Bullet, Randburg , South Africa


Posted Jan 16, 2008, 2:21 am
This is me Bullet! My mom took this picture of me this evening so that everyone can see what I look like. I'm looking for some friendly, honest hosts to visit. PM my mom if you are interested.

Here are my up coming travel plans;

1) BlackCat Visited!
(currently with Fam-United)
2) Isobel/+/Neil
3) Miss_Nadine

Posted Jan 16, 2008, 10:25 pm
This is my half brother Riley, he's a Boston Terrier. I was really scared of him since he is so much bigger than me, but he turned out to be sort of nice. For some reason he kept licking me, yuck! He started playing a little too rough and he got in trouble.


Posted Jan 28, 2008, 4:58 pm
I heard the mailman on the porch last week and started to bark. Mom went to see what he brought, it was a small little package from Germany. Mom let me sniff it, I didn't recognize the scent. Once mom opened it I realized it was another TV. I was excited as I have never met another TV before. Here we are greeting Nicki Bear into our house.

Posted Jan 30, 2008, 11:47 pm
Nicki Bear and I spent the day together. She showed me her notebook and all of the recipes she has in it. I asked her if she knew how to make dog treats, sadly she said no! I told her that she should get a least one dog treat recipe as she doesn't know when she will meet a hungry dog.

Posted Feb 6, 2008, 11:34 pm
Michele told me that today was traveling day! She said that I was headed to Germany for a little while. I thought that I would be nervous but I'm not. I said goodbye too all of my friends and off we went to the post office. I hope they treat me nice!

Posted Feb 15, 2008, 1:18 pm
Hello everybody,

I arrived at my new home today together with Josh.
First I was a little bit afraid of all the Toy Voyagers, but then we talked a little bit and they are really nice. There are other dogs here, too. Wauzi is allready a good friend of mine.
Davy and Chokito are cats, but I think they are nice - even if they are cats. And there is a little turtle, who is named Tortilla. So you can see - I am not alone :)!
I will post some photos later!

Have a sunny day,

Posted Feb 24, 2008, 3:37 pm
Hello :)!

Now the first photos of me in Germany. We have a lot of fun here :)!
You can see Chokito, Tortilla, Wauzi, Josh, Davy and me!

Wauzi and I play a lot of ball together.

It is nice here mummy :)!
Have a sunny day,

Posted Feb 24, 2008, 4:02 pm
Hello mummy,

we visited a friend of Fabi today. Her name is Vanessa and she has a dog - named Digga. We have a lot of fun playing with the dog and Wauzi and I told him a lot about our plans of traveling and so :)! It was funny.
You can see some pictures here:
Digga is really nice :)! I like him :)!

Have a nice day,

Posted Feb 24, 2008, 4:20 pm
Hey mum,

Fabi has to buy some new food for their budgies, so she takes me with her and we visited a pet store here :)! We weren't allowed to make photos inside, but outside we were. So I have a photo of it:
Can you see the bird in the house? It was watching me :)!

What a funny day,

Posted Mar 28, 2008, 1:25 pm
Hi mummy,

I just wanted to let you know, that I arrived in Bruchsal. Petra is really busy, but we all wanted her to get in contact with our family before the human guests arrive. Petra told us, that her daughter celebrates her birthday today, altough her birthday was in December. It seems to be a funny family.

Bye, Bullet





Posted Mar 29, 2008, 6:42 pm
Hurray!!! Hurray!!!

We had a little party today!!!

We had some snacks and water to drink and a lot to laugh about, of course. Dogs became friends with cats, a turtle with a kangaroo, a monkey with a moose and more.

We played with a big and a small ball and we learned how to play the card game "Mau Mau".

Didn't the table look nice?

Mingus Moose prefered to sit on the ballon.

(Playmo)Bill decided to not eat anything, because he was afraid to be too thick for his hobby.

I wanted all the peanuts for himself. I'm really sorry  :cyclops:

Coco first had been a bit sad, because there was no honey on the table, but she liked the gouda then.

How did (Playmo)Bill come to that peanut? Maybe he asked Mingus Moose???

HolidayHarry had been really thirsty after eating a lot of sweets.

Florence is very hungry and wants to try a chocolate banana muffin.

Pebbels thought, that the Harry Potter muffin looked nice. It was a muffin with blueberries. Curly took the chocolate banana muffin too.

Amara Anthea tried a muffin american style, just on with chocolate drops.

AliG seemed to play the detective. What did he expect to find out today???

Do you see how happy Tortilla and Josh look with this dish filled with gummi bears?

Chokito, Davy and Schnuffi shared another Harry Potter muffin.

Only Hasi prefered something healthy - she wanted to eat a carrot.

Tilda hadn't been sure, whether she should try a "nimm 2 " or whether it is better to eat a carrot too.

Then we started playing with balls. At first we choose the Australian ball, but it was so big, that the little toyvoyager among us had big problems.



Later we decided to use a table tennis ball, which of course is much easier to play with.





At last we learned how to play "Mau Mau".




Our first winner was: Chokito

Second place: Meeeee!!!!!!

Third place: Hasi

Fourth place: Pebbels


Posted Apr 9, 2008, 8:16 pm
Today was one of the rare sunny days. Petra came home from school and packed her rucksack to show us some places in Bruchsal. She didn't have so much time for it, because she had to go back to school for a teachers' meeting.

Here you see the backfront of the palace.

This is the Feldkirchle (field chapel)

Next to the Feldkirchle (field chapel) you see this cross
and this beautiful flowers

Posted Apr 27, 2008, 12:06 pm
Today Kari arrived at home again and he told us a lot about Australia. Now I know, that Kira1997 send him to my host family as a present for their daughter some years ago. He wanted to see them again, so he decided to go to Australia as a toyvoyager.



Posted Apr 27, 2008, 12:40 pm
Maybe you heard about the Buran arriving in Speyer? The new home will be the technical museum in Speyer: http://www.museumspeyer.de/index.html

The Buran ( the only space shuttle of the Soviet Buran program)was only on one unmanned spaceflight in 1988. The shuttle program was cancelled in 1993. It was destroyed by a hangar collapse in 2003.
The Buran is the world's first genuine space shuttle to be exhibited to the general public.

Petra wanted to go there to watch the arrival, but the weather was too bad, so we only got the chance to read the newspaper


Posted Apr 27, 2008, 1:09 pm
Hi Mum

today was a crazy, very busy and very rainy day again. It was only a short time without too much rain, so Petra decided to take us to a park with animals, that live in Germany. Here you see Pebbels and me with some wild boars. We only could take a few pictures and even missed some with the other toyvoyagers, because Petra's camera stopped working. She forgot new battery:(


Posted Apr 27, 2008, 8:56 pm
I had a really great day today. The sun was shining and it was really warm. Now I believe, that it is springtime.
Petra woke up early and told us to get ready to for a walk. We were very curious and excited of course. First we bought some bread rolls for breakfast (only a few bakeries or open on Sundays) and then we brought Ralf to work (normally he doesn't work on Sundays).

And then we drove in the car for about 15 minutes. We sat in the rucksack and you can believe me, it wasn't the best way to travel.

After we walked a little bit, we found this sign:


It told us the rules, how we had to behave at this place.

Oh, you surely want to know, where we were. There is a small Japanese Garden not far away from Bruchsal in Münzesheim, which Petra was told, that it is really pretty. She never had been there before, but now she wanted to go there together with us.

So now look at the photos and enjoy!









I saw a part of the Berlin Wall:


This building was very interesting, especielly the ceiling, which was made of white and blue bottles.



Posted May 5, 2008, 4:37 pm
I think, I forgot to tell you something about the history of Bruchsal.
Bruchsal was first named in 976 A.D., but since a few weeks we know, that it must be even older than this. They found something next to a church and realized that this is really old. I had been very curious to get to know more about this, but the weather was so terrible, that we had no chance to go there.
So you only see the most interesting places here. Petra was in a hurry, so the photos aren't that great she says.
Here you see the backsite of the palace and a part of the palace garden. The palace was nearly completely destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt around 1973.


Posted May 5, 2008, 5:29 pm
Because the weather was much better than the days before, we drove to Untergrombach, which is one of the suburbs of Bruchsal. The Michaelsberg, a small hill - only 296m high, belongs to Untergrombach. You have a wonderful view over the Rhine valley and if the weather is very very good, you can see the Palatine Mountains in the far.
3500 - 2600 BC first signs of humans had been found on this place, the "Michelsberg culture".

