Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedom of expression.

Well I heard it with my own ears yesterday, "My child isn't crying - she is expressing herself."
I was in a kiddies play centre in Singapore which Katherine and Adam love. Lots of children running swinging, jumping, sliding and bouncing and lots of bored moms staring at their phone screens. In the middle of all this chaos was a screaming toddler in a high chair - her older sister was playing with - whoever - I don't think the mother even noticed who her daughter was playing with because she was busy tapping away at her phone screen. Noticing the toddlers distress I clapped my hands and tried to distract her......and that's when the mother said,"My child isn't crying - she is expressing herself." in quite a defiant, challenging tone.
I was taken aback more by the tone than the words - I am not it the habit of commenting on any child's behaviour when the parent is present. However, I have heard this expression before - it seems to be the current craze among young parents and quite frankly I don't know which child behaviourist served up this rubbish that they have latched on to as an excuse for not bothering to interact or discipline their kids. It is a crock of shit!
So - I did the world a favour and replied quite pleasantly,"Yes she is expressing herself isn't she, she is telling you that she is confined in a high chair and cant get out to play with the others. She is telling you that she needs your attention. She is asking you to entertain her as she is too small to entertain herself"  I looked at her phone as I said the last statement. I felt really good expressing myself!

Recently my sister and hubby had to endure a long haul flight with a screaming toddler who cried every time Peppa the Pig went off - about every 20 minutes. Obviously there wasn't a Peppa the Pig film on offer on the flight. Another lazy parent finding an 'electronic' baby minder easier that using her own energy and skills to entertain her child and inflicting stress on 200 people. No doubt the excuse if challenged would be " My child is expressing himself".

The mom in the playcentre put her phone away and packed up her stuff a few minutes later. The little was lifted out of her chair and clung to her mom as she sauntered out.....and the crying and screaming stopped. Perhaps her mother got the message after all.  Having children is a fun loving and joyful and rewarding experience. It is also hard work, challenging and demanding!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Air Space

In case you haven't noticed, I have been in transit a lot lately. One day they will invent time travel so we can all be like Dr Who and in a flash be in the country or place that we want to be in.Until till then I will have to work on my patience level especially at airports and if I had my way I would hand out the following information for anyone travelling in my air space.

1. There is a seat for everyone on the plane. YES - if you have checked in and are in departures there is a seat for you on the plane. No need to panic and shove and push others out of the way. You have a boarding pass with your name on it and the plane is not going anywhere without you so CALM down.

2. A line will form by your boarding gate - this is called a QUEUE and its traditional to stand in it before you board. A special note to German travelers - please don't pretend you don't know how to queue - I have seen the photos taken in Germany after the war and I know that you know how to queue. Having one of your tour group stand in the queue for you is just not how you do it and just because you speak another language doesn't exempt you from standing in line here in South Africa!

3. This is one for the back packing gap-year generation. Please note that the thing you are carrying on your back that weighs as much as you do, is probably wider than you are. You need to remember this when you when in the QUEUE (refer to above for explanation) and also when you are walking down the aisle of the plane - Keep in out of my face please when you turn around and for your information it hurts and bruises people as you bash past them.

4. That goes for any body part. I like the aisle seat - I am claustrophobic so ceiling room is important to me - I had a belly thrust in my face last week as a passenger put her bag into the overhead compartment and no she wasn't pregnant! on the same flight - where we were packed in like sardines - I had a denim half-clad backside thrust under my nose. I was relieved that he was wearing boxers or it could have been worse!

5. A tip for travelers who want to be sat next to happy, smiling passengers - please please wash under your arms with soap and rinse with clean water and apply deodorant - available at most pharmacies at the airport. Similarly lay off the onion soup or garlic bread before you board. There is nothing worse than being sat next to a smelly person when in a confined space - make an effort please and if you can't make an effort - sit by the window - I will be in an aisle seat.

6. Tea tree oil is a must for me when I travel and I always have a small bottle with me. I apply to my nostrils before I fly and en flight. It acts like a disinfectant for your smelly armpits, hairy belly and other germy things that come into my personal space. Airplanes are really mobile germ tanks but you can minimise things by covering your mouth and washing your hands. Which brings me to those snug toilets - say no more - trust me that's not water that has splashed accidentally on the floor!

