Graffiti photo shoot in Westdene, Johannesburg

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Some motorsport images

Taken at Red Star Raceway 15 January 2017

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Letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends, 

High up on a kopje I sat on the smooth, cool granite stained with green and orange lichen this Christmas and looked out at the view, letting the beauty seep into my soul, erase the stress and pain of life in Zimbabwe. An eagle soared overhead, circling and gliding effortlessly, watching for the slightest flicker of movement from potential prey amongst the rocks. A dassie (hyrax) sat sunning itself on a rocky outcrop away from the rest of the group and clearly on

duty: ever vigilant, watching above and below for predators, ready to cry out an alarm that would send all the others scurrying into the cracks and crevices of the kopje. 

All around us the countryside has turned green in response to the plentiful rains we’ve been having and when you close your eyes you can almost hear the Zimbabwean bush coming back to life. It’s that time of year when renewal is all around you: Musasa tree seeds sprouting everywhere; mushrooms of giant proportions and startling colours; dung beetles busy maneuvering their balls; pineapple flowers, veld vans, hairy fibre stems, resurrection plants, flame lilies and others breathing life back into the bush, delighting at the new wetness of the African bush. In the game parks the babies are born:

impala, wildebeest and zebra and it does the soul good to watch the youngsters cavorting and playing in the protection of their herds. 

I wish, this January 2017, I could describe the rest of life in Zimbabwe as a wondrous time of renewal, revival, growth and prosperity but I cannot. Sadly exactly the opposite is true this New Year. 

“How was your Christmas?” I asked a vegetable vendor. 

“There was nothing,” he replied, “I had nothing to share with my family. It was just another day; I was here on the street selling my vegetables.” 

This sentiment was echoed everywhere and in between the public holidays the queues outside the banks were as long as ever as people desperately tried to withdraw their own money from the banks. 

In my home town two policewomen walked the streets of the central shopping area with a white megaphone. A blaring siren similar to that of a waling police vehicle was played through the loud hailer followed by a shouted warning. “Anyone found to be putting on (wearing) camouflage clothes will be put to jail.” It is now apparently a criminal offence to wear what the authorities describe as “replica camouflage” clothes and over Christmas seven youngsters in Kadoma were arrested on New Year’s day for wearing clothing with a camouflage design. 

Also in my home town Municipal authorities have been completely invisible for the past three weeks; doing nothing about filling, patching or even putting up barricades around enormous potholes that have made many roads virtually unusable. We slide around in the mud, bang into cavernous holes, make our own detours along the verges, but still there is no sign of Municipal workers: not on public holidays and not on any work days either. We’ve had days at a time with no water in the taps, no explanation or apology from town officials and everywhere people carrying buckets to collect water from wherever they can find it. Typhoid has erupted in parts of Harare and seems inevitable to spread while negligence from local authorities continues unchecked. 

This is how Zimbabwe staggers into 2017 and as January gets underway over 100 activists are to stand trial this month for participating in anti government protests during 2016. Protests that called, among other things, for electoral reforms, an end to police brutality and for one man, a clergyman, for draping a Zimbabwe flag around himself. 

Like frightened dassies sitting on the rocks, Zimbabweans await the talons of the circling eagle to descend upon them with still no clear leader of honesty, integrity and decency to step forward, whistle the alarm and lead us into a new generation. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 6th January 2017. Copyright   Cathy Buckle. <>


For information on my new book, “RUNDI,” about hand rearing baby elephants in the mid 1980’s , or my other books about life in


“AFRICAN TEARS”, “BEYOND TEARS” and “IMIRE,” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact <> . (To see pictures of images described in this and other letters go


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Street photography in Yeoville, Johannesburg, South Africa



Johannesburg skyline with Ponte apartment building on the right




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Letter from Zimbabwe

9th December 2016


Dear Family and Friends,

On the same day that many thousands of people sat, stood and crowded the pavements outside the banks waiting to try and withdraw a few dollars of their own money, President Mugabe gave his annual State of the Nation Address.

It was a hot afternoon in Parliament where MP’s were squashed in like dried kapenta fish in a tight plastic bag. There was a titter of laughter when President Mugabe invited everyone to sit down and a scramble for positions ensued because there aren’t enough seats to accommodate members of Zimbabwe’s bloated parliament. Shoulders touching, bottoms squashed, many MP’s had to sit forward on the benches, perch on the edge or sit sideways. They waited in anticipation, but of what?

