Laughing at ourselves!

My Dad is awesome. And he has the most amazing sense of humour!

Just a Scottish laddie!

Just a Scottish laddie!

I was recently sorting out some old photos for him and came across this little gem. It was so perfect for Ailsa’s travel challenge: Laughter!

And it seems that he is not the only one who gets up to these silly antics 🙂 
This photo was taken before the age of digital photos, on my first trip to England. I can still remember this lovely pub in Shere.

Now I'm in trouble!

Now I’m in trouble!

They tell us that laughter is the best medicine for all ailments. What makes you REALLY laugh? Have you laughed like that lately?
Perhaps it should be on everyone’s New Year’s resolution list – I resolve to have one really good laugh each week!!! 😆

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Have you ever…. had issues with photo sizes?

I live in an area on the edge of a medium sized city, where many ‘in town’ inhabitants have good access to the internet. However, despite many political promises, it seems that our district is stuck with inadequate online capability and will be for some time.

Those of you who have ‘unlimited’ internet upload and download access – and more critically, have FAST internet, please know that I am extremely jealous 🙂

Which brings me to the subject of this post. I am interested to know how many bloggers cut down the size of their photos before uploading them to their blog? I have just tried to upload a 3.5MB image to my WordPress site and it uploaded with no problems, however, it took a long time. Most of the images I use on my blogs are approximately 100kb in size, which seems to be quite suitable for internet viewing. Has anyone had any issues with the quality of the images on my posts?

98 kB image (500 x 375 pixels)

98 kB image (500 x 375 pixels)

228 kB image (800 x 600 pixels)

228 kB image (800 x 600 pixels)

If I had to upload all my photos at full size, it would take forever and I am sure I would be cursed by readers who similarly, have slow download rates. I have frequently found wonderful blog sites which I would love to follow, but due to the size and quantity of the photos on each post, I simply gave up.

I have recently found some software which watermarks and downsizes (to a user defined size) images rather nicely (“Photosizer”, by Giant Moose). This will save me quite a bit of time, as I previously had to do each step individually.

What does everyone else do/use? And if you don’t downsize your images, do you limit the quantity, bearing in mind that some of us internet users have issues with large downloads and you may be turning away potential followers? Do you post images directly from your phone or tablet without resizing?

I have never used a poll before, but it would be fun and interesting to see how everyone approaches their image management.

Posted in Have you ever..., Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

“Beestekraal” Station Restaurant

That lovely garden scene from the station platform

That lovely garden scene from the station platform

My last post showed a lady in pink tending her garden. I indicated that this photo was taken at a restaurant which used to be a station.

But this is no ordinary restaurant. While you wait for your food to be prepared, there are plenty of things to keep you busy and entertained (and then there is also the occasional train which goes by!).

The station restaurant from over the rail tracks

The station restaurant from over the rail tracks

There is a shop/museum which is filled with memorabilia from yesteryear – mostly to do with railways and trains. But I am sure you would find some of those old teapots and spoons that your grannie used to have, if you just looked hard enough!

If the museum and touristy items are of no interest, then there is the outside of the building to enjoy. On the front and side walls, lovely, life sized images have been painted showing scenes of station life from another time.

Ticket office surrounded by graffiti

Ticket office surrounded by graffiti

Visitors to the restaurant have added their own mark to the establishment, with each brick in the wall having been annotated with a “graffiti” message. Wherever the viewer looked, there was another detail, message or mark – some romantic and some humorous. The result is very busy, intriguing, interesting and certainly unique.

Graffiti left on the walls by visitors

“Do not spit here” = graffiti left on the walls by visitors

Baggage pickup that way! More messages from restaurant patrons

Baggage pickup that way! More messages from restaurant patrons

As I have already indicated in the previous post, we stopped at this unusual establishment for lunch. Not only was the food delicious, but the quirkiness of the place was also fascinating.

Me being silly and annoying the donkey!

Me being silly and annoying the donkey!

More detail on the side wall

More detail on the side wall

Even visiting the “Happy House” was unusual. One had to cross the main railway lines to a small building on the far side to find the inside of the toilet block had also been decorated – with old sewing pattern envelopes!

Posted in Image Gallery, South Africa, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

The lady in pink

There are times when everything just works fantastically  together to create a lovely image. I spotted this lady tending her garden recently, and could not resist the wonderful combination of colours and the even lighting. The pinks and mauves in the foreground were well complemented by the delightful Jacaranda tree in the background.

