Sunday, April 30, 2017

A peek at my month......

Its after 9pm on 30th April - nothing like a deadline to get your fingers on the keyboard! Yes my last blogpost was 31 March and I really cant let myself leave April without keeping some record on my April 2017. So what have I been up to? It seems its all  been work and travel this year. I can't believe that I have been to Singapore twice, Capetown, Natal twice in three months! Its time to calm down I think and enjoy my home and my friends and that's exactly what I intend to do for a couple of months at least!
When I haven't been travelling, I have been working - all over the place and I have enjoyed every moment. I have a new group of young and energetic learners who make me feel like a high school teacher at times but they are fun and they keep me on my toes - except they make me feel ancient. I have also worked at NMMU and at the NM Business Chamber where I offered to do a session on dealing with difficult customers - I had no idea how popular it would be and I ended up with a group of 30 - it was a great success and I am sure I will repeat it. I think "How to complain (in a manner worthy of respect) should be a subject for life skills at school. Really - I heard some horrible stories of rude customers who have even thrown things at those serving them. So wrong! I am a someone who loves to give feedback when I am happy with service .......and also a responsible consumer who complains when necessary. Social media is also not helping as there is plenty of evidence on Facebook of adults having tantrums, melt downs and behaving in a seriously abusive way when not happy with the service they have received. I think you should give the service provider a change to rectify it first before ranting online.
Lots of special birthdays this month too - so I have partied with the best :-) Janine, Craig (turning 8) and today Jessica turns 13 and had a lovely birthday celebration at my house. again I found myself surrounded my young people and what lovely young girls they were - full of fun and life - well mannered and on the brink of womanhood - Just lovely! Craig chose to go to a movie with me to celebrate his birthday - he drove there with his 3D glasses on and his head out of the window so his hair would look spikey and cool which tells me he is growing up! We saw Boss Baby which is excellent - the animation is fantastic and I enjoyed the humour as much as he did.
I have a new camera - I had to replace the one stolen - and I have been getting used to it so have made a couple of game viewing trips to do just that - to Tala in Natal and today I went off to Addo and enjoyed wall to wall elephants - I could watch them for hours ....and sometimes do.  There are a lot of babies there at the moment and I love the way the herd protects them and then once in a while they make a break for it and take off - trunk feeling the way with mom in hot pursuit!
Just like those baby ellies - we are all learning lessons - I believe that is our purpose in life - we are here to learn and everything that happens to us - every challenge - every triumph teaches us something.
What have I learned this month?

  • Surround yourself with the right people - people who build you up and make you feel good about yourself.
  • Be that kind of person too and you will never be lonely!
  • I am usually time conscious but I have been reminded to invest my time wisely - its a precious commodity and people who don't treat it as such aren't going to get any of my time!
  • Be careful what apps you leave open - or you may get goat noises coming from your handbag when you least expect them!
  • Rejoice in nature!
  • Let go of things that are out of your control - que sera sera!
  • Don't make fudge unless you know someone else is coming to eat it.
  • Dont say Yes to anything without checking your diary - I have had a couple of "moments" this month.
  • Hang in there  - Its all in the plan!

My year is already quite full and I am blessed - I have a real feeling that I am in transition right now even when I am stationery. To where I don't know but I do know that the universe is conspiring to challenge me in new ways and that whatever happens I know that this year will be memorable and life changing - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedom of expression.

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

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

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Air Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Singapore

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Singapore - I have arrived!

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Be a Voice and not an echo

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

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