Winter Aloe blossoms

Mid winter is the right time for seeing the spectacular flowering of the Eastern Cape’s aloes.  These four pictures were taken on my daily walk from our home in Sunnyside down the hill, across Somerset Street and through the Botanic gardens to work.  The whole countryside is glowing with them: particularly at dawn and towards sunset on the road north from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort or west along the N2 to Port Elizabeth.

 

Garden and countryside

We’ve spent plenty of time outside in Northumberland this past week.  It’s been rather cold and windy but with plenty of sunshine, showers and one big storm.  The wind’s been a problem for photography but when you get into the shade of the farm garden or when you are walking on sheltered paths then there’s been a riches of flowers and landscapes.

Here are two flowers from the lovely garden at Warton and a spectacular inverted three sided hook that adorns one of the gate posts.

Out in the country Northumberland often has a big sky.  You can see that in the picture with the silhouettes of the cows.  These two photos were taken on the coastal path north of Boulder.

Psychedelic Creeper

I mentioned in my last post that I often use the digital filter function on my Pentax to take what are essentially black and white photographs but leaving highlights of red.  When we got back from our walk around Mountain Drive today I thought I would try something a little more complex and take black and white photographs but leaving in two colours.  We have a beautiful creeper in the courtyard that flowers in purple and yellow so I played with the filter to see if I could get just those colours and leave all of the foliage in black and white.  The first attempt gave a gothic-psychedelic result which is quite splendid but not what I wanted at all!  The second picture came much closer but just doesn’t have the same impact.  By-the-way I think the creeper is a type of Acanthaceae (Barleria Repens) ….

Featherstone Kloof Hike

Today was the day scheduled for my hike over into Featherstone Kloof. The weather forecast on Saturday said that Sunday would be 30-35 Centigrade so I got up early at 5.40 and was off by 7.00.  Unfortunately the forecast was wrong and as I trod slowly home at 12.00 it was 39!  Far too hot. Fortunately I had spent quite a lot of time in the riverine forest at the bottom of the Kloof.  Even so it was a 10km round trip with 200 metres up to the ridge and then 250 down into the Kloof repeated on the way home.  You can see this on the little map

I was really looking forward to seeing some of the veldt flowers after all of the rain we have been having.  So after a sorghum porridge breakfast I packed a snack lunch of cashew nuts, rice cakes, bananas and toffees with a vacuum flask of ice cold water and a bottle of fresh mixed juice. The hike over was straight forward though my camera began to misbehave and would only take black and whites at one point.  I reset it once I got down to the cool shady picnic spot by the small waterfalls in the forest.  Only too soon I could feel the hot air coming through the forest canopy so it was time to get off back up heartbreak hill and down into town.  Cold beer and a cool pool were beckoning and I had a good set of pictures to share.