Category Archives: General

Quilting – For the love of cats

My latest quilting project was a labour of love from day one.  I decided to make a throw for my son and daughter-in-law, who, like me, are both cat mad.  My obvious choice was a cat theme, but I thought I’d go one further than just a cat theme and make them a quilt featuring photos of their own three cats.  What fun this turned out to be, but I didn’t realize what a labour-intensive design I had chosen.  I only had a few weeks in which to make the throw as they were coming out from the UK for a visit and I wanted it ready for them to take home with them.

Fabric photos

Step one was finding nine photos to use – three of each cat (I only learned much later that one of the cats was actually a fourth cat, but that’s another story!)  Our local quilting supply store printed the photos onto suitable fabric for me and with their help I selected some amazing material – six different fabrics in matching shades.

Chain piecing

I framed each picture in a brown fabric and then followed a log cabin design around each block until I had built up a square.  Chain-piecing made the sewing go faster and of course I pressed each seam as I went.  It was great seeing the blocks come to life with each new fabric that I added.

Quilt as you go

I don’t have a terribly big sewing machine, so opted for the ‘quilt as you go’ technique to make the quilting part easier (using ‘stitch in the ditch’ for all the seams).  For those of you who don’t know what ‘quilt as you go’ means, each block is completed, quilted and then sewn together.  I love the ‘quilt as you go’ method and this was my first attempt at it.  Thank goodness for YouTube tutorials – they were amazing – as was the help I received from my friend, Liz, who uses this method a lot as well.  My joins were pretty good, even if I say so myself, and with my choice of backing, they were difficult to see.

Joined in rows

Liz also told me to join the blocks in rows going down first, and then match them going across. This was a good tip and I had few problems in actually getting all the blocks to line up.  I have to confess that as the quilt progressed I grew more and more fond of those darling kitties gazing at me all the time.  I could have adopted the lot of them right there and then!

Ready for the borders and binding

Finally the central joining pieces went in and then the outside borders were added.  What a dream it was to see the whole throw quilted and finished as I went.  The backing was the perfect choice as it blended in well with the fabric on the front.  Liz embroidered a label for me – I called the quilt “Three’s Company” because all three cats are great friends that curl up together all the time, as well as being great company for my son and daughter-in-law.

All done!

All that remained was to bind the quilt and it was done.  It sounds like it went quickly, but it took weeks and weeks of work.  As I said before, it was a labour of love and I can honestly say that I loved every minute of the time I spent working on it.  I hope that Tamsyn, Whisky and Bailey enjoy sleeping on the throw – perhaps some of the love that went into it will ooze out into them and they will know how much I grew to love them all.

A Stitch in Time

Wilkinson’s World has been somewhat neglected for the last six months, I’m afraid.  It’s not that we haven’t been on any exciting adventures, although these have been few and far between with Rob’s workload, but I have been very preoccupied with my latest hobby – quilting.  At the end of a busy year, or the beginning of a new one, it’s always a good idea to think about that very precious commodity called Time.

Time piece

I read somewhere (I think the author was Seneca) that people are quick to guard their personal property and spare no expense to do so (especially those of us who live in South Africa), but when it comes to squandering their time, folks are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.  We tend to live as if we are destined to live forever, never sparing a thought to our own frailty, and it never occurs to us how much time has already passed.  We also don’t think that the hours and days we are devoting to somebody or something may very well be our last.

Cat-quilt

And on that sombre note, I am reminded of the hundreds of happy hours that I have spent this last year absorbed in making quilts and items for family members.  It has been a real labour of love.  There’s always that gut-wrenching time before they open the gift when I wonder if they will love it and whether all those (sometimes back-breaking) hours were worth the effort.  Then the satisfaction on seeing their happiness and gratitude when they set eyes on it and I know that each stitch was worthwhile after all.

Foggerty

My lovely sister, Franky, has written and illustrated three children’s books about the adventures of a frog called Mr Foggerty.  I decided to surprise her by making cushion covers depicting the front covers of all three of her books.  Her tears of gratitude when she received these gifts made every minute meaningful.

Foggerty-2 Foggerty 3 in the making

I made this sweet little cot quilt for my grand-daughter, Kyra, who has been given strict instructions by her mom to look after it as it is a family heirloom.  It was hardly a masterpiece, but what a lovely thing to call it a family heirloom!

Kyra's quilt

Months in the making was a colourful quilt with lots of pictures so that our twin grand-daughters could play “I Spy”.  They are still a bit young for that, so will have to rely on Mom and Dad to play “Find a …” until they know their alphabet.

I Spy quilt

I ended the year off making a Christmas table runner to be donated to Hospice.  My friend loved it so much that she ended up buying it off me and I donated the cash to Hospice instead.

