Farty's Fortunes

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Diamond Drive Part 5

Port Elizabeth


Dolphins

Domino
P.E. has its own captive dolphins, which I'll admit I'm not entirely happy about. more here
It may take days watching and waiting for the wild dolphins to appear further along the coast, but seeing these free creatures surfing the big waves together is an experience I'll never forget. Sorry, no picture of that, I was using binoculars. For hours.

Chickens on the braai.

Braai
What you do is you open a can of beer, stick it where the sun don't shine and place on the braai. The beer boils up through the chicken and argle slurp slobber I feel hungry just thinking about it.

Funny-looking horse

Zebra
Sometimes the most telling items are what you see when you're not able to take pictures. Ten minutes after we spotted this "zebra" in one of the numerous safari parks near P.E., while changing the batteries in the camera, we passed a very large, empty tin labelled "white paint". Sceptical? Moi?

Crisis?

Ostrich Racing
Bit of a bumpy ride. This was back in Oudtshoorn. Sorry. So was the next one.

Walking On Eggshells

Eggses
According to our guide, ostrich eggs are easily strong enough to support the weight of an adult human. Ecce! However, just a week earlier another lady had tried the same stunt. One of the eggs had, er, gone off. And when she stepped on it, it broke. Stinkorama!

East London


The only thing I remember with any clarity about East London is the very friendly Afrikaans couple we stayed with. McDonald's had just opened for the first time, so they drove down to collect an order, brought it back and served it on the best china plates. Mmmm, that good, local, home-made cooking that we travelled half-way around the world to experience! Yum!
ANYways, I pointed out that one of the benefits of fast food was that you could eat it straight from the packaging and not have to worry about the washing up.
"Oh, we don't worry about it anyway, the maid does the washing up."
*sigh*

Both P.E. and East London have world-class cricket pitches. I like cricket, but not enough to take photos of people standing about in a field. Imagine our surprise when we were perched in a bar somewhere, watching the Cricket World Cup being played out on the telly, and the commentator said, apropos of nothing, "If you get some spare time in between watching the cricket here in P.E., you should get down to the Wild Coast. There are some great waves to surf at Kei-Mouth and Morgan Bay."

Which is precisely where we were sitting at the time.

Morgan Bay


Baldy Bird

Baldy Bird
Baldy, the cockatoo, owns the hotel and lets the humans feed her peanuts and beer.

Baldy Man

Fat Bastid
Dunno who that fat bastard is. I think he's standing in the sea because the beach is too crowded.

Morgs beach

Crowded Beach
I think nothing of taking long walks along the mile-long beach at six o'clock in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. Mrs Farty doesn't think much of it either.

Crashing Waves

Crashing Waves
Some people are mental enough to climb these rocks. Fer Cryssakes, why??? There's an easy path up the back way, all the way to the top.

Krantzes

The Krantzes
In the evenings, if the weather is good who am I kidding, the weather is always good, the owner of the hotel will rev up the 4×4 and take a dozen or so guests up the dirt track to the top of the Krantzes for "sundowners". This is a complicated ritual taking place at sundown - who would have guessed it? - which involves drinking, admiring the beautiful sunset and, er, more drinking. Oh, and drinking. And if you're lucky, you might see a whale and her calf. *sigh*

Yellow Bird

Yellow Bird
Coming from the Big City, we were used to the idea that birds are shy and will tend to avoid humans. Hence the binoculars. But in the wilderness, birds hardly ever see humans and will come right up close to see what you're up to. Ah, well, you live and learn. Being a keen ornithologist, I was able to identify this yellow bird as belonging to the species birdus yellowus.

Lucid Pools

Lucid pools
The water here is incredibly clear, which makes it a doddle to dawdle down the beach at low tide and hunt for oysters.

All Ur Bait R Belong 2 Us

AYBRB2U
Whatever that means.

Treasure


Diamond RingYeah, so we bought a diamond, and a ring. But there's more than one kind of treasure. Mine is the memory of walking hand-in-hand with Mrs Farty through the ankle-deep, warm waters of Morgan Bay lagoon, then stopping to watch the tiny little fishes swimming around our feet.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Trust No-one

I've tried to write a post on this subect once before, but found it too disturbing to finish. Then today (Saturday) I received this email from a friend.

