Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Cats, Clouds and a Silver Lining!

I am sure that by reading the title of this week's writing, you will have gathered that cats come into it.

Yes, they do.

And a guardian angel by the name of Michelle.

A few weeks ago a stray but friendly female cat arrived at The Poleyard. This yard is right next door to Phillip's nursery, and Godfrey at the Poleyard started to feed her. Sage, (the resident nursery cat) was not overly impressed by her arrival, but as long as the food was plentiful, they seemed to get along. I met her briefly when I went to buy plants and she was happy to be stroked and held and we knew that she was used to people and had probably been dumped/abandoned/chased away.
She decided to stay and Godfrey was happy to keep her, but the first thing we needed to do was to have her spayed.

But as you have probably guessed by now.......she was pregnant! Too pregnant to be spayed, we knew that kittens were on their way. We just didn't know how soon that would be!

I saw her last Sunday (18 Sep) at the nursery, looking very pregnant and then she wandered off into the poleyard to have a snack.

Godfrey was planning to make her a little wooden house so that she would have her kittens in a safe place, and he was going to move them into the poleyard so that they were away from the parking area when they were old enough to frolic and chase around.

Last Monday morning (19 Sep) he phoned to say that she had had her kittens!

And where did she have them? Nobody knew!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Brickbat Update!

Well, a drumroll please...................

And the Final Brickbat goes to......................

AIG Insurance!!

This may sound a little confusing to those of you who did not read the sad saga of my lost/found/delivered but damaged suitcase on my return from Spain.

BA damaged it by breaking off a wheel, but happily washed their hands of any responsibility, (they don't cover anything that sticks out from a case, like wheels and handles), so as I had taken out extra insurance before I flew, I decided to claim for the cost of replacing my case.

Funny place to have a wheel!!!!!!!

Now, although it was not brand new, it was only a few years old, and used once a year, well twice this year because I visited my sister.

So, I contacted AIG Insurance (who insisted on addressing me as Miss Hollis!) and Rob printed the claim forms and filled them out and because we are honest people, we only claimed for the amount that we paid, namely R970.

Forms completed, Rob scanned them and emailed them and we had a mail confirming that they had received the forms.

And then we waited.

And waited

And waited.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Eugene And The Garden Elves!

As I sit writing this week's episode, it is raining! Not just raining but pouring and has been on and off for several hours. When there was a lull at about 8.30 this morning, I nipped round the back to check the rain gauge and there was 18 mm so far! I am sure there is more now.

The road is a slide of mud and rain-filled pot-holes and Alfie and the cats haven't ventured too far this morning. Alfie dashed out and sniffed a shrub or two and the cats shrugged and crossed their legs!
And my garden is happy!

Which brings me to this week's blog.

When I came home from my Spanish visit, the beautiful wild flowers that had flourished in between the 'klippies' were beginning to die off. The weeds that had joined them were still flourishing and as I cast my eyes over the garden, all I saw were signs of neglect. Some shrubs were overgrown, there were branches that needed cutting back, we had to bend and dodge sideways to reach the gate and there were dead shrubs hidden under larger shrubs, that needed removing. When I planted the garden nearly ten years ago, it looked sparse and I wondered if it would ever become full and vibrant!

Where on earth to start!

And suddenly it was a challenge!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Viva la Barbacoa!

I mentioned last week that while I was in Spain we had some lovely braais!

This is particularly relevant as we have our National Braai Day (aka Heritage Day), coming up on the 24 September. On this day the (almost) entire country will squint at the sky, test the wind (especially down our way), and check that there are chops, wors, (my favourite sausages are the locally made pork ones), maybe a rump or two in the freezer and of course plenty of beer in the fridge. Then it is simply a matter of building the fire with either wood, as we do, (using rooikrans which is an alien invasive tree but makes excellent coals,) or, grab a bag of charcoal and pile as many bits as you think you will need into the receptacle, light the match and keep out of the smoke!

If by any chance the flames leap up as the fat from the wors drips onto the coals, well, the chap nearest the heat simply chucks beer over it and that all adds to the flavour. That and the odd burnt bit, especially from the porkies that must be really well done!

Rob's braai. Delicious! (Pic thanks to Rob)

Add some mielie pap, tomato and onion gravy and some avocado, and your braai is done!


Not so in Spain!
Andrew has a lovely gas braai that they have used a few times. They do have a 'proper' braai built from bricks but it is under the carport and very close to the car so they don't use that one. We had several lunchtime braais and the last Friday that I was there, we decided to have an evening braai. It was the most beautiful evening, warm and calm, so we sat on the patio with a beer and decided that we would braai a little later. Now, let me explain. Evening in Spain stretches to about midnight, as in summer it is still light at 10.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Bouquets and Brickbats!

There are always things that go well and things that don't in daily life and a holiday is no exception! So now I am back from my wonderful Spanish break, I thought that I would share some of the very good (Bouquets) and the very bad (Brickbats) with you!
And the first Bouquet goes to my daughter Catherine for organising our entire trip! She booked the tickets, booked us online and organised boarding passes and seat allocation. She took my arm firmly as she steered me through passport control, up and down escalators and made sure that when I flew home again, her brother took over the elbow steering duties! (She flew home before me.)
I drove out of here with my little Hire Car at just after 8 in the morning on Friday 5 August. I packed my suitcase on Thursday afternoon and Rob and I tried to weigh it on the bathroom scale, with it standing alone! That didn't work as it kept wobbling and it covered the actual dial, so after trying to kneel down to see the weight (and having to crawl to the nearest chair so I could heave myself up), I stood (gingerly) on the scale and Rob handed me the suitcase! My baggage allowance was 23 kg and my case was well within the limit at just on 20 kg. So, even allowing for dodgy scale-accuracy, I was within the limit!
Catherine was ready and waiting, so she took over the driving and we headed to Cape Town Airport! Time we had in plenty, so after handing in our cases we went off to the Slow Lounge (I was her guest!) and had lunch and wine! How very civilised! Another Bouquet for the peace and tranquillity and chilled wine.
We flew to Johannesburg and repeated the baggage and lounge and wine routine before we lined up at the gate for our Iberia flight!
And this is where we met Brickbat Number 1.........
The organisation to get us from the terminal (sounds so final doesn't it!) and onto the plane was shocking! We gathered at the gate well before time, along with our fellow passengers. Time to board and we were all ready and waiting. Six or seven men in uniform (not ACCSA uniforms or Iberia actually) were fussing about moving a wooden pulpit-looking-stand from one place to another. And back again. And forward. And back again. Looking official but failing to actually do anything. Finally the crowd became restless as we realised that if we didn't get on the plane, we would never get off the ground. A queue formed, we all moved slowly forward and by sheer force of numbers, boarding began.
Brickbat Number 2 has to go to Iberia for the worst coffee that I have ever tasted! The rest of the Iberia experience was great, so they deserve a Bouquet for taking off and landing dead on time! I have never experienced an airline so punctual, it puts many of its competitors to shame!
My next Bouquet goes to my Spanish family! Andrew was at the airport and after the usual hugs, kisses and tears, we drove north (I think) just out of Madrid to their home. Even their cat greeted us! I had three weeks of eating, drinking and getting to know the children. (We had great fun putting the animal cards into the albums and swiping the cards through the sound machine). We visited some old villages, we sampled wine and olives and jamon whenever we could. We braaied and we ate out and we simply enjoyed it all.