Monday, 30 December 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Where has this year gone? It  seems only a month ago that we were planning New Year resolutions and wondering which one we would break first!

As I write this with the remains of 2013 lying around like last night's supper, it's time to look back on the year with all it's ups and downs. So, good news or bad news first? I thought that I would get the bad news over with, like a child gulping down the spinach before getting the jelly and custard.

 And the nominees are, in no particular order:

The death of Madiba. I think that will be the one thing that we remember 2013 for here in SA. As a nation, we were brought together for a few precious days while we mourned his passing.

Which brings me to the debacle of the Memorial Service. And the image that was flashed around the world of President Obama sharing the stage with a sign language interpreter. Only afterwards when it was discovered that he was signing rubbish, the odd word like 'puppies' and 'crayfish' came into it somewhere, we learned that not only was he not qualified, but he was a schizophrenic with a few charges against him, like house breaking and murder! And of course, no body took any responsibility for it. Thank goodness the world only laughed at us. It could have been much much worse.

Monday, 23 December 2013

You Can Lead a Dog to Water...........................!

Yes, I know that it's really a horse that you can lead to water, but we don't have a horse. We do have a dog though and that is the whole point!

On Saturday we had to take Alfie to the vet. In the years since we found him, he has been to the vet for his yearly 'jauvas' (inoculations and injections) but apart from that, he has been a very healthy and hassle-free lad. We can count on one hand the number of times that we have had to take him for other things, and that is usually to have his nails clipped. And once for a 'hot spot' on his side. But on Friday evening we noticed that he had licked his one dewclaw so much that it was looking very red and inflamed, so Saturday morning we decided to take him To The Vet! (Have you noticed that visits to the vet usually coincide with weekends and Public Holidays? Or after hour emergencies?)

Alfie feeling very sorry for himself!

Luckily Alfie loves going for a ride in the car, so he was very happy to climb in, and was equally happy to go into the vet as he is always made to feel very welcome. We were fifth in line after a cat, a Labrador puppy, an elderly Jack Russell and a very bouncy staffy who eyed the fluffy toys with great interest. We kept our distance and stood some way off, as he was eyeing Alfie with the same interest!

Monday, 16 December 2013

West Coast Christmas Tree!

When you think of a Christmas tree, I am sure that this is the kind of thing that appears in your mind.

A beautifully decorated tree! (Thanks to Google)

It's certainly the type of tree that I grew up with. Dad brought a small tree home every year just before Christmas Day. We stood it in a bucket with soil to weigh it down and spent ages decorating it, hanging those delicate glass balls on the spiky needles (and hoping not to drop one), and festooning it with tinsel and the odd things that we had made at school, tiny paper chains and lopsided angels! Soon after Christmas the poor tree started dropping it's needles and mum would spend ages sweeping up the mess, until it was thrown out on 12th night! We never considered having a pretend tree and I wonder whether they were available in the early 1950's. One of the saddest sights to my seven year old mind, was the naked tree lying outside the back door waiting to be put on the next bonfire, and my dad saying to me 'Well, Christmas is as far away as it can be now!' A whole year to wait till the next one!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dear Santa Claws!

Yes, it's That time of year again!

There are only a few days left for Christmas wish-lists to be up-dated, neatly written and posted off to the North Pole. The Malls are decorated with festive holly, fake trees, twinkling lights and surly looking Santas catching a quick smoke break round the back of the bottle store. There are frazzled parents trying to persuade their children that a G I Joe doll is as good, if not better, than an Ipod (Ipad?) or a Samsung Galaxy. (Or something in that line!) And what would Christmas be without the music of Boney M following you into every supermarket!

So, here is a lovely story that I want to share with you. It involves some very clever marketing on the part of a Pet Food manufacturer. Clever and humorous!

Remember Phez? The kitten who weighed less than a tomato when my sister brought him home? The tiny soul who lay on Boscombe's tummy for warmth and who wobbled his way round the house? Well, he is now a grown-up, handsome fellow with a spectacularly bushy tail like a fox! And every time I tried to get near enough to take a photo, he scuttled off!

A tiny Phez on long suffering Boscombe while Teazle looks on!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

R I P Madiba.

Yesterday we heard the sad news that Nelson Mandela had died at the age of 95. Although it was expected as he had been very ill for some time, the whole of South Africa was united in sadness, for he had been a wonderful leader, a true gentleman and a man of honour.

1995, a day to remember (Pic thanks to Google)

He brought the entire country together when he appeared at the Rugby World Cup in 1995 wearing a number 6 jersey. How we cheered and celebrated our victory, and we all had the feeling that our country was at last, on the right track.

Madiba loved to be with children. (Pic thanks to Google)

Madiba loved children and was happiest when he was surrounded by his grandchildren and their friends.
Listening to the radio yesterday and hearing the tributes that poured in and the stories that people shared about him, he was a man who was truly loved. He will be missed.

Neslon Mandela. (Pic thanks to Google)

The really sad thing is, that looking at our present politicians, there is not one of them that is fit to tie his shoelaces, yet alone fill his shoes.

RIP Madiba.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I Made It!

Well, I survived two flights! And, although I didn't actually enjoy either, I have to admit that for the most part they were turbulence-free, even the descending through cloud part when I arrived in Durban, and climbing through cloud when I left on Sunday lunchtime. And, apart from the child who sat in front crying and the child who sat behind kicking my seat the whole way, they were really stress-free! I must admit that I kept an eye on the wing though, as my sister said, 'just make sure that the rivets don't pop out!'

Dopey, making sure that I packed properly for my holiday!

