Day 11…Norway Cruise…Last night’s fantastic “White Night”…Today…Alta, Norway…

Note: I cannot add a single photo today due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September, we can post our photos from Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we can start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 7 days. We’ll continue taking photos and writing text daily, if possible.

Ah, if only I could load last night’s photos of White Night! It was spectacular, most likely the most decorative, well-planned food, drink, and music event we’ve ever attended on a cruise ship. It truly was indescribable! It was incredible!

The evening began at 6:00 pm when the most extraordinary buffet was set up on Deck 9 poolside. It was amazing how the staff rearranged the entire pool area, removing all the chaise lounges and other poolside equipment to create a festive and decorative environment in white with balloons, lights and white tablecloths, and formal place settings on each of the many tables.

The area could easily accommodate all 567 passengers with plenty of space for the fantastic band, singers, and dancers and a sizeable dance floor. As soon as we arrived, dressed in our all-white outfits, we found many sharing tables already filled with passengers. We found an empty table for six, plunked ourselves down with drinks in hand, and prepared for the exciting night ahead.

In no time at all, our table filled up with two more couples, both of whom we’d met along the way, and lively conversation and laughter ensued through the remainder of the evening while we all dined on the epicurean delights and danced to our favorite tunes.

Nothing was spared in presenting a beautiful evening. The food was over-the-top, the most varied and delicious buffet we’d ever experienced, with tons of seafood, meats, and exotic dishes from many cultures. The vegetables and fruit were aplenty, and any way of eating could easily be accommodated.

At one point, early on in the evening., I approached the many stations of the buffet, happily taking many photos we’ll share in the future when we’re able to upload photos again.

After the festive outdoor party ended, during perfect warm weather, many of us gravitated to Deck 10’s  Living Room, where the party continued with live music and again enthusiastic dancing on the dance floor.

We approached the North Cape of Norway close to midnight, where we all witnessed the extraordinary “Land of the Midnight Sun,” where we couldn’t stop smiling while taking photos of this fantastic phenomenon of the light sky at midnight. It’s hard to believe how light the sky is at midnight in this part of the world.

BY 12:30 am, we wandered back to our cabin on Deck 7, giggling over our fun night, hoping we wouldn’t have trouble falling asleep with the excitement of the evening still flooding our minds. But, an hour later, we dozed off, not awakening until 9:00 am, ready to begin another new day.

With little to see in Alta, Norway, we decided to stay on the ship and feel less rushed in completing today’s post’s text. We have almost a week until this cruise ends, and surely, we’ll continue to enjoy every moment.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 11, 2013:

There was no post on this date ten years ago.

Part 1…Fantastic farewell party in the bush with friends…More photos to follow tomorrow…

Tom and Danie is a huddle chatting up a storm, as always.

Last night, it was quite a party poolside at Jabula. Dawn, Leon, and the staff went over the top to ensure it was a perfect party, and it was. Almost everyone we invited appeared with their meat to braai and drinks. We brought 12 bottles of wine to share, six red and six white left from my birthday party in February, which we knew wouldn’t stay fresh in the store room with the heat and humidity.

Trevor and Wimpy (pronounced VImpy in Afrikaans) are enjoying the evening with drinks in hand.

The kitchen staff had made salads, pap and Sheba, and other sides to go with the meat while Dawn arranged ice, glasses, plates, and flatware, making the event easy to maneuver for our guests. Staff members Eric and Ivan ensured everything flowed smoothly after the guests arrived. Dawn and Leon worked hard to ensure everything was set up for easy access, and we couldn’t thank them more for their hard work.

Estelle, a lovely friend we’ve enjoyed over the years with Les, Tom, and Leon in the background.

By 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., everyone was there, and the party was in full swing with lively music, drinks, and a bonfire. Fortunately, it wasn’t a scorching and humid day which made the party all the more enjoyable. The mozzies were at a minimum. I’d brought a spray can of repellent to share, but few took advantage of it. Tom and I sprayed ourselves well a  few times before the party got so lively we’d forget.

The two cakes I baked were a huge hit, and by the time we left, they were gone, with some taking their pieces home in styrofoam containers Dawn provided. Nothing was wasted.

Our dear Dawn, Maria, and Marilyn were seated at the high-top table on the veranda.

Of course, this party was quite lively with a friendly, fun-loving group of people with whom we’d been together many times in the past. Looking around the area, we couldn’t help but smile and remind ourselves how lucky we’ve been to have such good friends during all of our time in Marloth Park, now coming to an end in eight days.

