Tag Archives: Recreation

Salmon fishing in Johannesburg

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It’s offishal: rats love salmon!

Recently our boys got a taste of smoked trout ribbons and salmon fish spread. (I know, they eat better than some people do. I feel bad about that sometimes. For a second or two. It’s not as though withholding a treat from my bubs will magically feed someone somewhere – it wouldn’t feed anyone at all, considering the tiny amounts it takes to please these guys…)

Anyway, they went crazy for the fishy treats, and I managed to snap a few pics of the fun 🙂

rats eat fish 1

Moon grabbing and Mishka begging

Vodka testing the taste

Voddy. Must. Have. More!

Knight's desperate flying leap to get to his fish

Knight’s desperate flying leap to get to his fish

Definitely Ninja's rat!

Definitely Ninja’s rat!

Mishka asks so nicely...

Mishka asks so nicely…

Teddy bear with his fishy feast

Teddy bear with his fishy feast

Those smoked trout ribbons were their best treat so far, but on a separate occasion I mixed some salmon fish spread with brown rice and veggies for their supper. That was gulped down just as quickly:

Hmmm, need a bigger bowl?

Hmmm, need a bigger bowl?

It looks like a hug, but it’s actually a warning

Mishka's nearly there...

With Tiny out the way, Mishka’s nearly there…

MINE!!!

MINE!!!

Footnote: Just so you know, rats are only allowed high-protein treats once in a while, and even then only in small samplings. Too much protein can cause their skin to become very itchy and scabby, almost like an allergic reaction. Under normal circumstances a pet rat only needs about 10% of its diet to consist of protein, and definitely no more than 18%. Our rats have almost no protein in their staple diet, so treats such as these once in a while are fine. And as with human diets, variation and moderation are vital 🙂

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Look what I got!

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Yesterday I was given a truly thoughtful gift. If you want to know anything about me, know that I love gifts. Big or small, free or fancy, I love them all 😀 I love giving them and I love getting them, and nothing beats a gift that’s both personalised and handmade!

A very thoughtful gift

A very thoughtful gift

A colleague of mine, Elise, does pottery and has recently discovered the cuteness of ratties (through wild rats invading her kitchen and all my blog posts of pet rats). Look at this beautiful ratty teapot she made for me!

'Robert the Rat' teapot

‘Robert the Rat’ teapot

It’s named ‘Robert the Rat’ after her nickname for one of the cheeky wild rats that moved into her kitchen. Elise has a real heart for animals and it took weeks before Robert and his family were kindly and humanely removed to their rightful place outside the house. During that time Elise came to appreciate the lively little vermin for their better side 😉

Rat detail on the teapot

Rat detail on the teapot

This has to be one of the coolest gifts ever. Not only is it a cheerful sunshine yellow; it’s also only the second time a friend has acknowledged my love for these critters with a gift (the other was a pink mouse-and-bunny-themed receiver blanket given to me by my best friend when we got our girl rats; she searched everywhere to find a baby blanket that didn’t have predators on it!)

Rat-themed teapot

Rat-themed teapot

I think this counts towards Goal #53 on my new list, don’t you? :mrgreen:

Thank you Elise!

100+ sunflowers

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Despite all the sad stuff I’ve been dealing with lately, one ray of light has been that I’ve reached 100 followers on this blog!

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for finding my ramblings interesting :mrgreen:

When I started out I didn’t even think a single person would stumble on this blog. But pretty soon you found me and I figured out the world of WordPress and the lovely interaction with this pleasant community took me by surprise.

It’s been such fun ‘meeting’ people from around the world who share many of my interests and hobbies. Although I don’t endorse all the blogs/bloggers who have clicked ‘Follow’ on the Sunshine Scrapbook, the majority of you are an amazing bunch whose own blogs amuse, encourage and inspire me.

I was never aiming for followers for the sake of numbers, so if you’re here coz you genuinely enjoy what I have to say, then I’m grateful. And I’ll continue to send my (mostly) sunny thoughts out into cyberspace in the hope that I can be a blessing 🙂

To my 100+ sunflowers, thank you for following the sun!