But, how quickly a holiday goes. It seemed to stretch in front of us forever, but the days flew by. A visit to the dentist seems to last for hours, even days, but a holiday goes before you have time to unpack! As soon as we got home, thanks to Shirley who was our very competent driver, we cracked open a bottle of bubbly (the first of many actually!). Boscombe, their very large dog who is as soft as butter, howled as soon as the bottle was brought out of the 'fridge, he knew that there would be a cork for him to retrieve from the garden.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Surprise that's Not!

As I write this, my stomach is churning. Why? Because on Tuesday morning Rob is driving me to the airport. Early. We shall leave at about 7, a time that is normally the middle of the night for us pensioners. That is usually the time one of us opens one eye to see if it's coffee time, and if it's an odd number day, Rob does the honours. If it's an even day, it's my turn!

But, as usual I digress.

I am flying to Durban at 10.35 on Tuesday morning. Landing in time for lunch! This was all planned way back at the beginning of the year when my brother-in-law Norman contacted me about my sister's birthday. I blithely suggested that I fly down (up, over, across?) to spend some time with them, as a huge surprise and he was sworn to secrecy! My plan was to simply arrive at the door the day before her birthday and take a photo of her face as she saw me!

Taken last year, Diana, Catherine and me!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Alfie is Lost!

Alfie is lost.

I don't mean physically, no, he is here, sort of, in body only! I mean mentally and psychologically lost. Look at the photo below, does this look like a happy, well-balanced animal?

His head on Rob's pillow! Eish!

I rest my case!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Canine Conniving!

As you may (or may not) remember, our perimeter walls are only 90 cm high. Some people don't worry to build walls, and some people have walls but no gates. So, it's easy for the dogs to nip out and go for a walk, or in Alfie's case, hop over the wall and pop next door! And he does. Every morning without fail, Alfie meets up with his friends on the corner under the lamp post and when they have finished sniffing about and kicking the lamp post, they all go next door to visit Emma and Coert. Who spoil them all terribly!

Waiting for the gates to open!

Sometimes they have to wait a few minutes for the gates to open, rather like arriving a little early at the Mall, but finally they all head in to greet the neighbours and have a biscuit or three!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Basil's Goose is un-cooked!

Basil has a new 'friend'.

Piet, a few weeks old.

Meet Piet the gosling! He (or she) belongs to our neighbours on the corner, they own the local Nursery (Plants that it, not poultry!) and Piet was born (hatched?) there. But, he was bullied by the others and was being pecked and shoved around, so Phillip brought him home for safety.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Traumatic Tuesday!

The two words that are heard most often in our home are 'Oh Basil!', followed by one of the following:

A scream if he has suddenly jumped on my back while I am bending over weeding in the garden or has tried to climb up Rob's back while he is in the bathroom.
A sigh if he has brought a mouse in to play. That gets us into 'MouseMode' with a plastic bowl and a fishing net.
A laugh if he has become one of Alfie's toys and is being dragged round the lounge by his ears.
Or a surprised tone if he simply arrives in the house looking innocent!

Basil checking the washing machine! (All pics thanks to Rob)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

From Feral to Fireside!

Today is National Feral Cat Day.

We shall be celebrating of course, we have four of them! My sister will be celebrating even more than us as they have about thirteen at the moment, with the latest one Beckett, slowly moving in. He has progressed from hiding near the shed and slinking away as soon as he sees movement, to sitting on the patio chairs and spending the odd night on the computer chair! Next stop, on the bed with all the others! Phez (remember the kitten in the coffee mug?) has welcomed him with open paws and has probably told him about the plusses of being an inside cat! In a cushy household!

Daffy and Dopey trying out the couch! Alfie on the cushion above!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

On the Road Again!

Well, we have Christened our new caravan! Both figuratively and literally! Read on...

Last week we decided to go to Stellenbosch to a caravan park called Mountain Breeze. Rob had contacted them a month or so ago to make sure that we could take Alfie and they said that as long as they didn't see him then it was ok! Rob explained that he was very very well behaved and that he was a celebrity in his own right. Rob stopped short of telling them that they should be honoured to have Alfie gracing their property, but I think they got the gist!

In the meantime, I had been racking my brain to think of a name that conjured up the van's personality, and finally came up with 'Hyacinth'. Let me explain further. There is a TV sitcom called 'Keeping Up Appearances' that we just loved when we watched it, and the main character is a lady called Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bookay). She is large, tries hard to be correct in everything that she does, and is a bit of a snob!! Not that our van is a snob, but she is larger than Gemsquash, and more up-market! She is also blue like a hyacinth, and, wait for it, this is the best part and comes from Rob.......'We had to make the carport higher sinth she wouldn't fit!'. Get it? A play on words there! (Try saying it out loud, lisp and all!)

Basil ready to come too! (Pic thanks to Isabel)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How many Bees does a Bee-eater eat?

No, it's not a tongue twister or a riddle but you will have to read on to find the answer to that question!

The day before yesterday I was washing up the breakfast things and staring idly out of the window wondering if it was misty or whether the windows could really be that salt-encrusted and grubby (and yes, they could and yes, they were!), when I saw a small flock of birds hovering and diving over the back garden. Their colour was the first thing that I noticed, turquoise flashes with yellow and brown and they were diving and catching insects in mid-flight. Occasionally they perched on the antenna wire that we have strung across the length of the garden, but they were far too fast for me to capture with my camera, I would have snapped sky and the odd bit of bush and no bird at all! So I borrowed these pictures from Google!

Like a painted porcelain statue! (Thanks to Google)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Happy Wrinklies Day!

