Wednesday, December 30, 2015

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne,

It’s that day of the year when you either celebrate and look forward to what the New Year has in store or you sit and recollect what happened in the year that you are leaving behind. Whether you are looking into a crystal ball or in the rear view mirror – it’s all about reflection. Just like Bridgette Jones it’s about taking stock, tallying up the numbers in your life, doing a few calculations and deciding whether you are winning or not.

That probably explains why some years you will find me sitting at home in my slippers watching The Royal Variety Show and other years I will be putting my left leg in, my left leg out, doing the Hokey Cokey with a bunch of jolly strangers.

Traditionally New Year was a time for first footing, dark haired strangers bearing coal and a lot of Scottish people on the TV swinging their kilts and their whisky bottles. My father, Harry, used to celebrate New Year in a big way down at his local while we children waited for him to come home intoxicated so that we could laugh at him. One year he did the Highland fling with a party can - a huge can of beer that held seven pints – then opened it! We welcomed 1962 in a shower of beer and the house still reeked of Ansell’s’ bitter in June! 

Another year – 1976 I think - the family accompanied dad to his local, the Seven Stars, and at midnight we three sisters marched into the bar because that was the year that women were declared equal and couldn’t be refused entry anywhere based on their gender. We wanted the moon, equal pay and the opportunity to buy a pint in the snug! My sister took our newly legislated freedom a step further by marching into the Gents toilets while my father cried into his beer and declared that the world had gone mad.

Perhaps that’s why my father chose the 31st December to cast off his mortal coil and join the spirit in the sky. That year I lay in bed listening to neighbours singing Auld Lang Syne, distant fireworks and the world celebrating and I wandered how people could be so happy while I was so sad. I suppose that sums up New Years Eve – some have had a year to celebrate and others are sadly counting their losses.

Since being in South Africa we have the additional burden of celebrating twice – at midnight and at 2am as we wait for and send good luck messages to the UK. A few of years ago I opted to babysit for New Year and when friends asked had I seen the New Year in – I replied, “Yes! At 23h30, 00h15, 01h45, 02h30 and 04h10!” I had forgotten that is what New Year’s Eve is like with a 3 year old.

I am also remembering a New Year spent in Cape Town visiting a friends who were in isolation there. Our dear friend had been diagnosed with acute T-cell limblastic lymphoma so while the champagne corks were popping, he was in hospital popping pills and battling the horrors of chemo. Friends of friends opened their home to us and we saw the 2010 in with strangers in Monte Vista and drove back as the sun came over Table Mountain unsure of what the year held. He is a survivor and a hero and I know will celebrate many New Years!

Is it really only 3 years ago thatTony and I were singing,“We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne,"  with sister Julia and Tom in Manchester - dining in style and dancing the night away. Such a joyful evening and the expectation of a great year ahead - Four weeks later, I was numb with shock and arranging Tony's funeral.

Last year I spent the night on my own, scrap booking, I think and then climbed into bed early, content, healthy and grateful to have made it through another year and achieving most of what I set out to do. This year I turned my dream of sailing on the Chobe River into reality. I have visited Singapore and Thailand and spent precious time with Sean Nadine and Katherine. I managed a few days in the UK having fun with Julia, Tom, Sandra and Janice and family. I have fished for trout in Dullstroom, set sail in a canoe on the Keurbooms river (albeit briefly) and I have enjoyed some wild adventures with my camera. I have been productive and managed financially to maintain my home, my health and my sanity, I am content with my lot and looking forward to 2016 - excited at the possibilities it has in store and plotting my path to make more of my dreams come true. 
Tonight there are no plans as yet,  but I shall be remembering the past and definitely looking forward to celebrating a life lived deliberately.

Not sure whether we will be doing the Hokey Cokey this year as sadly , Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93 last week. The most traumatic part for the family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in..... and then the trouble started. Hee Hee!

Happy New Year to all my family and friends........and special thoughts of my dad Harry – I hope that you are enjoying a wee dram at the ‘eighth star.’

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Peek at my Week

Where have I been?
Work, Home, Work, Home, Oncology, Home, Work, Casualty at 2am, Work,Oncology, Home and a little bit of Christmas Shopping! Quite a busy week! In between I found time to indulge myself with time for friends at a divine afternoon tea to celebrate a birthday girl and I attended the Business Woman;s Association year end lunch. No matter what is happening in your life its always a good plan to find time to see your girl friends. What life takes out of me they put back in. The Oncology Centre continues to surprise me - I really thought it would be a depressing place but it is a lesson in humanity. Caring staff and is it my imagination, but are the loveliest people prone to cancer? Yesterday a chap had so many people with him that I thought he may be famous person that I didn't recognise.. but no...his entire family had joined him for his final treatment and a photo shoot was in progress. When he rang that bell it was like Christmas! Casualty at 2am was a bit of a surprise too! V stopped using his pain meds as he is pain free, only to find that his body wants the drug regardless. So he had withdrawal symptoms and we had no idea what was going on, Of course the nursing staff knew immediately - Thank God for these competent and caring people! The waiting room was packed when we got there and we thought we would be in for a long wait  - what we didn't know that at least half the waiting room was all waiting for one person and there was another car load outside. How the staff keep their patience with these patients I really don't know. They were in, out, in, out, in, out as if hospitals are a social meeting place to pop in and out of.

Who I have met?
Well its that time of year that I get to listen to Exit Presentations done by individuals on a formal leadership learning programme and seeing that this is the 'outcome' of my work then I always look forward  to them, This year didn't disappoint and my most memorable moment was listening to a young man who has paid for himself - he makes peanut brittle in a sweet factory but he has decided he wants to better himself and works at 2 or 3 jobs to pay for his studies. His presentation was professional, personal, inspirational and its a wise man who can acknowledge what he knows and commit to what he still needs to practice and learn, It was a pleasure to listen to him and award him a distinction. In fact in a joy to hear about the learning path of these people and to know that I have played a small part in their growth and transformation. I had a double dose of inspiration this week as the BWA in PE invited me to speak at thier Hurdles and Help event and then I got to interact with their members yestrerday. I got to meet Mr South Africa again and what a lovely young man doing so much for worthy causes in his  title year - I also got to catch up with women who work hard and accomplish much, The theme was glamour what a glamourous affair it was.

