Western Wildflower Wonderland

Western Australia has seen the best spring wildflower season in many years. I managed to get out into wildflower country a few times and it was well worth it, but I still have to learn some of the names! It’s something my late husband and I enjoyed doing together and I still love going for long drives in the beautiful countryside.

These are some of my favourite wildflower photos.


I’ve entered the one below in a Wildflower Photo Competition. There are some really beautiful photo entries but if you like mine, please vote for it at Australia’s Golden Outback.


Healthy Flowers Happy Bees (Dryandra)

Remembering our Comrade 674

Tomorrow almost 20,000 runners will once again gather at the start line in the dark early Pietermaritzburg morning to run the roughly 89km of the Ultimate Human Race.

The Comrades marathon was probably the biggest event on my husband’s exercise/events calendar and even though he’d added Ironman and the Rottnest Channel Swim to his calendar in more recent years and completed countless other marathons and races, the Comrades was always in his blood. It is totally captivating to those who’d run it as well as many others.

Since I can remember it’s always been the race that stops the (South African) nation, and also brings the nation together. Brave runners from all walks of life come together from near and far and display the true spirit of camaraderie while spectators from all walks of life line the 89km long route to cheer, admire and support them and the imaginations of thousands more at home are captured. I’ve always had the utmost respect for Comrades runners and endurance athletes, it takes something special to do this.

In 2012 our beloved Ironman completed his 10th Comrades marathon and in doing so gained himself a prized green (permanent) number. We were living in Australia by then and the kids and I were in Albany for the long weekend. After doing the traditional Elleker 10km race that morning we rushed back to our cabin to be there for the start of the Comrades in South Africa and live track our Ironman. We were listening to Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire on repeat in the car, emotional music, picturing him on the start line with all his brave fellow runners.

He made his way past the Comrades Wall of Honour where he’d had a plaque installed in honour of his dad who’d run the Comrades in 1959 and had passed away a couple of years prior. Little did we know that the 10th would also turn out to be his last Comrades. On Sunday I will be live streaming and watching the race as we’d done for years, but for the first time I will do it without him. I’ll be listening to Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire and I’ll be reflecting on all the times he’d stood on the start line as these songs were being played, and gritted his way to the finish, from the silver medals of his youth to the slower times in later years. I’ll be following the runners as they make their way along the route and past the Wall of Honour where there is now a plaque in his honour as well.

I’ll never get the chance to cheer him on at the start line together with thousands of other runners as Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire are being played and then make my way to the finish line to welcome him there wearing his green number, as we’d hoped to be able to do one day, but I will always honour his memory on this remarkable day especially. His indomitable spirit was that of a true comrade and he was such an incredible ambassador for every race and event through his energy, enthusiasm, passion and devotion to all events, to friends and strangers alike, but with races the Comrades was his first love.

Through Comrades many friendships have been forged over the years, in South Africa, Dubai and Australia. One of these good and long standing friends went to the Wall of Honour the other day and kindly sent me some photos of Ironman’s plaque. I’ll be cheering all the runners tomorrow, I admire you immensely, and for those who knew our Comrade and Ironman please wear the Comrades beadies he loved so much. I’ll be wearing his.

Twenty Seventeen

The last day of 2017, a hard year. Sometimes you hear comments along the lines of “the new year can’t come around quickly enough” and that’s okay. We each have our own battles to fight. This time around I don’t share that sentiment though.

Saying good-bye to 2017 is another inescapable line in the sand of the year we had. In August our world got turned on its head when we lost our beloved husband, father and Ironman brutally unexpectedly with no warning while he was doing something he loved so much – a mountain bike race in the forest with a good mate. My strong, healthy, tough and invincible man lived life to the full until life decided otherwise. Four and a half months later it’s hard to move into a new year because it’s symbolic of leaving something behind that can never be left behind.

The hands of time ruthlessly wait for no-one though and neither can we control its passing but a whole new year is daunting, so there remains but one thing: to live this day. To live this day in a way that would have made our Ironman proud, to honour him and because it shows our respect for the man he was, because we love him and are so proud of him and since he’s no longer around to do it himself.

His are big shoes to fill.  He’d touched many lives, as has been evident in the love, care and support shown to us by family and friends near and far. His never-ending zest for life, passion with which he did everything, energy, sense of humour, spontaneity, generosity and love have been lessons to us. His spirit was indomitable, literally meaning “not to tame”, it was impossible to subdue or defeat. Always adventurous and pushing the boundaries, no challenge was insurmountable to him, and the greater the challenge generally the better. His sporting and athletic achievements are too many to list and professionally he was very highly regarded and well respected. The memories we made are rich and plentiful.

He always encouraged myself and the kids to do things we enjoyed as well as try new things. He loved this blog, he was my most loyal reader, biggest fan and editor. The name was his suggestion and no piece of writing was ever published without his input, and I valued and respected that input greatly. I sat down today to write something in his honour and we will keep doing things in his honour, be adventurous and set ourselves some challenges. We will keep his memory alive, do our best to follow his example as our own lighthouse and hope to make many more memories.

