Caross News

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Caross News 2007

Just as the seasons change so the years go by. This year certainly has flown by. I cannot believe we are already in December. I am way behind in my Xmas shopping. Our Xmas tree is packed under masses of boxes! I seem to spend my life trying to pack my worldly possessions in as few boxes as possible. Hopefully this will be the last move for at least a year.

Ross and I have just bought a house in Orpington, Kent. Oh sigh say all the Londoners – Not suburbia!!!!!!! Most Londoners who live within the immediate surrounding protect their urban existence and greatly fear the move to the suburbs. Suburbia stands for small gardens, houses, cars, babies and families. Ooooooh awful!!!!! For Ross and myself this move was one of survival. There are more trees, open spaces and people are more friendly. I miss the views of London from Greenwich and of course the beautiful park, the local pubs but I certainly don’t miss the crowds. We have a lovely modern 3 bedroom house with a small garden. The house has kept us busy. We got stuck into re-painting and carpeting. We have ordered some furniture but at the moment are living a very frugal existence. Needless to say most things are still in boxes. I am looking forward to unpacking goodies that were last packed several years ago.

One of the absolute treats of living in Greenwich was our local foxes. We had a family that lived in our garden. We journeyed the year with them through highs and lows. Our family had pups, one got mange, family squabbles ensued as little ones started learning about territoriality. We spent hours watching them and photographing them and now I find myself wondering how they are getting along. I made the mistake of leaving my gloves outside. Once I found them I was delighted and put them in my bag. Later I realised they really smelt bad and was a bit confused. After much deliberation I realised they had been christened by our local foxes. I chuckled, popped them in the washing machine and now look at them with new respect.

This year in part seems to have been one of survival. Both Ross and I have worked hard and spent most of our time looking for and sorting out our home. We managed to escape to Wales to see puffins. What a fantastic experience! Puffin mania hit us!!!! We were captivated by these little feathery visitors and snapped away recording their every move on our cameras. Thank goodness for modern technology – we took hundreds of digital photos! A few of these are on our website.

Speaking of our website – apologies for not having kept it updated. Household admin seems to have overcome us and we have not been good at keeping in touch with the outside world.

Earlier in the year we headed back to SA to catch up with friends and family. It was wonderful to see everyone and catch up with their news. We were spoilt with a few glorious days in the berg. The weather was very good to us and we explored river valleys and slept in caves. This trip is firmly locked my memory and will be treasured.

This year we were blessed with visits from Ken, Peta and Jenny. It is fun to see family and explore areas around our home. I have not spent that much time with my mom for many years. I look forward to the next time they all come to visit. We now have enough space for visitors and welcome anyone wishing to come and stay.

One of the challenges for the year was for Ross to learn to ski. I went to Switzerland for work so we added on a few extra days and hired some ski’s. The snow had started to melt and conditions were rather awful for beginners. Needless to say we struggled but I am happy to report we succeeded. We managed to ski down a fairly large slope with our instructor hot on our heels shouting “snow plough” “snow plough”!!! That night we collapsed in bed – exhausted!

Switzerland is really lovely and I would love to go back. I got quite suntanned in the sun and enjoyed drinking beer watching people rip down the slopes and end with waves. The ski slope bars are just like bars on tropical islands. They ooze tans and attitude. They even have fake palm trees but they certainly are very entertaining.

Rugby– do I need to mention that word again. All I can say is we are still South Africans through and through and truly celebrated our world cup victory. Viva the springboks!

One of the goals for the year was to run a marathon. I have not run for months so this was quite challenge to get going. I had to deal with low levels of fitness, rain and additional kilos gained by breathing in London air. We targeted the Jersey marathon in October. Both us had a hard run but enjoyed it. We ran good times and I really enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow runners and the huge support from locals on route. My performance was aided by the SA chef at the hotel who made me porridge for the run. Look out world – SA are taking over. Jersey is a very pretty island. The race was well organised and the route was very scenic. Altogether a winner!

London certainly comes with highs and lows. Life is fast and packed with people. Ipods, trains, coffee shops and mobile phones dominate our life. I love the Xmas lights, theatre and bakewell tarts. I wonder what the attraction of ketties crisps are and why supermarket trolleys never ride in a straight line! I laugh at the adverts to buy a goat for impoverished Africans. I wonder how much food is truly organic and find myself pondering the fate of the labour party. Thank goodness I am not addicted to Eastenders!

Well the winter may be here, the days may be short and blustery but the lights are bright and the pubs are warm. Xmas is a fun time, a time to reflect and get in touch with friends and family. Thank you everyone who has supported us and continued with us on our adventures!

We look forward to seeing you and hearing your news.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Puffin Mania

We have been engulfed by puffin mania!!!! - Puffins landing, puffins taking off, puffins fishing for sandeels, puffins cleaning their burrows and peeping out of the daisies. Hooray the puffins have landed! Last year we went in search of the little feathery creatures but alas they had headed back to sea. They spend about 9 months at sea and only come to land to breed. This year luckily we had the pleasure of their company for 3 days on a small island called Skommer which is located just SW of Wales.

The puffins are a sheer delight to watch as they go about their business. They are about the size of a pigeon and nest in burrows on the top of cliffs. They are not shy, nor are they afraid of humans. They peer sideways at objects and whilst on land borrow a colourful enlarged beak. In the sky they wiz around and are remarkably difficult to photograph, on water they bob like a rubber ducks and whilst in their burrows they emit strange sounds – aaagh aaagh aagh.