What I have learned?
It takes courage to be the real youI have learned that many people carry something around with them that they need to say and are holding back through fear, embarrassment or vulnerabulity - It may be to express  love or gratitude and it may be some feedback about a persons behaviour. Say what you feel now .....always in a manner worthy of repsect.
I have been reminded that many people work hard while we are sleeping to keep people safe and healthy - ordinary heros saving lives.
I have learned that in order to enjoy Christmas you need to reignite those childhood memories of anticipation and hope. Back then I hoped for a sack full of presents - now I hope to be surrounded by the presence of my love ones during the Festive season.
I have learned that more can be accomplished by a little planning and a lack of time - when you have much to do a little pressure can go a long way to spur you into action. No matter how busy you, make time for the special people in your life - Its important for them and you!
I have also learned that happiness and positivity is contageous - when you are short of it - Go look for it and drink it in!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Living with "it"

"So how is it going?" That is how most conversations have begun for the last four weeks. "It" referring to cancer. It is amazing how an illness can consume your every waking thought and yet its a disease that more and more people live with not die from. V is coping well with "it" and since I last wrote my blog - yes a whole month ago - has completed a course of radiation, spent 10 days away in PMB working at the lodge and flown back to await the next step of the treatment, which started today. He now is a member of not only the C for cancer club but C for chemo club. Its a really terrifying thought to undergo chemo - watching extreme drugs being fed into your vein to kill the good along with the bad, but when your survival depends on it -  you have to take a deeeeeeep breath and close your mind to negativity, grit your teeth and get on with it. Walking into oncology you know you are not alone - the room today was pretty full of people battling "it", all hooked up to a variety of drips, some bald, some not, all with their own story to tell, all fighting their own battle and nearly all with a smile on their face and the quiet light of determination shining from their eyes. This is what courage looks like, I thought. There is a bell on the wall that patients who have had their last session of chemo are invited to ring - it rang three times today and the smiles grew broader at the knowledge that someones journey was over.

I don't intend for "it" to take over our lives and more than once I have told V that you are living with cancer not dying from it. Life has to have some normality, some old routine - it cant all be medication and conversations about disease, diet and drugs. One of our biggest challenges is to silence people who want to give advice about miracle cures and wonder foods and what to eat and what not to eat. Generally the people offering all of this wisdom have not had "it"! So we have learned to thank them for their concern and change the subject swiftly and close our ears to all the conflicting information. V knows what to eat - having eaten healthily all of his life! We will listen to doctors, medical professionals and survivors who speak from experience.

As usual, we will also make the most of every moment we can to experience joy and gratitude! We took off on the spur of the moment on Wednesday morning and spent the night in a tented camp in the Karoo - eating chicken stew and rice with our fingers, off the table covered with a plastic packet, listening for animal noises after dark ......making a few ourselves to entertain other campers (V is particularly talented at hippo sounds) and waking to birdsong and canvas silhouettes. We drove through Meiringspoort to Prince Albert - rescuing a lizard from certain death while trying to cross the road. We had tea and scones at Prince Albert under a rain of purple confetti from the jacarandas and marvelled at the tiny library building - the size of a large fridge - and the tourism office - no bigger than a cupboard! We watched the passing parade of tourists and locals - easy to tell the difference and then took off over the Swartberg Pass feeling very small in that vast landscape and knowing that the Creator, who made this majestic scene before us would surely cure "it". When the car overheated at the top of the mountain - an angel of the road disguised in khaki shorts, sturdy boots and a leather bush hat rescued us giving us his water supply and a contact number should we need him to come back and assist. As we descended back to the Karroo dessert so the temperature dropped with each kilometer and we made it home (with a bit of a detour) safely. I foresee more of the Carpe Diem excursions. Seize the Day - its really all any of us have!

Friday, October 9, 2015

In the blink of an eye everything can change

Well my holiday came to an abrupt end - V had experienced back pain for 2 weeks before I left and thought he had pulled a muscle moving a concrete post. I persuaded him to see the doctor and satisfied there was no slipped vertebrae or trapped nerve he was referred to a physio. It got worse and he was struggling even to get out of bed. I flew to the UK at that point and he continued with his next appointment at the physio, who was alarmed as he staggered to his next appointment. XRays and he was admitted to hospital for an op to inject filler into the spine to prop up his vertebrae - expecting an overnight stay in hospital, non invasive surgery and back to work two days later. That was a long three weeks ago. Since then - a lot more pain, 2 or 3 MRIs and the devastating news that there is a malignant tumour in his T6 vertebrae as I sat in my niece's kitchen in Wiltshire - stunned, shocked and angry about the unfairness of life. V has never smoked, hardly drinks alcohol and lives a healthy, fit outdoor life and if anything is over cautious about his diet.
I got a flight back as soon as I could and within days was on another flight to PE - With our travelling marriage/lifestyle and our 10hours drive away living arrangement we had to decide what the treatment options were and where treatment should take place but on Saturday the pain escalated to such levels that I booked flights and we left the lodge dramatically at 3am the next morning, boarded a plane with assisted passage at 6am, arrived in PE at 8am and by 8am the following morning he was in hospital being treated by a team of specialist, oncologist, dietitian and under the care of some wonderful, wonderful nurses on the Oncology ward in St Georges. So that is how your life changes overnight! He is positive and up for the challenge - radiation, chemo and a stem cell transplant - He has not lost his sense of humour and we have laughed about how quickly we have progressed to discussing bodily functions best not mentioned,  in a short time? Thankfully his doctor has a brilliant sense of humour too and while cancer is no joking matter - you can appreciate the absurdity of certain aspects.

I am so glad that he chose to be in PE for this treatment and PE has shown its true nature through empathetic and excellent hospital care and a stream of visitors wanting to show their support and cheer him on. So what is on our horizon? Well not a tractor in sight at the moment! Each day is a new beginning, every person responds in their unique way to treatment so we are getting used to the unknown and can't plan too far ahead ...but we can plan! I am so grateful for this second chance for us that some people are not given. A second chance to live life differently, a chance to express what is in your heart to those you love,  an opportunity to forgive others and more importantly to make peace with yourself, a chance to know your future is limited and not to waste a single precious breath on people or situations that are not worthy of it. Life will be different - Life will be better - Life will BE.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I am here in my mother country - feeling mostly like a foreigner!



Roads and directions have changed, accents are sometimes difficult to understand and the money is strange - plus I am multiplying everything by 20 in my head when shopping. The choice in the shops is phenomenal and I want to buy everything I see ...... Then I remember to times the price by twenty and ponder on my inadequate luggage allowance. I have met two South Africans already in my small town and chatted to a lady whose daughter has just been to SA to rescue turtles proof of our limitless world.
Poverty is a completely different concept here and there is a contentment that is devoid of 'joy' in some way - I guess what I am trying to say is that Africa is extreme, wild and larger than life.

I am loving .... Chimney pots, roses, red brick, hedges, courteous drivers, friendly shop assistants, emerald green grass, efficiency, being with family, listening to accents, pansies and garden pots, the small talk of strangers, and the autumnal shades of England.

I am not loving.......the feeling of being a foreigner, even though I look and talk like everyone else, the smallness of things, the hot and cold of inside and outside - coat on/coat off, traffic volume, and having my twenty times table in my head all the time!




Monday, September 7, 2015

A Plea from Polly Esther!


