Notes from a small dog -The lost ball

You’ll have heard that they lost my favourite ball… the one I’ve had for ages… Well, she keeps trying to replace it with fakes. She’ll hold out a green thing that looks like my ball… and for a moment I think she’s found it…

Then she’ll throw it and and try to con me into playing with it. But you know, she just doesn’t get it. It’s not my ball…

It’s all new and clean. It doesn’t smell right. It isn’t chewed and fluffy. It doesn’t even taste the same…

But I accept it, sort of, ’cause I know she’s still feeling guilty…

Chasing it though, that;s not really going to happen. I’m sorry, I know it’s upsetting her, but you know…it’s not my ball. Mind, just in case my never reappears, I’m not letting her risk losing this one…


What do you mean ‘guilt trip’? There are consequences to losing a ball… you have to have your two-legses well trained… and she’ll get over it.

You know the drill. Discipline, that’s the thing. Be consistent.

It works both ways, you know… and right now she’s feeling consistently guilty.

I’ll let her off. Eventually.

Much love, Ani xxx

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Riddle Me Ree… Stuart France

2 - S France*

The device of riddling is common to most traditional cultures.

Maidens set riddles for their suitors: ‘What is sweeter than mead…?’ ‘What is whiter than snow…?’ ‘What is lighter than a spark…?’

Antagonists use riddles to settle their disputes: ‘Forty white horses on a red hill first they gnash then they champ then they stand still…?’ ‘What is blacker than the raven…?’ ‘What is swifter than the wind…?’

Divinities play hide and seek with their devotees within the miasmic form of riddles: ‘What dances on the surface of the water…?’ ‘What good did Man find on earth that God did not…?’ ‘What is sharper than the sword…?’

A riddle is one thing, or a collection of things, described as another thing, or a different collection of things.

It is an extended metaphor without its point of reference.

To solve a riddle is to gain clarity and rid one self of confusion.

‘Thunder before lightning…Lightning before cloud…land parching rain…give me a name.’

Solving a riddle allows one to recognise one thing in another and so transcend one or more of the polarities or categories that apparently govern the perceived world through language and thought.

A riddle then simultaneously highlights the rigidities of language and its potential flexibilities.

“A shepherd stands in a field with twenty sheep, how many feet?”

Riddles act like little bundles of experience to be untied by the uninitiated.
The riddler knows something you do not yet know…
Riddles straddle two or more different frames of reference.

Landscape features are given human attributes and provide ample food for the riddler.
‘I run never walk… my mouth never talks… my head never weeps… In my bed, I never sleep.’

The answers are rarely if ever immediately obvious… their solution requires contemplation.
Just like crossword clue solutions they are though obvious once you know them.
Unlike crossword clue solutions, there is more often than not a very practical purpose to their solution.

If a landscape can have human features then, why can’t a human have landscape features?

Continue reading here

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Web #midnighthaiku

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Guest author: Robbie Cheadle – Table Mountain Cape Town

If I think of wonderful Cape Town, I think first of Table Mountain. This mountain is such a landmark and a most incredible natural phenomenon.

Some of you may have picked up the fact that I am slightly prone to obsessions. These have changed over the course of my life and have included exercising, mothering, baking and blogging. When I first met Mr Fox twenty years ago [when I was young and full of energy and he still had hair!], I was going through my mad exercising phase. Our first holiday together was to Cape Town and, of course, I had to get my daily fix. My plan – to walk up Table Mountain. Not once but twice; once up the front of the mountain and once up the back of the mountain.

Our first walk was up the front of Table Mountain. It was an incredible experience and we were really delighted at the sight of the amazing flora and fauna. Table Mountain is part of the Table Mountain National Park which also includes Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and the Twelve Apostles. When we walked up the front of Table Mountain there was a short part which was a sheer rocky cliff. Our guide had to attach a mountaineering grappling hook and a rope to the rocky face of the mountain. Mr Fox and I had to use this rope to pull ourselves up the rocks to the top of the cliff. This was when I found out that Mr Fox is afraid of heights. He had no choice, however, and had to look up and make the best of it.

Signal Hill



Devil’s Peak







Table Mountain National Park is home to nearly 9 000 plant species of which 80% are fynbos (meaning fine bush). Many of the plants that occur in the Table Mountain National Park occur nowhere else on earth. During our walks on and about Table Mountain we got to see and touch many of the wonderful plants growing on the mountain.

Protea’s are my favorite of the many flowers that grow on Table Mountain. The King Protea, also called the King Sugar Bush, the Honeypot or the Giant Protea, is the largest of the Protea plants and it is also the national flower of South Africa.