Life doesn’t throw us these curve balls when we’re ready or prepared. On the contrary, we never know what lies ahead but we do have this day.



Wadjemup 1

Wadjemup Lighthouse, Rottnest Island, Western Australia, one of our favourite places.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

This week’s photo challenge is to show what’s happening above us. Once again I couldn’t resist doing a little gallery (some of which photos I’ve used before). Looking up to the bird life, treetops, clouds, a lighthouse, a mountain top, The Giants at the Perth International Arts Festival in 2015 and the world’s biggest aeroplane coming in to land at Perth airport a while ago.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

This week’s photo challenge is to show opposites. Since it’s winter here at the moment and we have lots of rainy days I immediately thought of sunshine as opposed to clouds or rain. I love the drama of clouds rolling in, especially when the sun still partially shines on it, so I put together a little gallery of opposing sunshine and clouds/rain photos.


A Winter’s Day in Perth

In between the grey and rainy winter’s days Perth spoils us with the most beautiful weather sometimes. We are very fortunate to have these blue sky days and I love being outdoors on a day like this. If it’s over the weekend, so much the better. While I was driving the other day, I heard the radio announcer say that it’s really beautiful out at Lesmurdie Falls at the moment. I’ve never been there so I thought it would be a great idea for an outing.

Today dawned crisp and clear – a perfect day for a little drive. Armed with my Thermos coffee flask and camera I set off to Lesmurdie – about a 40 minute drive southeast in the Perth Hills. My husband was off mountain biking and the kids all had other plans for the day which meant I could take my time dawdling and taking as many photos as I like without wasting anybody else’s time.

I walked around for about an hour, taking in the beautiful scenery, enjoying being out in the sunshine and of course, taking lots of photos. The falls are in the Swan river catchment area. The views towards Perth and the coast are breathtaking, and there were lots of wildflowers out. An added bonus was that I got to see my first bandicoot (a small, usually nocturnal, marsupial) in the wild. There are a few hikes out there, which we’ll definitely go and do some time (preferably in winter because it will be too hot in summer). My husband joined me for a quick coffee from the flask after his ride, since he was close by. I had a great time, relaxed and enjoying nature and the beautiful weather with my camera in hand – a perfect day!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Back in March I visited the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition at Cottesloe Beach near Perth. It’s a unique outdoor exhibition that showcased the work of 77 sculptors from 18 countries and attracted around 200 000 visitors.

The sculpture in the photo below is by Will Clift (USA) and is called “Enclosing Form Reaching Together”. The artist’s statement regarding the sculpture reads as follows: “Exploring the interaction of form with gravity and balance, the interplay between weight and weightlessness, and the creation of gesture within a static form.”

I think the curved lines of the sculpture fits this photo challenge well.


Sculptures by the Sea, Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia, 2016

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

The King of the Sky Comes to Perth

A couple of weekends ago the world’s biggest aeroplane came to Perth. Thousands of aviation enthusiasts flocked to the airport to catch a glimpse of it. Not even a two hour delay in Kuala Lumpur before the last leg of its journey to deliver a 116 tonne generator for a mine, deterred people.

My husband and I were equally keen to see it. When we lived in Dubai our house was under the flight path of busy Dubai airport and we loved watching the planes take off one after the other, quite often only about 90 seconds apart. It became a regular pastime especially when we were in the pool with the kids, to watch and identify all the planes.

This plane is in a league of its own though, and none of us had ever seen it. The Antonov 225 was built in Ukraine in the ‘80’s to carry the Russian space shuttle. It has since been converted to carry cargo weighing up to 250 tonnes.

When I told Child No 2 that Ironman and I were going to try and see this plane, she shook her head and said: “You have to be old to think that’s interesting”. “I’m not old!” I replied, taken aback. She only raised her eyebrows as if to say: “If you say so!”

Old or not, we didn’t feel like waiting for 4 hours to see this plane so we decided on a different tactic. All morning my husband watched the Perth airport flight tracker to check in which direction the planes were landing and worked out a perfect spot to see it right under the flight path. We drove there, parked the car and I took some practice photos of other planes coming in overhead. We were quite close to the airport and had avoided the throngs of people and traffic jams and generally quite pleased with ourselves.

Thirty five minutes before the Antonov was due to land, a plane suddenly took off in our direction though, meaning the wind direction had changed and the Antonov would be landing from the opposite side. Our hearts sank. Getting to the airport at that point was out of the question due to the traffic, and getting around the airport to the other side to wait under the flight path there would take much longer than 35 minutes. We weren’t ready to give up yet, we’d come all that way and it was still something we badly wanted to see. After swiftly planning the fastest way to get around to the other side of the airport Ironman said: “Let’s go”. We jumped back in the car and took off.