Remember This

It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower found the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken and for the German people from the surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead. He did this he said, in words to this effect; "Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some ******* will get up and say that this never happened."

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

IN MEMORIAL

This week, the UK removed the Holocaust from it's school curriculum because it "offended" the Muslim population because they say it never occurred.

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years since the 2nd. World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, starved, burned and humiliated while German and Russian people looked the other way!

Now more than ever, with Iran among others, claiming the Holocaust to be a myth, it is imperative to make sure that the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

Don't just delete this; it will only take a minute to pass it on...


So I did. You may even find the email in your inbox now.

Then I started thinking about how best to present it in this blog.

Step 1 - Check the facts.
I clicked on Google News and entered holocaust curriculum removed.
Oddly enough, there were only five hits and the first of those was this one regarding the University of Kentucky: Viral vicious rumor.

The UK Prime Minister believes in compulsory teaching about the Holocaust.

Step 2 - Apologise to those people to whom you forwarded the email.
Sorry.

Step 3 - Have a word with the person who sent it to you. Done.

The other salient fact is: Sunday 27th January 2008 is Holocaust Memorial Day.

Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What's The Worst That Can Happen?

Um...the Earth could fall into the Sun?

I see the title of the new James Bond film has been announced. It's Quantum of Solace.

Oh.

Spoiler Alert!

Sorry.

Talking of brilliant but flawed international risk-takers (see what I did there?), it appears that Rogue Trader Jerome Kerviel has defrauded his employer, the second third fourth-largest bank in France, of $7.14 billion. Société Générale, now the fifth-largest bank in France, holds no grudge against him and has only suspended him instead of sending him to sleep with the fishes giving him the sack. A union official said that Jerome "might have lost his mind a bit." Along with the $7.14 billion.

Thanks to Honey for bringing this online ad to my attention. Is this one of them virals we keep hearing about? Note how they achieved that burned edge effect.

Regular readers will know that I consider "rap" to be the only four-letter word in the English language that starts with a silent "c". However, I have to admit that I was suitably impressed to discover that that nice young man Curtis James Jackson III, aka Fiddy Sint(sp?), has released a "mash-up" to celebrate the centenary year of legendary Scotch accordionist Jimmy Shand. Word up! Respeck! Ect!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Holy Crap, Batman!



Remember this post?

If we'd been there just six years and 50,000 trips later, it could have been us stuck in that cable car at the top of Table Mountain for three hours after a power failure!

Scary or what?

Did I say we climbed it? Did I actually say that?

Monday, 21 January 2008

Diamond Drive Part 4

Diamond? Check.
Ring? Check.
Morgan Bay? Several hundred miles away.

So we all hop in the car and off we go along the Garden Route.

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that Africa is mostly sand, desert, sand and more sand, but this is the south coast, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian. Which means it rains a bit and helps to water the plants. And there's a road. Hence Garden Route.

Hmmm. I wonder why they also call it the Wild Coast?

Perhaps it's the weather, which admittedly can get a bit blowy at times?
Wild Coast

Or could it be because of the flocks of killer giraffes sweeping across the plains of the Serengeti? (I love PaintShop)
Flock of Killer Giraffes

Ok. Three giraffes. And anyway, the Serengeti is wayyyy up north.
Three Giraffes

Probly the hungry lions have something to do with it...
Lunch

And the wild elephants.

Time for a true elephant story. When we arrived at Tsitsikamma National Park, we asked where was the best place to find elephants that day. Eldest Daughter had once spent an entire day driving around looking for them - who would have thunk elephants could be hard to find? Well, do you know where the expression "African bush" gets its name? Bushes are all you see most of the time, unless you know where to look.

So we asked at the gate. They gave us a map and showed us the likeliest places. And then they asked us if we were now carrying or indeed ever had carried any oranges? Elephants love oranges, can smell them from two miles upwind and will happily destroy your car in order to find them. No? Good. Proceed.