This view shows a part of Bruchsal, which is at the border between Rhine Valley and Kraichgau.


The quarry pond belongs to Untergrombach, which you see on this photo. This is the best view to see the Palatine Mountains on the horizon, but today we had no luck.


You see another part of Untergrombach. You see, that it is also to the border of the Kraichgau.




This nice chapel is called Michaelskapelle and it is on top of the Michaelsberg. Petra told me, that there are many couples, that want to marry in this chapel.


Here you see so-called "Steinriegel" (field clearance cairn), made by people working on their fields a long long time ago. They threw the big stones from their fields to the border of the neighbour's field, so that in the middle all stones were accumulated. Many animals and flowers love this gaunt places and that's why a few weeks ago, people cleaned the Steinriegel from all the earth, that came between the stone during the many many years and from all the other plants, that love to grow in earth.


Another word I learned is "Magerrasen" (neglected grassland), which is typical for the Michaelsberg. The town you see is Untergrombach.


The Michaelsberg is nature reserve area, I'm sure, you already realized this too. There are beautiful rare flowers and animals.




Posted May 30, 2008, 3:05 pm
Today we had a little sightseeing tour in Bruchsal. It was one of the few days with blue sky, so Petra decided to go on a walk with us.

We visited the Stadtgarten, which is a small park with beautiful trees and there also is an interesting old building. It is called the Belvedere and was a former hunting lodge. Isn't it beautiful?






Posted May 30, 2008, 9:50 pm
Hi mum,
I'm so so excited! Today my friends Chamki, Kuma, Kari, Bokkie, HolidayHarry and I drive to Denmark. We have to help watching the traffic. There had been many many cars on the highway, which they call Autobahn in Germany.

Here you see Kuma and me while we had our first break. It is just a crazy drive, always stop and go. I really wonder, when they think, we will arrive at our destination.


Oh, now we are driving again. But do you see, what I saw? Again we stood between many cars. I think, we will never arrive in Denmark. What does Petra say? We will go to a youth hostel and stay in Germany for the night? Ok, lets see, I think, this is better than seeing this traffic jams. Kari and I just turned our heads and played some games with Petra and her family.


Oh no!!!! Petra just called the youth hostel and they told us, that we can't come later than 10pm - but we know, we will be later than that. So what now!!! Petra and her family decided to drive the whole night until they arrive in Klitmoeller, where we will stay during our holiday. I'm sure, this will be a crazy night with 6 humans, many bags and two big boxes and of course many many toyvoyagers.

Posted May 30, 2008, 9:57 pm
Phewwwww! Finally we are here. Man I'm so tired and dizzy now, but Petra thinks, that it is a good idea to take a few photos with us

on a table in our home for two weeks


and in front of the house. Do you see us???


and now???


We are sitting on the bench, a really lovely place.



Posted May 30, 2008, 10:05 pm
After a longer rest I ask, whether we possibly can go to see something around that place. Everyone is happy about this idea and so they pack our travelbag and start to walk.

But: Where do they go now? Why do I have to sit in the bag? I thought, I would get to see something of Klitmoeller, that is really interesting, but now I'm in this silly bag again :(

Oh, I see, they went to the beach. Yes, this is really beautiful. I'm sure, you would like it too, but it is reather cold here. The see is very smooth, nearly no waves to see.



Klitmoeller is a small fisher town at the coast of the North Sea. It is loved by surfers, who come here during summer. Right now it is a very silent place.

Posted May 30, 2008, 10:16 pm
Our first trip goes to Fur, which is a small Danish island in the Limfjord at the northern tip of the Salling peninsula. Fur has under 900 inhabitants and covers an area of 22 km².
We have to go there by a ferry, although the crossing takes only 3 to 4 minutes.
Fur is renowned for its deposits of diatomite, konwn in Danish as 'moler'. We want to go fossil hunting, but unhappily we have ho luck, because the woman at the museum shows us the wrong place. Anyway it is a nice small island.

Do you see me here? I'm hiding behind my friends.

This is the place, where the woman told us, that we maybe could find fossils, but she was wrong.

Posted May 30, 2008, 10:22 pm
The first look at the sunset just threw me down  :rolleyes:










Posted Jun 1, 2008, 8:09 pm
Hi Mum

this morning we got up rather early to get ready with breakfast and preparing lunch for a trip. Petra said, she wants to go to Hirtshals today, where is the biggest oceanarium in Europe. I first didn't know, what this means, but then I really liked it. It contains about 4,5 millions litre sea water. It is about 4 floors high. It was destroyed in 2003 by fire and rebuilt in 2005.

We saw many interesting fishes and I learnt my first Danish word: klumpfisk. The Klumpfisk is called Mondfisch (moonfish) in German and Sunfish in English. I think, this is really interesting.

Here you see me looking at a turbot.

the klumpfisk

I also saw some seals

Posted Jun 1, 2008, 8:53 pm
On our way home we decided to stop by at Rubjerg Knude, which is a shifting sand dune, that is about 90 metres high.
Due to erosion several metres of sand get ablated each year, so the sand beach is changing its wideness and it steep coast arises from this.

The lighthouse is already covered partly and you only can see a very little part of the houses around the lighthouse, when you walk close to it.

Maybe you see the flying sand on this photo.

You see the sand dune growing in the inner land.

Posted Jun 2, 2008, 1:26 pm
Pheeewwww!!! We really need a day to relax. Nothing is better than sitting here in the sun, telling jokes and taking a nap.


Later Kuma wanted to take a bath. So we all sat around and thought about jumping in or not. Petra said, that it isn't nice to make such an event out of this and asked us to go playing outside again.

Crazy, crazy, crazy! Petra decided to hang Kuma up like laundry. Can you believe this?

Kuma shout out loud and when Petra came back and Kuma asked her, whether it is possible to dry somewhere else. So Petra put Kuma and us on the banister in front of the winter garden.

Posted Jun 2, 2008, 2:58 pm
Today we got up really early. Petra told us, that we would go somewhere really special. The weather was nice, so we would have everything we need for this trip.
We got the lunch packed and then jumped in our bag again. We got used to this now, so it wasn't such a problem sitting there during the drive.

There are also some bunkers from the second world war.

Finally we arrived at our destination and we saw: sand and water.

Grenen is the northmost tip of Jutland, north of the town of Skagen, thereby the northmost point of Denmark. Grenen was given its name for its shape like a tree-branch (Danish: gren). It's the point, where Skaggerak and Kattegat flow together.
You see me here at this place with waves from left and right, but the wind was so low, that there nearly were no waves.

Nevertheless we weren't allowed to go swimming.

Kari showed us a really fascinating effect - a rainbow ring around the sun. Petra read about it: This ring is called 22°-halo and is a ring of light with a radius of 22° around the sun.
Sorry, but it was too difficult to take a photo with a toyvoyager and still show the effect, so there is only this one with Kari, but you can be sure, I have seen this too.

Posted Jun 2, 2008, 5:31 pm
Driving through Skagen we decided to take a look at the church, that is covered with sand and lieing in the dunes. This church is called Den tilsandede Kirke, the sand-engulfed Buried Church



Posted Jun 2, 2008, 6:48 pm
Hi Mum,

I found your address in Petra's address book and so I bought a postcard and sent it to you. I hope, it will arrive soon.

Bye, Bullet


Posted Jun 2, 2008, 6:49 pm
After our daytrip to Skagen we decided to only go on a short trip today.

We drove to Vestervig to see the large church and windmill there.
Vestervig is a settlement and parish in Denmark, located in Thisted municipality in Region Nordjylland. Vestervig has a population of 754 (2004), but a disproportionately large church which served as a cathedral until 1130. This cathedral is still the largest town church of Scandinavia.






I love this windmill.

Next to the church we found a place with many stones and first we wondered, what it really was. We saw these signs and tried to read it. We realized, that these were really old stones from the Iron Age. It was a village here from about 150 BC until early or mid 5th century AD:



Posted Jun 5, 2008, 3:59 pm
We were in Nykobing today, where it a wonderful flower park with many animals too. There is also a playground for older children, which are really great.


The park is called Jesperhus Blomsterpark.

There was a very special rainwood indoor playground with Aztec monuments.

No, Petra!!! This isn't really a good idea to put me there!!! Please, please take me away

No, please not all together in this terrible mouth!!! Who knows, what happens!!!! Please, let me out!!!

