Highlights of May

May 2008


Two events that interested me were the landing of the Mars exploration spacecraft known as the Phoenix on the Red Planet, and the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa’s first visit to the West. He and his entourage arrived in the United States on 15 May and are leaving on 02 June. I found out about a website that allows you to learn new words while feeding the world a grain of rice at a time. I think this is a very interesting concept, and I do hope it’s for real. And here is a little bit of humour to counterbalance all the unhappiness in the world this month.


In May, South Africa was honoured by a visit from one of the most famous scientists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Stephen Hawking was invited by the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences to give a public lecture at the Muizenberg Pavilion. The other speakers that evening were Michael Griffin (the current Administrator of NASA), David Gross (an American particle physicist and string theorist) and George Smoot (an American astrophysicist and cosmologist).


I had an unsettling little eye-opening encounter in the street one morning. And we finally got around to visiting the Porter Estate Produce Market, where we stocked up on some delectable rye bread.


On the home front, we were visited by about 6 praying mantises in the space of 2 weeks, which was really weird. I managed to capture two on film. And given that winter has definitely arrived in the Western Cape, we spoil our heat-seaking Tuffy-Cat by giving her a hot water bottle to snuggle.


I wanted to reassure young Daniel (the son of my American penpal) that there are no lions roaming the streets of Cape Town, by telling him about the last time we saw lions.

One Sunday, after a hard week at work, we decide to treat ourselves with a visit to the Backsberg wine estate to indulge in some decadent ‘Chocolates by Tomes’ .

And, to celebrate Richard’s birthday, we spent an adventure-filled and re-invigorating weekend on the so-called Garden Route. We drove up on Friday afternoon to the Lazy Leopard Forest Retreat in Rheenendal (just outside Knysna), where we had booked ourselves into a cosy little cabin in the woods called “Forest Moon”. On Saturday, we had breakfast on the wooden deck around the pool. A glorious view! After breakfast, we drove over Phantom Pass down to the Knysna Heads, where we clambered along the rocky walkway right to the end to get the best possible view of the waves. From there, we raced to Storms River Village, where we went flying through the forest on ziplines between huge old trees courtesy of Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours. The rest of the afternoon was spent more sedately, meeting the elephants at the elephant sanctuary near Plettenberg Bay. And then we ended our evening with a little bit of an adventure, searching for a bottle of milk. On Sunday morning, I made a new feline friend. After breakfast we drove through the Millwood Forest to find Mother Holly’s Cottage on the top of the mountain. And we went looking for gold on the Miners’ Walk.

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