Harare Annual Garden Show 2015

I learned a new word, "xeriscaping", the word of the future
- or should that be now?

We had such fun at The Garden Club, Harare, Annual Garden Show. It was fascinating to see what the contributors managed to put together for this year's main theme, "Sustainable Gardening". The theme was very apt, because in Zimbabwe, the power is off for hours every single day, with no respite, (unless, of course, you are a member of the government, then you are allowed to have electricity permanently on!). Can you imagine, no electricity, all day, every day? Many people get up in the middle of the night to do essential chores, like vacuuming, laundry etc. Others, more fortunate, have their own generators and boreholes. So we were eager to see how the Garden Club exhibitors would rise to the challenge of gardening with unpredictable water supply and no electricity.

This exhibitor is from Domboshava, a village just north of Harare

I was photographing the exhibits, when this guy rushed up to have his photo taken. He had an amazing array of great ideas in keeping with the theme of the the show, and, although we didn't discover who won any of the prizes on offer, I am sure he was in the running.

Here is another idea of his ideas, using guttering...

...and another, using plastic water bottles

I thought this, by another exhibitor, was a good idea for using old worn out tyres

Of course, vertical gardening is well known as a way to use less water, and there were two in particular that I liked.

...this one, using a lattice frame...

...and this one using discarded pallets

This was a much-admired, and popular idea, with an intricate watering system

Here is a close up of the above, that shows the watering tubes, leading from the
main water supply on top of the stack

There was also a section for Floral Designers. They had a particular theme: High Tea with an Up-Cycled Twist. Think: Pretty, floral afternoon Tea with a non-traditional twist of up-cycling, recycling or repurposing old, used or damaged objects to create a beautiful, thought-provoking table display.

Very pretty afternoon tea.

All in all, a wonderful day. Thank you Mary for hosting us, and making our stay such fun!

Elizabeth Coughlan


Fishing trip, Shamashanga, Zimbabwe

David, arriving at Chikwenya airstrip

While I was at Mana Pools, David spent the week further downstream on the Zambezi River, catching tiger fish. Here is his account of the trip.

"We flew into the airstrip at Chikwenya early on Monday morning, and within two hours of leaving Harare we were on our fishing boat on the Zambezi river.

Our team for the week was Tim, Dan, me, and Terry.

It was not long before I made my first catch. The aim is to catch and release.

Tim's catch

Daniel's Catch

Terry weighing his catch, while Dan captures the moment, as
there is just enough time to weigh the catch and take a photo before returning the fish to the river.

Drifting silently downstream in the current makes it possible to approach game 
on the many islands, at sometimes very close range. We surprised this elephant.

...and these…

More surprisingly we got this close to a very large crocodile.

Lunch time!

We spent the whole day on the river from first until last light. We took brunch with us, and this was always a full fry up on some shady spot on an island, which we first checked for game.

Sunsets on the river are magical.
Here Terry and Ernest, our boat driver, enjoy a magical moment

Farewell, until next year!

We spent four nights at the Shamashanga fishing camp. It is a tented camp nestled on river bank.

All too soon the week was over. On Friday we drifted down stream, fishing as we went, to Chiwore. And in the early afternoon noon, our plane arrived to fly us back to Harare."

David Coughlan


On Safari in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

The view across the Zambezi, from Goliath Safaris Camp

After the wedding, the bridal party (consisting of the bride and groom, the groomsmen, and the bridesmaids) went to stay in Mana Pools National Park, at the Goliath Safaris Luxury Tented Camp. To my great delight, I was included, and spent a magical few days there.

This camp is unique, in that your personal guide is the legendary, Stretch Ferreira, also known as the "Elephant Whisperer". While most safari guides drive their clientele around to view game from the safety of the vehicle, Stretch specialises in walking safaris, where you get to experience the wildlife up close.

The tents are luxurious, each with its own shower room

There is also an area for guests to relax, and gaze out over the stunning view

This is not a permanent camp. Every year, the camp is taken down before the rainy season (usually at the end of October), and reconstructed again in May of the following year, although always on the same stretch of bank overlooking the Zambezi.

Every morning, we left early to look for game, sometimes they found us first!

Stretch led us really close up to this elephant, one he has known for 25 years

Posing to have your photo taken with an elephant in the wild, is quite scary!

We also walked up to lion...

Stretch persuaded us that if we don't threaten them in any way, they won't want to hurt us!

I found it rather intimidating when a pride of lion walked through our camp each night. I could hear then growling, and I was aware that there was only a thin wall of canvas between me and them!

Our group would walk through the bush, closely following Stretch,
 as he followed the animals' tracks.

This buffalo was rather scary too! What do you think? 
Am I being a whimp?

We came across this pack of wild dog

We had been watching the wild dogs for a while, when suddenly a herd of elephant appeared

Without warning, the elephants turned and charged at the dogs. I think it was a bit of
elephant fun, as once the dogs had dispersed, they trundled off again!

Seemingly unconcerned, the dogs wandered back again, and regrouped..

..while the elephants had a good laugh!

The wild dogs leave on a hunt

On another occasion, we watched as the wild dogs set off on a hunt, and then rushed to the vehicles to drive to where Stretch thought they were heading. We must have only taken 5 or 6 minutes to reach the spot, but by then, the dogs had already caught, killed, and eaten a baboon.

Here they are gnawing on the remains...
All that was left was the head of the baboon, and they had
even eaten the brains.

There were beautiful, and tranquil moments too! Not all animals are violent!

One very interesting fact we learned was that impala and baboons have a symbiotic relationship, Whereas the baboons have amazing eyesight, impala have a keen sense of smell, and hearing. They are often seen together, as they warn each other of any predators nearby.

I had such an amazing time at the camp, that I wouldn't hesitate to go back, however scary! I do hope there is a next time!

Elizabeth Coughlan


A Family Wedding in Zimbabwe

Beth and Séan, the Bride and Groom

We were so thrilled to be able to fly to Zimbabwe for the wedding of our nephew, Séan, and his beautiful bride, Beth. The wedding was held at Ryelands, Harare, among the msasa trees. On the invitation, the bride had requested that all guests should only wear shades of cream, and no other colour. Everyone made a special effort to comply, with the result that everything looked amazing!

The groomsmen and the celebrant, waiting for the ceremony to begin

All the guest were seated on bales of hay, as this was truly a bush wedding...

...then the choir began to sing...

...as the bridesmaids, and flower girls, came along the path

Then came the beautiful bride, supported by her father,
an award-winning safari guide, also known as the "Elephant Whisperer"

Beth and Séan made their vows, in front of Mark, the celebrant

As they walked through the lines of guests, everyone threw rose petals over them...

...while a sweet little flower girl peeped out from behind a bridesmaid's dress

Cocktails and snacks were served among the msasa trees, 
while we checked the seating plans, hanging from a branch

The dining tables were set out in a clearing in the woods

As night-time fell, lights strung among the trees gave everything a romantic glow

Then the dancing began, and we all partied well into the night

What a beautiful wedding, and one we will always remember. We were so privileged to be part of this wonderful day.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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