Monday, April 23, 2018

Village Life

I am a lady in waiting so Patience is my middle name! I am still in Wiltshire and trying to be a useful addition to my niece's home. The biggest change from my arrival is the sun has come out and we have had glorious weather for five days and that just changes everything - people go a little giddy with happiness. There are so many interesting places around here and last Wednesday we went to Avebury Henge which has existed since 2850 - 2200 BC and is the largest stone circle in Britain -it encloses two smaller circles. Its very ancient and impressive and we visited on a glorious day. You  can get  more information about the history of Avebury Henge by clicking here. I can tell you that the scones in the teashop there are also made of stone!
On Thursday, I attended a WI meeting in Sherston - Sherston is pretty ancient too and in 1016 Cnut the Great (an unfortunate name) and his army fought a two day battle on the hills surrounding Sherston - there is some more info about Sherston here!
I really enjoyed the meeting as the guest speaker was a really entertaining lady from Chavenage House, near Tetbury, which is the house that features in Poldark. Caroline Lowsley Williams is the daughter of the family and such a character - she gave the impression of a typical eccentric village dweller who had just parked her horse outside. Caroline regaled us with anecdotes about the family and the challenges of keeping the whole place standing - hence the film work. They also provide full service wedding venue although there is not an en suite bedroom in the place, dodgy plumbing, an organ with bullet holes in it and keeping everything heated is a battle. Her parent have solved the problem of keeping warm, she told us, by disappearing on long cruises to faraway place such as the Amazon and Asia. She has solved the problem of keeping warm by boasting of having Jamie Dornan (aka Christian Grey) from Fifty Shades of Grey in her bedroom - she wasn't in it at the time but no one is to know that, and the thought makes her hot! A very entertaining evening in a lovely stone village hall.
My other excitement of the week was a visit to Malmsbury. My niece is the chair of the embroidery guild there and had business to do prior to the meeting so I wandered around - bought a lovely top with giraffes on it (I wonder why) and then headed to Malmsbury Abbey and parked myself on a bench in the sun to people watch. I was joined on the bench by a lady - and I mean a really well dressed, attractive lady whose outfit I was admiring as she walked towards the abbey  - and we struck up a conversation. While chatting she was sipping from her her drinking bottle and then confessed that it was full of wine! She even offered to share! Its amazing who we attract into our lives and she started to tell me her story - she is a widow, her well connected husband had left debts, they had no children and she was having to leave their home of 22 years and was looking around the area for something to rent. A sad tale and I couldn't help noticing how she chastised herself throughout the telling of it. I listened and told her to be kinder to herself and really felt for her as I walked away. Before we chatted she caught my eye and perhaps I felt a little envious of someone I thought lived in the area and had it all - it goes to show that we don't know what damage people are carrying with them.
When my niece dropped me off, she told me that I was at the back of the town hall - well I couldn't find my way to the front of it and tried a couple of what I thought likely doors - only to find they were private homes lol. I then wandered into the Visitor Centre and asked how to get into the Town Hall only to be told I was in it! I was becoming a village character/idiot myself!
How lucky can you get - Michelle Carragher does embroidery and illustration for Film and TV and is the lead embroiderer for Game of Thrones. Her work is awesome and I got to see some of the samples and designs for her work and learn how she works with the costume designers on big productions from concept to finish. It was brilliant - I also got to meet some lovely ladies and to chat to Michelle too. So I feel quite inspired to get out my threads and while away some time stitching.
Later this week I am away to West Sussex - to a tiny place which will have its own stories to tell I am sure.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Shires.......


I am in 'the Shires' this weekend - surrounded by emerald green fields, hedgerows, stone walls and homes made of Jurassic limestone. It is beautiful! The drive here from Alcester was a series of barns, bridges and bendy roads as one village blended into another. I really like this part of the world - its like stepping back in time and its no surprise that many of the historical series that we are familiar with on South African TV are filmed around here (click on here) . Lacock, up the road, was the location where Cranford was filmed, the street scenes for Poldark are filmed in Corsham, not far away,  and Thomas Hardy's fictional Casterbridge is another setting in the 'shires'. Anyone coming here would expect to see shepherd smocks and bonneted women at every turn and.........I have encountered a shop totally dedicated to the sale of ribbon and I am sure a flutter of excitement goes around the town when new supplies arrive - magic!
My week of training went well and I am awaiting further instructions - with a hankie soaked in Olbas held against my nose - Yes! I have succumbed to my first British cold in many years and I hope it disappears as suddenly as it arrived.

