Friday, June 29, 2012


MAXMOM here...

Dear friends,
I've been having a bit of fun this week ...
I've basically been trying out the software for "Bookblurb" - an online self-publishing service.
  My idea was to create a coffee-table-type book, for my own 'private' purposes, in order to record our recent excursion to Shibula lodge.  We had such a fabulous time (as you know) and I wanted to preserve the memory.
Well the end result is not bad, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Since this book is comprised of a large number of photographs, it is extremely pricey, and not intended as a commercial venture.  The purpose in this post is merely to share my project with you - not to necessarily entice you to buy it,(it's really expensive)
(Obviously you are welcome to buy it - if you so choose)
I can't wait to get my should arrive here in South Africa around the 27th July.
Take a look above or 
on this link:
Have a wonderful, happy weekend.
Sending lotsaluv

Sunday, June 24, 2012


MAXMOM here...
It's been a hectic week to say the least!

The various blogposts which featured "OUR AFRICAN SAFARI" took me hours to design. One could ask "Why?" but I simply had to record and share our amazing adventure at Shibula lodge in the North West Province of South Africa. It was an adventure of a lifetime!

If you happened to have missed these special series of posts, then please refer to the sidebar of this blog for various links. I really am proud of them and have tried to offer you a glimpse of the beauty and inspiration which is so prevalent in my country, so please don't miss them. For the next few days, however, I plan to keep things simple.

Life at home chugs along...all the animals are well and happy. Toby remains the "Goofball" of the household - wrapping visitors up in blankets and lying on his back with his paws in the air.  He is the most beautiful, loveable and companionable Golden Retriever - a true 
"Sprinkling of Maxdog" He delights and entertains me constantly.

"Tot", the guinea-pig finally found his "Forever home" and moved out on Friday.  My heart was so sad for a while (and I did shed a tear or two) but I am assured that he has moved to a really loving home - with two young children -who are going to shower him with all the love they can muster. I am certain that "Tot" is going to be well cared for and be very happy indeed.  Good-bye sweet little piggy. I really enjoyed your company.  Live long and happy!

This past week has seen another MAXDOG review - this time in the South African edition of 

"Cesar's way magazine "

 (Above: Take note of ANOTHER give-away of a copy of MAXDOG)

 Although I am still far from breaking even with this book, I feel blessed that the reviews and feedback have been excellent.  For my international readers, a reminder:

 MAXDOG is available on Amazon.  Click HERE.

I was really delighted to see the photograph of Maxdog arriving at Ayeesha's home in Pakistan.  For those who may remember, this was part of a 'give-away' to a young woman whose heart for animals echoes our own. I am also happy to hear that Tweedles (in Oregon) has also received her give-away copy of Maxdog. (She has written to me to tell me that she already has her nose deep in the book :) ) Tweedles also shares my deep love for the world and its animals and I am so happy my book is in her paws. To both of these friends - I hope that my book touches you in the same way as Max touched my life. Enjoy.

Besides the weather turning really chilly at this side of the world, there is no more news except to say:

Thank you, friends, for your love and support .  The blogging world is an amazing place - a real cyber-support group!

 My thoughts also go to those sweet friends who have recently lost their animal companions.  May you comforted by the support and love of your friends in cyberspace.

Sending lotsaluv to you all and wishing you a wonderful, week...
Live life to the Max!

Friday, June 22, 2012


MAXMOM here...


ead about "DAY 1  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Morning)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Evening)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Morning)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Evening)  HERE
***Read about "DAY 4 - (Evening) HERE


DAY 5 (Our final day)

I set my alarm for 5.30am so that I can enjoy a long, hot shower, pack my bags and get ready.  We've had an absolutely fantastic week and it's our final day. The plan is to get in a last game drive, return for breakfast and then be ready to be transported back to the main gate.  I'm somewhat melancholic about leaving the bush behind.  This is the home of my soul.

After a quick shower, I dry off my hair and get dressed.  The "Boss" is also up early and makes us both a cup of tea.  We get our wake-up call at 6am, but we're already ready and dressed.  The Baboons on the cliff-side are having their last squabbles of the night.  Soon the sun will be up and they will become nomads - searching for food and warding off danger in the open landscape of Welgevonden Game reserve.  We make our way to the reception's deck to enjoy pre-drive rusks (a South African favourite) and coffee.

There's only one other couple joining us this morning.  Soon we're ready to enjoy what Ranger Sean is going to show us.  He wants to take a different route this morning. 

The countryside is frosty in the early morning light.  He edges the vehicle through a small stream.  Long grass and spider-webs glisten in the dawn.  I am always enthralled at the diversity of grasses in the field.

The first rays of sunrise start to appear over the horizon.  The landscape is breathtaking although there doesn't seem to be many animals in this area.
 A lone wildebeest comes prancing through the grass.  We stop to watch him.  So stops to watch us too.  His confidence soon returns and he walks across our path.  He's a 'blue' wildebeest and his fur glistens. For the first time in my life I consider that a wildebeest may, indeed, be considered beautiful.

