After 17 years of owning and living on this farm, tomorrow it’s time to go. 

The mountain in summer is either completely wild with the howling wind, or utterly still with only the sound of the crickets, the fiery necked nightjars and the cape eagle owls hooting from the tall trees. This is the last night and it feels appropriate that it’s utterly, utterly still. 

I’ve loved every moment that I’ve lived here. This elegant farmhouse with plenty of guestrooms and cottages for friends and family. This privacy, this space. The wildness of the mountains above us. The tumbling waterfalls and streams. The cool of swimming in the dam on a hot summer’s day. The amazing sunsets, night after night. 


Cool damp winters; torrents of rain that bring life to the fynbos. Winter mornings spent running through the cloud with Leucadendron salignum shining its effulgent green beacons into the gloom. Happy damp dogs full of life in the cool air. 

Autumn mornings with the valley filled with fog while the dawn rises behind the mountain gradually flooding us with light and slowly melting away the fog into a sunny day. We’ll be living down there in the fog now, while others wake up to the white sea and mountain peaks. 

Summer evening runs, the wind howling, the dogs loving it as it streams through their coats. Other warm evenings are still as still, the mountain like a vast cathedral. A breath held, not moving, only the cry of the swifts and the hooting of an eagle owl setting out early. Tonight is such a night.

Mostly early runs. A quick coffee, then trudging down the front drive, turning right at the bottom to start the long road up to the very top of the farm. Depending on the time of year a litany of flowers starts along the drive, and as the run progresses, each section of the run reveals something new. They are old friends now, but you never know when they are going to emerge, or quite where in case of flowering bulbs and smaller varieties. 

The life cycle starts in February. Before the first rain. It starts with Protea repens, they always flower in the hottest dry season, glossy green white, sometimes tipped with pink. They were almost entirely wiped out in the 2017 fires, but they are back again now and flowering all over the farm. This used to be South Africa’s national flower, before it gave way to the more impressive King Protea: Protea cynaroides. 

I took these photos this evening in a distinctive green yellow light that set off the waxy petals.

The flowering of Protea repens marks the height of summer and the promise of cooler weather ahead. We never know when it will break, sometimes mid-March, sometimes not until April, in one terrible year the heat sweltered on into May. I’ve lived through so many of these cycles in this magical and blessed place; now it is time to go.  

Time to say goodbye. 


How to describe pure magic embodied in a hound? An Irish Wolfhound, that most mythical of creatures. Maebh personified the breed. Elegant, a huntress, fleet of foot. Charming, fiercely protective of her people, the essence of kindness to any child that came her way.

We had a fabulous day together on Saturday. Recovering slowly from a hip replacement I decided it was time to take the hounds for a walk and we ventured to the weir at the top of the farm. Shaking slightly on the way home I marvelled at my lack of fitness, but the hounds loved it. When she got back Maebh chased a couple of geese and a pair of hadedas off the big lawn by the dam. How dare they? She loved to do that. She did it nearly every day of her life. What’s the point of being a hound if you can’t give chase? She made sure to chase the staff vehicle off the farm every night at 5pm too, right up to her very last Friday.

On Saturday, my hip aching from a week of doing too much, I retired to while away the day in my bed and Maebh jumped up and joined me. Resting her head affectionately on my feet.

I shall forever be grateful for that day together and the fact that I was home for her when she needed me.

On Sunday morning she was restless and unlike herself. She had no temperature, but still she wasn’t right. I took her to the vet. They couldn’t explain, but they could see something was wrong. By Monday morning she was desperately ill and at midday she died in my arms of a pulmonary embolism.

She was a friend to so many. Our housekeeper Louise has been in tears ever since she heard the news. Maebh came to greet her every single morning, all her life, she loved Louise. All the farm staff adored her, she made friends wherever she went. She was subtle, she didn’t make a fuss, she was there for everyone, a grey shadow, a beggar for treats, a long nose nudging for love.

