THE CLOUD OF COVID – 19

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When lockdown began back in March, from a personal point of view, being at home all day—but being allowed to go out for a walk—wasn’t dramatically different to our normal daily routine.

Of course, not being able to see our children and grandchildren regularly, as we have always done, was a big blow—and the end to the freedom, which allowed us to come and go as we pleased, was quite an imposition.

However, seeing the huge numbers of people, all over the world, losing their lives everyday to Covid-19, made me realise that we were all doing the right thing to take the advice from government and scientists to try and stop a major outbreak here in the UK. And that the sacrifices we were being asked to make were almost irrelevant.

And so now, into the ninth week of lockdown, I am struggling to understand why I feel the way I do. I can’t wait to go to sleep at night and have no desire to rush out of bed in the morning. I always have things to do, but struggle to find the enthusiasm. I look forward to a cup of coffee, make the main meal of the day, and clean the house as is needed. But collectively it feels like a function rather than I’m actually doing it.

I absolutely know that I have nothing to complain about. We are protected—I’ve been able to get a ‘Click & Collect’ slot at one of the supermarkets most weeks—and we’re certainly not short of anything.

I am a ‘people person’ and miss human contact a lot. And even though we have the technology to link up with family and friends 24-7, it doesn’t take away the emptiness of not being physically close to other human beings.

I don’t want to catch Covid-19 and I don’t want to die. But I’m not afraid of dying. I had a ‘near-death-experience’ many years ago, and the feeling of peace I felt then is something I haven’t found since in life. I want to live as long as I can to enjoy life with family and friends for many more years.

I’ve been feeling selfish because of how I feel, until this morning that is.

Today I have realised that, although we’ve been compliant with government rules and listening to the scientists, I have grave doubts that we are actually doing the right thing.

Are we?

Each day that passes the government is showing that it seems to have lost the plot. There has been no-one who’s stood up and taken control, spoken with authority and, even if unsure what they’re doing, at least try to make us believe that they do.

Where is Boris (Johnson)? He should be at every press conference, everyday, leading proceedings and giving us assurances that what needs to be done is being done.

I believe, however, the reality is very different.

I have no faith in any of the ministers who take part in the daily press briefings, while the scientists they wheel out to try and convince us that they know what they are talking about are, in my opinion, a joke. They may be very clever in their specialist field, but they are not good communicators.

I have listened, though, to many virologists and professors of epidemiology and I do feel somewhat reassured by their knowledge and understanding of viruses and how they behave. And I have great respect for those who are working tirelessly to find a vaccine, and feel confident they will.

The situation we are in today should never have happened, and responsibility for the spread of the virus has to lay wholly at China’s feet, where it all started.

Foreign travel should have been halted at the beginning of the year, as soon as the virus began to spread in Wuhan. Scientists haven’t been slow in coming forward to say that a pandemic of epic proportions was imminent, so why did it take so long for borders around the world to be shutdown? The UK seemingly being one of the last.

And just how many people came into the UK from overseas between January and March?

The UK has been on the back foot right from the beginning, and it’s clear to me that a military-style shutdown at the beginning of the year could have greatly reduced both the terrible death toll and the economic impact which is going to be felt for many years to come.

I would also lay a great deal of blame at the feet of the media in this country.

It has become impossible to know whether anything you hear or read about is genuine or ‘fake news’.

Just to get a story they have intruded into the lives of families who have lost loved ones, at what is a devastating time, making for very uncomfortable viewing.

And then there’s dear old Captain Tom, who was just trying to do something for a good cause and now has been turned into a celebrity. His achievement in raising millions for the NHS as he turned 100 was remarkable, but did it really warrant a military fly-past and a knighthood?

And now we hear that Boris is asking people to nominate a key worker who they feel should be recognised in the Honours List for what they have done.

In my view this is just about as bad as it gets. If one should be recognised, shouldn’t they all?

Every single one of those employees, whether it be the NHS, care workers, emergency services, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, factory workers and many more who have kept this country going, should be recognised for their dedication and for putting their lives on the line—some sadly paying the ultimate price.

As nice as a medal might be, for God’s sake pay them a salary which reflects their worth for the job they do.

I’ve heard people saying that when we come through lockdown and Covid-19 is under control, the world will be a better place; people will be kinder and more considerate to each other.

Right now I have my doubts, but I really hope I’m wrong.

Stay safe!

’Til next time,

Granny FlapjaX

75th ANNIVERSARY of VE-DAY

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This week we have been watching the BBC 2 series ‘Britain’s Greatest Generation’.

We already know how incredibly brave the men and women were—those who stepped up to the plate when war was declared in 1939 to fight for their country. Many thousands who would never return home, and many thousands who suffered horrific physical and mental injuries that would last a lifetime.

So many imprisoned received inhumane treatment by their captors, but their incredible grit and determination to survive, in some cases for over three years, was eventually rewarded with the freedom to return home and be reunited with their loved ones.

Even watching on a screen, it’s humbling to see footage and hear first-hand some of the experiences those fearless men and women encountered, and how 75 years later they can recall their experiences as if they happened yesterday.

Whenever something good has happened unexpectedly I have always either said, “well that’s happened for a reason” or “well, that was definitely a meant-to-be”.

And recently that’s proved to be exactly the case.

The reason I am writing about it now is because it relates to my husband’s grandfather who played his part in the World War II, but like so many has never received recognition for it.

Up until now we haven’t been able to find out exactly what he did, and none of his four daughters would ever talk about it. They’d clearly been sworn to secrecy and believed that was for life. Despite trying every trick in the book to get them to talk, their lips remained tightly sealed to the end.

‘Ga’, as he was known to his family, started his military career in the Navy in communications. But when the war started he moved to the army and was sent to a place called Whaddon Hall, a separate building, but part of the Bletchley Park complex where all the top secret activity took place.

Ga was chosen for his skills in communications and, subsequently, was sent out to Australia to set up a listening station to follow the progression of the war in the Far East.

Now, quite out-of-the-blue from something totally unrelated, we have been introduced to an amazing 94-year-old gentleman who worked at Whaddon Hall during the war. He’s been able to confirm what we knew but couldn’t prove, and is going to ensure that Ga’s name will be added to the list of thousands who worked at Bletchley Park and Whaddon Hall during the war years.

For this to have happened at this time is particularly poignant for Ga’s 13 grandchildren, who now have resolution to this long-standing issue, 75 years on.

What is so amazing about the thousands of men and women involved in World War II is that they, not just in the military but everyone who was fit enough to do so, took on a role.

Whether it was in a factory making ammunition, the land girls working the land, nurses looking after the injured both here and overseas, or driving ambulances, fighting fires and clearing debris after a bombing raid. And then there were those who worked in secret and behind enemy lines.

So, so many brave and selfless people, fighting for the freedom that we have in the United Kingdom today.

If, like me, you sometimes feel frustrated and restricted at the moment because of COVID-19, remember first-and-foremost all the thousands of people who have already died because of it, and then think back 75 years when millions gave their lives fighting for a free world.

Yes, we are fighting a war where we can’t see the enemy, but now it’s our turn and our duty to do whatever it takes to free the world once again.

75 YEARS ON – “LEST WE FORGET”

As a nation we have the resilience, grit and determination that BRITAIN’S GREATEST GENERATION have given to us—and in their memory, we must fight on.

Stay safe!

’Til next time,

Grannyflapjax

Covid – 19

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WHEN we set off on our South African adventure in mid-February, we had no idea what lay ahead of us on our return to England.

The COVID-19 virus is a truly shocking and life-changing experience for the whole world—and absolutely devastating for the families who are losing loved ones everyday.

Now, of course, is not the time to start pointing the finger or laying blame at governments around the world. But, in the future, questions will have to be asked and responsibility taken for what can only be described as, in my opinion, a global catastrophe.

When you are fighting a war against an enemy you know, it’s brutal. But with a silent and invisible enemy like COVID-19, it’s like fighting a battle wearing a blindfold.

Going forward when, eventually, there will be a vaccine and life can restart, what will we have learned about humanity, ourselves and the natural world around us?

Many people are saying, and I agree with them, that the world was spinning out of control. Losing sight of the destruction of the planet, the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider, and the materialistic environment we had come to accept as normal, was always going to have consequences.

Some thought it would result in World War III, but in the end nature has taken control and is showing us that we are simply cogs in a large wheel—and that nature has the ultimate power.

However, for all the horrific things that COVID-19 has bestowed upon us, humans have also shown how incredible and selfless they can be. Those amazing people working around the clock in all the key areas, health, food, communications, transport, and the many other areas we don’t see, keeping all our countries functioning.

For the rest of us, who’ve been confined to our homes and may be struggling to maintain a level of sanity, we can only do what we are doing to show our massive appreciation for the thousands putting their lives on the line everyday.

There are no appropriate words to describe how fantastically proud every single one of them should feel for what they are doing. And when the battle is finally won and the virus defeated, life has to change and all of these amazing people must be valued for the work they do and the professionalism they have shown in taking responsibility in a time of crisis. Without them where would we be?

The world owes them a huge debt of gratitude, most certainly, but going forward it’s high time they were all paid realistically for the work they do. It’s an absolute must.

Then there are the many people from every walk of life who have come forward to volunteer and help their communities in so many different ways. Taking on challenges to raise money for the NHS in England, and a multitude of other charities across the globe has all been more than inspiring—and hopefully helping us all realise that when push-comes-to-shove, it’s just people that matter.

If you’re craving something positive and uplifting, just go outside or open a window and listen to the birds singing. See the clear blue skies and all the new life that comes with spring.

There is much talk about signs we are seeing that the planet is starting to recover, led by the huge numbers of birds and animals coming into gardens and towns where traffic once filled the streets.

It’s incredible and exciting, but must go hand-in-hand with digesting the giant collective lesson that we need to learn—that we have to make big changes to the way we have lived pre-COVID-19.

Finishing on a shining note, on Easter Monday we walked through our local woods and this was the sight that greeted us:

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                                                              Nature at its best!

Stay safe everyone!

‘Til next time,

GrannyflapjaX

COVID – A poem for our times

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These are unprecedented times they say,

But is it simply nature’s way of showing us the time has come,

That we must learn to live today, 

And share our world as one.

So much greed for money and power,

Driven for more hour by hour,

But in the end at what cost?

For so many, a precious life lost.

And as the days go by, the numbers rise and we try, 

to understand what’s happened here,

And why we all feel so much fear.

“Lockdown” a word we now hear everyday,

But in this state of abnormal life, we simply have to stay,

Until such time as we can once more,

Feel free to walk through our own front door!

Stay Safe!

GrannyflapjaX

 

Trip of a Lifetime!

After two years of planning our ‘trip of a lifetime’ to South Africa, we finally took off, in mid February, on an overnight flight from Gatwick to Capetown arriving at 09.45 the following morning. Arrangements had been made for a taxi to meet us and drive us to the first of the two houses we would be staying at in Capetown either side of our safari.

The house was located in Camps Bay; a lovely colonial property, with more than adequate accommodation for the group of nine of us who would be staying there for our first 4 days, and with the beach, shops, bars and restaurants just a few minutes walk away, it was a perfect location.

On the first night we fired up the bbq and collectively enjoyed a wonderful array of food and drinks in excellent company, with Table Mountain reaching for the sky, an inspiring backdrop.

The following morning, Saturday, the first day out in our own private mini bus, (the least expensive way to group travel), we went on a tour of one of the wine regions which included a visit to a fabulous local market in Franschhoek. The range of quality African arts and crafts available was incredible which made for some hard buying choices. The weather was hot too, but a perfect day for viewing the stunning scenery, and enjoying the hospitality of the local people.

Later we stopped for a wine tasting at Grand Provence, lunch at Tokara winery, and finally a visit to Spiers Farm, a mixture of market stalls, art displays and eateries.

After our first fabulous day out together we headed home via downtown Capetown, a modern bustling cosmopolitan city, which we looked forward to investigating after we returned from our safari.

Sunday – plans for four of us to go up Table Mountain early in the morning had to be scuppered after we woke to low lying fog, which in the end stayed around for the whole day! So we all decided to take a rest day, which in itself turned out to be very enjoyable. In the evening we ventured to a local restaurant ‘The Butcher’, located right across the road from the beach. We watched the sun set and enjoyed amazing steaks at incredible prices!

Monday – today’s trip, again in our own private mini bus, we headed out of Capetown along the coast road. Normally, we would have been treated to breath taking scenery, but this day it was shrouded in fog! In its own way there was something magical about the mist covered views, but there is no doubt it would have been enhanced 100% if the sun was shining! We aborted our first stop to take in the views at Cape Point because of the fog, and made an unplanned call at an Ostrich Farm we came across. Interesting creatures, but also quite vicious! Fun to see them up close though.

Our next port of call was Boulders where there is a large colony of over 2000 pairs of African penguins. As with any wild animal, it is always special to get close to them. Some appeared to enjoy the attention and were quite happy to pose for photos!

 We continued our tour with a short stop in Simon’s Town. Then on to Steenberg Winery for lunch, a beautiful setting with excellent food to enjoy in great company!

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Tuesday – and the start of our 5 day safari adventure began with a morning flight to Hoedspruit where we would be staying at Naledi Bush Camp on the edge of the Kruger National Park.

There was only our party staying there, and we were treated like royalty. Kind and caring staff who looked after us so well; nothing was too much trouble. Beautiful accommodation, excellent food, and best of all and the reason for us being there were the early morning and evening safaris.

We had to get up at 4.30am and be ready to leave at 5.30am for a three hour safari. Because there were 9 in our party we went out in two jeeps, so we had plenty of room for the photographers to do their thing. About halfway through we would meet up and stop for coffee and biscuits. Back at the lodge for 9.00am breakfast, and then the rest of the day was ours for swimming in the pool, sun-bathing or just relaxing and soaking up the incredible surroundings including entertainment by the locals, baboons and grey monkeys.

Lunch at 2.00pm and then at 4.30pm we were off again on our evening safari. As on the morning safari we met up and stopped for drinks, yes really alcohol and nibbles in the bush! Dinner at 8.00pm after which we all fell into bed! Our hosts at Naledi went above and beyond and even treated us to a buffet lunch and an evening bar in the bush. Who would have imagined that!

Of course you’ll really want to see the animals, and as you can imagine we have a lot of photos! So I have had to keep them to a minimum, but hope they will give a real feel for the sheer joy and excitement we felt out there in the bush. Over the five days we were there, we saw not only  the big five, but a lot of others too, and most exciting of all were Wild dogs. While they may not sound very interesting, they are an endangered species and hadn’t been seen in our area for about 8 months. So when we found them, our drivers/guides were so excited. We didn’t just see them once or twice though, but on three separate occasions. It was quite remarkable!

It’s humbling to be up close and personal with such amazing animals, and we were also privileged to see an endangered black rhino and her baby, a white rhino, elephants, giraffe, water buffalo, zebra, hyena, Wildebeest, Nyalas (a type of antelope), wart hogs, hippos in the Olifants river and a large crocodile lazing on the bank. Some beautiful birds too, including a vulture! Literally a glimpse of a leopard (at night), and my all time favourite, lions.

Such amazing animals, and although we had already seen them twice when we were out, on the morning ride of the day we were leaving, we had the best encounter ever.

Close by a water hole we found a female lion with three cubs and the male lion. And he was a truly majestic specimen! We must have sat quietly for over 30 minutes just watching, It was so special, it was hard to take our eyes off them.

The most common species we saw was the Impala, a type of deer; they are called the ‘McDonalds’ of the bush, because they are the most hunted by predators and also because the markings on their bum is shaped like a mcdonalds ‘M’!

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                                   I could go on and on, but I think the photos say it all!

We left Hoedspruit on an afternoon flight and arrived back in Capetown, this time centrally located in a large comfortable house. Two of the group having returned to the UK. For the remaining days the rest of us in the house agreed to ‘do our own thing’ during the day, and to meet up for dinner in the evening.

So we visited the vibrant Green Market, where there was a wonderful selection of colourful African souvenirs, the Victoria & Alfred Shopping Centre and docks, a bustling area full of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, a fabulous aquarium, and ‘The Silo’, an old grain silo converted into an art gallery. Architecturally inspirational!

We also went up Table Mountain one evening. A fabulous trip and simply stunning  views!

We took an open topped tour bus to Kirstenbosch Gardens, created on the side of a steep hill, but we still managed to walk to the top to enjoy the amazing views over Capetown. Then onto Houk Bay where I finally got to put my feet in the ‘freezing’ sea! So glad I did it though. On the return journey to Capetown the bus took us along the coastal route which we had missed previously when it was shrouded in mist. This time it was so clear we could see to the horizon and beyond! We even spotted some spray from Southern Right whales which frequent these waters early in the year.

We flew home overnight arriving back in the Uk very early in the morning at the end of February.

This trip for us, was in celebration of our Golden Wedding Anniversary in June this year, and for our friend Mike, who organised it all, his 70th birthday which we celebrated while we were on safari.

Maurice & Maggie South Africa

It was absolutely incredible; a country we had never visited before, but are so pleased to have been there to experience their culture, the stunning scenery, wonderful food and the kindness and generosity of the people.

We made new friends, laughed a lot and learned so much, and the safari was the icing on the cake. A truly phenomenal experience!

Whether you are an animal lover or not, take it from me, we can learn so much from them, and perhaps now, in these worrying times is a good time to realise that nature has the ultimate power over us all.

Stay safe!

‘Til next time,

Granny FlapjaX

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Wildlife Safari End

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As our 5 day wildlife safari comes to an end, we can reflect on a very special experience in which we have been privileged to see some of the most amazing animals on this planet.

During our 5 day stay we have seen two endangered species; the black rhino, one with her baby, and wild dogs rarely seen, and yesterday we arrived just after they had taken down an impala.

As hard as it is to see them deavour their ‘kill’, it’s really interesting to see the alpha male stand aside until the females and pups have all had a feed, and then he comes in to take the leftovers.

The impala are the most common animal in the bush; there are thousands of them, and as they are small deer, they are at the top of the list for the big predators, like lions and leopards as well as wild dogs!

We have also seen a number of elephants, some huge bulls and also elephant families. The babies are so cute, but of course they grow, and at the moment the big bulls are what they call, in ‘musth’. This means that their testosterone levels can be  up to 60 times higher than normal, causing them to behave very aggressively. There have been a couple of occasions when a bull has attempted to charge, not at our jeep,  thankfully, but apparently the driver had to stop and keep revving the engine until eventually the elephant backed off. If you drive away, they will think they have won and go after other vehicles to

As well as the the black rhino, we have seen white rhino; both are enormous animals, but quite gentle. They eat a plant based diet so aren’t constantly on the look out for food, because they are surrounded by it. The are also now removing the rhinos horn before the poachers get to them, which makes their long term survival much more likely.

One of the most spectacular sights we have seen are the giraffe. They are so tall; you have to see it to believe it. They will often be hidden behind a bush and then suddenly look up and you just see their head peeping out at the top. They have such attractive faces and seem very interested in us. Of course they can be quite vicious too, but when you see them just standing they look very serene. Today we saw one who had lost an eye, not sure how, but he kept bumping into trees because he could only see one way. Very sad.

Actually any animal who is injured becomes prey for the predators, but the park rangers don’t interfere unless they have been injured by or because of human behaviour.

For me, the highlight of the safari has to be the lions. Both our night and day encounters were incredible. We first saw a pride of females with their lion cubs in the early evening, and as it got dark, we followed them for a while when they went hunting, which they do under cover of darkness.

The next  morning, we came across another pride of lions, but this time there was a male with them. What a treat! We sat still in the jeep and they walked all round us, and the male passed right by me. I could have put my hand out and touched him, that’s how close he was, but it’s not recommended!

We followed them for quite some time before they finally disappeared into the bush. I just can’t believe how lucky we were.

I should also mention the beautifully marked zebra, of which we have seen a few, and then this morning we finally found water buffalo; they are so aggressive looking with their wavy horns across their foreheads, and they move very fast, it’s incredible!

We have seen wart hogs and nyala, a type of antelope, and some amazing birds, including a vulture. Some of the smaller birds are so beautifully coloured.

Around the camp we’ve had baboons, who are very naughty and love to pinch things or pull them apart! There are also vervet which are small grey monkeys and very sweet.

So all in all it has been absolutely incredible, and what we have seen and experienced has confirmed my view that animals deserve the right to live on this planet, without threat to them or their environment from human habitation.

We can learn so much from them.

’til next time,

take care,

Granny flapjaX

 

The Kruger National Park

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Firstly, I am sorry to say that we have been unable to work out how to transfer photos from an android phone to my iPad, so I have decided to continue to write my blog without photos, and when I get home, I will finish the final blog of the trip with a selection of the best photos.

So to update.

We flew from Capetown to Hoedspruit yesterday, and arrived at our lodge ‘Naledi’ in time for lunch around 2.30pm.

Our accommodation is excellent and the attention to detail second to none. The food is good quality, but too much of it! They just don’t stop feeding us!

Fed and refreshed we set off on our first evening safari at 4.30pm.

There were 9 of us in an uncovered jeep with a driver and a ‘look out’, who sits on a single seat to the left of the bonnet. When we return it’s dark, so he has a strong search light which reflects any animal eyes that may be lurking in the bush!

Well, I have to say for our first trip we were not disappointed; in the three hours we were out, we saw a lioness, elephants, a leopard, (briefly), giraffe, impala, kudu, genet ( a wild cat), a snake (a tiny one!), hares and some amazing birds.

We weren’t expecting to see such a variety of animals or so many, so it was a real treat!

When we got back we had dinner and then went to bed, as we had to be up a 4.30 am  for the early morning safari which leaves at 5.30 am sharp.

If last night was a ‘treat’, this mornings sightings were truly special.

And today we were split into two groups in two vehicles.

It started with a hyena, and then after a little while of seeing only birds, our driver spotted wild dogs. My initial  thought was that they weren’t particularly important, but I  couldn’t have been more wrong. Apparently they are an endangered species and haven’t been spotted for 7/8 months around the park, so the drivers were very excited. There was a pack of 8 dogs, and we followed them for quite some time, before they started to chase impala, one of their sources of food. At this point the driver took off and to say it was like being on a rollercoaster would be putting it mildly! Bearing in mind the terrain is very rough anyway, he was going off- road, over rocks, tree branches, anything that was in the way, he just went straight over it. There was only four of us in our vehicle today, and trust me, we were hanging on for dear life!

We didn’t see them kill an impala, which we weren’t really ready for, especially so early in the mornng, but there was great excitement all round because we had seen them.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we saw a family of five elephants including a baby and a group of zebra with stunnng markings. Honestly, nature is just so amazing!

Out here in the Kruger Park, it is just miles and miles of bush land. This gives you some idea. P1040494

We will be out again at 4.30 pm today, and will hopefully have lots more to tell you about in my next blog,

’Til next time,

GrannyflapjaX

 

Hitting cape Town!

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Well after a torturous eleven and a half hour flight , thanks to our flagship airline British Airways, we touched down in Capetown, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.

A taxi had been organised to meet us with our name on a large sign, but as we came through customs a man came up and asked for us by name, so of course we assumed that he was our man.

Luckily however, as we walked towards the exit, I spotted a man holding up a sign with our name on it, and at that point we realised that the other man was trying to hijack us!

Of course they are all just trying to make a living, but the journey into Camps Bay where we are staying could have ended up costing us a fortune, so we had a lucky escape.

We are staying in a lovely house within a two minute walk of the beach, but each day the electricity is cut off at least once, for two and a half hours. Saturday it was twice, 6.00am to 8.30 am and 10.00 pm to 12.30 pm. The down side of that is that when it goes off the house alarm goes onto a battery backup system and then ‘pips’ every few seconds; it’s like a dripping tap!

On a brighter note, yesterday, in our own private bus, we went on a tour of one of the wine regions which included a local market. The weather was hot but perfect, the scenery stunning and the market, fabulous! We really had a great day out.

We had planned to go up Table Mountain today, and got up early to beat the crowds, but unfortunately the weather has let us down; it’s very overcast and raining and the mountain is covered in cloud!

On a positive note this unfortunate lapse in the weather has allowed me to start my blog, so ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Sorry about the pun!

Tomorrow we are off to see Penguins on  Boulder beach and then taking a drive along the coast road with some spectacular views, again in a private bus. It’s much cheaper than hiring cars or travelling in seperate taxis.

Before I go, a mention for our ‘house mates’, all of  whom we get along with, which is great. So much interesting chat going on.

And an apology for no photos this time; we are having problems transferring them right now, but hope to have it sorted for the next update.

More soon!

Take care,

Granny FlapjaX

 

 

LET THE LAKE DISTRICT’S NATURAL BEAUTY SHINE ON

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MY connection to the Lake District goes back a long way. All the way back, in fact, to Fletcher Christian—to whom I am related and who is believed to have fled with his family from there to the Isle of Man, where he met Captain Bligh. (‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ is world-famous and has been made into a movie more than once.)

I’ve always had family there—and still do. We visit annually, not only to see my relatives but also to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lake District. It is truly a wonderful place; the lakes and hills are profoundly stunning, and the incredible scenery, amazing walks and wonderful local hospitality never fail to lure you back.

So I hope you can appreciate why I have chosen, in this post, to highlight the potential devastation to this area, which has, in fact, already started.

It was announced during the Christmas holidays by the Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, that this national park should become more appealing to diverse groups, and more accessible to disabled visitors.

Firstly, I would have to say that, on the many occasions driving there I have never seen a single sign saying that “anyone is NOT welcome.” In my experience that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even when the good old British weather isn’t playing ball, you will always find the popular areas packed with visitors.

As for making it more appealing; why? If you love the outdoors, walking, climbing, cycling, being on the water, and all the other activities you will find there to keep you entertained, why change anything about it?

“You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” An old saying, but relevant in this case, because we’re talking about major changes to one of our most beautiful national parks, without any guarantees that it will bring in people who don’t want to go there.

At this point I would say that, in my experience, where it’s been possible to put in provision for disabled visitors, it’s largely been done. There are, of course, areas where it just wouldn’t be practical unless it were possible to move a mountain!

There is absolutely nothing stopping any person, whatever their race, creed, colour, sexuality or any other distinguishing feature, from visiting The Lake District.

But, could there simply be one thing behind it? ——- Money! And the argument being put forward is just a ruse.

Very close to where we normally stay used to be completely forested, and amongst the trees is the ‘Winlatter Centre’—a popular area for walkers, cyclists or those who just want to drop in for coffee.

You can walk up there from the village at the bottom; it’s a bit of a climb, but easily doable. For the elderly and disabled you can drive and there’s plenty of car parking available.

Imagine my disbelief then, when I heard they now want to put in a Gondola! Yes, that’s right; a cable car from the village up to the centre, just to take people up the hill – because they are too lazy to walk?

The locals have been fighting this appalling imposition to the land for sometime now. And even though, as far as we know, it hasn’t actually been approved yet, this is what has happened already:

 

This decimated area was covered in fir trees like those you can see in the background.

In the past two years this vast expanse of forest has been obliterated and there can be no other reason for bringing commercialisation to this area of natural beauty than money.

In addition, the destruction of this forested land is completely in conflict with the serious issue of climate change. We need to be planting more trees, and by doing so setting an example to those countries that are destroying their eco-systems in the pursuit of wealth.

Instead we expose ourselves to be as selfish as they are, in showing only contempt for these beautiful and vital areas.

There are many other obstacles to overcome should this abomination be allowed to proceed, not least getting people to the Gondola. They would either have to take further areas of land to tarmac for car parking, or run a Park & Ride service from Keswick and Cockermouth to bring the people in.

That would create major issues to already very busy roads; the village is small and the roads are very narrow, and there really is no room to widen them.

So I say to the Chief Executive and the developers, leave this very special part of our heritage well alone.

If you think by developing any part of it you will entice more diverse groups of visitors, think again. There are no guarantees they will come and you may drive away those who already do.

THE LAKE DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK IS THERE FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY!

Give it a try.

’Til next time,

Granny FlapjaX

New Decade – New Attitudes

Granny Flapjax Intro. Final Logo 2 1Mb

Well, here we are at the start of a new year, 2020, and the beginning of a new decade.

But around the world, can we look back over the past 10 years and feel proud of what human habitation of planet Earth has achieved?

I don’t think so!

With the worlds population now rapidly heading towards 8 billion, there seems little hope of preserving this amazing planet for which each one of us is merely a temporary custodian.

However, it appears that not everyone sees it that way, and refuses to accept that whether it’s destroying the rainforests, filling our oceans with rubbish, continuing to pollute the atmosphere, melting the polar ice cap and raising sea levels, it is not their problem.

Greed, money, the refusal to appreciate that life on earth is precious, and continuing to destroy the eco system, means we are simply heading towards the end of civilisation.

“Not in my lifetime” is a phrase I hear regularly, but what does that mean?

You have children and grandchildren right? So what are you leaving behind for them? The issues inflicted upon this world by its current inhabitants are vast, but I don’t need to list them here; we simply have to stop burying our heads in the sand and look around at what is happening on a daily basis.

The planet, the land upon which we place our feet every day, is being ‘raped’ for its many rich resources, which until recent years, have been more than adequate to sustain the worlds population.

But now the numbers are growing out of control and the sums don’t add up. So we have to look around, each and every one of us, and decide if we want to contribute to the continuing destruction of our world, or stop in our tracks and look to the future.

Working together we can create a non-materialistic environment in which we can all thrive, with less yes, but with a comfortable quality of life for ourselves and our families, a sustainable eco system and ultimately the survival of mankind.

So what have I learned personally over this past decade?

I have realised that having love in your life is probably at the top of the list. Whether it comes from your partner, your siblings, your children or grandchildren, or indeed all of those, whoever we are, we need the warmth and security of knowing we are loved.

‘Living the life you love’, and ‘loving the life you live’ is a good mantra to take with you through each day. If it doesn’t work, maybe there is cause to have a rethink.

I have learned how precious and miraculous life is, having nearly lost a sibling following major surgery this year. But then watching her make the most amazing recovery and re-establishing the relationship between us which had become blurred over the years, due to her poor health.

I have learned that life is far from perfect for so many, but particularly for those suffering with mental health issues. Any one of us could fall victim at any time, and yet that vulnerability is not recognised for the serious impact it can have on an individual and indeed their family. As many of you will have experienced, the consequences can be catastrophic, and yet can it be right that people affected should be expected to apologise for finding themselves in such a situation? It isn’t expected if we break a limb or receive a  life-threatening diagnosis.

We still have much to learn about mental health, and so we shouldn’t shy away from it. And to all those who find themselves struggling, be it you or your family, please believe that you do matter, and there is help out there. It doesn’t always have to come from medicine, sometimes it just needs the people around you to show they understand, and that they care and will always be there to support you, no matter what.

On a more practical front, I have also learned that humans can be devious, selfish, aggressive and quite frankly, vile. Yes, I’m talking specifically about politicians, who over the past year particularly, have shown what they are really about. I don’t ever recall such vitriol as we have seen in 2019; it really has been shocking. Let’s hope that in 2020, there will be a fresh approach to our political system in favour of the population of the UK and not purely for the benefit of the politicians.

I hope you have enjoyed all of the Christmas festivities, whether it has been with your family and friends or volunteering to bring happiness to the elderly, lonely and homeless; something I will be looking to do in the future.

Next year, I am privileged to be going, with my husband and a small group of friends, on a Safari in South Africa to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and a friends’ 70th birthday.

First and foremost I am not just going to ‘see’ the animals, but also to learn first hand, as much as I can about how their lives are being affected by poaching, climate change and loss of habitat. I will be putting regular updates on my blog with hopefully some amazing pictures, so please check it out. It will be during the last two weeks of February.

In the meantime, I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year, 2020, and hope that we can all make a real effort to be more kind and caring to each other, and also to our beautiful planet ‘Earth’.

‘Til next time,

Granny FlapjaX