Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mountain Passes of South Africa!

I am blessed to have one of those dads that does not allow himself to stagnate --- physically, mentally and technologically! When cell-bricks first came out (oops, cell-phones) he was one of the first to sign those inevitably fine-print riddled cell-phone contracts. His business, Autolink, was one of the first independent car dealerships to have their own website -- in 1994 -- triggering a cross-country trend. His highly competitive involvement in racing yachts also allowed for much gadget-buying and brain-stretching with GPSs and the like, and most recently, his GoPro cameras! Even his mountain-biking and 4x4ing involve the GoPros --- and, most memorably - as only grampas can do - a GoPro video of his and Layla's ferris-wheel adventure at the Waterfront. Oh yes - and don't forget the video of Lloyd, the vegan llama who violently snubbed my dad's offerings of biltong with literally litres of the most vile green slime, from head to foot. And then still had to walk the three longest, foul-smelling kilometres back to the caravan to soap the trauma from his skin and memory. Ah! Such is the life of the intrepid, camera-wielding adventurer!

The last year has taken my dad into a whole new creative space, and the culmination of many, many hours of adventuring, filming, researching and editing, is his new website, 'Mountain Passes of South Africa'. (A little bit of background to my dad and his love affair with his Landcruiser: when I returned from the UK in 2006 to find my dad the very proud owner of a 4x4, I was aghast, appalled, ashamed. You see, my dad brought us up as nature purists (aka 'nature snobs' - though for which I am still incredibly thankful):competitive dinghy sailors who looked down upon the wild, noisy motor-boaters and hikers who scorned the lazy, motorised Sunday jollers who we viewed as almost abusing nature. But - the flip-side to this story is that 4x4ers are generally great respecters of nature and eco-enthusiasts, so I have had to revise my previous opinions! My dad's passion for seeking out the more remote mountainous beauties of South Africa is good to behold. It relaxes him immensely, and has inspired his writing and film-making --- pushing his previously unrequited creative needs. Additionally -- and very proud I am -- he brings an incredible about of enjoyment and inspiration to readers of South African travel and adventure mags like Go!, Getaway, Weg!, the Landcruiser Club and many more. So... without further ado, I am off to take a squizz at his most recently uploaded mountain pass adventure - the Pakhuis Pass in my beloved Cederberg!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spring Into Action!

Spring has arrived --with a rainbow of feathery flourishes, oodles of hope and the most gentle of sunshine. Feathers? What have feathers got to do with the price of eggs? Everything. But, this is a little secret I'm hiding for a few more weeks. So, hold both your thumbs and wish upon a zillion stars for me - because... (*deep, excited breath/sparkling eyes*): this may just be IT for me!

My Spring Diary:
Layla + Nate when they were 18 months old! Nothing better than cousin-cuddles!
1st September: At long last, after more than a month of conjuring up wildly happy hats from feathers, faux birds, silk and lace for Home Of Hope's Spring-themed charity fundraiser, it was time to party-with-heart! With Layla being spoiled by her Aunty Mandy (new Hello Kitty leggings and veritably drowning in aunty-kisses) and co-entertained by Nate: her somewhat Tarzan-esque cousin, I headed up the coast to Blouberg's 'On The Rocks' --- a restaurant, um... on the rocks. Of the less crowded end of Blouberg's beach. And with a view that, um... rocks one's world! The event raised R43 000! (And 103 extremely rowdy, untameable ladies who jabbered relentlessly through all the speeches, but who gave copiously from their deep heart-pockets!) The Home of Hope deserves its own blog post --- but if you have money (even R20 a month, on debit order), toys, clothes or time to gift them, please contact me or them directly (via their website.) I'm going to be teaching the little ones 'creative developmental play', basic literacy and art. And --- more critically-than-even-oxygen, loving them. Get loving, guys!

