T…

In the twilight of this challenge I seem to be turning more towards to the telling of tales rather than sharing photos, so I thought I’d share some memories of Table Mountain.

Majestic Table Mountain forms the backdrop for Cape Town in South Africa. I had the good fortune of growing up in the area and seeing that mountain and its different shades and moods every day. Some days it was clear. When the south easterly blew in (also known as the Cape doctor because it blew away smoke and fog), a blanket of cloud would fold itself over the top of the mountain. Winter storms came in from the north west, enshrouded the mountain with clouds and dropped lots of rain at Newlands on the other side. It was omnipresent and forms the backdrop to my childhood as well. If my childhood memories were to be printed in a series of pictures, Table Mountain would be in most of them.

Once as a teenager in the mid-eighties we had a school excursion planned, going up Table Mountain via the cable car. The only trouble was, I’d dislocated my knee cap and torn the ligaments and was in a full leg cast and walking with crutches. There was a bit of umming and aahing about whether I should go along but I wasn’t about to miss out. I hobbled along and squeezed into the (what felt quite rickety) cable car together with my class mates on an overcast and cool Cape Town day. (The beautiful rotating cable cars that carry 65 passengers that are in operation today were only installed in 1997.)

In those days the only shelter on top of the mountain was a small limestone building that served as visitor centre, café and gift shop. This building houses the gift shop today. Because of the weather on that day I waited in the café while the others were outside. Hobbling around with crutches on top of a mountain in overcast weather was too much for my teacher’s nerves. I was content – at least I was there.

After a while the others joined me and we had steaming cups of hot chocolate whilst sitting in a bay window, looking at the rain outside. This picture has been cemented in my memory and whenever I visit the mountain and the gift shop I can still picture us huddled together on that bay seat, crutches lying to one side and the weather closing in.

I’ve climbed up Table Mountain a few times via different paths – Platteklip Gorge (flat rock gorge) right at the front, Nursery Ravine starting at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and once from Constantia Neck. This last one was the day we realised Table Mountain isn’t flat at the back at all. We’d climb up a ridge thinking it was the summit, only to find a valley in front of us and beyond that another ridge. We trudged down through the valley and up the next rise hoping this would be it but no, another valley unfolded in front of our eyes. This happened about four times! It was hot, mid-summer and the middle of the morning and the fact that the rest of our hiking party had partied a bit too hard the night before and were slowing us down considerably wasn’t helping. The sun was beating down but we got there in the end and thankfully took the cable car down (as we did on the other occasions). We’d parked one car at the bottom cable station and the other at the start of the hike. It would have been a bad day if we then had to discover that our car keys were in the car that was parked at the start of the 3 hour hike (as happened to a friend of my husband’s one day).

One day we did something different and went up Table Mountain (with the cable car) late in the afternoon  to watch the sunset from up there, which was magical. Standing up there and watching the shadow of the mountain with its well known shape being cast across the peninsula as the sun was setting is something I’ll always remember. Just before the sun dipped below the horizon the shadow of the mountain stretched all the way to the Boland mountains across the peninsula. Table Mountain is synonymous with Cape Town, and vice versa. It’s part of the character and charisma of the city and very much a part of my growing up.

Q…

Q is for qualify.

I found myself in a bit of a quandary trying to come up with something for the letter Q, other than my photos of Quokkas and (brown) Quails, and then we had the most amazing experience the other night, watching the Australian Swimming Championships and Olympic Qualifiers on television that took place in Adelaide.

The daughter of friends of ours swam in the championship (as she did last year), but this year – being the year of the Rio Olympics – there was so much more at stake. (I apologise in advance if I get any of the technical details or terms wrong, I know only what I’ve learnt from the sidelines.) There were two heats earlier in the day and the fastest swimmers from those two heats would go through to the final. The winner and second person in the final would qualify for the Olympics, given that they swam under the Australian Olympic Qualifying time (which is faster than the Olympic Qualifying time).