The internet and especially Face Book is used for social interaction and recreation and I love that I can keep up to date with friends and family far away - I also like that I can keep tabs on my local friends and not only hear about their escapades, but also enjoy their photographs. Its great for finding out about people and I was once in a lift with someone smiling and nodding - like you do - until I politely asked, "Where do I know you from?" "You are my Facebook friend!" came the reply. Of Course I am!
In the absence of DSTV and sometimes having to twiddle my thumbs at airports and at the lodge, I admit that I am guilty of passing time online and Facebook can eat your time quite nicely and leave YOU feeling full. I am however, amazed at what crap is being put on there these days. All this liking and sharing to see what happens and getting these school teacher photographs to Timbuktu or somewhere or another. Photos of abused children always leave me nauseous and that someone can use them to send a ripple through cyberspace nauseates me more! Wisdom quotes are inspiring in small doses but nobody seems to have an original status any more - we are all just posting words borrowed from Mother Theresa or Positivethinking.com and some people are posting titbits of cheesy philosophy every five minutes!
What is really amusing me and not in a good way at the moment are the variety of Face Book quizzes that appear on my page daily. A selection from the weekend include:  "Which horror movie defines your life?"; "If you were a dog, what breed would you be?";What ice cream flavour are you?" What your coffee colour says about you?" and "What were you in a previous life or What was your old fashioned name!" I didnt need to attempt the latter two as my reflexologist/white sangoma has already told me that I was a can can dancer on a bar in gay Pareee in a former life - I imagine my name was FiFi  or Genevieve or Polly Esther! Actually there IS a quiz to find out what your stripper name would be .....REALLY!
I imagine a room full of deranged people somewhere having serious discussions about these topics and compiling questionnaires to tempt us to spend time doing them, so that they can copy all our online information and encourage us to share our hilarious findings by inviting our friends to surrender their information to the deranged peoples data base!
So can I put a plea out there to make FaceBook what it was  - a social media network for sharing your status and your lovely family and holiday photos and your thoughts and ideas to inspire and  encourage one another. A forum to cheer us up and bring some JOY into our lives. Invite me to your event, if you make something clever please tell me and if there is a special on at WW also tell me,,,,,,,,,, and if you were a stripper in a previous life please tell me ........I am looking for a partner to dance with me on a bar in cyberspace!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sent to Coventry!

I leaped at the opportunity to meet with an old friend... not THAT old ....well a friend that I have known a long time....while I am up in Natal. She has lived up here a long time but has recently spent a year in the UK. Where to meet? I suggested the Pavilion shopping mall because it has lots of places to eat and sit down and also because I have been there before - I know how to get there, which is a great recommendation when you are in an unfamiliar area. "Ok - Where in the Pavilion," asks Olly and in the absence of knowing many places there - WW immediately sprang to mind but I know that WW has many entrances so to avoid confusion - I suggested we meet by the green peppers - there is only one place in WW where the green peppers are displayed!
Excitement mounts, the day arrived and off I set in good time to find the green peppers in WW and my picture the darling Olly waiting for me there with one in each hand! V suggested I leave early before the green peppers become red peppers and waves me off in the bush lodge's skindonkel-no aircon-no frills-bakkie! I bounced my away along the N3 keeping an eye on the time - I take the exit, I see the Pavilion and turn where I think I am supposed to and..... I am back on the N3 travelling towards ...Port Shepstone I think! "Sherbet!" Well I didn't actually say sherbet to be honest.  Don't panic - I think - I will take the next exit and turn around back onto the freeway - I am perfectly punctual its dead on 1.30pm. I take the next exit. There is no means of getting back onto the freeway. I am hurtling along an unknown road with lorries juddering past me, to who knows where!
Olly and I have been communicating via messenger - she doesn't have a number having been out of the country for a long while and if she has I don't have it. So I cautiously message her that I have just passed the Pavilion and am trying to get back on track. I receive a photo in reply of beautifully displayed green peppers....some are already red!
I switch on Tom Tom on my phone and put in the location. I await instructions - a map appears but it also appears that Tim (my selected voice) on Tom Tom is not on speaking terms with me. Trying to look at the screen while on a very fast road surrounded by whizzing vehicles is hair raising, I can't pullover as this is the freeway so I know I need to get into a place where I can sort Tim on Tom Tom out. I pull off and follow the road till I come to a place where I can park. I reset Tom Tom - I cannot get Tim to speak to me - no matter how many buttons I push, no matter hard I plead. Tim has sent me to Coventry or in this case PineTown or somewhere on the way to PineTown. I position myself so I can drive while looking at the screen of my phone. I contract Olly - apologise and say I am trying to find my way back. She pleads that its very cold by the green peppers-going red, and tells me she is going to sit and have a warm drink somewhere more comfortable. I take a deep breath and set off from whence I came trying to watch the screen and drive.  I drive another 20 mins and Tom Tom takes me to a cul-de-sac in which there is an entrance to a gated complex. A very tall man with a short grey fringe and a religious look about him approaches my car. Considering that I have been praying quite hard during this time, I believe that the universe has sent me some sort of divine RAC monk to help me. I tell him I am lost - he tells me I am found. I am in heaven! He starts to give me instructions and I show him Tom Tom - he proves that he is indeed an unearthly being by throwing his hands to the heavens and declaring he has never seen such technology! I listen intently to his right, left, straight on, follow the road instructions - take a deep breath - am tempted to ask him to pray with me before I set off again from whence I have come. After a few U turns, I am back on track on the freeway - I see the Pavilion - I hear a heavenly choir - I take the exit - its there in front of me and then its gone again. I sail past once more missing my exit because its unsafe to switch lanes or reverse up the freeway and I am now on route to King Shaka airport or North Coast or South Coast or somewhere!
I now say, "Flip it!"  Well I didn't actually say 'flip it' to be honest!  Don't panic - I think - I will take the next exit and turn around back onto the freeway. I message Olly and try to reassure her that I am OK while apologising. She tries to cheer me up by saying she has now retreated to a place that sells tea, coffee, light meals and wine and what shall she order for me."Wine!" I type as I sail off the freeway at the next exit. I watch my screen, I drive - I beg, plead and start negotiating with Tim on Tom Tom to please forgive whatever I have said or done to him and to please just start speaking to me again. Silence! I drive along, up, around, I see a school, I see a market, there is a strange smell and not a nice feeling. I see shacks. I see stray dogs, I see a sign that tells me I am in Sydenham, I see a funeral home - I am doomed! I dare not stop - this is not an area that invites stopping. I lock the doors - twice - I drive as the sweat trickles down my back. I cant turn around - I pray. I curse JC Le Roux - Well I didn't actually say JC Le Roux to be honest.  Don't panic - I think - I will turn around just now and get back onto the freeway. Almost immediately I see a stationary police car! YEAH!!!! Good old JC - I pull in front of it - there is no pavement it's not that sort of place that has pavements. I grab my bag, phone and my belongings and clutching them to me, I knock knock on the police car's shaded windows. It silently opens. I cry, 'Please you have got to help me - I am so so lost. Please take me to the Pavilion". They look at me like I am mad - I must admit I do look deranged. An alien demanding to be taken shopping -  I am lost and now an hour late! They can't do that they tell me - they are on an operation! Expecting a stray bullet at any moment I duck back to my car and follow their directions. A garage on the right, another on the left - under a bridge, speed bumps, right turn, left turn. My phone pings - not Tim from TomTom but Olly in Centre Court at the Pavilion asking if I am OK and telling me that the staff at the place she is at is suspecting she has an imaginary friend. She has now sat for over an hour with a second glass of wine in front of her. I say I am sorry - I am tempted to tell her to tell my children that I love them in case I am doomed to drive for eternity!
THEN - I see the signs - The Pavilion - as easily as I got lost, I am found, I am here and only an hour and a half late. Ninety minutes of white knuckle driving. Wine has never tasted so good!
Thank you Olly for waiting for me - No thanks to you Tim from Tom Tom who I have permanently
sent to Coventry! I shall be installing a new version with a female voice - someone I can rely on - perhaps she will be called Olly!