Zest

Spring cleaning in autumn

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It’s been a couple of days since I’ve had the chance to post here… I’ve just taken a long weekend away 🙂 At least once or twice a year I try to take a few days’ break in routine to visit my folks in my childhood home and to get together with my friends. Here’s a pic I took in my parents’ garden:

Leaf

Autumn leaf in a birdbath

It was rewarding to get a little break and spend time with the people I love. I even managed to cross off Goal #94 – Have professional photos taken – as my friends and I went for a mini professional photoshoot together :mrgreen:

Now that I’m back home, I’m expecting the week ahead to be filled with major housework. I hope to get my home sorted out in preparation for the following week when I begin three months of office work. I have a long list of chores to get through, from defrosting the fridge to cleaning the oven (bleh).

But in an odd way, I’m actually looking forward to this. While many of my fellow bloggers from the northern hemisphere are spring cleaning as their weather gets warmer, I’m doing an autumn clean-out before a long and busy winter.

This wave of housework coincides with changing my meal planner from the spring & summer one (packed with salads and summery dishes) to the autumn & winter one (full of soups and comfort foods). I also tend to do my bulk shopping every six months or so, and the time has now come to restock my cupboards with non-perishable items.

All of this also happens to be at the end of the month, when my cupboards are bare and my fridge is empty. I just love it when so many loose ends tie up around the same time! It feels like I’m neatly closing off the past few months and getting ready for the next season of life.

So if you don’t hear too much from me this week, it’s because I’ll be up to my elbows in dirt and detergent.

But I’ll catch you on the flipside 😉

If I owned a menagerie…

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If I had a large property and all the money and time in the world, I’d want to own a menagerie of interesting animals. Here are a few of them, and my reasons for choosing them (all pics courtesy of Wikimedia Commons unless otherwise stated)…

Maine Coon Cat

I know we’re not supposed to marry people hoping to change them, but if there’s one thing I would change about my husband, it’s his allergy to cats. I think he’d want to change it too, since he adores all animals and would love nothing more than to be able to play with cute kittens without sneezing and wheezing! And if we were able to have a cat, there’s only one breed I’d want:

Maine Coon

Maine Coons would be in my menagerie because I love their wild look combined with a loving nature. These beautiful long-haired felines come in an array of colours and can weigh as much as 11 kg! I’m also hooked on grey-coloured animals, so I’d want a silver Maine Coon such as this one. Just gorgeous!

Silver Maine Coon

 German Shepherd Dog

This may not be an unusual choice, but GSDs are my favourite dog breed of all time, so they’d definitely have a place in my menagerie. I admire them for their intelligence, loyalty and beauty. It’s no surprise they’re one of the most popular breeds in the canine kingdom – although sadly that can be a problem when unscrupulous backyard breeders flood the market with poor specimens 😡

German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

Although I support animal shelters and would definitely also want to adopt one or more shelter dogs, if I owned my dream menagerie I’d probably prefer to source my GSD from a registered breeder and raise it from puppyhood to bring out the very best in my favourite breed 🙂

Shire horse

Hah! Bet you didn’t see this one coming!

Shire horse

These huuuuuuge gentle giants would have a place on my funny farm because of their impressive size and endurance. Who needs a stinky old tractor when you can get things done the old-school way with an enormous Clydesdale or similar workhorse? I love their giant feathery feet and slow-and-steady plodding manner.

Of course, this beastie wouldn’t be much fun for outrides, so I’d want to own a dapple grey horse for riding, too.

Dapple grey horse

Dapple grey horse

Ferret

Aww, ferrets. They’re like a cross between a cat and a pet rat! They also come in a variety of coat colours, although I’d go for the greyest ones I could find. I’ve heard they make clever and adorable pets for involved owners… so they’d be on my list too.

Ferret

Ferret

Miniature Lop Rabbit

Bunnies! I’ve always wanted to own bunnies! Especially tiny floppy-eared bunnies, such as mini lop rabbits:

Miniature Lop Rabbit

Miniature Lop Rabbit

Apparently these little creatures are friendly and enjoy interacting with their human family. As I love all small animals and all grey animals, a tiny grey lop rabbit (or two… or six… or ten…) would make an ideal addition to my zoo 😀

Go-away birds

The go-away bird, formerly called the grey lourie, is a common resident in our gardens here in SA. Ninja and I call them the clowns of the sky because they’re always congregating in garrulous groups and getting up to the silliest antics. You can bet that the entire flock of louries will attempt to sit together on the thinnest, floppiest branch at the top of a tree! Their funny ‘ke-waaaaay’ cry gives them their name, as it sounds as if they’re chasing you away.