She flirted with guests and flipped over “can you tickle my tummy?” She loved men. She adored cheese. Niall Quirk taught her that over lockdown as he grated cheese over his morning eggs and shared it with Maebh. Ever after, the rustle of a cheese package could bring her from 500 metres away. I don’t think I shall ever again open a packet of cheddar and not think of Maebh.

Peter and I laid her to rest along with her pack. The great Seamus, sweet Jemima Chew, Murphy the wolfhound who’s life was cut tragically short by a snake bite. So many memories. At least she got to live her long wolfhound life on this farm, to be part of our pack. We were all honoured by her presence, her gift of joy and love.

Maverick said goodbye to her. He is quiet and subdued. His pack is gone now, only the humans remain. I hope we will be enough for him, for now at least.

Maebh’s life was long for a wolfhound. She lived to the age of 10 years and one month. She was bursting with unusual vitality for an older wolfhound; I did not foresee her being taken from us so suddenly. I am bereft.

Almost exactly 10 years since we bought her home to live with us here on the farm. A treasure. An elegant hound whose coat caught and reflected the light. An athlete of note – in her ninth year we were walking on the farm and she caught and killed a mongoose that dashed across the road, almost before we ourselves even saw it. Hound, friend, flirt, tease, spirit of life who danced on the earth on the longest legs with pure elegance.

Rest in peace my dearest Maebh. Your footsteps will ever walk along with mine.

Fynbos in lockdown

A special blog for a strange time.

We are blessed to be on the farm in Covid 19 lockdown, with space to run and now that the first rains have come the flower season has begun and the beauty of the winter flower cycle starts to emerge.

I stopped blogging about these runs with my dogs in the mountains above Paarl about a year ago, feeling there just wasn’t a lot left to say after many years of blogging the same run and the stunning flowers. Nevertheless, there was one great unanswered question. Almost all of the proteas we’d loved for all the years we’d been here were burnt to a cinder. The slopes lay bare and black and all my precious friends were gone.

Fynbos needs fire to propagate and the seeds lay everywhere on the ground. With howling summer winds blowing them all over the place we weren’t sure how they would germinate. They did, and the following winter tiny little seedlings emerged. I remember posting a picture of one that was smaller than Mavericks paw. How long I wondered, would it be before these seedlings flowered and restored the mountain to its glory?

I have the answer now. Three years from birth to flowering. All over the farm those little seedlings are shrubs now and they have started to flower. Mostly one flower to a shrub, but from little acorns are great oaks made. Some are Protea repens, gleaming white in the misty light of Sunday morning.


Some are Protea neriifolia, also growing profusely. This comes in both pink and white with the white much rarer. I haven’t seen any white ones yet but I hope we will.


Other old friends have arrived – the land is full of early flowers. Such as the delicate white fluff balls of Brunia noduliflora.


The Leucadendron tincture has flourished after the fire and is thriving in its favourite spots, notably right at the top of the farm.



Leucadendron salignum is another that recovered swiftly, almost immediately, from the flames and the new growth shines, as ever on a misty morning, effulgent in the grey light.


Small things are often the most beautiful and pretty, low growing Phylica ericoides has taken over a road at the top of the farm. What a joy to see the hounds trotting down through lanes of flowers. This road had evidence of a porcupine this morning, a quill and lots of scratched and snuffled areas where he dug up delicate bulbs. There are plenty more, so he’s welcome and such a joy to know we share the mountain with this peaceful nocturnal creature.



I write two blogs – one on the fynbos (indigenous plantlife) that grows on our farm (The Fynbos Blog) and a private blog for my CEO clients on topics of leadership and life.

Never have the two crossed – indeed I retired The Fynbos Blog in early 2019 after six years of sharing the stories of my runs on the farm with our dogs, the adventures we had and the flowers we discovered.

I was recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia and my housekeeper, Louise, bought a lovely arrangement of wild flowers into my room. To my astonishment one of them was Lucospermum Lineare, a protea known as “The Vulnerable.” This rare plant is on “the red list” and close to extinction. There were a few on our farm but they were wiped out by fires in early 2017 (The Story of the Fire on the Fynbos Blog) and I was afraid we had lost them forever. Yet here it was, a delicate lovely flower giving me succour as I dosed through days of fever and recovery.

