Monday, May 21, 2018

Goa walk

My wife and I stayed at this hotel during our time in Goa.
The beach was about a 10 minute walk from the rear of the hotel, 
but my focus for this posting was was the main road in front of the hotel.
We had driven the road on previous occasions when leaving to go on city tours, 
but now it was time to do it on foot.

The locals seem to take pride in keeping the pavement
 in front of their homes/ businesses as clean as they can.
This was one of several men that I saw sweeping as I wandered down the road.

The shops in the street were still closed when I set out,
they were in the process of opening on my return.
There are no real shop front doors, 
just heavy plastic drapes to keep the stock secure.

The buildings that I came across seemed to be an eclectic
mix of architectural styles.

Going by the bells and the cross on the roof,
I assume that it is safe to conclude that this is a church of some denomination.

And right in the middle of my walk I come across this Art Deco theatre...
It is now a night club, but back in the day, 
I can well imagine that this might have been the place to be seen.

The Banyan Tree...the national tree of India.
I have read about Banyan Trees, but I have never seen one.
This changed when I discovered this huge specimen in the grounds of a hotel.
It is a member of the fig tree family that begins its life cycle
 growing in the cracks of a host plant.
Much like the Strangling Fig of Southern Africa, it will eventually kill the host.

A doorway of one of the derelict building that I passed while walking.
Like eyes, people will often say that windows are the soul of a building.
To me, doorways hold that honour...
Especially on a building that has been left to fall into disrepair.

Not an unusual sight given that cows are seen as sacred in India.
This small herd looks like they have made themselves at home here.

The elderly gent on the left was a local newspaper vendor.
People would pull up on their bikes, collect a paper from him and leave.
Almost without stopping, they would take one and drive off.
I am assuming that the seller had sort of payment plan in place.

Most of the dogs I encountered on my various walks very friendly 
and were eager to engage.
This one was the exception that proved the rule.
Not keen to investigate me, it merely stood in the driveway and barked.

It is correct to assume that no matter where you travel to,
there will ALWAYS be a Coca Cola sign!
A scooter is not an unusual form of transport...
But to find a cow in a main urban road, only in India.

One my return, I decided to visit the beach.
Not yet set up for the locals or tourists who frequent it,
I stayed for a while and then made my way back to our hotel

Where YOU aware that Royal Enfield motorcycles are  produced in India?
I was not, until our guide made me aware of that fact.
This brand has been rated as the oldest motorcycle
 in continuous production.
Their first models rolled off the factory line in Chennai 1901.

The street in front of our hotel was busy from
 early in the morning until late at night.
We had chosen our accommodation well 
as this was the quieter part of Goa,
not near the party beaches where, 
I believe, the noise can keep visitors awake.

This sign sums it all up...
Sometimes we are, and sometimes were are not.
Simple as that.

This is where we stayed while we were in Goa.
A wonderful hotel with friendly staff and good service.
To find out more, visit their website:

Our trip itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And specifically by Mr Aman, their Senior Travel Advisor
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NJ More Field Guide College, Marataba,Limpopo Province. "Tell me the story"

What an absolutely breathtaking landscapes our country offers.
This is one of my favourite views...
The magnificent Waterberg Mountain range.
There is something truly spectacular about this vista
and it is one that I never tire of looking at.
Even if I only get to visit occasionally...

Have YOU every wanted to be a Field Guide?
I have and it was unfortunate that opportunity was not an option
when I left school all those years ago.
I did start a course when I was in my 30's, 
but work got in the way and I was unable to complete it.
But now, I get to live my dream, by teaching Field guides
how to construct interesting and well written Blog postings.
This is not covered by the regular guiding courses currently on offer.
The More Group has seen fit to include my curriculum in their course.
This is my second visit to the NJ More Field Guide College.
In 2017 I presented, at very short notice, 
the pilot program of the course.
This building houses the office, the kitchen
and a en suite bedroom for visiting lecturers/guests.

The student accommodation.
Luxury safari tents with indoor ablutions that include
both a shower and a toilet.

This pool was busy being built during my stay in 2017.
Now complete, it was inviting but the weather
 was too cold for me to take the plunge.

Meals for both the trainers and the students are enjoyed
 around these tables. 
There are rituals around meal times that I found most 
heart warming.
Like the sharing of local and International news by the duty team
as well as sharing an inspirational quote of the day.
I have resolved to start my day, when back home,
with a quote to put me in a positive frame of mind.

This is why I was here.
Last year the lectures were put together with very little preparation.
There were no manuals and no visual aids.
This year, I made certain that both were available to the students.
Certificates will be presented to those who participated. 