7. I like children - I love well behaved ones! In my generation you weren't allowed to fly until you reached the age where you could pilot the plane so Parents - if you must travel with your kids - please keep them quiet. We all know their ears hurt so we are tolerant at take off and landing but REALLY don't inflict your inability to discipline your children on the rest of the passengers or speak to them in that irritating voice that you reserve for public occasions where you say things like, "Oh my baby that is such a lovely tune that you are tapping out  the seat back in front of you". I traveled with my four boys on 5 planes to South Africa years ago and it doesn't get tougher than that, I packed a sedative for them just in case they grew restless or couldn't sleep (my doctor suggested that if it didn't work on them to take it myself). It was hard work but we were complimented as we disembarked on how well behaved they were.

8. There is one elbow rest per person so if both your elbows are be supported then you are using MY elbow rest.  You may have shared the womb with an attached twin at some point in your gestation but it wasn't me. I am not going to put my arm around you when you lean on me in your sleep nor am I going to share pillows, blankets or my life story with you and I don't want you to share yours!

9. Please don't share your worst flight experience with me either! I don't want to watch. Snakes on a Plane, Sully, 9/11 or any airplane disaster movie. Please don't cry out when there is a little bit of turbulence or start playing with your rosary mid flight! The drinks may be complimentary but is it wise to binge drink with a bunch of strangers?

10. When it comes to disembarking the rules 1 and 2 apply in reverse. We are ALL getting off the plane its not a race and believe me the quicker you get to the luggage carousel the longer your wait will be. Those who leap out of their seat as soon as the plane lands and stand in the aisle with their  phone pinging non stop as they bark their instructions to their lift/collector. Surely an intelligent person would have made these arrangements before they boarded.

Traveling is fun but it can be stressful and if  you want to see the true values of a person then watch their behaviour when they are stressed. The airlines like to pack them in and need to pack them in to keep costs down. Cheaper flights and no frills options shouldn't mean cheap behaviour and disrespect. All it takes to make the journey more tolerable for everyone is respect, courtesy and a dash of good humour. Of course I am the perfect passenger ;-)

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Singapore

This visit I am doing different things - I am saving the usual sightseeing things I want to do again from previous visits until Julia arrives and we can do them together. So for now I am taking the route less travelled.
Today I went to the Mustafa Centre - - Mr Mustafa must be like Mr Selfridge on steroids. A cross between a labyrinth and a department store , open 24 hours a day, in two buildings on opposite sides of the road, on four floors! It sells anything and everything from fresh fruit to shampoo to gold jewelry to fabric softener to souvenirs. Without Nadine I would still be wandering around lost! The aisles are so narrow that there is hardly room to walk and there must be 300 people in there at any given time. Shopping chaos!
The Mustafa Centre is in the middle of 'Little India' - there is nothing small about Little India.  In the centre of wide roads, constant traffic, high-rise apartments are narrow alleys and the traditional old shop houses and the most beautiful temples. We visited one - it was a colourful, calm and shady oasis! It was a blessing to take my shoes off to walk around it.

Yesterday was a quiet day for my - I chose to chill a little and catch up on some work and reading while Katherine went to her playgroup in the morning and her ComandoKids in the afternoon. I just joined in for a quick visit to the 2$ store and bought a load of stuff  I didnt know I needed and saw a heap more that I didnt know anyone needed - chair socks included!
Wednesday morning we explored the Arab Quarter and took the scenic route past some really interesting buildings - I love the contrast between modern and ancient!

Then after lunch we took Adam and Katherine to a fabulous play area called Pollywogs - A fabulous padded cell for children equippd with everything a child wants to climb, slide, twiddle, throw and slide on ,,,,,,which they can do without hurting themselves. The photos I too aren't great because they were on the go and never still long enough for me to catch them - exactly as it should be in such an exciting place! I crawled around for 2 hours trying to keep up with them - #Fail!

So all in all a brilliant and busy week - my first one over and I know time will fly by. When I saw this sign I was tempted - I really was....... then I saw that I had missed the boat! Next time maybe I will Meet, Mingle and Meditate in Little India :-)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Singapore - I have arrived!