Tom, Leon, Trevor, and Wimpy, as the party was just getting started.

We both moved from person to person, ensuring we had to chance to talk to almost everyone there. We may see those we missed at Jaula sometime in the subsequent three visits. Before leaving around 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs., with many hugs and kisses, many said they’d stop by and see us there on one of those three nights before we depart a week from tomorrow.

Is it any wonder they call these “monkey bars” in some countries? This was actually a jungle gym intended for kids who stayed at the lodge.

It couldn’t have been a more fun evening, and we’re grateful for Dawn, Leon and their exemplary staff, and all of our lovely friends who came to say goodbye at this lively event. I took as many photos as possible, and our friend Janine also sent me many photos this morning on WhatsApp.

Marilyn and Erica were fun and friendly, as always.

I’d never downloaded several photos at one time from WhatsApp, which proved to be a bit tricky. I ended up linking my WhatsApp phone account with a desktop version I downloaded, and using a QR code, I could connect the app on my phone to my laptop version. I could download and save all the photos Janine sent me using WhatsApp.

I’ve always wondered how to do this since it doesn’t appear user-friendly in the app itself. I looked for instructions online and could easily maneuver the photos to my laptop, which I use for doing the daily posts. It’s nearly impossible to do the posts on my phone other than for a short notice, such as when we’re unable to post due to WiFi issues.

Darling Felix and Tom chatted by the steps.

This morning, after an excellent breakfast, we went for our walk, and for the first time, I noticed I was able to walk with a little more ease. It’s walking on dirt rocks filled with rocks that make walking all the more challenging for me. I believe once we get to Florida, it will be easier to walk on flat, even surfaces. I’m hoping this will be the case. as we’ll continue to walk up until the last day we’re here.

Felix’s husband, Lorne (pronounced Lon in Afrikaans), is a serious-looking guy who’s quite funny and friendly!

I continued to work on extricating the hundreds of tablets from the cumbersome plastic blister packs to minimize the amount of packaging we’ll take with us. Doing so is a wise decision since taking all the paper and plastic with us made no sense. However, getting this job done and out of the way takes a lot of time.

More party photos will be shared in tomorrow’s post. Also, I did one load of laundry.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 21, 2013:

Photo of a photo of the Norwegian Epic on its maiden voyage in 2010. For more photos, please click here. Click this link for a news story about us in a local US newspaper.

Planning a party at a party…Oh, oh…is this a good idea?…

Not quite a Big Daddy with his horns still growing, this male sipped from the pool.

Danie always jokes when he says, “Don’t plan a party at a party.” Invariably, this often happens to us. It’s hard to avoid planning other social events while at a social event. One is more relaxed after a glass of something while hugs and lively conversations ensue, creating a party-inducing scenario.

Last night while at Jabula with the bar filled with many patrons who’d attended my 75th birthday party in February, Dawn and Leon suggested we have a farewell party poolside at their place. We resisted at first, but everyone said they’d attend and that having a farewell party was a must-do when we’ll be gone so long.

As of 11:00 am, the invitations have been sent, and although some of our friends have left the bush for a while, we’re expecting about 20 guests. As always, we could have invited more, but the space is limited, and we don’t want it to be too much work for Dawn, Leon, and the staff.

A young male kudu on the left and a female on the right.

We chose Thursday, April 20, at 1600 hrs., 4:00  pm, and asked everyone to bring meat to braai and their drinks while Dawn had her kitchen staff make salads and sides, including the ever-popular South African dish, pap and Sheeba. Here’s a link for details on how to prepare this staple dish served at most social events.

Neither Tom nor I eat pap and Sheeba. Tom won’t like it (I never tried it), and I can’t eat it with the sugar and corn in the recipe. I’d love this if I could eat these ingredients, but I’ve never tried it. (When it comes to living a keto lifestyle, even a bite is too much).

The other sides will be vegetables in one form or another. People in South Africa are used to bringing their drinks to parties. It is more the “norm” than not, and we’ve become quite accustomed to doing this. When in the US over the past several years, we’ve noticed that most often, the hosts provide drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

This forkl of kudus entered the garden looking for pellets. Due to the Easter holiday weekend, there are few visitors right now. It will pick up again on Tuesday.

With the high cost of alcoholic beverages in the US, I believe more people would entertain at their homes if they didn’t always provide ample wine, beer, and other drinks. Also, asking guests to bring their meat is as popular as it gets. When getting people together for socializing, it makes sense to let guests bring their meat and drinks.