Sunday, August 16, 2015

A peek at my week

Busy doing nothing may describe my week or the past couple of weeks quite well - I seem to be occupied most of the time - occasionally stressed and rushed - but what I am actually accomplishing eludes me!


Where I have been? After a July packed with travel I needed to stay at home, so I have been just out and about around PE really. I caught up with the ladies at the Embroiderers Guild - a treat for me to see so many old friends in one place. Also a treat to see the wonderful work they do. We have a very strong embroiderers guild in PE, founded by Lorna Bateman, a very successful embroidery teacher living in the UK for a number of years now. You can see the calibre of her work here and the members have certainly kept up the standard.  I have also been indulging in another hobby, Scrapbooking, and joined Philippa and the ladies from the Scrapbook Nook for a Woman's Day Class where we were spoiled not only with beautiful papers and materials but also with gifts, eats and treats as only the giving spirit of PE peeps can do. Also managed to touch sides with most of the important people in my life, see a movie and thanks to the wonders of technology - I have skyped my way into homes in Singapore, St Helen's, Scotland and of course Pietermaritzburg.


Who I have met? 
I was asked to do a presentation for a group of CA students at NMMU. These sort of opportunities are really food for my soul as I get to interact with the bright and beautiful people who really are the future of this country, This particular group are all 3rd year students on a really hectic timetable and my topic was Professional Conduct and Business Etiquette. They were a delight - young, attentive, curious and I just loved interacting with them. I have also spent some time wrapped up in a book - a luxury these days to commit to 600 pages of fabulous reading. Life After Life, by one of my favourite writers Kate Atkinson, and always when you turn the last page of a great story, you feel like you have met a whole host of friends contained within those pages and a sadness descends as you bid them farewell.

What I have learned?
Well I have done a little writing myself, as an entry for the Woman and Home short story competition and have learned what hard work it is for me to sit still for any space of time and also how disciplined writers have to be getting words onto paper....or into the PC. I have a hundred stories in my head lol and I need the space so its time I wrote them down! 
I have learned that I am to be a granny again - excitement tinged with a touch of sadness as I wonder how well I will get to know this little one so far away. But as I always say - where there is a will we will make a way! I have been reminded that the world is a small place thanks to technology but that distance is still a painful space between those you love. 

I have also been reminded that peace is fragile as our area was plunged into chaos by protesters. I really do understand their frustrations but I cant understand how burning tyres and causing damage to roads and property will bring about change - now money will be needed to fix up what was damaged through their protests and further delays the funds available to build houses. Many businesses closed as they were afraid for their staff and customers and this isn't going to create jobs for those who were protesting about unemployment. We live in Topsy Turvy Land where our currency is like Toy Town Money and our leader thinks this is all a fairy story except there will be no 'happy ever after!'
                                                                           SAD




Sunday, August 9, 2015

Celebrating Woman's Day

Its Woman's Day -  Not that we need a specific day to and celebrate and appreciate the women in our lives – we should be doing it every day. I am blessed to have been surrounded by some amazing women in my life – intelligent, inventive, organized, brave and beautiful. Financial wizards they were skilled with budgets, forecasting and investments. They streamlined processes and were epitomes of organizational efficiency. Masters of recycling, they were lean and green. Style icons they knew exactly what not to wear and instinctively what made them look good. Multi skilled and multi talented, my role models are neither corporate gurus nor academic experts. They are the ordinary women in my family and my community who went ahead of me teaching me with their wisdom and preparing me for my journey.

My grandmother taught me that a little can go a very long way and that chocolate cures everything! She was the only women in her family, the youngest of five children and the only girl, when her mother died she became the mistress of the house, aged thirteen. This meant that she shopped, prepared and cooked the meals, washed, ironed, mended and was responsible for keeping the house clean and warm for her father and four brothers. She did all this without the benefit of modern appliances and in her spare time she attended school - every weekday, and on weekends Sunday school and church! She was married, became a mother and was widowed all before the age of 28. You would think that she may have felt sorry for herself, that she was scarred by her childhood experiences and by today’s standards entitled to a nervous breakdown and an apology from the government. Far from being bitter or sad, she was one of the healthiest and happiest people I have met. She loved chocolate! She ate it furtively and fervently. I think she had learned in her austere early life to keep a little something for herself and to keep this small pleasure a secret. I often heard the rustling of paper after she had retired for the night and the occasional silver paper in the bed sheets gave her secret passion for fruit and nut away.
From my mother I learned to be flexible and to count my blessings. My mother had six of them – three girls and three boys! She used to say that none of us were planned but all of us were wanted and loved and this is how she lived her life, avoiding stress by just surrendering to the day and what it held. We didn’t have a lot of money but everyone was made welcome at our home, she loved company, loved to chat and everything was made to go further at mealtimes as visitors were always pressed to stay. Life was for living and for enjoying and as we moved from a terraced house in town to a new suburb in the countryside - life was a garden. We grew our own everything but not a lot made it into the house as assorted children and pets snacked profusely from our vegetable patch. Mom believed that nature provided everything that we needed to cure our ills, and often used herbs and plants to treat our childhood ailments, not always getting it right but she was very proud of the fact that she hadn’t poisoned anyone - “Yet,” my father used to add!
She taught me to sew and I was making my own clothes at the age of thirteen, using any material I could get my hands on – even if that material happened to be the bedroom curtains! I cringe now when I think of what I walked around in but if she was embarrassed when I wore my creations publicly, I never knew about it. She always told me I looked amazing – I probably did!! My mother encouraged me to be original, to be myself and to enjoy each and every day. She died when she was still in her fifties so I am glad that she lived her life in the present and that I inherited her love of life and her sewing machine.

From my older sister I learned all I needed to know about glamour! Big hair, eyeliner and makeup, winkle pickers and fashion – she was a child of the fifties breaking the rules and easing my passage into turbulent teenage years of the sixties. I also learned to run pretty quickly as I was always in trouble with her for muscling in on her friends and for spoiling her sophisticated image by following her to meeting places and popping up. I made the athletics squad every year at school probably because of all the additional training that I got being chased by her!

Of course we all have a teacher who played a pivotal role in our lives and mine was my maths teacher who was a walking, talking, calculating female who taught me that I CAN do maths. I had believed that equations, fractions and formulae did not go hand in hand with my artistic talents and were quite beyond my capabilities. She proved me wrong and I became quite a maths whizz under her guidance. This also taught me about self-limiting beliefs and the damage that they can do to your potential.
I have an elderly aunt, now in her nineties, who still reads voraciously, puts her Christmas decorations up each year and last time she visited me, she packed her gold sandals “just in case we go dancing”. She has lost both of her daughters to cancer and yet hasn’t given up on life – she’s making each day count.