King Protea with a human hand indicating the relative size

On Table Mountain you will also find the Pincushion Protea and the Oleander-leaf Protea. The Oldeander-leaf Protea is my personal favourite and this is the one that you can learn how to make out of fondant in my new book Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town.

Pincushion Protea


Oleander-leaf Protea

Extract from Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town

Chapter 9: A fire on Table Mountain and a day at Fishhoek Beach

“On the side of the mountain, much higher up than the road, we could see billowing clouds of grey smoke and the bright yellow flames of a fire on the mountain.

As our car moved slowly forward we saw two huge red fire trucks race past up the road leading up to the mountain. There were lots of people standing on the side of the road looking up at the raging fire. Mom said that Cape Town gets rain during the winter so it gets very dry during the summer months and fires on the mountain happen a lot. This fire was spreading very quickly and there were about thirty firemen, dressed in their big firemen suits and wearing hats and smoke masks, up on the mountain fighting the fire.

We could see their small figures moving around amid the smoke. The firemen were trying desperately to save the special, protected flowers and bushes that grew on the sides of the mountain. The cars were hardly moving at all because of all the smoke, people and emergency vehicles so we sat in our car and watched the fire. The wind had started to blow a bit harder and the fire was spreading, I could see the flames jumping from one small tree and bush to another. It was scary to watch how fast the flames moved. The fire burned up everything and left smoking, black ash behind it. Dad pointed towards the sea, “Look” he said.”

You can also learn how to make a Table Mountain cake in Silly Willy goes to Cape Town which also includes four other party recipes.

Table Mountain cake

Silly Willy goes to Cape Town

When the George family go on holiday to Cape Town, Cautious Craig cannot believe what he has to endure at the hands of his naughty and wilful younger brother, Silly Willy. Willy throws tantrums at the most embarrassing and inappropriate times, causes a commotion on the aeroplane and tries to steal a chameleon from Butterfly World. What is a poor older brother expected to do in these situations?

Available via Amazon

8About the author

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

Find and follow Robbie

Blogs: and

Twitter: @bakeandwrite

Facebook: @SirChocolateBooks

Other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

The Sir Chocolate books are a delightful marriage of story, verse and cookery

… a perfect recipe for sharing with children.

You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:

Amazon    TSL Books

or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at


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What To Do When One Of Your Blog Posts Is Reblogged #bloggingtips – Hugh’s Views & News

One the nicest things another blogger can do is to share one or more of our blog posts. I remember when one of my posts was reblogged for the first time. As a new blogger, it was one of the most wonderful feelings I had, and I was excited that my post was now in front of thousands of new readers. Even today, I still get those same feelings whenever one of my posts is reblogged.

Unless you’ve chosen to turn off all your WordPress notifications, then you will get an email notification from WordPress when one of your posts is reblogged. It will tell you the following information –

which post has been reblogged
who has reblogged it
the number of followers the post has been reblogged to

Here’s an example of a recent reblog notification I received.

Continue reading at Hugh’s Views and News

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Take control – A beginner’s guide to spam and how to spot it …

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There is a debate about whether or not you should manually moderate all comments before allowing them to appear on you blog. I personally do not moderate every comment. I do moderate every first comment from a reader and it is usually fairly easy to spot who is genuine and who is a spammer.

Spammers should not be allowed on your blog if you can possibly prevent it. They will, if you are not keeping an eye on the ball, fill your post comments with their advertisements for everything from Russian brides to sex aids, training shoes to financial scams.

Should  a spammer get through the many barriers WordPress has put in their way, a vigilant blogger will soon spot their comments and consign them to the spam folder with a single click. Once sent to spam, Askimet generally gets the message pretty quickly and all future comments from that source will also be sent to spam.

Every WordPress blog has a spam folder. It is easy to find via the classic dashboard, accessed by clicking My Sites (top left of screen) > scroll down to WP Admin > Comments – then click into ‘spam’.

You could just leave the spam folder to get on with it, consigning the odd comment to its murky depths, but it is well worth making a habit of checking and emptying in regularly. I get a lot of spam, so I check at least once a day so that I only have a few pages to go through. Many people get very little spam and months will go by before a page is filled… if you keep an eye on the folder, you’ll soon see which end of the spectrum is yours.

Image result for cartoons spam

You should, however, check the folder because, quite frequently, legitimate comments from friends and regular readers wind up being shunted in amongst the garbage for no apparent reason. It is worth letting the person concerned know this is what has happened as, if it becomes a regular occurrence, they can contact support for help resolving the matter. (See below).

