Break for the weekend

The past few months have flown by, mainly because mom has been traveling more than usual. Having her home for the weekend (only one this month), meant we had to do something and off the 3 of us went to Addo for the weekend.

Our first sighting was a the biggest dominant male in Addo, Vallie Moosa. He is a big tusker for sure, even on a distance with a telephoto lens.

From the biggest male to the possibly smallest, Stompie (meaning shorty), a name given to him on account of his half tail. He has had it rough, possibly attacked by predators just after birth.

From one baby to another, we saw but could not really photograph 2 baby Hyenas. The minder/mom was rolling around in the morning sun.

Boeta collected little flowers for mom every time he got a chance.

He was enjoying mom being with us and sharing the experience and he let her know on every occasion that he loved her. Sweet to see.

 

 

From our pup to African Shellduck chicks.

Next, we saw a maybe once in a life-time animal in the wild. The Brown Hyena came out the bushes right in front of us and moved over and away as fast as we saw it. I was shaking, had the wrong lens, but managed to grab a photo. This folks, the Brown Hyena, is 100 times more scarce to see in wild.

We were the only people to see it. We were starry eyed and the excitement was touchable.

Boeta was still sharing flowers.

Our last sighting for the day, more elephant bulls drinking water, but on this occasion the Bull let the warthogs know it was time to move on…

The main image of the post is Nyala mom and baby, I used to create a art piece.

 

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Levels

A little Triptych I did over the weekend from photos I took on our trip.

Just an additional note. If you want to link to my Facebook page let me know or Instagram. Just follow links on the words above.

Road trip

I have been on the go now for a while, just arrived back for 48 hours…leaving tomorrow again. I am taking my boy on a Karoo trip to farms and wildlife rich open regions. Here are some things we have seen..

The Valley of desolation is awesome and standing on a rock for the second photo made my knees buckle a little.

In the same region we (Boeta and Me) saw wildlife like kudu, standing at the perfect angle with the sun rising behind him.

We saw many other animals and birds and I captured what I could. A favorite was the korhaan walking as they do (low) when they sense danger.

This is open semi-desert country, beautiful to my heart and eye.

We drove to another region about 200 km from this and found more grass-like Savannah.

Just a small sample of what I took. Later.

 

Come play with me

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We saw this beautiful leopard back in 2015 and I just had to do something with this. I created this for your enjoyment of a beautiful, playful female leopard. Make no mistake, she was just as dangerous and it would have been silly to take her up on her offer.

Dry summer

It has been a dry start to 2017. We are in the midst of our summer and the rain is staying away. I am lucky because I planned a garden based on succulents, so I do not have to water in any case, but even the poor succulents are looking for rain now. We have daily fires everywhere in the Southern Part of South Africa now and the smoke smell keeps coming and going throughout the days as the winds shift.

Boeta is growing so quickly, it is scary. He is fully potty trained (we took our time and it turned out to be much less of the issue it is made to be). He is becoming more and more his own “man” with his own preferences and moods. He is our trooper living a life unlike most other 3 year-olds. Mom had to fly again and he was up at 3.30 am and eating croissants and watching planes at 5 am yesterday.

Here he is last night just before sunset, still laughing and enjoying life. You cannot but to admire his spirit.

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Have a great day.

Always great at Southern Point of Africa…

We spent the first week of 2017 at Struis Bay, which some of the older followers may know as our most special place, holding deepest of meanings.

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As our little grows, it just become more special to us. He is enjoying the space and unique environment there too.

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We loved taking a drive, buying fish and chips at our favorite shop and eating it at the beach, sometimes in the car, other times sitting on the rocks.

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The real Southern Point of Africa has a whole different feel of ominous danger to it. Many a ship has gone down over the years. This part reminds us very much of our home, the rocks being more similar, but not as sharp and pointed.

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Three years

High guys,

We are back from our quick trip for Boeta’s Birthday. It was a great success. We had a few obstacles to overcome, but all to do with life outside the our family environment, some of which we will share.

The main character turned 3 on Saturday in the Addo National Elephants Park.