The view from Pakalolo's, on Blouberg's beachfront.
I was WAAAAAY too early for the function --- and my Facebook status that day says it all: 
  I'm grabbing a luxuriously solitary coffee at my old haunt on Blouberg's beachfront to sit and simply soak up 'my' mountain, and revel in my wild passion for this city that never ceases to delight and inspire me!

2nd September: Church. And then a spontaneous ice-cream -------- and then garlic-riddled lunch at Blouberg'd Primi Piatta. Glorious. Deliciousindulgentextravagant ---- well, just plain YUMMY!

3rd/4th/5th September: My mommy-brain can't remember... (A joke/truth I have probably told too many times already: when Layla was delivered via frighteningly dramatic C-section, the surgeon was in such a mad rush that he took out my brain instead of my placenta. Ya, well no fine...)

6th September: Beckoned seducingly outside by the suddenly warm sun, Layla and I made today #1 of our Gardening Adventure (though I knew I had to, tragically, hold a funeral for my two bonsais which died in this epic Cape winter we just had...) BUT: (my time's running out at the keyboard) our time was cut screeeeeechingly short by Layla's discovery of a sudden inundation of termites ---- of Biblical proportions! 7 minutes of Gardening Adventure Day #1 in total. And no tiny-tree funeral.

Time's run out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sympathetic Soutie's (Slightly) Grim Grumblings

Autumn has arrived amidst the bucketing down of a thousand cats and dogs. Dramatic, dark and very, very wet. For the first time in my life I am actually tempted to buy an umbrella! Even seven years in the UK didn't cause me to do the umbrella-thing -- despite its notorious reputation as the rainiest of places. (A red umbrella, brand spanking new, still lurks somewhere in my cupboard: a bon-voyage gift before I left for my second stint in the UK. Suppose the giver thought it an apt gift? I'd have preferred them to have cancelled my flight!)

Today, however, is a delectable 30degC. Now I need an umbrella for the sun! Anyway - my boet arrived in Cape Town this morning for a 4 day visit with his wife and my niece: almost two years old, and meeting her for the first time sans the veil of Facebook.The thoughts I can't seem to squish and squash away into the already overstuffed back corner of my mind are these: I haven't seen Shane in 10 years. Will we see each other again in our lifetime? Will this be the first and last time Layla and her new cousin Kyla see each other? Or are our relationships destined to be lived out and filtered through Facebook? Not an unhappy conundrum I feel like writing about today but should probably be explored. A question rolled around in all of our ex-expat or expat hearts like a sticky, dirty marble we'd prefer to ignore.

I managed to write a (brief) post on my Contemplating My Navel blog this morning - and I touched on the new friendships I have with two non-Soutie expats: a Korean family, and an Indian family. Head over there for a squizz!
Time to get back downstairs and soak up as much time with my brother as I can. Before it's too late. ( Grim, but true, eh?) So, ciao/adios/totsiens till next time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wild, Wild Wailing Wanting!

Eish. No blogging in over 2 months of wordlessness. So - where to begin? Hmmm....
Perhaps a few little jottings about the Mother City? Cape Town, the cradle of all that I am, the archive of all my most precious, magical memories.
After two months back in Cape Town, it seems surreal and preposterous that I ever actually chose to live away from it. England for 4, and then another 2 years (reneging on my vow to never return to the muddiest of isles!) A year and a half in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape -- dry, a little too rustic and quaint for this Capetonian and distinctly and painfully lacking in friends and family. (Sjoe - it feels soooooo good to be writing again.)
'Bananas in Pyjamas' is on the TV, babysitting Layla in her new granny-made buzzy-bee 'tutu' --- so I'll make hay-words while the TV-sun shines!