I have arrived and Sean and Nadine's new apartment is lovely - right on the river its like a painting that changes with the drifting clouds. Water traffic includes amphibian boats that emerge from the water on wheels and a whole range of man powered vessels from Dragon Boats, double skulls to 'eights' with a cox giving enthusiastic encouragement. In the evening the skyline comes alive and is a wonderful backdrop - like your own living wallpaper twinkling away in the lounge.
Saturday evening we went to the Chingay Parade - an annual event but I like to think it was held in my honour this year! What a spectacle! A procession of vehicles lit in rainbow colours interspersed with dancers, singers, acrobats, ballerina's, Chinese dragons, high kicking karate, stilt walkers, ten foot rotating princesses and and and - all led by the current president of Singapore and concluded by a firework display. Everything a parade should be and delivered in the precision expected of Singapore. Incidentally - its a parade to build unity amongst citizens and is totally staffed and performed by volunteers. The mantra is "We are one." which we were encouraged to chant at intervals while waving our golden pompoms and blue star light sticks. Its almost like a communist May Day Parade with a Bollywood twist!
Day 2 and a trip on the Marina Bay Shopping Mall where Dolce & Gabana are neighbours to Chanel and Gucci. The store windows full of glittering purchases shouting 'buy me" Alas the prices are not for the faint hearted and their calls fell on deaf ears and my empty pocket.
What was free and fabulous was the view of the inverted water fountain or Rain Occulus designed by Ned Khan - I was lucky to see it in action as it doesn't always have water in it but this was a rainy day. You can ride on a Gondola around the lower floor of the shopping mall and a few passengers got wet as the Occulus rained down on them - all intentional and much enjoyed.

Our reason for being at the Marina Bay Mall was lunch! Sean had reserved a table at Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen - check it out here. The family wanted Sunday roast with Yorkshire pud and that is what they a price. I had cod which was delicious .....and also not the cheapest or even value for money. All the time I was eating I half expected the master chef himself to come out of the kitchen and "F%&* us up." We didn't complain ,,,,,LOL.
Singapore is a city of contrast and today we went to Everton Street in one of the older suburbs. we went to look at some street art, which I was busy admiring when I bumped into Mavis who shared with us that the best mural was a little further in and around the corner before she went on her way.

We made our way there after taking photos of the first two murals and who do we literally trip over - Mavis - turns out she is a cat feeder and feeds 23 stray cats in this area. 'My mother was a cat feeder before me", she told me," there is a real cat problem here - its out of control and a lot of my cats are old, have dementia and some no teeth.' I told her she was a cat angel - she laughed at that thought but she really is.

Back to our mission which is to explore the murals of Everton Street murals - beautifully painted by Yip Yew Chong. They depict street life from a bygone age and reminded me of  the artwork for the Hummel figurines that I remembered from my childhood - whimsical and endearing in ice cream colours. This is my 3rd visit to Singapore and there is still much that I haven't seen - more importantly for me is that each visit to a country, you drill down a little deeper and seek out the hidden away places behind the scenes and meet everyday heroes like Mavis and THAT is what I always enjoy the most!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Be a Voice and not an echo

My first blog post of 2017 and I am still looking backwards and not forwards like most people are around this time. Odd for me as I am usually first out of the starting gate galloping through life and clearing the high jumps! AS I write this I am waiting near the car wash while my son's car is being valeted - a real luxury in my eyes as my own little run about is washed fortnightly with two bowls of water, a sponge and some newspapers! But this is a BIG car and its WHITE and he kindly borrowed it to me to take the visiting UK family to Addo so its good that I am here :-)  I got to the car wash early but there is already a queue of cars and I am given a ticket and told 2 hours - so here I sit in Dulcies with my book scribbling away while enjoying a pensioner breakfast!
There is a description of a dress in the book which reminds me that I am gifted with being able remember what I was wearing on any memorable occasion. Today I am wearing soft blue and cream pants and a blue draped top - and when I put them on I immediately was transported to the last time I wore them - Thailand - on a day when we went island hopping. Dim Sum for breakfast and then a day of welcome, cool, soft, damp spray as we bumped through the Gulf of Siam.
I have a dress in my wardrobe that I am unable to part with - Its black with a wide white satin collar - Seventeen years ago I wore it on the eve of the millennium and felt like a movie star as I swanned into the Marine Hotel where we attended a masked ball. We watched fireworks at midnight, partied till dawn and then walked home after celebrating the dawn of a new century with the dolphins at Hobie Beach.
 Then there is  my red dress - that dress is so red it should have a PULSE! A secret that I kept when I made an impromptu decision to have something made for a wedding when I learned the bride's colours were green and silver. I had planned to wear a green dress  # Great fashion tip - Never dress in the same colour as the  table overlays!! I ran into Fudge Classics and tried a dusty pink number on which did nothing for my skin tone but then I saw the red!! Tony stood all ready and waiting for me in his suit checking his phone and when he looked up as I passed him - he did a double take that almost put his neck out. WOW and a low wold whistle followed - He was impressed and from that day it was known as my whiplash dress and when I wear it I am reminded that I once - not that long ago - turned heads!

