Listening to the day end…

At first it sounds quite sad. Listening to the day end evokes a picture of someone sitting alone, maybe lonely, with only the birds, trees, flowers and frogs for company. No talking. Silence.

But even though the image may be somewhat accurate, the sense is quite the opposite. Alone yes, but not lonely. With the birds, trees, flowers and other garden creatures as the only company, certainly, but happy to be among such a simple, forgiving crowd.

And then again, imagine that person basking in the stillness of thought, feet up with a glass of wine, ending an otherwise not so busy day, quietening the mind, body and soul. With the sounds of nature – the dogs across the valley barking at Lord alone knows what, the busyness of the birds getting ready to roost for the night, one or two taking their last share of the seeds left there for them, the buzz buzzing of the night creatures coming alive, the frogs leaving the comfort of the garden beds to venture out for the evening – no one really knows where they are going.

Peace reigns.

As the sun sets, the light casts a glow on the garden that makes the flowers radiant with colour, creating a mysterious sky, but in such a soothing manner that all your muscles relax, your thoughts subside and you focus only on the breeze that caresses your face ever so gently, and the faint hustle and bustle of those poor sods rushing home after a hard day’s work (no offense intended – I’ve been there).

Listening to the day end brings calm, allows you to rationalize your worries, to notice the beauty that surrounds, bringing great anticipation for the beginning of another day to come.

And we can only hope that we will be gracious and grateful for such.

Retirement fun …

My daily sunset view

I have slipped into this new way of life so easily; it scares me.  I guess I was super ready for this phase.  And, as I learned during my years in the corporate world, preparation is key to success.

”Don’t you miss being busy?”  Well, first of all, ‘being busy’ is over-rated.  There is much to be appreciated in just sitting still, enjoying the view, the sounds, the people passing by – emptying your mind and focusing on the now, the person next to you, your grandson making funny noises, having his breakfast or laughing at your silly antics and clapping hands on the other end of your iPad.

Oh, and that afternoon nap.  Who knew that a short half- hour nap on an afternoon could bring such joy – readying you for your quiet enjoyment of the end of the day, watching the sun set in all its glory.

I have time for everything and everyone, mostly.  I have become available – for what I want to do (and this is critical – what I want to do) – and it is empowering.  I am still capable of learning new skills, and this excites me.

Do I miss my former work life? No.  It played a significant role in my growth and development, and I am now onto new and exciting things.

Do I miss my work friends?  Most definitely.  But we’ll catch up some day.

And as I look at my new life unfold; I can only count my blessings…

  • Not having a schedule
  • Getting up early with nowhere to be and lots of time to get there
  • Working in my garden whenever I feel like it and for however long I need
  • Watching the sun set every single day
  • Noticing the wide variety of birds in and around my garden
  • Daytime naps
  • Freedom to chat with my children and grandchildren whenever they call
  • Having impromptu Covid-sanctioned limes
  • Learning new skills
  • Being available to my family and friends
  • That glass of wine

And the list goes on….

Touring Tobago… the unconventional way.

It sounded like a cool vacation-type day, exploring the coastline, dreamily driving through the quaint villages, stopping to take some pics, experimenting with the local cuisine, and finally dipping your toes in the ocean, relaxing on some secluded beach sipping on your favourite beverage.  Life in the tropics.

That’s one way to tour Tobago – Trinidad’s charming sister isle.  But I met a bunch of determined, strong-minded, never-give-up, leave-no-man-behind kind of tourists, who took Tobago by storm – on their bikes.  Oh, and I am quite sure there must have been some level of ‘crazy’ in them as well – but that’s another story.

Before the sun could rise, vital supplies were packed, bikes prepped, minds set and off we went.  And by ‘we’ I mean, me donned with my camera in a vehicle, and the rest of the group on their bikes (just to be clear). What initially seemed like a cool, slow, leisurely ride around the island quickly turned into a gruelling test of will, strength, preparedness and sheer gut.  They pumped their way up and down, up and down some of the steepest hills, with sharp hairpin corners, in the hot midday sun.  Stopping only to refuel, regroup and start all over again.  Their minds set on the finish line and the oh so rewarding moment when you realise that you have just completed a 102km ride, climbing 2,700m, some sections with a gradient of 15-18%, 5-7 hours of riding your heart out.

