Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cyber School Reunion

The last few days have been full of reminiscing and flashbacks as I was put in touch with my old school friends on Face Book and it has sent a flurry of messages across the globe - California, Canada, Australia, Africa and the UK. I went to The Cowley Girls' Grammar School - a traditional and academic establishment and a power house of hormones and high spirits! Looking at the old school photo that one member of the group put on FB, I am amazed that I can remember every girl in my class quite vividly and that we are remembering our school days with a combination of nostalgia and laughter. WE were all girls - boys were mysterious creatures and any that were brave enough to enter our school gates where subjected to flirting, giggling and occasionally - hysterics! Things that have popped into my head include:-
* Our first school needlework project was to embroidery and stitch a cover for my hymn book! Mine was in beige linen fabric with a design of a bunch of flowers painstakingly embroidered in orange and yellow daisies. I can see it in my mind as if I had stitched it yesterday and yet I had not thought about it for thirty five years. I have no idea what happened to but I imagine that it will resurface one day and perhaps feature on The Antiques Roadshow as an example as a dying skill. I just hope that I am spared the embarrassment of this by dying before it!
* Those awful bottle green knickers that we had to wear were so ugly. Enormous bloomers, fleecy lined with elastic threaded through the top - they were passion killers of note! We played sports in them too. Its hard to believe that tights (pantie hose) had not been invented and stockings were worn with suspender belts. Clear nail polish was used to stop ladders in snagged stockings. We wore school coats with raglan sleeves and bottle green velour hats in winter and any girl caught chewing in the street was disciplined.
*Summer tennis was played in Victoria Park and our objective was to hit the ball over the net in such a way that our opponent cold hit it back. I used to accuse Tony of cheating when he spun the ball when we played the odd game of tennis and he commented that how could anyone be expected to win if you didn't spin the ball. As young women, it was all about the game - were not taught to win - winning was sinning LOL.
* We were not caned - not that I know of - We were given order marks and if you received three in one term then you were sent to the headmistress. My friend Susan Helsby told her parents that order marks were for keeping order in class so she got praised when she got one or two! I was mortified to receive my first order mark - my crime? I lost my purse on the bus and it was handed in and it did not have my name in it. Laughable compared to what happens in schools these days!
* Food glorious food! School dinners consisted of shepherds pie, rice pudding served with a blob of jam or prunes, syrup sponge, cabbage, meat and two veg, jam roly poly and sometimes on a Friday Chips and salad and as a special treat - milky coffee!!! We used to swoon with happiness on these holy days.
* A group of us were banned from the classroom at breaks for a whole term for some misdemeanor so we camped outside by the staff room window and sang hymns at  until the torture became too much and the teachers let us back in a couple of weeks later.
* Assembly where Miss Jackson read our school reading from Corinthians - the one about love - and we used to sing hymns off key. I was reminded about the hymn, Love Divine, that had the line 'pure and spotless' in it and how we used to sing that line at the top of our voices just to be funny,
* My best friend and partner in crime and I, often used to send a taxi cab to Miss Jackson's house on a Saturday evening at 7.30. We used to order it by phone from a telephone box and pretend we were Miss Jackson. I hope the taxi firm and Miss Jackson forgives us.
* Many of our teachers were old spinsters who were very dedicated to their job and then we had a couple of men teachers, Mr Wood who taught English and walked out of our class one day as we were giving him a hard time. We had to go to the staff room and apologise and beg him to come and teach us. Mr Brader taught German and history I think and then Mr Briscoe who apparently we used to ask abut his sex life - I have no recollection of this as I probably blotted it out,
I have much to thank my old school for as it taught me everything I needed to navigate the world - I was thought of as an underachiever as my priority in life then was fun, dancing and boys! I wish I had the maturity and study ethic that I developed in later life as I would have excelled. Many of ex Colewians have gone on to be successful and well rounded women and it is so lovely to catch up with them and reminisce. I also remember getting into trouble for passing a note in class saying,"If school days are the best days of our lives, what are the rest of our lives going to be like!" If only I had appreciated how lucky I was back then!                                                                  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cross Dresser?

This is a postscript to my previous post about our belated honeymoon to Zambia.