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We will share with you all the stories, funnies and travel finds (Fauna) over the next weeks. For now I will just share this shot with you and one other…A portrait of Boeta, taken while walking around on the first evening.

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Lots more to come….

Walking home….with the explorer!

After turning around, we walked back slowly, still looking for anything interesting.

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The sun was going down fairly quickly by now. We still had a bit of a walk back home. Boeta did not care one bit.

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Every time I pushed him a little he complained and wanted to walk in the opposite direction, only for the drag of a dad to remind him that it was getting late and we had to go home.

Beach may-66 Beach may-67I loved this spot with the green algae to spend some moments here to shoot a few shots, all freehand.

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I looked for Boeta who was in his own world, finding another treasure, I am sure. I called him and he came walking toward me pointing at a Oystercatcher flying past and asking what it was.

Beach may-70 Beach may-71I again reminded him that we had to move on and he reluctantly joined me as we walked towards home. I took a few shots in that direction. You can just see the houses.

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It was a brilliant evening yet again. I could not get enough of the clouds and the setting sun, so every now and then I would get another shot.

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As we got closer we saw some fisherman again. Sometimes the ladies join their husbands/friends as they angle in the early evening as was the case with this young man.

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Boeta was in great spirits and still throwing rocks, running and enjoying being at the beach. You would never know we were coming to the end of a 6 km walk.

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It was too dark now. I was on the built-in flash to get any descent shots. Really time for us to get home.

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I took a last shot of the white rocks and the remaining sunlight.This is the last of this series of posts. We hope you enjoyed the full photographic walk with us.

Tomorrow we leave for a short Safari and a few days in the mountains to celebrate our son’s 3rd Birthday. Hopefully we will bring lots of photos of wildlife and landscapes to share next week. Have a great weekend, I know we will.

I looked for Boeta …. he was busy looking for crabs under the flat rocks.Beach may-85

My son – The explorer! Happy Birthday, we are so proud of you! Love you, Mom and Dad!

 

About a toddler

Unbelievably it has been 2 years since we started sharing our rumbling ocean with you guys. Boeta was about to turn 1. Today we are looking at a near 3 year-old…in a month.

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Boeta mei 2016-2In those days I took him to the beach walking down with the stroller, showing him the waves, rocks, beach, birds, boats and dolphins. Today he loves (adores) the beach and on most days, especially in the afternoon after he wakes up his first words are: “Let’s go walk or let’s go to the beach”. He loves throwing rocks into the pools, has to hunt for real crabs, sea snails and most other creatures he can find, only to throw it into a pool.

He now weighs around 17 kg (37.4 lbs) and he stands 1.01m (near 40 inches) tall.

He is a friendly little chap wanting to kiss and hug most people if he is comfortable with them. He laughs easily and we tend to have lots of fun throughout the day.

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He is also a toddler with normal “no, no do not want to do this or that” on a regular basis, but never says no to kicking a ball, walking and going to the beach….never. Last time he was sick…one year ago…the flu. He talks a lot, loves to learn, especially from books and counts to 10 in 2 languages, talks mainly in Afrikaans, but also knows colors in english and says the odd sentence in english like, “Are you thinking what I am thinking?” or “You are my best friend” and loves to sing Bah-Bah Black Sheep….When in his element he is a little character…

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He loves running, yes toddlers run, but he loves to do cross-country running at the beach…On this occasion it was becoming late..he did not give up and wanted to cry every time I said let’s go home…I flashed the last shots. There is at least a 8 meter (26 ft ) difference between the beach and the top, where I stood. He runs laps in the path and I am yet to see how many he can do, I usually stop and walk home after 6 or 7. He loves it. I am tired after 2 laps….yes 2!

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Earlier on this day I took a photo of him riding his bicycle with helmet…he can ride it on flat surfaces by himself, but not uphill yet.

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So there you have it. Our little man is growing up, sometimes too fast. We are so grateful for this wonderful gift and we are so very proud of him.

Purest of Joys and a Birthday

MomsbirthdayThursday was a great day for the boys. Mom was on her way back from Uganda after near 2 weeks away. This was the last in a series of trips over the last months that left us alone regularly.