And then there are my JaJas - who have laughed with me, cried with me, loved me and I suspect kept me sane. I know that I can count on them no matter what .......and them on me! I also belong to a sisterhood and count myself lucky to have  many girlfriends who have walked this journey with me - lending me an ear, their shoulder, their shoes, jewelry, recipes, advice and their skills willingly. I really don't need to hero worship celebrities, the women in my family and my friends are all the inspiration I need. It is indeed an honour to celebrate this sisterhood on Woman's Day!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A nice cup of something - I think???


So we arrived back latish and as per usual in true northern the first thing I do is put the kettle on. There was no fresh milk so I thought to make Hot Chocolate - always nice after a long journey and something we keep sachets of. I added the water and it foamed up quite a bit as I poured in from the kettle. That's a bit odd I thought - perhaps the maid has been cleaning the kettle so I reboiled it and this time it was better and we enjoyed our night cap. A cup of tea is essential before I even venture anywhere so early morning tea was made by my beloved and enjoyed in bed. A coffee crisis loomed mid morning so I rushed to our room to put the kettle on - as I poured the water the lid fell off and SPLAT out splashed a creature! It was dead - deceased - no longer with us - had passed through the pearly gates (as they would say on Monty Python). My shriek caught Vs attention and he examined it - He pronounced it to be a gecko - rather a large one - about the size of a king prawn and not dissimilar in colour to an uncooked one - Eeuwe!!! The foamy water made sense now and the realisation that we had enjoyed 2 or 3 cups of gecko tea was not a happy moment
Since then I have been checking my hands and feet for signs of webbing and watching V carefully lest he starts climbing the walls.
Its hard to put something that gross behind you so yesterday I sought advice from my pharmacist - It there a cure for drinking gekko I asked? He laughed when I told him the story and informed me that almost everyone has eating spiders, flies, other insects and perhaps the odd gekko in their sleep and I should be 100% Ok and not to lose any more sleep worrying about it.
Now I am losing sleep over all the other things he claims have crawled into my mouth at night - EEEEK!!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Brand New!

A new month and a new mindset too - Nothing beats spending time in nature enjoying what the universe has provided for our appreciation. I am starting this month refreshed and energised and knowing that spring is on the horizon has put a spring in my step!

We have just enjoyed a few days in the Kruger Park and this time of year is the best for game viewing as the trees have shed their leaves and the animals are easier to see. The colours of nature are beautiful too at this time of year and I love the soft greens and russet colours of the vegetation. The Kruger is extremely dry though - I have never seen it so dry - and the rivers and waterhole levels dangerously low so lets hope that spring brings much needed rain to quench the earth and ensure the animals have enough water. I was very sad not to see rhino but consoled myself that the park management must have ensured their safety in another part of the park - far away and inaccessible to poachers. What also saddens me is the behaviour of visitors to the park who lust after sightings of the predators and if lion is spotted ignore all rules of both polite and safe behaviour to make sure they get there and then hog the spectacle, We were gridlocked several times both on this visit and the previous one by bad mannered drivers who just don't care who they block in where as long as they get photo. Lions, although majestic and beautiful creatures are not particularly interesting as they are either eating, sleeping or mating. I think the human craving is more for danger that anything else and I admit that hearing that unmistakable roar through the night when you are in the camp is thrilling.
Elephants are my favourite - far more character and I love watching their antics. I came away from the Kruger feeling refreshed and content.

We then drove on to Lydenburg - reached by driving over Long Tom Pass. I had heard of neither a month ago but I was impressed by both, stunning views, long windy roads, good weather and a destination to die for. Stone Cutters Cottage - a cluster of wooden and stone cabins set in indigenous forest with a river and three dams stocked with trout. A little bit of luxury does no harm after a stay in a national park and underfloor heating, hot chocolate. a ginormous bed ticked all the boxes. A roaring fire in the dining room, great food followed by a very glamorous breakfast served al fresco in the crisp morning sun. Oupa, Our Gilly collected us and it was a morning of fly fishing.
Observe an experienced fly fisherman for five minutes and you may think."Ok, I got this!" But casting, the most crucial aspect of fly fishing, is a deceptively complex move to master. Your goal is to lift the line from the water and have it arc out completely behind you - this is what is called the back cast - then send it forward where it spreads out in a neat line before you in the water - if you are lucky a fish will be enticed to nibble your fly. My lines were wiggly and squiggly and not attractive for fish to nibble at all!
This movement, performed hundreds of times by a fly fisher on a days outing, required just the right set of subtle arm and wrist movement and timing. Oupa told me to imagine a clock - hold your rod at nine 'o clock, lift it to one 'o clock on your back cast and the back to nine 'o clock and so I went nine 'o clock, one 'o clock, nine 'o clock one 'o clock and so the time ticked away! The concentration both meditative and relaxing in turn made time stand still and I did catch a lot - the branches above me, the reeds in front of me and the dried grass all around me When Oupa cast, his line made the most wonderful whispery whistle through the air - that combined with the burble of the nearby river and the harmony of birdsong may have been my favourite part of the experience. My cast sounded a like the snap of a belt - a perfect indicator that my moves were that of a novice - a good fly cast is a world away form a whip crack!

It was over too soon and we had to leave Stone Cutters and make our way to Dullstroom - just 20ks away and 20 degrees cooler! Jeepers it was cold but the little hamlet is delightful. We were met on the high street by the local cows who walked us into town a little like a piper would pipe you into a function, We found our accommodation, Buttercup Barn in Peace Corner - how quaint - then set off to explore the shops -The Tipsy Trout, The Dusty Owl and the Village Angler. The latter was home to resident fishing character John - a pure bred Scott and trout fishing champ. By now I was fluent in the language of trout but sadly not it the language of Scotland so much of what he said went unheard - I bought some colouful flies to add to my wardrobe of bright, feathered, pretty fishing supplies and we bid him good day. "AyeBrrrGweerry Hooondsham Whackersomsilkard" came the reply!


Dinner for three was served at the delightful Mrs Simpson's  - the best restaurant in town! Our guest was Wallis the restaurant cat who decided that we were the best company in the joint. This decision may have been made based on the attractive prawns on my plate,


Its always sad when a good time comes to an end but I can say that this break was just what I needed and proves the point that time spent in nature is restorative and great therapy for the soul. July was a memorable month - Vic Falls, Chobe, Kruger, Lydenberg and Dullstroom, Pretoria, Natal Midlands and now PE - I feel brand new! Where next I wonder??


