The Happy Hookers Fishing Club

(This is an extract from my upcoming book on my years at Vaal Reefs Exploration and Mining Company – most of those 14 years were pretty rough; but there were some happy times too)

Maurice (James) and I and Denis Simpson started talking about a fishing trip to Henties Bay in Namibia. We constituted a fishing club and soon had an eager group planning the trip. Henties was on the West Coast in Namibia and was renowned as a fishing mecca.

Bossie Boshoff, Peter Turner, Alistair Barr and Andries Oberholzer were some of our fellow hengelaars – some were quite serious about fishing, others were mainly there for the beer (no names, but you can guess)

Most of us were amateur fishermen, but enjoyed the associated conviviality and the 4000 km round trip across Botswana and Namibia was a great success – some of us even caught some fish! Maurice and I were also keen bird watchers.

We were joined by Bushy Going from TEBA (the mines employment bureau) which was a major coup. TEBA had fully equipped and serviced manager’s houses in very remote areas of Southern Africa and we managed to visit 3 of the most exotic and exciting of these camps.

Shakawe was on the banks of the Okavango River, near the Caprivi Strip.tigerfish                carmine B eaterThere were boats, wonderful tiger and bream fishing and a rainbow array of birds and wildlife.  There were also crocodiles and hippos…

That trip alone deserves a separate book.

Kosi Bay was situated in a kwaZulu Natal reserve about 200 metres from the Kosi Bay estuary – the only house for miles. We caught no fish over 3 days!

narina-trogon.jpgPafuri is a private rest camp at the northern tip of the Kruger National Park where the Narina Trogon was spotted.

Peter Turner’s family had a house in Morgan’s Bay on the Transkei Coast.fresh-calamari.jpg    We caught only one fish between the two cold fronts that passed over dumping rain by the ton.

We were forced to eat our bait (squid/calamari) – quite good actually! (although our powers of discrimination were somewhat diminished…)

These fishing trips entailed many planning meetings and conviviality and provided great stress relief, during quite tough times.

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We don’t know how lucky we are!

Here in the Redlands Shire of Queensland, we probably have the best living conditions in the world!redlands survey2017 p1 2017-07-06 001

Take a look at the major issues of the shire! Wow! Drugs are the major threat – a modern day Nirvana affliction.

Traffic is a problem because we have too many cars!  There is horror when the two coincide:

  • Driving along a main road recently we nearly got taken out by a spaced out punk in a hot rod spinning out doing a wheelie at an intersection. He lost control doing a 360⁰ spin which missed our car on the other side of the road by inches!

And you think living in Syria is dangerous, or Paris, Brussels, London or New York..!

But our rural roots come through in the swing to the right that is evident in the attitudes below.

surv p2

But look at the support for euthanasia and medical marijuana! And the sugar tax!

So we rich people want to get skinnier, die when we choose and do so happily!

We see China as a big threat but are happy to take their money for our exports, sell them our property and encourage their tourists.

What are the questions not asked?

Do you support increased Police powers including:

  • invasion of privacy of communications
  • shoot to kill if there is a  threat to life
  • preventative arrest and detention of terror suspects…?

We are not back to the death penalty yet, but it may come back to that…!

Another touchy political subject is student loan debts … perhaps no more loans unless a 75% pass rate is achieved? And don’t leave the country until you have paid what you owe?

Lucky I am not standing for election! In a social welfare funded state, clawing back what has been granted in the past is a political nightmare.

Therein lies the root of the failure of liberalism – if you swing too far and maktrump-fingere too many allowances, the return swing becomes very lumpy – ask the US Democrats!

 

Not only do we need to count our blessings, we also need to ensure we don’t give them away!!

 

never-let-society

Early morning Spring song

I let Lulu out this morning

And walked on the dewy lawn

While she sniffed and wee’d.

morning star

The morning star still guarded the departing night

Bright and clear, defying its extinction.

Grey pink clouds foretold the arrival of big brother Sun.

 

Butcher birds are singing choruses to each other;

The honey eater is twitter-chattering,

mimosa

Yellow mimosa is breaking out;

Nasturtiums are overflowing –

the bright orange and yellow petals promising joy.

purple bauhiniaBauhinia, the purple herald is in flower.

 

The air is soft and the breeze gentle.

Time again to awake and welcome the new year.

Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba,

Early morning singing song*

*Chorus from Good Morning Starshine by Oliver – sing it out aloud, it’s quite easy!

Old Friends

Last week I wrote of the passing of a kinsman and how my world seemed to shrink, but the warmth of our association remains.

This week I write about old friends with whom my wife and I spent time over the weekend.

Old as in ‘older than us’ from where we lived before, who are still good friends.best old ones

We were neighbours and shared a love of plants, summer lunches, sometimes heated discussions, poetry and word plays. We shared similar Southern African origins and discovered that we were almost related, with a sister and an uncle romantically linked for a  while.

alphabet friendsThe word “friend” comes from Old English “frēond”, which is actually the present participle of “frēogan”, which means “to love” and “to honor”.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Synonyms: 1. comrade, chum, crony, confidant. 2. backer, advocate. 4. ally, associate, confrere, compatriot.

Tick all boxes!

goodbye friend

 

 

 

Autumn Leaves (one for my brother – he ain’t heavy)

 

This time of year brings to mind that song sung by Doris Day on her Day by Day album, released in 1956, music of my older brother who went to boarding school in a far-away city. He also introduced me to Rosemary Clooney’s (yeah, Georgie’s auntie!)  Come on-a my house and Irma La Douce, a fairly risqué musical about a mec (cool dude/pimp) – who fell in love with his poule (prostitute). This is the story: Valse milieu

Inadvertent education for a 6-year old (me); my brother was a sophisticated sixteen.