Perhaps Mr Mugabe was going to talk about the collapsed economy, the chronic shortage of US dollars in the country and the recent introduction of Bond notes, a surrogate currency forced upon us by Presidential decree. Perhaps he would say something about a year filled with demonstrations and protests which were squashed by horrific police beatings, the images captured on mobile phones for the world to see. Perhaps he’d say something about 90% unemployment or continued company closures, about 80 % of our food still being imported 16 years after farm takeovers, or about our crippled health care system or rampant corruption in government departments. So much to talk about; this was surely going to be a very long speech.

While we waited to hear just exactly what Mr Mugabe was going to say about the state of Zimbabwe in 2016 it was also a hot afternoon out there on the pavements where people had been queuing outside banks since 2 or 3 am in the morning. The vendors, Zimbabwe’s saviours, were there too, cruising the queues: selling air time, bananas, cold drinks, apples, boiled eggs and more. No one was holding out any hope of salvation or reprieve from the State of the Nation address but acknowledgement and a clear path ahead would be a good start.

As President Mugabe made his way slowly through his speech you couldn’t help but wonder if we live in the same country. Apparently everything’s fine in Zimbabwe at the end of 2016. The economy is on the road to recovery; tourism is on the increase; hotel occupancy has increased from 41 to 42 percent; milk production is meeting one third of local demand; gold production is up , electricity generation is on the increase and government is working on zero tolerance to corruption.

Oh really!

Nothing, not one word, was said about Bond Notes which the Reserve Bank is congratulating Zimbabweans on embracing, ignoring the fact that there’s nothing else to embrace because all the US dollars have disappeared into the vast hole behind government doors. No acknowledgment was made of thousands standing in bank queues everyday; of people not being able to withdraw enough of their own money to pay their bills, buy their food or medicines or even get on a bus. Not one word was said about unemployment or company closures or about human rights violations and police brutality.

At the end of just a 28 minute speech describing his version of the State of Zimbabwe in 2016, 92 year old President Mugabe said: “I commend our forces for the peaceful environment we have here…. I conclude by paying tribute to our peace loving people who have endured all manner of hardships since we embarked on our land reform programme.”

With hardly a sound Zimbabweans turned back into place in the bank queues. Tragically we expected nothing better, we demanded nothing better and we got nothing better. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 9th December 2016. Copyright   Cathy Buckle. <;

For information on my new book, “RUNDI,” about hand rearing baby elephants in the mid 1980’s , or my other books about life in
“AFRICAN TEARS”, “BEYOND TEARS” and “IMIRE,” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact <> . (To see pictures of images described in this and other letters go

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Baked your holiday cookies yet?

Beery ginger cookies

180 g butter or margarine
190 ml molasses
250 ml soft brown sugar
5 ml bicarbonate of soda
10 ml ground ginger
3 ml ground cinnamon
3 ml salt
480 g cake flour, sifted
125 ml (0.5 c) heated beer, stirred to remove gas
65 ml chopped pecan nuts

Preheat the oven to 190 ºC. Beat the butter, molasses, sugar and bicarbonate of soda together. Sift the ginger, cinnamon, salt and cake flour together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the beer, and mix to form a dough that is easy to roll out. Add more flour if needed. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until about 3 mm thick. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with chopped nuts and bake for about 8-10 minutes until pale brown. Coot slightly on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Makes 120 cookies.

Chocolate fudge cookies

500 ml cake flour
30 ml cocoa
10 ml baking powder
500 ml oats
500 ml coconut
250 ml sugar
350 g margarine, melted
500 ml icing sugar
10 ml cocoa
10 ml margarine, melted
50 ml hot water

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF). Spray a 30 x 23 cm ovenproof dish with nonstick spray. Sift together the cake flour, cocoa and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the oats, coconut and sugar and mix. Add the melted margarine and mix until the dry ingredients are well moistened. Press the mixture into the prepared dish, spreading it evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through and slightly crisp.
Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa. Add the margarine and hot water and mix to form a stiff paste. Spread over the cake while still hot, then leave to cool. Cut into squares and store in airtight containers. Makes about 34 squares.
Cinnamon cookies

250 g butter
85 ml castor sugar
250 ml cornflour
400 ml cake flour
7 ml cinnamon
45 ml icing sugar
5 ml cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF). Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Cream the butter until light and fluffy and add small quantities of the castor sugar at a time while beating continuously. Sift together the cornflour, cake flour and cinnamon and add to the butter mixture. Work together with your hands until a stiff dough is formed. Roll into walnut sized balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done and straw coloured. Cool and store in airtight containers. Dust with icing sugar and cinnamon just before serving. Serve with coffee. Makes 40 cookies.
Currant cookies

225 g butter
375 ml sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 lemon, finely grated rind
2 ml rum essence
750 ml cake flour
5 ml bicarbonate of soda
5 ml cream of tartar
2 ml baking powder
1 ml salt
190 ml currants, rinsed
500 ml cornflakes, crushed