On the plain, we see more wildebeest - grazing contentedly.  There are a few babies in the herd and their horns are short and straight - unlike their parents with their fashionable curls. 

Down the valley again, we suddenly stop.  Sean points out the Rhino track on the dusty road. 

They're must be nearby and we scan the fields for a glimpse of them.  A Rhino research vehicle is parked ahead of us in the road. Students from Pretoria are working on a project. They are studying the unique vocalisation of Rhino's, so these beautiful animals can't be far off.  I consider the fact that so much of our heritage is invested in these animals.

Yes, there they are!  We finally see them. Three rhinos:  a mother, her calf and a 'hanger-on' male calf from her previous pregnancy.  The larger 'calf' will stay beside his mom and his new sibling until such time as he is big enough to stand his ground against other adult rhinos. Sean switches off the vehicle and we listen to the strange high-pitched sound the baby makes - like a deflating balloon whose outlet has been pulled closed to 'screech'. 
The baby tries to ward off it's older sibling to no avail.

We watch the three walk down the road and follow them.  Their stride is so amusing - swaying side to side like overweight washer-women. 

 I notice that half the mother's tail is missing.  She must have had a skirmish sometime during her life.  Her stumpy tail has healed fully now. She's fine.

 I offer a silent prayer for these three - 
to enjoy a happy life free of poachers!!!  
The rate of poaching in South Africa is horrifying at the moment.  It is predicted that, by the end of 2012,
600 Rhinos would have lost their lives to poachers. The population of their beautiful animals is dwindling. Thankfully Welgevonden game reserve has a team of highly trained and highly successful anti-poachers.  I commend them for their work and wish them all success.  

This scourge MUST BE STOPPED!!!

The Rhino trio stop to feed peacefully as a beautiful black-backed jackal runs by.

Under an old fig tree, Sean stops our vehicle to offer us a warm drink. 

Whilst we are enjoying ourselves, a vehicle from the 'anti-poaching' unit stops by.  The officer warns us that the lion pride is just up the road - they're about to walk into our little party.  We quickly pack up and get back into the vehicle - out of harm's way - in preparation for the lions.

It's the pride from the previous evening.  I can't believe how far they've travelled overnight - these cats are fast!  

Within minutes we are in their midst - lions everywhere: in front of us, behind us.... I don't know which way to photograph.  I am relieved to note that they are unconcerned about our vehicle.

 (Above: Two of the adolescents stop to examine some dung in the middle of the road)

Uncharacteristically, one of the small female 'cubs' suddenly grabs a bundle of thatch grass in her mouth.

 It quickly becomes a play-toy for all the youngsters.  They chase the little female to get the bundle away from her, but she is too fast. We are all incredibly amused by the whole episode.  At the end of the day, they are just giant Kittens!

But the pride is on a mission.  We follow them down the road for a short while and watch them disappear into the hill alongside us.  

Goodbye beautiful creatures...till next time!  

We've been immensely privileged to have witnessed the pride again.  Sean tells us that they will probably find a lookout point, where they'll settle for the day, and watch the plains... Hunting and food is always on the agenda.

Back at the lodge, we enjoy our last breakfast and say our goodbyes.  Our luggage is collected from our room and we settle our bills.  On our way to the gate we see giraffe, bush pigs, zebra, wildebeest and impala.  In the distance the unmistakable profile of a large male lion.  The pride is on the move again, but he's 'waiting' amidst the long grass.  The others must be around but remain unseen.  Not far off wildebeest, warthog and various antelope graze happily.  They are entirely unaware of the potential danger to soon unfold.  Such is the way of the bush...and the circle of life.

As we drive off, back to the city, I somehow feel as if I have left my soul behind. 
What an incredible place!

My sincere thanks goes to the management and staff of the beautiful SHIBULA lodge.  If you are considering a trip to the bush, I urge you to consider this very special place.

Sending lotsaluv

Dear readers,
I do hope you have enjoyed the past seven days with me. 
I have delighted in shaping these posts as a tribute to the hospitality of
Thank you for joining me in this journey.
With love

Thursday, June 21, 2012


MAXMOM here...


ead about "DAY 1"  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Morning)"  HERE
***Read about "DAY 2 - (Evening)" HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Morning)"  HERE
***Read about "DAY 3 - (Evening)"  HERE

DAY 4 

'Ranger Sean' is in attendance again. He hands each of us a hot water bottle. This is a really welcome 'gift' - considering that it's an 'evening' game drive and the temperatures are likely to get really chilly as the night progresses.  

We have a new couple on the drive with us this evening and we all introduce ourselves.  Smiles all around. The "LIONS" are on our shopping list again and Sean nods in understanding.  He starts the vehicle and we're off...

A little way down the road, our ranger brings the vehicle to a sudden stop.

"What's wrong?" we all enquire.
"I think I've ridden over a snake."  
Sean's expression is an expression of sombreness - he's a conservationist, after all.  He hops out of the vehicle and bends down to look underneath.  "Yes, it's sitting in the middle of the island, but thankfully it's alive and well."  He breaths a sigh of relief.
"What now?" we ask
"Well, we either sit here and wait, or I fish it out somehow." He grins at us.
"Be careful," we urge.  "We don't want our ranger bitten."