Elephants

So after driving around for a while and admiring the nice elephants, we couldn't help noticing this particular bull elephant smack bang in the middle of the road ahead of us. With no way to get around it and showing no sign of budging. "Um. Are we in trouble, do you think?"

"No, no, we're fine," answered ED. "He'll wander off eventually. You only need to worry if he gets angry. But you can easily tell when he's angry. That's when he starts flapping his ears."

"What, like he's doing now?"

"Yes. Just like that."
Elephant
It is truly astonishing how fast it is possible to reverse a Mazda along a twisty turny dirt track in the middle of the African bush when there's an angry thirty-ton bull elephant bearing down on you.

Also in Tsitsikamma, amongst a lot of other goodies, is this bouncy bridge.

There's a sign at each end, which exhorts visitors in five languages to please not jump up and down on the bridge. So sure enough, when we get half-way across, the fecking Germans start jumping up and down and scaring the crap out of Mrs Farty. Boo!


Knysna with a silent K

Oyster Catcher boat

Oysters. Mmmm. If you like oysters, you should visit Knysna.A plate of oysters. Some time ago. Sigh.

If you like boats, you should definitely visit Knysna.
I love messing about in boats, me. I know all the nautical terms and that. We boarded this, erm, double-decker boat (not the one above, that picture was taken from our boat) and went sailing out to the "Knysna Heads". Well, I say sailing, it was really motor-driven. It's all a bit hazy now, they were serving alcohol on the top deck from the moment we left until we disembarked four hours later. On the lower deck was another party of German tourists. With an accordion. Christ, pass the Amarula!

If you like truly amazing sunsets, you absolutely must visit Knysna.
Click to enlargeKnysna Sunset
Click to enlargeKnysna Sunset and birdie

This message was brought to you courtesy of the Knysna Tourist Board.

What more could there possibly be? Oh, yes. Port Elizabeth, East London and Morgan Bay.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Diamond Drive Part 3

Cape Town

Table Mountain, Cape Town - view from the top
Beautiful.

This is the only place in South Africa, possibly the only place in the dark continent, where the laconic phrase, "Eezz Affffffreeekaaaaaaaa" doesn't always seem to apply. Things sometimes happen quickly.

We find a jewellers where a little man sits in the window and patiently sets about fitting our diamond to a ring. We stop by every day to watch him. His movements are unhurried and yet the finished article is actually taking shape before our very eyes.

Tyger Valley Mall - My God, it's full of stores!



You want to see a shopping centre? Meh. Go shopping.

CUMHere we see a shop with a huge sign in the window. Not a sperm bank, as it transpires, but a Christian bookshop. Boo! Sorry, no photo, I sent it in to The Graham Norton Show and it never came back.

Table Mountain

Table Top Mountain

Or as Mrs Farty calls, it, Table-Top Mountain. Whatever. It's a hell of a climb. Shop At The TopEven so, if it wasn't for the shop at the top, whatever it's called, she would never have come up.
From here, you can see the whole city of Cape Town and way down in the bay...



Robben Island

Robben Island Prison
Famous for a number: 46664.
We take the ferry out, have a guided tour courtesy of a former inmate, see Nelson Mandela's prison cell. Fer Chrissake, it's tiny!

When we get back to the port at Cape Town, we see some seals have taken up residence and are having a good bask. As everyone does in Africa.
Seals at Cape Town

By the third day, the ring is ready, so off we go again.

Coming up: The Wild Coast. Knysna. Port Elizabeth. Oliphaunts!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Animals

Mr Farty has been taking some exercise.

Ballet Exercise

In other news, New Scientist reports the discovery of a rat the size of a cow. Luckily for the residents of Uruguay, it appears to have died two million years ago. Hmmmm...is it just me, or...Giant RatMoomintroll

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Diamond Drive Part 2

So. We've bought found a diamond and had it cut, polished and graded. Now we need to have it set in a ring, so we head in the general direction of Cape Town.