Traditional, old-fashioned roles are observed here, more than we’ve seen in the US and other countries, especially today. Also, it seems that in South Africa, men gather around the braai, drinking beer and carrying on lively conversations. At the same time, the women often spend time together at picnic tables and hovering in the kitchen.

When the food is ready, typically in South Africa, the couples sit together while everyone dines on the delicious braai meats and side dishes.

We often see kudus when no other wildlife is around.

One of the reasons I prefer not to bring meat to a braai is because Tom often overcooks my meat when he’s having such a good time talking with the “guys” while hovering over the braai. At the last “bring your meat” party we attended a few weeks ago, I made chicken salad and coleslaw ahead of time for both of us, which worked out perfectly for us. Tom could still chat at the braai and didn’t have to worry about cooking our meat.

Even here at the house, he doesn’t love cooking meat on the braai. Often, he puts the meat on while I keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t get overcooked. It works out better if the meat is the type to slow cook. Let’s face it; Tom doesn’t care to do the cooking. But he does all the dishes, and I’ll cook anytime to avoid doing dishes.

We’ll have a dishwasher when we get to Florida and won’t have to worry so much about using electricity without load-shedding impacting electric costs. It will be great to use a clothes dryer once again. Also, it will be fun to shop at grocery stores where we can get some of the grocery items we can’t find here. It’s been a while since we had such conveniences.

Hmmm…We’re both OK about leaving at the end of the month and capping off our wonderful time here in the bush with friends at our farewell party. We couldn’t ask for more of a send-off. As of the completion of today’s post, almost everyone we’ve invited to our farewell party has RSVP’d.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2022:

Celebrity Silhouette Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper
One year ago today, we boarded Celebrity Silhouette for a transatlantic cruise. We got Covid-19 during the last two days of the cruise and had to cancel our next cruise while still testing positive and being very ill. For more, please click here.

Part 2…Wow!…What a fantastic party!…

These delightful amuse-bouche spoons were a party favorite. There were about 100 of these spoon starters (appetizers). There were several unique contents. They were fun to eat and delicious!

We’re rushing this morning, hoping to get as much of this post done before we leave for Malalane to Dr. Singh’s office for my dental appointment, All went well, and I didn’t have to have the tooth pulled after all. I am thrilled, to say the least.

We caught this kudu eating a display platter when Louise was putting out the food. We removed the food afterward but couldn’t stop laughing. Danie was keeping an eye out to ensure this didn’t happen again.

I cannot begin to tell you the positive responses we’ve had from many guests who attended my party. My Whatsapp notification has frequently been dinging in the past 24 hours, and we couldn’t be more delighted. Of course, we can take no credit for the party. It was all due to  Louise and Danie’s efforts.

Pretty decorations adorned the veranda at the party.

Some comments include:

From: Alan and Fiona: “Good morning, Jessica! Thank you for having us at your incredible 75th birthday celebration. The venue was lovely, the food was outstanding, and the company was great! You will always remember this one! Fiona and I wish you and Tom much happiness in your future travels, Much love from us!”

Roz, me, Myrdah, and Dawn.

From: Alan and Fiona to Louise and Danie:  “Hi Louise and Danie! Wow! What a magnificent spread last night! I don’t think Marloth Park EVER had a party catered to that standard before! Congratulations! I’m sure the birthday girl was impressed because the guests didn’t know what hit them!”

Fiona and Alan, coincidentally, were back from the coast for a few weeks and were able to come to the party.

From Dawn: Dearest Jessica and Tom, what a magnificent evening on Saturday…the best home birthday party I have ever been to. Thank you for all the trouble you went to. We love you lots.”

Leon and Fiona.

From Leon: Good morning! Saturday night was out of this World…too many things to mention. One of the best-prepared birthday parties we’ve been to in many, many years…Thank you. Please thank everyone involved from us!”

Doc Mel, Doc Theo’s brother.

From Janine and Vasco: Good morning Jess…just want to thank you for an absolutely fabulous birthday get-together. Have a superb day, and please don’t forget to send photos, as I have none.”

In all, we had 28 guests arrive at the party. Many of the guests knew one another.

Last night, we had a pleasant evening again, eating more leftovers from the freezer since after the party, when we didn’t feel like cooking, although the only thing I made for the party was the two cakes, one of which we wiped out at the party and the second, which we took home. It’s a keto chocolate cake that is not as moist as a regular cake made with flour and regular sugar, but to me (and to Dawn), it tasted great.