Boeta was dressed and ready to go and fetch mom. He could not wait.

We bought a bunch of flowers (roses) for mom and daddy gave Boeta one to give her when she arrives.

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Momsbirthday-3Arriving at the airport we got bad news, the flight was late (delayed). Daddy decided that we had no option but to go to the little airport restaurant and watch the activities outside with the planes landing and departing.

A BA flight was the only one at the airport, preparing to depart.

Momsbirthday-4 Momsbirthday-5Boeta was excited about this ability to see the planes and all the trucks and other funny vehicles used at the airport.

We were lucky to get a seat with a great view and we settled in for the wait, which hopefully would not be more than 30-40 minutes.

Daddy got a menu and Boeta enjoyed asking about all the things on the menu. Daddy decided to order a strawberry milkshake. Boeta very first milkshake. He loved it and using a straw made him feel very grownup.

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Momsbirthday-8A pair of common doves decided to sit in front of our window and groom each other. Boeta enjoyed this as well because he could get close to them and watch them carefully.

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The BA flight prepared to leave. Boeta watched the process with great interest. We saw many smaller airplanes landing or taking off.

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Shortly after the BA flight departed we noticed a South African Airways flight coming in.

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Daddy immediately realized that this is mom’s plane landing and told Boeta the news. His whole demeanor changed. He was much more alert and immediately teary eyed.

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Momsbirthday-46Momsbirthday-45Daddy told Boeta that we had to wait a little longer. From past experiences he knows that the little man becomes much more troublesome at the arriving hall after he has seen his mom. So we watched as the plane taxied to its bay.

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Every now and then he would excitedly ask me if we could go now. He wanted to get out and he wanted to get to mom.

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We were off to the arriving hall. Here you have a door with security that separates the arrivee’s from the family and friends collecting him, similar to most airports nowadays, I guess. One person does not care one way or the other. When he sees mom, he runs to her. This happens every time mom arrives, but this time I had the camera, because we had a flower and mom came home for her birthday, unlike the previous year when she was in the USA. What now follows is the most the purest of joys one could ever ask for. I do not need any more words…

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Daddy got reduced to baggage master in that instant and mom became primary caregiver. Boeta would not let go soon and he kept hold of the rose too.

Mom said he told her: “It is a rose, smell!”

At home he showed her his new puzzles and they spent some immediate quality time together.

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Friday Morning

Momsbirthday-33Daddy taught Boeta the “Happy Birthday song” with the aim that we could sing it to mom on Friday morning. Unfortunately after the long previous day and the excitement, Boeta was in no singing mood. He just wanted his morning tea and mom. So Daddy obliged and mom had to face another lonely effort by dad on her birthday. Daddy tried to make the scene festive which was to the little man’s liking.

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Boeta had a card and present for mom. The card was written by him with dad holding his hand.

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Boeta enjoyed the balloons very much and he is still playing with them as I type this.

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He played while mom opened the gifts and then Boeta got into the paper more and really tore it apart as can be witnessed above. Daddy also presented mom with a Cream cheese fridge tart and an oven baked Cheesecake. He made 3 of each.

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We end this long post by saying that the boys are so very happy to have their mom/wife back. She is truly our beautiful flower.Momsbirthday-43

In Boeta’s words…a song he only sings when we are all together…

“Family, family, that is what we are, everyone with same name, that’s who we are!”

Stamina

I want to do a follow-up post on the last post ice cream at sundown. The little man has developed a lot of stamina over the last 24 months. All toddlers are busy and active that is for sure and Boeta is no different. I chose stamina because it’s definition states “the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort“.

Boeta now easily walks, runs and climbs his way along the same path I walked before he was born and just as far as what we did in the stroller every morning. We walk, run, climb and explore for 1.5 to 2 hours every time we go out and sometimes twice a day. In the previous post we showed such  morning walk and we did it again, the following morning.

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The climbing and jumping is now standard procedure for the little man. He does recognize his limitations too and quickly calls “Daddy help” when he gets stuck.

