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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Martindale Make and Mend

Today I decided to give myself the day off; after all, this government has its Women’s Day and its Youth Day and a number of other totally unnecessary local holidays, so I decided that today, here in Martindale, it would be My Day. Yes, today I awarded myself a Make and Mend. Now many of you will not be familiar with the term, so let me explain. It is a term that is used to this day in the Royal Navy to designate an ‘afternoon off’ – however in my case I decided to take the whole day off. The term goes back to the times of the old sailing ships when sailors would be given time off to ‘make and mend’ their uniforms. Since Liz has been back in the States for nearly three months, leaving me to stay behind and get the farm sold, I decided to carry out a little necessary maintenance. My “favorite” tracksuit trousers have been coming apart along some of the seams, so I have carried out the necessary work, having found Liz’s stash of needles and thread in the storage room.

Once my work was complete I decided, for a change, to sit outside in the sun. The temperature was up in the seventies, unusual for this time of year in the Eastern Cape. But here on the farm it is peaceful, and today you could see the sea from right where I am now sitting. The Coral trees (we have eight of them) are a mass of color, and I armed myself with a pair of binoculars and the Book of South African Birds to try to identify some of their visitors. Although you cannot see all of them, the air is filled with the constant sound of songbirds. Up in the Coral trees a pair of weavers were competing with each other for the sweetest blossoms, and for the first time I witnessed two  Black Sunbirds with their wonderful long curved beaks feasting on the sweet nectar found deep in the heart of the Coral blossoms.

A Fiscal Shrike had staked its claim in our Wild Plum near to the front gate, and from time to time would sweep down to pick up a bug it had spotted, sometimes landing just a few feet from away from me. Most of the birds I saw today were common local residents – species such as the Redwinged Starling, the Glossy Starling and the Drongo. I did get to see a few not-so-common visitors, notable of which were a Blackcollared Barbet and a trio of Trumpeter Hornbills, which had taken up positions in our huge Rubber Tree, and were taking it in turns to announce their presence.

I have been in Southern Africa for nigh on forty years now, but the time has come to move on, which is why the farm is up for sale. I shall miss the peace of Martindale and the friendliness of the local farmers. But while I am still here, waiting for that elusive offer, I will make the best of the peace and tranquility that this farm has to offer.