More cheeses and toppings for Danie’s homemade bread.

Last night after dinner, I cut myself a big chunk of the keto cake while Tom ate two cupcakes Louise had made for the party as shown in the photos below. They certainly looked delicious, and Tom said they were definitely tasty!

Louise set up this beautiful display of cupcakes she had made for the party. Tom was thrilled there was a dessert with regular flour and sugar, and he loved them!

Now back from the dentist with the good news, we can both sit back and enjoy another rainy day in the bush with many wildlife visitors. We have lots of red wine left, including some given to me as gifts and many bottles of white wine. We went through 11 bottles of Prosecco at the party with one bottle remaining.

Tom, me, Theo’s wife Myrdah, Doc Mel and his wife, and Doc Philip’s wife.

Together we brought 40 bottles of wine (including Prosecco) to the party and went through only about 20 bottles plus, we brought five cases of 500 ml (16.9 oz.) Lion beer and went through 1½ cases (24 packs). I guess the Prosecco and the beer were the biggest hits. Now we have plenty of beer and wine left for our personal needs (and guests) until we leave here in June. This is the place to come for sundowners!!!

Vusi and  Mpumi are in this photo, but Zef and Martha were all there to assist. They did a fantastic job of helping and cleaning the house and all the dishes the next day.

We’ve put everything away, including all the white wines in the refrigerator and all the red wines in boxes in the closet.  I got some lovely gifts even after telling everyone no gifts!  Thank you to all of our guests and all of our family, friends, and readers for a wonderful birthday I will always remember!

Vasco and Janine.

Tomorrow, there will be more photos from the party and an exciting African dance video of our helpers you will love!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2022:

At Kwa Madwala, guests can opt for safaris on horseback. For more photos, please click here.

On the fence…Party or not to party?…

Big Daddy loves cabbage, along with all the other antelopes.

It’s hard to believe the Christmas season is almost over. I’m still in the mood for baking, so this morning, during load shedding, I whipped together a double batch of lemon poppyseed muffins which have been baking since the power came back on a while ago. With muffin papers skimpy here and difficult to remove from the muffins, I made two loaf pans of lemon poppy seed bread which will turn out fine at a lower temperature and longer cooking period than the muffins would have.

Once the loaves are done and cooled, I’ll slice them into individual servings and freeze them for Tom. Each day he’ll take out a pack of two slices with his coffee, a nice treat to start the New Year. I didn’t bake a keto treat for myself since I was watching my weight. My one daily treat is the two thin slices of keto macadamia nut bread I’ve had with either egg or avocado for breakfast.

An unfamiliar female bushbuck and her tiny calf stopped by today.

When trying to lose weight on low carb, calorie intake does matter, and I try to keep my daily intake at about 1400 calories and 20 grams of carbs or less. The weight loss is slow at these macros, but I am not about to starve myself, leaving me hungry and thinking about food all the time.

I can stay satisfied with these numbers and never think about eating anything other than my two daily meals, breakfast and dinner. I’ve cut out all snacks and only use a maximum of 200 calories and six grams of carbs if I want to have wine at sundowner time. There are several low-carb, low-sugar, and low-calorie wine options here in South Africa. I couldn’t find any such wine while in the US, so I didn’t drink anything unless we went to dinner, where I’d have a glass of pinot grigio or some other low-sugar wine.

Several male impalas have been hanging around in today’s rain.

Also, this morning, before starting today’s post, I worked on receipts for the claim for the lost luggage for at least an hour. I put a good size dent in it by simply making PDF documents of items we purchased in 2022 in those bags. I finished all of 2022, and I’ll start working in 2021.

Tomorrow,  New Year’s Eve day, we’ll decide if we’re going to the New Year’s Eve party at the bush home of Flo and JJ’s friends, whom we don’t know. At this point, we’ll only know Flo and JJ and their grown kids at the party. It won’t be the first time here in the bush; we’ve attended a party where we didn’t know the hosts.

We purchased two good-sized gammon roasts (ham), which we’ll cook in the morning if we decide to go. Once done, we’ll trim and slice the meat and make 48 ham and cheese sliders to bring to the party. It’s time-consuming to make these but certainly easy and uncomplicated to prepare.

Mom jumped the fence, but the baby squeezed through the wooden posts to join her.