Now, you may be forgiven for thinking that this sign below depicts 'Elderly Persons Crossing' outside a hospital, shopping centre or a Retirement Village. But no, it actually represents 'Wrinklies Day', or to put it correctly, 'International Day of Older Persons'! Which is today by the way!

Line Dancing for the Elderly!

We wrinklies make up a huge number round the world, and every year this number increases. By 2050 the number of older people will be twice the number of children in developed countries, and older persons in developing countries is expected to double. This may not mean very much until we give it numbers: There are approximately 600 million of us older people, that is 60+ years at the moment. This number will double by 2025, and is estimated to rise to 2 billion by 2050! That's a lot of dentures and walking sticks and support stockings and hip replacements coming up.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Braais, bugs and breakfast!

Today is 'Heritage Day' aka 'National Braai Day'. As I write this I can smell braai fires wafting round the village, and our wors and steak is defrosting in the kitchen! It is a perfect day, calm and still with a small nip in the air that tells us that although spring is here, winter is still lurking round corners and in shady areas! I started off the morning in socks and slippers and a fleecy top but after much exertion with a broom on the veranda, I went to change. Half an hour later I was back in the fleece but am being extremely brave about the socks and slippers bit! In fact, I am wearing my Birkenstocks, remember the ones that did the world tour a while ago?

Statice and bokbaaivygies.

And my garden is a picture! Statice is mixed with vygies, geraniums are tumbling over rocks as they have finally had a chance to grow because the veld is green and the bokkies have alternate fynbos to eat. Come summer they will be pruning my geraniums to within an inch of their lives!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Yes, Another Cook Book!

I am one of those strange people who hate cooking but love cook books! I have a vast collection (I think I have mentioned this before) and regularly page through them to find exciting things to make, that is if I was going to make anything exciting!

The first recipe (or is that 'cook') book I really remember well was one that was given to my mum by her close friend when we left England, way back in the middle of the last century! (That sounds scary, but it is true!) It was written in 1960 by an American lady called Peg Bracken and was called 'The I Hate to Cook Book'. Mum regularly made a particular chicken dish called 'Saturday Chicken', an easy and delicious recipe that calls for a tin of mushroom soup, cream and chicken pieces and that's basically it! She made it for special occasions and when (if) people came for dinner, and she usually made a lovely cream cheese tart to follow. It became a favourite of mine too and I cannot remember how many times I have made it and shared the recipe with friends over the years. Funnily enough, I think that the first time I ever made it on a Saturday was just the other day!! Even Rob commented! There is a 'Sunday Chicken' too, that's a curry version of Saturday!

The book has been well used obviously!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Picnic in the Park!

Yesterday we went on a picnic! It's one that has been in the planning stages for at least a month, but the weather kept upsetting our timing, which was just as well as it turned out. Keep reading to discover why!

Our wild flowers are out! Beautiful but shy if the sun is not just right, but on a sunny, calm day the few hours between 11 and 3 are the best viewing time. And the best picnicking time! So, it seemed the perfect way to kill several birds with one stone, namely, see our friends, see the flowers and have a lekker relaxing time with a picnic and all those forbidden things like crisps and brownies and koeksusters!

Pam and Rob ready for action!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Spring has Sprung................a Leak!

Spring Day! Even though we are surrounded by water and snow! We have had several days of almost non-stop rain and on Thursday afternoon we had hail! Small pieces I admit, but it's unheard of in our part of the world. Even more unusual, Cape Town reported snow on the top of Table Mountain, and pictures showed the freezing conditions with happy folk building snowmen and doing head-stands in the snow. (Why I ask you?)

So, yesterday after hearing reports of the Berg River overflowing its banks all the way to Velddrif, we decided to go and see for ourselves. (And have fish and chips for lunch.....this sounds familiar doesn't it?)

Our Bok River, looking upstream.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Camping in the Driveway!

There are some sounds that are 'recogniseable' (is it possible to recognise something that you cannot see?) without difficulty, hah-de-dahs taking off at the crack of dawn, the hum of bees in a bruin salie, a rooster crowing in the middle of the night, owls hooting at dusk..........and metal tent poles falling on a hard surface!

Yesterday, because the caravan is standing in the driveway and there is lots of room, we decided to do a 'dry run'  and put up the tent! We wanted to make sure that the tent was complete and that we were able to erect it without a struggle! There is nothing worse than arriving at a campsite and having an audience of veteran campers sitting with their braai fires set up and smouldering, a glass of wine or a beer in hand, sniggering and shaking heads as the newcomers heave and perspire and try not to shout at each other too much. After all, these are the neighbours for the next few days!

Rob found instructions on the internet, complete with a diagram, for erecting the framework of the of the tent, showing that each pole is colour coded, so he printed it and I spent a happy few minutes with my koki pens going over each line with black, orange, green, red and yellow, corresponding with the diagram. (A minor problem, the 'G' actually stood for 'gold' and not 'green'!) Off we set and hauled out the bag of poles and the tent. So far, so good. But the coloured dots had worn off the poles and had been replaced with odd bits of masking tape with numbers 1 or 2 and bits of words like 'mid' which we presumed was 'middle'.  We managed to lie them out on the drive in their correct positions, placed the first three into the correct holders on the side of the caravan and then proceeded to fit the rest into the very nifty 'spiders' that held either four or two poles, depending where they all fitted! A bit like a metal Lego set! Sounds easy doesn't it?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Caravan Chaos!

