Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

As many of you know I’m a Zimbabwean by birth and still have a great draw to my homeland. I have made Britain my home but left my heart in Africa.

As such when I see things like this post below from my father on his own blog www.birdingzimbabwe.com I feel not only outraged but saddened at the continued rape and pillaging still being wrought on so much of Africa in order to make that elusive quick buck. Please read the post and sign the petition regardless of where in the world you might be.

Many thanks and TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow

Hi All

Well the Hwange trip Post will have to wait because something else has come up.

Harare is well-known internationally as a fantastic city for birding for the “special” vlei species (a vlei is a natural wetland or seep).  Various Cisticola’s, Crake’s, Flufftail’s and the more colourful Bishop’s and Widow’s.

Vlei’s are enormously important for much more than just the birdlife !! The torrential tropical rainwater is held back by the ‘sponge’ action of the vlei and then released slowly into the downstream waterways over a period of many months. This water is cleaned and purified in the process and of course flooding is also averted.

One of the biggest vlei’s is the Borrowdale Vlei.

It is under threat !!

See below……….  please assist………….

Here’s the petition for forwarding to your friends:

Stop Loss of Borrowdale Vlei

Plans are underway for construction of a massive shopping centre called the Mall of Zimbabwe on what is left of one of Harare’s few remaining wetland areas, the Borrowdale Vlei. These plans are going ahead despite the fact that an independent environmental impact assessment has not been undertaken.

The ecosystem services of flood attenuation and water purification are being over looked and the full environmental ramifications need to be carefully considered. In addition, wetlands play an important role in absorbing water in the wet season and then releasing this water in dry seasons. There are 6.5 million people living within the catchment system linked to the Borrowdale Vlei who are dependent upon the water it stores and then releases. We therefore urge Vice President Mujuru to consider an alternative site for the Mall of Zimbabwe.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Loss_of_Borrowdale_Vlei/?tta

Reblogged with permission from Tony Wood (c) www.birdingzimbabwe.com

it’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to talk about anything but photography on these pages but with father’s day around the corner I thought I’d take a little time to talk about my thoughts on fatherhood and what I’ve learned as both a father a son and grandson.

My Grandfather was an engineer of sorts although I only knew him as a retired tinkerer and carpenter who would spend hours in his workshop mending anything for everyone who asked, I recall that he was particularly talented at mending clocks.

GGF BC Lathe

I don’t especially recall much grandfatherly wisdom that he passed to me directly other than him very generously giving me a small bone handled sheath knife when I was probably 6 or 7. I of course promptly cut open my thumb and he did a great job of covering up my injury and whilst I don’t recall the exact story that was given to my mother and grandmother as to how I came by the injury I know for certain that it didn’t involve him giving a small boy a knife.

GGF BC Shopsmith

My own father still has that knife and as I learned much later in life that it was his all along and my grandfather had no right to have given it to me.

A selection of the tools hanging on the wall and my fathers humour.

Sadly Great Grandfather Bunny Chow passed away in my early teens and I never had the pleasure of being able to share a beer with him but I remember his acerbic wit with great fondness.

GGF BC looking out over the workshop he founded but never saw.

His workshop was in the process of being moved to my parents property at the time of his passing as Great Grandmother and he were downsizing into a smaller home.

a wider look at one wall of the workshop

The workshop has lived on as he would have wanted it to with his workbenches, lathe and other shop tools now incorporated as the core of one of my fathers two retirement jobs. Yep you read that correctly he has two jobs in his retirement. Without delving too deeply into politics the mismanagement of the Zimbabwean government essentially means that no one in Zimbabwe has a pension any more and there is no such thing as state assistance so if you don’t work then without the help of friends and family who are likely in similar positions and not able to help out anyway.

not exactly the chosen transport of many retired IT professionals

Still my father managed to nominally retire from corporate IT a few years ago and set himself up as a fixer/mender in the style of Handy Manny. Like Great Grandfather Bunny Chow before him my father is a skilled if formally untrained engineer and a talented electrician and a lifetime in Africa has taught him when best to make use of Zimbabwe’s cheap and plentiful workforce only actually undertaking more technical or quicker jobs himself leaving him plenty of free time to partake in his other business or passion.

my father trying to make a bird watcher out of the young me.

This other business is one of the things that my father passed on to me through osmosis, I’m not by any means a twitcher or birder but with so many of my childhood holidays revolving around travelling to far-flung reaches of Africa to locate endemic birds you cannot help but learn from his infectious excitement. I’m not here to promote his business but those trips into the bush to hunt, fish and bird watch are the things I miss most about life in Africa and the times when I was closest to my father.

I don’t profess to have become a talented engineer or master bushmen through my association with either of these wonderful men, but their wit and passion for what they love have influenced me greatly through my own journey to fatherhood. I can only hope that I will be able to stand up to the standards set by both of these wonderful men in the raising of my own two boys.

at ease the last time we were in the bush together

My father and I live on opposite sides of the world now and sadly won’t be able to spend any time together on father’s day but I know that he will read these words and we’ll share a beer or three with thoughts of each other and our many adventures in the African bush.

The photo’s littered through this post are of their workshop as it is now and my father, my two-minute search failed to dig up one of Great Grandfather Bunny Chow and I together the best I could come up with was the portrait of him in his mayoral robes hanging in his workshop.