Had we planned earlier, we could have made a reservation for Jabula’s New Year’s Eve party, but at this point, they are already fully booked. Plus, South Africans are huge sports fans, and tomorrow night there’s a game on TV, and patrons of Jabula will be packed into the bar watching the game on the two screens from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, 1900 hrs to 2130 hrs. This environment doesn’t particularly appeal to us, especially since we aren’t avid fans of their sports.

There’s a Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday night, New Year’s Day, which Tom won’t watch until the following morning due to the time difference. The Vikings are doing pretty well, so watching will be fun. We have no plans for New Year’s Day. We’ll stay in, maybe chat with family and friends and make a nice dinner for the two of us. Of course, I can always work on finding more receipts for the insurance claim.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a great day and evening, whatever you may do!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 3021:

This female warthog appears to have been injured by either a snare or a fence. For more photos, please click here.

Making new friends while enjoying old friends…

When we returned from the party, we were greeted by these two giraffes in our driveway, appearing to be a mom and youngster. This photo was taken through the wet windshield.

What an enjoyable time we had at Leon’s birthday party yesterday. It was predicted to rain during the day, and it drizzled off and on. But the outdoor area by the pool and ground floor veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant had several covered areas, and none of us got wet.

What we encountered as we neared our driveway. As soon as we were closer, she moved onto the driveway, blocking our way.

We arrived by 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs, and we were back on our way home by 5:30, 1740 hrs, thrilled and surprised to find two giraffes in a driveway when we arrived, as shown in the photos in the main photo and the photos below. We waited patiently while they moved into the bush, allowing us to get to the house. Who goes home from a party to find giraffes in their driveway?

They noticed we were trying to get through and moved into the bush while we waited patiently.

The food looked delicious. Tom was thrilled to savor some of the “pig on a spit,” but I am just about ready to give up eating pork, as mentioned in a prior post. It makes me think of warthogs, and we all know how much I love pigs as characters, not so much as food.

I’ll still make pork tenderloins and pork chops for Tom while I have something different on those nights. Based on my way of eating, I’ll never give up meat. If I did, I’d have to go back to high-carb vegetarian foods, and that would never work for me. It would raise my blood sugar and blood pressure, and that’s a disaster for my health and arterial disease.

An orange-billed and a black-billed oxpecker peeking out over a kudu’s back.

Also served at yesterday’s buffet was beef brisket. I ate a few bites off Tom’s plate and a delicious Greek salad. Of course, that wasn’t enough of a meal for me. When we got home later, I had two small avocado halves stuffed with prawn salad on a bed of crispy greens. Later on, I ate some nori sheets high in iodine, which I’m supplementing through my diet.

Impalas, typically very shy, came by for a visit.

We sat at a picnic table on the veranda with Rita and Gerhard. Tom added mashed potatoes and garlic buttered pao bread to his plate of pork and brisket. Of course, he went back for seconds on the bread. However, we mingled with other guests throughout the day and ran into some people we already knew.

I can’t help but say this over and over again. People in Marloth Park are friendlier than anywhere we’ve been in the world. At times, we have a whirlwind social life, and we enjoy every moment. Tom met a wonderful couple, Carol and Colin, whose house the four of us will visit next week for sundowners.

Bossy, always stands out in a crowd.

Then, we spent time with Sindee (husband Bruce), who’d kindly invited us to Christmas dinner. I asked them to join us for the casual gathering we’re hosting at Jabula for my 74th birthday on February 20. We didn’t want to make a big deal this year since next year, for my 75th birthday (God willing), we’ll be back here for a more significant celebration for that seemingly milestone year.

Right now, our calendar is filling up with upcoming events throughout the week. On Wednesday, Rita and I are going to the local spa for pedicures, followed by a massage for her. I don’t care for massages. I never have and will be happy to have a pedicure once again.

 Notice Little in the bottom right of this photo. He always shows up in this same spot for his pellets and idle human and pig chatter.

On Thursday morning, Rita and I are going to Stoep Cafe in Komatipoort for breakfast and “girl talk.” A few hours later, Tom will come to Komati, where he and I will have our teeth cleaned, followed by a trip to Spar Market for grocery shopping. Friday night, we’ll all be back at Jabula for dinner.

We love being out and about with activities and friends. But, we also love the special times we spend on the veranda at our bush house with all of our animal friends who never fail to entertain us. After all, in approximately 53 days, we’ll be on our way to Florida to stay with our newlywed friends, Karen and Rich, at their oceanfront property in Apollo Beach, before embarking on the transatlantic cruise to the UK. Life is good.