Cango Caves



Cango CavesThey're deep, dark and mysterious. No way in hell is Mrs Farty going in there. Time for me to boldly go where ten thousand tourists no-one has gone before. Pretty. Dark. Especially when the guide turns out all the lights just to show us how DARK it is a kilometre underground. Yep. Really dark. So dark that you have to feel your way around. Cango Caves - dark


"Hey, get your hand off my butt!" Perfick!



Cheetahs & Ostriches




There's a cheetah farm conservation reserve in Oudtshoorn not far from Cango Caves. It's great, you get to stroll around in a raised walkway fenced off above the animals, and if you're very lucky (and over 16), they'll even let you in to pet the cheetahs. Imagine stroking a Harley Davidson that's been upholstered in fur. And in all the years it's been operating, only one stupid bitch has ever had her arm torn off.

"Is it safe?"

"Oh, yes, it's perfectly safe."

"Argh! Argh! Get it off me!"

"Whereas you're not."

Cats.

Kitteh restin

And burds.

A bird yesterday.

Ostriches

Ostrich
After you've fed the ostriches, count your rings.

More kittehs

More Kittehs
After you've fed the cheetahs, count your fingers.

And crocodiles.

video

After you've fed the crocs, count your friends.


Oops run out of post. Cape Town next, promise!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Extreme Blogging

From: Your Insurance Company
To: Mr Farty
Subject: Additional Premiums

Dear Mr Farty,

It has come to our attention that you are involved in the pursuit popularly known as "blogging". Given the recent reclassification of blogging as a dangerous sport1, we have reluctantly been obliged to review our pricing structure.

With immediate effect, your premiums will be increased by the amount of one hundred pounds per month. You need take no action; we shall automatically advise your bank to adjust your direct debit accordingly.

If you should decide to relinquish blogging, please contact us immediately to have your premiums readjusted.

Yours Sincerely,
Nigel Goldsmith CDM
Accredited Insurance Adjustor

1 Thousands Struck Down In Heisenblog Pandemic

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Whenever I Hear The Word "Culture"...

...I think of Agar-Agar jelly. However, I've been tagged by Misssy Martin to come up with answers to these three questions, so here goes.


  1. What am I reading at the moment?

  2. Thus Spake Zarathustra by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Although written in the late nineteenth century, this work had a major impact on twentieth-century thinking and even today inpires numerous books, movies and television documentaries.

    Nietzsche posits that God is dead, and that mankind must learn to reach within itself to find the strength of spirit formerly provided by the crutch of religion. Only by pitting his own indomitable will against the weaknesses of the flesh can man strive to transform himself into the Übermensch or Superman.

    Adolf Hitler misinterpreted this to mean that mankind would eventually be replaced, through an evolutionary process, by homo superior, the Master Race, and consequently he set in motion a program to breed such a race of Aryans, whilst simultaneously attempting to eradicate the "racially inferior" Jews in Nazi Germany's notorious concentration camps.

    Jor-elMeanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Merkans took a slightly different tack.

    "No, Kal-el, I am your father."



  3. What am I listening to at the moment?




  4. Put Yourself In My Place by the late-twentieth century artist Kylie Minogue.
    According to the blurb, the video for this song "recreates the opening sequence of the classic Jane Fonda movie, 'Barbarella'". Mm-hm. Whatever.

  5. What am I watching at the moment?

  6. Well, I was planning to watch the new series of Primeval, about a team of dinosaur hunters, but Mr and Mrs Dishwater rather outstayed their welcome yesterday and I forgot all about it.

    I'll be sure to record the rest of the series, so that I can play it back at my leisure. When Mrs Farty is out. With the sound muted. And a box of tissues. Say what you like about Hannah Spearritt, at least she has the professional integrity to keep her kit on unless it's absolutely essential to the ratings.

    Hannah Spearritt in Primeval


So I like SF and women. You already knew that from my profile. Meh.

Consider yourself tagged.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Favourite Movie Quotes #1

It could be worse...it could be raining.