Christmas runner

So, was my time wasted?  Hopefully not.  I know I brought a lot of joy to my immediate family and gave a lot to myself in the process.

Neil Diamond ends my blog off, with the fourth verse of his song “Hell Yeah” in which he sings :

“If you’re asking for my time,  Isn’t much left to give you, Been around a good long while, So I gotta say it fast, Time is all we’ll ever need, But it’s gotta have a meaning, You be careful how it’s spent, Cause it isn’t going to last.”

Happy new year!!

 

The ladykiller and the lion

I’ve been following the Melissa Bachman lion killing debate with great interest.  As a nature lover I’m heartened to see the outcry that her callous behaviour has spawned.  I guess it would be naive to think that hunting doesn’t take place, but I think that the shock value of the Bachman incident is twofold – one, that she’s a woman and two, that she dared to brag about hunting one of South Africa’s Big Five animals.

A young male lion

South African women tend to leave the more robust sports to our men folk and it really doesn’t sit easy on our minds to see a woman sporting a hunting rifle and grinning from ear to ear because she has just shot a magnificent, defenceless lion.  I know that women have fought long and hard for equal rights in the world arena, and I appreciate their efforts on our behalf, but somehow as nurturers of the world, hunting just doesn’t seem like one of those jobs that women should share with men unless it’s an absolute necessity.  If women start hardening their hearts and becoming cold blooded killers of animals, who will take over from us as nurturers and carers?  And what is the next step from killing animals – killing humans?

Lion cub Botswana

And talking of equal rights,  why didn’t she challenge him without a gun in her hands?  What a shame she chose the cowardly way of taking him on.  Anyone who has camped in the wilds in Africa can tell you of the thrill of living amongst wild lions.  To lie in a tent and hear the deep roar of a male lion nearby is about one of the most thrilling sounds in the world.  I guess for Ms Bachman the sound of a gunshot does more for her than listening to an animal calling to its mate.  Shame on her!

Kalahari red-maned lion

It’s a sad indictment of our society if this awful act was a publicity stunt because she’s a TV presenter (Michelle hosts “Deadly Passion”).  If people need to boost TV show ratings or their image by killing proud animals it doesn’t say much for the rest of the world if we continue to watch these shows and stroke their inflated egos.

Magnificent beast

Our rhinos are being poached into extinction in this country so it won’t be too long before we are left with the Big Five minus one!  If people are going to start on our lions as well, then they are going to have to face the wrath of South Africans.  Thank you to all those people around the world who signed petitions (hell yes, I did too!) and who voiced their anger at this woman.  It was a debate that I wish hadn’t needed to be brought to light, but if it raised the consciousness of people’s inhumanity to dwindling populations of animals on our planet, then our poor brave lion’s death was not in vain.

Ms Bachman’s post on Twitter alongside her photo – “An incredible day hunting in South Africa!  Stalked inside 60 yards on this beautiful male lion … what a hunt!” – elicited a magnificent retort from Ricky Gervais : “Spot the typo!”

Well said Ricky!  My sentiments exactly.

Reflections on a year without TV

Truth be told it wasn’t actually planned that we would give up our TV viewing a year ago.  It happened when we moved house and left our outdated TV set behind with a view to buying a nice big flat-screen TV when we settled in our new home.  Twelve months later we still haven’t bought one and we’ve been reflecting on how our tardiness in this regard has changed our lives.

Weather :  Cloudy but beautiful

From the moment we moved here a peaceful silence descended on our home.  We don’t listen to the radio either so our ambient background noise comes from the local bird population or the cats in the neighbourhood fighting their turf wars.  Dinners that used to be eaten in silence in front of TV are now times for talking about books, life, hobbies and making travel plans.  Having to make conversation every night over dinner when you are together every day (we are retired) is a sure test of whether you can sustain a relationship without the help of a TV set.

I’ve never been a big fan of television.  I think that all TV’s should be sold with a health and safety warning :  BEWARE – THE ITEM YOU ARE ABOUT TO PURCHASE WILL EAT THE MINUTES AND HOURS OF YOUR LIFE AWAY LIKE AN EBOLA VIRUS.  IT CAN CAUSE OBESITY, OBSESSION AND THE BREAKDOWN OF FAMILY LIFE.  PARENTS WILL FALL INTO THE TRAP OF ENTRUSTING THEIR CHILDREN TO ITS CHARMS AND THEN SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR.  THE REMOTE THAT ACCOMPANIES THIS SET WILL CAUSE MARITAL CONFLICTS AND FAMILY ARGUMENTS.  CONVERSATIONS WILL EITHER BE KILLED OR BECOME MONOSYLLABIC.

