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Jewel in the Midlands

Jewel in the Midlands We all grew up believing that jewels, especially diamonds, are forever.   Mostly that’s true, but only when talking about precious stones.   There are other jewels around us, places and things that have a beauty that seems permanent, that have taken great effort and dedication to create and so will be nurtured and looked after for all…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 14 May 2017 | Comments (0) | Views (349) | Read more

The Diamond Jubilee Pavilion

The Oval   For many decades the little city of Pietermaritzburg bore the nickname “Sleepy Hollow,” and in some respects that was fully deserved.   It was an unremarkable town, one of those that motorists drove through on their way to annual holidays and then again on the way home.   There seemed to be no attractions that would lure tourists, and…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 10 March 2017 | Comments (8) | Views (458) | Read more

Photographic Art

                               I’ve been neglecting my blog page for some time now.   If I remember correctly the last time I posted an item was around May 2016, and that’s just not good enough.   I’ve had so many complimentary comments from people around the world on the way…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 19 January 2017 | Comments (10) | Views (837) | Read more

Behind the Dam

“Have you ever been to Thurlow?” I asked my photographer friend Nola. “Never heard of it,” was her reply.   “Where is it, and what’s there?” “It’s behind the dam,” I said, “and there’s not much there this time of year, but it’s still worth a look.” The ‘dam,’ is Midmar Dam, near Howick in Kwazulu-Natal, and Thurlow is a nature…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 | Comments (9) | Views (588) | Read more

Not the real Mt Everest

                                    Mount Everest   My son Deryk suggested that we all go off to Mount Everest for a weekend.   I liked the idea as I’d recently read the story of George Mallory who’s now been credited with the first summiting of Everest, and…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 | Comments (9) | Views (588) | Read more

Cottage Life

                  He’d been threatening me for some time, and then it came to a head. “Why don’t you guys spend a few days at our cottage in the Berg?” he asked.   I couldn’t think of a good reason.   “That would be great,” I replied, lost for options.   I’d been to plenty of…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 24 January 2016 | Comments (5) | Views (841) | Read more

Butterflies and Friends

BUTTERFLY WORLD TROPICAL GARDEN   “Come and stay at Butterfly World,” said Esther.   “There’s a room for you for as long as you need it, and you can be my guest at the restaurant too.”   How’s that for an offer that can’t be ignored?   I needed to get to Cape Town after a very long absence to try to find…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 23 November 2015 | Comments (8) | Views (871) | Read more

A day around Spioenkop

The starting time of three forty-five made Hugh hesitate just a little, and Nola said she needed a confirmation wake-up call at three, but they both agreed on leaving early.   The target area was Spioenkop, looking at the scenery, visiting Spionkop Lodge to see Raymond Heron, trying to find Lee and Claire Fuller at Tugela River Lodge, and a visit…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 10 November 2015 | Comments (3) | Views (885) | Read more

Mist on the Duzi

The month of May had arrived bringing with it the onset of winter that was beginning to settle like a pall of chill on the city of Pietermaritzburg.   The days were quite warm but the evenings and nights had taken on the characteristics of the time of year when the red, brown and yellow leaves formed a carpet on the…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 | Comments (1) | Views (737) | Read more

Kersia

Nola met Kersia twice, and the two of them established an immediate rapport.   I’d known Kersia for several years, and she and her husband Keith and I were good friends, the sort who don’t see one another often, but have no problem picking up the threads of friendship as though last year had been yesterday.   I’d introduced a group…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 17 July 2015 | Comments (3) | Views (741) | Read more

A day in the Karkloof Valley

The trip was arranged at fairly short notice, and it seemed that just the three musket ears would make it as the rest of the world had opted to spend the day at Shongweni  Dam.   With just a few days to go I contacted Mo McCann and Grant Fryer.   Mo and Karon decided to come along, but Grant had other…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 | Comments (6) | Views (979) | Read more

