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As anticipated, the spring flowers have been glorious. Most spectacular have been the watsonias the ubiquitous pink ones that the porcupines decimate in Betty’s Bay gardens and a veritable host of beautiful orange ones that I have never seen before.

What a treat!

 A riot of colour along the length of the fire break below Bass Road.


Eskom may need your cash, but SO DO YOU!

The secret is to buy as much of your monthly electricity as you can at the lowest possible rate. Remember: The more you buy, the more expensive it is.

On the first of the month., spend precisely R647 on electricity. If you spend any more, that will be charged at a much higher rate. It is a good idea to do this in two purchases, one for R500 [which you immediately feed into your meter] and one for R147, the slip of which you tape next to your meter. Thus, when you run out, you will have an instant supply, as well as a very good handle on how much electricity you are using. It’s not a bad idea to record the units on the meter before and after punching in your purchases. You will be inspired to save electricity when it’s written down in black and white.

You should be able to work out an average of what you use in a day if you consult your records and do a bit of elementary maths. If your R647’s worth runs out before the end of the month, buy only as much as you need for the remaining days of the month. Top-ups will be expensive so never buy more than you need. Wait for the first of the next month for your next big purchase when once again the magic figure of R647 comes into play.

[Extra tip: You can buy electricity from the FNB banking website, if you're a customer. I don't know about other banks, other than that ABSA has no such facility. — Ed.]

Dear Helen,

Here is the piece I mentioned that I’d written on the Violet Snail Shell for “The Buzz”:

While my son and family were holidaying at Betty’s Bay this year, his elder daughter Amelia, aged ten, decided to do a project on “floating shells”. To her delight, she found numbers of pretty Violet Snail Shells (Janthina janthina) on the beach, together with their prey, the bluebottle, or Portuguese-man-of-war. These snails are in turn preyed upon by birds, fish, sea turtles and other molluscs.

Janthinas have light, fragile shells, growing to between 3-4 cm in size, depending on water temperature. Their bodies are dark purple to black in colour and have a rubbery, slug-like texture. With their “feet” or mantles, they agitate the sea water to create tiny bubbles which they join together with mucus to form rafts, from which they suspend themselves, allowing them to float on the ocean surface. Other common names for this sea snail are Bubble Raft Shell and Purple Storm Snail.

These fascinating creatures spend almost their entire lives at sea, unless washed up onto the shore after unique storms or when an onshore wind has been blowing for a few days. They are all born male and later develop into females. The males release their sperm into a case which drifts to the female, allowing fertilization to take place. The eggs develop internally and the tiny snails are born live and able to build their floating rafts immediately. In the Indian Ocean, there are huge concentrations of these Violet Snail Shells, bluebottles and jellyfish being swept along by the Agulhas current.

With best wishes, Hilary Mauve.

P.S. Recently, Amelia put on a display of her Violet Snail shells at the British Shell Society and was awarded the cup for the Best Educational exhibit on show. This is possibly the first time a child has won a cup that is in a class open to adults as well.

With mucous intact
Dry—as collected from the beach