making a visual impression

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The most recent images in this blog are from my trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Most of the past images are from Visit to select and use images for free. We only ask that you give us credit.


Cape Peninsula Tour cont.

After seeing the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, we get back on the coach to The Cape of Good Hope. Again, it is still early so we beat the crowds. But, Rob our tour guide, would have been willing to fight the crowds for our photo opportunity. (Any people in the picture are from our own tour group!)

We are there! At the most south-western point of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans collide.

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Some wild weather comes in rather quickly. It went from sunny to stormy.

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It is windy, too. But, another chance for a photo before it rains, briefly.

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We then take a short drive to Cape Point. This is a little further south. But wait, The Cape of Good Hope boasts that it is the most south-western point of the African continent. What, then is Cape Point? Although it is further south, I guess it is not further west!

We manage to get one photo of an ostrich sitting by the side of the road.

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It’s a long climb to the top of Cape Point.

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We are warned about the baboons, but we don’t see any. The only wildlife is a small gecko.

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Our next stop is Simon’s Town on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. We take a short boat ride out to Seal Island. The island is aptly named because it is home to hundreds of Cape Fur Seals.

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Cape Peninsula Tour

Our tour with Cape Convey Tours was the best! Rob, our tour guide, lived during his school years in Essex and he had a strong British/Essex accent. He was an absolute hoot! Knowledgeable, too and very concerned that we have the absolutely best day.

We leave the hotel at 7:30am. Early, but the purpose is to miss the crowds, which we did.

Our coach ride begins by giving us a view of Table Mountain. That view, with the clouds surrounding it is becoming familiar.

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We drive through the beautiful Camps Bay. A quick photo from the coach.

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Then it’s on to Hout Bay. We stop and get out of the coach to take photos.2014-01-10 Hout Bay

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It’s then back on the coach and excitement rises, as our next stop is to see the African penguins, also called Jackass Penguins because the noise they make is like a donkey braying, at Boulder Beach. However, today they are silent. Probably too early in the morning!

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The penguins are so cute!2014-01-10 pengiuns11

Quite a few penguins are fishing in the sea. They all come out of the sea and onto the beach at the same time. Then the next group goes fishing.2014-01-10 penguins8

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Quite a few of the penguins are sitting on nests.2014-01-10 pengiuns4

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We watch as a gull tries to disturb the penguins, taunting them, trying to get them to leave the nest. A second gull circles overhead, ready to dive and take the egg. The penguins roll their necks to frighten off the gull. Eventually, the gull gives up and flies away.2014-01-10 pengiuns3

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Day 4: Vineyard tour

We start our day passing the most vibrantly coloured houses I have ever seen. This is the Cape Malay area of Cape Town. Its occupants are the descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia as well as other areas of Asia and Eastern Africa. Our guide tells us that his ancestors came from Malaysia.

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Then we begin our journey to the Stellenbosch Winelands east of Cape Town. This takes us past an unfinished highway that hangs in mid-air. Construction of the highway halted because a shop owner whose establishment stood in the way of the bridge would not give permission for the construction to continue. The shop and owner have long since gone but, the highway still remains unfinished.

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Our first stop is the Simonsig Estate. The founder of Simonsig, was the first producer of Méthode Champenoise in South Africa when he made a sparkling wine named Kaapse Vonkel. It has a great taste and is at a great price, too.

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Our next stop is the luxurious Delaire Graff Estate. It is surrounded by a high electric wire fence and gated entrance with guards. The views from the Estate are stunning.

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The food in the restaurant is equally stunning.

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After lunch we return to Cape Town to  take a boat and tour of Robbens Island–one of the places where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner. However, by now we are running on South African time and we are late in arriving. We miss the boat!

Instead, two of us decide to visit the District 6 museum we had passed the other day while on our city bus sightseeing tour. We arrive with only a few minutes to look around before the museum closes.

Street signs from the destroyed District 6:

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Day 3: Sightseeing Cape Town

From the Mount Nelson Hotel we are able to take the Cape Town Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus. We take the Red City Tour. The day begins with rain. But, the tour is great. Our tickets comes with headphones so we can listen to the commentary giving information about Cape Town.

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The tour takes us past the South African Parliament building.

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We travel through District 6 – an area that was once a vibrant multi-racial community in the early 20th century but then was deliberately razed and it’s people removed. Control and racial segregation were part of apartheid town planning. District 6 was deemed for whites. Approximately 60,000 residents were removed to townships but today the area still remains barren except for the original churches and mosques that were not destroyed. It’s a very sobering sight. I plan to come back later to visit the District 6 Museum.

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We pass the Castle of Good Hope – the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa – built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company.

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We wind our way up Table Mountain to the cable car station. This is closed due to the poor weather. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful view of Cape Town and the coast.

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Then we drive through the beautiful and wealthy area of Camps Bay.

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In the afternoon we visit the Slave Museum located in the original Slave Lodge built by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. It housed slaves in appalling conditions. These people were imported to provide labour. The slaves were shipped from East Africa but I learned that many came from Madagascar, India, Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia. This is a very sad part of South Africa’s history.

Our day ends with a meal of langoustine at Baia Seafood Restaurant on the V&A Waterfront but, with thoughts and conversation about what are the evils in our world today that we need to work to eradicate.

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The final photo of the day – sunset over Table Mountain.

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Day 2: We arrive in Cape Town, South Africa

A photo before we leave on our eleven hour flight to Cape Town. I wish I could say that I was well rested by the time we landed, but turbulence all the way down Africa does not make for good sleeping.