I learned a lot on this tour.  I learned that your mind is probably your most powerful tool.  I learned that your body can endure far more than you give it credit for.  And quite unexpectedly, I also learned a few choice words to add to my ever-expanding vocabulary.

Who won? They all won.  If nothing else, they won my complete admiration.

The day did end with the ‘sipping on your favourite beverage’ part, near to a body of water. Not to mention the telling and re-telling of the many personal stories of the day.  There was laughter, camaraderie, relief and most of all a great sense of accomplishment.

You people are all my heroes.

(I’ve included a short video for those wishing to see the heroes of the day)

the NEW friday…

Fridays have always been a much-treasured day for me.  A day when years ago I would rush home from work, gather up the kids and head to a dear friend’s home, so that the kids could play with their friends and I would have someone to share the week’s ups and downs with – with a ‘drink in hand’ of course.

Then it became the Friday B-B-que night – where I’d prepare all the food, sit back and watch my boys ‘do the B-B-que’ – with a ‘drink in hand’ needless to say.

As the years passed, and work responsibilities increased, not to mention the kids became teenagers, Wednesday became the new Friday – if only because the ‘drinks in hand’ scenario needed to start a bit earlier in the week.

I won’t even go through the Covid times when every day rolled into one and Friday was whichever day you wanted it to be – signalled by the ‘drink in hand’, of course.

With nowhere to be and lots of time to get there however, my Fridays have taken on a new meaning – it’s the wherever I want to be day and I’m loving it.

The Paria trail…

Over the past few years that I’ve had the privilege of occupying a modest space on our north coast, I’ve witnessed hundreds of hikers brave the Paria trail.  It’s not a hike for the faint hearted.  It has its fair share of hills which meander gently down to small creeks.  Views of the coast tease you from time to time.  And the cool breezes that waft through the forest beckon you on to your destination.

It is challenging and well worth the effort.  And over the years that my husband and I have trekked the trail for our early morning exercise, I’ve always threatened to take my camera with me.  To stop from time to time to truly enjoy the views, the flora, the breezes, the birds awakening, the butterflies flitting.

Now that I have nowhere to be and lots of time to get there….. Guess what…. My camera came for the hike.

Just look around….

With eyes that look for the beauty that surrounds, everything is picture perfect.

My camera has been smiling a lot lately. I recently shared with another photographer friend that I had simply lost my photo-mojo.  Work life balance was challenging.  I was going nowhere that was picture worthy.  My life was one big world wind of work and more work.  He was horrified and fearful that I was spiralling into a depression of some sort.  I had absolutely no desire to think of F-stop, Aperture, ISO – this was becoming so foreign to me.

But today – my camera (my mobile for the moment anyway) and I are once again joined by the hip.  Well let’s just say that the dust is clearing, and we’re rebuilding that special relationship.  There’s that quaint house, the mountains, that view that all make is so easy to snap.

And the beauty of the world is once again high on my radar.

Tippy Top of the mountain…

I remember exploring Australia (https://wordpress.com/post/manixia.com/282) with my family some years ago. Such a beautiful country. Amazing sunrises, peaceful sunsets. Scenic drives, expansive beaches, challenging hikes. Nature at its best. While sitting at our campsite one day, an Aussie ambled over to chat and exchange experiences. And one of his sentences has stayed with me since that chance meeting – just remember to look for the beauty in your own back yard.

At the ‘tippy top of Paramin’ this morning (as our passionate guide described), I experienced just that – the beauty in my own back yard. Just 10 minute’s drive away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city of Port of Spain, the expanse lush mountains and the quiet scenic views of Paramin greet you with open arms. Inhabited by a community ‘where everybody knows your name’, you are taunted by the smell of fresh seasonings telling tales of the local livelihood, the gentle smells of breakfast wafting from the simple homes, the welcoming smiles of those who know and cherish the beauty that surrounds.

And you thank the ‘tippy top of the mountain’ for welcoming you so gratiously.