Sorry if this has been a bit of a ramble but I have written it as I thought it.

Cheers Pa I love you xxx

Until next time

TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow

Mazda5

Image via Wikipedia this isn't my car but the same colour and spec

We’ve now had the Mazda5 for a hundred miles or so and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a few of my thoughts on how I find the car to live with on a day-to-day basis.

I’ll start out with the hits:

There is plenty of space with the seats moving in and out of their multitudinous functions with ease, it’s really great to be able to raise and lower seats single-handed when the other hand is invariably busy trying to hang on to a wriggling toddler. We’ve taken her shopping and made use of the extra seats a couple of times. I’ve even laid them all flat and loaded her up to the gunwales with half of a giant jungle gym we bought sight unseen.

maybe we should have thought about this before agreeing to buy it even if it's really cheap

I still have to go back and collect the rest of it, I probably could have got more in but ran out of time before work. Still it really is a huge amount of space and really easily accessible because of the clever seats and massive doors. Accessibility is after all why we needed a new car in the first place.

I’m also surprised by how sporty and quick it feels. Yes I’m sat high up but the 2.0l petrol engine is free revving and really picks up its skirt if you make use of your right foot in a lead booted manner, I was expecting to miss the performance of my Audi but the raspy Mazda engine if anything makes this feel quicker than the more refined Audi. Looking at my speed reference points, i.e. places where I know what speed is safe and possible, shows that the Audi probably has the edge but it’s much closer than I would have expected and certainly entertaining.  

For such a big car it’s incredibly easy to parallel park with huge mirrors, massive amounts of glass and the parking sensors we had fitted I’ve found I’m no longer driving round the block looking for bigger spaces as I was in the Audi.

Misses:

I’m probably being overly picky but here are some of my thoughts. Firstly if you’re in the market for a Mazda5 seriously consider whether you need/want the larger 17″ alloy wheels, they are certainly better looking than the 15″ or 16″ options on the market but boy do they make for a firm ride. I’m sure a lot of it is to do with the fact that the Mazda5 is trying to be a dad’s MPV and sporty or Zoom Zoom in Mazda parlance but it is possible to develop a sporty chassis/suspension setup that absorbs the bumps in the road as opposed to simply trying to bash them/my spine into submission. I know that I have been spoiled for the last couple of years but ouch.

The interior plastics are a little scratchy but that’s to be expected, what does get on my goat though are the information displays. At any one time I can either see what the outside temperature or the temperature I’ve set my climate control to. Minor irritation but still there. On the other side of the info display though is the one that’s really getting on my nerves I can either see the clock or information on fuel consumption, why, why why is the clock not always visible, which idiot made the decision to scrimp on a very cheap LCD display for an always on clock.

While we’re on the subject of fuel consumption the on dash display which is generally hiding behind the clock is set to display as litres per hundred miles, now I grew up in Africa and we always measured consumption there in litres per 100kms but I’ve been in Britain for a long time now so had gotten used to miles per gallon, it made sense to me and provided a reference for me to compare consumption between vehicles. The most obvious answer is that there should be a way of being able to choose the unit of measurement and I was even a big enough man to resort to reading the manual, well I looked at the pictures and still I cannot figure it out so at least for now I have no idea how much fuel I’m using. I’ll either figure it out or just get used to it but for now at the end of 100 odd miles and week one its irritating me.

Otherwise I’m happy with our purchase, We’ve been back and checked on the dealership we made the trade with and of course they’ve got our old cars on the forecourt marked up at 90% profit, but to be fair this will have been eaten into a huge amount by the work they needed to be prepped for sale, with things like MOT’s paint blemishes, ok scratches and general toddler filth, I don’t think we did too badly even if the dealer is still the one with the biggest smile.

Anyway those are my thoughts for the week.

TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow

 

I am infuriated The Sun that most respected and widely distributed newspaper of the ill-informed proletariat has published a ridiculous headline grabbing piece of nonsense about hunting in Africa complete with pictures of hunters and their families posing next to trophy giraffe.

They then go on to say how giraffe numbers are dwindling across the continent and then down the bottom allow a little comeback which brings in as an almost aside that professionally managed hunting is actually paying for the majority of conservation in Africa.

Without big money hunters spending big money to hunt miniscule numbers of animals conservation measures like CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) would not exist and the wildlife protected would cease to have value to the local population who in turn would cull these animals as pests and for food without any meaningful regulation.

I am a nature lover and hunter and am disgusted that such nonsense can be published and distributed without properly informed or reasoned debate.

Now before you weigh in and say poor pretty giraffe in the Sun’s pictures just stop for a moment and think beyond the headline that this giraffe probably lived a far better life than any domestic animal. He would have been an old bull who had probably sired several future generations and his trophy fee will have helped feed dozens if not hundreds of starving people as well as provided funding for game rangers and education in the very same areas from which the animal was hunted.

I’m going to stop now before my blood boils any further but I urge you next time to read beyond the headline and think.

TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow

P.S. if you are interested in an ethical trip to Africa for hunting or just sightseeing you could do a lot worse than getting in touch with Joseph Nyabezi of Honey Badger Tours