Have a safe and happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, February 7, 2021:

Mongooses came up to the door to ask for some eggs. For more, please click here.

WiFi was out…Late posting…Great time at Frikkee’s Dam…

Three kudus near the braai area at Frikkee’s Dam in Lionspruit.

When the WiFi is out in the house/area, the only way we can post is using the Google Fi data on my phone or using the phone as a hotspot to connect my laptop. In both cases, the cost is high, making posting for the day too costly when I’d be using data during the several hours necessary to complete the day’s story.

Miracle of all miracles, the WiFi was restored a few hours later, and now we can post as usual. As we’ve mentioned many times, “This is Africa,” and the infrastructure is unstable and unpredictable. It’s a factor that everyone who lives here must accept as a fact of life.

This kudu jumped over the fence to join us.

So, now that we’re able to post today, we’re pleased to be able to post photos from yesterday’s enjoyable party at Frikkee’s Dam, located inside Lionspruit, located within the borders of Marloth Park. We hadn’t been to Frikkee’s Dam since we arrived here in January but had during our past visits several occasions.

It’s a private gathering of a group of us that have attended over the years. Everyone brings food to share, potluck-style. We made our usual Brunch Eggs that were a big hit, with only a small amount left to get home. Since it had sat out all day, we decided not to eat the leftovers but instead feed them to the mongoose, who are carnivores, and the meat, egg, and cheese dish was a treat for them this morning.

Two curious kudus were checking out the humans. We didn’t bring along any pellets!

It was funny when Tom tossed out bite-sized pieces this morning, when Peter, Paul, and Mary competed with the mongoose for the leftovers. Generally, pigs only eat vegetation. But, on occasion, they show interest in bones and certain types of meat. There was bacon in the Brunch Eggs. We wondered how they enjoyed eating bacon, pigs that they are!

The time spent from 11;30 am until 5:30 pm when we finally packed up our stuff and left, was delightful every moment. The conversations were interesting and varied, and it was easy to join into any robust chatter at any point. It was fun to see people we hadn’t seen since the last time we attended a gathering at Frikkee’s Dam, back in 2018.

Another kudu is at the edge of the lake, looking our way.

It was interesting to hear varying views of Covid-19 and the vaccine. Some in our group didn’t believe the vaccine was safe, and it was fascinating to listen to their viewpoint. Most of the attendees were already vaccinated, but a few were not due to age or preference. But the conversation was always civilized and considerate, accepting one another’s opinions.

The Friskkee’s Dam braai area had been renovated in the past few years, providing a cleaner, more friendly space for a braai. We all enjoyed the new setting, which was easier to walk about with less awful tree roots causing tripping hazards in the past. Plus, the fence was lowered, and it was easier to see wildlife drinking from the lake while we stayed safely behind the fence.,

Tom took this photo of a bird with an orange head. Any ideas what bird this may be?

Back at our house (since we’d eaten very little at the event), we cooked a light meal of a few hamburgers (no buns) topped with cheddar cheese along with a small salad for me. We streamed a few episodes of a good show we’ve been watching on Hulu, Big Sky, finishing up season one’s episodes. Season two will begin in the latter part of September.

It was a busy morning in the garden. We were swamped, tending to the needs of our visitors. We had eight bushbucks, seven kudus, two duikers, 20+ mongooses, and as Tom said, a _ _ _ _ load of pigs. Of course, Frank and The Misses stopped by a few times, with the four Go-Away birds carrying on noisily in the background. Little was often seen hovering nearby, partaking in any morsels he could garner in the process.

Giraffe drinking from the lake with another looking on.

Rita and Gerhard have returned from their road trip to the Drakensburg Mountains, and today at 1530 hours, 3:30 pm, they will pick us up to head to Buckler’s Africa Lodge to watch the sunset, the Crocodile River for wildlife sightings, all followed up by dinner on their veranda. It will be excellent to see them again after almost two weeks since they left.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #159. This was the shortest (height) car either of us has ever seen, spotted in youth Kensington, England, in 2014. I can only imagine that getting out of it would require rolling out the door onto the street and then standing up. For more, please click here.

Happy hour on the sand dunes with ride on a camel cart and entertainment…

We were pulled on a cart up the steep hill to the dunes for an exciting, happy hour with entertainment.

We’ve been posting highlights of a few of our activities on the excursions we made away from the Maharajas Express train each day, all of which have been included in our train fare.