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Flight of Angels


Today started on a high note - after a  run to the river to greet the sunrise, a quick blog post and breakfast, I find myself enroute to the helipad to experience 'the Flight of Angels' - a flip over the Victoria Falls. today my driver is  Sydney - "Oh like the city in Australia," I chirp,   "Yes", he replied, "they named it after me!" I like his style.
The falls from above is as awesome as it is from the ground, but just magnificent is the mighty Zambezi, glistening below like a bright blue rippling ribbon bringer of life and energy.
We are weighed -EEK! There is a weight restriction but even with my bags and cameras I make it but not into the prized front seat - that goes to Zelda from the USofA who weighs nothing and is size zero.
I have a window seat next to Marilyn and Bruce from Melbourne - up we go! It was over in no time but I loved every moment of  my flight of angels - lots of water lots of rainbow moments
Bruce, Marilyn and I get chatting while we wait to see the video that we won't buy. She is an ex South African out visiting family in her home town Grahamstown. I said I was there on Tuesday - she said they were too - small small world.
Free spirits recognize one another immediately and Marilyn and I traded our life story easily. They know Port Melbourne where Sean and Nadine lived. They have 2 daughters no grandchildren but the promise of one soon as their daughter is planning to marry. She insisted I show her photos of my grandies, my lovely sons, my new husband and a bit of an overshare  - V in his heyday - a photo I love!
We both bought the video I wasn't going to buy - I will take Bruce and Marylin home with me and put it with the other DVDs of my daring exploits. My kids will chuck it away when I do my flight of angels for real and I imagine they may watch it and say,"Oh mum! She was such a daredevil."
This afternoon I will walk with angels - the falls on foot!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Chobe!

I was greeted this morning by a huge grin - a set of walking teeth really, "I am Suprise" he said , "your driver today" I asked if his mother didn't know she was pregnant and he told me thAt he was a twin and him mother was only expecting one - he beamed proudly! We walk to our vehicle and I am introduced to his colleague - Big Boy - I am too polite and a little afraid to ask how he got his name!
We drive to the border post - having drunk 3 cups of coffee to wake me up this morning for my early start I need the loo. No toilet seat, no cistern lid, no toilet paper, no soap, no hand towel - it really is just a loo. Big boy should have been called "Silver Tongue" as we are through the border check in no time despite the queue. I am scrutinized and stamped and then directed to leave Zimbabwe and enter Botswana - en route I have to walk through a tray of chemicals to kill foot and mouth and wonder if my "Cajun Shrimp" pedicure would survive - it was not fazed and I arrived pink toed in Chobe.
We were delivered to out boat for the river safari and introduced to Captain O - by now I am beginning to feel as if I am in an episode of Sesame Street with a myriad of characters with comical names.. Off we set to our boat - I say 'our' because there are now 3 of us. I am joined by 2 young American graduates on a trip of a lifetime and enjoying every moment.Perfect company for me.
Captain O explains that we can't all sit on One side of the boat and suggests that I sit on the opposite side to them - I try not to be offended that I was now the counter balance for two 50 K, leggy, tanned and gorgeous Miss USAs.  I tell them that I am likely to run to their side of the boat when I see a good photo opportunity and capsize us into the hippo water. They agree that if they see me heading their way, they will sprint to my side of the boat and save us - I love them already!
It wAs great to share this enthusiasm for life and Africa - they were called Allissa and Jessica - and we were off. We had been on the water all of 30 seconds and we spotted hippo ears  showing above the water. Alissa shrieked with delight - it disappeared.  We saw a 10 meter crocodile on the bank and she shrieked with fear. She had a seizure of happiness when she saw an elephant in the distance and CaptainO was forced to issue a no shrieking order if we were going to get close to the animals.  I shared the story of my granddaughter being encouraged to express her delight and save her parent's hearing, by using a  silent scream. Problem solved. Allissa spent most of the afternoon with her mouth In an O shape with her hand clasped loosely over it.
Ellie's, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, every kind of antelope including one I had never seen before - a sable.  Goliath Heron, Fish eagles and spoon billed stork  all seen from the deck of our little craft.
Lunch was welcome and I discovered how much two skinny girls on a back packing holiday can eat when a buffet is on offer.
We were in a game vehicle for the afternoon with .....await for it ..... Brilliant Dube who told us he had a brother called Clever and one called Limited - this time I shrieked and Allissa game me a stern look. Brilliant was brilliant and very knowledgeable as he pointed out different game and birds - the colorful rollers and bee eaters not forgetting a five legged elephant !!!
I was sad to part company with my two new friends but we agreed to swap photos via email and in true Sesame Street style, we had a group hug and I was delivered back to Big Boy and Zimbabwe.
I am really impressed by the Zimbabwe people - well educated, well articulated, happy, energetic and positive. On our way back to my lodge, Big Boy spoke eloquently of his passion for nature and the bush. He is a qualified safari guide and has worked all over Africa including SA and Shamwari. He decided he needed to settle back in Zim as he missed his family too too much and told me with pride of his lovely wife and two children. He now does local tour guiding and transfers to be near them - I think Big Boy has a Big Heart!
I loved today - a day to file i under A for awesome - a day to remember. Chobe! I WILL be back.




Thursday, July 9, 2015

 So I as sitting at departures at OT airport reading and keeping an eye on the board as I didn't know what gate my plane was boarding at, when this letter appeared next to me. I didn't see who put it there and the Airport was busy - I didn't open it straight away I was a little afraid but it looked harmless and I was intrigued. This is what it says..........

COURAGE

Dear friend,
I may not know you personally, but I do know that within in you, you contain an essence of golden energy that once released will fill the world with beauty. To unleash this you will require COURAGE.
To me the word courage means to have true self- awareness so that you are able to face challenges that scare you face on. To have courage for you may be:
To say ‘NO.’
To tell someone you need him or her in your life.
To speak up even when you’re afraid.
To say ‘YES.’
To have courage doesn’t mean you have to be famous or have had to gone through something terrible that has changed you forever. To have courage is: to be strong enough within yourself to know your own personal boundaries; for you to follow your heart and to fight for what you think is right; to go one way when the rest of the world is going the other, because you know and trust what is right for you. Life is not about your rights or your wrongs; it’s about fighting to find the inner you.
I am sending courage into your life. I would like you to remind yourself of at least 3 things in your life that make you courageous. Start with:
I am courageous because…
Have courage to face your weaknesses and strengths head strong and live a life full of golden energy. As Cinderella says: “Be kind, have courage and you’ll experience a little bit of magic in your life.”
If you have a message to share on a personal courageous moment in you life, please comment below.
If this letter has touched you please write on my blog and then send or share this letter with someone else.
Thank you,
This message was meant for me today as I was traveling solo to Zimbabwe and Botswana (V chose not to come) and I needed some courage . So rising to the anonymous  challenge .....
I am courageous because I have survived loss of the harshest kind.
I am courageous because I choose to live my dreams and find away to make them  a reality.
I am courageous because I can look my fear head on and conquer them!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Festival Fayre