Sean looks around and picks up a long stick.  Finally he manages to fish the snake out from under the vehicle.  We watch as it slithers frantically to escape the end of the stick and our scrutiny.   Apparently it was a 'red-lipped -something-or-other'.  I simply can't remember all these scientific names, but this little thing can leave one with a mega headache if it bites you. Eventually Sean allows it to slink into the nearby grass.  

We're off again...

It's quite a distance to where the lions were last seen and there's a subtle urgency to get to the sighting before the light fades.  Apparently the lions killed a warthog recently. 

On the way we stop to hear an explanation about the waterbuck's revoltingly dirty skin.  The creature looks at us innocently.  It's mate darts off into the bushes.  Doe-eyes and pretty profile belie its rumoured offensive odour. 

Our ranger is very interesting to listen to.  Most obligingly he imparts his wealth of knowledge. It's refreshing to see a young person living their dream.  We're off again.  It's quite a long drive.

The vehicle eventually pulls into a wide, open plain.  Suddenly we see them.  The collective noun that immediately pops into my mind is "a 'PILE' of lions".  I stifle a giggle.  The whole 'pile' is lying together.  Some are on their backs with their paws flailing in the air, others yawn widely.  A few have the soft, white fur on their underbellies exposed.  

Sean edges the vehicle closer and we all grab our cameras.  They are so close but seemingly undisturbed by our vehicle. He switches the engine off and we listen silently to their hollow calls and watch the one-year-old adolescents playing together.  

 (I would hate an encounter with those teeth....)

They stalk, pounce, rub shoulders, strike out at one another and roll over in an age-old display of unity.  It's hard to believe that these huge creatures are really just giant kittens.  But it's good to remember that they are lethal too.

Suddenly the atmosphere changes.  The young ones stand up and stare in the direction of the long grass.  "Granny" looks on unphazed, but the 'cubs' are ready for action.  We notice a big male, a short distance away, strolling towards them.  He was hidden in the long grass up until now.  His front chest and paws are covered in blood.

There's a mad scramble as the 'cubs' race towards the discarded remnants of the kill.  The big male has had his fill and now it's their turn.  There's no time to waste.  Forceful grunts erupt as they fight for a portion of the spoils.

I can't help but marvel at these cats.  They are all in magnificent condition - healthy and vital and deeply bonded.

The light is fading and we pull away to a find a place to enjoy our sundowners. The rule is that there has to be 'at least 100m distance between a sundowner and any of the big 5'.  Our vehicle is parked about a kilometre downwind.  Is this a far enough distance, I wonder?

We drink our 'hot-chocolate' next to a small dam.  A Cape wagtail dances across the water lilies.  An elephant 'spa' lies waiting - deep mud and water, next to the dam.  It's a tranquil scene. There is evidence that the 'spa' has been well used and I can picture the elephants rolling happily in the mud.

 (Above: From SHIBULA's brochure - "Sundowners")

Sean lays out a nice table for us - nibbles of dried biltong (jerky) and dried wors (sausage), as well as dried fruit.  SHIBULA staff are always extremely hospitable.  The new couple sip their 'cold' drinks.  We smile, knowing full well that tomorrow night they, too, will be ordering hot chocolate for their drive. The temperature is plummeting and the lion pride is calling.

Once again, we are on our way.  We wrap up tighter.  More layers, more scarves, more blankets.  In the thick clothing conversations quieten down.  We make our way back to the pride.  Since the temperature is cooler, the cats are more active.  They continue their antics in the darkening evening.  We watch for a while longer then call it a day.  

Back at the lodge we are welcomed with sherry.  A warm log-fire invites us closer.  The lights have been turned down and intimate tables await the various couples to enjoy one of SHIBULA's wonderful dinners.  This time it's vegetable soup as a starter, beef fillet with rice as a main course and a pear-cake, with hot custard, for desert. Poetry on a plate!
(Above: The reception area - picture from SHIBULA's brochure)

In our room a letter is waiting. It's our last night at the lodge and the management hope that we have enjoyed our stay. Yes, we certainly have!  While we have been out on the game-drive, the staff have acted like silent elves.  Our sheets have been pulled back invitingly, white slippers laid out neatly next to our beds and there are chocolates on our pillows. What hospitality!

Tomorrow we'll be up at 6am again - for our last game drive before returning home.  We've had a blast of a holiday and I'm sure we'll be back again.  But now it's time to rest...there's a lot more game to see in the morning. Cheers to a wonderful day!

Will you join me tomorrow as I share our last leg of the journey?  It's GUARANTEED to be a BUMPER POST!  Don't miss out!

                                                                 Sending lotsaluv

(Dear friends, be sure to follow the blog posts during this next week as I share our FULL adventure.  Many thanks to the management and staff at the beautiful SHIBULA LODGE for your incredible hospitality!)