Oh, God!!! Where is Kari now!!! Is there nobody to help us getting out here again???

Phewww!!!! Sometimes it is very dangerous to stay with Petra and her family. Why don't they think of our feelings in this situations???

Yes, this is much better. I had been so happy to have some time for myself to relax in the Chinese Garden, that belongs to the park.

It was really fascinating to see the beautiful Danish flag everywhere - not only in the park, but also next to many houses in Klitmoeller and other towns.

Do you know Hans Christian Andersen? He wrote many fairy tales and some of them also Petra told to her children, but some of them she only knew by name. In the Blomsterpark there were statues of these fairy tales coloured with flowers, although the flowers didn't bloom so much right now.
Here you see a photo with me and "The Princess and the pea".

The Princess on the Pea
A translation of Hans Christian Andersen's "Prindsessen paa Ærten" by Jean Hersholt.

Once there was a Prince who wanted to marry a Princess. Only a real one would do. So he traveled through all the world to find her, and everywhere things went wrong. There were Princesses aplenty, but how was he to know whether they were real Princesses? There was something not quite right about them all. So he came home again and was unhappy, because he did so want to have a real Princess.

One evening a terrible storm blew up. It lightened and thundered and rained. It was really frightful! In the midst of it all came a knocking at the town gate. The old King went to open it.

Who should be standing outside but a Princess, and what a sight she was in all that rain and wind. Water streamed from her hair down her clothes into her shoes, and ran out at the heels. Yet she claimed to be a real Princess.

"We'll soon find that out," the old Queen thought to herself. Without saying a word about it she went to the bedchamber, stripped back the bedclothes, and put just one pea in the bottom of the bed. Then she took twenty mattresses and piled them on the pea. Then she took twenty eiderdown feather beds and piled them on the mattresses. Up on top of all these the Princess was to spend the night.

In the morning they asked her, "Did you sleep well?"

" Oh!" said the Princess. "No. I scarcely slept at all. Heaven knows what's in that bed. I lay on something so hard that I'm black and blue all over. It was simply terrible."

They could see she was a real Princess and no question about it, now that she had felt one pea all the way through twenty mattresses and twenty more feather beds. Nobody but a Princess could be so delicate. So the Prince made haste to marry her, because he knew he had found a real Princess.

As for the pea, they put it in the museum. There it's still to be seen, unless somebody has taken it.

There, that's a true story.

And here we are sitting in front of a small version of Andersen's house.

I also met these nice animals

Posted Jun 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
Petra asked, whether we can drive to Norre Vorupor. It is another fisher town close to Klitmoller.
We only walked there a few minutes and then everybody realized, that we were so tired, that we only wanted to go home.


Posted Jun 5, 2008, 5:31 pm
Do you know, that we are here in Denmark since one week now? We already had a great time.

Today we only go to Hanstholm in the afternoon, but first we just want to sit in the winter garden and relax.


Posted Jun 7, 2008, 8:17 pm
Hanstholm is located about 11 kilometers from Klitmoller. Nearly each day we had to buy something there at Aldi, but we prefered to stay at the house, while others were shopping. Today we decided to visit the Hanstholm bunker museum. It is a scary place and reminds of the second world war, when this area was a part of the Atlantic Wall.





We drove by a very small train and Petra told us, that it was built for the soldiers, who had to go from bunker to bunker. They also carried munition in this train.

This is  the view to the Hanstholm harbor.

Posted Jun 7, 2008, 9:11 pm
What is more beautiful, more exciting, more..... I just can't find the best word to describe it, you just must have seen it and felt it: sunset


Posted Jun 7, 2008, 9:42 pm
Hi Mum
I thought, that you also would like this sunset today. It was the first and only time, when we saw the sun setting into the sea without any clouds or mist.



Posted Jun 7, 2008, 10:20 pm
Petra thought, that it is a good idea to get up very very early and see some birds in this park. Unhappily we didn't see so much from this place, where we were and next problem is, that the photos didn't come out too well. So you see some photos without me too, I'm sorry.

This signs explains where we were, so I asked Petra to write it again, so you can read it too:
Welcome to an experience in wonderful nature!
The main objectives of the Aage V.Jensen Charity Foundations are the conservation of nature and the protection of wildlife.
The Foundations support research and acquire and manage properties with a view to conservation of nature and protecting wildlife.
....Aage V.Jensen Charity Foundations has constructed observation towers and facilities from which the public can view even the most difficult to observe bird and mammal species.
These observation sites are constructed with natural materials, and the public is asked to treat these sites with care.



It's really a beautiful place, but Petra prefers to watch birds from outside instead of sitting behind windows. So she would have prefered to just watch them from the parking place. That's where she took these two photos:


Posted Jun 8, 2008, 9:53 am
OH, you can't imagine how expensive it is to buy diesel now. We had to pay about 1 Euro 61 Cent the last time. So we decided to make only short trips by car. So we drove to Norre Vorupor again.
It is a aquarium there, where you can see about 5 sorts of sharks, which you can find in the North Sea of course.

Sorry for the quality of the photos. I told the fishes and other animals to keep standing at a place while we were taking photos, but they didn't listen.





Posted Jun 8, 2008, 10:13 am
Because Sabrina is a big fan of horses and Petra loves them too and at least this area of Denmark is a place with many many horses, it was an enjoyable duty to go on a walk to take photos with them.
The only problem was, that the photo didn't work properly and so there are only two photos left: one with a horse and one with a cow and its calf.



Posted Jun 8, 2008, 10:34 am
Petra told me, that today we go on a trip somewhere and that we had to go by ship. So you see me here in one of the worlds fastest ships, which belongs to MasterFerries and is called Fjord Cat.


Oh, oh, oh. I think, I can't take more photos now. Petra and we all are sitting in the seat and hoping, that we arrive really soon. It takes about 2 hourse until we arrive at our destination, that's all I know. The waves aren't so terribly high, but I feel it in my stomage anyway.

Posted Jun 8, 2008, 1:32 pm
Hi Mum,

I'm really happy to tell you, that I arrived safely in Kristiansand, Norway. Travelling on the ship wasn't too bad.

Kristiansand is a city and municipality and the capital of the county of Vest-Agder, Norway. The municipality is the 5th largest in Norway with a population of 78 919 as of January 1, 2008. The urban area, entirely located in them municipality, had a population of 64 930 on January 1, 2006 and is the 8th largest urban area in Norway.

Kristiansand was founded by King Christian IV in 1641, but the area has been settled at least since 400 AD.

The Kristiansand Domkirke is a late gothic cathedral from 1884. (Sorry, no photo with me, but only with Kari)

Inside everything was made of wood and looked really pretty.

Do you see Jesus on this photo? He looks brighter than everything and we had no chance to take a photo without this light, so maybe it is just the way they wanted it to be?

Posted Jun 8, 2008, 2:08 pm
Petra thought, that only walking around in a city isn't that interesting, when you are in Norway. She wanted to find a place, where we all can feel like being in Norway. Here is what we found somewhere about this place in the internet:

Baneheia is a popular recreational area to the north of Kristiansand city centre. It was laid out by General Wergeland and his troops in the 1870s. There are paths for ramblers, some of which are lit at night. You will find special trails for the disabled here. Marked paths take you through attractive wooded areas. There are swimming and fishing spots by the lake. There are good views from certain points. The area supports a variety of animal and plant life.


So now enough with this, just sit there and enjoy the photos. The water was more blue than you can see it here:




We stood on top of a big rock and Petra thought, that we all should take care for ourselves and don't walk too close to the edge. She said, that in Germany people already would have built a barrier so nothing could happen there, but we all enjoyed it just the way it was and is.

While we were waiting for the ship we had been able to watch, how it arrived at the harbour. The photo is zoomed so it is without me.


Posted Jun 8, 2008, 2:38 pm
We all are a bit sad today, because it is the last day in Denmark.


But then Selina, Fabian and Petra had a great idea. We all helped to create a fairwell picture in front of the house and then we took photos with all of us.


Posted Jun 8, 2008, 9:33 pm
It's our farewell day. It's just 9am and I just had a last look back to the house before I had to sit down in the car for a drive of about 11 hours. Happily the drive to Bruchsal wasn't that long, so we arrived there at 9.30 pm.


Posted Jun 8, 2008, 9:42 pm
Oh no, please don't take a photo of us here. Don't you see, that we are still sleeping. Okay, okay, it maybe is your bed, but I think, this doesn't matter, does it?
Just let us sleep here and you can do some work, unpacking everything and washing, okay, Petra????


