People who know me in real life (as opposed to those who merely choose to follow the infamous internet personality and all-round shining wit that writes this stuff) may have seen this image over the weekend.


Whereby we attended a sandy Strandlopery place on Struisbaai beach after a walk along the shore (strandloping), and enjoyed some of their Moar Koffie.

But, because I’m sad like that, I found myself wondering if the decorative lifebelt was just that (decorative, I mean; I know it was a lifebelt) or whether there was actually a boat called the F.T. Bates.

Those beagle-eyed readers who have glanced slightly further down the page may already have guessed the answer to this one.

It’s a yes.

ftbatesAnd look there on the front of the forecastle. Lifebelts.
The J.T Bates was a deep-water salvage tug built on the Clyde in 1950 and operating in and around Cape Town from 1950 until 1980. From there, she moved to Durban for a few years, but was scrapped there in 1983. The lifeboat from the tug (seen next to the funnel above) is now on display in the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban.

ftb2F.T. Bates under repair in Port Elizabeth in 1977 (via Flickr) (note prominent lifebelt again)

The tug was named for the F.T. Bates who was “the senior member of the Union Government of South Africa. (Railways & Harbour Administration)  Railway Board” in the mid to late 1940s.

One of the major moments in the history of the J.T. Bates was in the S.S. Seafarer wreck:

As the engine-room began to flood the engines were shut down for fear of an explosion and Capt Branch realised that the ship was in grave danger. Every wave that broke over the SA.Seafarer pushed her further and further onto the reef. Hurriedly, but calmly, the passengers and crew gathered in the lounge while they awaited instructions from the master. By this time it was obvious that there was no chance of saving the vessel. The first message from the ship was one of urgency: “Please take off passengers and crew as soon as possible”. Rescue operations from the shore were immediately set into motion. The tugs F.T. Bates and C.G. White left Duncan Dock and manoeuvred into position outside the breakers off Green Point in order to render whatever assistance possible.

Obviously, there was very little (actually nothing) that the tugs could do on that night. In fact, it’s 33 years since the F.T. Bates has done anything.

But its name lives on through a lifebelt on a beach bar in Struisbaai.

Air kiss your dog

Do you have a dog? Of course you do. Or perhaps you don’t.
Either way, there’s good evidence that allowing your dog to lick you (this is apparently the dog version of a kiss) could lead to all sorts of nasty stuff happening to you.

It may seem like a harmless display of affection, but allowing your pet to ‘kiss’ you could be dangerous – or even fatal.

So states the Guardian in their article, entitled:

Should I let my dog lick my face?

And the easy answer seems to be “no”, unless you want to play with Clostridium spp, E.coli and Campylobacter spp. Or Pasteurella multocida, a regular part of your dog’s normal mouth flora, which was:

… blamed for meningitis in 42 infants in France under the age of four between 2001 and 2011. Nearly half the babies were newborn, and most were infected as a result of dogs or cats licking them. Four died.

Or Haemophilus aphrophilus, responsible for causing brain abscesses and inflammation of the heart.

Or Dipylidium caninum – the double-pored dog tapeworm, the human excretion of which is always a favourite at parties. (Depending on which sort of parties you go to.)

And never forget the virtually unculturable (it’s really tough to grow it in a lab) Capnocytophaga canimorsus responsible for nearly doing for a 70-year-old woman in London earlier this year.

Statistically, you are extremely unlikely to get an horrific infection from allowing your dog (or cat – they’re hardly innocent in all this microbiological mayhem) lick your face. However, you are even less likely to get an horrific infection if you don’t allow your dog (or cat) to lick your face.

I know which route I’ll be taking. And I don’t even have a cat.


I’m fighting with my computer, meaning that blogging today isn’t going to happen. Save for this, of course. I’d hate to let you down by not telling you that I was letting you down.

The computer is working, but it’s on a go-slow and that’s proving very frustrating. I have a feeling that removing 25+GB of photo files to an external hard drive will assist in speeding things up, but as you can probably imagine, trying to get anything done on a slow computer that is also moving 25+GB of photo files to an external hard drive is sheer agony.

Tomorrow, good readers. (And the rest of you too.)

Weekend photos

We had some fun in Agulhas this weekend, not least setting up the camera with the remote shutter thingy on it next to the bird table.

This isn’t one of those photos…

…but you can view them here.
Via that link, you’ll also find some photographs of White-breasted Cormorants (Phalacrocorax lucidus) taken by 10-year-old Alex. They’ve required a bit of editing, because I gave him the camera set on Manual mode with the white balance set to Tungsten.

I haven’t learnt anything
, have I?


Before you dive down my throat, that’s the way it’s spelled in the title of this Ludovico Einaudi offering.

You and I would spell it Petrichor, wiv an aitch.

Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

Yeah, like that.
But either way, you can hear the rain and smell that scent in this energetic yet beautifully relaxing song:

Petrichor happens (exists?) as the result of a two separate chemical processes triggered by the rain.

Firstly, oils – palmitic acid and stearic acid – secreted by during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when a chemical called geosmin (you may remember it from such post as Safe To Drink) produced by soil-dwelling bacteria called Actinomycetes is released. Geosmin and these plant oils combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.

Actinos – great to look at under a microscope, absolute bastards to grow in the lab.

Add to those two the “pre-rain” ozone smell you get ahead of storms and you’ve got the most evocative odour outside of cut grass and freshly baked bread.