Go-away birds © Zest

Go-away birds © Zest

They’re very vocal and expressive, with long fluffy crests that they can raise or lower to show their mood. They cackle and call to each other and comment on anything odd that they see. (I’ll never forget when my landlord’s garden wall fell down one day: a bunch of go-away birds perched in the tree next to the wall and were calling out perplexed ‘kwehhh?‘ sounds as they hopped around peering sideways at the broken wall!) A family of these birds would provide great entertainment to all on my property.

Ratties

Of course there would be ratties – as many of them as I could responsibly care for. Nuff said 🙂

Ratties © Zest

Ratties © Zest

White-necked raven

Another large, cheeky addition to my menagerie would be the white-necked raven. This is one of Ninja’s and my favourite birds… bigger than your average crow, intelligent, inquisitive and equipped with a sharp, powerful beak. There’s no doubt this feathered friend would end up wrecking lots of things around my property!

White-necked raven © Zest

White-necked raven © Zest

Alaskan Malamute

I love wolves, but I am strongly opposed to people breeding and owning wolves and wolf hybrids. So the closest I could get in my little zoo would be the beautiful, demanding Alaskan Malamute.

Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute

Bigger and more independent than Siberian Huskies, Malamutes are not for faint-hearted owners. This breed needs to be understood and properly cared for in order for it to live a fulfilled life with humans. These beauties are powerful, strong-willed working dogs that need to be given a job in order to make the best use of their energy and drive. I’d definitely give them a key role in my menagerie.

…oOo…

That’s just a small sample of the kinds of animals I’d love to own. Don’t ask me how I’d get them to all live together in harmony… but a girl can dream 😉

Marriage lessons on a motorcyle

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Don’t fall off your chair.

You’re about to see the first pic of me ever posted to this blog 😛

Yes, that's me!

Yes, that’s me!

That’s me, all trussed up and ready to go for a motorcycle ride with Ninja. And don’t worry, I know I look about 12 years old next to that bike, but I didn’t do the riding. I was safely straddling the pillion seat, clinging to my husband like a baby koala to its mother’s back.

I managed to work on three of my 101 things in 1001 days goals yesterday. For Goal #10, I went on the first of ten motorbike rides with my man; for Goal #70, I ate at the first of five new restaurants; and for Goal #42 I ate the third of five new things I’ve never tried before.

The bike ride was both thrilling and threatening.

It’s not that I’m afraid of bikes; in fact, I was raised by biker parents (not that they were Harley-riding, leather-tassle-toting Hell’s Angels or anything). Both my parents enjoyed biking before they even met each other, and they had real bikes, not those awful showy cruisers that sound more like tractors. When I was old enough, my dad took me for rides too. So motorcycles were part of my childhood.

I used to think that my dad was the only man I’d ever trust to give me lifts on a motorbike. But then Ninja learnt to ride during our dating years, and my world of safe bikers is now population: 2. I really enjoy going for rides with my husband, since he’s a sensible and safe rider and he communicates clearly to me what’s expected of me as his pillion.

So yesterday’s bike ride wasn’t threatening because of him. It was all the other hooligans on the road!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The bad parts of the trip only came at the end. The first leg of the journey was lovely.

My really girly helmet

My really girly helmet

We decided to travel towards Hartebeespoort Dam, a very famous chilling spot on weekends and public holidays (such as yesterday, which was SA’s Human Rights Day). The main road leading there takes you through open areas of grassland, hills and trees. It feels like you’re leaving the city behind you for good.

Biking offers a special thrill and a freedom that even the fastest car will never supply. There’s that element of risk that’s just so different from taking a trip with four wheels. I love flying over the roads with the wind rushing around us; I love the little flip of fear that my tummy does when we lean around the corners. I enjoy sitting high up and being able to see past the traffic, and it’s always fun waving at bug-eyed little children in the backseats of cars.

