Saturday, May 22, 2010

Best Companion

Even if I'm not "on the road" & able to "shoot" the "usual" photographs, my camera is always at hand & remains my best companion. So when the sun "illuminated" this spiderweb, I couldn't resist the "invitation".

This is the owner/builder of the web above.

A few days earlier I had "snapped" this spider - all I know it's a different member of the spider-family. I'm always happy to photograph what's "on display", but in contrast to being able to identify most birds & wild animals, I'm a total novice with regard to insects/naming them.

This particular spider had spun its web in a place, where many a fly got caught - so naturally I "recorded" the action of this predator firmly "tying up" its prey.

When I snapped this "visitor" in our bathroom, I noticed what I associate with an owl-like appearance - the huge, ringed eyes of this moth.

The moth "changed location" & I had the opportunity to snap it from the front - voila! Not only did I get a good shot of its eyes, but also noticed another interesting feature - its trunk-like snout.

Since insects is "the name of the game", I photographed this fly whilst picking lemons in our garden.

By way of "proof" I also took a photo of what I've told many people but nobody seems to believe is true - every now and again an orange or 2 grow on . . . . this lemon tree!!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mountain Splendour

From Old World Charm to the natural splendour of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountain Range, one of our World Heritage sites. This "barrier of spears", as the amaZulu call it, consists of mountains reaching altitudes exceeding 3 000 metres. Mist covering the area, is a natural phenomena - with a charm of its own - even if it frustrates visitors hoping to view the towering peaks.

With such high altitudes, it should come as no surprise that during winter, snow will "cap" the mountain tops. Situated in the central region of this mountain range, Cathkin Peak
(3 147m) is the most prominent feature.

Dominating the cliffs and plains of the "Little Berg", the towering Giants Castle
(3 314m) prominently juts out. This area is well-known for its realistic cave museum, where lifelike San figures bring alive scenes of an era past and a magnificent number of San paintings adorn the cave-like walls of rock.

Golden Gate derives its name from the orange-coloured sandstone cliffs of this area. It acts as a kind of sentinel and is best photographed in the warm glow of the sun late in the afternoon.

Apart from the mountain splendour, rolling hills, grassy plains and many a Zulu village are "part and parcel" of the charm found throughout the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Other than mist and snow, thunderous weather occurs regularly, especially during the summer months. From a photographer's point of view, the heavy clouds covering most of Cathedral Peak
(3 004m) and the Bell
(2 930m) next to it, also has a charm of its own.

Next to the Dragon Peaks Park and Monks Cowl, the world renowned Drakensberg Boys' Choir School is situated. It is said that the choir draws inspiration for its exuberant performances from the beautiful surroundings. During school terms, a concert is held every Wednesday afternoon in the school's auditorium - an experience I highly recommend!

By way of "demonstrating" the charm of this region - 2 photos of the same setting taken during "contrasting" seasons: this one photographed as autumn sets in ...

... and this one of summer in full swing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Old World

Pilgrim's Rest has an "old world charm" - because it's a perfect replica of a prospector's town "born" during the gold-rush days, the entire small village was restored & then declared a National Monument. Accidentally Alec 'Wheelbarrow' Patterson discovered gold here in 1873, which lasted until 1972, when the Beta mine ceased operations as the last operational mine.

The historical Royal Hotel has a "famous" pub/bar, although the locals say they meet each other after work in the 'chapel'. This might sound weird but is based on fact: originally the pub was a Roman Catholic chapel of the St Cyprian's School in Cape Town. When the chapel was demolished someone decided to transport it via Maputo (Mozambique) & then by ox-wagon to Pilgrim's Rest. However instead of being re-erected as a chapel, it became part of the Royal Hotel as its bar.

The small Methodist Church was built in 1911 in the place of an original wood-and-tin structure.

In 1912, Tommy Dennison, a well-known man in Pilgrim's Rest, was badly in debt. He remembered that a coach robbery had taken place in 1899 on what is now known as the Robber's Pass. So Tommy decided to attempt the same but instead of gold sovereigns he only found a case of silver coins in the coach. When he nonetheless started to pay his debts with the stolen money, he was arrested & sent to jail. After a 5-year term Tommy returned to Pilgrim's Rest & opened what to this day is still called the Highwayman's Garage.

When an unknown man, who was once caught & convicted of tent-robbing, dared to return years later to Pilgrim's Rest, he was spotted on what is now known as Cemetery Hill. He was shot & killed & where he fell, buried. His grave lies north-south (instead of the Christian way of graves in an east-west direction) & this Robber's Grave is closely connected with the old cemetery.

Many old residences were converted into shops, as this pretty Craft Centre, which line the main street of "Up-Town" (> versus "Down-Town" = Highwayman's Garage)

Mrs Mac's Shop is another fine example of a historical building converted to a shop. In 1905 it housed the Royal Hotel's off-sales, then was rented as a chemist in 1913, but later began to trade as the general dealer in town.

On most days you'll find a colourful Ndebele lady or 2 on the porch of Mrs Mac's General Dealer. But please remember - they do "represent" a tourist attraction so photographing them means you need to pay a "donation" of R5-

I hope you enjoyed your VISIT to Pilgrim's Rest!?