Posted Jun 9, 2008, 5:55 pm
Today Petra and I took a look at the cherries in neighbour's garden. We saw, that they still need some more time to get their red colour.


Posted Jun 22, 2008, 10:21 pm
Hi Mum

today I'm able to show you some parts of Bruchsal. Petra decided to go on a short walk and car drive before the match between Germany and Portugal started. Hey, she had been really nervous about that match.

We started at her house and had to walk only a few hundred meters, when I saw this beautiful baroque church, which is called St. Peterskirche. This church is next to the graveyard of Bruchsal.


Petra saw this statue and took a photo with me.

She didn't really know, why this statue stands there, so she took a photo of the sign too. It is a memorial stone as reminder of the citizens of Bruchsal, who were victims of the Baden Revolution (1827 - 1849).

We found some really old crosses on the graveyard. One of it is called Pestkreuz (pestilence).

We walked through the graveyard, but didn't take photos there, because too many people were there and we didn't want to be disrespectfully. There are some places, where you have a wonderful view to the baroque church and over Bruchsal and there are really beautiful trees.

Here we are on the other site of the graveyard area. It is close to the city border. I asked Petra to take a photo with me and the sign. Behind the Bruchsal sign you see the traffic sign 30 - it is s zone, where you are only allowed to drive 30km/h.

Here is another view to Bruchsal. On the left side you see a part of Sancta Maria, which you will see on another photos again.

Here is a view to the graveyard from outside. I asked Petra to take these two photos so we can show you how steep this is to walk, especially for older people.


So now we went to the Sancta Maria. Let's see, what they write on the sign.

Maybe a bit closer?

Ok and now the photo of the house:

Now we went down the road and took Petra's bag and car and drove to other places in Bruchsal.
This is the Belvedere, a former hunting lodge.


Then we went out of the nice park, because it was too crowded and Petra seems to be in fear to meet some people from school. She really thinks, they could love at her. Petra, we have to work on that.
Here is another place with nice views over Bruchsal.

Turning to the right side, the towers are from left: the Bergfried (tower of the old castle), the city church "Unsere liebe Frau" and the church called Lutherkirche.


Turning to the left side you see the old people's home. The house with the orange strip and the terrace house belongs to it. The grey house in the far with the small tower is the private catholic grammar school St. Paulusheim, which is only open for Christians (no matter weather catholic or evangelic). It was founded by patres of the Pallotti order.

The flat roof in front of me still belongs to the old people's house. Bruchsal must have many old people. In the far you see the baroque church St. Peter and the house Sancta Maria.

Around Bruchsal you can see many crosses like this one.

But we didn't walk to much there, because Petra wanted to show me the palace.


Here you see the Amtsgericht - county court.

In front of the Amtsgericht you see this fountain, which has a funny name "Schnecklesbrunnen"  -snail fountain, but you see, why it is called this way.



Just turning around on our heels (on the place where we took the photo of the Amtsgericht) we saw the entrance of the main building of the palace.

Turning to the right there is another part of court and a chamber music hall

Turning to the left you see the building of the church St. Damian and Hugo, a catholic church, which is usually called Hofkirche, because it belongs to the palace yard.
The tower is behind the church, built next to the parish hall.

The left side is the back side of the church. You see the tower much better here.

Walking in the palace garden wasn't that great, because there were some people drinking and Petra wondered, whether nobody can do something against this. There should be a place for teenagers and young people, where they can have fun without drinking alcohol.
She only took some detail photos of the back side.
the sundial



and a photo of the park


On our way home I saw this building and asked Petra to tell me, what it is. She said, that it is called Cafe Achteck, cafe octagon. I thought, that it sounds interesting and asked her to go and drink a coffee there, but she said 'No'. First I was a bit grumpy with her, but then she explained, that it is the jailhouse of Bruchsal and that there are some people in it, who did really bad things. I asked her to drive home as quickly as possible.

So we drove to the right and I saw this nice gate, called Damianstor, which is the entrance to the palace area.

Before we really drove home, Petra wanted to show me another view to Bruchsal.


I thought, that we would drive home now, but no, Petra thought, that she would like to show us this nice chapel, which is built in the fields outside of Bruchsal. Nevertheless it belongs to the City Church. The chapel is called 'Feldkirchle' - field chapel - a really great idea to name it this way. You surely remember, that we had been there already.


There are really beautiful trees around.

I thought, that now it is time to go back to the car and I asked Petra, if she would like to take a photo with me and the car. You see the Swedish and German flag there. Petra is collecting flags it seems. In the car is an Australian paper flag, but it is getting old now:(

So this is really the last photo of our Bruchsal tour. It is just here to show you, that we really had been in the fields.


Posted Jul 6, 2008, 8:20 pm
Hi Mom,

I'm here in Germany's oldest city. Trier was founded by Romans and is older than 2000 years.

The brown building in the middle of the photo is the Basilica and not close to this building you can see a dark building, which is the cathedral.

Many places in Trier belong to Unesco World Cultural Heritage:
the amphitheatre, which you can see as a green place in the middle of the trees. Behind the trees you see the thermal bath called Kaiserthermen.

Turning to the left you have this wonderful view. In the far you see a small piece of the Moselle

Here are the "Kaiserthermen".


The most famous building of Trier is the Porta Nigra.


We drove over a really old bridge, which was built by Romans.


Posted Jul 6, 2008, 8:39 pm
Early in the evening we drove to Wasserbillig in Luxemburg just to buy some diesel for the car. Isn't that crazy?
Petra and Ralf told me, that the gas is much cheaper there than in Germany. So they drive to Luxemburg each time, if they visit Trier.

There is a street with one gas station after the other.





Posted Jul 6, 2008, 8:43 pm
This is a crazy town. Do you know, that Igel is hedgehog in English? I think, it is just funny.

Petra showed me this column, which is also Unesco World Cultural Heritage.



Posted Jul 6, 2008, 9:49 pm
Sunsets in the rain can be really beautiful.


We ran to the other side of the house, because we thought, there must be a rainbow now and really, here it is:

Posted Jul 6, 2008, 9:52 pm
Today Petra invited me to come to school with her. She showed me her "paper room", where she stores the paper, which teachers used for handicrafts or paintings.


They store some other things here too. Once in a year Petra has to sort out everything, but happily she has some other teachers, who help her with this.

Posted Jul 6, 2008, 9:53 pm
In the afternoon we drove to Media Markt, which is a shop for electronical things. Martin bought a present for Sabrina's classmate, because he invited her for his birthday party.

Posted Jul 6, 2008, 9:55 pm
Before Sabrina went to the birthday party, we first had to fetch her from the music school in Forst, where she sings in a Musical Project Choir for children.


Posted Jul 6, 2008, 9:58 pm
It's not the nicest view out of the window of Petra's bedroom, especially if the weather is so grey and rainy.


Posted Jul 26, 2008, 6:37 am
Germany played in the final of the WorldCup. Of course we watched this match too.

Petra made us some veggies, so we had something to nibble. She said, that this is much better than eating sweets.









The German team is really sad

But here comes a very happy Portugues team. They played a fantastic match.




A really sad face: Lehmann





The German "THANK YOU" to the organizers of the WorldCup 2008

Posted Jul 26, 2008, 6:57 am
Today everyone was rather nervous. It was a football (they call it football, but we say soccer) match between Turkey and Germany.

We weren't allowed to talk, because everyone wanted to listen to the reporter.




Posted Jul 26, 2008, 10:24 am
It was a beautiful day and so we pushed Petra to go out with us.
Because most of the guests haven't been on the Michaelsberg already, we drove there. I told Petra, that she forgot to take a photo of me and the chapel. So today she remembered this and here it is

It is a nature reserve area, so you see some signs, which show you interesting places or which tell you to take care of the nature.


We are still on the Michaelsberg, but this time we look behind us and see parts of the Kraichgau. It is famous for its wine yards.




This is the view to Obergrombach, another suburb of Bruchsal.

Driving down the hill, you see houses of Untergrombach.

On our way to Bruchsal we saw this road works and Petra told us, that they build a new railway bridge.


Posted Jul 26, 2008, 10:46 am
I asked Petra to take a photo of this street, which leads to "our" house. Ok, "our" house is just around the corner, but I like this street. Do you see the silvery car in front of this nice house in the far? Petra's home is just on the opposite site.


In her garden she has some lovely flowers.
These are called phlox.