IgorI was feeling really down and depressed after my one and only experience of LSD. Bad bad bad trip. Even the waccy baccy gave me flashbacks, so I had to quit that too. Anyway, just when I thought I couldn't get any lower, I remembered this scene in Young Frankenstein, where the good doctor (Gene Wilder) and his faithful assistant Igor (Marty Feldman) (who wore no makeup in this film) are hard at work. Dr F. laments the terrible predicament they find themselves in - knee deep in dirt, in a cemetery, at midnight, digging up a fresh corpse in order to reanimate it.
"It could be worse," chirps the ever-cheerful Igor.
"HOW??!!"
"It could be raining."
At which point there is a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder and the heavens open.

It brought me out of the doldrums then, and still makes me smile now.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Diamond Drive Part 1

Rhino

This was going to be a post about our 20th wedding anniversary trip around South Africa, but given that we almost certainly won't be going back there (Eldest Daughter is now moving to New Zealand), I've decided to expand it a bit and throw in bits from other holidays. If you don't like to see other people's holiday pictures, look away now.

Mrs Farty and I had been married for twenty years and felt that we deserved a wee holiday (no, not from each other). Eldest Daughter and Son-in-Law had been begging us to pay them a visit, so we gave Little Miss Farty some money for crisps, packed our bags and flew off to Darkest sunny South Africa.

Wild CoastWe landed, eventually, in a little place known as East London. It sits right on the Wild Coast, about halfway between Port Elizabeth and Durban. That'll be a big help to ya, right? Well, just wait till 2010, when the Football World Cup arrives in SA. Then you'll pick it up quickly enough.

ED and SiL had taken some time off too, so we wasted no time in driving up to SiL's birthplace, Kimberly, right in the heart of the country and hot as hell. The air-cond in the car was, of course, knackered, so we drove fast with the windows down. Kimberly is where the fabulous Great Star of Africa was found, so SiL took us to the very hill where the discovery was made.

The Big HoleWell, that find had sparked a bit of excitement diamond rush. People looked for, and found, more diamonds, so they dug down. And down. And down. Now all that's left is a big hole, imaginatively named The Big Hole. It's still there, but that pretty green liquid covering the bottom is highly acidic, and the very air around it is toxic. Nice.

Driving the trainHowever, there are plenty of other places in the vicinity where diamond prospecting is still worthwhile, so we bought our Official Prospecting Licences and caught the steam train to King Solomon's Mine. Possibly.

Crushing gravel

Looking for diamondsThe big rocks from the mine are mechanically broken down into gravel, then it's a matter of crushing the gravel, spreading it out on a handy table and sifting through it by hand until you find yourself a diamond. This may take some time, so bring plenty of sandwiches and soda. (One of these people is an accredited diamond sorter - can you guess which one?)

Harry Oppenheimer House - stock photoOnce you've discovered your diamond, you have to get it cut, polished and graded. As luck would have it, there's a diamond sorting facility, Harry Oppenheimer House (HOH), right in the middle of Kimberly, so we had a wander round inside.



*ahem*


Oh. Right. They confiscated our cameras, then we were issued with temporary passes, escorted by armed guards, and led through a series of locked doors while we were X-rayed, and thence into the key-operated lifts. All under the ever-watchful gaze of the CCTV security cameras. Think Big Brother for real. Sheesh, you'd think they were worried someone might want to steal their jools or sumfink!

And then we saw them. A long, long line of stools. Perched on each stool, a stern-faced individual wearing a white coat and thin latex gloves. Stacked before each person, a little heap of stones. The leftmost heap was the largest. These ones were jet black industrial diamonds. As we walked along, the heaps grew smaller while the colours lightened through brown and yellow, until the smallest, rightmost heap was composed of pure, clear, glittery gems. Each heap was worth a cool million US dollars. Each sorter had three cameras trained on their every move. I'd hate to have an itchy bum in that room.

SiL's sister works there, so she graded Mrs Farty's diamond personally. As you do.


After seeing the end-to-end process of washing - in boiling nitric acid - drying, sorting, grading and that, we were given a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea and shown some excellent copies of famous diamonds. And a very few real, uncut ones, still embedded in the rock. Then we were X-rayed again, just to be sure, given back our cameras and allowed back outside. I like HOH. Mrs Farty wants to live there.

Next stop: Cape Town, via Cango Caves.