  Boetabeachwalk-6Being present to explain finds and teaching, while playing is just as important in my mind. We talk about everything and it goes with a “wow, look at this or that!”. We are lucky to have lots of rocks (many shapes) and shells…touch exploration.

Boetabeachwalk-7Even things like throwing rocks in water becomes a chance to learn. I would start by saying, wow, what a beautiful oval rock, and then he will go nice round rock, wow, a triangle and so on, learning to see the shapes in the environment.

Boetabeachwalk-8 Boetabeachwalk-9 Boetabeachwalk-10Then there is running on the rocks. Even walking on rocks like these lets you slip and slide a little. Here he learns more about keeping balance while enjoying the chase of daddy.

Boetabeachwalk-11 Boetabeachwalk-12Over the past weeks we have started fishing (post), looking for crabs and other live sea creatures, really looking at the treasures each pool holds. The green shell below hold a crab and other 2 photos are of fish “fingerlings” hiding. Look closely at the sense of wonder in that little face.

Boetabeachwalk-20 Boetabeachwalk-13 Boetabeachwalk-14 Boetabeachwalk-15 Boetabeachwalk-21Just to put context on above photos, here is another set of him from a distance as I walked on.

Boetabeachwalk-16 Boetabeachwalk-17In above photo I called him and his newest reaction is a sort of jerk and face pull to show he is not impressed and wants to stay longer.

Boetabeachwalk-18But being daddy, I do have veto power and insisted that he joins me. We had some more exploration to do.

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Luckily toddlers do have a short memory and by the time he reached me the slight frustration had given way to fun, running and play again.Boetabeachwalk-22 Boetabeachwalk-23It was not long before we climbed higher again and I offered him a potential strawberry flavored milk drink, which always seems to make the decision to go home less troublesome in his mind.

Boetabeachwalk-24Walking back home we have to climb a little last hill to get to our road/street. You can just see the narrow path.

Boetabeachwalk-25Here is the thing, play at the beach, yes…but also in this play the little man is learning biology, maths, science, art and so many more things. This is the physical part of the word stamina, the other valuable part of this exercise to my mind, the ability to keep himself busy at home, the ability to sit at his table and build a minimum of 3 (4-1) puzzles, meaning each box hold 5 puzzles varying from 20 to 6 blocks, and he loves it. The puzzles are all 3+ and 4+ year old puzzles and he builds them without help. I am noting this fact, because it serves to show that we should be careful to get stuck on age vs toys. I react on what I see and experience with him.

He pages books by himself and even tells some stories to himself as he knows them from all the reading, especially done by mom in the morning, but loves it when we read to him and he seems to not get enough of that (normal I think). So without much hard work he has developed the mental stamina that sometimes astounds me for a toddler of 27 months. Yes, we are fortunate, but the point is this, I now see the benefits of the last year of exploration and letting him explore, playing outside.

I only allowed him the tablet a few months ago for the first time, he mastered it in a week and plays on it mainly at night if not building puzzles. It is as if they are born with the ability to operate tablets and alike. He will leave it and any other thing he may be doing if I say, “Boeta, wanna go for a walk?” Right now, I am truly grateful and proud of that.

PS..NEXT post we will return to my walk in the karoo. I cannot wait to show more finds of that walk.

Boeta and the tortoise

Boeta walked up to me and we watched the merinos for a moment before I showed him something much more interesting. Looking back his reaction was pretty fascinating for a 2 year-old.

Boeta drive-17Half “parked” in a small bush next to us was a wild Leopard tortoise. By my estimation it must be around 30 years+ old, if not much older, whatever the case may be, not a young specimen. I told Boeta to look at the tortoise, his first ever face to face with a big one. An amazing thing happened, he was like a veterinarian, immediately interested and concerned for the health as he laid his little hands on the old lady’s shell and inspected her…he was very serious too.

Boeta drive-20Boeta drive-19 Boeta drive-18I turned her slightly out the bush so that he could see her face and this seemed to get him excited and in a lighter mood again. We decided to walk on, excitedly talking about our find and the fact that it blended in so nicely, I nearly missed it totally.

Boeta drive-21 Boeta drive-22Boeta was back exploring, which made life pretty tough for mom, because he kept running off the track into the field and getting grass up in places he did not want it.