Highlights of my Week!

  • I have met some lovely people at the training in Alcester - S'Africans, Europeans and Brits of all ages and all very friendly and that means another Whatsapp group to control as we strive to keep in touch. 
  • The train journey was amazingly easy and connections made like clockwork (although I fear that is where I picked up the cold)
  • I am just love love loving the weekend papers that come with magazines filled with really well written and topical articles that invite many hours of reading. I particularly enjoyed the 'agony aunt' column of Mrs Mills (above) which is very tongue in cheek!
  • The countryside, the spring flowers, budding trees, scarecrows and little post offices.
  • Ancient Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches - the Brits are really good at these. We spent an hour in Cirencester Parish Church today - an historic 'wool' church dating to the 12th century and remarkably restored and maintained throughout the years.The scale, age and masonry is awesome and there are many many more ancient buildings to admire just about everywhere.
  • Listening to 'Family Favourites' on a vintage radio in my nieces kitchen which features an Aga - a temperamental one - and our Sunday roast beef dinner today has to be shelved due to it going into lock out mode!
  • A night in front of the TV with something for everyone and last night we indulged in a fab documentary about the Getty family's immense wealth and art collection. Its not coincidence - art appreciation runs in the family - I have the gene and have passed it on to my boys and my niece is an artist!
The Lows......
  • Not many low lights but I have missed the family - I Face-timed with my SA grandies today and last week skyped with my littlies who are sounding more American by the day and I have had nice long phone calls from the boys. Thank Goodness for technology!
  • My cold is a pain but I have acquired a mini pharmacy and I know it will soon be sorted.
  • Living out of a suitcase can be challenging in changeable weather.
  • Uncertainty is still a shadow that I will have to learn to accept as I don't know yet what I will be doing or where I will be in the coming weeks - We shall see .......All will be well!



Saturday, April 7, 2018

A peek at my week!

Well I am here - on the other side so to speak - and so far so good! The grass is greener because it never stops raining - it's chilly, it's wet and it's grey most days! The sun popped its head out on Wednesday and it was like a different country - blue skies, warm sunshine (13C), people driving around with the top down on the convertible and lots of smiling faces. It was a glimmer of things to come I hope.

Where I have been.....
To the gym where I zumba'd and aqua'd and thoroughly enjoyed jumping around on a free 3 day pass - Thank You DW Sports!
To the wool shop where I spent an hour or three agonising over which wool to buy - there is so, so, SO much choice that I was dazzled and dazed.
To O2 - the mobile phone shop where I did a Sim swap in record time - the efficiency is something to behold!
To the Garden Centre - this was the day that the sun came out and Bents at Glazebury was busy with wannabe spring gardeners getting carried away by the hint of sunnier days. Rows upon rows of pansies, petunias, primulas, marigolds, lobelia and poppy seedlings. The garden gnomes were out in abundance too as the Easter bunnies made their way to the sale table.
What have I done.....
I have wound down and finished a book - a real page turner called, The Woman at the Window..........and started another.
I have read the newspaper daily - all 120 pages of well written reporting and yes there are some pages of adverts - most holidays.
I have organised my travel to Warwickshire for next weeks training - all effortless and user friendly websites.
I have had a pub lunch too - scampi, chips and peas with a glass of wine in The Bottle and Glass which was very busy for a Friday lunchtime.
I have laughed a lot - at the TV, with my sister, Julia, and at life generally on the little island.
Who I have met.....
The gym ladies - a very friendly bunch of regulars who I meet with Julia on every visit and make me feel as if I live here!
A very irate lady in a car who hurled abuse at Julia and I for being in her way! Coco Chanel said, "Nature gives you the face that you have at twenty, Life shapes the face you have at thirty, but at fifty, you get the face you deserve".  All I can say is that she was wearing the face that she deserves!
A very unhappy man in a bank queue who had been kept waiting......no longer than anyone else had but obviously he is special as he is NOT to be kept waiting and demanded to see someone about it - we left him waiting for the someone he demanded to see!
My nephews and great nephews - the latter have grown another 6 inches and will surely be giants!