I still have my size 10 jeans that I arrived in PE in 33 years ago and I swear that they would hardly fit one leg today. Looking at them I find it incredible that after bearing four strapping sons - the youngest then 18 months old - that I sashayed into my new life here. They remind me that I was a 'Yummy Mummy' before the term was invented.
I have a favourite skirt that I will never part with. Its burgundy silk with a band of hand painted flowers down the front in cerise, peach and yellow. When I wear it and yes, I still do when I can find an occasion worthy to do it justice, I feel like an exotic flower. I have worn it to a garden wedding and a couple of years ago to Madam Zingaras. I suppose you could call it vintage.
There is a part of me that is drawn to wear beige and shades of sludge but there is a voice within that shouts, 'Hey look at me!' that sometimes demands that I listen.
I was reminded of this when my three year granddaughter was visiting over December - she has a princess dress for everyday of the week and skips around in  rainbow velvet and gauzy net, sparkling and leaving glitter and magic everywhere she treads. I think how I would be if that boring beige voice did not get the better of me.
Today I was inspired by Meryl Street who used her voice at the Golden Globes to speak up against Trump's disrespect for people who are different. I love her courage and integrity.  While shopping with my sister - I found a top that says - "Be a voice and not an echo" and so I have been given my mission this year. LISTEN TO THAT BOLD VOICE WITHIN AND LIVE 2017 IN FULL COLOUR.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Balls, IT and Heroes!

Its been a while.....I couldn't get to my G Spot! I know it sounds bad and it was - I have had problems with IT. The joys of technology :-( My laptop just died on me and I had to get a new one and just logging into everything was problematic. But here I am so what can I tell you?
Where have I been?
Well, I have been gallivanting again. This time up the Wild Coast which I love and we stayed at Umngazi near Port St Johns and it was great. Its one of those old family resorts where generations of families have holidayed since forever. Children's, children's children are now holidaying there and it is an amazing place to park up, relax and let the kids run wild. Thankfully we went during school terms so there weren't that many (and please friends with children don't be offended - we love kids but appreciate some quiet adult time) and I can image in school holidays that Umngazi is wall to wall or should I say dune to dune - kids! The drive through the old Transkei was as eventful as ever with mad drivers, mad cows, mad goats, and a mad horse that refused to budge from the middle of the N2. But we arrived in one piece and enjoyed a long weekend in addition to the wonderful scenery and watching the comerants fish on the sunset cruise,  the highlight was the seafood buffet on Saturday night followed by the entertainment. One minute we were being served by elegant waitrons and the next they were drumming up a storm and dancing in traditional dress - I have to say they did the latter far more energetically! I did a bit of dancing myself last week too.
Who have I met?
I have met Ryk Neethling the Olympic swimmer at a very la-a-a-rney occasion - the Ighazi Ball - which is THE highlight of PEs social calendar. Jason Kriek showcased his magnificent fashions, Ian Von Memety showcased his amazing talent and all of PEs glitterari were there including our new mayor. We all put on our best frocks, our best faces and our best smiles (I have a niece who calls this grin-fu****g which I think best describes that sort of polite nodding grin we exchange at functions). Everyone looked splendid and I must say PE knows how to put on a party! Ryk was very dashing and patient as every woman in the room wanted a photo with him but I could see his grin was fading towards the end of the evening - he just wasn't smiling with his eyes anymore. To me the real celebrities of the night are the courageous cancer survivors who are living life thanks to the work of the doctors and nurses who care for them in Provincial and St Georges and GVI oncology. Two beautiful women in particular, who went through the same treatment at the same time and are now proud ambassadors of survival.
I have also met the editor of Glamour magazine - Pnina Fenster - again at a breakfast to support cancer patients and she is such a wonderful speaker - I cant remember a thing she said lol - but I remember thinking what a great speaker she is - and what a gorgeous. glamourous lady!  I have also met numerous learners and adults travelling on this life-long journey of learning who never cease to impress me with their enthusiasm to share what they know and what they hope to know. I learn as much from them as they from me and that is why I love my work!
What I have learned?
I have learned that those exotic blooms,  orchids, are cheaper than flowers in the long run. Mine are now flowering for a third time and that R200 splurge has brought 6 months of gorgeous prettiness to my home. I have learned that getting dressed up and going to a ball is worth the effort and the reward is feeling glam and special with or without glass slippers (I opted for comfort). That goes for life too - it's very tempting to come home and loll in front of the TV but it will get you nowhere, so its worth the effort to dress up and show up and so I have been doing that at every opportunity! I have also learned that eating spaghetti bolognaise the day after the ball in your PJs is a very acceptable way to relax and recover.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wild Thing 2

