Friday 26 March 2010

Whale Whispers



When I was discharged from hospital in Cape Town after The Big Fright with jelly legs and strict instructions to rest up until I was allowed to fly back to England, I would spend lazy zen-like days gazing out to sea from my splendid eyrie above the rocks in Bantry Bay.  One morning, while I was idly watching a gull soar and dip in graceful circles against the flawless blue of an African sky,  something dark caught my eye slightly further out to sea.  At first I thought it was a boat silhouetted against the glitter light of the sea.  Then it lifted its distinctive tail and waved.  Waved right at me - of that I am certain. A Southern Right whale had come into Table Bay in early March…..especially for me.   She stayed out there blowing and tumbling and waving for almost an hour.  Three or four boats sailing in the bay spotted her and carefully came in for a closer look.  A final wave and a blow to us all and she was gone.

Just after she disappeared, my cell phone rang.  It was our daughter, Georgie, calling from England to check how I was doing.  I told her with breathless excitement about the Southern Right just out in the bay..…right slap bang in my line of vision.  “That was Fifa and G’Pa,” she replied calmly and firmly.  “They are sending a message of love and encouragement to you, Mama.”  Fifa and G’Pa are the names the then 14 month-old  Georgie had given my mother and father and, yes, I’m sure she was absolutely right.  “Keep on keeping on, darling girl,” was their message.

Now I’m going to ask you all a big favour by urging you to also keep on keeping on by doing something proactive - no matter how tiny -to help conserve the oceans both for ourselves and for future generations.

I recently watched, with stunned horror, a documentary called The End of the Line about the crisis in the world’s fish stocks and the future of marine life.  Filmed around the world – from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska to the Tokyo fish markets –  The End of the Line truly is a wake-up call to the world. The gruelling truth  is that if fishing continues in the mostly unsustainable manner in which it does today, there will be no more fish in the sea by 2048. A chilling thought.

Jamie.two oceans.ct Our grandson, James, gazes in wonder at life under the sea (Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town 2010)

This film should be compulsory viewing for everyone – particularly for those who enjoy eating fish and for those who want to preserve the beauty and sea life of our oceans. Imagine – no more sushi or freshly caught fish grilled over the coals……and swimming in seas full of jelly fish is just no fun! I simply cannot imagine a world without fish, but if things continue at today’s speed, it will be a reality in our lifetime.

turkey.June09 057Seabream, Funchal  Fish Market – Madeira 2009

A friend on her annual family summer holidays in the Finnish Archipelago, recently told me that it had really stuck them how the impact that overfishing has had in the Baltic – no more fishing off the pier because the waters are empty, and there were many days when they couldn’t swim because of the algae blooms in the water.

zan30Waiting for the catch – Zanzibar, April 2008

Globally there is mass unemployment due to unsustainable fishing. Take for example the traditional fishing villages on the Senegalese coast, where huge international trawlers sweep kilometres of ocean at a time, decimating the coral reefs and throwing away much of their unwanted dead catch back into the sea. We have all seen photos of many of those unemployed local fishermen in the papers – boatloads of them crossing the Med to try and find work in Europe.

sey.65.feb10 Sunset Beach, Mahé, Seychelles – February 2010

When Guy and I were in the entrancing Seychelles in February, we were appalled to see the harbour on Mahé chock full of enormous Japanese owned Tuna Trawlers which towered menacingly over the colourful local fishing boats.  This must surely mean that these island jewels in the middle of the Indian Ocean could face the same fate as places such as Senegal or the Finnish Archipelago.

Struisbaai harbour, Cape Agulhas, South Africa - February 2010 Fishing boats in Struisbaai Harbour – Cape Agulhas, South Africa 2010

It really is within our power to do something about this - and I’m absolutely sure many of you already do:

  • Only buy fish from sustainable sources – always ask your fishmonger/supermarket fish counter for fish which has been sustainably caught. The supermarkets are cottoning on - look for the MSC logo or Good Catch label on the packet.
  • Don’t eat endangered fish which many restaurants still serve – bluefin tuna for example is on the same endangered list as are the panda and the tiger – and I’ll bet you wouldn’t dream of eating either of those!
  • Try and avoid farmed fish, because farmed fish need 5kg of fish meal (from generally trawled fish) for every 1kg of fish produced!


