Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Marula Tree

On safari at the Ngala Private Game Reserve back in 2009, I first learned about the marula tree. On our morning game drives, once the sun had come up, we would stop around 7 am for a hot drink. We enjoyed their recommendations – coffee or hot chocolate with the addition of a cream liqueur made from the fruit of the marula tree (Amarula). It was delicious!

This is probably a more modern use of the marula fruit – traditionally the fruit and juice are fermented to make a marula beer, and the kernels create a marula oil, used for and in cooking or in cosmetics (as a body oil, and even as a meat preservative.

The marula tree is not only important for humans, but animals too, particularly elephants. They eat the bark, branches and fruit of the marula, and distribute the seeds in their dung.

I loved the sculptural nature of the trees, and the way the early morning or late afternoon winter light highlighted their branches.

A marula tree in golden light
Marula Tree

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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Déjà vu

This time four years ago, I have been reminded by an app, I was also in lockdown. I’d just broken my ankle, and my mobility was severely curtailed, with my foot in a cast, forbidden from putting any weight on it. I was pretty helpless the entire month of April, reliant on my husband for almost everything. Things quickly got worse too, as it became stressful in the middle of the month when my father-in-law had a heart attack, and then another one a few weeks later. My poor husband had to look after me, go to work during the busiest time of his entire two-year contract, then afterwards drive hours a day picking up his mother (who was no longer driving in her 90s) and taking her to the hospital and back, worrying about them both. To say he was stressed would be an understatement. To say we ate a lot of takeaways (takeout for the North Americans), would not! At the same time, I was executor of my mother’s estate (along with my two sisters), and we were trying to finalise the sale of her house, etc. I remember negotiating the price with the real estate agent (and my sisters) from my bed! Everything had hit at once!

I noticed that I said I was trying to write, and I was studying Spanish. I’d forgotten that, but I made a point every morning of doing an hour or so on my Spanish language app. It’s time I got back into doing that! I learned to whizz around the dining room and kitchen on my computer chair (with wheels), which made life a bit easier during the day. And I slid up and down the stairs on my bum. (I couldn’t handle going up and down the stairs on my crutches, given the nature of the stairs, lack of handrails etc).

Frankly, this lockdown is a lot easier. I think that’s easy for me to say because a) NZ doesn’t have as many community transmission cases as many places, b) it’s lovely autumn weather (so far), and we’ve been able to go on walks almost every day, and c) I don’t have kids to worry about/make the house noisy. But I’m mobile, my father-in-law is doing okay with daily healthcare visits, and everyone I know is in the same boat.

The fact that everyone is in the same position does help in many ways, and that even in four years, technology is so much better able to cope. Online communities are doing amazing things. My friends who are avid music lovers are talking about the livestreams of favourite singers, our local symphony orchestra is doing them, and I saw one from the British Ukelele Orchestra the other day too. When I was laid up with my foot in plaster, I couldn’t sit at my computer as easily as I can now (it hurt!), and so writing or reading or watching livestreams online wasn’t as possible as it is now. The best thing is what I am watching now, as I write this. As you may know, I love safaris. They’re my “happy place.” And one of the game reserves I’ve visited in South Africa (Ngala) has linked with another, and with WildWatch Live, and they are live-streaming game drives twice a day (they do them at sunrise and in the afternoon, on Youtube and Facebook). They are perfectly timed for me, as their sunrise drive has been in the late afternoon for me. I’ve linked them above, if you’re keen to see a real safari drive. They are true to form – sometimes a bit slow, other times everything happens at once. But they are absolutely like being there – except you don’t feel the fresh air, or the cold(!) air before the sun comes up, the bumps in the road, and we don’t have to duck to avoid the spiky thorns. Also, we don’t stop for hot chocolates with amarula liqueur to perk us up! (Though I did watch one the other day with a glass of chardonnay!)

As with April 2016, I have to stay at home. But it’s not so bad.  Like my broken ankle, I have hope that the world will heal, though maybe not as quickly. But I hope in four years, I am reminded of this and it seems like a dim and distant event in the past.

And so to brighten your day (and mine), I’m going to share two of my favourite photos from a safari that I went on IRL. The impala photo is from the same reserve where the livestreams are based:

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This time in 2009, we were on our first visit to Africa. I fell in love, and – supplanting those relaxing tropical beaches – invigorating but restorative African safaris became my favourite thing to do. I loved the bush – it’s not lush and beautiful like the New Zealand bush, but I adored the wide spaces, the huge thorns, the stark leadwood trees, and of course, the animals. I have posted many photos from our visits to South Africa, but here is one you haven’t seen before. I took this exactly seven years ago today.

Impala looking back at us



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