When you put a bunch of strangers together for four days - you never know what the result is going to be and I always applaud myself on my courage to venture off into the unknown as a solo traveller joining a group. Driving to Pumba was no different - I was excited by the prospect of three days of wildlife, nature and photography - my biggest concern were the other animals I may meet - the human ones! Experience and my work has taught me a lot about group dynamics and we were a text book case of Brian Tuckman's four stage theory of group development - Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing!

We all arrived quite promptly on Thursday and sat down to lunch where we ate and engaged in polite small talk with one another - exchanging basic information and sharing travel experiences. We were a group of 6 - five females and one male - plus our ranger/host/photography expert and so the day panned out and more pleasantries were exchanged during the game drive and over dinner that evening. We were all on time the next morning and out again at sun up. We were forming!
There was a little bit of storming the following day as I sensed tension between two of the ladies - nothing major but definitely some eye rolling and a pursing of lips and the odd sigh of irritation. It all started with an empty dish of baby marrows - a large serving spoon - an embarrassing comment and all of a sudden there was an elephant in the room!
By that afternoon, though we were back on track literally -  sharing funny stories, fleecy beanies, alcohol laden coffee and even the odd jelly baby. On that particular drive I disclosed that in all my time in Africa I had never seen a leopard, truly in the wild - the depressed leopard that I once saw in an enclosure at Pumba several years ago didn't count. I then endured several leopard sighting stories and promptly declared that if we spotted a leopard (excuse the pun) then I would arrive for dinner that evening in my leopard print pyjamas. That exciting prospect fuelled by the alcohol laden coffee suddenly set off a flurry of leopard spotting (again sorry). "Oh look there's one by the watering hole with her cubs." "If you look in that tree right over there - there's one - posing in the branches looking straight at us!" The only problem was I couldn't see any of them ........some desperate people will say anything to see me in my pajamas!! I had to add a codicil to my promise that stated that photographic evidence must be supplied. I enjoyed supper in my jersey and jeans. We were norming!
The next morning though I decided that I had been on  my best behaviour long enough and appeared for the morning drive in fleecy leopard jammies to a round of applause and one cat whistle! It was a lovely morning - crisp and clear as the bush calling birds welcomed the day. The horizon was green - fifty shades of green topped with some purple capped hills and all of a sudden in the foreground one bright cerise pink bush! "What is that and how did it get there?" asked Ms Baby Marrow. The ranger pulled over and we all admired this splash of  random pink. "I am not sure." he said. "I know", I heard myself saying as 6 heads turned my way to witness my floral expertise. The ranger looked worried as I started to explain,"As you know, I came here several years ago and if my memory serves me right this is the location we stopped on a game drive back then - I needed the loo and this is the exact spot where I relieved myself," I continued. "Usually an English rose in pink flourishes on the spot when that happens, but the night before I was drinking local wine, so obviously this beautiful pink indigenous bush was the result!" The bush resonated with the sound of humans laughing like hyenas - the ranger shook his head. Even if I say it myself - it was funny!!!! "OK lets get on with our photography," he said. " Last night we did the light metering module - set your camera on IS01600 and point your camera at Sue's bush!" More laughter and several camera clicks in my direction and I had to issue a strict warning that if anyone posted photos of my bush on the Internet then I would sue. More hyena laughing - we were in hysterics - we were performing,
Another day and we would have been a real team but that was our last drive and it was back to the lodge for breakfast and goodbyes. I brought back some wonderful photos of the weekend but just as important for me was the laughter and just recalling these special moments brings a big smile to my face and my heart is laughing like a hyena!