And this is one of many butterfly bushes

Posted Jul 26, 2008, 10:50 am
Good bye you little Bullet.

You are such a lovely dog - yes, you crazy guy, even if you don't want to hear this. I know, that our food will be more safe now as you left the house, but we all are sad, because you brought a lot of fun in our house.


Posted Jul 28, 2008, 4:51 pm
I have been staring at this dog bowl since I have arrived in Johannesburg and Fi still hasn't taken the hint.... maybe I should howl?



Posted Aug 10, 2008, 11:10 pm
There are quite a few new ToyVoyagers visiting Fi, the children are on holiday, spring is definitely in the air... what better excuse for a picnic?

We all gathered outside in the garden, even Threadbear and Eloise joined us as it is so nice and warm today. Fi provided quite a nice spread...


NormaNikkers was very excited so find a strawberry that was almost the same size as her (guaranteed not genetically modified...hmmm....)


I made friends with one of the dogs...


Oh...groan...I ate too much! We all settled back to listen to a story...but it was so nice and warm, and our tummies were full, the birds were singing (you could hear them so nicely when the neighbour switched off his angle grinder!) and the blanket was soft...


...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...Hmm? Ah ...what? Me? Sleeping? No, I'm just looking up at how blue the sky is....really!


Posted Aug 10, 2008, 11:17 pm
One of the new TVs to arrive, is a little bunny called Gracy, she has come to help Fi and Threadbear sort out all the bears and soft toys that they have collected... and believe me when I tell you they need all the help they can get... what a mess in Teddy Bear Central... look...


Of course, we got roped in to help too. We had an 'Indaba' (Zulu word for a gathering or meeting) to try and decide the best way to go about sorting every thing out.


Synapse, being a brain cell, came up with a great solution. We open up the very large boxes and tape the bottoms. Then we stack the large bears at the bottom and fill up with medium size bears then the smaller bears, so they don't end up crushed after all the hard work Threadbear and Eloise have done sorting them out. We count them as they go in.

THEN, we write down the box number and the amount of bears in each box. Each box gets a little yellow sticker with the same information on it.


Once all the boxes are full, we stack them neatly to one side. Once they are out the way we can tackle the rest of the mess...

We all agreed this was a fine plan and got to work...we made very sure WE didn't end up in the boxes!!!!


Some of the bears still need ribbons and some of them need a bit of fixing up... like this poor bear who has bad cataracts...


Ah! Much better....


Fiona is sewing up some holes in a bear skin rug....


Oops! Not a rug! I helped her add stuffing while she held it open, that was so much fun! I was running all the way down the inside of her leg with stuffing in my mouth! The others were worried I’d get lost in there! Not a chance… I am a dog after all…


Almost done...last few stitches...


Doesn't look very happy about her renewal does she?


Oh, silly me. Pass the black wool please....


Well, we sorted out bears for HOURS, and we packed four of those huge boxes...BUT... we still weren't finished and we were tired so we called it a day.


Posted Aug 12, 2008, 12:40 am
Well. What do you know! No sorting out bears today, we are all in the car and heading...um, just where are we going?

To someone's house...oh, it's Vicki and her children. But we are not getting out the car, she is getting in her car! We are going on a joint expedition: two Moms, four kids and TWELVE ToyVoyagers! That should be fun...

Boring, we have been stuck in traffic for AGES due to road works, but here we are at the University of the Witwatersrand, wait, we are driving through, right up to the gate on the other side. Were we just taking a short cut? Nope, now I see where we are going...The Origins Centre


Now we can all truly say we have been on the African continent!


We stopped to read the plaque, on the way in.


It says: On Dec 23, 1924, Raymond Dart discovered the Taung skull, which proved humankind began in Africa. Using one of his wife’s knitting needles, he scraped through rock for 73 days to reveal the million year old face of an early human baby with a full set of milk teeth.
As you walk in to the museum, you go through a giant representation of the world made of hand woven wire. Wow, that must have taken the artist ages to complete...


Here is a welcome home for humans, guess they never expected us to visit!




Actually, our journey did not begin there. We kept bumping into a camera crew who were filming, they glared at us and we swiftly moved on! The room we missed was full of Stone Age flints and tools. It was cleverly called the 'journey to the microchip'. When humans first started using 'tools' they were rather crude and clumsily shaped big stones. As they progressed, the tools became smaller and more refined.

We also missed the skull collection, but we came back to it afterwards...


This is a replica of the famous Taung 'baby'.


And this is the even more famous 'Mrs Ples', who lived just up the road from Fi!


Here is her tag. It says:

STW% (Mrs Ples)
Approximately 2.5 Million Years old.
Found in 1947 by Robert Broom at Sterkfontein Caves, this fossil hominid was originally classified as PLESIATHROPUS TRANSVAALENSIS.  The individual was later incorporated into the species AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFRICANUS. Broom argued that the remains represented a middle aged female at the time of death. From this, the name 'Mrs Ples' from the original genus has stuck. Recently a number of researchers have argued that the specimen actually represents a male.





The next few sections were all about time lines of human development on the different continents and DNA...


The next section, the main focus of the museum, was about the San. You are probably more familiar with the term 'Bushman'. The story of the San is an incredibly sad one, and I am warning you now, you may need tissues...








There are a lot of untruths that people believed about the San...


This is the replica of a burial of a five year old girl. She was clearly loved, her parents have placed shells, necklaces and other items in the grave with her.






The San were noted for their rock art, a rich history of their lives, but not easily understood.




Some of the rock art is easy enough to understand, it was either engraved or painted on rocks, depending on the area it is found in. These are Elands, either engraved or painted..



This looks like a Wildebees.


Here is an original and a repaired reproduction.


This is another myth...




The San were one with nature, nomads that had no fixed property. they hunted when they were hungry, they travelled, following water. They had a rich spiritual heritage as well. They did what was known as a 'trance dance' (the oldest human ritual) where they danced themselves into a trance in order to speak with the gods, or make rain.

All of this was about to come to a brutal end, with the arrival of the European colonists...





The colonists, took the land as their own, the San were forced out. Starving, they hunted the animals that were now the 'property' of the European settlers. They were killed or arrested as a result. They were slaughtered in their thousands.

We are going to skip ahead a bit, to the exit of the museum, where the beautiful poems of the San are written on animal bones...





This one says: 'I am the wind that blows away the footprints of the dead...'


I can't remember their names, but there were two people, a lady and a gentleman, who realised that the San were being exterminated without leaving a written history behind. They got permission to have some prisoners brought to them to record their stories, to teach them the San language and to tell the stories of San history.

Read them, weep...










A British soldier had been sent to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho to find a Zulu King who had escaped from the British. When he reached Lesotho and saw how vast and mountainous it was, he realised that his task was impossible. He forgot about catching the errant Zulu as he discovered the San rock art in the area. He did a study on it, and got the remaining San to interpret the images that they portrayed. He published his findings in a document that was promptly forgotten by everyone.

Decades later, it was found and was the 'Rosetta stone' of San art, helping to unravel the secrets of the San paintings and engravings, as the few San that were left no longer drew on the rocks.


Okay, back to the main exhibit. We watched another short film (we had seen a few on the way through - bushmen hunting, the Trance Dance, rain making)


This is the story of a San hero. He was a chief who fought off the Boers. He handed himself over when he realised that his people were in danger. He was taken away to a prison in Pretoria on a train.


His people painted the story on the walls of the Makgabeng Shelter, and it is a rare depiction of trains in San art.



Another form of rock art also exists in South Africa, known as Khoe art. No one knows for sure who the artists were, but it is distinctly different from the San art. Whereas theirs was animals, people and mythical beasts, this is all geometrical shapes.





The museum exhibits now move on to Bantu rock art, but here is an interesting article on the Khoe and San if you care to read it.


Bantu art focuses more on initiation rites than story telling. (Initiation is the passage from childhood to adulthood)




This is a beaded figurine that is part of an initiation ceremony.


This one is part of a Northern Sotho male initiation ceremony.


It dates to the late 1800's. The crocodile was turned upside down and covered by a small thatch structure known as 'The Elephant". Food was placed in the crocodile and the initiates had to eat it without using their hands. The crocodile and the elephant are chiefly symbols. In this context they are to remind the boys of the role of the chief as provider and protector of his people.