Yesterday was a clear, still day, and I walked with the dogs in search of this rare beauty. I found many of them, growing on the slope above the drive, higher up than they used to be which is why I hadn’t seen them from the road. As I walked I pondered its common name: “The Vulnerable.”

I am a fan of Brene Brown, whose academic work on vulnerability and shame has helped me to understand my own lack of confidence and why so many of my brilliant clients suffer from the same feelings, despite being outwardly confident and successful (Brene Brown Ted Talk).

We cannot succeed if we are not prepared to expose ourselves to criticism. Fear of exposure, fear of failure, these have an effect, even on those who come across to the world as bold and brave. Understanding this connection helps to create true confidence. A confidence that is linked to humility and an acceptance of our own vulnerability. Fire brought successful propagation and regrowth to our rare, delicate Lucospermum lineare. Exposing ourselves to the fire of public criticism, whether in sport or in business is the only way to succeed, learn and grow. Fire and criticism are both terrifying, yet once through the flames we build confidence and grow stronger. Every time.


The end of the affair

As I ran this morning with the dogs up a mountain thin with flowers I thought about all the many runs we’ve had, blogs I’ve written and flowers I’ve shared with the world through this blog. And I wondered, “why don’t I do it any more?” Why have I almost stopped blogging about the flowers and the farm?

Perhaps it’s done. I wrote the first blog in March 2013, so its no wonder I don’t find much that’s new to say about the run and the flowers.

I have much less time than I used to – a new business, like a new baby, demands incessant and urgent attention. Given more time, there will always be more to share – the weather alone is different every year; we have a cool January and even had heavy rain last night. That will be good for the end of buchu harvesting, though the wine farmers in the valley are less pleased.

We still run, the dogs and I and we still love and admire every moment of beauty that we come across. The dogs love a dose of wind or cooler weather and the feel of the wind slip-streaming through their coats.


Sometimes the girls leave us because it’s too hot and Maverick and I run alone.


This is the year of the locust. We often see them, but never so many as this year. I’m not a great animal photographer but those of us who grow up in Europe know locusts through the biblical stories of plagues so I thought it might be interesting to share some pictures of them. We come across them one at a time, which is fine, but you can imagine what a great cloud of these landing on your crops would be like, with their shark-like teeth, red wings and waspish body. Scary stuff. They are timid and move away quite quickly when we stop to look closer.

Although I have not been good at posting them, there are perennial favourites that I photograph again and again. One is the Peacock flower – Spiloxene capensis which has really benefited from the fires and is flowering like never before – all over the mountain and particularly on the driveway up to the farm. Thousands of these stud the mountain with white and green stars.

Another is the Leucodendron tincta. The flowers emerge as a yellowy lime green in the winter and in spring they turn the most beautiful shades of coral and terracotta.

Then there are the Aristeas. I have posted many of the subspecies over the years and this particular Aristea spiralis is always a treasure, another flower that has proliferated since the fires.

The other Aristeas are capitata and africana. Maverick helps to set off the splendid spikes of Aristea capitata high on the mountain. It loves damp places, close to rivers or along banks.


Aristea africana is a little thing, and likes to flourish where not much will, on dry rocky roads, alongside friends like pelargoniums and psuedoselagos.

Though too soon to announce a recovery of proteas and ericas, there are a few that survived the burning. I suspect I may revive this blog when they make a triumphant return. That will be two or three years for now, and if we are still here I will post the new life with great joy. In the meantime, here are some of the survivors.

Life on the run

Launching a new business and a book at the same time isn’t conducive to blogging about fynbos flowers. And the dry season didn’t give us a lot of flowers to talk about in any case.