Our friends’ daughter went to the same Perth primary school as our kids and along with her parents and other friends of the family we watched her swim at school swimming carnivals (galas). All the parents watched their kids proudly do their best and maybe get a podium finish. We would jump up and down and shout encouragement. And then Tam would dive in for her race and finish about half a pool’s length ahead of most of her competitors. I remember more than one relay race where her team was trailing and she’d dive in for the last leg about a third of the length of the pool behind the leaders, and end up in front so her team won the relay. She swam all the different strokes like a champion. It was poetry in motion and a beautiful thing to watch. We shouted as hard for her as we did for our own kids, got goose bumps and teared up while her own nerve racked parents were quietly biting their nails. A few of us jokingly said (about 7 or 8 years ago) that we had to book our tickets for Rio for 2016 to go and watch her there.

As outsiders we really had no idea how much training went into performances like hers, and that times were important, even at that young age. In the years since, we still have no idea how much sheer hard work, dedication, focus and sacrifice is involved to build a talent like hers to the point where she swims at the Olympic Qualifying meet.

At 17 she went into her heat as the Australian Junior Champion and qualified for the final with the third fastest time. The two swimmers faster than her were both Olympic swimmers. (When I say faster we’re talking about milliseconds.) Spare a thought for the fact that her main event is 400 metres freestyle, which is gruelling. She stepped up for the final and looked to be the first off the block. She stayed with the Olympic swimmer who swam in the lane next to her.

For eight laps she didn’t let her get away but both of them pulled away from the rest of the field. It didn’t take long to become clear who the top two swimmers would be, and then we edged even closer to the TV to see if they would both make it within the Australian Olympic Qualifying time. By the last lap we were up and out of our seats, jumping and shouting for her. She finished in a close second position, about a second within the Australian Qualifying time. We were beside ourselves. Tam qualified for the 2016 Olympics. She’s going to Rio!

She turned around to look at her time, not yet realising that she’d made it within the qualifying time until the winner next to her told her she’d made it. The camera zoomed in on her proud parents and then came back to show an interview with her and the winner. They’d both qualified for the Australian Olympic team. Tam said it was still hard for her to comprehend. All of us back in Perth were out of our skins with excitement and pride not only because she’d qualified for the Olympics but also for the poise, maturity, humility and graciousness in which she always conducts herself. Go Tam, we are right behind you all the way.

UWA West Coast Swimming Club

Photo credit: UWA West Coast Swimming Club

Sorry, little Quokkas and Quails, you’ve got pushed to the back seat.

P…

P is for Perth, Western Australia, (sometimes referred to as Perthadise) where we’ve lived for the past eleven years. I don’t go into the city very often and when I do it’s usually a quick purposeful trip not for leisure and I don’t take my camera along or think to take many photos. Most of my photos of Perth have been taken from Kings Park and show the change in the city since we’ve moved here.

Last year during the Perth International Arts Festival we went to see the Giants. Most of the streets in the CBD had been closed off and the people of Perth flocked there to watch this amazing show (I’ve used some of the photos in a previous photo challenge). I definitely had my camera with me that day!

P is also for picnic, something the people of Perth love to do in this outdoor lifestyle.

O…

O is for Osprey. We see Eastern Ospreys along our coastline every now and then. A couple of years ago I was lucky to see two together at Rottnest Island (19 kilometres off the coast of Perth), and one was feeding at the time. They were really high up in the tree so I had to zoom in quite a bit and the quality isn’t the best but the one that was feeding looks like a female to me, who then joined her male partner after she’d finished eating (and went to sit to his left). They had me rapt for about half an hour. I’ve included some of the best shots I got.

O is also for Oasis (we visited an ancient one while we lived in Dubai and it was very interesting but sadly I can’t find the photos), Orange (a beautiful city in country New South Wales where a lot of fruit is grown, about a three hour drive from both Canberra and Sydney where we went for my husband’s 50th birthday a couple of years ago), home made olive scrolls and of course: olives.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime

This week’s challenge asks us to share an image of a meal or one taken during dinner hour.

Perth’s climate and outdoor lifestyle makes it ideal for picnics and we especially enjoy doing it at the beach at dinnertime. There are always people out doing the same and playing cricket, footy (Australian football) or soccer. On a warm summer’s evening we often end up going for a swim at that time as well.

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Picnic at Sorrento beach on a warm summer’s evening

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Picnic food

The other night we went to the Night Noodle Markets at Perth’s newly completed Elizabeth Quay. It was a lovely evening, and packed with people (on a Tuesday night) out to enjoy the variety of foods for dinner.