Last week was a very interesting one! We decided to put our beloved Gemsquash on Gumtree, the site where you can literally buy and sell anything that is buyable or sellable! There was nothing wrong with her at all, but we decided to upgrade to a slightly roomier one, and as she was thirty two years old, we thought that we could find a more modern one. We also decided that we were in no hurry and if she didn't sell, well, we would simply keep her. Well, we could have sold her fifteen times! We had several calls from Cape Town and one chap from MagGregor sounded so desperate to buy her that he was ready to do an EFT and literally walk here to collect her! The first person who came to view her handed over the money, hooked her up and drove off! We stood in the drive and waved goodbye to our old friend and we both had tears in our eyes!

So, that meant we had to find another caravan! Rob found a beauty on Gumtree (where else?) and phoned the owner. I was at the Hospice shop by then, so was on tenterhooks to find out whether it had been sold or not! And as it turned out, it was waiting for us to go and see it!

Friday morning we bundled Alfie into the car and snuck out so that Basil didn't see us go and set off to Worcester in cloudy, cold, very windy and occasionally wet conditions! The shorter route was closed due to flooding on the road, so we had to go the long way round via the tunnel in Paarl! The mountains had lots of waterfalls cascading down them and every farm dam and small stream was full to overflowing.

Snow and clouds!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tannie Kruiwa!

When we first arrived in Jacobsbaai we rented a little house while ours was being built. I think I have written about my frustrations in wanting to start a garden and hitting on the brilliant plan of using old wheelbarrows! A kind of mobile garden. I bartered for the first two from the builders next door with bottles of Coca Cola and packets of chips (crisps) and then they kind of bred. Unchecked. I now have eighteen! I became known as Tannie Kruiwa, or Aunty Wheelbarrow! Sounds better in Afrikaans somehow!

Every now and then a builder friend will stop outside and tell me that they have a ‘delivery’ for me, and will off-load a couple of rusty, dented, cement encrusted old warriors! I have begged old ones from building plots and pushed one with a wheel that screamed, halfway round the village! Our house is easy to find as it has three outside the perimeter wall, so we simply tell people to look for the kruiwas. And on Sunday we had a load of wood delivered by a very nice chap who said that he had one for me and would bring it the next time that he was in the area!! All gratefully received!

Pink lachanalias and a terracotta gnome!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Cooking for Gold!

They say that you are never too old to learn and that is so true! (The trouble is remembering it all!) Last week while we were watching 'Masterchef South Africa', I learned that we have an Olympic Culinary Team. Not only that, we have both a Junior and a Senior team and last year (2012), our Seniors did us proud. They competed internationally in the oldest and most prestigious culinary competition in the world, the “Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung” termed the IKA Culinary Olympics, hosted in Erfurt, Germany from the 6 October to the 17 October.

The Senior Team (Pic thanks to

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


In 1979 a young Afrikaans singer called Sonja Heroldt, released a song called 'Waterblommetjies', written by Anton Goosen. The first two lines of the song  go 'Waterblommetjies in die Boland, Waterblommetjies in die kaap', which roughly translated means, 'Little water flowers in the land above the coastal plain, Little water flowers in the Cape' which doesn't have the same ring somehow! However, the song was an instant hit, it is hauntingly beautiful and it is a song that is still played today. It has been recorded by many Afrikaans singers and it takes me right back to when my children were small!  (Find  it on You-tube and listen to it.)

The Waterblommetjie flower

The song then goes on to sing the praises of a particular bredie or stew that is made from the flowers of the Waterblommetjie or Cape pond weed! The plant is endemic to our part of the world and is widely used to add to the flavour and bulk of the dish. They flower in winter and spring and grow in ponds that traditionally dry up in summer. The bulb then dies down and remains dormant until the winter rains arrive and then they grow again!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Wonderful Wonderbag!

Just about a year ago I remember starting my post off with a joke about Eskom (our Power Supplier) and the Prince of Darkness. Well, here's another one:

What did South Africa use before candles? And the answer is................Eskom!!!

We have been warned again about using and saving electricity, every evening on the radio and TV, there are red/orange or (very rarely) green 'adverts' telling us that our usage is too high and sharing hints like wear a blanket, hug a hot water bottle, pop a beanie (a woollen hat) on your head, shove an extra pair of socks on, read with gloves, you get the picture? The words 'load shedding', 'rolling blackouts' and 'power outages' are bandied about like threats, and our tariffs are going up with a promise. The new power station that was supposed to be completed and on-line by the end of this year is now only going to be 'ready' by the middle of next year, if we're lucky, so the chances are very very good that we shall suddenly be plunged into darkness just as the programme we are watching gets really interesting!

So, for a while now I have been thinking about alternate ways of producing a meal! Or rather, how can Rob do his potjies and soups without using electricity! We are lucky in that we have a gas hob, and our wood burning stove works well for re-heating, but for the really slow cooking stews an oven is a necessity. Or is it?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Mason Williams

That name may not mean very much to a lot of people out there, but all will be revealed in time. Stay with me! I must admit, it meant nothing to me until I delved further! Intrigued? I hope so!

Mason Williams (Thanks to Google)

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Jasus Ialandii or West Coast Gold!

When people think of the West Coast, the word ‘crayfish’ springs to mind. This, in turn, conjures up mental images of happy, bronzed tourists lounging on the beach sipping wine while someone ‘chucks another prawn on the barbie.’ Am I right? Every tourist blub mentions the wonderful seafood, especially crayfish, which abound in our coastal waters.