Fall-ing in love with Nova Scotia …

Not having had the pleasure of living in North America, coupled with my hobby as an amateur photographer, I’ve been longing to witness the splendour that is Autumn – the ‘changing of the leaves’ as it is fondly called. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I expect this to be one of my most gratifying bucket-list adventures.

A big thank you to family and friends who willingly took the time to show us (my husband and I) around the sites of Nova Scotia – from the coastal views to the highland mountains of Cape Breton. From hiking trails in Minas Bay – Bay of Fundy, where we ventured off the beaten path to hidden beaches and feasted on wild blackberries, to cycling in St. Margaret’s Bay through paths shrouded in Maple and Pine trees, covered in Autumn leaves. Stopping at my whim and fancy to capture what I can only describe as Mother Nature at her very best. I am eternally grateful to their generosity of heart and spirit, time and friendship and, of course, love of adventure.

I’ve been summoned to return in the summer to experience another facet of Mother Nature’s exquisite artwork, but I know deep down in my heart that she has shown me her best. It can never be the same – hmmm… or can it …

See for yourself…

Enjoying the beauty that is Cape Town…

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. Like Sydney (which captured my heart a few years ago), its location on the coast affords the city amazing views, great opportunities for outdoor activities, and, as you can imagine breath-taking sunsets. Both night and day its seafront restaurants and commercial centre are bustling with activity, and at night the local budding artistes serenade you with sounds of African music, reminding you that you are indeed in South Africa. In stark contrast to Johannesburg, Cape Town isn’t typical of what you would imagine to be South Africa.

We explored the city and its surroundings in just three short days, revelling in the first instance in the scenic drive to Cape Point. Cape Point is in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve within Table Mountain National Park. And as you drive along the western coast from Cape Town, you are greeted time and time again with beautiful valleys, bays and beaches. You find yourself stopping more frequently than planned just to gasp for a moment at the beauty of the rugged coastline and the flora and fauna that surrounds.

On the return drive up the eastern coast, the coastline and small, busy villages, tempted us to stop and relax at one of the seafront restaurants, to enjoy the local cuisine, with the sun setting at your back and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore line.

Up next – our visit to Table Mountain, possibly the world’s oldest mountain, which was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Looking up at the mountain from the town below, you would never imagine the scope of walking and jogging trails, viewing points, wild flowers. Table Mountain is many things to many people. To Capetonians, in particular, it is the geological and spiritual heart of the city, and it’s easy to see why.

The vistas from atop are mind boggling and probably some of the most captured views in the world. We witnessed many a form and fashion of picture-taking. From selfies, to dare devil stunts at the edge of rocks, all trying to create the most exciting pose on what seemed like the top of the world.

And, my favourite part – the end of any given day in Cape Town. We drove to a vantage point on Signal Hill and sat quietly as we watched couples, friends, families arrive one by one, with their picnic baskets, to witness one of Cape Town’s most spectacular events – their daily sunset.

We were entertained by the para-gliders who carefully attached their victims and ran off the mountain sailing, peacefully to the beach below. Not more than a 10-minute flight, but one which provided a wonderful thrill for all who sat there waiting for the day to end in all its glory.

And glory it was. Wine glasses clinked, birthday cakes were cut, hugs and kisses exchanged, selfies galore – all in celebration of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

Yup. Cape Town. A beautiful city. Not to be missed.

Meeting Her Majesty…

And there she stood – elegant, poised, sensitive to my presence. Maybe a bit wary of my intentions. Nonetheless, she always maintained her composure and, turning away ever so gently, would walk slowly at first and then gallop away with her young ones to a more secluded spot where she could continue to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of this, her nature reserve.

Her majesty, the Giraffe. I encountered her several times while cycling through the Mkhaya and Mbuluzi nature reserves. Sometimes in the distance. Sometimes on our path. At all times, her majestic presence left me in awe of this wonderful creature.

I remember searching through the trails looking for her, taking little notice of the herds of nyalas and warthogs and pods of hippos. I gasped. She just stood there, as if to say “Me? Looking for me?” I smiled. And almost with a gentle bow, I replied, “Yes. I’m looking for you.”

She never disappointed. Was always gracious. And each time I stumbled upon her, I gasped silently. Always happy to see her. Always honoured to have made her acquaintance.