The children were starting to get a little restless by now, luckily, in every few rooms there are computers that the children can play an interactive game on. They have to answer questions on each display and solve puzzles. The hardest one was moving blocks around to form the Khoe geometric pattern! We helped Natalie, as she was at a disadvantage, not being able to read! She managed to get the highest score....


One of the displays, was Perspex blocks with the names of all the tribes in South Africa (LOTS!)


When a light shone through them, the names were displayed on the floor...


Well that was the end of the museum...


But we stopped in the shop to have a look around...


Lots of 'recycled' craft, look:

Cleaning liquid buck...


Chip (crisp) packet bowl...


Soft drink can jewellery...


And this was pretty funny!


Well that was pretty interesting (and a bit sad). Maybe one day I will get to see more rock art in some of these other places...



Posted Sep 4, 2008, 12:21 am
We have been all sitting around the house lately not really doing much and we were all starting to get bored of reading books, and doing puzzles, so Fi packed a picnic bag and piled us all into the car. The children asked where we were going and she said -"wait till we get there then you'll see!" Ooohhh ! I do like surprises...

It wasn't a very long journey, about 10 or 15 minutes. None of us needed to read what the sign board said, we could tell by the picture!


We stopped at the ticket office to get our tickets and a map - that was for the children to look at; Fi said the place wasn't that big that you needed a map... We also bought some jelly beans and postcards (of course - what else?). Then we stopped at the loo because you can't get out the car for a pee unless you want to be eaten for lunch. That made me nervous and I had to go back in for another little tinkle.

Fi said we would not see anything from the front seat so she put us on the dash board and told us not to mess about - as if!


Oops... NormaNikkers got so excited she fell off... Fi gave her a cross look and said that we had to calm down or we would be in serious trouble. The two children in the back laughed hysterically, because that's what they usually get told.


You might have heard about all the terrible fires across South Africa lately. In winter it is so dry that the grass catches fire so easily; add a strong wind and it is a recipe for disaster. Quite a large part of the Lion Park was burned, luckily this happened before all the wind started or the animals would have been trapped. The fire was stopped as it could not cross the dirt road; in high winds that is no obstacle at all. You can see the new grass is growing through already and it must be very sweet and tender; those greedy buck never lifted their heads once the whole time we watched them.


This zebra was standing right next to the road!


Wait! I need a photo taken with it...


Oh, they are so far away I can hardly see them...looks like sable antelope and zebra...


And the wildebeest are so far away you can barely see them either.
I suppose the lions will be even harder to see...


Talking of which! There are strict rules: windows are NOT allowed to be opened. You have to stay IN your car at all times. Do not feed the TOYS to the lions. Okay, I made the last one up...but don't okay?


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! THAT is the king of the beasts? No, no,no! That is a giant pussycat!


And um....HE would be the king of the beasts...thank goodness he is sound asleep...shhhh! Don't wake him up...


Okay, now we sat back and watched an African soap opera unfold:

That is it! I have had enough! I am going to find another pride of lions to live with - you all take me for granted!


Yes, especially you Lioninna! I could get my claws out and have a real cat fight but I just couldn't be BOTHERED!


What are you lot looking at?


I am NEVER going back. NEVER! They can beg, they can plead, it is too LATE!


We huddled together hoping she would not spot us... Synapse slithered off the dashboard and took NormaNikkers with him...


Just then there was a little whimper...then a wail MOM! Where are you going? Come BACK...


That of course was too much for her... her maternal instincts kicked in and she turned back. Synapse stayed on the dash but so flat and heavily camouflaged that he may as well have stayed on the seat!


Oh dear... I sense trouble... look who just got up to see what was going on.


Just what do you think you are doing!? How dare you leave my pride without my permission? I am the KING!!!!

Ummm...I'll never do it again...now just let me get to my baby


Mom? Where did you go? Can I go too? Pleeeeeease? Can I have rollerblades and a skateboard? Huh? Can I? Mom! I'm talking to you...


Then we drove on to the next camp. We were playing a game to see who could spot the lions first. NormaNikkers nearly wet herself with excitement when she spotted them.


Boring, they are asleep...


We started driving by.... she was quite sound asleep...Oh hey! These are WHITE lions!


Oops, our squeals woke him up....


Time to move on I think.... may I have some jellybeans?

We stopped at the picnic area because we were all feeling pretty peckish by now.
We found a table under a tree because it was also very hot.

And then we had a visitor.


She got REAL close...


Shane showed us that she was very gentle.


So I got a little closer to meet her.


Well that's not something you do everyday!

Time for lunch, oh my head is burning I need a hat. Oh thanks Fi! Now, what is there to eat? Boiled eggs, cheese sarmies (sandwiches), fruit, crisps and Swiss roll... where do I start?


This is an African Coral tree. They bloom at this time of the year. The leaves only grow a little later so the red looks quite spectacular against the blue sky. There is one of these trees on every block, such a nice way to end winter...


Well lunch was good! Time to see the other animals in the enclosures. Most of them are hiding because of the heat; mid day is not the right time to look for animals!

But she is cooling down on top of her hutch... she acknowledged our presence with a flick of her tail but she wouldn't turn around. Come on cheetah, smile for the camera!


We all stayed away from the ostrich!


And we wisely stayed away from feeding the giraffe... the children's arms were covered in slobber eeeeuuuwww!


They had to wash their arms three times to get it off!

Hmm what does this say?  Lion cubs... yadda, yadda, yadda entrance yad...what? Surely you are NOT taking us in there!?


Oh! So sweet... so sleepy.... lets leave them that way shall we?



Well that's more excitement than I can handle in one day... time to head home and have a nap!


Posted Sep 4, 2008, 8:42 pm
On Friday evening Fi and her family were off to their monthly wine tasting /social evening and for some strange reason she took me with. I could not understand why until we got there.

She handed over her brother-in-laws post to him and ME! He looked as puzzled as me, so she said "meet Bullet, he wants to meet another bulldog. Your sister has a bulldog...." Ha ha ha...No beating around the bush with her! So being a good boy (or scared of Fi - more than likely!) that is just what he did.

Meet Mvubu. Mvubu means hippo...


He gave me a GOOD sniff...


..and another one just to double check...


...declared me OKAY...


... and passed out!


Ha ha ha! He is a LOT like me, I just slobber less.


Posted Sep 9, 2008, 10:10 pm
Well here we are in the car again! Fi and Vicki decided to take us to Museum Africa so see what it was all about...


Wow! It is pretty huge in here, three open plan floors... the building used to be a fruit and vegetable market in the Old Days (you know, when Fi was a kid!)

Well we found some old suit cases, guess we are going on a journey...


The Museum has all sorts of interesting thinks about South Africa on display, like clothing from the REALLY old days (ie. even BEFORE Fi!) like this...


Here is what it says about that display:


There is a huge hall dedicated to the 'Treason trial' that was held in the 1960s at the height of Apartheid. There are pictures of all the accused. One of the most famous:

Nelson Mandela


This is what he said about it in his book...



Each of the accused has a little red book under their photo that people can write comments in... Mandela's is handled so much that it is falling apart... it is filled with words of love and admiration.


There was a lot more to that section but it was all very political so I won't bore you with it.

Next up: life in Johannesburg, before it was Johannesburg...


This is a replica of an Iron Age Tswana house, impressive...but hey they were smart enough to smelt iron (iron melts at 1100°C / 2012°F) over half a century ago!


This is what the smelt looked like, it was made from mud. It was quite a mission to melt the iron and required the efforts of at least ten people just to make one spear blade. It was always done outside the village because it was considered spiritual and mystical.


From the Iron Age to the Gold age! Johannesburg is a gold mining town, still to this day and the mines go down several kilometres/miles.

The managers lived in fancy big houses and ruled with an iron fist. (we are talking late 1800’s to early 1900’s)


The mine workers lived like this...



Pretty shocking, hmmm? They worked long hours in terrible conditions, way underground, then came up and lived in quarters that were almost as cramped as the mines. They were not allowed to leave the property without a 'pass'. Because the miners came from so many different tribes and even other countries, and the bosses all spoke English or Afrikaans - they had to develop a new language called Funigalore so they could understand each other. It is still spoken in the mines today.

Also around this time, shanty towns were developing. One of these was called Sofiatown - it was the birthplace of modern South African music. Sofiatown was raised to the ground; all of the people who lived there were forcefully evicted, to make way for new developments.


Here we are in a replica of a Sofiatown Shebeen (house where alcohol is sold illegally)



This is the back room - see how it is lined with cardboard? This is still how it is done today, I'll show you in a bit...