Comfortably seated on fluffy cushions on the sand, we enjoyed free-flowing beverages and snacks.

We have so much more to share that doesn’t include dining and entertainment. We’ve visited no less than a dozen forts, palaces, and sights of historical significance.

Tom captured this sunset while we were out at the dunes.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to tackle those more comprehensive stories to coordinate with the hundreds of photos we’re accumulating.

We were bundled up in warm clothing and blankets provided at the venue. Several bonfires scattered around the area helped keep us warm.

By the time we return to the train each day, it’s so late. We don’t have time to compile the research, check facts, and present the kind of story we’d like concerning these many historical areas of interest.

We were entertained by traditional Indian dancing and musicians.

With only two days remaining until the train journey ends, when we’ll spend three nights in Delhi, we’ll work on these new stories of the many exciting venues we encountered while traveling on the train from Mumbai to Delhi.

Plus, during the upcoming 55-night tour, we will have a little downtime here and there, and we’ll surely catch up during these periods. At that time, we will have the opportunity to present detailed information on the various places we’ve visited.

At this point in the ceremonial festivities, she stood on a bed of nails and continued her dance.

In most cases, when cruising, we may miss going out on a port of call or two, especially if it’s a location we’ve already visited in the past, and also, since most tours can cost hundreds of dollars, we may avoid partaking.

The Maharajas Express includes major tours each day in the original train fare, and then there are additional tours, referred to as “optional” tours at other times with varying fees for each.

As darkness fell, another dancer performed a Hindu ritual dance.
These optional tours would be going on right now, as I’m sitting here in the bar with Tom while he’s conducting research, and I’m preparing today’s post. Once completed, we’ll head to our cabin to freshen up for dinner with perhaps a stop back in the bar for a cocktail and more lively chatter with other guests.
It’s hard to believe this part of our journey ends in 48 hours, but with the big and long tour yet to come, we continue to be excited about India. We’re comfortable here. Its colorful people are warm and friendly, and its culture is undoubtedly also colorful in countless ways.
Some of the passengers on the train joined in on the dancing. We sat back and watched the show.

The smog hasn’t been as bad as we expected. Although heavy and a bit treacherous, the traffic is not much worse than in any major city in the US. People aren’t wearing face masks with fear of Coronavirus as we’d anticipated. 

Yes, sacred cows walk in the streets along with goats, horses, camels, and an endless array of stray dogs. Yes, there are endless areas of horrific poverty where citizens live without electricity and running water. But, we’ve seen these circumstances in one country after another.

Upon returning to our cabin around 10:00 pm, we discovered this pretty “towel” display presented by our attentive and thoughtful cabin attendant, Surender.

After almost 7½ years of world travel, we’re no longer shocked by the realities of life which unfold before our eyes. We no longer experience “culture shock.” instead, we embrace the differences and revel in how people of the world make a life for themselves and their families.

We continue to be in awe and grateful for the experiences before us, never forgetting for a moment how fortunate we are.

Have a fabulous day and evening, and we’ll see you soon with more. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2019:
Sorry, there was no post one year ago today as we waited to figure out my medical situation. 

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!…A new year, a new decade, a new beginning…

On this date in 2013, this foot-long insect on the wall by the bathroom door in the master bedroom made us cringe.  Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of that night, fearing that the rains of the previous few days may have brought more of these ugly things indoors. Tom, as always, disposed of it outdoors, but of course, didn’t kill it.  For more photos from that date, please click here.

Many times in the past seven years, we’ve chronicled our year in review on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll list where we traveled in 2019 with snippets of what transpired during those travels. 

As our readers know so well, this has been a tough year for us when on February 12th, I had triple coronary bypass surgery with many complications. We won’t get into all of that. 

We’ve said enough and appreciate the patience of our readers who saw us through that difficult time and stayed with us, continuing to read our daily posts. That month I only uploaded 16 posts when I could not prepare posts during the first two weeks after surgery. 

In tomorrow’s post, we‘ll breeze by that period when in May we were “on the move” once again, albeit with a certain amount of trepidation and fear.

Instead, now, we look to the future with hope and optimism that we’ll be able to continue for years to come. But, we’ve both decided over the past few months that we cannot and will not dwell on fear or apprehension of what could happen. 

We could all get caught up in this state of mind, even those in great health. None of us know what the future holds and we can only do our best to maintain good health and a good attitude which ultimately may be instrumental in our quality of life and longevity.