2014-01-06 17.11.32Landing at Cape Town International Airport is a dream compared with arriving in the USA. We expect passport control to be tough because this is what we’re used to when entering the USA but the immigration officer is very friendly and apologizes for the weather–cool and cloudy. And whoopee our bags are waiting for us.

My first impressions of South Africa is that the people are very friendly. First the immigration officer and then our cab driver is very welcoming. It’s about 18km from the airport to our hotel–the Mount Nelson.  The cab turns to pass through a grand white archway, stops for a guard to raise the barrier and then we proceed up a long driveway flanked by tall palm trees.

We have a view of Table Mountain from our hotel room. I can’t wait for the cloud to lift!

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The hotel is a beautiful pink old colonial building. A glimpse of former times.

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A cup of tea on the terrace before we head up to our room to freshen up from our 40 hour door-to-door journey from Massachusetts.

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Then it’s down to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for lunch.

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One could choose from Ostrich, Wildebeest, Kudu (a type of antelope), Springbok and many other types of game.

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But I decide to have a local fish called Kingklip. It reminds me of Mai Mai. Not my favourite type of fish but still enjoyable.

At the Waterfront there are four larger bronzed statues of characters central to South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. This is in Nobel Square. I did not know this, but all four won the nobel peace prize. You can read more about these men here.

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Day 1: LHR

20140106_074632Our overnight flight from Boston, Logan Airport to London, Heathrow is only five and a half hours, although we’re in a holding pattern for a while before landing. Enough time to get a few hours sleep. This was a “no service” flight so we ate before we boarded. However, I did get served a rather delicious slice of blueberry cheesecake on board!

NB. You see that little place on the screen beginning with “N” and ending with “u”? This will be a stopping point on my next trip beginning January 20th!! I am totally spoiled this month.


Sunrise as we prepare to land at Heathrow.

We land at 8:30am local time (3:30 EST).

All we’ve seen today is the inside of the airport and a very busy British Airways lounge. 20140106_151053I know one person, no names mentioned, who is very interested in our airport shopping habits. However, today we are just too tired to shop. That will have to keep for the return flight.

Next flight: Heathrow to Cape Town leaves at 5:35pm local time (12:35pm EST). Eleven hours flying time.


tulipsEven though they’re past their best, these tulips still look beautiful.

Wish I were here

Where I wish I was right now. Instead, we have Winter Storm Nemo heading our way with 24-36 inches (61-91cm) of snow!

Sheep in the snow


Gotta love these guys!

Mince pies

mince pies

Freshly baked mince pies with homemade mincemeat and shortcrust pastry. Since living in the USA it has been impossible to buy this British Christmas dessert. This turns out to be a benefit. I would never have made my own and discover that homemade mince pies are truly delicious compared to the store variety.

cut spring flowers

I don’t have many daffodils in my garden. The bulbs have been stolen by wildlife – squirrels I think. So, to have a vase of pretty spring daffodils shining brightly in my kitchen, I have to purchase them from the supermarket. They come from England or Ireland. Like the daffodils in this photo. But, they don’t travel well. Within a few days they hang their heads rather sorrowfully.

A rare sight this winter

We have not been accustomed to snow in New England this winter. That’s fine by me! Yesterday was our first major snowfall of the season. Snow, although it looks pretty, is usually accompanied by weather that is too cold, too much shoveling, and a lack of choice of footwear. Snow belongs only where one can ski and snowboard.

Birthday greetings

Happy Birthday to the principal photographer of!

World Animal Day

In celebration of World Animal Day on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, I have chosen this image of a friendly and inquisitive cow on its way for milking. We hope you enjoy your days in the lush green countryside of Swaledale in North Yorkshire, Daisy!

Watching windmills

Having been raised in East Anglia on the east coast of England, the sight of windmills was nothing unusual. This is not surprising considering the closeness of The Netherlands with its proliferation of windmills. Now from the east coast of the USA I can admire and appreciate the beauty of a windmill. One can imagine lying in the grass on a summer’s day getting dizzy from watching the sails go round as the clouds behind move across the sky.

A farmer’s modern art

In the evening sun of the English countryside, these straw bales look like a farmer’s attempt at modern art. When I was a child, most straw bales were rectangular and when stacked together made great make-believe castles to climb, although this was highly unrecommended as risky and dangerous. Equally risky was walking through fields of stubble with ankles exposed. The sharp stubble used to inflict nasty scratches and cuts to bare skin.

Filming in Lake Como

If a picture paints a thousand words, then this is one of them. Take in Como, Italy, one wonders what goes on inside the walls of these rather forlorn looking buildings. Perhaps these buildings should be chosen for a filming location, as have other villas around Lake Como in the past.

September 11

We remember.

The art of yachting

This is my idea of getting away from it all – clear skies, gentle waves on a blue sea, and a light sea breeze filling the sails and blowing one’s hair. The only catch to the idyllic nature of the picture of this yacht is that it was taken near South Shields in the North of England. I would prefer to imagine myself sailing in warmer climes such as the Caribbean, when it’s not hurricane season, of course!

Pots to die for

I have a thing about outdoor clay pots – I just love them. These oversized unglazed pale brown pots are just perfectly wonderful to the eye. No wonder they are chained up! My own terracotta pots look miniature compared to these ones. These pots accompanied my family when we relocated from England to New England. However, I learned a hard lesson during the first winter in New England. Pots that had stood outside for years in England only cracked or shattered in the harsh freezing New England weather. The remaining few, I now moved inside during the winter. The pots in this photo, in the town of La Turbie, do not need to be moved, if it were at all possible. They are able to enjoy the year-long mild, tender climate of the French Riviera.