Perfectly braaied

West Coast Gold! (Pics thanks to Google)

And they do. Abound I mean. But there are rules and regulations that prevent you from simply wading into the water with your net and scooping a few to serve with savoury rice, mayonnaise and subtly flavoured garlic butter for lunch. Before you head out to sea in a correctly licensed boat to catch your legal quota of 4 crayfish per day, you must first have a permit which last season cost R92. Also, crayfish can only be caught in season (usually mid November to end of March) and between the hours of 08:00 and 16:00, not before and never after. If you don’t have a correctly licensed boat, well, you can ring-net or scoop-net from the shore. No diving from a boat and no oxygen tanks are allowed, but a snorkel is ok! All simple so far and easy to follow. But, here is the tricky part, read below:

Monday, 1 July 2013

Life With Basil!

To those of you who love cats but do not have a ginger one, I say, get one! It is now just over three months since Basil Jones (to give him his full name) arrived on our doorstep and life has never, but never, been the same! We have had kittens before, many times, but we have never encountered one who is so involved in every aspect of our lives! Our other three simply get on with life, they arrive for breakfast, sleep most of the day, pop in for a little nibble now and then, sleep, lie around at night, and  sleep.

Basil, aka Captain Chaos! (All pics, thanks to Rob)

As I write this, Basil is upstairs batting an empty eye drop container round the bathroom floor. He arrived in a rush as I was cleaning the bathroom and dived into the rubbish bin. He 'helps' me sweep, dust and wash up.

Washing up duty.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Happy Margaret Day!

Yes, it's 'Margaret Day' again! Four years since the enormous mother barge carrying twelve barges and two dry docks broke free from her towing tug and ended up on our rocks! And I remember it as though it was yesterday! After a night of gale force wind, heavy seas and rain, and a Spring Tide to add to it all, our neighbour phoned to say that there was a container floating towards the shore. We rushed out to see and were confronted by what looked like a multi-storey car park wallowing close to our bay. In the distance we could see the tug that was supposed to be towing her to Rotterdam, but in the high seas the barge had broken free and was now unstoppable! That is, until she arrived on the rocks and then she sat tight.

'Margaret chooses Jacobsbaai', the headline in our local paper.

By this time our village was filling up with people. How word spreads! In no time our roads were clogged with cars, they were driving over the dunes to get a closer look, and some brave souls were wading into the sea to 'salvage' huge planks of wood that were being washed off, obviously from between the barges for protection. Sadly for them, the Customs Officials were waiting just round the corner to relieve them of their catch, and probably some money!

The view from our house!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

On-line Shopperholic!

I have become an 'online-shopping-groupie' at my age! It all started when I wanted to buy a new pair of Birkenstock sandals. I bought a pair when I was in Dubai two years ago and except for showering and sleeping, they never left my feet! So when they finally gave up the ghost (or should I say the sole), I looked around in SA to replace them. I found two outlets, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg, very close to where we used to live. A friend went to price them and left very hurriedly after hearing that they would be over R700, gulp! So, Plan B. On-line at!! Yes, there they were at less than half the price, in my size, the colour I liked, everything! But, when I came to give my address.............they don't ship to SA.

'Aha' said my daughter 'But they do ship to Dubai!' So, on to Plan C. My shoes began their trip halfway round the world. From the USA they went to Dubai and from there they travelled with Stuart in his luggage to Johannesburg. He had his business meetings and posted my shoes. And they arrived safe and sound. And the best part is that they fit! And they are perfect!

Beautiful Birkenstocks!

Monday, 10 June 2013


I had a busy week last week! Monday I helped with the annual Stock take at the Hospice shop. We counted everything that we possibly could. We counted and recorded the totals of books,belts, shoes, clothes (mens, womens and children), ornaments, bedding, kitchenware, sportsware, you name it and we counted it! All the shelving and fittings were recorded too, and our plastic 'models' were not forgotten. In between we had coffee and tried to keep the rain out of the container that houses our overflow of goods to sell. The trouble was with the door closed against the rain, we couldn't see to record the contents of the boxes!

On Wednesday Gail, my fellow-Thursday-volunteer came over with packets of Marie Biscuits, marshmallows, icing sugar, decorations, sticks, little plastic bags and coloured string. We then got stuck in and made 63 'suckers'!

Before the icing went on. We didn't use this one, it broke!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Twas a Dark and Stormy Night!

The God of Rain has heard our prayers! However, so did the God of Storms and Wild Weather, and the pair of them have sent us a weekend of violent wind, rain and storms! We had lightning and thunder last night, unheard of in our part of the world, and as I write this it is raining again! Or is that still? Our monthly average for June is 68 mm, and so far this month (it's only the 2nd today) we have had 51mm!

Our waterlogged veranda. Even the wooden duck has had enough!

Yesterday (and today!) we lit the fire at about 10 a.m. and spent the day inside looking out! Alfie was extremely reluctant to go outside and had to be persuaded. I had visions of him using the cats litter tray, they were queueing up to use it!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Flamingo Reflections!

We had a lovely lone visitor paddling in our bay last week, a Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).While they are very prolific in Velddrif, a coastal town about 30 kms from us where salt pans produce huge piles of salt for the local Cerebos company, this is the first one that we have seen here. And all alone! It seemed very happy as it went about its business, but I felt sad for it all by itself.

Our lonely visitor (Pics thanks to Rob)

They are the most widespread of the flamingo family and are found in Africa, southern Asia, southern Europe (including Spain, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and the Camargue region of France. They are also the largest and average 110 - 150 cm tall, but most of that is legs! For all that height, they are not very heavy, averaging between 2 and 4 kilos. Our cats are twice that weight! Even the smallest one!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Season of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness!

I remember learning this poem ('Ode to Autumn' by John Keats) when I was about ten! It matters not that I only remember the first few lines, I am impressed that I remember that much seeing as I sometimes forget what day it is and only realise when I read the TV guide!