Sport :  Enjoying the great outdoors

The health warning above says nothing about what the adverts do to you either.  Listening to adverts umpteen decibels louder than the program you’re watching is like having a Brillo pad scraped over your eardrums.  It’s as if the advertisers know that the viewers who don’t have PVR’s will escape by heading either to the kitchen or the bathroom, so they send their screeching jingles to the furthest corners of the house.  If you don’t want to be chased out of your comfortable chair every few minutes then you can risk getting early onset of arthritis by clutching the remote the whole time so that you can mute the sound when the advertising invasion starts.

That’s another story though, because usually the remote is in your husband’s hands and he is flicking through the channels, only to bring you back to the program you were watching minutes after it has restarted.  Do we honestly need to subject ourselves to this sort of frustration just so that we can watch people fighting with each other daily on soapies and Big Brother; watch Jeremy Clarkson verbally trashing the only cars that 99% of his viewers can ever afford, or being placed into a state of negativity watching what the bankers and politicians are doing to our economies and pensions?

Black-shouldered kite

Bruce Springsteen sang a song called “Fifty-seven channels and nothing on” – do you remember it?  So true of the rubbish that is being dished up today on TV and which so many of us watch in spite of knowing that it is junk and is wasting our precious time.  So let’s see how we can now follow the real life channels of TV :

  1. Sport – go and participate in sports, join a club or a gym and exercise.  Go and watch a live game at a local stadium or sports club. (Photo 2)
  2. Discovery – go and visit the libraries and museums around your town, city or the world.  Talk to real live people.  Read books.
  3. Travel – take a trip in our province, country or a foreign country. (Photo 4)
  4. Nature – go and visit parks, zoos or game reserves and observe birds and animals firsthand  (Photo 3)
  5. Food – go and eat at different restaurants and taste local and foreign cuisine.
  6. Weather – put on walking shoes and go outside – we soon see what the weather is doing.  (Photo 1)
  7. News – read a newspaper or check out SkyNews, CNN on-line.  We can then choose what items we want to see or read about instead of having it dictated to us by the media.
  8. Movies – rent a movie, go to the cinema or go to a theatre and watch a live show.
Travel :  Adventures in the bush

My husband, Rob, misses watching major sporting events on TV.  He used to enjoy watching rugby and following the local and international games every week.  Being an avid cyclist he was also keen on following the Tour de Farce when Lance Armstrong misled the world with his cycling prowess; and the weeks of the Olympic Games were his absolute favourite viewing time.  For sure he has missed them, but has he missed them enough to go out and buy a TV set – apparently not,  well not yet!

Time will tell how long this peaceful existence will last, but I am savoring every minute that we don’t have a TV set in the house.  It does one good to remember that Life is not a spectator sport and that the minutes and hours are ticking away.  We should be out there actively taking part instead of sitting in our lounges watching other people doing what we long to do and could do with a bit of effort.

Three scatter cushions for $8000

It’s been a few weeks since we blogged on Wilkinson’s World and that’s because Rob and I are renovating our home at the moment.  It’s certainly taking up all our spare time, but in spite of all the hard work we’re enjoying restoring our somewhat run-down home to its former glory.  Seeing how one small job can lead to another reminded me of an article I read on a plane trip a few years back about a woman who asked her husband if she could buy three new scatter cushions for their couch.  That rather insignificant purchase apparently ended up costing him about $8000.  In the unlikely event that the author of that rather amusing piece is reading this blog, I hope he forgives me if I get his story out of sequence, but the gist of it is as follows …

Jane patching

Apparently the purchase of the cushions lead to the wife suggesting that they were so nice and bright they made the curtains look dull, so she had to buy more curtains for the lounge.  Once the curtains had been bought and hung the lounge suite looked rather tatty and tired, so that had to be replaced as well.  The new lounge suite made the fitted carpet look dreadful and then the wall paint didn’t work with the new suite, and by the time she had finished redecorating the room to match the scatter cushions, the whole lot added up to about $8000.

Rob hard at work

Well, I haven’t been quite that bad, I must admit, but fresh things definitely show up all the old tired stuff and one does end up having to replace more than was originally bargained for.  Be that as it may, we have had great fun (and suffered many aching muscles and sore backs) from scrubbing down and repainting walls and ceilings.  Thank heavens for an energetic young builder who is doing the really tough work of installing a new shower for us.  That definitely would have been beyond our capabilities.

Rob patching

I’m not going to fall into the same trap as the woman I’ve just written about – no ways.  I’m going to change the sequence of events.  After the painting I’m going to put the new carpets in, buy the new lounge suite and the curtains and I’ll get the scatter cushions last!!  Should save a fortune.

What a difference

We’re hoping to be back to our regular birding blogs within the next week or so – that’s if I don’t find something else that needs sprucing up around the house.

