Quote of the Day (QotD)

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Posted by admin | Posted in Language | Posted on 19-04-2011

I’ve added the little Quote of the Day widget to the top right of this blog – I type up a growing set of chosen quotes, ones that ring true to me, which are then picked out at random when the blog is loaded.  Here are the newest ones:

  1. “True friendship withstands time, distance and silence…” by a character (Ivan Radovic) from the novel ‘Portrait in Sepia’ by Isabel Allende.
  2. “Learning another language means getting an additional soul” by Madame de Stael.
  3. “There is in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause.” by Mao Zedong.
  4. “Study nature, not books.” by Louis Agassiz.
  5. “To expect the world to receive a new truth, or even an old truth, without challenging it, is to look for one of those miracles which do not occur.” by Alfred Russel Wallac.

Geek note:  this site uses the nice widget called XmasB Quotes.

Rhubarb Wine

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Posted by admin | Posted in Drink, Foraging, Fruit, Homebrew, Wine | Posted on 14-04-2011

A genuine classic.

This was started during my early days of homebrew adventures and provided a strong motivation to keep going.

It is made from organic ingredients:

  • Rhubarb
  • Damson Plums
  • Lemon Juice.

The Rhubarb was grown in my own garden and the plums were local.  A lot of love and care went into this early wine and, luckily, it paid dividends.

With a pale, clear pink colour and an ever so smooth taste this country wine is a tad too easy to drink at 10.3 % vol.  Indeed in the early days many a bottle was finished before a secret stock was hidden away for future generations.  This stock is now back and ready for a lucky few…

Photo Poem: “With Tropical Ease”

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Posted by admin | Posted in Beach, Photo, Photo Poem, Poem, Poetry, sea, Tanzania, Travel, Tropical, Zanzibar | Posted on 11-04-2011

The latest Photo Poem – a simple one written whilst relaxing on a beach in Zanzibar the day before my wedding, Feb 2011:

Photo Poem: “With Tropical Ease”.

Enjoy.

The Typhoon Wedding

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Posted by admin | Posted in Africa, Beach, Chumbe Island, Getting Married Abroad, Tanzania, Travel, Tropical, Zanzibar | Posted on 03-04-2011

Mr David Bugg and Mrs Clare Bugg (formerly Miss Clare North) finally tied the knot on 9th February 2011 on the spice island of Zanzibar.  We spent 2 weeks away with time in the charming Stone Town before heading to Fumba Beach Lodge for the wedding.  Just before the ceremony a tropical storm hit us (apparently an effect of the big typhoon over Madagascar) with the wind kicking up waves and sand and a big ominous dark sky edge closer over the ocean.

Fumba Beach Wedding

Fumba Beach Wedding, Zanzibar

We battled through it all – in fact our 7 guests bore the brunt of it since we had some cover under the palm leaf archway with Father Charles.

Tropical Storm

Still, everybody came up smiling at the end and the celebrations continued into the evening over a superb private meal.  The Fumba staff were fantastic; Natasha was particularly attentive and definitely made the day extra special.

A couple of days later Clare and I went over to Pongwe on the east coast to see the typical ‘post card’ type beaches Zanzibar is famous for.  The colours of the sea did live up to expectation (see photo):

One of my personal highlights was the next stage of the trip on Chumbe Island (see this link for details on their big conservation project).  The snorkelling around the island was pretty special with great varied gardens of coral and a huge variety of colourful reef fish as you would expect with quality tropical snorkelling sites.  What stood out for me though were the big shoals of mini fish you could swim through, the many Hawksbill turtles we saw and also the odd impressive jellyfish.  See a few photos below taken on my underwater compact camera (Canon Powershot D10).

Chumbe is a great eco island even without the snorkelling though; it’s covered in a low dense bushy forest so there is even some good birding and the ground itself moves with the scuttle of hermit crabs.

The project has built several funky bungalows that proved their worth living through a storm whilst we were there without any issues at all.