Anyway, to get to the eateries you have to circle around the dam, riding on a bridge that only allows traffic through from one side at a time. I managed to take a pic of the entrance to the bridge because we’d had to pull over, since poor Ninja got a speck of something or other stuck in his eye.

The ‘Victory Arch’ at Hartebeespoort Dam

The inscription across the top of the archway says ‘Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura’ on this side, and ‘Dedi in deserto aquas flumina in invio’ on the other side (which I unfortunately couldn’t capture on camera). Apparently the inscriptions mean something like ‘Without water agriculture is arid and miserable’ and part of Isaiah 43:20 in Latin. (Hmm. I’d even go so far as to say that without water, agriculture is impossible. But maybe that’s just me.)

Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura

If the arch looks old, it’s because it is – the dam was started towards the end of the First World War, and only completed shortly before the Second World War began. Since then, Harties (as it’s affectionately known) has become a top leisure spot. These days there are loads of fancy homes settled along the shores of the dam, and there’s lots to do in the area, from hot-air balloon rides to a small zoo.

But there is one problem with the dam: it’s always been full of algae, water plants and weeds. And sometimes (like yesterday) it can really pong! Yuck :/ Bikers get the full impact of nasty smells; at least the car drivers can roll up their windows! Eventually we found a great little Italian restaurant ristorante opposite the zoo, where the fresh air was free of foul smells. Here’s a pic of the signboard and view:

Catalino's restaurant

Catalino’s restaurant

And then, since I was in the mood for achieving goals, I ordered something I’ve never tried before: curry on a pizza!

Chicken curry on pizza

Chicken curry on pizza

It was unusual and surprisingly yummy 🙂

On the way back, we managed to skip the long queue for the bridge. That really is one of the best things about motorbikes. Car drivers hate it when bikers are pushy, but Ninja rode very politely and safely, so people let him into the front of the queue. Since he commutes with a bike daily, he knows how to show good manners on the roads.

After we’d left the bridge and dam area behind us, the less pleasant side of the ride began. My back was starting to ache because of the backpack I carried, so there was that. But worst of all were some of the rude car drivers who toyed with us as we simply made our way home. Wherever possible Ninja got out of the way so that faster cars and bikes could pass us. But one car driver in particular started driving up our tailpipe and hooting at us to move aside even though there was no space to do so. Such arrogance just boils my blood! And as we got nearer the suburbs, there were several cars that just started pulling out of driveways in front of us as if we didn’t exist.

It was hair raising. On a bike one feels so exposed; accidents that would merely be fender benders in a car, on a bike would result in broken bones or worse. By the time we got home we were rather shaken up. When my nerves are on edge like that, nothing calms me like something sweet 😉 So we had some cherry jelly as we discussed the day’s events…

Cherry jelly, a great nerve tonic

The trip gave me a new appreciation for the kind of dangers that my man faces on the bike each day. It also made me think about the ways in which going for a bike ride together is similar to being married:

1. You need to be fit for it. You use so many muscles and so much concentration to be a good rider or pillion passenger; it doesn’t happen without practice. In marriage you also need to work at a strong relationship; no one is naturally the perfect spouse.

2. There has to be a leader and a follower. Biking wouldn’t work if we both tried to take control and steer things our way, and neither does marriage. In God’s good design, he gave husbands and wives different but complementary roles.

3. You need to move as one. When Ninja leans into a corner, I have to trust him and copy his movements so that the bike stays balanced. In the same way, in marriage we need to make decisions together and move forward as one.

4. You need to look out for each other. Ninja warns me when to hold on tight or stand up for bumps in the road, and sometimes I help him by pointing out danger or directions. In our marriage we take care of each other in the same way.

5. You have to have a goal. A bike ride to nowhere is no fun, just as a marriage with no shared dreams and destinations lacks meaning.

6. You need to trust God for your journey. I never leave on a bike ride without praying for our safety, and in the same way marriages are protected when couples lift up their lives to the Lord.

7. There’s only space for two. Three people can’t fit on a motorbike, just as three’s a crowd in any marriage.

8. You need to know your limitations. Each bike is different, and each rider has different skill sets. Acting like you’re on a superbike when it’s really just a scooter will cause endless problems. And in marriage, comparing your unique circumstances to other couples around you will always leave you dissatisfied.