We have had nearly a week of waking up to thick mist, or is that fog? And what's the difference anyway? According to Rob, if you cannot see further than one kilometre, then it's fog. But as I cannot visualise one kilometre then it doesn't help! Anything damp, thick and white is mist!

The view of the mist from our bedroom.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Another Maudlin Monday!

Being Monday, again, I did a spot of cleaning! When I do mindless things like that, my mind tends to go off on its own, and today my thoughts turned to my dad who would have had his 100th birthday on Saturday. There are lots of things that remind me of him in our home, he made the rocking chairs in the bedroom and a side table stands next to my chair in the lounge. His old woodworking tools are displayed on an old trunk and I have many photos of him on my desk. But the most precious reminder that I have of him is the portrait that Andrew painted of him, unknown to me, that he gave me for Christmas in 1994.

My father painted by my son!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Aloe, Aloe, Aloe!

I love this time of year! The days are calm and still, the sky is that pale blue that heralds the start of winter, the mornings are still dark at 7 a.m and twilight starts at 5.45 p.m and it's dark by 6 p.m!! The fire is lit after our late afternoon walk with Alfie, and the soup pot takes its place on top ready for supper. We are ready and waiting for winter now, the garden is holding its breath for the rain that is becoming really necessary! As I write this the sun has gone, the fingers of mist are swirling and creeping between the houses but inside is warm and cosy!

One of the aloes in my garde.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, here I am, another year older and deeper in debt!! Not the debt bit thank goodness, but the year older is true. Yesterday was my birthday and mine began at midnight precisely!! Rob and I watched a movie and finally got to bed on Thursday night at about 11.15. Then we tossed and turned, hips ached and shoulders twinged. The dogs around us were disturbed by something and so we lay trying to get to sleep. I heard Rob's phone beep once or twice but by that time I was drifting off. Suddenly the peace was shattered by Rob serenading me as his mobile clicked over from Thursday to Friday! I think that's my very first midnight serenade! Dare I say I also hope that it's the last!!

The birthday girl! (Pics thanks to Rob)

Although it was really my turn to make the coffee (being an even number day), Rob brought me coffee in bed, and then the phone calls started! I felt like the Queen as I sat in bed chatting to family and friends and replying to text messages from afar. For me, the best part of my birthday is that it is my day alone, I am not sharing it with the whole country, no Valentine's hype, just me, me, me! It becomes an excuse to leave the housework, have a glass of wine with lunch, forget the washing and ironing and leave the leaves piled up on the veranda! (Most of those things are a daily thing with me, but there's no guilt on a birthday!)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Maudlin Monday!

Do you ever get days where you feel a little maudlin? The dictionary definition is as follows; weakly or tearfully sentimental, esp. from drunkeness (French 'Madeleine' referring to pictures of Mary Magdalen weeping)

Now, I am not drunk, and certainly nowhere near being weak and tearful, but yesterday would have been my mum's 100th birthday and we used to tease her about getting a telegram from the Queen. (Does she still send them I wonder?) That got me thinking about my childhood and this morning while I was doing some dusting, (yes), I happened to dust the beautiful glass biscuit barrel that used to stand on the sideboard next to the phone when I was growing up. I used to try and sneak a biscuit (or two) when mum was out of the room, but no matter where she was, she would hear me! I could never get the lid on or off without it making the tiniest tinkle against the side and then I would hear 'I can hear you!' from mum! Even if she was upstairs with the Hoover! Again this morning I tried to lift the lid quietly and again it tinkled and I bet that mum heard me and frowned!

The empty biscuit barrel!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

On the Road Again!

We've just returned from a lovely few days away in Gemsquash. I say 'lovely' because it's always great fun to camp, behave like tourists, be lazy, read and generally loll about. However, the campsite was in the middle of the town of Montagu, a beautifully kept, tidy and pet friendly park. The ablution blocks were spotless and the grass was green and lush.

They visited us daily for Alfie's food!

The only other people around were pensioners, like ourselves!

Rob showing a few photos to our neighbours!

So, what was wrong I hear you asking? The noise from the traffic was unbelievable! Remember, we have about twelve cars passing us on a busy day here, so we forget what it is like in town! We were directed to a corner of the park that was next to a road that went up a hill and had a sharp turn at the bottom, so we had brake noise, revving noise, hooting noise, radio noise, general engine noise and the odd shouts of drivers to pedestrians noise! Add dogs barking and you have some idea of what it was like. Apart from that, it was super, and we met some really nice people who all fell in love with Alfie!

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Dog, a Cat and a Croc!

I am constantly amazed and enchanted by nature. Animals seem to get on with a sort of  'Oh well, he's here now, nothing I can do about it, let's just make the most of it.' Look how this dog, cat and croc lie together without fear!


As you see, Basil is still here with us (did you doubt it really?), and on Monday he is off to the V-E-T, for a quick neuter! He will then board with them until Friday as we are heading off in Gemsquash for a few days to a caravan park in Montague. Pet friendly and very quiet, we have decided that this will probably be the last trip before winter (and the rain) makes camping unpleasant. Much as I love caravanning  I am a Fair Weather Camper, I really do not enjoy wet towels, leaking windows and mud! I don't mind being cold, but please not wet and cold.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

So, What Happens Now?

I know that this may be a strange title for a blog post, but it's not a blog's a book!

To be more specific, it's MY book. And to be more specific still, I wrote it!! Yes, I am now joining the ranks of The Published Author! And here it is:

My Book!
I realise that I am sounding very show-offy and braggy, but I am so excited that I can burst.