If we all act now and spread the sustainable word, then hopefully everyone will still be swimming in beautiful oceans full of fish in 2048 and our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy the pleasures of the watery world.

Alex.Goa Alex – Goa 2008

Monday 22 March 2010

How did it get so late so soon? One World Draw.


`Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!'

White_Rabbit_by_kyoht 2


Life is a race, where some succeed,

While others are beginning;

'Tis luck, at times, at others, speed,

That gives an early winning.

But, if you chance to fall behind,

Ne'er slacken your endeavour;

Just keep this wholesome truth in mind:

'Tis better late than never!

~ John Dyer


Huge apologies for being so late in announcing the door prize winner of my London Twilight painting for the One World, One Heart Giveaway.  Life – quite literally – got in the way!  I used the Random Draw Generator and after a rumble and a roll and a twist and a twirl  it came up with #19 at the top of the list.  That’s you Tristan Robin Blakeman of Enchanted Revelry – high fives all round!  I’ll have the picture in the post for you just as soon as you email me your snail mail addy.  

Big warm hugs to everyone for their absolutely wonderful comments and for entering the spirit of One World, One Heart with such gusto.  Wish you could have ALL won the painting. 

Love, love,

T xx



Friday 19 March 2010

The Tip of Africa - Cape Agulhas


lighthous, l'agulhas 2010

Lighthouse Reflections – L’ Agulhas, Western Cape – February 2010

In that happy place where everything seemed so simple and obvious, my inability to face up to my condition was breathtakingly stupid. It came back to kiss me on the ass big time! Serves me right for being in such idiotic denial!  Hey, but at least I was home…. back in my beloved Africa –  and here, on this glorious sunny day in the L’Agulhas lighthouse at the very tip of the continent where two mighty oceans meet -  just a week or so away from The Big Scare.

Cape Agulhas is the official point at which the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean and the strong Aghulhas current of the Indian Ocean meet. Technically speaking it is the southernmost point in the continent of Africa, but it is not as well known or, some say, as beautiful as the Cape of Good Hope.  I, however, delighted in its wild and rugged beauty the day we visited from our gorgeous base in the Hemel and Aarde Valley in the Cape Overberg.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Africa Adieu, Hambe Kahle Renee & Illustration Friday - ‘subterranean’


one man band


We must declare ourselves, become known; allow the world to discover this subterranean life of ours which connects kings and farm boys, artists and clerks. Let them see that the important thing is not the object of love, but the emotion itself.

Gore Vidal


Hello again, dear bloggy friends.    I got back to Norfolk on Thursday after the most glorious, amazing, astonishing heaven and earth birthday holiday you could ever imagine in the Seychelles and my beloved Africa.  I did however get a bit side-tracked towards the end of our month away by an almighty collapse which had me spending several days in the ICU at Panorama Hospital in Cape Town. Absolutely world class doctors and nurses who saved me from popping off this mortal coil – how lucky am I? Then four days of rest and recuperation overlooking breathtaking views of the sea, the sky - and a whale who came to say hello – before being cleared for take-off.  Escorted like a movie star back to Englando with nurse and lots of energizing oxygen. Will catch up with everyone when I stop wobbling in a day or so. Love, love, love to you all.

crested crane.hemel&aardeCrowned Crane in flight ~ Hemel & Aarde valley, Cape Overberg ~ February 2010

It was with great sadness and shock that I learned on my return that a very special  blog friend, Renee of Circling My Head had died after an enormously courageous fight against Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It was in so many ways that Renee’s life enriched ours.  I thank her for her love and friendship, for her intelligence and poise, for her vibrant irreverence and wit – and especially  for her courage which was an inspiration to us all.  Renee was, and will always remain a legend.  I miss you so much darling sisterfriend  - and I reach out across that sky we share and send warm  love to your precious family in this time of their pain.

Ah, the company of birds

I loved and cherished on earth

Now, freed of flesh we fly

Together, a flock of beating wings,

I am as light, as feathery,

As gone from gravity we soar

In heavenly circles.

Sasha Moorsom (1931-1993)

Kwaheri, Renee