shallicomparethee

Literature, Words, Good food & Wine and other delicious conundrums

There’s a snail at the bottom of my garden and it’s name is Wiggley-woo

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(This charming email was sent to me today by my father, Hugh James, who lives in Ashton, Western Province, South Africa)

It was at the bottom of my garden that I encountered the manifestation of an experience which recurs many times.  The experience itself was simple, even trivial, surprisingly vivid and accompanied by an almost overwhelming onrush of happiness.

I was alone in the garden.  The sun was shining with that peculiar benignity that comes with the start of summer.  I had wondered alone slowly along the gravel path, eyes down and hands in pockets.

I sat on the rough bench next to my potting table and there wafted pleasant odours of humus and grass clippings.  I sat there in the sunshine and there on the gravel path in front of me was a snail.

He was a perfectly ordinary snail and he was making his patient way across the path with all the leisurely determination of his kind.  Behind him his silvery trail gleamed faintly over the stones.  I watched him idly, kicking at the gravel with my heel and as I watched, there came over me the most extraordinary feeling of happiness and contentment.  Its ingredients were comfort, well-being and leisure.  The sun was warm on my back, I had neither ulcer nor toothache and time was my own.  If I wanted to I could sit there for a very long time indeed and watch my snail.

If I wanted to (but I didn’t) I could get up there and then and walk back into the house and leave my solitary snail to go its lonely way.

The choice was mine and the moment was mine to make what I would of it.

Nobody called out to me to come and attend to a chore and so I sat there and the moment was timeless and without ending, a moment of utter peace, my revelation of that inner happiness that comes from time to time throughout a human life and lights it up and gives it form and meaning .  .  .

The Drakensburg – South Africa

 

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Champagne Castle

The Drakensburg (AfrikaansDrakensberge “Dragon Mountains”;

Zulu –  uKhahlamba “Barrier of Spears and Sotho – Maluti)

is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa.

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Drakensburg Sun

The mountains reach a height of 3,482 metres (11, 424 ft) and

are home to numerous gorgeous hotels, resorts,

chalets, cabins and holiday accommodation.

A breath of fresh air to stressed city dwellers who flock to

absorb the majestic beauty of the mountains and unspoilt scenery.

Also home to some 299 recorded bird species.

The mountains cover the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal,

Lesotho, Swaziland, Mpumalanga and end in

Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province.

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Cathedral Peak

Well worth a few days stay if contemplating a trip to fair South Africa!

 

The Cove – Muscat, Oman

 

Jagged outlines, sheer striations,

Ochre, black and white.

Gentle waves lapping delicately,

Nature‘s Jewels in sight.

Vestiges of human waste,

Washed up on the Shore,

Tear the heart, burn the eyes. .  .

Like a suppurating sore.

But ~ as the sun goes lower,

Magnificent sentry’s frame our sight,

Our thoughts are clear,  

Our souls at rest,

As the last eagles take flight.

As we sit and ponder on Life’s rare gifts

And drink in the Beauty of this Land,

We stop to feel at One with God

And His Wondrous Healing Hand.

(Muscat 05/02/09)

[Pictures and poem by me on an idyllic week-end getaway, camping equipment and supplies dropped off by boat, no roads nor infrastructure –  Paradise!]

 

It only takes a spark. . .

 

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Yesterday was my one month anniversary of my blog.

As I look back on the four weeks it feels like I have reached out

to so many friends on all corners of the earth.

The world has become a smaller place.

I have ‘blogger-family’ who travel, cook, take

superb photographs, write poetry

and so much more.

What do we all have in common?

We are human beings and we love to communicate.

Whatever one’s genre ‘blogging‘ becomes a

deeply personal experience.

Our computer is our ‘right-hand’ man (or woman!).

It draws people of all age, religion, cultural

and diverse backgrounds together.

It unites us from the comfort of our homes

and/or workplace where we are able to share,

support and love each other from a distance.