Saturday, March 24, 2018

Choices, Chances, Changes

Black bags, boxes, tape and a spade ....... no I am not getting rid of a body .I have been busy - a huge clear out is in progress as a house sitter is about to move in for a while. I am off for nine months of adventure. The clearing out really brings home to me that I really, really have too much! So when I am away I shall be learning to live with less - less clothes, less money and hopefully less food. I am both excited and terrified in equal parts.
So where am I going - well I have a plan but the plan is flexible. I am going to the UK where I plan to work for three months and hopefully see more of my UK family, then I am going to the USA where I plan to see more of  Sean, Nadine and grandies. I plan to launch myself into the Novi community - I cant work there but I can volunteer. If I cant volunteer then I will hang around the library and the Civic Centre! I may take a course in photography and as it will be Autumn by this time and am hoping  that the scenery will dazzle. Then back to the UK to hopefully find work again. I know that I will be busy and I know that I will be lonely at times without my friends. To say that I will miss my SA family is an understatement - I will be a slave to Facetime, Messenger, and FB. What I won't be having less of is WiFi as I want to explore some online courses and tutorials. I will be away for 9 months and maybe at the end of it a book will emerge! After all,  I will need to invent some characters to spend time with.
I seem to be on a learning path and n February I told you that I you that I had enrolled on a course. It was suggested that I try the TEFL programme and here we are - a group of youngsters and myself ....the eldest by about 40 years! I attended the practical part of the programme on a Saturday and Sunday - Yes! a Sunday! I had already started the online modules and over the two days we did practical teaching English to 'foreign' students. It was challenging but I enjoyed it and I loved the enthusiasm of these young people. One young, brave and likable chap was leaving three days later to teach English in Hanzhou in China - a place where I have been and I nearly fainted when he told me that he was leaving on Tuesday and he had never been on a plane before, never mind out of SA! Our class formed a Whasapp group and we flew with him - know he is safe and that his teaching is going well! That is not part of my plan - but I learned when doing the programme that one billion people are currently learning English as a second language and there is scope to teach not only is Asia, but in Europe and South America so you never know! I have really enjoyed the online modules - I had forgotten everything I know about English Grammar so it was challenging to relearn. We had to write a test after all eleven modules and I can report that I have passed them all, plus my Feb practical so only have my assignments to submit - they are written  - I need permission to upload them and then I am done.....and hopefully qualified!
It feels as if this March has been a month of Goodbye's - albeit temporary 'au revoirs'. Goodbye to a lot of my clothes - Goodbye to the bush - I had an awesome few days at Gondwana Game Reserve - Goodbye to my favourite Addo ellies - I whizzed up to see them and I have their blessing!.  Goodbye to my two groups of learners as my projects came to an end and Goodbye to my friends, my home, garden and car for a while! Watch this space - I will be back and am sure I will have stories to tell.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stereo - Gran 2.


Image result for sporty granny cartoon

I am continuing with  my take on various types of grannies.......

Traditional Granny

How to identify: Usually wears a cardigan, polyester pants suit and flats shoes. This Granny's large handbag contains a first aid kit, a sewing kit, hand sanitizer, a variety of different kids of wipes, a cotton hankie and a screwdriver! Bifocals.
Birthing Advice: P U S H!!
Feeding Advice: Breast is best but anything goes as long as its every four hours and mom is drinking gallons of tap water in between.
Proposed Names: Ethel, Dorothy, Harold, Mavis, John
Favoured gifts: Teddy bears, rag dolls, Hand knitted, stuffed toys as an alternative to playing with, pan lids, pegs and string.
Bedtime Story: Noddy or anything by Enid Blyton
Availability to read Bedtime story: Between 6 and 7pm - all good children are asleep by 7pm.

Nana-Thon Granny

How to identify: Wears tracksuit, TShirt, running shoes, sweatband optional - Whistle! Nikes, Raybans, Lycra,
Birthing Advice: Give birth in a vertical position and running on the spot during labour speeds things up.
Feeding Advice: Powder formula, supplemented with vitamins and 26 essential minerals.
Proposed Names: Zola, Hestrie, Venus, Naas, Fanie or Bruce.
Favoured gifts: Balls
Bedtime Story: The Gingerbread Man - "Run, Run, as fast as you can - you can't catch me....."
Availability to read Bedtime story: Usually in bed before the baby as she is up at 5am to run.