Yes its that time of the year when I sit on my bed surrounded by a knitted headband and scarf, wooden heart, beaded bangles, assorted chutney's, livid green wire bowl and a goat ....yes....and ask my self WTF! The Festival, when all the left brain logic that you credited yourself with leaves your head and the crazy arty side  moves in and takes over - I love it! I love it that once a year perfect normal people sashay around the streets of Grahamstown as if its perfectly normal to wear your dressing gown to town, when everyone suddenly has a hat and men wear their hair in high pony tails. Everyone seems in a good mood and strangers become friends just because you are at the same show. Today was all of this. After a early start from PE we managed to see two shows - the first one at 09H30 and we arrived at the Monument to collect our tickets at 09H23 - hurtled down Beaufort Street, screeched to a halt, illegally parked our car and sat through an hour of fine theatre - The Snow Goose! By 10h00 we had laughed, cried and laughed again! Breakfast next and some much needed coffee which was leisurely enjoyed to the sound of bagpipes, until one of us notices the time - 11H45 - our next show was at 12H00. We were on foot so we jogged ...yes.....to our next venue which was next door to the first one, hence we left the car, and slipped in through the back door, after sprinting across a school field, to be admitted almost immediately allowing us to secure the best seats in the house for Richard Koch's funny 'Conduct Unbecoming' - a selection of anecdotes about the life of a conductor, having an embarrassing name and showing us some amusing old film footage of the great conductors and their funny ways!
So all in all a successful morning - and then we hit The Village Green.
If it moves, bead it - I think that was the theme this year! There were some amazing beaded objects and one day I will own a life sized flock of beaded sheep. Organic is in from natural fibres to organic produce and unvarnished wooden things. I like that its local stuff - a lot of it handmade - so well done to the organisers for not having those fake sunglasses, caps, purses and bag stalls. I like that there is a lot of community projects and I think this year they have had sales training because there was definitely more interaction and instead of sitting at their stalls doe eyed, the lovely African ladies were up on their feet if they sensed a glimmer of interest. I could see a lot of work had gone into their crafts and felt a little guilty paying just R40 for things that I know took them ages.
Pancakes and more coffee and we headed for home and normality - vowing that next year, like every year, we will stay for a few days and see everything including the evening jazz.
If you haven't been yet - get out your hat and let out your crazy side and head to Grahamstown before the weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Half Term Report

It seems only a few weeks ago that we welcomed in a new year and yet in couple of days time we will hit the half way mark of 2015-quite a scary thought! It's also a good time to give some thought to purpose, goals, take stock and rethink the rest of the year! At the beginning of each year I look at the different sectors of my life and set goals in different areas. This ALWAYS includes travel plans and that links closely with my phototography goals. I usually set myself a culinary challenge and sometimes a goal to learn something new that will enhance my career.
So how am I doing......
 Travel wise my goal was to make the most of the situation I find myself in living 850 kilometers from my partner and that includes exploring the Wild Coast and this I am loving! We have already rendezvoused in Mazeppa Bay and explored Wave Crest and last week we explored Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall. The Wild Coast in extraordinary beautiful a lot of it still unspoiled teeming with unpredictable cattle, goats, sheep and people that spill out into the roads - if you can call what you generally have to travel on - a road! This feeds my passion to capture my world through a camera lens and creates photo opportunities that ties in with my goal to get my photos published in any form! Port St Johns is next on the list for our Wild Coast experience.  My second travel goal was to visit Botswana  - When I decided this,  I didn't realise what an expensive place to visit it is and I can only afford to do this via Zimbabwe. So off I shall be going in July to stay for a few days in Zim with a excursion to Chobe. My stay includes breakfast and I shall be living on chicken noodle cup-a-soup for the rest of the holiday .....and probably for the rest of the month!
Singapore and Thailand were not on my list but when the opportunity arose i jumped at it and it was awesome - so glad that I 'seized the day' and so happy to spend precious time with Sean, Nadine and Katherine - I loved every minute!
My culinary goal this year is to make a quiche - yes I know - very boring! But I have a dread of baking pastry blind so that is what I want to perfect the perfect pastry case and to try to experiment with some different fillings.
That brings me to learning something new and I have decided that I have worked at the adult end of education and I would like to learn about early childhood development - I think this will be interesting so I am looking for a course to go on. I will probably extend my scope of assessment work too - Always challenging and a little frustrating to work with the SETAs so I will develop my pain threshold too! Learning to crochet - This has been on my list since forever and I master this skill and then forget again so I need to sit down for a few days with a crochet hook and a youtube tutorial and get it embedded in my brain - Will 2015 be the year that this happens?
Spending time with family is always high on my agenda and I am grateful for any time my adult kids spend with me - where you spend time and focus your efforts you will be successful and I like to think that we are still a close family regardless of our busy lives - it doesn't just happen you have to make it happen so I will be spending as much time as I can with the grandies and continue to be happy that to see my kids whenever they can spare the time.

Having fun is always on my To-Do list and this year is no exception. So far I have had pink and blue hair - to support a good cause and my JaJas make sure that when there is an opportunity to dress up then we are there! Our latest opportunity came last weekend as we dressed up in traditional wear for a little bit of Xhosa dancing and some great African Drumming.
I shall be trying my hand at the W&H Short Story competition again - three times now I have been a runner up - I think it's about time I won it lol.

So I think my half term report will read, "Susan is making good progress" I am sure that if I hadn't  reflected and set myself these challenges that I wouldn't have done half of the things that have made my life interesting and fulfilled. So far I am happy with my year and proud of myself and what I have achieved.  Lets see what the second half of the year brings. Whatever's in store - I am ready!!! ASK BELIEVE RECEIVE!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mid Week Rant - I need to get something off my chest!

I know its youth day but I need to get something off my chest. A few years ago I was shopping  in China where there are some weird and wonderful products on sale. I bought the usual bag, watch (Lolex) DVD and a few Tshirts but quite frankly their fashions are weird and not so wonderful particularly in the lingerie department, where I was faced with wall-to-wall padded bras! Obviously our oriental sisters are lacking in that department. So this week I walk into the underwear section at Edgars and what do I see - wall to wall padded bras! Same story in most of the shops and good old Woollies who you could always trust to find decent underwear have also succumbed to the charms of cheap! Why? The majority of people her are of 'African proportions' - We do not need padding and if we do there should be a small selection of bolstered bras! The opposite is happening - PLEASE unpad our bras - make them pretty, lacy, racy and functional. In my youth the call to women was to burn their bras - if we all burned our bras today their would be a toxic cloud of chemical warfare proportions with the foam used!
My cup runneth over literally these days so I need your support here ladies lol - Leave them on the shelves and be true to your natural self. Mwah!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Peek at my Week

What have I been up to??? Well I have been back in PE since March and keeping myself busy. Busy I have to be because I was not designed to sit still or really to be on my own - I find both challenging. Browsing back through my journals one evening I came across an entry that had written a few years ago that said."I guess my biggest fear is loneliness - I need constant proof that I am alive and for me I am only alive when I interact with others." Little did I know then what my future held but as I remind myself daily -  I am here to learn lessons and this is my biggest lesson yet. Learning to be satisfied with my own company. Many of you will protest that you love being alone and I do too for a little while, but anyone who lives alone will tell you that it can be tough. What works for me is planning my day, my week and my month so I have things to do when I am not working.