Boeta drive-23 Boeta drive-24 Boeta drive-25Once she got the irritants out, he immediately forgot about it and was off again…

Boeta drive-26At this point we had been walking for a good 30 minutes and knew we had to turn around as he was still a toddler and this equaled an hour walk already. We turned around and when we got to the point where we left the tortoise, it was still there…

Boeta drive-28Boeta was again heavily concerned for this tortoise and it’s seemingly inability to move away.

We explained that it was still fairly early in the day (10 am) and being winter the tortoise had to first warm up or it may be waiting for warmer times.

(Later the farmer told us they tend to park up against a bush and just sit there until it warms up again, which is precisely what this one did.)

Boeta was not so convinced and again laid his young hands on the shell of the tortoise.

Boeta drive-27I decided to show him the tortoise was okay and asked mom to take a few shot of her, when we turn her on her side, so that we can try to determine the sex later and also show Boeta she was fine.

Boeta drive-31It was a female, the short stubby tail and flat plate indicates that, males having more of a groove and angle from center outward and longer tail with more pronounced V. One special tortoise then as she would be able to lay up to 15 eggs and several clutches in a season, sometimes, taking up to a year to hatch.

It also gave me the opportunity to show you the front and back legs and nails of the mature tortoise.

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The rear legs are very trunk-like, the front legs are almost paddle shaped and “pigeon-toed” with a row of small “nails”. They can move very fast on these legs, and maneuver over rocky terrain easily They can also climb and go underwater for up to 10 minutes. Younger animals have a surprising ability to climb, as their toenails provide a very secure grip on wood, concrete, and rough stone surfaces.

The South African leopard tortoise is significantly more difficult to breed in captivity than the common leopard tortoise, S. p. babcocki. Eggs will rarely hatch in an incubator. Most successes have occurred when eggs are left in the ground, and when the climate is similar to the natural one for these tortoises. Not surprisingly, given its propensity for grassland habitats, it grazes extensively upon mixed grasses. It also favors succulents and thistles, and (in captivity) the fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) (cactus are New World plants not native to Africa). The African Leopard Tortoise typically lives 80 to 100 years.

Leopard tortoises “court” by the male ramming the female. When mating, the male makes grunting vocalizations.

Keep up mom…

We drove to the top of a hill and got out to explore. We had the area for ourselves, at least 10 – 15 km in every direction, not including the farmhouse, where we stayed, which was about 3 km or so from our location.

Boeta drive-11I got going down the farm tracks in order to take a few shots of the 2 year-old and mom. Initially I struggled to see Boeta, as he was busy collecting rocks and having fun in the immediate area. Mom patiently waited for him to finish his exploration. He appeared with a huge rock.

Boeta drive-2With all the rocks around, it did not take long before he saw another and another in need of inspection. Mom and Boeta traded leading as they walked, stopped, walked, stopped, walked…

Boeta drive-13Boeta drive-3I decided to take a few shots of the Euphorbia that grew everywhere on the hill.

Boeta drive-10 Boeta drive-12I saw a crow in the air and wondered for the slightest of moments about the specie, saw the white and knew it was a pied crow. I asked mom if she saw it and pointed…

Boeta drive-4At the same time a few “Springbok” gazelle took off from close to me and Boeta noticed, but not mom, she was focused on the crow. I could not get a nice shot of them, unfortunately.

Boeta drive-14Boeta, unknown to mom, took off, while she was looking up.

Boeta drive-6 Boeta drive-7 Boeta drive-8When mom looked back, Boeta put some serious distance between them and she needed to lift the speed…seriously.

Boeta drive-9 Boeta drive-16When the little man got to me, I showed him and mom (a little later), the meat merino’s that were standing all around us on the hill.

Boeta drive-15 Boeta driveWe enjoyed seeing fast distances, showing the little man the far mountains and all we could see and find in the fields around us. A special find at this spot with the next post…

Being stopped by grassy irritations…

Cottage-0252Continuing our walk, we walked along one of the farm roads until we saw a gate that led us into the fields.