Art in the Park

I remember feeling a keen excitement at getting the news that I’d been accepted for Art in the Park 2015.   I’ve always regarded the exhibitors as a select group, able to produce work of a standard that we all admire and forlornly aspire to equal if not to outdo.   What a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment must go with creating…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 | Comments (6) | Views (884) | Read more

The Model

Peter, Chris and I had headed out quite early that cold, smoky morning hoping to get a few decent winter sunrise shots of Kwazulu-Natal’s Table Mountain from the Ashburton area.   We headed slowly from one stop to another, becoming ever less optimistic as the clouds conspired to blot out the sun and rob the sky of all colour except dark…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 11 April 2015 | Comments (1) | Views (803) | Read more

Thukela and Spioenkop

No traveller on the way between Durban and the hinterland of South Africa makes the trip without crossing the Thukela River, whether driving on the main N3 track, the secondary road through Winterton, Bergville and the Oliviershoek Pass, or along the North Coast on the N2.   Formerly known as the Tugela, this is the largest river in the province of…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 | Comments (1) | Views (1423) | Read more

After the flames

   Thursday September 25th, 2014, was going to be a busy and testing day.   It was the setting-up day for the Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College in Kwazulu-Natal, followed by an opening function that evening.   The past many weeks had been spent gathering stock in the hope of good sales, and all was packed and almost ready to go.…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 23 November 2014 | Comments (9) | Views (1042) | Read more

A trip to Hlatikhulu

I beat the alarm clock by ten minutes, I thought.   Turned out I’d beaten it by an hour and ten minutes, but there was no point in going back to bed.  The kettle works as well at any hour as at another, and soon the aroma of coffee offset the loss of sleep.   A second mugful of the magic brew…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 17 November 2014 | Comments (8) | Views (1185) | Read more

A Cumberland morning

  The agreed assembly time was six thirty, but some has said they’d not make it by then.   So it was that Sarah and I had some time to cast about for early shots and get to know one another a little better at this, our first meeting.   The weather forecast had decreed a very warm, even hot, day, but…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 07 September 2014 | Comments (3) | Views (1069) | Read more

Preparing the art

A few months ago I was sent an Internet link by a friend who is a regular exhibitor at Art in the Park in Pietermaritzburg each Autumn, telling me that applications had been invited for acceptance to exhibit at the Hilton Arts Festival in September 2014, and was I interested?   Having been on Art in the Park on my niece’s…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 | Comments (3) | Views (1062) | Read more

The blog page

For a few years now I’ve been writing the occasional blog to go with photographs I’ve been lucky enough to take in interesting places, and have immensely enjoyed doing so.   I’ve been very guilty of neglecting my website, mainly as a result of the site not working too well with the previous software, but have now had that redone, and…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 | Comments (1) | Views (909) | Read more

Off to Mkambati

A few weeks ago I frivolously paraphrased John Masefield’s evocative poem to set the scene for my first beach trip in decades, this to Mkambati, a remote nature reserve on the Wild Coast of the old Transkei.     I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a camera,…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 19 May 2014 | Comments (9) | Views (4327) | Read more

Retreat to St Andrews

For many years now I’ve travelled the road between Mooi River and Giants Castle, our family’s favourite bolt-hole in the Drakensberg, my only thought being to get to Giants, or, on the return trip, to get home.  I took little notice of anything along the road apart from the road condition – in the earlier times that road was a…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 11 January 2014 | Comments (2) | Views (1610) | Read more

Five days in Cullinan

This blog narrative goes back almost to the Dark Ages, to the days when Terri and I were small. The reason for the very existence of the village -  Premier Diamond Mine, to become Cullinan Mine, and is now Petra Mine   Terri, my wife, was born at Cullinan, then a tiny mining village housing the staff and workers of…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 01 November 2013 | Comments (5) | Views (2568) | Read more

Beautiful Benvie

On the South-East facing slopes of the Karkloof hills in Kwazulu-Natal lies a property that I'm certain is unique in South Africa.  Benvie is cloaked in the natural and exotic forests of the central Midlands of the province, and were it not for the fact that it features each year as an “open garden” for the spring-time Garden Show in…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 | Comments (9) | Views (2151) | Read more