If you are finding a lot of legitimate comments in spam you can also contact Akismet Staff yourself directly at and type ‘spam’ in the search bar. A menu will appear from which you can choose the most appropriate statement.

Image result for cartoons spam

Legitimate comments may also end up as spam if they contain links. Depending upon your chosen settings, comments with any link, or with more than one, may be automatically spammed instead of being put on your pending comments list for approval. Pingbacks always go to pending and require manual approval.The ‘pending’ folder can be found on the comments page menu and contains anything awaiting manual approval.

Some comments will be cold-bloodedly sent to spam… or trashed… at least on my blog, legitimate or not:

“Wow, fantastic article! Please check out my blog/buy my book/follow me at”

I am always happy to read relevant material from other writers who leave a link in a genuine comment. Those who wish to promote their work are welcome to contact me to discuss being a guest on the blog… I do not like enforced promotion through irrelevant links in otherwise pointless comments.

Spam comes in many guises and the unwary often open the door to spammers through a seemingly innocuous or complimentary comment.

“I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!”

A novice writer will flutter with pleasure reading this type of thing… experienced writers are not immune either. So how do you know whether it is a genuine compliment or spam?

Check the sender.

In the spam folder you have access to the sender’s email and often a website address. You do not have to click on them, just look at them first. If their email advertises ‘russian women want…’, ‘designer…’ or ‘cheap..’ anything, it is spam. Hover the mouse over websites to get a preview without clicking…that can tell you a lot.

If all else fails, click through… genuine blogs have lots of interesting posts, not just curated that is a mish-mash of financial/political articles. Some effort is made by a genuine blogger… and there are normally more than half a dozen posts. ‘About’ pages that still have the ‘lorem ipsum‘ placeholder are also usually a no-no. Granted, a few new bloggers may not have completed their ‘about’ page and may only have posted a few times, but you can generally tell at a glance…

If there is no website, it is probably spam, although occasionally readers who are not themselves WP bloggers  may show up without an avatar or website.

Beware too of those websites that have been taken down when you visit them. There may be good reason for that… Or it may be one of my pet niggles… a legitimate blogger who has changed their blog to a new site but forgotten to update their Gravatar profile with their new site address….

Language is also a giveaway. The international blogging community contains writers from across the globe, many of whom do not write in English as their first language. A few errors or an odd turn of phrase does not make them spammers. However… this sort of thing definitely does:

“Considerably, the actual publish is usually the finest about this deserving topic. I agree with your results and in addition could excitedly anticipate your potential updates. Merely just stating thank you’ll not merely you must be sufficient, for that wonderful quality inside your writing. I’ll appropriate away seize your rss feed to stay up-to-date with any kind of updates. Genuine perform and in addition considerably achievement inside your enterprise dealings!”

Image result for cartoons spam

You quickly get the hang of checking through spam in a matter of minutes:

  • Anything that doesn’t have a Gravatar picture is unlikely to be from a fellow blogger… but sometimes people have not set up a full Gravatar profile, so be wary of deleting them.
  • Comments by invisible people without profile pics and on ancient posts are probably spam.
  • Essays half a page long or more are almost always spam… but occasionally they are really interesting comments.
  • The same or similar comment from multiple sources, or the same source sending multiple comments at once, is spam.
  • Calculated insults are spam.  We are not talking about criticism, debate or disagreement here…all of which are legitimate comments… but those baldly insulting comments designed solely to provoke a response from the writer. Remember that by responding to a comment, you automatically ‘approve’ it.

Once you get your eye accustomed to the type of thing that constitutes spam, you do not have to read the comments in your spam folder… a glance will tell you whether to restore or delete…. and there is an ’empty spam’ button

so you can approve individual comments and mass-delete the rest.

One last thing to bear in mind… your blog is your blog. You set the standard and decide where the limits are. While I welcome questions, debate and differing opinions, I will not permit comments that breach standards of human decency, respect and compassion to be visible on these pages. I will not tolerate trolls, whether they aim themselves at me or my readers. They are, in my opinion, also worthy of the spam folder.

Image result for cartoons spam



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Niall of the Nine…Stuart France


When young, Niall and his four step-brothers, Brian, Fiachra, Ailill and Fergus were given weapons by a smith and sent out hunting to prove their arms.

After losing their way in a forest, the five youths lit a fire to cook the game they had killed, and Fergus went in search of drinking water.

He came to a well guarded by a monstrous Black-Hag who would grant him the use of the well only on condition he gave her a kiss.

Fergus fled screaming…

Continue reading here

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