route 79 we drove through stunning scenery and pulled off at a lay-by to have a snack. This was the first time we had ever had such a luxury as a camper van, we were used to camping in the African bush in our tent, so had not experienced the leisure of a mobile home where you could simply stop, open up the kitchen, prepare something to eat and sit in a comfy seat at your dining room table and look out the window at the view. We both decided it was a good way to holiday and see the country at the same time.
The roads in New Zealand are of high standard, maps and places are well marked. It appeared, much to our amusement, that the locals steered clear of tourists driving camper vans. We were fine as we were used to driving on the left hand side of the road, but noticed some vans swerved onto the wrong side of the road on occasion. So, like the locals, we were cautious of fellow camper van sight-seers from our first day on the road.
My first sight of Lake Tekapo
Upon our arrival at Lake Tekapo in the late afternoon, the sun was setting behind the mountains of the vast Mackenzie Basin, their faces reflecting in the clear turquoise waters.
We booked into Lake Tekapo Motels and Motor Camp, set in amongst massive, shady trees.
Our camping pitch over looked the lake and as we parked we both looked out the front windscreen. Neither of us spoke, we were too busy absorbing the peaceful beauty of the place, there was no need to say anything.
The camp is run as a quiet family camp, with security and cleanliness a top priority. There is a laundry with four commercial washers, for commercial dryers and they also have a TV lounge, should you wish to watch the goggle-box instead of taking in the lake and all its beauty. For people who choose not to eat “in”, the place has easy access to a variety of restaurants, bars, a service station with LPG facilities, garage and grocery store.
Autumn Colours at Lake Tekapo
We went for a walk, taking a bottle of beer each and sat on the shore sipping the golden local beer. A couple walked by and stopped to chat. They informed us that Tekapo was the departure point for the world renowned Air Safaris Grand Traverse flight around Mount Cook and were going on it the next day.
As they walked away, their parting shot was, “By the way, make sure you don’t leave the empties behind…we Kiwis make sure the environment is kept clean!”
Graham and I looked at each other, “As if we would,”
I nodded in agreement with his comment, “Yes, we get deposit on the bottles. Can buy more.”
In that year the Springbok Rugby Team played like Trojans, so we both decided that because they “hammered” the All-blacks15-12 in the Final game played on South African soil at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, we had been told off on Kiwi soil.
Chuckling to ourselves, we returned to our four wheel home, discussing how we remembered Nelson Mandella wearing the Sprinkbok Rugby shirt and cap when he presented the Ellis Cup to the Captain, Francois Pienaar.
That was a great game and brought all the people in South Africa closer than ever before.
Of course we admitted to each other, that makes the New Zealanders the second best in the world.
Giving them credit where credit was due, we started a good old South African braai, and cooked our supper before turning in for the night.
Early Morning at Lake Tekapo

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New Zealand, Paradise on Earth
November 23, 2012

I always thought that South Africa was a country with the most beautiful places to visit on earth, until Graham and I went to New Zealand’s South Island during the months of July and August of 2005. We hired a six berth camper van and toured the island extensively. Stopping off at camp-sites as the whim took us, where we would find a pitch and then go and explore the area.
As my brother, Eric and his wife Sue, are about to embark upon a new adventure and move to New Zealand where he has a job waiting for him as Chief Engineer in an aviation company, I thought I’d write about our holiday, giving them, and any of my blog readers some pointers and helpful travel trips when visiting a place that is absolute paradise on earth.
We decided to travel from Cape Town via Singapore to Christchurch, New Zealand on Singapore Airlines which was a fantastic choice, as we were treated like royalty, (even in cattle class) by the galley crew. The air hostesses were dressed in traditional oriental attire and seemed to never tire, always smiling and available on the long leg to Singapore.
Part of the package was that we had an overnight in Singapore at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel, which is situated right next door to the world famous Raffles Hotel.
As tired as we felt upon arrival, nothing could stop us from making plans to go to Raffles soon after we had checked in to our hotel and freshened up!
Once at Raffles, a waiter in heavily starched whites, seated us in the hotel’s large rattan chairs, surrounded by potted palms and exotic orchids. The slow moving ceiling fans slowly clack-clacked over our heads while the balmy late afternoon sun dipped into the horizon.
“Cheers!” We toasted each other with a Singapore Sling, (I felt very “Colonial” sipping over that special drink in such a historic hotel, where guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward had sat and sipped in an era bygone.)
After that we took a taxi into Singapore’s Chinatownwhere we mainly window shopped as we were on a tight budget and wanted to save pennies to spend once we reached New Zealand. Returning to our hotel exhausted, we collapsed into bed, needing no rocking to get to sleep.
Bzzzz…bzzzz… the phone beside the bed woke us the next day. “Good Morning!” The friendly receptionist chirped pleasantly. 
Bustling around, throwing the odd sock into our suitcases, we had breakfast and then caught the hotel’s courtesy transport back to Changi International Airport. There we had enough time to look around the massive duty free which was impressive, but what intrigued me the most, were the massage facilities with wary travellers getting all the kinks worked out of their backs and necks by the gentle administrations of attractive ladies and men.
“Gosh, these Orientals sure know how to make people happy,” I whispered to Graham.
Once again seated in the spacious economy seats on Singapore Airlines, we ate a tasty oriental meal before settling in for the night’s flight to our final destination, Christchurch International Airport.
Before the plane landed, forms were handed out to all the passengers informing us that were not to take any leather, perishable food-stuff, seeds etc. The people of New Zealand are very strict about this, as they preserve and care for their environment as fiercely as the Australians.
Once safely on terra-firma we queued into immigration and customs and  were amused to see a young trainee sniffer-dog with his handler following a more senior dog who obviously knew the ropes, as he made a direct foray at an Indian woman who was carrying a large hand-bag.
She was made to empty out the contents. Out rolled two large plump apples, which, much to her surprise were confiscated immediately. With loud protestations, she was marched off to a private area for further dog sniffing and investigating.
I later learned that most sniffer dogs at the time were of the beagle breed and supplied from the Beagle Club.
We had been told by a friend who had visited New Zealand before us that once out in the main airport, there were facilities to book camper vans. So we made our way to the information desk and were most impressed with the fact that there was even a desk that supplied clean bath towels and soap, as there were hot showers for people who chose to do so before leaving the airport.
(I thought to myself if there were showers in one of the African airports that I had passed through, all the locals would be very pleased as there would be running water and a place to get clean.)
After getting various brochures on all the different companies who supplied camper vans, we took a taxi to the Bed and Breakfast in Christchurch that we had organised on line before leaving South Africa.
Travelling from the airport to our first “pit-stop” in New Zealand was a real eye-opener. None of the houses had burglar-bars; there were no high walls or fences with razor-wire lacing the tops to keep the bad guys out.
Young children were walking along the roads unaccompanied by adults…
It made us think that we were in a time-warp back into our childhood days when growing up in Africa, where crime was minimal, and one could walk around safely, without any fear of being attacked or run over.
I fell in love with New Zealand then and there and our journey had just begun.
(Next Blog: “Have Camper Van, must travel”
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Hello world!
July 19, 2012

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!

Butterflies are Free, Fly my Beauty, Fly, Fly, Fly!
February 6, 2012

 After an Early Morning Walk I returned to my house here in Morrumbala, Mozambique 
and created this digital artwork for my three daughters, Debi, Kerry and Taryn from a photo of a butterfly that I took:

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