Letting the dogs out

I’ve always loved dogs. We grew up surrounded by dogs, especially the larger breeds such as Great Danes and Boerboels. In my teenage years, my sister and I worked at the SPCA on weekends. So when my Junkie friends, Brenda and Erica, asked if I’d like to join them to walk the dogs at a local dog shelter, I immediately said yes.

We arrived at the dog shelter and were taken on a short tour of the kennels. My heart stopped. Most of the dogs were big. Very big! They were magnificent! I guess I had grown accustomed to being around Annie & Emma, my little Brussels Griffon breeds and had not spent time with any large dogs in a very long time.

We were paired up in two’s and shown how to hold the dogs on the lead. It was a case of taking turns to walk the dogs down the street, then return to the two different enclosures for the dogs to be able to run freely, which they did. And in the one enclosure, there was a pool which they loved!

I won’t lie, I was scared. The very first dog I took was difficult to hold, strong and heavy. I was relieved that the young girl I was paired up with was a regular dog walker to that shelter and while I panicked in my head, she told me the background story to each and every one of the dogs we walked. Their names, where they came from, their personalities. She clearly had favourites. I was relieved she could “read” each dog well.

While we walked the dogs, another bunch of volunteers cleaned the kennels and provided bowls of food and fresh water. Their blankets were laid out in the sun to dry. That smell of wet kennels and jik permeated the air and brought up many memories of those SPCA days.

We all thought it would be a quick and easy morning. But it was hard work! My hands were broken and it felt as if I had been hit by a bus. Tucking into Steers burgers on the way home, we all acknowledged that it was harder than we had initially imagined.

When we left the shelter, the dogs were fed, walked, clean and happy. There are special people who commit to making sure this happens each and every day. They dedicate their lives to not only looking after these amazing animals, but to finding homes for them. But they cannot do it alone.

You can find more information on their Facebook page. We all promised to be back to do it all again. It’s so rewarding!

My year captured in 12 pics

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1. The year started with us finding out that Annie had a tumor on her adrenal gland. It was successfully removed, however the remaining gland has not been able to do the job for two glands, so Annie remains on high levels of cortisone.  2. Track sessions with the Running Junkies continued.  3. There were many races run this year, including Two Oceans half marathon. My times were not so great.  4. A few of my running buddies left SA to take on adventures overseas in Munich & Dublin. I miss them!  5. I learned that I can hit a golf ball.  6. KK ran another Comrades race. He shaved off even more time and now is determined to kickstart his 2017 training.  7. We holidayed in the beautiful Drakensburg with Dan & Linda. This photo also won me first place at camera club.  8. I ran my first trail run. Without proper gear, my feet ached for days.  9. I went back to Mari, my bio to help me with my running form. I’ve since scaled down on running such far distances & focus on 5kms and 10kms.  10. I commissioned my first rooster from a street wire artist.  11. KK ran his first Otter trail run. Again, the bug has bitten and I can’t see any other race coming close in terms of fun, views and organisation.  12. We renovated and I painted my walls blue. I absolutely love the colour! I’m so proud of myself for being brave and different!

Here’s hoping 2017 brings even more ‘firsts’ and exciting surprises!

I may not be Gareth Pon but …

As a little girl, my sister and I would often tag along with my Dad to camera club. We’d watch how photographs taken with very big fancy cameras where presented and judged and how the smallest shadow or angle could make or break a near perfect shot.

30 years later, these memories all came flooding back with two different things but both involving photos. The first was that I was invited to join a camera club, and the other is that one of my photos was chosen for the iPhoneography exhibition in Johannesburg.

Like majority of people, I take all my pics on my phone, apply a filter and upload to Instagram or other social media platforms. What surprised me by both the camera club evening as well as iPhoneography is that it doesn’t matter if you’re not a professional photographer or that the pics are taken with your phone, it’s the fact that nowadays, anyone can be good at taking pics and enjoy capturing that one great moment. It’s about coming up with something different.

I was incredibly nervous at my first camera club evening. Everyone gives feedback on each other’s pic and as they ‘judge’ your pic, you get to see a different side of your own shot from their perspectives. The themes so far have been eggs & freckles. Here are my two submissions:sunrise eggs

freckle

The photos at iPhoneography were absolutely incredible. KK and I walked around looking at the entries a few times and each time, we saw something new which made us gasp. I felt really honoured to see my photo up on the wall among so many exquisite others. It was a picture I took in the rain at the Palace Gardens in Tokyo earlier this year of the most beautiful cherry blossom trees.

cherry blossoms tokyo

But it’s more than that. I was proud of myself. I was proud that I had the guts to enter. Guts to put myself out there. But also immensely proud. Proud that one of my photos was chosen. And proud that it was my name on the wall under my photo.

iPhoneography

Both camera club and iPhoneography have taught me the courage to put my work out on display. Camera club in particular is teaching me to deal with criticism feedback and learn from others. It’s made me aware of my work and how I feel about it. It’s the fact that I can be and do anything I want to. It’s about growing. And it’s all about having fun!

Dad, you’d be so proud of me!

(*ps: Gareth Pon is the most amazing photographer and Africa’s top Instagrammer. When I grow up … http://www.garethpon.com/about/)

I loved Tokyo because of…

I had the most awesome opportunity to visit Japan for my 40th birthday. I wanted to visit a country and experience a lifestyle and culture completely different to mine and Tokyo did not disappoint. Since returning I’ve had lots of family & friends asking how my trip was and so I thought I’d capture a snapshot of my ‘Top 10 things I loved about Tokyo’:

  1. The people: No matter where we went, people were so friendly, so calm, and unpretentious. If we stopped to look at our map, guaranteed someone would stop and offer to help us, even if they struggled to speak English. They live a simple life and respect one another, time and spaces. I think out of everything, I will remember the people the most. They are just wonderful!IMG_8196IMG_8267
  2. The shopping: There is just so much to buy in Tokyo! From wonderful clothes to electronics. I found some of my favourite brands along the busy streets of Ginza and Shibuya.IMG_8102IMG_8288
  3. The noodles: I must have eaten noodles almost every day and started to perfect the art of eating with chopsticks. So divine!IMG_8310
  4. The efficiency: Things just work in Tokyo. Trains run on time. Everything is in its place. It’s magical! Especially for my engineering husband.IMG_8116IMG_8567
  5. The little things: It rained a lot while we were there and when they packed our shopping, an extra plastic bag was wrapped around our shopping bags so that our shopping didn’t get wet. It’s the norm for them but we felt so special.IMG_8414IMG_8328
  6. The wide variety of options: Everywhere we went, there were just so many varieties of things, so many options to choose from. For example, an entire floor dedicated to selling different head phones!IMG_8280
  7. The free wifi: For a socially-obsessed tourist such as myself, this was a winner. I could check in and share my experiences in real-time with family & friends as well as search maps for places to go.IMG_8257
  8. Attention to detail: Everything is meticulous and thought-out.IMG_8237
  9. Cleanliness: They are obsessed with cleanliness and are constantly wiping and disinfecting. Most things are automated including the doors to taxis, entrances to shopping malls, even flushing the toilet (which had heated seats)! IMG_4539
  10. Cherry blossoms: Breath taking beauty, everywhere!IMG_8347IMG_8290IMG_4577Thank you for a wonderful holiday KK! When can we go back?