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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Tim twitching on Leisure Island - Day 361

A new hobby? Tim is twitching rather a lot on Leisure Island

From our balcony, we have a fabulous view of Knysna estuary, between The Heads and Leisure Island. First thing in the morning when the tide is out, a beautiful sandy bank is revealed. After a leisurely morning, we walked down the steep slope, on to George Rex Drive to the narrow causeway which links the island to the mainland.

Surrounding this thin strip of land is the tidal marsh which is an Invertebrate Reserve. This means that no invertebrate such as bloodworms, mud prawns, or any other kind of shellfish can be collected here. The reason for this is that these salt marshes are rare in South Africa and the preservation of these are essential for the marine food chain. However, they are threatened continuously by pollutants from industry, sewerage and damage caused by humans and livestock.

As we reached Leisure Island, we noticed 7 CCTV cameras focusing on the road. Crikey, I expect crime rates are low here. In fact, I have since discovered that there is a residents’ association here which pays, provides and controls the security operation on the Island so that people can enjoy living in a safe environment.

There was a detailed map of this small island, and immediately we spotted where the one café was located. We headed there and was served by a delightful young lady. She commented on my skirt, and I showed her that it was reversible (All three of my skirts are). She was very impressed and was even looking to see how it was made. We didn’t wait long until our healthy and delicious salads turned up. While eating and relaxing, Tim checked out the birds that we saw on the marshland; blacksmith lapwing, pied avocet, and two Egyptian geese. He is becoming quite a twitcher!

Suddenly I noticed that my phone was bleeping. It was George and Laura giving us a surprise call. We really do so appreciate our WhatsApp calls with family and friends. They pinged over some photos of their flat that they are majorly converting and it is so exciting seeing it all coming together. They have such great ideas.

After lunch, we walked around the island. On the Steenbok Nature Reserve, we came across a beautiful wood and metal sculpture called #ReflectionSeedPod, with two benches facing the mainland. This was a monument giving a space for remembrance, reflection and gratitude for the tragedy of last year when the area was inflamed for six days, one of the largest fire disasters South Africa has experienced. More than 1,100 homes were destroyed, 8,000 people were evacuated and sadly several lives were lost. On the Reflecting bench for what was lost, were 4 ‘husks’ representing Property, Nature, Livelihood and Life. On the Gratitude bench for what was learnt, were 5 ‘husks’; Energy, Generosity, Service, Strength and Community. It seemed quite poignant to be here on Remembrance Sunday.

The island is lovely, it does seem like a bit of a retirement village. I discovered that the island, which used to be called Steenbok, was owned by the British Colonial Government until 1821. It was then given to George Rex and was in his family until 1929 when it was bought for £7,000 by an American called George Cearn. He turned this uninhabited little island into a place where people could build their own homes, raise their families and eventually retire here, and he re-named it Leisure Isle.

Just before the tide came in, we enjoyed time on the beach. Of course, if there are sand and water, Tim has to create one of his sand sculptures. After yesterday’s little drama, he chose to make a snake. I sat, enjoying reading a book and watching children playing in the water and a young toddler having fun covering himself in the sand. This reminded us both of the first time our eldest George was on a sandy beach. He promptly took a handful of the stuff and shoved it in his mouth. Needless to say, we didn’t stay for long.

We finished circumnavigating the island, meeting two delightful British Bulldogs and owner, then slowly made our way back up the steep hill. It was much easier coming down, I can tell you. Not only was it slow due to the incline of the land, but also Tim taking more photos of birds, this time a Black-winged Stilt, Cape Teal and a Hadeda Ibis. Those little brown jobs are nigh impossible to catch on camera though. Hey ho!

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