I salute you bloggers out there and especially

want to thank those who have personally

mentored me on my ‘blogger journey’!

It has been an enriching, enjoyable experience!

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going

And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing”

 

Ode to the Kokerboom Tree – for my mother

Oh, to be a Kokerboom tree .  .  .

So robust, magnificent and eternally free

Its jagged fingers reach up to the sky

A haven for creatures and all that do fly!

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The Kokerboom or Aloe dichotoma was discovered in 1685 during Simon van der Stel’s expedition to Namaqualand in search of copper.  It is also known as the Quiver Tree from the Bushmen (San) who used the branches for quivers for their arrows.

It is a slow-growing aloe which can grow up to 8 metres.  The leaves are greyish-silver and the flowers, that attract birds and insects, are bright yellow.

The bark, cut into squares was once used to cool primitive houses by feeding water into the fibrous wood from a tank above.

I sighted my first Quiver Tree many years ago on a trip to Augrabies Falls in South Africa and it inspired me to spout poetry!

(So with a smile on my face and a tick off my bucket list: to eventually enter this in my blog!)

These trees form amazing backdrops to scenic photos as they dramatically embrace the sky.

(The first photo was taken by me on my mother’s farm ‘Windkoppie’ outside Calvinia, South Africa 2011.)

Desert Song – Longevity

 

Desert Song – Longevity

(Dedicated to my ex-husband)

A Wise, Old Man once wandered,

Into the Desert so dry,

He came across a Camel

And a Tear fell from his Eye.

He looked into the Camel’s eyes,

He saw no Age nor Fear,

All he saw was Strength and Pride,

So .  .  .  he wiped away his Tear

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Franz Kafka – The Judgement

 

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The cover shows a detail from Saturn Devouring One of His Sons 

from the series of Black Paintings, 1819-23,

by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, in the

Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

It is disturbing, much like the story itself.

Kafka considered this his best story, it is a heavy,

dark, short story which deals with the tension

between isolation and alienation of the modern

artist and the demands of family and societal expectations.

Some critics have said that this story is a breakthrough

of the conflict between a father and son that

produces guilt in the younger character and that

this is ultimately reconciled through his suffering

and expiation; that there is a parallel between

The Judgement and Kafka’s own life.

  • Georg Bendeman, a young merchant writes a letter to a childhood friend in St Petersburg, announcing his engagement to a wealthy young woman, Frieda Bradenfield
  • Georg tells his old father who then questions the very existence of this friend of his son (?!)
  • The father then brings up his deceased wife, Georg’s mother and then accuses Georg of being a ‘bad’ human being and condemns him to death by drowning
  • Georg then flees from the house and jumps off a bridge to his untimely death!!

I quote from this dramatic, surprising ending:

‘Out of the front door he sprang, across the roadway, towards the water he was driven.  Already he was grasping at the railings as a starving man grasps at food.  He swung himself over, like the outstanding gymnast who had once been his parents’ pride.  Still holding on, with a weakening grip, he spied through the railings a motor-bus that would easily cover the noise of his fall, called out softly: ‘ Dear parents, I did always love you,’ and let himself drop.

At that moment the traffic was passing over the bridge in a positively unending stream.’

Comments about the story are that Kafka was plagued

by the discord between his literary ambitions and

his ambivalence about marriage.

Some Biographers say his relationship to Felice Bauer,

to whom he was engaged twice but never married,

was a catalyst to some of his most brillant work,

of which ‘The Judgement’ is the first.

Hardly ‘laugh-a-minute’ reading!

I can’t wait to get stuck into ‘In the Penal Colony’

I believe it is all about pain and torture! (heavy sarcasm)

 

Muttrah Souq – Corniche, Muscat

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Whether you do the Muttrah Souk by day or by night,

it is still an incredible, pleasurable bombardment of the senses!

The rich, colourful fabrics, the heady smells, the tinkling of an

old Omani coffee seller, the beckoning of

fendors luring you into their shops, these

are all part and parcel of a truly Arabian experience!