Where I have been?
Out and about in PE catching up with friends and familiar places and some new ones

PE continues to amaze me with its talent - Delicious lunch and coffee at Vuvotelo (which is now all over SA but originated here), Divine berry crumpet stack at Life with Lemons, where the food and service always makes me smile. This time I wandered into the neighbouring stores and found a lovely shop called Fabulous - which is exactly that! I also had the pleasure of listening to Nicky Cloete Brasse at the Autism fundraising afternoon tea - wearing blue for autism from head to toe in support! Nicky is one of  PEs greatest talents and it's always a joy to be entertained by her. Then Mellars beckoned - a new Dim Sum and Noodle bar that did not disappoint and is now on my list of favourites. Problem is the list is getting longer - so much food so little time!
Who have I met?
Apart from reconnecting with friends I have worked a little and had a lovely group of people who came to a Customer Service Workshop. One had hitchhiked from Tsitsikamma to spend the day with us, So many people take their education and learning for granted and I often come across people so thirsty for knowledge that they make great sacrifices and that this young woman had hitched a lift just to learn something that may help her be more successful in her career, just blew me away and I made sure I gave my presentation my all so that she would go home happy (and that she got home safely - I took her half way there). Also spent a morning at the hairdresser who declared that I have self- highlighting hair - A nice way to say I am going grey! Not to worry I have a lovely blue wig!
What I have seen?
I have watched some Northern Humour - Peter Kay's Car Share - I think you have to be from the frozen north to understand northern humour - I just roll laughing - half the time at nothing! The action all takes place in a car as two supermarket employees are forced to lift share to work. Just love the street scenes and the northern faces. There are many walking talking Toby Jugs in the north!
I also saw a movie with Hugh Grant which was fine - Hugh is getting a bit a bit frayed around the edges - in looks and talent, but it was a sweet...predictable...safe....story! What has been far more dramatic are the orange, red, cerise and joyful skies each evening - Winter sunsets are just the best and I love the way the clouds get touched by pinks and apricots as the sun starts to fade - Sigh - I take this as further proof of Heaven as no human artist could create something so achingly lovely. So this week saw me racing for sunsets on the Schoenies road and jogging along the path as the sun sinks so quickly. I was doing just that when I noticed a couple on a bench obviously enjoying the view together on Sunday WHEN suddenly he went down on one knee - OMG I thought - I have stumbled across a proposal!!!! Till I saw him get his phone out and aim it at the horizon. I was a tad disappointed - I hope she wasn't.
What have I learned?
Well I am still learning to conquer solitude - I now tell myself I am not alone - I am facing my biggest fear - that makes me feel like a warrior! I must be braver than I think I am as I have booked a trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe in July.....alone! I have learned that gardening is hard work but it's the best feeling in the world to enjoy a quiet drink in the garden admiring an afternoon's handiwork. I have learned that absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder - it makes the heart ache! Missing you.......

Friday, May 29, 2015

Wonderfully Wild!

One of my goals this year is to explore the Wild Coast and this week I made a start. Its the perfect place for V and I to meet so we don't have to do the 10 hour drive to KwaZulu Natal - this time he drove 6 and I drove 4 and we met in Butterworth and then made our way down the road to Mazeppa Bay - well you can hardly call it a road - its 65 Kilometers and took the best part of 90 mins to get down to the coast! A sturdy vehicle is needed and we arrived shaken but not stirred! A stiff drink was needed to recover form the bumps!  Its called the Wild Coast for a reason and we arrived to the sad news that a farmer out fishing had drowned - swept away and as yet not found! Another drink was call for!
I had heard about the cows on the beach but seeing is believing! They seem to spend the day lazing and grazing in the sun and then meander up the path to where ever at sunset. the cows are not only on the beach though - they are everywhere! Even in peoples homes!
The coastline is mind blowingly beautiful - Wild as the name suggests and pristine. Apparently there are centuries of shipwrecks resting on the seabed here and you can imagine the treachery of having to navigate the huge waves that thunder against the shore.

Inland is just as beautiful - Rolling hills dotted with the traditional colourful huts that are typical of the Xhosa. Thatched and painted Turquoise, Coral, Green and Peach - some quite fancy with face brick fascia and some with metal roofs that the sun bounced off. Colourful washing hung on the kraal fence - a days labour using precious water - no mod cons! Life for the people here is tough but all we saw were smiling faces - just about everyone waves as you pass or salutes you with a stick.

Mazeppa Bay has its own island accessible via the bridge which makes a stunning backdrop to the sunrise. I set my alarm on day 2 to capture it and when V saw me heading out of the door with my camera in my fleecy pyjamas he thought he had better join me! Nothing like seeing the sunrise in your PJs and we had no need to worry that we looked like two bergies who had spent the night on the beach - no one batted an eyelid. It was not the clear skies of the day before and we were disappointed that the clouds obscured the sun ,,,,,until it peeped through and started dancing on the waves - Beautiful! Several fishermen were out and about eager to see what they could land and we saw at least one metre long fish being carried home.

Children! Everywhere! We bought a bag of sweets and a huge box of 120 Wilson's toffees and set off  south to Wavecrest after breakfast. On the journey there we mostly saw small children who shyly came and took their sweets and then ran back to the comfort of their mothers skirts...The journey back was a different story and the bakkie was mobbed by school children when they realised there was an opportunity of a treat. All in smart school uniforms, most obliged with a photo and the smiles were wide and sometimes gappy! Unbelievable we ran out of sweets half way back and the kids chased us to no avail!


We saw men on horseback, women carrying firewood and groceries on their heads, herd boys cracking whips to get the cows into the kraal and teenage girls collecting drums of water from the dam - As daylight drifted away then the smell of woodsmoke filled the air and we headed back to the inn before dusk obscured the road and enjoyed our own catch of the day - the many photos that we had taken were reviewed.

Next month we are exploring Coffee Bay and I cant wait to enjoy a walk on the Wild Side again.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Peek at my Week

Hi there - Happy Workers Day! I wonder if all our SA Citizens without work will be celebrating today! I am more than grateful that I not only have work and a source of income but that I really enjoy what I do too.
I have been back at Ascot Bush Lodge this week where there is always work waiting for anyone with two hands and a brain - and always a space for me to recharge my batteries and reflect on life's gifts.

Where have I been?
I went to the Save Our Metro Rally where hundreds of Port Elizabethans gathered to lament what is happening to our city and, while the speakers did their best to uplift our spirits,  I left with a sense of  despair as it will be ONLY votes that will change this nation. Our government is corrupt and incompetent and being kind to one another, volunteering to do good things will not change that - like putting a plaster on a fractured skull! But I did feel appreciative that PE is not only the friendly city but the caring city too.
Who I have met?
I had the privilege of facilitating a group of Ward Councillors who shared some of the challenges of their work and the long hours they put in. Also touched sides and enjoyed chilled times with old friends which I always appreciate. I have also met Poldark - A BBC drama set in the 18th century - about a Cornish family and filled with murder, mystery, mining and mayhem. In fact I have spent a lot of time enjoying excellent British TV - The Best!



What I have read?
I read a book called the Widows Confession set in a coastal town in Victorian England and filled with murder, mystery and mayhem. In contract to the book I am reading now called False River, a family drama set in South Africa in the 1970s filled with murder, mystery and mayhem!

What I have learned?
I am learning how to be on my own seeing as circumstances mean that V lives and works in Natal and I cannot live there. As I am really not designed for solitary confinement, loneliness is a great challenge for me but one, I am please to report, I am conquering! I have learned that independence is gift worth treasuring. I have also learned to manage load shedding by taking notice of the schedules and being prepared. I am quite enjoying the stillness of candlelight - although I have also learned that ghost DVDs are not suitable to watch in the dark!

So its been a time of Peace, Purpose, Poldark and Prose and Public Holidays! Enjoy yours today!