A lekkerly special adventure I took Layla on, was to meet up with my sisters and Layla's little cousin, at Mouille Point's lighthouse, and walk across to the Blue Train - where I remember being joggled and boggled around inside it, around and around the simple little play-park, the turquoise sea glittering a little way off. HELL of a noisy - to the point of near-pain and temporary tinnitus - Layla adored every minute of it, especially the pitch darkness of the tunnel. Nate, her little cuz (2 months younger than her) wasn't quite as excited about it all - not surprisingly with all that cacophonic rumbling! He had a similar sort of reticence when Layla called him into that yellow sound-pod at the Iziko Museum (remember from all those school outings? the glass submariney thing under the gargantuan whale skeleton?) Layla fell immediately in love with the symphony of whale-song that fills the pod - but Nate would only venture in once, gingerly, with a Marie biscuit for Madame MarineBiologist! Conversely, he is such a rough-and-tumbler - frighteningly fearless - where Layla is hyper-cautious, whining for my hand to climb down even the lowest little step. Amazing, the little people!

After that, it was the V&A Waterfront for lunch and two exhausting tantrums from an overtired prima donna. (No, not me!!) Tantrum #1: That 'Build A Bear' shop. (*groan*) Layla spotted a pink surfboard. And 'wanted' is the most extreme understatement of the century. And Nate just watched his cousin, worried about her and absolutely angelic in his not-wantingness! Tantrum #2: The ferris-wheel. Damnit!! Layla's current l'il passion is the fun-fair. And her sighting of the ferris-wheel ignited another state of 'want' that caused me to hunt through my wallet in frenzied desperation for R40 for the ticket, instantly slapping a silencing smile on her tear-wet face. And then... that crushing claustrophobia of parental realisation that: there was not enough money in my wallet to pay for the ticket, and not enough con-artistry in my arsenal to talk her out of her VERY bitter disappointment. Yebo. Fun at the fair, eh?
Last week, however, I was able to make good on my promise to take her for a ride on the ferris-wheel. (The ticket was R80, by the way. Under 3's go for free.) And - the views from our little spot of circling tourist-heaven left my heart hammering in 'And I live here!' bliss, awe and gratitude.

No more animated (in every sense of the word) bananas bouncing around on the TV, so time to do the 'adios' thing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Write Stuff (*snigger-worthy pun*)

Princess Goofy-Ballerina : 30 months old already!
MUCH has been consuming my midnight, noon, morning and every-other-time-of-day oil - from greenly snotty noses, phlegmy coughs (my personal favourite) and crochetty toddlers to writing, writing and more writing! Of course I am  having an absolute ball - but I ache for the day when Layla can go to playschool. (113 days of aching to go, koeksister. Vasbyt en sterkte!)

A very efficient new website for soon-to-be expats, Just Landed, caught my attention on Twitter. Though the editor is keen for me to be a features writer for them, focusing on the South African's experience of living in the UK, I am more busy with writing and guest-blogging than I ever thought I could be! Hopefully we can reach a happy compromise?! Despite the fact that I know I will never be an expat every again (unless kidnapped by force -- and then hopefully by a devilishly handsome Italian who would feed me only dark chocolate, red wine and romance by candlelight in his Tuscan villa) my mission of passion for the expat phenomenon deepens with each home-soil month. Perhaps a book is waiting in the wings?

There are so many of us expatters and ex-expatters (the ones in the UK are the cowpatters!) writing about our journeys and joltings that it proves just how life-changing, mind-opening, heart-growing and trajectory-altering the expat experience is, whether permanent or temporary.

English Snowscape by Uber-African, Dave Rieger
A friend of mine, Dave Rieger, a South African expat in the UK's East Midlands, has also begun writing (at last - and what a treat!) His style? He is expertly cynical satirist with such sophisticated (dry!) humour that it often takes me a mini-eon to catch his quips - but he also pushes my thinking-boundaries. His most recent blog post details a business-related adventure through the mango plantations of Brazil. Being quite the photographer as well, his blog is definitely worth subscribing to! Here is the link to his blog: A Ramble From Mpondondo .

Here are links to my most recent articles (and always juiced up with lots of eye-candy!