Most of us can look back at our prior year and recall various circumstances causing us to worry and be concerned for ourselves, our loved ones, our circumstances. No one is exempt.

And, most of us choose to move forward, learn from our experiences, good and bad, and continue on the path we’ve chosen for our lives or in some cases choose a new path as we had done over seven years ago. It changed everything.

Rather than New Year’s resolutions, we find it helpful to look back over the past year to determine what we have learned, changes we have made and the changes we need to make going forward. 

It’s highly individual and we cannot imply or suggest that any of our readers/friends follow such a path. But, we find a sense of comfort moving into the New Year knowing we are doing the best we can to maintain a quality of life that brings us both joy and contentment. 

That being said, we wish each and every one of our readers a meaningful and purposeful New Year that fulfills your needs and wishes and brings you joy and contentment as well.

Happy New Year!

Photo from one year ago, December 31, 2019:

Adorable giraffe at rest in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here 

Prepping for Tom’s birthday dinner…Here’s the menu…

Photo of the beautiful Crocodile River taken from Marloth Park on this date in 2013. For more, please click here.

Tomorrow’s birthday dinner for Tom is the first big meal I’ve made for guests in over ten months. When deciding on the menu for his birthday dinner tomorrow, I found it necessary to consider several factors: one, the limited space in the kitchen; two, that the various dishes are easy to prepare; Tom’s taste preferences (along with our guests); and limited space for serving a variety of side dishes.

While at the market last weekend, we noticed reasonable prices on New York Strip steaks. They looked meaty with little visible fat, and although the portions are significant, everyone can take a “doggy bag” home if they’d like.

We purchased two packages of five steaks each and separated the seven we’d need for the meal, keeping three for the two of us at some point in the future and freezing all of them. Steak on its own may not be all that exciting for some, so we also purchased a bag of jumbo butterflied prawns. 

Each plate will have a steak and prawns. Thus, the menu rolled out as follows:

  • New York Strip steaks, cooked to order on the grill
  • Jumbo garlic broiled butterflied prawns
  • Baked potatoes with sour cream and fresh chives
  • Asian green beans with light spices, bacon, sauteed garlic, and onion
  • Sauteed Portabello mushrooms
  • Par 30 Salad: a delicious tossed salad from a recipe, in our old lives, from a restaurant on at a nearby golf course. Romaine lettuce, green onions, bacon, slivered almonds tossed in a slightly sweet and tangy homemade dressing
  • Garlic bread, topped with fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese
  • Tom’s favorite lemon cake, infused with vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple, and topped with Cool Whip
The items on this menu that work for me are steak, prawns, green beans, mushrooms, and salad. This is an ideal meal for me and hopefully for everyone else.

We’ll dine by 4:00 or 4:30 pm due to a Vikings game on TV starting at 6:15 pm. All of us, from Minnesota, will watch the game. We have enough chairs and seating to make this work for the seven of us. 

I’ll likely serve the cake at halftime or sooner when everyone’s ready for the final course. I’ve always loved this cake, so I have to remind myself not to lick my fingers or take a single taste.

I decided against serving any snacks or appetizers before the meal when all it does is make everyone complete before the dinner is served. It isn’t enjoyable for the cook to find guests already complete before the main meal is served. And, it’s hard for the guests who wish they had “room” to eat the main meal. 

Today, we took off for the Safeway market for a few last-minute items while drying our laundry. We were back in time by a few minutes before it was done. Returning to the house, we put all the laundry away, and I started chopping and dicing for tomorrow’s meal.

Soon, we’ll juice all the lemons for tomorrow’s Lemon Drop Martinis. We picked all the lemons from Mary and Eugene’s lemon tree in front of their property. Colleen provided a bottle of Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Absolute Vodka to use for the martinis.

After our 3:00 pm main meal today: roast chicken, salad and rice (for Tom) he’ll vacuum all the floors and I’ll wash them. This morning I did some cleaning, so we’ll be all set by the end of the day as I continue to work on the above side dishes. I’ve already finished the green beans and will continue to chop and dice for the salad.

First thing in the morning, I’ll make the cake, marinate the steaks, prep the prawns, potatoes, and garlic bread. I’m doing as much as I can today to ensure tomorrow is easy.

Hopefully, the day will be as warm and sunny as today, with a high of 72F (22C). May you have a warm and sunny day as you plan and prepare for the holiday season.

Photo from one year ago today, December 22, 2018:
The baby bushbuck took cover behind mom when she wasn’t sure what to do when she saw us. For more photos, please click here.