These images were taken at the “Beestekraal Stasie” Restaurant on the route between Johannesburg and Marakele National Park in South Africa. The restaurant is an old station which has been given a new lease of life – trains still pass by, but they no longer stop for passengers.

Good food and excellent company combined with unusual surroundings turned this lunch stop into one of life’s unforgettable events.

Posted in Image Gallery, South Africa, Travel | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Foxy – a special meerkat

I recently was lucky enough to spend a month travelling in South Africa. The purpose for the visit was primarily to do some very exciting family tree research, to catch up with newly found family members and to get my fill of the African bush and its wonderful inhabitants.


The African bush where Foxy lives


A poster on the wall above the fridge asked visitors to the reserve to observe some ‘rules’ when interacting with Foxy. Most importantly, to be careful when driving a car.

But nothing prepared me for the treat that my lifetime friend had in store when she took me to a private reserve which backs onto Marakele National Park. The reserve had a ‘pet’ meerkat called Foxy.

Foxy had been hand reared, and while quite comfortable around people, she lived in a large hole in the ground and (as she had to feed herself) spent most of her time foraging for insects and beetles to eat.

Her antics were delightful as she happily explored bags and shoes on her frequent forays into the house. Like a small dog, she loved to have her chin tickled and would roll her head over in bliss for as long as you cared to keep going!


Foxy smelling the breeze to check for danger

As the house was in an area where leopard and lions were known to roam, we were advised not to walk far from the house, and if we did take a stroll, to make sure that Foxy came along too. Her ability to sense danger was amazing. Watching as we went on a few walks, she would stop and smell the air frequently, before dashing off in dizzy happiness to chase and munch on another tasty insect or bug.

After a walk on a particularly warm day, she settled in a favourite spot to cool herself. Belly flat on the cool concrete – paws outstretched over the step, she surveyed her surroundings, making sure all was right in her world.


A nice, cool step!


Relaxing on the step, watching the world go by

This little creature was such a delight. I now know a lot more about the personality of meerkats, which will make them a lot more special next time I see them in the wild.

Posted in Africa, South Africa, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Mud, glorious mud!

Some animals use sunblock and insecticide on a regular basis and have done for centuries. Not the wonderfully blended and highly researched chemicals that we rely on – these are just not readily available in the bush and very impractical for big bodies.

Here is the preferred recipe for many who are plagued by pests and suffer from exposure to the heat:

  • One large pool of water (dig into the soil and sand if necessary to create this pool)
  • Muddy soil (clay is the best)


  • Trample in and around the pool until the water is a nice muddy, sloppy texture. If too runny, trample some more until a good slurry is formed.
  • Elephants – spray liberally all over the body, until glistening wet and entirely covered.
  • Other animals – attempt to submerge in the pool if it is deep enough, rolling about is permitted, and in many instances is recommended.
Elephant having a relaxing soak in a mud bath!

Elephant having a relaxing soak in a mud bath! It is quite difficult to see as it is covered in mud.

Some animals just love the total immersion method! And another plus is that the water is lovely and cool.

Elephants at Addo National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Elephants at Addo National Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Note: hogging the whole pool is not an advisable strategy if there are a lot of elephants competing for a mud pack and supplies are limited.

Ailsa has set her challenge this week to ‘minimalist‘ and defined this using Nicholas Burroughs interpretation: “Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something.”

So next time you reach for a can of insect repellent and/or sunblock – you may like to consider using the minimal amount of natural alternative instead! 😆



Posted in Africa, Favourite things, South Africa, Travel, Weekly challenges, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Christmas wishes

I recently posted posted photos of the amazing home and garden of Helen Martins. This remarkable person used glass to decorate the inside of her home, while filling her garden with concrete sculptures – many hundreds of them!

I promised to show you the nativity scene from Helen Martin’s garden with my Christmas post and here it is.

The nativity scene from Helen Martin's garden.

The nativity scene from Helen Martin’s garden.

Closeup of the baby in the crib.

Closeup of the baby in the crib.

The sculptures were in the centre of the garden, but appeared to have no linkage with other statues in their immediate environment. If you missed the posts on Helen Martin and her Owl House, you can find them in the Owl House and Helen’s garden at the Owl House.

Merry Christmas to all my fellow readers and bloggers. I hope you have a really lovely day, and a year ahead filled with happy blogging and story writing!

Posted in Image Gallery, South Africa, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments