Moving on to my new website Skimming Stones

Greetings to all the lovely people who have followed my blog and commented.  My blog has now moved to a new address Skimming Stones, I have now posted on there a few times this week and my old blog posts have moved across to Skimming Stones.  I would really love it if you follow my new page either by subscribing to e-mail updates or follow Skimming Stones on Facebook. 

A stone skipping over water enchants the mind, always wanting one more hop, one more movement which defies natural law.  One more centre sending out endless ripples.  The stones in our  lives, thoughts, experiences, people and emotions may sink from view but they remain in the other world of memory, they become part of the structure of who we are.  The ripples from those stones grow ever outward, circles within circles.  Here on my blog I’m tossing out what ever is on my mind,  it is my hope that some of these stones will find a place in your thoughts or lives, if even for a moment.

I should have moved my WordPress blog Sula1968 to my own page a long time ago, one cause of delay was that I could not decide on a name.  When I started Sula1968, I knew nothing about blogging and didn’t realize when I was setting my blog name, then I was stuck with it.  This time I considered names like ‘Simply Sula’ or ‘Sula Says’ but those felt a bit Oscar Pistorius “me, me, me”.  So here we are, onwards and forwards.

My brother Paul who owns PrintWild and WildWeb set up the page for me and imported all my old posts.   My husband Cliff helped to install plugins (I’m still not sure what those are) and got my stats up and running.  My daughters boyfriend Duncan did some clever background webby stuff and got the subscriptions working so that you can follow my blog.

PS – Many moons ago, I met my husband on my alias was there “Ripples from a Stone”.  That stone is still sending out circles


An Ra Guesthouse in Richmond, a good halfway stop between Johannesburg and Cape Town

An Ra Room Richmond Road Sign

Yay, this week my camera was returned to me.  I had left it in our room at An-Ra Guest House in Richmond and am so grateful to Meda from An-Ra for her honesty and the trouble that she took to return it in perfect condition.

An-Ra in Richmond is a perfect stopover between Joburg and Cape Town and is located more-or-less halfway between the two cities, although somewhat on the Cape Town side of halfway.  The quaint town of Richmond slumbers alongside the N1, but despite its proximity to this busy road, the town is quiet and free from the noise of traffic.  This was our second stay at An-Ra and we were drawn to return by the memory of a fresh, clean, tastefully decorated and reasonably priced room.  During our first stay we had dinner at the lovely Richmond Supper Club, but unfortunately that has closed down (reportedly only opening now for the annual book festival) and this time we ate an adequate meal at the Blue Lantern Restaurant.

Aside from being a great place to stopover en-route between Joburg and Cape Town, Richmond is named Booktown for good reason it’s other claims to fame are the hosting of the annual book festival which I would so love to attend one day and the J.M. Coetzee and S.A. Nobel Laureates festival.

Anyway, now that my camera is back, I can get down to reporting back on the rest of our trip to the Cape. 


Umlilo Lodge, St Lucia, Kwa Zulu Natal

This post has moved to my new website Skimming Stones, this link will take you to the post about our visit to Umlilo Lodge

Monyane Lodge – Awesome weekend away for Cliff’s birthday

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Choosing accommodation for Cliff’s birthday weekend away I took a few things into consideration, price and the distance from home are top of the list.  After narrowing down our options I checked reviews and felt comfortable choosing Monyane Lodge.  If I could give an award for the best hospitality ever Des and Elna would win, they were fantastic!

Driving to Monyane Fjord (age 6) said that he wished we would go to a place with no electricity.  We told Des and Elna that they could hold him responsible for the 2 power outages during our visit.  The brief lack of electricity was no real inconvenience, we actually enjoyed the absolute peace.  Overall our stay was wonderfully tranquil.

I cannot feel too magnanimous in arranging the trip for Cliff, I probably enjoyed his birthday as much as he did.  On Saturday morning we did a hike on the property which took about an hour and a half (would be quicker without small children), after walking under the African Summer Sun the swimming pools were delicious.  We idled at the pool for a long time enjoying the water and the setting of the terraced gardens.  Cliff and Fjord played putt putt while I pottered with food preparation.  In the evening we cooked on a braai watching distant lightning illuminate Acacia trees, bush and clouds around us, a perfect way to end the day while sipping bubbly.  The symphony of the African bush is the most perfect music.

After our meal and a cup of tea the storm arrived and relieved us of artificial light by knocking out the power.  The evening was rounded off in romantic candlelight.

We stayed in unit 4 which is a 5 sleeper overlooking the lawns where peacocks, squirrels and chickens visited.  Antelope sometimes graze on the lawn in the evenings, particularly in winter, but we were not lucky enough to see any.  Unit 3 is a 4 sleeper and feels a bit more spacious with the kitchen being open plan.  I had a peek at the 2 adjoining mountain chalets, they are lovely with great views but I agree with the recommendation that these are not particularly suitable for families with small children.  The top part of the farm which borders Mabalingwe is unfenced, apparently Kudu visit now and then and munch away the lemon trees on the lawn.

Bela Bela (Warmbaths) is a perfect area to visit from Joburg over a weekend, from our home in Boksburg it was only 187km, and Monyane is an excellent choice as a destination.  Over the past 2 months we have travelled extensively, including trips to Zululand and the Cape.  We have seen many beautiful places but this weekend was the most relaxing for me, to unwind and soak in the bushveld is real chicken soup for the soul.

