A Sunday afternoon stroll in Hout Bay Harbour

A visit to Hout Bay harbour is always a worthwhile diversion, especially on a Sunday afternoon. Watching people walking leisurely along the harbour mole gives one a feeling of being at peace with the world.

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Black and white – in unison.

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A myriad of ways – seemingly at rest.

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Red yellow green at the end of the harbour mole.

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Freshly painted for the new season.

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Tightly packed during a weekend’s reprieve.

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The stroll home.

A day in the sun, among like-minded people.
Letting the day slow down to a quieter pace.
Let us be here for now,
outside time for a while.

Stellenbosch, 25 November 2015

With love as always from
Colleen & Walter

 

 

 

 

Where do we come from – What are we – Where are we going

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Part of a chacma baboon family troop at rest on the False Bay coastal road near Rooiels.

The following thoughts were inspired by the recent exhibition of bones of a new branch on the tree of mankind – Homo naledi:

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Homo naledi is an extinct species of hominin, provisionally assigned to the genus Homo. Discovered in 2013 and described in 2015, fossil skeletons were found in South Africa‘s Gauteng province, in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.[1][2] As of 10 September 2015, fossils of at least fifteen individuals, amounting to 1550 specimens, have been excavated from the cave. (Wikipedia)

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Paul Gaugin (1848-1903), D’ou venons nous / Que sommes nous /Où allons nous (Tahiti 1897-1898), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In the beginning we were all one.
Then the world split into its parts.
Fragmentation caused complexity and the formation of self.
Then the self began to separate itself from itself and consciousness began.
When did this happen?
What are the basic elements of consciousness?

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“Me Tarzan, you Jane” is actually a  misquote but serves to illustrate the point of basic consciousness – giving the separation of self from itself an expression.

Paul Gaugins “Where do we come from – What are we – Where are we going” expresses the idea of pondering the self within the context of a return to its paradisiacal origins.
In Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I paradise is forever lost and the way ahead is contemplated.

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Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Melencolia I, engraving, 1514.

Of the many disciplines we have invented to research our consciousness in space and time, paleoanthropology appears to have had another field day with the discovery of homo naledi:

Does it bring us closer to knowing where we come from and to understand what we are or where we are going?
Are these not questions for tender on a higher, spiritual plane?

Once we were one with all.
Then came the separation.
Where are we now?
Have we as a species come to understand what we are?
Where are we going?

Day of All Saints,
Stellenbosch, November 1, 2015
With love as always from
Colleen & Walter

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A walk through the garden at Babylonstoren

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Babylonstoren with a view of the Simonsberg mountains.

The garden at Babylonstoren is one of our favourite places to be. It is a place of perfect serenity where you can almost see and touch the balance of energies love and respect for the land and the people who work it have created. Dutifully and carefully the garden is tended throughout the year. Smallest details are taken care of. Nature and man appear to be in easy harmony here.

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Preparing the optimal environment for growing Cardoons – “a cross between artichokes and asparagus. Cultivated plants grow up to 2 metres in height. This process involves wrapping the stalks with newspaper and black bags for several weeks, so that when harvested, in late autumn, the stalks are pale green.”

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Cardoons. Source: Christine Ingram with Roz Denny and Katherine Richmond, The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking. Hermes House 1997, p. 35.

The owners of Babylonstoren, in collaboration with gardeners, workers, chefs are continuously experimenting with introducing new varieties, such as tamarillos (tree tomatoes), tree melons or aubergine and artichoke varieties among others. All plant material is carefully selected and tested first for its suitability for long term cultivation.

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Still in winter dream mode or just resting … they, together with ducks, are part of insect control.

The hedgehog could be seen as a metaphor for the approachability of nature: prickly on the outside with a soft pink underbelly. Treat it with care and respect and it will reward you with its own particular usefulness. All the wonderful lovely fruit the garden will yield in the coming months has the prickly side of many hours of intensive and continuous labour of love.

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Fig trellises. Optimally positioned to catch the light with easy picking as a trade-off.

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Over 9000 plants with a number of varieties are spread all along the pathways bordering the garden.

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Dante and Vergil in the upper world.

We and Marietjie had been invited by Annette and Hermann on this walk through the garden, especially to see the display of Clivias which are now at the height of their flowering season and also for a special treat at “Babel”, Babylonstoren‘s fine restaurant.

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Annette considering the lighter shades of red.

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Clivias are of the Amaryllidaceae family and native to South Africa and Swaziland.They are typically forest undergrowth plants, adapted to low light (with the exception of C. mirabilis from the Western Cape).

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Their common name is Natal lily or Bush lily. Six species of Clivias are identified, all represented here in the Babylonstoren garden.

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Marietjie considering the darker shades of red.

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Clivias and arum lilies alongside a rivulet running through the garden.

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Water lily ponds in front with “waterblommetjies” (Aponogeton distachyos – also: Cape Pond Weed). The Drakenstein mountains in the background.

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The restaurant “Babel”. Marietjie about the restaurant: “… it is such a pleasing visual experience. ‘Eat with your eyes’ is so true. Everything at Babylonstoren just oozes ‘style’ – the one thing that money can’t buy.”

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Aspects of the Manor house.

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Splendid indeed – but what on earth is he thinking —- no-one seems impressed. Well, he’s just shaking his feathers, if you want to know or in Afrikaans: “Hy sleep vlerk”.

Visiting the  garden of Babylonstoren is part of an everlasting love affair with nature in its yielding to our cultivating mind and hands. The hands of many, of those with resources at their disposal willing to share wealth and vision with the many who on their part are lending their strength and passion in the pursuit of a common happiness.
Happiness in seeing nature bloom and blossom, widening the horizon of day to day politics. And be touched by it.
As a start.

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With love as always from
Colleen and Walter
Stellenbosch, 27 September 2015

A People in Distress – Some Thoughts on the Passing of Africa Day

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Namibian desert moonscape.

The world around us is, and we in it are, in restless motion. And so is the universe of which we are part. And the greater and even deeper space around that and so on ad infinitum. It all is in motion. At no point ever can you hold “it” fast and pin it down. Even in death there is no finality. It is all in flux.
This notion of Πάντα ρει (panta rhei) – “Everything flows”, meaning that you can never step into the same river twice, as a philosophical concept, is attributed to the pre-Socratic thinking of Heraclitus of Ephesus who lived from ca. 535 to 475 BC.

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Heraclitus by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629)*

It is of course a quotidian experience which we, however, apportion to the passage of time. We can never catch up with it. If only we could stop time for a moment longer, and so on. We use “time” as the general expression of this movement.

Time is a cultural convention. There is no such thing as time as such. There is perpetual movement and our experience of it in terms of time as a conventional measure of orientation in this world of unceasing motion and constant change. Were you to sit under a tree, meditating about the world, and it felt to you that all was still and motionless, time too would lose its voice.

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Salvador Dali (1904-1989), The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Museum of Modern Art, New York. (Courtesy of WikiArt).

Science and philosophy have generated a number of questions, such as:
What and/or who has set it all into motion?
Are there any laws governing motion?
Does motion have a direction and an ultimate goal?

Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun

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Ibn Sina or Avicenna

While we normally cannot engage in meaningful discussions about the findings of science from Thales of Miletus (624-546 BCE), Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), Ibn Khaldun (1334-1406) to Newton (1643-1727) and von Helmholtz (1821-1849), proposing and discussing ideas or concepts of development and goals, are commonplace in the polity, where it is easy for all to see into which direction things ought to move.

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Crayfish boats in Hout Bay Harbour near Cape Town.

The pessimistic outlook on Africa, as portrayed by the press, represents the blatant sufferings of the populace at large only. Trying to reach the shores of Europe in stricken vessels, children bonded as soldiers, the abduction and subsequent enslavement of school girls, genocide, rulers in contempt of the rule of law – Africa from that perspective, is a mess. Africa, it seems, would again have to rid herself from colonisers, this time of her own making. A people in fear of their rulers who treat their people with contempt, is a people in distress. It took Europe more than two centuries to establish herself constitutionally, how long will it take the people of Africa to set themselves free.

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Farm workers’ children on their way to the school bus in 2010 on the farm Vrede in the Camdeboo Conservancy near Graaff-Reinet/Eastern Cape.

Africa Day, meant to remind us of our common humanity, also prompts a number of uneasy questions, that we, having chosen to live in Africa and be counted as Africans, have to ponder:

Are we sufficiently evolved as a species to narrow the ever widening divide between poor and rich?
How can we dispose of unjust rulers without causing further social unrest?
Can nations develop and compete side by side in harmony with each other?
How can we exploit natural and human resources in an equitable way?
Can we harness self-interest, greed, addictions without curbing our zest for life?
Can we as nations wed tribal and national interests with mankind’s common interest?

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Tourists and tourist guide Hout Bay harbour.

What counts is: respect for each other, for life. And, let’s not forget – life without fun is no fun.

With love as always
Walter & Colleen
Stellenbosch, 31st of May 2015

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* Courtesy of Wikipedia

Stellenbosch 2015 Vintage

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View of the Hottentots Hollands mountain range from Annandale Road.

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Rows and rows of cultivated land.

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Against the Helderberg mountain range.

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Entrance gate to a farmstead and vineyards on Annandale Road.

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Pin oaks turning their colour with the vines.

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Simonsberg and Stellenbosch mountain range behind.

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Strong reds already in the barrel.

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A homestead with Table Mountain in the distance.