All that is moving on. The May and June rains have been satisfactory for the first time in several years and the mountain is covered in flowers. The book launches were fantastic fun. I’m not sure I ever believed I would write a book that would find a publisher, be in book shops, and for sale on Amazon. Everyone asks, “how long did it take to write the book?” Quite a while is the answer, but the really hard work was to find a good title and cover design. I’m thrilled with the result. The stunning photo was given to me by Renate Aller, it comes from her “Oceanscapes” series.


I’ve concluded that I must be a terribly slow starter because I’m knocking off some big lifetime dreams in my 50s.

The new business is also growing fast. In fact, I was sitting on a plane to Malawi as I wrote this, on my way to do some leadership assessment work. I knew there had to be a demand for what we do if I found the right partner and got the pricing and client proposition right, and the proof is there in our growing business. For more information on that I’ll post our new website address on a future blog.

Before I go on a trip I like to take the dogs running on the farm, to centre myself and remind myself why I work so hard. We love this beautiful place and farms, at least small ones like ours, don’t pay for themselves.


Yesterday afternoon was one of those marvellous, sunlit winter afternoons where the air is warm and completely still. There were swifts flying low all around us, catching insects, birds calling everywhere – as the fynbos has recovered from the fire, so the birds have returned. Water, blessed, lovely water, is tumbling down the mountain, startlingly clear despite the heavy rains. The air is scented with flowering plants, particularly the wild rosemary, Eriocephaus africans, one of my many favourites.


Both the red Afrikaner and the large brown Afrikaner are flowering in damp places all over the farm. The large brown Afrikaner, Gladiolus maculata (which is much smaller than the small brown Afrikaner, for some strange reason) is a most queenly flower. This is hard to show in a photo; the flowers balance delicately on top of a long and very narrow stem, they dance in the wind and are hard to capture, because the slightest breeze causes the flower heads to nod gracefully. I love the browny-mauve and yellow colours, some spottier than others. In shadow the colour becomes almost purple. A truly beautiful flower.


Its close relative, the red Afrikaner, like many red and coral flowers is also hard to photograph well. This is flowering prolifically on the bank above the drive, quite an inaccessible place so I was happy to find a lone specimen up at Elliot’s look out to photograph for the blog.


During the dry season I took some photos of the Mulratia heisteria, which covers the farm in purple all year long. I rarely put it on the blog because it is so common, but then I found a white one, which I have never seen before. This is the second time this year that I have found a white mutation of a flower that doesn’t come in white. Interesting.



Oxalis stud the banks and roads in profusion. They love the land cleared by the fire and the wet autumn has also helped them along. Happy flowers.




Writing this in Malawi I have forgotten the name of this splendid thug which looks like a weapon of war when seen close up. I will have to look it up when I get home. The colour is gorgeous, and these spikey heads are actually the flowers.


As we ran home the sun dropped low in the sky and flooded the farm with gold. I took some photos of Maverick in the evening light. He is growing into a charming person. He’s still a bit of a crazy puppy, which is a lot to handle in a dog of this size, but he’s growing up. He loves his people and is never far from one of us, not a wanderer at all. Out running he likes to nudge my left hand “I’m right here Mum”, until he gets distracted by some marvellous smell for a moment. Then a quick nudge “I’m back , Mum, right here.” Sweet Maverick, he is becoming such a friend, a big, crazy, goofy puppy. His coat is tawny and grey and looks wonderful caught in the setting sunlight.



We are waiting. The whole Cape is waiting. We all look at the 10 day forecast and see only the odd sprinkling of rain here and there. Traditionally Easter is wet, but this year the forecast is for lovely sunny weather. The drought must break at some point; we hoped for early rains, soon they will be late.

We have water here, enough in the stream for the dogs to stop for a drink on a hot day. Given the dire state of drought in the province, it is a relief that this little stream continues to flow.


Maebh and Maverick stop for a drink in the stream.

The farm used to be covered in wild proteas. Last year’s fires took most of them out. There are incredible, beautiful skeletons everywhere, jutting out against the skyline.