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Perth during the Night Noodle Markets

N…

N is for Namibia and the Namib desert, which is believed to be the world’s oldest desert. It has a beauty of its own that I love.

N is also for New Zealand, New South Wales (one of the states of Australia), New Norcia (a Benedictine monastery established in 1846), Norfolk Island Pines, which are endemic to Norfolk Island (a small island in the Pacific Island, about 1440 kilometres from Sydney), and Nankeen Kestrels.

L…

L is for Lion, Lion’s Head and Laughing Kookaburra. We saw these lions on our last trip to Etosha National Park in 2014 on a rainy day. They were very relaxed and let us have a good, long look at them (I’ve used some of the photos in a previous photo challenge: here).

There is a song called: “Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree” which is sung to the same melody as a song I grew up with in South Africa called “Tortelduifie sit in die Eikeboom” (Turtledove sits in the Oak Tree). I’ve included a video of Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree:

L is also for limes, picked fresh from the garden and soon to become home made lime sorbet and lime cheese cake. I’ve since picked another bowl full but I’m running out of ideas what to make with them all. Any suggestions anyone?

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Limes from our garden

K…

K is for Kalahari, one of my favourite places. Even though the Kalahari is a large region, the part I refer to here is in Namibia, close to the border with Botswana. K is also for Kudu, an African antelope and Kameeldoring (the Camel Thorn Tree).

K also stands for Kings Park and Botanical Garden, which is one of the world’s largest inner city parks. Situated on the bank of the Swan river it provides sweeping views of Perth, the Swan and Canning rivers and the Darling ranges (Perth hills).

K is also for kangaroo and kalamata olives which  I love and grow in our garden.

J…

J is for jetty, joey and jigsaw puzzles.

The Busselton jetty in south west Australia is the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 1841 metres long. It used to be a working jetty but is now used solely for tourism and recreational purposes. An underwater observatory has been built at the end of the jetty, giving patrons the opportunity to view fish and other marine life in their natural environment.

The Swakopmund jetty is also an icon in this Namibian town with its own rich history as it juts out into the Atlantic ocean with its big swells.

I have to mention the jetty (or rather remains thereof) at Maud’s Landing just north of Coral Bay in north west Australia, where the Ningaloo Reef is. It’s one of our favourite holiday destinations and the colour of the water really looks like this:

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Remains of the jetty at Maud’s Landing north of Coral Bay, WA

A joey is a juvenile kangaroo. I haven’t been lucky enough to get a photo of one in its mum’s pouch. This one is slightly older:

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A little joey next to the boardwalk in the caravan park at Coral Bay

And finally: jigsaw puzzles. Child No 3 is the best in our house at doing jigsaw puzzles. She has the most patience and perseverance and can spot a piece and its intended place with eagle-eye efficiency.

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One of the 2000 piece jigsaw puzzles Child No 3 has completed

H…

Hobart, the capital city of  beautiful Tasmania, was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of the letter H. We visited there in 2013 when my husband took part in the Three Peaks Race and though we only spent a short time there we really liked the city and Tasmania and would love to go back for a longer visit. Hobart, being a city with a European feel and the backdrop of a mountain, reminded me a lot of Cape Town.

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View of Hobart and Mount Wellington

Speaking of Cape Town: H is also for Hout Bay near Cape Town, a beautiful little town where we used to go for fresh fish and chips sometimes.

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Hout Bay near Cape Town (visible to the right of the photo)

Closer to home Hillarys Boat Harbour is a lovely marina with shops and restaurants about 20 kilometres north of Perth which I’m fortunate to call my place of work.

Reading HesterLeyNel’s post on F made me think of the hermit crabs on Broome’s Cable Beach in north west Australia. The crabs dig up tiny, round little balls of sand and deposit them around their holes all over the beach. Our kids used to play with the crabs but I find the little balls of sand fascinating, especially as you walk over them, giving your feet  a massage.

Still in Broome, I was very lucky to go on a helicopter ride a few years ago. Spectacular views of the ocean and coastline there made me want to go for more and more helicopter rides.

Finally, back home, I love my herb garden and being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs.

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Herb garden