Bilton wine estate

As often the case, our decision to visit Bilton Wine Estate was driven by the children’s play area.  We have previously tasted and purchased Bilton wines at the Joburg Wine Show, but that was several years ago and we have never visited the estate.  Cliff did a full tasting and I took sample sips from his glasses.  The ‘Sir Percy’ was the unanimous favourite in our group of 3.  Cliff and Al both bought Matt Black and Sir Percy.  The 2008 Matt Black had the coolest skull and crossbones label.  Al also bought the Cab Sav.  Overall the wines were very special.  We shared a platter of yummy Dalewood Fromage cheeses, of which the green fig and Cape Chilli Bries stood out in my memory, although all were good.

The children not only enjoyed the play area but also explored between the grape vines and looked at the two stately old cars.

Neethlingshof Wine Estate

As a rule I prefer the family owned and run wine estates, still some of the corporately owned estates are well worth a visit.  The buildings and gardens at Neethlingshof are beautiful.  The wines are excellent, a rare instance where not one seemed lacking, each wine tasted was well above average.  I chose a single glass of Chardonnay and Cliff did a tasting.  The 2008 Cab Sav was delicious but unfortunately the last bottle had sold that morning and a chunk of stock was cleared when 1 person recently bought 14 cases.  Cliff’s other two favourites were blends ‘The Caracal’ (a bordeaux blend) and ‘The Owl Post’.

The tasting room as cool and elegant, with the perfect ambiance for a perfect wine tasting experience.  There is a jungle gym for children but it is not in view of the tasting room.  As a rule we like to visit estates which are more child friendly but we were very happy that we visited Neethlingshof.  The wines are available at many retailers and I will be looking out for them back home.

Poopsie the Olive (Karoo) Thrush moves to Wildlife in Crisis, rehabilitation centre

Poopsie tail feathers Poopsie's bush

Four and a half weeks ago, I found Poopsie on the ground next to his dead sibling, they had been blown from their nest during a storm.  On the advice of our local vet I fed him ‘Hills Canine / Feline  Critical Care’ tinned food mixed with water successfully from a syringe, he grew and developed wonderfully. However I now realise that keeping a bird fed, warm and alive is not enough, the biggest challenge which I have not been able to overcome is weaning him.  10 days ago I released him into our garden when I felt confident that the feral cat had been absent for about a month.  Poopsie took up residence in a large bush outside our bedroom window, however he did not seem able to find his own food, I continued feeding him by syringe.  He flies to me from the high branches to be fed.  This morning I phoned Judy from Wildlife in Crisis in Springs and she told me that if I just stop feeding him he will starve, he does not know how to look after himself and is too dependent on me.  She offered to take him in, he will stay in an aviary with other Olive Thrushes who will teach him, when he is ready he will be released with them.

You can read and look at pictures of his week by week development on these links

The day we found him

His 1st week

His 2nd week

His 3rd week

Wildlife in Crisis aviaryWildlife in Crisis

We have just returned home from dropping Poopsie at Wildlife in Crisis.   The rehabilitation centre is on a plot away from city life and it feels like the perfect setting for a bird to return to the wild.  I was filled with deep respect for Judy and her husband who are dedicated beyond words.  Judy was so lovely, she is sure that Poopsie will be independent within about a week.  He will learn how to feed himself from other birds in the aviary.  It was very sad to say goodbye and Fjord cried all the way home but at least we know that this is what is best for Poopsie.

Would I do this again?  I don’t know, raising a baby bird is a dawn to dusk commitment which I was willing to take on but what is best for the bird must always be taken into consideration.  I did not manage to wean him and this was a major stumbling block perhaps next time the best thing would be to take a baby bird straight to the people who know exactly what they are doing and what is best for the bird.  None the less Poopsie added to our lives and we will always be grateful for the privilege of him sharing a part of his life.

Our 1st visit to Irene Market in Pretoria

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It has taken 9 years of living in Gauteng to get around to visiting Irene Market, we are already planning our 2nd visit 2 weeks after the first. The market is amazing. So many stalls, so much on offer and not a piece of plastic junk to be seen. Each stall offers nothing but quality, well that was my impression anyway.

I can’t say much about the food, we only had a smoothie and some Thai snacks, we wanted more, but sort of didn’t get around to it before closing time (I think 2 pm is too early to close). I will blame the band ‘Oh So Serious’ for us leaving with empty tummies, they were playing music in the area where the food stalls are. The music stopped us in our tracks and we sat down for close to an hour just watching and listening, not wanting to move. Wow not much can beat sitting on a hay bale in the shade, listening to really good music. Pity they didn’t have CD’s on sale (apparently they have released 2) I would have bought one.

Fortunately or unfortunately we did not have a lot of cash on us which restricted our spending. We did however buy an ornamental airplane for Fjord made from recycled tin, some really yummy nuts coated with cinnamon and coffee flavoured toffee and Cliff was delighted to find a man selling rare succulent plants. We also spotted a lady selling hand painted ceramic doorknobs, we bought Guienne Fowl ones with gift money from our wedding more than 8 years ago at the Rosebank market. Beside ‘Oh So Serious’ buskers played in different areas dotted around the market grounds which does so much to add to the vibe of the outing.

A recce to check out Rondebult Bird Sanctuary

This post has moved to my new website Skimming Stones, this link will take you directly to the post about Rondebult bird sanctuary

The Johannesburg Planetarium at Wits University

This post has moved to my new website Skimming Stones, this link will take you directly to the post