Then there is the miracle. On the south side of the farm the fire was coming straight for our house, heading straight for the olive groves right next to us. At the top of the grove is a row of Protea Repens, which flowers in the driest season, just before the first rains. Somehow that night, the blazing flames stopped just before those proteas; the wind must have shifted and the fire turned, blazing down into the valley, to our neighbours farms, leaving our grove, and these few proteas, in peace. It went on to burn 80 hectares of olives in a nearby farm. The proteas are flowering now, pink and white and gleaming in the morning light.

Meanwhile all over the farm are millions of baby proteas. They are everywhere and I am fascinated to see how long it will take for them to grow up. Maverick was very helpful here, to give you an idea of scale. You can see what little babies they are, when compared to a wolfhound’s paw.

The Leucadendron salignum recovers more swiftly phoenix-life from the burnt roots. The red you see here is the new growth. The effulgent green will be a glory on the mountain in winter mornings to come.

Little things are always a delight and I think this little flower may be Metalasia divergens.

There are many Metalasia subspecies in the fynbos kingdom. I don’t know which subspecies these are, but they are stunning at this time of year.

A February flower is Aspalanthus abietina, which has happily regenerated and covers the farm again.

Finally, this little iceplant flowers in the driest season and adds colour to the mountain. I believe it is Erepsia, but I am not sure of the subspecies.


Despite the drought it has not been a hot summer and now there is an autumnal cool in the air. Every run is a delight. Even on those mornings when I feel lazy and struggle to get out, the joy of running in this unique, special place never leaves me.



One of the great joys here on the farm is taking the new puppy running for the first time. We have to wait patiently though. It’s not good for Irish wolfhounds to start exercising too early. We probably do go too soon – at the age of about eight months I can resist no more. But our “running” involves a lot of walking up the mountain and stopping to take photos of flowers. They run free of course, so can stop and start as much as they want. All our hounds have stayed remarkably well and fit into their old ages, so I believe the regular free exercise does no harm.

Maverick arrived in August, delivered, most kindly by his Johannesburg breeder, with a worried expression on her face.  “He’s a chainsaw teddybear” she said. “Full of love, but I’m afraid he bites.” Boy did he bite! Easy to train, adorable most of the time, but he must have had painful teething because he would go a bit crazy in the evenings and bite and bite. Because of it he was a little hard to love. Particularly because we were worried about the grandchildren coming for Christmas – we would have three children under four in the house along with an enormous biting dog. I foresaw an unhappy Christmas for Maverick, locked up away from the family.

Wolfhounds are famously good with children and Maverick completely won our hearts with his gentleness towards them. Of course he’s a great galumphing puppy, so the odd swipe of a tail would cause a toddler to all over and cry for a moment. But when they left after 10 days not one of them went away afraid of a big dog, he was curious, enthusiastic, and utterly gentle. After that, we noticed his biting had almost completely stopped.

Now it appears that he bites only me, and only when I’ve been away, so it’s become some function of separation anxiety. Then he settles down. His bites are not vicious at all, but his mouth is huge, even for a wolfhound, so they are intimidating.

Suddenly the sweetest puppy has emerged. He is a bit of a homeboy, no wandering tendencies so far. He’s never far from one of us. When there is action on the farm he will take part enthusiastically, putting his great nose into everything until he gets too hot and then he settles, panting, in a shady spot. No matter what I’m doing, from time to time there will be a quick nudge; Maverick checking in to let me know he’s near. I’ve been training him to heel, which he doesn’t do yet, but when we run, he will often trot along for a while at my left heel, nudging my hand from time to time, just to let me know he’s there. He’s goofy, a lovely golden brindle. Meabh adores him and he loves her. He is especially fond of Jemima Chew who held herself aloof for ages and then one day starting stealing his toys and teasing him for hours.

At Christmas we always make a special trip up to the river to find the Gladioli lileaceus. During the day it’s a drab thing, boring crinkled yellow trumpets. You have to visit it at sunset when the flowers open and turn mauve and cream and it emits the most wonderful clove-spice smell. All in order to attract the very specific moth that pollinates it. These miraculous flowers survived the fire and emerged as always in Christmas week. The book says they flower in spring, between August and November. Here they leave it a little later, a Christmas present from the farm.