Little Ash Cloud at Lotheni

A few days ago I was able to visit Lotheni Nature Reserve in the southern Drakensberg again, after an interval of about six months.   My previous visit had been during the rainy season, and there was water all about, and the landscape wore its near-uniform green summer garb.  Every gulley was awash, and each cleft in the hillsides was…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 10 August 2013 | Comments (3) | Views (3161) | Read more

Cape Vultures

This morning newspapers carried the story of the discovery of the carcasses of forty eight Cape Griffons (Vultures) in the Swartberg region between Underberg and Kokstad in Southern Kwazulu-Natal. The birds had died from poisoning after feeding on poisoned sheep carcass bait, probably set for jackals and caracals.  Although forty eight dead birds were found, there's no telling how many…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 27 July 2013 | Comments (5) | Views (1376) | Read more

All steamed up at Creighton

I’m constantly surprised at how poorly the Midlands region of Kwazulu-Natal is known among the Midlands people themselves.  Perhaps it’s a feeling that it’s all too ordinary and doesn’t measure up to the splendour of the Wild Coast, the “Big Five” game reserves and other faraway places.  Almost without exception, when I ask a Maritzburger if he’s been to Cumberland…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 | Comments (6) | Views (3688) | Read more

So Gorgeous

            A fiery start to a long day on the trail to the Tugela Gorge at Royal Natal National Park As with the trip to Giants Hut a few weeks ago, it had been decades since the last sortie I made to the Gorge of the Tugela River in the Amphitheatre, that spectacular mountain backdrop…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 | Comments (9) | Views (2565) | Read more

Madiba

The past few months have had our nation and much of the rest of the world wondering what the truth is a about the health of Nelson Mandela, first president of the democratic Republic of South Africa.  He’s been into hospital and out again on several occasions, with the ANC government telling us all that everything’s “routine.”  It now seems…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 27 June 2013 | Comments (9) | Views (1237) | Read more

To see how far it is.

The Giants Castle section of the Drakensberg Mountains is the cornerstone of the range where the Lesotho border changes direction My first visit to Giants Hut was in a family group in 1978.  The legs were stronger then, but no match for the kids’, whose ages ranged from six to twelve years.  It was a bitterly cold, heavily overcast day…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 | Comments (6) | Views (1353) | Read more

Not just a run-of-the-mill morning.

It was an offhand remark, like an afterthought, made by an acquaintance in the very isolated dorpie of Rosendal , situated precisely halfway between Ficksburg and  Senekal in the Eastern Free State.  Terri and I were spending a few days in the area, and had met a lady Terri had worked with at the University in Maritzburg many years ago. …Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 | Comments (70) | Views (5726) | Read more

What folly.

There are no photographs to add to this post, but I hope the words are sufficiently vivid. In my previous post I spoke about my grandparents, Tommy and Hilda Huckell.  Since then I’ve been in touch, after a break of many years, with my cousin Paul Moulang in Pretoria, and we spent a wonderful hour sharing memories of the oldies. …Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 | Comments (0) | Views (1233) | Read more

A boy unleashed.

My friend Dave Nisbet told me once that he has very few memories or recollections from his schooldays.  I, on the other hand, find memories of my early years coming vividly to mind with little prompting, some of them a source of regret or distaste, but many of them bringing back thoughts of fun, laughter and learning.  And I don’t…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 14 February 2013 | Comments (3) | Views (1469) | Read more

A simple journey for a simple man

Julie Andrews famously and very often sang “Let’s start at the very beginning….”   Why not? During my school years one of the books I read was a Sherlock Holmes story. All I remember about the whole book was one comment made by Holmes to Dr Watson. No, not the “elementary, my dear Watson” one – that’s too elementary. Holmes was…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 10 February 2013 | Comments (4) | Views (1420) | Read more