But, let me begin where I should begin, at the beginning!
Around the year 2002 I started to write a novel. I had no plan, no idea where it would go, but I started and it just sort of took me with it and I got swept along and became caught up in the plot and the characters. I made myself laugh and cry, Rob helped me with phrases and I read bits to him for his input. I sat every day after school if I had a few spare minutes and over weekends and the holidays I sat for longer. As I completed the chapters, Rob put them onto a memory stick and I rushed up the road to have them printed in case the computer broke or was stolen, or I fiddled and somehow lost it all in the process!

Finally I put the last full stop onto the page, re-read the ending, cried a bit (I think it's a good ending but you will have to buy the book!) and downloaded a list of publishers! I was sure that they would be fighting over my manuscript and I would eventually sell to the highest bidder. In my mind I was the next Maeve Binchy. I was ready to paint my own cover picture, a gentle watercolour of farmland, a farmhouse in the distance, a windmill. I posted off several copies and waited for the phone to ring!

Yes, well, it didn't happen that way at all! I had really nice letters back from the Publishers, (together with the manuscripts), all saying basically 'Thanks but no thanks'. And so that was that really. A few friends read the manuscript and I think most of them enjoyed it.

My daughter nagged me a bit about self-publishing and I procrastinated and dragged my feet. You see, I really had a vision of a pile of my books gracing the shops, Exclusive Books would organise a signing, I would tour the country and become famous (and rich!)

Well, that's not where the story ends because, today, I received my birthday present from Catherine. My book! A real book with pages, a cover, a stunning photo on the front, and my name on the cover! Catherine had organised all this without a word to me! Rob knew but said nothing! All I knew was that there was a parcel coming from Catherine for my birthday. She told me to check the post box and let her know when it arrived.

I am completely overwhelmed, I think this must rate as the one of the very best gifts that I have ever received, and guess what?
I have already sold four copies!!! Mine, Catherine's, and two friends who have bought via Amazon, from the Kindle Store!!


Here's the link!! Just for fun, you can read a sample of it. (Or buy it....)

So, What Happens Now? on Amazon (paperback and kindle versions available)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Lost and Found!

They say that things always happen in threes, and last weekend was no exception! The schools closed on Thursday for the Easter break and the weekend was a long one, so our little village was full of holidaymakers. Also, I think a few people from here went away to spend time inland, so there has been a fair number of comings and goings as you can imagine!

So, on Friday morning I was standing idly chatting to my neighbour and watching two little boys riding their bikes round the block, followed by a sort of Jack Russell mix female dog with a long tail. They were having great fun, and every now and then the dog plunged into the bushes to try and catch a francolin (no chance there!). As they rode past for about the fourth time, I said to them 'Gosh, your dog is fit, isn't she tired yet?' They stopped to chat and the younger boy said 'It's not our dog!' (I had a flashback moment to the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movie when he asked the chap 'Does your dog bite?' and the answer was 'no' but it did bite and then it turned out that it wasn't his dog!) Apparently this little dog had simply arrived at the boys house and played with them, spent the night and was more than happy to stay. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


I am sure that you will have worked out by now, that any title beginning with 'Cat...' is about..........cats! I have to slip a story in every now and then, being a cat lover myself and having a family that is moggy about mogs!
As you know, my daughter is very involved with rescuing strays, and most weeks has two or three in those clever traps being taken to the various vets who neuter and vaccinate. A few weeks ago a small one-eyed female came out of the bushes and literally flung herself at Catherine’s friend, desperate for food and love, thin and weak. Off she went to the vet to be checked, treated and spayed. On top of her poor condition the vet had to clean and stitch the empty eye socket (turns out she was born that way thanks to a virus). She was named Lily (as I said to Catherine, 'Lily with one i, just as she is', clever hey??) She stayed at the vet's for a while, wearing a collar to stop her scratching, and became a firm favourite.
Lily with her collar after her op. (Pics thanks to Catherine)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Jigsaw Jeopardy!

I am doing the ultimate in frustration................a jigsaw puzzle!

I have always loved doing puzzles, and so has Catherine, my daughter. She used to choose the complicated ones in the triangular box, the cartoony people in swimming pools, or on the beach, busy street scenes with lots happening. Every time she started one, Andrew would sneak one piece and keep it in his room, so he would always claim to have the final piece to complete the puzzle! I lost track of how often that happened! I was forbidden to touch it as I loved to stand there and fiddle, so I would do some when she was in bed, and then undo it before she saw. The love of puzzles must run in the family because my sister often has one on the go. She has the added complication of having a dozen cats that either enjoy batting the bits around, or insist on lying right on top of it! I am also very happy to see that Mateo is a puzzle lover too, and he manages to complete some fairly complicated ones.

Just before Christmas, a donation of over a hundred puzzles arrived at the Hospice shop. They ranged from 250 pieces to 1000 pieces, and lurking among these was the Hardest Puzzle in the World. Seriously, it was even printed on the box! Not only is it a very complicated picture, it is made made even more complicated by having the picture printed on both sides of the pieces! Not only that, the picture on the reverse has been rotated 90 degrees to the one on the front! Are you still with me? Good!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Emma, Patrick and Gertrude!

What thread ties these names together? Read on!

Yesterday my gorgeous granddaughter Emma, had her First Birthday! I looked forward all day to seeing her on Skype, but when we finally made contact, all I could see were vague coloured shapes on the screen, distorted and fuzzy. Mateo was holding up his hand so I could count the number of fingers he was showing me, but all I saw was a waving lump! We cut it short to try again during the week. Isn't technology wonderful? And frustrating!

Gorgeous girl!

Happy Birthday my darling!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Hey there Thick Head!