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC and butter a few baking sheets or spray with non-stick spray. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon rind and rum essence. Sift the dry ingredients together and add the currants. Add to the butter mixture and mix to form a dough, (if the dough is too soft, add a little cake flour. Take small pieces of the dough and roll into balls. Roll in the crushed cornflakes and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a fork and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown.
Hertzog cookies

100 g butter
265 g sugar
3 large eggs
500 g self-raising flour
160 g desiccated coconut
smooth apricot or peach jam

Set oven on 200 ºC.
Beat together butter and 50g sugar until light. Beat in the egg yolks.
Stir in the flour and add enough cold water to make a soft dough.
Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds and line greased patty pans with the dough.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Add remaining sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat until thick and glossy, then fold in the coconut.
Place about half a teaspoonful of apricot jam into the centre of each pastry base. Top with coconut mixture and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pastry is crisp and golden.
Mealie meal cookies

125 g margarine or butter
500 g sugar
3 eggs
15 ml bicarbonate of soda
7 ml caramel essence
400 ml milk
1 kg mealie (maize) meal

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC (400 ºF). Grease a few baking sheets. Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together. Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Add the caramel essence. Gradually add the milk to the creamed mixture alternately with the mealie meal. Add just enough milk to form a soft dough that can be rolled into balls and placed on the baking sheets. Allow enough room in between for the cookies to spread while baking. Flatten the balls slightly with a fork. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, remove carefully and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 75 cookies.
Melt-in-the-mouth cookies

250 g soft butter
100 g castor sugar
240 g cake flour
60 g cornflour
2 ml salt
125 ml milk
50 g soft butter
130 g icing sugar
5 ml grated lemon rind
15 ml lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Spray 2 large baking trays with nonstick spray. Cream the butter and castor sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the dry ingredients and blend well. Add up to 125 ml milk to form a stiff but manageable dough. Spoon into a piping bag with a star tube and pipe rosettes on to the prepared baking trays. Bake for about 15 minutes or until baked through and pale brown. To prepare the filling, beat the butter until creamy and sift in the icing sugar while beating continuously. Add the lemon rind and juice and blend well. Sandwich the cookies together with the filling. Makes 23-25 cookies.

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Some Lekker Puddings

Jan Ellis-pudding
Apparently this was the favourite pudding of famous Rugby Springbok, Jan Ellis and named after him.

5ml bicarb of soda
125ml milk
200g (375ml) self raising flour
100g (125ml) white sugar
2 eggs
30ml fine apricot jam
20g (s5ml) soft butter or margarine
1ml salt

250ml water
250ml cream
230g (250ml) butter or margarine
200g (250ml) white sugar
5ml vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease an ovenproof dish with a volume of about 2 litre. Dissolve bicarb of soda in the milk. Mix the rest of the dough ingredients. Stir in the bicarb of soda milk and mix well. Ladle the dough into the dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. (Don’t use a smaller dish, even if it looks too big)

Heat all the sauce ingredients together to boiling point. Pour the hot sauce slowly over the hot pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven. Leave for a while to enable some sauce to be absorbed. Serve lukewarm with thin custard or ice cream.

This pudding can be baked and frozen. When needed, reheat till warm and add the sauce. Can be reheated by microwave.

Rice Dumplings
Yes this is a pudding, and a yummy one as well:-) To improve the taste of the dumplings, add some brandy to the water at a ratio of 50ml brandy to 250ml water. Some cinnamon sugar can also be added to the rice mixture before adding to the boiling brandy water.

120g (250ml) cake flour
pinch of salt
25ml butter
500ml cooked rice
75ml milk
2 eggs (beaten)
75g currants boiling water

Cinnamon sugar
100g (125ml) sugar
30ml ground cinnamon

Sift cake flour and salt together and rub butter into mixture. Add rice, milk, eggs and currants and mix well. Add spoonsful in boiling water and boil for about 8 minutes. Scoop dumplings into serving dish, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and dot with butter.
Vinegar Pudding

500ml milk
10ml bicarbonate of soda
75ml fine apricot jam
360g (750ml) cake flour
5ml ground ginger
3ml ground cinnamon
230g (250ml) butter

650ml water
300g (375ml) brown sugar
100ml vinegar

Mix milk, bicarb of soda and jam together an put aside.
Sift dry ingredients together well. Add butter, cut in small pieces, and mix till mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add milk mixture and mix well.
Place syrup ingredients in a dishpan and stir over heat till sugar has dossolved. Boil mixture for 5 minutes and pour into deep ovenproof dish. Let syrup cool slightly and pour in the batter. Bake in preheated oven at 180º (350ºF) for 50-60 minutes. Serve immediately with cream.

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