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Newsletter of the Hillside Dams Conservancy
Issue No. 2 - 14 January 2010


Our heartfelt greetings to all of you for the new year. Let’s hope that 2010 will usher in good times wherever you are. The rains around Bulawayo have been erratic this season but several heavy showers over the last fortnight have kept us going. It was wonderful walking around the Cons- ervancy a couple of mornings ago after the previous day’s deluge. The Conservancy was cool, damp and green. The birds were singing, insects buzzing and chirping and there was that matchless sound of water dripping off the trees. The levels of the Dams remain much the same so we wait….

Remember it was only in the second week of February in both 2008 and 2009 that they filled. Will we again be so lucky?

The last month has been an extremely busy one at the Dams. Being the school holidays we have played host to numerous visitors - several seem to have made this their hangout of choice. It is good to see that the next generation is again taking to the Dams. A number of children’s homes around Bulawayo also held their end of year functions at Hillside Dams. While it was sad to see the number of orphans and underprivileged children in our midst, it is indeed gratifying to know that there are dedicated groups and individuals who are doing their utmost to assist. The citizens of Bulawayo and benefactors beyond are truly a wonderful caring, community.

In addition to events arranged by the Conservancy and the Hillside Dams Boma there have been others organized (with our blessing) by third parties.

To keep some of the younger children busy and out of parent’s hair Allyson Lasker, once director of Upway Riding School, held a number of children’s activity days. Her ponies have also put in an appearance on most Sunday’s proving a real hit. The weekend Jumping Castle near the Boma and the “Sweetman League” up at the Volleyball court have also proved extremely popular.

The Boma was busy over the Festive Season. Decorated using painted local materials – dead sisal flower stalks, mutamba, combretum and mukwa seeds we hope it created something a little different.

The “cyclists in red” heralded the actual Christmas holiday on the afternoon of Friday 24th, while large numbers of picnickers took to the various braais and shady spots throughout the Conservancy over that weekend. This was repeated a week later over New Year. Thank-you to all for your support.

We are currently trying to upgrade the facilities and improve security. The latter has seen the installation of several internal gates. Please note that these gates are either fixed barriers or are opened daily and locked at 5pm. The gates are there to reduce opportunities for theft and vandalism. We are not trying to limit peoples’ enjoyment but we know the security hotspots and want to avoid further incidents. Why people insist on tampering with the gates and trying to drive around them is so frustrating!

It While clearing the litter in the Boma car park (how we hate cigarettes and bottle tops!) we came across this old Ticky.

It was corroded and it took a fair amount of elbow grease to get it clean; evidence of how long it had been lying there. What is a ticky we were asked? A generation thing I guess! Do you remember those small three-penny coins that represented immense wealth when we were at school in the late 60s? You could get a mini-bottle of milk or an ice-lolly or one of those horrendous sticky buns.

Many plants are now flowering in the Conservancy but most blossoms are small and green. In contrast three species of Acacia (thorn tree) are in full bloom – Acacia karroo with its bright yellow blossom; Acacia rehmanniana with its rusty-red branches and masses of white pompom flowers; and the scattered white flowers of the spiny Acacia schweinfurthii that forms the thicket along the stream.

Illustrated above are the flowers of the Schrebera alata or wooden pear (one of 17 common titles listed in a recent publication on vernacular botanical names). This small tree is found scattered in the rocky kopjes and has distinctive winged leaves. The pretty flowers are deeply scented, somewhat reminiscent of jasmine. It is a perfume particularly notable in the early evening.

Thanks to those who responded to our appeal last month. We are making progress with the mowers and hopefully the grass will not get away this season.
Our plans this month are to close off a couple of gaps in the boundary walls as well as building additional braai stands. If anyone can assist with building skills and materials, especially old truck rims please let us know.
Does anyone have some whitewash we can have?

The Hillside Dams Boma is now open from 9-6 (summer hours). For peak times, especially over the weekends, it is desirable to book ahead of time but you might be lucky if you do turn up.

Why not join us after work. The Dams are a great place in the late afternoon. We can arrange group or corporate sundowners and/or evening events. Do contact us.