City Streets, but not by Carole King

This is likely to be a sort of mini blog.  I hope it’s more than mini interesting. I’ve lived in this village for forty-two years now, and still don’t really consider myself fully a citizen.  Over the years I’ve been subjected to the down-the-nose looks of the OMF’s – for the uninitiated, that’s Old Maritzburg Families – and have constantly…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 08 February 2013 | Comments (4) | Views (1501) | Read more

A jewel called Mooi Falls

I know I’ve featured Mooi (or Zulu) Falls more than once before, but thought it could be interesting to give you a brief background to this lovely property that has just a tenuous grip on its survival as a lodge. For many years I’d heard about Mooi Falls, but hadn’t really believed that such a minor river could generate an…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 | Comments (6) | Views (3321) | Read more

Picturing Vernon Crookes

For a long time I'd spoken about organising a photographers' weekend at Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, just inland from the Kwazulu-Natal south coast at Park Rynie.   I'd been there a few times previously, but never since getting enthusiastic about my camera.  In those days everything had revolved around birdwatching, and Vernon Crookes was as good as it gets. Being…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 02 February 2013 | Comments (2) | Views (1670) | Read more

Cameras at Spionkop Lodge

Spionkop Lodge lies in the deep thornbush of the Tugela River system, between Winterton and Ladysmith, and takes its name from the prominent hill that played such a vital part in the devastating battle for the Tugela Heights in the South African War in 1900.  The story of the battle is laced with tragedy and valour on both sides of…Read more
By Doug Morton on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 | Comments (4) | Views (3437) | Read more

Hotel in the Hills

I suppose I must establish my patch before going further.  I'm not really a royalist, but I do recognise the existence of royalty in many societies, and the importance of the role it plays.  I won't go into that role except to say that for many, many people, the presence of royalty is a focal point, a rallying point, rooted…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 09 April 2012 | Comments (26) | Views (8684) | Read more

Winter Wonderland at Cumberland

The Bushveld. The very word conjures up images of faraway places, majestic animals, trees, mountains and endless vistas.  Places nearly a lifetime away, the playground of the well-heeled, of the bronzed game rangers and of mystical tribespeople.  The word stirs within each of us a longing to be somewhere else, somewhere different, where days are filled with fantasy-like contact with…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 | Comments (10) | Views (7793) | Read more

Horseplay

Every now and again I go back and look at some of the older material that's been filed away and has been gathering digital dust ever since, in case there's something interesting I've forgotten about.  Scrolling down the menu of "Places" in my photo filing system I found an item called Noodsberg. I suppose Noodsberg is a place, though it's…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 10 December 2011 | Comments (14) | Views (2573) | Read more

Art among the koppies

A spin-off from my long interest in the Boer War, or the South Africa War as it's being called more and more nowadays, is that whenever I travel in South Africa I can use my imagination to try to match events of a hundred and ten years ago with what I'm seeing and experiencing. One of my favourite spots was…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 04 November 2011 | Comments (5) | Views (3955) | Read more

A new gallery in the KZN Midlands

The Karkloof Farmers Market has been trading at the old timber mill just outside Howick for a number of years now, and has become a weekly social occasion for many of the people of Howick and indeed of Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding Midlands community.  It's open every Saturday morning and has all sorts of wonderful stalls like a coffee counter,…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 30 July 2011 | Comments (4) | Views (1287) | Read more

Over the Sandstone Hills and back (Part Four)

The next day, after looking around in the town of Ficksburg for an hour or two, we did indeed set off for Senekal to see a new area.  The potholed road wound its leisurely way through the koppies and valleys, the traffic was almost non-existent, and we took our time.  We made a number of stops to look at birds,…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 28 April 2011 | Comments (2) | Views (9361) | Read more

Back to the lovely station

Those of you who remember the earlier blog post titled "Falling Apart" from some months ago will feel, with much justification, that I've nailed my colours to the mast regarding my feelings about the state and condition of our city, and thus of our society.  I can't pretend to be able to see past the destruction, neglect and dereliction that…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 14 April 2011 | Comments (2) | Views (3759) | Read more