I am a girl - so I made a list, shopped, packed and was pretty organised as I have travelled so much in the past twelve months that I am tired of last minute packing panic attacks which result in my lugging half my wardrobe around. I coordinated and planned my look - think five star safari designer nautical casual!
V is a boy - so he has a suitcase slightly larger than a matchbox and what isn't in it - he begs, borrows or buys when we get to where we are going. This trip he surpassed himself by leaving most of his clothes behind! The phone rings,"Babe, I am just outside Mthatha." "Wow!" I exclaimed,"You sure are making good time." "Yes," came the reply, "but there is a problem." The problem was that in his rush to set off early he had grabbed his matchbox size case and left all his hanging items ie. Shirts, smart trousers and jacket on the hangers by the door in the man cave! My suggestion to pop into PEP stores in Mthatha was not taken kindly, we were leaving at 6am the next morning and I had a busy day ahead. OK - packing panic attack courtesy of Mr Niemack! I ran to Walmer Park and grabbed what I could that I thought would fit my man and that he may wear - he claims to be easy to please but he has definite tastes - sort of Old Khaki meets Yves Saint Lauren! Jackets were not within my budget so I used my lifeline and phoned a friend. When I enquired about trouser waist sizes I am informed he has a couple of pairs of smart jeans and one other pair of trousers.
He arrives, there is an inspection of my purchases and a slight nod of the head for three of the shirts that I had managed to find. We raced to the lifesaver jacket friend who had the most perfect jacket which was greeted with a more definite nod of the head. I am saved from spending my 5 star honeymoon with a scarecrow groom.
We dress for dinner on the first evening and he looks quite grand in the borrowed jacket, new shirt and smart pants. We are enjoying a glass of wine on the deck before we go and some nibbles. Being a savvy traveller I have packed wine, spirits, Amarula, chips, crackers, chocolates ect as I know these resorts charge in dollars and I so resent paying through the nose for anything! When we get to the resort restaurant and starters are from R120 and desserts from R160 I am so pleased that I took our starter nibbles and desserts with us!
We order our surprisingly reasonable main course and V slips away to the loo - he returns and whispers," Sue, I think I have your trousers on." I raise my eyebrows. I look. They are not mine. "They are definitely girls trousers." he says. "the fastenings are all on the other side" I look again. They are not mine. I raise my eyebrows. "Whose are they then?" He has no idea. I am now with a man wearing a borrowed jacket and girls trousers!
I down my wine - wine cures everything! 

NB. Back in our room we inspect the foreign trousers. They are ladies grey size 14  I am more jealous that he wears a smaller size than me in ladies trousers than the fact that he has packed a pair of strange woman's trouser on our honeymoon! We convince ourselves that they have found their way from the Bush Lodge laundry into his wardrobe by mistake. I down my wine!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Za Za Za Zambia!

I like to keep a travel journal when I am away and this trip to Zambia was no exception. Yes it was our honeymoon and it was a wonderful special time for us to relax and enjoy a bit of togetherness.

These were the highlights of our stay  in Zambia and at the Royal Livingstone :-

The first wow was our welcoming glass of champagne on arrival together an iced towel to freshen up our hands as we signed in. All this takes place in the comfortable lounge area and not in reception and in view of the Zambezi and the odd Hippo!

At dinner I placed my handbag next to my feet on the floor and to my amazement a footstool was brought to perch my handbag on. This happened at every meal and blew me away each time! The food was delicious and the staff remembered our preferences. The food also had zero calories - LOL!

The Zambian people are lovely - soft smiling eyes, dignified posture and a willingness to help and serve which just does not happen here in SA. We never once saw a beggar, no people asking for money at traffic lights, no car guards in Livingstone. As we walked over the bridge to Zimbabwe there was no hassle and locals passing by asked where we were from, how we were enjoying our stay and not once for money or food. The only requests were from taxi cabs stopping to see if we needed a ride somewhere, How odd that this should surprise us but we citizens of South Africa are harassed by people with their hands out at every opportunity!

The natural beauty of the Victoria Falls is amazing and I love the Zambian side! This World Heritage site is just beautiful and access is free from Zambia. The Zambezi River is fast flowing and clean - I saw only one plastic packet and a couple of bottles the whole time I was there. A highlight for me was seeing the elephant cross the river at sunset and then back again the following morning. All this seen from the deck of the hotel which is on the banks of the river. We also saw hippo, crocodiles, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra and buck and many birds and fish! Several pink elephants and a gin-affe!
The tourists were a friendly bunch and we chatted to a youngish couple from Holland who come to Zambia each year and told us how blessed we were to live in Africa. We met an British lady who came to Zambia years ago and fell in love with the place and the people and returned the following year to assist the local village orphanage. She has founded an international charity organisation The Butterfly Tree which coordinates hundreds of volunteers and manages to provide safe water, food, improved health and education facilities and malaria prevention. We also chatted to several Australians and a couple of Americans who were all having a wonderful time appreciating our magnificent continent.
I shared a half hour with a Chinese/Canadian as we waited for the sunset at the Victoria Falls by Danger Point. His wife had lost patience (his honeymoon long over) and deserted him but he wanted to get the photograph every photographer wants - a sunset over the falls. We enjoyed and appreciated the beautiful warm light as the sun dipped below the horizon and then he ran to find his wife as V and I watched just a little longer. The gate and shortcut to our hotel was closed and locked when we eventually got to the entry point - but it was worth the long walk round and that view is imprinted on my mind forever!

So sad to come home but all good things come to an end !
What a lovely holiday .....Nothing left to say!
,,,,till the next one :-)