Mamma-Gran

How to identify: Hmm - Same as mom in a different colour. Hard to tell who is mommy and who is granny! Leggings are a popular choice.
Birthing Advice: 'I will be with you all through this darling. Your hubby can wait outside.'
Feeding Advice: 'Just you rest darling and I will take him/her.'
Proposed Names:It doesn't matter as the child will be called 'my babba', 'my darling' or MY anything
Favoured Gifts: Anything the baby sees, touches or grabs and can be played with on granny's lap.
Bedtime Story: Nursery Rhymes....told in a shrill, singy-songy, condescending voice or books with "My Very Own ... in the title.
Availability to read Bedtime story: 24/7 .........She just doesn't want to go home in case you or anyone else touches her 'babba'

Granny Rocker

How to identify: Black leather clothing or jeans and slogan Tshirts - sneakers, biker boots, platforms! Maroon lipstick, Tattoos, Piercings.
Birthing Advice: WTF - Its eina!
Feeding Advice: Prop the baby up with a bottle of formula while you have a ciggie.
Proposed Names: Izzy, Axle, Obsidian, Steppenwolf, Alice, Rose
Favoured gifts: Spikes, Bikes, Chains, Toolsets, Real car or bike parts.
Bedtime Story: Anything with the BIG BAD WOLF in it.
Availability to read Bedtime story: .Are you kidding?

.....and then there is YOU and I - Perfect Granny!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Stero-Gran.

I know some fabulous grannies - most of my friends these days! They are gorgeous to looks at, young at heart and mostly still working and partying!  Granny hood has changed and gone are the days when a grandchild was permission to go grey,  climb into a rocking chair and knit! A couple of years ago a magazine published an article I wrote on different stereo-types of Grannies - I found it in a drawer the other day and I still think its funny - tongue in cheek !  Hope you enjoy........Will post some today and the  rest later in the week!
Earth Granny

How to identify: Has long hair, worn loose or in braids and wears Indian style outfits in natural fibres, crocheted waistcoats and small flowered hats. Wears boots in winter - often barefoot in summer, Hand rolled cigarette optional!
Birthing advice: Natural childbirth without any medication - preferably candle lit water birth at home.
Feeding advice: Breastfeeding on demand until child is ready for school - start planting vegetables now - meat is toxic!
Layette: Handmade clothes in shades of cream and beige, Bamboo nappies and also colourful striped garments made from 100% goats wool.
Proposed names: Buttercup, Daisy or Turnip for a boy.
Favoured Gifts: Wooden items made from trees felled in sustainable forests - hand woven books.
Bedtime Story: The Very hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carte.
Availability to read bedtime story: Weekdays unless its the summer or summer solstice.

Corporate Granny:

How to identify: Short hair, sharp suits, stilettos, iPhone, iPad, iWatch.
Birthing advice: Planned. Cesarean, preferably over the weekend.
Feeding advice: Leave breastfeeding to the cows in the field - get baby straight onto bottle and get back to work.
Layette: Machine washable, easy care garments in unisex colours and styles.
Proposed Names: Charles, Jane, Ashley for boy or girl, Kim for boy or girl, Lee for boy or girl.
Favoured gifts: 'Apple' anything, share certificates, money.
Bedtime Story : Who Moved my Cheese bu Spencer Johnson
Availability to read bedtime story - By appointment only,

Smother in Law

How to identify: Usually wears a pained expression, as she has had a headache for the last ten years.
Birthing advice: Regular verbatim accounts of when she gave birth - this lasted for two days and nearly ripped her in half.
Feeding advice: Feed the baby on demand - every cry is a  plea for food.
Layette: Has kept all her sons hand made clothing that must be treasured.
Proposed Names: Any name as long as it includes her name if its a girl and her sons name if it is a boy.
Favoured gifts: A threadbare teddy, a moth eaten blanket or anything else that has been kept for 30 years with which her son used to play.
Bedtime Story : Grimm's fairy tales featuring vile mothers and doting grandmothers.
Availability to read bedtime story: Anytime - she now more or less lives with you since the baby was born.