9. Hold on tight. Since we can’t talk to each other, we communicate with touches and squeezes during a bike ride. Which is not a bad idea for marriage, either 😉

10. It’s supposed to be fun! In bike riding as in marriage, make the most of every adventure and every opportunity to be together. You’re meant to enjoy the ride!

Surviving a picnic in Johannesburg

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If you’re ever in Johannesburg and looking for a spot for a picnic, you can’t just spread out your red-and-white-checked blanket in any old public park. I don’t know what it’s like overseas, but here in Jozi, and pretty much everywhere in SA, we always think of safety first.

Most of our small public parks are overrun with shady characters. The bigger parks are usually fenced off to try to keep unwanted elements out… but even an eight-foot pallisade with barbed wire doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe. For example, we have a large fenced-off, residents-only park in our neighbourhood. But Ninja and I never go in there anymore since we’ve heard of people being mugged at gunpoint in the park while innocently out walking with their dogs and kids.

Some public recreation areas started out well but over time have gained a bad rep. Emmerentia Dam in Johannesburg is a great example of this. People still use the park frequently, as it’s popular for picnics, dog walking, rowing and feeding the flocks of Egyptian geese. But there have been a few ‘incidents’ over the years, so now the whole point of going to the park in the first place – to relax and forget about the cares of life for a while – is tainted with the need to be alert and aware and suspicious all the time.

It’s almost like we Jo’burgers have a mental checklist for surviving picnics and public outings:

  1. Don’t bring any valuables. Or, if you have to bring valuables, keep them hidden.
  2. Park your car in the safest spot you can, preferably keeping it in sight the whole time, or going back periodically to check that a) it’s still there and b) it hasn’t been broken into.
  3. Take note of everyone around you. Be alert all the time.
  4. Only picnic during daylight hours, in an open spot where you’re clearly visible.
  5. Don’t interact with strangers. If anyone approaches, fob them off as soon as possible. Rudeness is better than gullibility.
  6. If you’re going to be distracted focusing on little kids or photographing the scenery, make sure one of your companions is on sentry duty.
  7. You will, of course, have companions with you. Never, never, never go to picnic places alone. Especially if you’re a woman.

I’m not exaggerating.

But on the upside, I do know of one safe spot left for picnics in Jozi: the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. I’ve mentioned them briefly in a previous post. The gardens are vast and beautiful and well maintained and safe. You have to pay a nominal entrance fee, but I think that’s what’s saved them from deteriorating like so many other spots.

Once you’re past the ticket booth, it feels like you can relax a little at last. You’ll see the better side of Jozi stretched out before you on the rolling green lawns: families of every colour and creed; people of every shape and size. You’ll hear happy children playing and laughing adults unwinding together under the beautiful shade trees. The park enforces very strict rules about noise and littering, so you’ll find your fellow picnickers are generally pleasant and well behaved.

Most visitors bring their own picnics, but there’s also a restaurant with a kiddies’ playground. On certain days there guided walks, music shows and free yoga classes. At certain times of the year the resident black eagles attract a lot of attention at their nest near the waterfall.

The gardens are a popular place for romantic celebrations, too; we know several guys who picked that spot to propose to their girlfriends, and Ninja and I celebrated our one-year dating anniversary there too. There’s something special about this natural haven in the middle of our city. A little bit of escapism; a chance to do nothing more pressing than admire God’s creation and stare up at the sky.

Ninja and I recently picnicked there to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Here are a few photos I took on the day:

The botanical gardens on a sunny summer's day

The botanical gardens on a sunny summer’s day

The messy nest of the black eagles

The messy nest of the black eagles

A stunning male white-bellied sunbird

A stunning male white-bellied sunbird

A locust in the 'Big Bug Expo' in the gardens

A locust in the ‘Big Bug Expo’ in the gardens

All the big bugs are cleverly crafted from recycled scrap metal

All the big bugs are cleverly crafted from recycled scrap metal

Monster mozzie!

Monster mozzie!

Scrap-metal spider

Scorpion against a classic South African backdrop

Scorpion against a classic South African backdrop

A twisted tree branch

A twisted tree branch

A path to one of the hiking trails

A path to one of the hiking trails

Phew! We survived another picnic in Johannesburg. Fancy that 😛