Talk about being led astray… this was supposed to be about the changes in nature that Autumn brings, but I wandered away down memory lane. Oh well, I enjoy doing that!

We don’t have a dramatic leaf colour display apart from a few exotic trees in public places that I try to avoid. However, trees like the paperbark gumPaperbark flower and the Golden Penda, come into flower and lure birds in flocks; driven to fatten up before winter. golden pendas tree

The ground below the trees is littered with flower wreckage. The raucous Rainbow Lorikeets are there and thus absent from our garden, so Bluebird, the ring-necked Indian Lovebird who has adopted us, comes to dine 5 or 6 times a day!

We are also visited by the Butcher Birds who gather in choirs and sing and whistle at each other in some sort of boundary identification ritual. Sometimes a few of them will fly straight up, high into the sky, then tumble and glide back down in graceful arcs. They too drop in for a crust quite often. Butcher Birdsong.

Magpies also start policing their boundaries, viciously chasing away juveniles. A pair swooped onto a young bird in our garden recently, pinning it to the ground and stabbing at it with their vicious pointed beaks.

Lulu 22 Oct 2016Fortunately, Lulu took exception and ran over and barked them away. I watched them chase the bewildered bird into the distance at great speed. A hard way to start adult life away from home

 

I suspect my thoughts are about growing old gracefully and accepting nature’s inexorable cycle.

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Spreading Happiness by the body

camel feeling goodYeah! I am back on the happy horse again. In the past, I believe that happiness and fulfillment were neglected. It’s like what happened to butter – it was once a no-no, with potentially fatal consequences (it and a lot of other stuff too).

Now we find that butter is really good for you. Suddenly old fashioned cooking and remedies are the in-thing. We should have stuck with our grandmother’s advice – after all, it was based on centuries of experience. Who said: Too much learning is a dangerous thing?  Give him a banana!

And so with happiness, the traditional approach to mental conditions, attitudes and behaviour has been from the unhappy end of the spectrum: cause and cure research has been focussed on the unhappiness in anxieties, neuroses and psychoses.

med next aisleLately, the realisation has dawned that the other end of the spectrum is the cure to many of those ills and greater attention has switched to positive psychology.

So prevention and cure could be: Don’t worry be happy!

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrivepositive-psychology-mind-map

A  Daily Telegraph article by Philip Johnston highlighted the new focus on happiness and wellbeing:

  • More than 200 colleges either have research institutes or offer courses in positive psychology.
  • Politicians are saying things like:
    • “the best society is that where the people are happiest, and the best policy is the one that produces the greatest happiness”.
    • “The first thing we know is that in the past 50 years, average happiness has not increased at all  – despite massive increases in living standards.”
  • Economists have noticed one apparent paradox: that despite a substantial increase in GDP in the industrialised West, the levels of human contentment have remained static.

More and more countries are developing a happiness and well-being index and measuring progress.

be so happyIn 2011, the United Nations invited all countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. The first World Happiness Report was published in 2012. The 2017 Report is available online.

make someone happyMy point is that if it’s happening on national levels, then everyone should be measuring their own happiness and well-being and working at improving it and spreading happiness.

Always look on the bright side of life!

As you may detect, this is not all my own stuff: I am doing a free course on Happiness and Fulfillment offered through Coursera.

If you are interested, have a look; there are 100’s of free info-only courses. I am on my third one!

 

Fishcakes

Even though I say it myself, I regard my culinary talents as adventurous, even challenging!

I only married in my 30’s, so had a fair bit of cooking experience in my bachelor days, despite living in Africa where cooks were often employed for most meals. Of course being an African male, I am an experienced vleis braaier, which is Afrikaans for ‘meat guerrilla’.

braai-vleisThe braaivleis, known as barbeque in many parts of the world, is a cultural practice which involves the cooking of piles of meat. The cooking often takes place after a few drinks and is not really that important; the meat just has to look cooked. It often does in the evening twilight, after a few beers…

But I am not here to talk about meat, of which, I have realised, I eat too much. Accordingly, I have resolved to give up meat for Lent in accordance with older traditions and instead of beer.

My wife is perturbed as I said that I would eat more fish, which she is not fond of. So I have set out to show her that there is no need to fear, by cooking some fishcakes as a surprise.

In order to ensure a special dish, I used my pilchards in chili sauce, which I had been saving pilchards-chilifor a treat. I combined it with some bread crumbs of the nutty, seedy bread she prefers. To make the mixture more special and because she doesn’t like raw onion, I used sliced pickled onion, which I thought was quite innovative. To add some colour, I added a couple of sliced pepperdews, small red capsicums in a sweet syrup. I mixed in an egg for binding, salt and pepper seasoning and some finely chopped parsley from the garden. Simple!

Please note, this was my own recipe!

The mixture made six and a half cakes, which I fried in olive oil. Even though I say it myself, they were delicious! (A couple fell apart, so I had to eat them for lunch).

To my consternation, my wife turned down the fishcakes without hesitation – she doesn’t like tuna, chili or my cooking, especially when I try different ingredients…

Looks like I’ll be cooking for myself for the 40 days of Lent.

P.S. I had a nibble of half a cake before I went to bed. I must confess I had a very weird dream about riding a brown ox which was chased by a lion past a lion reserve full of identical lions following each other, holding the tail of the foremost one in their mouths…

afrikaner-ox