'Grand Mother'

How to identify: Decked out in designer labels - Top to Toe coordinated colours. Never a hair out of place.
Birthing advice: "We don't like to talk about that, dear."
Feeding advice: "Don't feed the baby anywhere near me or my cream lounge suite, darling."
Layette: Heirloom or classically expensive and a matching bib with everything.
Proposed Names: Fleur, Lucinda, Camilla, Barnaby, Quinton or Toby - or any royal names.
Favoured gifts: Silver rattles, Silver spoons, antique porcelain doll or anything else which the child cannot actually play with.
Bedtime Story : The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson.
Availability to read bedtime story: Will supervise the au pair.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love Guaranteed!

February - The month of love and romance and Valentine's Day is an awful day to be without both. To remedy this, For the last 27 days I have been on an online course entitled, "Find Love in 27 Days". It was free or I would have asked for my money back as today is day 28 and guess what!
It was obviously put together by an oriental Feng Shui-ng Love Witch as it was a combination of Affirmations, Visualisations and the placing of weird symbols in various places in my house.
All very weird and even weirder were the comments of those who were taking all this seriously - like asking if plastic flowers were acceptable when being told to put two red flowers in a white vase in the bedroom or one devotee exclaimed it was only day four and her boyfriend had proposed.
Some things that I was asked to do if I wanted to find love were.....

  • Put a higher watt bulb in my bedside lamps - I was assured that this would turn the passion up in the bedroom (I now wear sunglasses in bed)
  • Place a monkey figurine on a mirror underneath the bed in the position of where my beloved would be resting his lovely self (I actually tried this but my monkey statue was a little tall and wouldn't fit underneath and I needed the mirror to do my eyebrows)
  • Burn a sage leaf and waft the smoke around my mattress (no way, I am not to be trusted with flaming vegetation) - I was then supposed to move my bed to the right or left of its original position and put pink sheets on it (I do not own pink sheets and couldn't risk putting my back out shoving my bed around)
  • My Daily affirmations had to be written in black at least once and no more than 9 times, in my own hand .....Hello! then 'activated' in red pen. I have used affirmations in the past while meditating and for motivation so I didn't feel quite so weird trying these although saying them out loud at least nine times during the day felt slightly odd .......Yes that was me chanting, "I am NOW flooded with love!" on day 5 in the public loo next to yours while flushing! 
  • I gave up with the Feng-shuing on Day 8 when I was instructed to make a preparation with kosher sea salt and uncooked rice which had to be stirred in a clockwise direction with the index finger of my left hand for the number of years I have been alive plus one - no shit - and sprinkle this in the corners of each room. I don't rest easy with rice sprinkled in my corners.
  • Half way through the course a secret symbol (its not a secret anymore) was revealed to me which is supposed to be VERY potent - I was to carry this symbol around with me. I made it a screen saver on  my phone - nothing happened except I couldn't see my apps clearly.
In addition to this -and there was a different weird instruction for 27 days - and together with my chanting affirmations - I was  instructed to write a piece about my perfect partner everyday for 2 minutes and forty seconds in my own hand with no distractions. What he looks like, what he would be wearing when I met him, about his occupation and our home and life together. I realised by day four that I was describing George Clooney and no Feng Shui was going to bring him to my door!

Each day following the instructions would be an enthusiastic paragraph by 'Ellen' the lady who promises love in 27 days - giving  you examples of how it has worked for her clients and friends and mentioning all the testimonials that have been given regarding her amazing course.

It is now over - The final instruction was to go outside with a bottle of bubble mixture and blow large bubbles and to imagine that my perfect partner and I were in one strolling hand in hand or kissing, ardently, and to watch us float away inside a big bubble towards the God of Marriage .......Did I mention that this was to happen when its a full moon?

Ellen - I think you need help and don't expect an invitation to our wedding any day soon! George is not long married and the father of twins. Plus I just couldn't find the two pink peonies and five red bats to put in that silver box you urged me to get and place in the 'Helpful People' area of my bedroom

If nothing else it was worth logging in everyday for entertainment purposes lol. Today I declined when asked to enter my name and download my Certificate of Completion. I just don't think it will look good on my CV.