Over the Sandstone Hills and back (Part Three)

Having settled in at Kersiehuis on Sunday, we began to wonder where to go sightseeing for the next few days.  We remembered seeing an interesting old house next to the road opposite Fouriesburg, and decided it was worth retracing our steps for the day.  I suppose we all, at one time or another, began a school essay with the famous…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 | Comments (19) | Views (8094) | Read more

Over the Sandstone Hills and back (Part Two)

The Brandwater Basin begins at Golden Gate and runs parallel to the Lesotho border, including Clarens and Fouriesburg, ending near Ficksburg.  As the British forces advanced into the Orange Free State Republic in the South African War (Boer War) in 1900, having at last got past the Boer defences at Magersfontein and elsewhere, the Boer commandos went into hiding in…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 25 March 2011 | Comments (4) | Views (6924) | Read more

Over the Sandstone Hills and back (Part One)

As kids growing up in the old Transvaal we were quite snooty when discussing the then Orange Free State, and joked about "those black and white lines above the veld that were the days and nights following one another across the boring landscape."  Only the Free Staters liked their province, and we regarded it as a part of the country…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 21 March 2011 | Comments (6) | Views (8531) | Read more

Falling Apart

I was at a loose end last Sunday morning, with no idea of where to look for pictures.  I'd already missed the best light of the day, and there seemed to be no point in using up gold-plated fuel for unusable photographs. Trying to drive through central Pietermaritzburg I fell foul of a road race that uses city streets, doing…Read more
By Doug Morton on Friday, 04 March 2011 | Comments (2) | Views (1641) | Read more

Just along the road to Wartburg

Less than a half-hour's drive from my home in Pietermaritzburg lies Wartburg, a village that's not really en route to anywhere, unless you're a local farmer.  The town lies in the midst of vast areas of sugar cane and timber operations, dwarfed by the sheer extent of the mono cultures.  Here and there are breaks in the landscape, hosting beef…Read more
By Doug Morton on Saturday, 19 February 2011 | Comments (3) | Views (2038) | Read more

At the roadside in Zululand

For the first time in several years Terri and I were able to get away for a few days in the bush.  We'd decided on another trip to Bonamanzi near Hluhluwe village in Zululand.  We've been there on previous occasions and loved the solitude of the tree houses, the endless walks through sand forest, the abundance of birds and butterflies,…Read more
By Doug Morton on Tuesday, 08 February 2011 | Comments (9) | Views (3471) | Read more

Return to Mooi Falls

Since the summer rains started last year, about two months later than normal, the weather has been so changeable that it's been difficult to pin down a day of good conditions for photography in the bush.  I've been wanting to go back to Mooi Falls, also called Zulu Falls, for some time now.  My last visit was on 2 October…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 31 January 2011 | Comments (3) | Views (3084) | Read more

A camera in the garden

The hectic colour of spring in the garden is over for this season, but there's still much to see and enjoy.  So it was that my camera took me walkabout yesterday to capture what's flowering now.  Many of the plants are beginning to seed and are providing food for a variety of birds, some of which are beginning their annual…Read more
By Doug Morton on Sunday, 23 January 2011 | Comments (4) | Views (2024) | Read more

Up and down the Umkomaas Valley at Highover

About a week ago we fellows decided that a boys' day out was in order.  All in the name of art and science, of course, we resolved to take ourselves off to Highover at Hella-Hella in the Umkomaas Valley in southern Kwazulu-Natal.  The idea was to take a new look at the endangered Blue Swallow, and to photograph as many…Read more
By Doug Morton on Thursday, 20 January 2011 | Comments (0) | Views (2864) | Read more

In the beginning ........

We're all about new beginnings.  This is a new website, in a new year, part of a new venture. I've been pointing my camera at all kinds of things around me.  Birds, flowers, landscapes, animals, and sometimes even people.  I said on my home page that I'll be presenting to you this part of Africa that is my home. This…Read more
By Doug Morton on Monday, 03 January 2011 | Comments (1) | Views (1645) | Read more

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