My first two blog posts as a writer for Boutique Mademoiselle Vintage (a Canadian e-magazine that specialises in all things vintage)
*Blame It On Chanel
*Two Teaspoons of Wishful Thinking (where I nepotistically but still genuinely celebrated my sister's jewellery business-boutique!)

There have a couple of updates to my own 3 blogs:
*A Self Indulgent Little Yarn
*Expats & Eskimo Kisses
*Sublime, Sublime Simplicity  (farmhouse zen: a recipe with eggs in tomatoes!)

Also recently published at an SA magazine reviewing e-mag, Hy-Se-Sy-Se
headed up by poet&wordsmith, Elsibe Loubser.
*The Metaphysics of Knitting (my story is below the first one!)

As always, I THRIVE on feedback and comments (however cheeky!) So - leave
your thoughts, or even a simple 'x'  as an encouraging kiss!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grahamstown, Fled (again...)

I'm cramped into the over-packed back of our 4x4 bakkie while Craig navigates us safely from Grahamstown to PE on the notoriously dangerous N2 - terrorised by giant kudu at night, and giant arseholes by day. Overtaking on blind turns is apparently the most fun to be had on this bleak, rainy day in the bundu - and everyone's playing except us! The low-cloud's massively decreased visibility adds a bonus bullet of fun into this Road Russian Roulette. (*eish*)
A few months ago, we were witness to an all too regular South African statistic: a taxi accident that left limbs, and screams, and blood steaming off the summer-tar -- the minibus a crushed accordian of dead and alive. It had only just happened... I desperately wanted to stop, to console or offer my hands in help...but with my little girl in the car, I had to let it go. (At least there were already about 15 cars parked along the side of the road. We crept past too slowly; wordless prayers poured from my eyes: tears.)

(The length of the journey and unrestricted access for a Blackberry addict to her device resulted in the additional 2 photos: my to-do list for when I get my internet set up on my laptop this afternoon (13 months to the day since our arrival back in SA!!) - and my poison for 'ce soir': a Leopard's Leap Shiraz Cinsaut!)
'Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.' Albert Camus

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I guess this should really be a post for my 'Samp & Sushi' blog which is an emaciated little waif of a blog --- and some advice that Blackberried to me yesterday suggested I may just a few too many blogs... So: I'll 'hide' that one -- and if I am overcome by a desire to write about South African food -- I'll do it here, ok?

One of my favourite things is the juncture between culture, food and graphic-design/packaging : and exactly why I chose this packet of Ace porridge from the breakfast shelves in Pick 'n Pay! I certainly know more than a handful of South African who would reject it with scorn for the exact same reason I chose it: it's Africanness. How just looking at it amongst the rest of the Kelloggs and Bokomos tells you about a dry, dusty red road, and the long walk home, her groceries gracefully balanced upon her head, and slumbering toddler upon her back. It must be the unfettered absence of visual seduction: no strong cardboard boxing, or glossy, hallucinogenically gaudy graphics emboldened by brand ambassadors we can't say no to: the jean-size dropping, white leotarded brunette brandishing her tape-measure like an accusing snake, or the 'Mommy, I want ________' cartoon-lures.

For me, the Ace packaging makes me taste the maizey soulfulness of my gran's 'pap en wors'. It sings to me about the samp-and-beans of my schoolday afternoons. Perhaps, though, it is a reminder of poverty: your own? those whose less-ness terrifies you, or exhausts your nights with guilt? I know a few older South Africans who even struggled to digest the concept of cous-cous (pun unfortunately intended) : that it wasn't an 'African' food but an African food. (Do I need to explain that? Leave me a note in 'Comments' if I need to!)

(I've got a horrible boomerang cold, and a dramatically different toddler to entertain solo till 9pm - so best I conserve what brain and body energy I DO have!)

Liefde as altyd en vir ewig, my Suid Afrika,

'Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.' Albert Camus