 

 

A short drive from Purros

Looking at a map of Namibia can be deceptive for the inexperienced. Even downright misleading. If you look in the north west of the country, in Kaokoland, for example, you will see a little town called Purros (on some maps spelled Puros). A town? Well, I am not sure of the definition of a town, but Purros is so small it doesn’t even have a petrol station.  Perhaps it is not a town or village, just a “place”. It may not have a petrol station, but what Purros does have is a wonderful location for exploring this remote area, and also a wonderful campsite.

Purros campsite

The Purros Community Campsite, located on the banks of the Hoarusib River is a wonderful spot. The campsites are spacious and the enormous camelthorn trees provide shade as well as being a wonderful backdrop to the wildlife activity that abounds. The Red-billed francolins are especially tame here, and are quick to visit in the hope of picking up a snack. Tree squirrels make themselves known, as do Southern yellow-billed hornbills, Pied crows and many other bird species. And there is always a chance of desert-adapted elephants wandering through the campsite – there are warning signs on the trees to keep your food where the elephants cannot smell it!

Red-billed spurfowl Purros campsite

The Purros campsite is well placed for excursions on the Hoarusib River. Driving excursions, that it is; like most rivers in Namibia, the Hoarusib very seldom has any appreciable water in it. Of course in the rainy season flash floods are always a possibility and several vehicles have been lost along this benign-looking stretch of sandy river bed after being caught by the rapidly rising water.  So, being there at the right time of the year is important.

Hoarusib River

Head west down the river from the campsite and you are soon embraced in the magnificent scenery as the track criss-crosses the little water that remains in the river bed. The mountains on either side are low but dramatic in the late afternoon sun, displaying colours that must make a landscape artist’s mouth water.

Hoarusib River

The driving on this stretch of riverbed is easy as the sand is quite firm and the water very shallow at the crossings, but some care is required to avoid holes or patches of deep, loose sand.  A small price to pay for the magnificence of the scenery.

Hoarusib River

Mating Lions

The photographs of animals and birds that are posted on our web site are invariably taken “in the wild” and not in zoos or other places where the animals or birds are confined in limited spaces. This post, though, is an exception! The photographs shown here are taken in the Natal Lion Park near Pietermatizburg in KZN, South Africa, but we thought they were of sufficient interest to justify the exception.

Lion

There are about fourteen lions and lionesses in the open air enclosure at the Lion Park, both of the typically tawny coloured variety and also a few lighter “white” lions. Shortly after we entered the enclosure it became apparent to us from the amount of attention that she was receiving form several of the lions, that one of the lionesses was in heat.

Lions do not have a specific “breeding season” and therefore it was not surprising to see this mating activity taking place in mid-winter. During the forty minutes or so that we were in their presence, the dominant male mated with the receptive female three times, and also spent a little time keeping one of the other mature males from doing likewise.

Each mating event took only a few seconds and was accompanied by much growling and biting on the part of the male, but the female submitted without significant resistance.

Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion

Discovering the Beer Bird

Wilkinson’s World is a website mainly about birds, animals and our various trips.  Forgive me if I stretch this a little today by introducing an amazing bird we discovered this Christmas.  I’m talking here about the Beer Bird.  Ever heard of it?  Well let me enlighten you.  It all started when I bought a metal frame with a beer can holder in its centre.

The metal grid for Beer Bird

The instructions inside the box say that you should first enjoy an ice cold beer.  Not a problem for me at all in our current Namibian heat wave.  Then take another can of beer, drink about a third of it and place it firmly inside the holder on the frame.

Beer can placed on grid

That done, you take one wholesome chicken, rub it inside and out with oil and seasoning of your choice (I chose lemon, herb and garlic). You can get really creative with your spice rubs (e.g. mustard, peri perid, garlic – whatever).

Chicken all oiled and spiced

Then stretch the cavity of the chicken over the beer can.

Chicken placed over beer can

If you have a Weber Kettle barbeque, or a barbeque with a lid, you place the chicken in the centre and cover the barbeque.  Your regular kitchen oven is also fine if it’s big benough.  (If using an oven, you need a drip tray under the grid, in which you place your potatoes or vegetables for roasting.)  The chicken gets cooked for about 90-120 minutes over medium-high, indirect heat (no coals or burners directly under the chicken), or at 180C in an oven.

While it’s cooking and giving off the most delicious aroma imagineable, you can enjoy knocking back a couple of frosties.  When done, you remove the chicken carefully from the beer can in the barbeque or oven (don’t burn yourself) and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  Your reward for all this effort?  The most tender, succulent and tasty chicken you’ve ever eaten.  It is absolutely delicious, as the moisture from the beer has risen and permeated the meat.  My mouth is watering just thinking of it.

All done and looking delicious

Don’t take my word for it, give it a try.  The South African manufacturers can be contacted at www.beerbird.co.za.  I’m not being paid to advertise for them by the way (I wish I was!)   I just think this is such a super idea.