My "home" for the next 2 days...
Since my last visit, lecture room now has fitted with a retractable blind
 and industrial strength fans.
In summer the interior can get very warm and I am certain that
 winter offers its own challenges.

The NJ More Field Guide College students hard at work.
17 students participated in the series of lectures that I presented.
Initially, some of them were not keen on getting creative,
but all of them participated with enthusiasm.
Many of the lodges have instituted "Ranger Diary" web pages,
and this course is to promote that aspect of duties
that might be required of them in future work placements.
My "Tell me the story" catchphrase certainly excited
 several of the participating students.

If in doubt...ALWAYS be Batman.
My new assistant...not that he was much help.
He is certainly the strong silent type.

A Common Dotted Border Butterfly...
I did not have to leave the camp to find something to photograph.
This was directly outside my room.
The splash of colour amongst the stones is what caught my attention.
It is these sorts of images that will allow the future field guides to
 "Tell me the story"

Out on early morning drive...
The reason that Instructor Tertius vd Walt is wearing bunny ears
 is the fact that he got his vehicle stuck in soft sand!
He retains the ears until someone else makes a mistake.
I am certain that the awarding of the ears
 is at the discretion of Head Trainer Phillip Wessels.
The headband is only worn during drives,
and Tertius wore them with pride and confidence.

A female Kudu with horns? 
I can find nothing on the Internet to substantiate
if this might be a relatively regular occurrence or if it is this an anomaly.
I am certain that with research, there will be a story to tell.
It is certainly the first time I have witnessed this.

This was the largest Kudu bull I had very seen.
Here he was, browsing in the bushes very close to our vehicle,
yet he was almost invisible.

This Hippo lives in one of the dams on the reserve.
A grumpy old fellow by all accounts.
He was not "at home" on my last visit,
but was very definitely here this time round.
As soon as our vehicle pulled up, he began to perform.
He seems to have a dislike for humans
 as well as mechanised transport.
There is definitely a story to be told here...

Matabele Ants on the march...
This stream of ants was making their way across the road that leads out of camp.
If I was a vulnerable creature in their path I would be terrified.
Being the size that we are, I could watch in awe as they went off on a foray.

The ants were headed West, and so was this group of students.
I was allowed to join them on their afternoon bush walk.
We covered 13.6km, much of it through thick vegetation 
...most of which had thorns.
The walk was conducted in silence except when Phil asked questions
or shared interesting facts with the group.
Certainly plenty to write about once we returned.

A moment of quiet reflection.
As Lead Trainer, Phillip Wessels has a particular style of imparting knowledge.
And one of those is to ask for 5 minutes of silent contemplation 
while out in the bush.
I remember sharing a similar time during my previous visit,
and these moments are what the students (and I)
will remember for years to come. 

Is this part of an archaeological dig that I visited?
No, it is actually a monkey skull on the window sill in the lecture room!
But an image like this can certainly be utilised in order to...
"Tell me the story"

This area of the Waterberg is truly spectacular,
and these craggy cliffs dominate the skyline magnificently.
This area was once a sea/lake...and this top of this imposing rock formation
 was the bottom of that body of water.
Over the millennia the water vanished, but fossils of sea dwelling creatures
 can still be found in the vicinity.
There is so much geological history in the vicinity,
but who might be reading your Blog postings?
What knowledge might they gain from your experiential writing?
Hard facts can be gleaned from Google and various internet web sites...
Write YOUR story.

A "young" Baobab Tree...this specific one is said to be about 300 years old.
Before the students sat the test that I had prepared for them,
we went out on one last morning game drive.
I would be leaving for home after the test
and the students were going on a well earned week long break.

 something that Zebra do REALLY well.
This young foal still had part of the umbilical cord attached,
and we figured that it was less than a week old.
What a wonderful sighting to end the drive.

A final sunset...
What a spectacular ending to my visit to the College.

This is  Lead Trainer, Phillip Wessels.
I learned so much during the game drive and the bush walk
 that I shared with him and his students.
The man is a legend and one of my regrets
 is that I am now too old for him to be my instructor.
His knowledge of all the inhabitants of the bush is superb
 and his method of instruction
makes one want to give of your best.
What was the story behind this image?
It was one of the pictures that was utilised in the test
and the student responses were informative,interesting and entertaining.

If you think that this is the calling for you,
then contact the college via their website:





My new addition, this awesome laptop bag from Solo.
Padded for protection and with enough pockets to keep
almost everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink in,
this is definitely an stylish addition to any business presentation.
Be it in the boardroom or the bush.
This bag can also be worn as a backpack. 
There are straps in a hidden compartment that can be deployed
when you need both hands for other purposes.  

A new "tool" in my camera bag.
Order directly from

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