This is what the outside would have looked like...


Then we moved on to a section which shows you how the shacks look today. THIS is how MILLIONS of people live in this country; often there is no running water or electricity.

The shack is built from 'found' items, usually corrugated sheet metal. Sometimes it is plastered with mud or old boards. It is then lined with cardboard from packaging boxes for insulation. Sometimes this is decorated with 'wallpaper' - old newspaper, adverts, sheets of uncut food canning labels... Cooking is done on a primus stove (fuelled by paraffin). These shacks are TINY and Fi felt very claustrophobic in them. Often you will find the whole place crowded with people living in there...






The good news is that government is (very slowly) building houses for these people, with running water, electricity and other amenities. There is a huge, huge housing project just up the road from Fi called Cosmo City - proof that it is happening.

Now I am sure you have heard of Ghandi (kind of the Nelson Mandela of his day...)


Well he lived in Johannesburg for a while, and the terrible suffering he witnessed and suffered from led him to start a movement for peace, called Satyagraha, which had a massive influence in India, the USA (with the African American Civil Rights movement) and locally.


There were a lot of other exhibits but we were running out of time as it was a long journey back to fetch children from school. Also housed in the museum, is another museum! Called the BenSusan Museum of photography - Fi said that was for another day, but she did let us have a photo taken...


Here we all are signing the visitor’s book...




Posted Sep 9, 2008, 10:42 pm
Well, after we left the museum, we went across the road to the Gauteng Tourist Information Centre (Gauteng is the province that Johannesburg is in).

Fi went to pick up some brochures of nice places to take ToyVoyagers...

Look who had also popped in! Hi Madiba! (Madiba is the nick name Mandela is known as in South Africa)


And that is the president, Thabo Mbeki, in the middle photo.



Posted Sep 10, 2008, 11:43 pm
Threadbear and Eloise managed to keep a secret from us all until the last minute...

We thought we were just helping keep all the bears in order for a group photo before they left for the Teddy Bear Clinic...


There was much giggling and chatting as everyone jostled for good positions. Threadbear eventually managed to get them all to calm down and then made an announcement.

He welcomed all the guests and thanked them for travelling from both near and far to help me him on his quest. The he said that he had some good news, he and Eloise had recently gotten engaged! There was a ripple of excitement through the crowd and a few whistles and cheers from the rowdy section...”but”, he said, “we wanted all of you to be guests at our wedding before you leave for the Teddy Bear Clinic so... if you look at the end of the aisle, you will see the most beautiful, kind hearted bear I have ever laid eyes on...”

There was a very loud gasp as we all realised that we were all at their wedding!


Buttons walked Eloise down the aisle to give her away, Pinky Bearand Fiona were bridesmaids. Hector did the honours of best man.


I could tell how happy Threadbear was as she walked closer and closer...


The officiating bear asked who gave the bride away, and Buttons stepped forward to do the honours.


Then they exchanged vows...


Eloise said 'I do'…and Threadbear said 'I do'. (I heard a few sniffles in the crowd...)

The ring bear-er passed over the ring... well really it was a bracelet as bears have paws not fingers...


The crowd gave a collective sigh...


Then it was time for him to kiss the bride!


Oh….that was lovely!


They walked back down the aisle as bear and wife...


We showered them with petals...


Oh that was amazing! Everyone congratulated them
We went inside to have some wedding cake - Vicki brought a chocolate cake because that is way nicer than fruit cake....


The bears preferred to have honey and large pots of it were provided. We had a whale of a party, we danced and chatted most of the night away...it was quite a whirlwind of an evening.

Soon, however it was time for them to leave. They climbed in the car...we had snuck out to decorate it…


We gathered around to wave them off.


Eloise threw back her bouquet...


Pinky Bear caught it!!!


And they were off...sigh…that was so romantic…one day it will be me getting married.



Posted Sep 14, 2008, 8:16 pm
Fi said she was taking NormaNikkers somewhere really special today and that we could go with, so in the car we got…


We were heading for the Magaliesburg, a mountain range just past Johannesburg.


After a long winding drive through the beautiful hills of the Magaliesburg, and an unintentional detour (yep, we got a little lost), we stopped to turn right...now what does this mean?


This is looking very interesting...




Oh we seem to be going into the woods...lots of little streams and bridges and woven sticks...Norma went crazy!


LOOK! Little people! I wonder if there are any more of them?


Trust her to find them!


We decided to stop off for a drink and a snack.... Norma was way too excited she went to go explore...Bye! We’ll save you some milkshake...maybe...


When she came back she told us we had to have a little look in the room full of fairies…we were a bit big to sit amongst them, so if you want to see more have a look at her travelog.


She found another little house...


...with some family members inside!


Look what we saw in the woods...pretty hmm?


Norma went inside the restaurant, but it was a bit busy to take photos.
She said it was so cute in there! Lots of little nooks and crannies. Some rooms were only big enough for two people and some were big enough for twenty or more. There was a very large upstairs, open air part but it was rather full so she never went for a look. Some of the doors were so tiny Fi had to hold her breath to squeeze through!

The gardens outside were very pretty too, but it has only just turned spring. I am sure in summer it is a lot greener and more lush.


Ahh, what a dreamy place...Norma hasn't stopped talking about it! We should have maybe left her behind....



Posted Oct 1, 2008, 8:35 am
Fi has silkworms and we are all completely fascinated by them!
They get fed mulberry leaves several times a day (there are so many of them the leaves never last long!) and they are getting bigger and bigger - I can't believe how fast they grow!


Posted Oct 1, 2008, 9:11 am
Today was Heritage Day in South Africa. It is a National Holiday. As well as that, someone decided it would be a good idea to make it National Braai Day too.

A BRAAI is the South African name for a barbeque. Traditionally it is the only meal most men will 'cook' (they do the meat, the important bit!)

Fi had friends around for the day, so she made it a bit more special. It was a lovely sunny day so she set the table outside under the silver birch trees which have lovely new green leaves...


The smell wafting over was mouth watering!


Hmmm...oh...oh...oh... I am trying not to drool! Fi's husband let us have a smell of a pork chop...


Oooooohhhh! And he let me have a little taste!


Fi made some easy mielie bread. (Mielie is corn/maize)


1 can of creamed corn
1 small packet self raising flour (500g)
1 can evaporated milk
Pinch of salt

Mix it all up, pop it in a loaf pan and bake at 180°C (350°f) for an hour.

Delicious warm with fresh butter...I had a whole slice!

There were also baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread - the table was groaning... and after a while so was I because I ate too much!


Posted Oct 1, 2008, 9:27 am
Wow! Look how fat the silkworms have grown!



Posted Oct 1, 2008, 10:17 am
Silkworm update!

This lazy lot are still eating and eating and growing and growing...


But this one is spinning a cocoon!


This one has also started spinning - see how fat she is?


None of them would spin so Fi moved them into other boxes so they were less over crowded as they like to have a nice secluded spot which is impossible if you share one box with 63 other silkworms!

As soon as they were moved, they started spinning like mad...


Posted Oct 1, 2008, 11:53 am
Fi and her friend Alison set out for a long trip with me on board....


Did I mention it was a long trip? We were headed for the North West Province to a place called Happy Yappers which is an animal sanctuary. There are donkeys, pigs, cats and DOGS, DOGS, DOGS!

Fi and Alison were taking over bags of old cards and scrapbook papers and other crafty bits for the lady that runs the place. She makes cards to raise a bit of extra funding and also as an advertisement for the sanctuary.


It is run by a lady named Gay Freeborough, who rescues animals that have been neglected in terribly inhumane manners, some of the dogs are on deaths door when she gets them. She gives them food, medication, a home and more love than I ever though one person was ever capable of. Even the ugly dogs and my goodness, I have never seen such a sight in my life...Fi is not going to show you those dogs, we are going to keep this a happy update.

The sanctuary is run entirely on donations as Gay and her husband have a full time job looking after the animals. There are over 400 dogs on the property. Amazingly enough, she knows the names and history of EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL on the plot!!!!

All of the dogs are in pens. As finances allow, cement huts are built for the dogs (they tend to chew up the wooden ones!) and new pens are always being built.


The newer dogs are all still thin looking, but the dogs that have been around are a healthy size and their coats gleam.


I caused quite a stir amongst this lot!



Unlike the animal rescue centres like the SPCA, the dogs have a lot of space and they bark happily, instead of that pitiful whining.