So this represented the bulk of the pre-wedding, the ceremony day and our honeymoon on Zanzibar with just another night back in Stone Town.  This town blew me away – it overloaded my visual senses with its aged buildings brimming with character and its cramped winding backstreets.  we got lost several times and were always happy to have to meander our way back to somewhere we recognised.  Despite several long powercuts and being amongst the people and their day-to-day lives I sensed no danger as a tourist and felt a positive vibe about town.

The next stop was Selous game reserve in the south of Tanzania for a few days Safari – an ideal ending to our honeymoon for two nature lovers…

See the full set of photos here.

Safari in Selous – A Honeymoon Ending for Naturlists

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Posted by admin | Posted in Africa, Birds, Mammals, Photography, Safari, Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, Wildlife | Posted on 03-04-2011

Selous Game Reserve – on paper Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve.  This is where we chose to polish off an unforgettable wedding/honeymoon trip.

Staying at Lake Manze camp we had just 3 nights to explore as much as possible.  Although Selous covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area, in reality the majority is a hunting reserve and just a relatively small area north of the Rufiji river is kept for ‘photography hunting’ or eco tourism.

From the small Coastal aeroplane I spotted my first giraffe and within the first 20 mins of the gradual drive from the airstrip toward camp my wildlife spotting senses were already in overload.  Plenty more Giraffes and Impala seemingly in a any view you chose from the jeep; and it was the view that struck me hard…

Usually our nature driven trips have been to tropical rainforests and we are well used to have no more than a couple of metres visibility both left and right with the only distant view being ahead down the path your are walking (and even that depends on how well and straight the paths have been cut).  So sitting in an open 4×4 Landrover and looking not just forward for a km or more but all around to both sides and seeing mammals off on the horizon – this was a whole new ball game in our mildly obsessive wildlife watching world.

What stood out to me as much as the game viewing was the birdlife, not just in quantity and variety but in beauty.  the Rollers and Bee-eaters have such striking colours but then also the 5 species of Kingfisher we saw, the number of raptors (from Osprey to Sea Eagle, falcons and so many vultures) and even the common passerines were interesting; perhaps not surprising being our first ever visit to Africa so all was pretty new and fresh.

One of the main reasons we chose Selous over, say, the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, was for the relative peace and quiet of the reserve.  During most drives we only saw up to 2 cars passing by and never another vehicle whilst watching an animal – the one big exception being on the final evening when we went out to observe a pride of lions with 2 males (brothers).  In that instance it probably resemebled the hoards that you hear about in Kenya or North Tanzania since we had 3 or 4 jeeps at one time in the same area.

The two the major attractions of Lake Manze camp were:

1) It is situated on the lake so you can mix up the activities by taking boat safaris.  This really gives you variety; the birding was superb and the viewpoint is always different from the water.

2) The camp is not fenced, you are staying in extravagant tents which means that wildlife can, and does, come right up to.

As well as having Impala and Monkeys within 10m we also had two special moments.  I never realised how silently a big elephant could sneak up on you!  One lunchtime we were relaxing on the tent porch when he appeared through a bush. As he came closer we went inside the tent and watched through the mesh window as he virtually brushed up against the canvas!  The Masai do look after you but hadn’t noticed this one so we just enjoyed the experience and let the elephant get on with his stroll.  In the bush everybody and everthing makes way for the elephants.

The other moment was during the night of a full moon; in the middle of the night a storm had passed over with a typically heavy tropical downpour.  Afterwards I had been awoken again but by a different sound, a sound of munching.  As it approached I could see moonshine but could not distinbuish its outline until my eyes adjusted to its great size and traced the outline of a large bull hippo under the moonlight!  He edged closer, regularly tearing huge amounts of grass and munching away.  Imagine the sound a cow makes when tearing up grass, now amplify that 50 times.  We watched this hippo as it stood as close and can be just a metre fromt he tent side.  Everytime we made a slight rustle it would stop, listen out and everntually carry on his midnight feast.  Everybody always says how dangerous they can be and having seen them running on dry land the previous 2 days I could well believe it.

Our first time in Africa, our first Safari and at the end of our honeymoon after a special 2 weeks that included a wedding in Zanzibar.  A great way to polish of a great trip for 2 newleywed nature lovers.

See all Safari photos here.