Gladiolus liliaceus

By January the rain, what little there is, tends to stop and we face three long months of unrelenting sun, wind and dust. Ironically as I write these words there has been a respite and an unseasonal sprinkling of rain today. The flowering season draws to a close, but not without some stunning final flourishes. One of the best is Tritoniopsis triticea, a fynbos bulb that waits until well into January to display its lovely coral flowers. Coral is always hard to photograph, but luckily there are masses of these this year and I managed to get some nice shots.

Another favourite is Wachendorfia paniculata, which I love for the name as much as for the flower.

Microdon dubius grows along the roads and in the fields, a strange but charming little flower.

Today I was up helping Peter in an area where he thinks we may find water. I saw this, which I’d never seen before. It’s in the book, but much to my surprise it’s an uncommon invasive alien. Known as Hibiscus trionum it’s very pretty but it doesn’t belong here.

What absolutely does belong here and is flowering profusely in the heat of summer is Salvia africana. This flowers all year round but does particularly well in January.

While up on the mountain today I saw this blue pea, a plant that looks very like the broom you find in Italy, but with a blue flower. I remember seeing this years ago at this time of year, and then never seeing it again. Here it is, growing in profusion at the bottom of a damp slope. It’s Psoralea aphylla, not particularly common but it does like damp places.

Helichrysum is used in hanging baskets and pots all over Europe, thanks to its ability to endure very dry conditions. I love that Helichrysum patulum grows wild here, something so familiar when I was growing up, and now a part of the landscape and the life here on our beloved mountain.

Sweet Maverick has all this to explore and understand. He tries to help when I take photos, crushing flowers with his great paws, sniffing them and occasionally eating them. I am so looking forward to many happy years of running together with this giant gentle friend.


Christmas flowers


The unidentified blue flowers I blogged last time have exploded everywhere on the farm, stunning and lasting quite a long time, so I decided I really should do a bit more research to identify them. The Colour Encyclopaedia of Cape Bulbs is a wonderful book and the dark spots on the lower petals helped give a clear identification. These are Thereianthus spicatus, considered rare and closely related to Micranthus, the combflower, also flowering prolifically after the fires.  Part of their charm is that like the Micranthus they flower just as the season turns hot and dry. Here they are again.

Even with a houseful of guests and grandchildren, the Christmas break gives me an opportunity to spend more time out on the farm. In the mornings I get up before everyone else. The guests are all great runners at 10pm, less able and willing at 7am, so I head off on my own with the dogs more often than not. There are baby proteas growing everywhere, much to our delight, but I stop frequently to pluck them from the roads, in no time they will be large plants blocking the roads and it’s much easier to weed them out now, before they establish roots. Tomorrow I plan to bring a trowel and a plastic bag and to transplant some to the garden, as well as some of these Thereianthus spicatus which should do well in dry areas of the garden and give us some Christmas colour.

There are so many flowers that I have neglected to post over the last few months, so the rest of this post is an attempt to put up some of the most interesting in galleries, along with an idea of when they flowered, to serve as a record of how the farm recovered from the fire and to help us see how it changes over the next year.

First of all this lovely yellow rush which is suddenly everywhere. There’s a good reason we haven’t seen it before as it flowers mainly after fire. It shares the lands with the Thereianthus spicatus so we have tall yellow underlaid with purple-blue, stunning flashes of colour, especially along the drive as we come into the farm.

I really think these must be Ornithogalum though I’m not sure which sub-species, there are over 200 fynbos sub-species. These are growing in masses in one specific dam and rocky area. In the same area is this very sweet little purple flowering shrub which I haven’t identified. And flowering close to the river is the easily identified Ornitholagum dubium.

Another delightful purple flower is Pseudoselago spuria, the lilac powderpuff, which is quite common but until this year we hadn’t seen many on the farm. I haven’t seen Pseudoselago serrata, its close relation, which, until this year, has always made a reliable appearance by the weir.