Twenty minutes later we’d nearly got there when we got stuck in traffic. I sat ready with my camera in hand. We had minutes to spare and we pulled off at the first possible opportunity just as Ironman spotted the Antonov in the distance. It was truly as impressive as we’d thought, even though we weren’t as close as we’d hoped to have been. To see an 88 metre long plane with 6 engines, 7 sets of back wheels and a wing span of 84 metres glide effortlessly through the sky had us in awe.


Our first glimpse of the Antonov 225


The Antonov 225 coming in to land at Perth airport

Within a few seconds it had disappeared from our view but we were happy that we’d gone. It was going to be at Perth airport for another day and a half (it took 12 hours just to unload the mining generator through the front of the plane that lifts up). Like true (old?) enthusiasts we went to the airport the next day to see it where it was parked in front of the international terminal. It was massive, but the true perspective of its size only sunk in when a Boeing 737 taxied past and you were able to compare the size of the two planes.


The Antonov 225 at Perth airport


The Antonov 225 at Perth airport

But we still hadn’t seen the king of the sky fly overhead so the next morning we left home at 4:30am to try and be under its flight path as it took off at 5:30am. We were there by about 5am, with one other hopeful person. We got out of the car and stood chatting to the friendly gentleman in the dark and chilly early morning. We desperately hoped we were in the right spot this time. Plane after plane started taking off and flew straight overhead, most of them taking fly-in-fly-out miners up north. We breathed a sigh of relief, but still worried that the wind might change again and leave us stranded in the wrong spot. The gentleman we’d been chatting to said drily: ”This is as good a spot as you’ll get. I might move 5 feet that way.” By this time there were about 30 to 40 other cars parked there as well with some people still in their pyjamas.

Around 6am we heard another plane take off in our direction, but this was very distinctively a much louder and bigger sound than all the previous ones. I didn’t bother with my camera since it was still dark but had my phone ready to video. It didn’t disappoint. It came straight overhead, and away it went, its first visit to Australia having proven a very popular one. My husband wasn’t videoing and watching it with the naked eye he was struck by the fire in all 6 engines in stark contrast to the dark sky. We were all spellbound by the sheer size of it and the engineering behind getting a machine of that size and weight to take to the skies. It was worth leaving home at 4:30am and standing around in the freezing cold for about an hour. I didn’t get the photos I wanted though and neither does the video do it justice so I suppose these two “oldies” will go and see it again if it ever returns to Perth.


Y is for Yellow-throated miner and Yellow-billed spoonbill. The Yellow-throated miner is a medium sized honeyeater  and we always see them when we camp at Coral Bay. We’re usually there in October which falls in their breeding season and we’ve been swooped a few times (when they feel threatened if someone gets too close to their nest) and sometimes they can be a bit cheeky, trying to get to our food.


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay


Yellow-throated miner at Coral Bay

The Yellow-faced spoonbill is a large white waterbird which we haven’t seen very often. The only photo I have is one I took in Albany a few years ago, which isn’t very clear unfortunately.


Yellow-billed spoonbill (on the left)

Y is also for Yanchep National Park, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Perth. We’ve been there a number of times for a picnic, a little walk and/or bike ride and to visit their Koala sanctuary. There are beautiful sweeping lawns, lots of trees and barbecue areas.


The lake at Yanchep National Park

Finally, Y is also for Yallingup, south west of Perth, close to Margaret River. Yallingup is a popular holiday destination with beautiful beaches and also because of it’s proximity to the wineries and tourist attractions around Margaret River.


Yallingup, near Margaret River in south west Australia



U is for University. I studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Stellenbosch is a small town in the heart of the winelands about 35 minutes’ drive from Cape Town. The village (or dorp as it’s known in Afrikaans) has grown around and with the university over the years. It used to be a small village that became busy when the students were around and got really quiet during university holidays but it’s grown a great deal since I’ve studied there.

In the early ‘90’s when I was a student it still had a village-feel to it, or maybe it was just my perception as a young student (where your world only revolved around your immediate surroundings and goings-on). The campus is fairly concentrated and included some historical buildings. During my first three years (whilst boarding in a student residence – koshuis), I didn’t have a car and used to walk everywhere. It didn’t matter if it were lectures, shopping or socialising. There was always a constant stream of students walking to and around campus. In winter everyone was out with umbrellas. It must have been the fashion to have very colourful umbrellas at the time because I clearly remember bare trees and grey, rainy days devoid of much colour other than a vibrant sea of multi-coloured umbrellas going up the street. Reds, greens, yellows, blues, oranges, purples and many more. I used to love the colour it brought to otherwise dreary days.

U Stellenbosch

Part of the University of Stellenbosch (photo credit: Stellenbosch University)

My husband studied there as well but finished a few years before I started and our paths only crossed later. Today our son studies at the University of Western Australia. The cost of accommodation and living expenses in Perth forces most students to live at home while they’re studying. Luckily public transport is such that they can commute easily. Child No 2 studies music at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) which forms part of Edith Cowan University. There are four public universities in Perth and some smaller private ones as well. With two kids at uni at the moment I often think back fondly of my own carefree student days.