Monthly Archives: June 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

My online dictionary says to create implies ‘to bring something into existence’ or ‘to cause something to happen as a result of one’s actions’…. hmm? So many images flash through my brain from the knitted ponchos I am creating for the school children in the nearby village to my flower garden and my productive vegetable garden, to the opportunities we create from time to time for others to thrive and grow… ah, but the creation I am most madly proud of is MY FAMILY! I mean our extended family which we have consciously raised and enveloped with chords of love and respect and nurture and safety… let me explain:


I come from an incredibly beautiful extended family and my world has always been filled by people who have loved me and made me feel loved and who earned my respect – just because of whom they are and the integrity with which they have lived out their lives. Furthermore, I have two amazing brothers who are both medical doctors.  One is an orthopaedic specialist, the other a specialist family practitioner who during the course of his studies learned more and more of the importance of family life. Many experts believe that an extended whole and healthy family enhances the sense of well being and security of the individual within that family and so it was that when he shared this philosophy, we all ( my husband, my 2 brothers and their wonderful wives as well as my parents) consciously embarked on a parenting process which included the extended family in as many “together-time” activities as possible


– and I do not say this lightly as we have lived great distances apart but one way or another we have made sure the ‘family get-together’ happened. It meant flying twins from Scotland for a family holiday and fetching and carrying boisterous boys and girls to and fro on 7 hour journeys between my farm and the coast where the others live… (Sometimes there and back within 24 hours because of work commitments)- it meant brave grandparents hosting the large together-time group of cousins on their farm and tolerating raucousness and untidiness and water fights.





Once we had a heavy snowfall on their farm which was so very exciting for all the children and one crazy aunt (that would be moi!) – we hiked in that snow, had snowball fights in the snow and built our magnificent snowman… until we were soaking wet and there was no power to cook with, heat our water or wash and dry the grubby clothes, no television at first was a challenge until the card games became fiercely competitive and huge fun… we were burning fires and draping dripping garments on the fireguard, we were cooking indoors on gas and after 5 days our gallant granddad was finally able to chainsaw the last of the fallen trees blocking the road way and we made a happy escape to the warmer coast and descended en masse to the home of another aunt and uncle who we just knew would welcome us all…. 😉


Because we have a rather large farmhouse my easy going hubby and I were most often host to the gang and amongst our happiest memories are those together-times with all the children filling our world, raiding the fridge and cookie jars, ‘helping’ make the meals, and as the years went by working just as hard as they were playing at peak seasons of planting and harvesting.  They swam, rode horses and drove the horse cart, rode motorbikes, built things, went on picnics, slept all night through on a huge haystack, learned to shoot the rats in the shed and built many campfires.




A decision made by ourselves saw many years of togetherness – yes, they scrapped, yes, they are all so very different and now they are almost all grown up and choosing very diverse career paths but even to this day should ever any one of them need encouragement, comfort or advice they will turn to one or another:  brothers and cousins and sisters.. An incredibly strong invisible thread of love and respect wraps itself around them and although unseen, is strangely tangible and so many outsiders notice it and are awed by that which our children tend to take for granted, they think it’s ‘normal’… and just as I look upon each of those kids as my own, I know my brothers and their wives do too and I just know that together we have created something good because we have surely woven a warm and wonderful web called “family” through the lives of each of our youngsters! I sincerely hope and pray the young adults we now know will remember and continue the legacy CREATED for them and do so in the lives of their own families one day!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

It had been a long hard day of travelling the dusty sand tracks of the Makgadikgadi Reserve in Botswana – and we hadn’t seen much wildlife at all!  The day began to draw to a close and the setting sun beckoned us back to our campsite where we started a campfire for our evening meal and began settling into our chairs with a long thirst quenching drink in our hands. My close friend Marlet, emerging from her tent, gave a funny little yelp and was strangely (read: very unusual) lost for words – but there was much wild gesticulation as she frantically alerted us to the lumbering presence of a family of elephants moving in closer and closer to our campsite – We had visitors!

You can imagine the scramble as we very quickly abandoned our chairs and drinks. The children were instructed to get up into their rooftop tent and watch as quietly as mice, us adults rummaged for our cameras but for the most part stood in awe of the towering beasts trundling into the clearing, the ground literally trembled underfoot!

This small herd of African elephants had decided that the pods on the camelthorn tree growing closest to our campsite looked the most delicious of all. This means focused effort and a very close encounter of the butting, pushing, shoving #bullying# kind – so close that we could smell them and even hear the rumbling in their stomachs!

The very large matriarch was delegated the task of using all her best efforts to get the ripened pods to fall to the ground whilst the others used their trunks like vacuum cleaners swishing them from side to side picking the pods up off the ground and feeding them into their mouths. Having lived in Africa, this was by no means our first encounter with elephants but it was most certainly our first one so exposed and so vulnerable to these incredible grey giants. How close, well does this photie give you a better idea? Marlet keeps a close eye on our visitors well aware that we are just visitors in their territory!

Two of the people closest to me in the whole world, my handsome hubby and my special friend watch the proceedings in awe. There is nothing like an experience like this to make one aware of how really small and vulnerable we are! I am the snap happy one and as I was merrily clicking away, I became rather bold – looking at the elephant family through the eye of the camera lens distorts things – just a littly bit… until my ordinarily very chilled hubby’s voice filled with alarm made me aware that one unhappy camper was staring me down and flapping his ears – and he was NOT just fanning the breeze!

Spot Mr Grump Grey Giant to the right – a VERY memorable CLOSE encounter – what an incredible cameo moment – what a  privelege!

The monster machine rattles and clatters in an endless march up and down death row with thrashing jaws…

I am always inspired by poetry as the many pupils I have taught will testify to – I would save the longer more complex poems for the arduous late afternoon sessions in the sure knowledge that I would be energised and inspired – and in the hopes that my enthusiasm would be contagious to the pupils who were longing for the school day to end so they could get on with the urgent business of living and loving… I like to think I sometimes got it right to make learning meaningful and FUN!

Something Old:

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun;

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,

Arise from their graves, and aspire

Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

William Blake

 Something New:

Extracted from a Sunflower Sutra, Allen Ginsberg, Berkeley, 1955

—- and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,

crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog

and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye–

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like

a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,

soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays

obliterated on its hairy head like a dried

wire spiderweb,

leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures

from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster

fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O

my soul, I loved you then!


Sunflower Soldiers

Sunflower Soldiers

With heads bowed the old sunflower soldiers stand waiting for the end…

Oona and Oompa Owl

Last night there was a terrible raucousness in the air as a mini Battle of Britain raged overhead. Oona and Oompa Owl have lived in the old disused grain silo in our back garden for a number of years now, and every season we see them settling in to nest and raise their chicks. Its a busy time for them as they swoop in and out fetching food and every now and then, when they have had to search a little further away, we can hear the chicks screeching their displeasure at the long intervals between feedings. I think Momma and Poppa Owl do get exhausted especially as the chicks grow bigger but… let any stranger dare enter “their air space” and all hell breaks loose! I’M NOT JOKING! The resident parents will launch a defensive air attack of note and their loud screeches fill the night air peppered with the thuds of too close encouter and the sound of the victims being battered. We have a thatched roof home and the roof echoes with the varied sounds of their landings and takeoffs and crashing… and Oona and Oompa WILL win, they always do and eventually harmony is restored – I have gone out on the occasional early morning to find the remains of one of the unfortunates who did not survive the encounter with our ‘angry birds’ – I’m always saddened that there had to be a victim but over 32 years of life on a farm has taught me that nature is sometimes cruel!

On an altogether different note, if you are a Mommy or a Granny with little ones do yourself – and them – a favour and get a copy of ‘The Owl who was afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson – a delightful, memorable read! [

Plop, the Baby Barn Owl, is like every Barn Owl there ever was, except for one thing–he is afraid of the dark. “Dark is nasty” he says and so he won’t go hunting with his parents. Mrs. Barn Owl sends him down from his nest-hole to ask about the dark and he meets a little boy waiting for the fireworks to begin, an old lady, a scout out camping, a girl who tells him about Father Christmas, a man with a telescope, and a black cat who takes him exploring. He realizes that through these encounters that dark is super after all.] And check out this fun link!


Little bird watches the sun go down

Little bird watches the sun go down


Up and down the rows its an ebb and flow some times high sometimes low!

Up and down the rows its an ebb and flow some times high sometimes low!