Boeta was reacting as we hoped and he really enjoyed the open karoo. The first thing we noticed was the flowering Aloe ferox.

Cottage-0257Then we got a glimpse of 2 “Steenbok” antelope charging away from us as we got to the crest of a hill. They are not very big and pretty nimble.

Cottage-0268We looked around and saw a Euphorbia specie with its fingers, some called these medusanoids.

Cottage-0263-EditWe were now working in the open fields and Boeta got his first lesson. Some “Piercing Grass, Stickgrass, Three-Awned Grass, Buffalo Grass”, whatever you want to call it, started to collect on his sweatpants and in very sensitive area and it started to prick him. He stopped dead in his tracks.

Cottage-0279-Edit Cottage-0281 Cottage-0282It was pretty obvious what was going on and I could not help giggling. Luckily mom was close and came to the rescue of the confused toddler. She started removing the grass that got stuck like burdock.

Cottage-0293 Cottage-0294He patiently waited for her to remove the causes of his discomfort, which seems to have been a great collection as mom took a while, and I started to look for other subjects to photograph.

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Nope still busy….

Cottage-0302Okay then, time to head back in any case, so I walked past them and took a shot back to the farmhouse from the top of the hill behind them.

Cottage-0260Boeta eventually got freedom of movement back and was off again. As we walked back to the road we saw a dassie (Rock Hyrax) and I got a quick photo before it was gone.

Cottage-0316Boeta also realized we were on our way back and he already remembered what was waiting for him there. He started picking up speed as we got near to the farmyard again.

Cottage-0317When he saw the sheep, he was off and running with mom in hot pursuit. Cottage-0321 Cottage-0323It was so much fun to witness his immediate and obvious love for the environment he found himself in. How do you know your kid is enjoying himself?? Tell him it is time to go home for dinner and a bath…He did not know it, but more fun was around the corner and the sheep would be there, the next day.

Cottage-0341We walked past a flowering Ruschia species, a succulent plant (low bush) with small purple flowers.

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First walk in the Karoo Heartland

Once we got offloaded and Boeta had his nap (Mom and Dad too), we decided toward late afternoon to take a walk on the farm. This was our reason for coming to this area, open spaces to let the little man run and explore. Sure enough, little man was off.

DSC_0212We decided to walk past the farmhouse and up the hill to get a nice view of the surrounds. As we got closer, someone came past with an old tractor to the great amusement of Boeta.

DSC_0196Some Kniphofia and other flowering plants in the farmyard.

DSC_0223 DSC_0225 DSC_0232As we walked through the farm gate, we took to the hill, following the road. Boeta was in another world, a new wonderful world with lots of…..rocks!!

DSC_0237 DSC_0239C’mon then, you two oldies….we need to get there, today!DSC_0243 DSC_0259 DSC_0270The view from the top of the little hill, guess it would qualify as open spaces!

DSC_0220 DSC_0247 DSC_0261We walked on and mom gave the little man a loving touch asking him if he liked this new holiday spot and if he was enjoying himself.

DSC_0278DSC_0285Daddy decided, enough with the walking on the farm road, let’s go off-road and really have fun. Mom was slightly apprehensive, but we took to the fields in any case.

DSC_0314Some lovely and interesting plants to be found. Nothing growing specifically high.

DSC_0326 DSC_0322 DSC_0288Every now and Boeta would lose his footing a little with his new 3rd outing boots, which ended up to be the most valuable addition to his wardrobe and he did not want to wear anything else and it saved on a few possible issues with thorns and prickly stuff you find from time to time.

DSC_0318 DSC_0307 DSC_0313 For daddy, it was the most anticipated week of the holiday. He wanted to spend time with his son and mom in the Karoo, as he was lucky enough to do for most of his childhood to late teens. This shot is sure one of the most special ones of that walk…..”pride“…..

DSC_0305It was getting late and we had to turn back and go light the barbecue for dinner. Everything basically worked with gas and candles. Magical. No other sounds of people, but us and the man (and his family) for miles around.

DSC_0332Boeta now took the lead as we walked back home with a proud mom and dad walking behind him, watching him just being a kid. BLISS!