Even this lot (the motley crew, who have been treated for mange, but will never look the same again...)


Even the pigs seemed quite content.


These cute little pups are ready to go to their new homes.


Oh, they are so sweet!


Sorry pups, I have to turn my back on you - I just can't take you home as much as I want to...


We had better leave now before we end up with extra passengers in the car!


Posted Oct 20, 2008, 10:59 am
Todays the day! Time  for Gracy to take the toys and distribute them amongst the children's clinics... she asked if we would go with to help her.

Fi ran up to the Teddy Bear Clinic first to borrow a trolley as we had lots of boxes.


This was the crew: me, Threadbear, Hector, Gracy and NormaNikkers.


Our first stop was Sunshine Centre. We gave them two boxes of soft toys that they will distribute as Christmas presents.


Our second stop was the Thusanani Children's Foundation (they were so excited to hear about us that they have signed up on the ToyVoyager website!)

We gave then two boxes of soft toys too...


We also dropped another box off at the Bigshoes Clinic.

Our last stop for donating soft toys was The Toy Library this was the very first charity Fi ever collected toys for.

There were some children who were quite excited to see us but Fi never took photos of them.



Our last stop was the Teddy Bear Clinic to drop off some curtains, late comer bears and the trolley we borrowed!

That's her job done, she will be going home soon...wonder when I'll be going to Vicki?

Posted Oct 20, 2008, 12:52 pm
Fi and Alison decided to help The Happy Yappers along by making them some Christmas cards to sell - I got stuck in, no not literally!


Whew, we made a lot... we just need some baggies to put them in and to drop them off.



Posted Oct 20, 2008, 1:39 pm
Last night we had friends around for dinner and decided that it was high time we went out into the country for a picnic and some relaxation.

So this morning Fi ran around like mad - shops only open at 9am on a Sunday - buying salad ingredients and cold drinks. At 10 am, we met up with the friends and were on our way. I thought we were in for a long trip but it only took us a bout 20 minutes, maybe half an hour, till we reached our destination.

It was a place called Hennops Pride in the Hennops River Valley. You can camp there or just do a day trip. There are 4 x 4 trails if you are interested and plenty of swimming pools.

We found a nice spot to sit, unloaded the TON of supplies and wandered down to the river to have a look....

This is the Hennops River....and me in the middle of it!


That was fun! I found a really cool tree to climb and called the others to join me...



Then we lay around reading for a bit, swam in the pool, walked about in the veld looking for interesting things with the kids... African land snails, centipedes and eeek! Scorpions!

We came back after the scorpions and saw that lunch was almost ready...


There was also potato salad, regular salad and Portuguese bread with homemade jam...yummy...and to top it all off...ice cream!

Then it was time to lie around doing nothing for a bit....


After all that laziness, one of the dads decided to take a walk up the hills with the children... it was so dry... and the grass had been burned so their feet were pitch black when they got back! We wisely just climbed another tree to watch them.


Then it was time for another swim then we packed up and went home - all vowing that we would do that more often!


Posted Nov 2, 2008, 7:30 pm
Fi's friend Amanda was off to the Pilanesberg National Park and said she was happy to take one ToyVoyager with her. We played heads and tails and I won the toss! Though I think the others were a bit scared when they heard it was located on an extinct volcano....

It wasn't too long a trip before we got there. Here we are!


We stayed in a tent…


…that had wooden floors, real beds and a bathroom! I can camp like this...no problem!


Once we had unpacked all our stuff, we went off on a game drive. Can you spot the zebra? Even with their black and white stripes they are well hidden in the long grass.


Gnu! No, I didn't sneeze! That's the name of the animals behind me...


Here's a busy little dung beetle. The local name for a dung beetle is a tok tokkie (which is the knocking noise they make)


Then we saw some rhino...


We stopped for lunch and a few giraffe wandered over. They are so curious...always need to know what is happening.


When we got back to the tent that evening I was really hot so I asked for the fan to be switched on.


...and I may have had a cold beer...


I had such a good sleep; I thought camping meant you had to rough it, not around here!


We saw some more giraffe in the morning.


It was really, really hot - so we went for a swim in the pool.


These are Impala.


Hippo! We stayed well away from them; they are very dangerous and cranky.


Piggies! Oh okay, warthogs....


The dam looks so inviting on such a hot day, but it is full of things with sharp teeth!


It is so nice and peaceful out here. It could do with a little rain though.


That was another busy day. Here we are back at the tent.


Ooh, that bed is calling my name - the heat makes you so tired.


Time to head back to Jo'burg. We have one last goodbye before we get in the car.


Posted Nov 2, 2008, 7:41 pm
Amanda had planned a pirate party for the children as it was mid-term break. I helped her set up while we waited for Fi to arrive with her children and the other TVs.

In the meantime, back at Fi's house, the others were helping her get food ready. Good hearty pirate grub...

Here is NormaNikkers seeing to the octopus...yummy!


...and a flotilla of pirate ships...


Yo ho ho! A band of scurvy sea dogs!


All aboard and we'll sail the seven seas...


This lot sure know how to have fun... after an afternoon of eating and swimming, and eating some more - we headed back to Fi's place.  It is always good to go home.


Posted Nov 2, 2008, 8:55 pm
...ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night....

Tonight is Halloween, and although it is not traditionally celebrated in South Africa there are a few parties going on...one of them in this very haunted house!

A skeleton hangs from the door, bats hang from the ceilings and cover the walls, cob webs cover every surface. The guests are Jack 'O Lanterns and demons...


....chain rattling ghosts and wicked witches (Wicked! Stop grinning Norma!)


The tables are littered with bones, and rats scurry past...


Ohhhhh.....what a Haunted House this is......


Bubble, bubble toil and trouble...the disgusting smell of entrails and tumours fills the already rancid air (fortunately they taste just like spaghetti and meat balls - I'm starving!)


Help...help....help....cries a ghost trapped in the cobwebs....


Beware the haunted sewing machine...the devil steals your souls and sews them into his cape......mwah ha ha......


What? Of course I'll be able to sleep tonight... maybe you should leave the light on though....


Posted Nov 4, 2008, 3:11 pm
Well, Fi says it is time for me to go and visit Vicki so she'll be dropping me off at Vicki's house tomorrow morning. Hmmm, wonder if I can wear my Halloween costume and give her a fright... ha ha ha...



Posted Dec 28, 2008, 5:40 pm
Well things have been really slow around here. Fi dropped me off and everybody in this house has been studying and writing exams and it has been a little boring but look what I was welcomed with?!!


And this...


Vicki buys these ostrich bones for her dogs and I was treated to one too! Whew! This will take some chewing!!

I am also allowed to share Lulu's bed, lucky for me, the old Fox Terrier cross Jack Russel doesn't mind!


Posted Dec 28, 2008, 7:23 pm
Today we visited a place called Aloe Ridge in an area called The Cradle of Humankind.



It is a Game Lodge with a hotel and conference facilities. We went for breakfast.


Yoghurt and peaches? Not for me thanks!!


We watched the eagles circling above, looking for their breakfast...
I hid, didn't fancy being someone else's breakfast!


It was soooo hot, we didn't get to see any wild game, except for the zebras who were very tame, and thirsty (!) and came right up to the swimming pool to drink.


There were warning signs all over the place...





The valley below the restaurant was beautiful and Chokito was brave enough to lean over and look. I am not crazy about heights.


We weren't lucky enough to see any other animals but Ken said it was due to the heat, they prefer to stay in the cool shade on days like this.

On the way home we drove passed the squatter camp.




Posted Dec 29, 2008, 12:42 pm
Today we started with decorating the Christmas tree. We were all helping and there was a lot of laughter and fun going on.


First the lights and then the baubles went on.


We also helped bake Greek Christmas cookies called 'kourabiedes'.



Posted Dec 29, 2008, 12:52 pm
Here we are sitting at the completed Christmas tree, we are wishing Migui+Gui farewell as they are on their way back home.




Posted Dec 29, 2008, 1:10 pm
Wooohooo! Santa (or Father Christmas, as he is also known in South Africa) had arrived!! Look at all these presents!



We opened presents for some time...


..had yummy coffee and croissants and look at the beautiful painting Nicholas made for Vicki!


Ken made delicious prawns for dinner. It was sooo hot here that we all decided to have supper,when it was cooler, instead of lunch.


We sat on the patio eating dinner by candle light. It was a lovely balmy evening and quite a different Christmas to one with snow!