Can you imagine being called 'Thick Head'? Better yet, what about 'Spotted Thick Head'? or 'Spotted Thick-knee'? Believe it or not, it is the common name for one of our birds belonging to the Curlew family. The Afrikaans name 'Dikkop' sounds less rude somehow!

They are large, aggressive birds with  piercing yellow eyes and long yellow legs, and will take on a dog or cat with ease. Their diet is varied, they eat all kinds of insects, spiders, lizards, small mice, and eggs and chicks of the White-fronted Plover. (That's a bit cannibalistic I think!) Pity they don't seem to eat snails though! During the day they are very relaxed and quiet and blend in with the surrounding countryside, but at night we see them running in the road and hear their loud, mournful call. We have several pairs here, and at the beginning of February, Rob noticed a nesting pair in the old farm just behind our wall.

So well camouflaged! 

This was taken on the 1 February and you have to look carefully to make out the bird in the middle of the picture!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Spot the Cat!

Can you see the cat in this photo?

Look carefully.

No? How about now?

Now you see him!

It's our Dopey pretending to be a rock. Waiting for 'take-aways'!
The 'last in' of our three ferals, and obviously remembering the days when he had to fend for himself, he still has that awful killer instinct and enjoys catching whatever happens to run past him, usually a little stripey field mouse. Or two. Whenever he comes into the house in a rush, we look to see if he is carrying anything!! Often in the morning we come downstairs and find a tiny, cold body, stiff on the floor.
However, sometimes he manages to sneak a mouse into the house and then lose it! Rob and I then leap into mouse-catching mode and grab our gear. The two of us then corner the mouse and carefully trap it in a plastic container while we slide a piece of cardboard underneath and carry it outside to release it. Our success rate is pretty good, especially when we use the fishing net that I bought for Mateo (my gorgeous grandson). That seems to be the most efficient way, and with a quick twist of the bamboo handle to prevent any chance of escape, we have got it down to a fine art!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me!

We are really lucky here. We have very few flies! We may have scorpions and the odd snake. Or two. But apart from a short season when the Manatoka trees are flowering and we get a lot of small flies that seem to blow into the house if the doors are left open, we are really fly-free!

Until we decide to have a braai! (Or barbecue.)

Isn't it funny, there must be one on sentry duty, keeping a look-out for the whiff of braai smoke, because the minute the meat arrives at the table, so do five or six large buzzing flies, or brommer as we call them. Alfie hates them as much as we do because Rob often grabs the trusty fly swat and that sends Alfie into complete decline! We have never, ever used the fly swat on him and we never would, but maybe his previous people did. Anyway, it's very difficult to swat a plate or a glass, so there is much waving of hands above the food while we eat! And a quick uncovering of salad or meat long enough to grab another piece of wors.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Grapes of (W)rot(h)!

I have always fancied a grape vine bower. You know the kind of thing, a gnarled old vine wandering up and over a pergola, bunches of grapes ripening in the sunshine, a comfy couch to loll on in the shade beneath, and sun warmed grapes just a stretch away to feast on while the Kindle balances on one knee.

Yes, I had that picture clearly in my mind, so when we were planning the garden, I decided to plant a couple of vines against the courtyard wall, so that they could climb up a very natty wooden rail that Rob made, and shade part of the courtyard, enabling us to set up a couch/garden table and chairs/ice bucket and glasses/books and cushions etc. A very good idea in principle, but it was impossible to dig holes exactly where I wanted them, so the holes were dug where I could get the spade in more than 10 cms. And in went the vines to be tended and watered and trained to climb in the right direction. One died soon after and the other one battled on against the wind.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Week!

No, I really did mean Valentine Week!

I happened to Google ‘Valentine’s Day’ and came up with a complete week of celebration! When on earth did that happen?
Have a look below:

Rose Day  (Valentine Week – Day 1 | Celebrated on 7 February) This is obviously the day that a fortune is spent on a bunch of long-stemmed roses! Red of course. If the red are sold out or you need to take out a mortgage to pay for them, then pink will do!

Propose Day  (Valentine Week – Day 2 | Celebrated on 8 February) If she/he likes the roses, then it appears that a proposal follows today! On one knee of course! If the answer is ‘no’, then skip to 15th February!

Chocolate Day  (Valentine Week – Day 3 | Celebrated on 9 February) Here you can hide the ring in a box of chocolates and hope that she/he doesn’t: a) swallow it because a teeny diamond is all that is affordable these days or b) hate chocolates and gives the box to a friend!

Teddy Bear Day  (Valentine Week – Day 4 | Celebrated on 10 February) If b) (see above) happened, then you will need to buy a teddy bear and attach another ring, or in the case of a) attach a promissory note to re-do the ring thing once she/he has re-cycled it!

Promise Day  (Valentine Week – Day 5 | Celebrated on 11 February) See above, or promise never to buy chocolates again.

Kiss Day  (Valentine Week – Day 6 | Celebrated on 12 February) This is a freebie day as it costs you nothing…………………in theory! But is it only one kiss, or is it a day of kissing? Could be tiring with all that puckering going on!

Hug Day  (Valentine Week – Day 7 | Celebrated on 13 February) See Day 6 above! Without the puckering!

Valentine’s Day  (Celebrated on 14 February) What is left? Just hand over a card! And of course a dinner with all the trimmings!

No-one is really sure of the origin of Valentine’s Day, but it was celebrated as far back as the 1600’s in the UK. From 1750 the tradition of sending notes and cards and chocolates and flowers started, but that was celebrated on one day only and that’s how I have always thought of it.

It just shows you how out of date I really am!

Happy Valentine’s Day!