Dolphins, seals, razorbills (see picture below), nocturnal manx shearwaters being slaughtered by black-backed gulls are just a few other wonders of Skommer. All in all a real wildlife treat was had by Ross and myself.

Tour de France in London

The Tour de France came to London so we had to take to the streets of Greenwich along with thousands of other Londoners to see the spectacle. Fist was the anticipation, then a few police motorcycles buzzed by. The crowd’s excitement grew. Suddenly, with a whoosh of moving air and the clicking of gears the peloton blurred by.

Londoners filled the Streets

Fabian Cancellara in Yellow

The Peloton Passes in a Blur

Amazed by the Spectacle?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Foxes in our Garden

We have a family of foxes in our garden. They are real characters. The old dog fox walks with a limp, probably from an altercation with a car. Our beautiful vixen has a piercing stare, she can gaze right through you when she chooses. The cubs are wild and woolly, badly behaved children that run shrieking around the garden as they chase each other. One of them sadly looks like he is not going to make it - he has mange. Watching them has gives us great joy.

Two Cubs

Fox Cub

Old Dog


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spring News

At last we have managed to post a picture onto our blog, need to scratch around for a couple more pictures to post. We must dig out some from our long forgotten SA holiday.

Well, since SA we have been rather dull - house hunting you see. It can be depressing especially as new comers to one of the most expensive cities in the world at the end of (we hope) a property boom. Lately all our spare time has been spent on property web sites, reading property papers and looking at properties. Hopefully we will be done with this house hunting phase soon, we intend to put an offer in on a little house on the outskirts of London tomorrow.

Orpington is a commuter suburb on the edge of the greenbelt. To most people that live in London suburbia is a fate as desirable as smallpox. Looks like suburbia here we come. The London property buying business is a minefield; leasehold; freehold; prejudices – East, West, old, new, suburbia and financial constraints. In many ways it is simpler for us we just have to find ourselves a patch to call our own.

Oh wait; it hasn’t all been that dull since SA we have also been to Switzerland. The Swiss are nutters! This skiing business! Hurtling down steep slippery slopes in plastic boots fixed to some glorified glass fibre boards. Fast, backwards, forwards over jumps…

Davos that we visited does have a disproportionate number of people on crutches.

We had to give it a go. Now learning to ski as adults as opposed to being born on those skis is a frustrating business. Did we mention that we wanted to learn in two days, on slushy end of season snow? So far skiing seems to either be out of control or the boring old snow plough. Most of our first morning was spent with an instructor making us walk sideways up a slope on our skis or slowly winding our way down the slope with her yelling “and shnowplough, good shnowplough.”

Summer is resisting arrival. Spring arrived suddenly with an abundance of buds, birds and insects. Locals stripped and flocked to the parks. Cider and ice consumption began! No sooner was everyone getting a tan when the weather turned and well we have been subjected to winds, grey and wet!!! The weather has not dampened the procreation needs of the squirrels, birds and foxes. Not a minute is wasted. If the animals are not feeding they are humping.

This morning we experienced one of London’s little treasures, “Columbia Rd market”. It was raining but off we went in true British style. The market is primarily a flower market with East Ender sellers marketing their wares. We indulged in coffee, cake and left with bunches of flowers (Cape fynbos and proteas) and potted herbs. Ross and I eyed little treasures for our future house.

We look forward to our visits from friends and family. The next couple of months will certainly be fun.

Blue Bells in our Garden

Paragliders in the Snow

Hot tub in the Mountains

In the Alps

The view from our Davos Youth Hostel

More London Snow

Sunday, January 28, 2007

London Snow

This week we saw our first proper London Snow. I woke up, went to the kitchen put the kettle on and looked out the window. “My word we have had a heavy frost, hang on that is not frost.” The cars were completely white, the lawn was white and the road was white but for the tracks from the first couple of early morning cars.

While I was looking out onto the white lawn below a fox ran past sniffing around in the snow, leaving a trail of footprints in the fresh snow. We dressed as warmly as we could and rushed off to the park to take some pictures, arriving late at work – you know transport difficulties.

Greenwich Park with snow is a different place; people greet one another; the dogs cavort even more than usual and the pace is so much slower.

Here are some of our photographs…

View Into the Docklands

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Snowy Tree & Path

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Stairs in the Park

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The Royal Obsevatory

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Caron on Blackheath

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A Cold and Snowy Park

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Night out in the City

Last night Caron had a girl’s night out in London, so Ross took the opportunity to walk around with a camera in the city. Of course there are loads of people out there taking pictures, most of them are tourists, taking pictures of each other in front of the Houses of Parliament, a fountain or Picadilly Circus.

At times like this I don’t know weather I should feel that I belong in London or weather I should feel like a visitor. No – London is not completely home yet. It is wonderful to be able to wander freely around a city at night, a different kind of freedom that is new.

London Eye & Houses of Parliament from the Jubilee Bridge

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Big Ben

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rodent - Greenwich Park

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St Ives Cornwall

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Caron at the Ruislip Woods

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Water of Nevis

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Meanach Bothy

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Isle of Man Sunset

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