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Polka Drive. Vlottenburg.

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Stellenbosch Kloof.

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Rising the dust on our ride home.

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Shadows fall and mountains turning blue.

Stellenbosch, 13 May 2015
With love from
Colleen & Walter

What is Xenophobia? – Some Thoughts on the Occasion of “Freedom Day”

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King Goodwill Zwelithini -king of the Zulus in ceremonial garb.

The renewed outbreak of violence against immigrants from other African countries – mainly from Zimbabwe and Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Nigeria, Somalia – in South Africa is branded as “xenophobia”, but I am not convinced this is the adequate term to use here.
The Greek word “xenos” means “foreigner” as well as “guest” and everything in between. A “xenos” can be a foreigner you are welcoming into your home and someone hostile to you.
The “phobia” in connection with a “xenos” means you are afraid to take a foreigner into your home, you are suspicious of the foreigner’s intentions and deny him or her your hospitality.
This is what happened to Piet Retief and his team of trekkers in 1838 after they had successfully, or so they thought, negotiated a land settlement deal with the Zulu king Dingane who however, after having signed the treaty, ordered his impis to slaughter the negotiating party one by one and an estimated 500 men, women and children in nearby camps thereafter. This in turn, some months later, led to the Battle of Blood River where 470 Voortrekkers under Andries Pretorius withstood in their encampment along the Ncome river the onslaught waves of up to 20.000 Zulu warriors and made history.
Theirs was not xenophobia but eradication of a potential competitor for grazing.

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A nation wants to stand tall and proud.

Similar sentiments are at stake today. Foreigners are seen as competitors in a demanding job market. Our local labour force finds it difficult to compete with well educated workers from neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe and Malawi. While it is claimed that Nigerian nationals are holding the lion’s share in the drug and scam trade, it is no secret that Zimbabweans are very much in demand in the hospitality industry where our local labour force finds it difficult to compete. Similarly, traders from Somalia are offering competitive services to consumers while making profits through efficient networking. All of this has created a volatile situation where the local labour force, disadvantaged by inferior or non-existent education, hamstrung by labour union policies and dispirited by almost fifty years of de-humanising legislation, is becoming more and more frustrated. It’s a powder keg scenario where one word can be the spark to ignite it.

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Informal settlements near Cape Town.

Xenophobia is not a South African thing at all. On the contrary. South Africa has a long tradition of inviting foreigners into her home and integrating them into her industry and culture and that has made this country strong and great. The situation seems to be changing now in that the majority of the people see themselves as disenfranchised despite promises to the contrary. And while the tide of foreigners drawn to this country is rising dramatically, there is no real hope for a dramatic change in the ordinary man and woman’s lot.

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Wild coast/Eastern province road side exchange.

We cannot address xenophobia without addressing the underlying causes. For South Africa this means to dramatically increase the efficiency of our educational machinery. Educated people need not fear the foreign. They are equipped to integrate them into the general societal fabric and network. It is the uneducated masses that feel left behind and cheated out of their hopes and promises. And they are getting angry. Xenophobia in South Africa is an expression of this anger. It is misdirected, of course, and abused by all too ready background looters. Not the foreigner is at fault but government policies that have failed in providing the majority of people with a level of education that would enable them to compete with foreigners seeking work opportunities in their neighbourhood.

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Winnie, originally Malawian, now resident in Zimbabwe, plying her trade in South Africa.

Stellenbosch, Monday 27 April 2015,
“Freedom Day”, in commemoration of the first all-inclusive democratic elections in 1994.
With love from
Walter & Colleen

Namibia Impressions IV – Swakopmund – Capricorn – Windhoek and back home

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On the road again into the blue distance.

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Making the best of the last bit of shade in the early afternoon.

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At Solitaire.

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Capricorn rest camp – far from the madding crowd.

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You have not been to Namibia, if you didn’t loose at least one tyre on the trip.

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Kuiseb river.

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Walvisbay. The ocean liner “The World” docking in the background.

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Lunchtime with Stefanie Eins in her Swakopmund studio.

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Artist colleagues and friends Stefanie and Colleen.

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The contrasts of desert and sea, dunescapes, the strength and quality of light, sharp and fading lines, illuminations and illusions of near and far between earth and sky play into Stefanie Eins’ work.

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The icy cold Atlantic at Swakopmund jetty.

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A very jolly encounter at The Tug restaurant with cousins Brett and Leon.

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The jetty at night from Brett’s restaurant.

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Moonscape east of Swakopmund.

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Motoring home south from Windhoek to Grünau.

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Kokerboom forest near Keetmanshoop.

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Stop-over in Grünau for the night before our last stretch home to Stellenbosch.

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Departure at dawn.

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Much hoped for rain at last.

With love as always from
Colleen & Walter
Stelllenbosch, 26 April 2015

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