From the same broad family comes the charming Selago corymbosa, a reliable friend each spring. I’m aware that some of my photos are not great – we’ve had a windy spring and early summer and often it’s been impossible to get a good picture. Yet if I don’t take it, the flower may be gone when we next get out, so these should be viewed as a record, and not as fine examples of the photographer’s art.

Masses of Roella triflora were to be found at the top of the farm in mid-November.

And along the drive, far less prolific than usual but delightful to see and as elegant as ever, the lovely Aristea capitata in November. The other stunning Aristea which flowers in spring, late September, is Aristea africana.

There are so many pelargoniums and I have not done a great job of capturing them. One of my favourites, the delicate Pelargonium myrrhifolium. Pelargonium elongatum is another plant that thrives after the fire, there are masses of them all over the farm this year. And up by the weir, this pretty pink Pelargonium which I haven’t identified. These huge leaves on this will serve to identify it one day.

This is Roepera, flexuosa I believe though it should be mainly costal and there are as many as 50 Roepera’s in the fynbos, so the subspecies may be another. We see it every year, it’s a lovely shrub.

And to finish, the queenly Gladiolus carneus, the painted lady. Ours doesn’t usually have the distinguishing splash of pink on the lower petals, but after years of hoping that we had our own unique sub-species, we’ve concluded, the experts and I, that this is indeed carneus. This charming flower lights up our mountain in November.


Just an evening walk…

I have been remiss about posting the spring flowers, overwhelmed by the explosion of number and variety since the fires. The soaking winter deluges that could have filled the dams and saved the Cape from drought never happened, but we did get consistent rains, every few days, that were enough for crops and flowers to do well, so we have plenty of buchu to harvest, the olives are looking their best in several years, and the spring flowers have been extraordinary.

Maverick, the puppy is huge now, as tall as Maebh, and he goes a bit crazy in the evenings, so we have taken to evening walks on the farm to burn up his puppy energy. At this time of year the sunsets are late and glorious, the sun itself drops directly behind Table Mountain, 60 kilometres away. A couple of days ago Peter asked me to check on a weir in a place we don’t usually visit, so we set off on a perfectly still evening on a new route for Maverick who absolutely loves exploring the farm. I can’t wait until he can come running with us. Irish wolfhounds need careful exercising as they grow. Short walks are fine but he won’t be allowed to run with us until he is at least a year old. Here he is taking a short break with Maebh keeping an eye on things in the background.


Along the way we encountered thousands of little comb flowers, Micranthus junceus. In normal years we are lucky to see them at all, these are quite rare flowers. But this year, with the normal fynbos cleared by the fires, they are everywhere, paving the land in blue with their charming little combs. Out running this morning we came across a white one. The photo isn’t great, partly because the wind was howling and the light all wrong for taking photographs but I thought it essential to capture what seems like a rare find as the flowers are only referred to as blue in the literature. I will be posting this one on iSpot, which is the website dedicated to recording sightings of rare wildflowers.

Down by the weir we came across some Tritonia undulate which is growing all over the farm at the moment. I love its waxy white petals with their flashes of red. If I had the time and inclination to be a gardener I really could have the most amazing fynbos garden on this farm, with beauties like this just waiting to be transplanted to a location where they might thrive and multiply. One day perhaps.

I have never seen this blue flower before and I can’t find it in the book, so I shall have to put it on iSpot along with my white combflower and see if anyone can tell me what it is. Stunning, blue on a spiral, similar in some ways to the combflower but the flower itself is quite different. The splash of darker blue on the petals is quite distinctive.

After inspecting the weir we walked home in the darkening light, the sun setting behind the skeletons of burnt trees that overlook a puddle affectionately known as “James’s lake”. We took the long way home and crossed the dam wall with the setting sun behind us. The light was extraordinary and the farmhouse was reflected in the perfect stillness of the dam. We are so blessed.

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