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The character of the Corniche is created by the old

forts dotted on the mountains embracing this little

harbour, which is a stop-off port for many luxury cruise-ships,

one or two old dhows and the Sultan’s private ship.

It is a pretty sight, the road is usually lined with colourful petunias

and the sidewalks landscaped.

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On entering the Souq, the senses are overwhelmed with sights, sounds and smells.  This is the land of Frankincense!

There is astonishing detail to stone floors and stained glass ceiling windows.

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 Bartering is the order of the day and you can pick up many bargains from

an antique Omani silver ring to a brass camel lock.

There are

hundreds of shops, be sure to take your mobile if you split up as

it branches off into a maze of ‘retail therapy’.

There is an impressive

‘Gold Souq’ boasting some fancy shops with marble

floors and stunning wares (a very ‘special wedding section’ can be found here.)

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Some good buys have been camel-locks (5 rials)

little persian carpet coasters (1 rial) and pashimas of every colour

and quality.

At night the harbour takes on a magical quality to be savoured . . .

much like the land itself!

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Oman Dive Centre – Oman’s Best-Kept Secret!

 

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One of the ‘best-kept secrets’ in Oman is the Oman Dive Centre.

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The accommodation is made up of cute, unique, little

Barasti (palm fronds) huts nestled on a private beach arranged in a semi circles.

(Since it is a Diving Centre, divers get preference so

accommodation is normally booked at short notice.)

It is about 45 minutes out of Muscat and you can take the

scenic coast highway past the Muttrah Corniche.

The highway is excellent and well sign-posted.

I have had many splendid weekends here, absorbing the peace and solitude.

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The combination of the mountains embracing the beautiful

coastline is amazingly beautiful and sunsets are inspirational

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The rooms are gorgeous, large beds, crisp white linen, romantic mosquito nets.

Whilst the rooms are air-conditioned, a heavy, carved Omani door leads

to a bathroom open to the elements.

This adds a rustic, authentic touch which is a delight!Image

There is ample cupboard space and a well-stocked mini-bar.

Supper and breakfast are included in the package and offer a

good variety of dishes in buffet form.

There is a shisha tent on the beach which is popular and day-visitors are also welcome.

The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is casual.

On arrival you throw off your shoes and only put them on when you depart.

Your toes enjoy a good ‘sand work-out’ as you absorb the good ions of Nature.Image

There is a long jetty and at low tide the private lagoon empties substantially

and you can walk far out, screening the sand for interesting sea life.

During high-tide fish are plenty and it is an excellent place for snorkelling!

(There is a residential Grey Heron and abundant bird life.)

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The unusual Omani rock formations are lit up at night creating lots of atmosphere.ImageImage

The perfect destination to flop back in a lounger with a good

book and let time melt away your stress and fatigue!

I heartily recommend it!

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Desert Nights, Oman

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Desert Nights is a ‘desert experience’ but not shirking on any luxuries.

The resort is about two hours out of Muscat, a GPS is essential

as the roads are confusing in the actual desert and

we got lost for an hour (without a GPS, cell phones dying

and our only liquid a bottle of J&B! Not very clever!)

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The resort itself just appears out of nowhere and is a wonderful oasis, however we were disappointed to hear, on our arrival that it was not licensed (this must have changed by now) this I felt could have been divulged when we booked.  However the food was above average and the room was nice.

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There were some nice finishes like beanbags, lamps and coloured glass ice bucket.

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Camel rides were available as was a drive up the dune with a kamikaze driver, the serenity on the top of the dune was lovely as you contemplate how magnificent this part of the world is.

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I befriended a camel, who you may recognize as the ‘guy’ who adorns the top of my blog, he was great until I made a comment about how bad his teeth were, this led to a huge belly roar, he was most affronted and succeeded in scarying me silly!

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An enjoyable stay but a bit touristy and for me, lacked a little ‘soul’.

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