In 2013 I’m Going to…

Wake up and smell the roses…like this softly scented one I just picked out of our garden.  Isn’t it beautiful?

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How often aren’t we so rushed to do something, or be somewhere, or see to others’ needs that we simply miss the beauty of God’s creation around us?

Though I said in my previous post, I’m not a resolution-making-kinda-gal, I’m going to resolve to do these five things daily:

1.  Be thankful for everything I have, every day – because this is A Philosophy we all can Live by.  An online friend of mine has an awesome thing – it’s a gratitude jar, and every day she writes something down which she is thankful for and places it in the jar.  At the end of the year, she literally counts her blessings.

2.  Try to speak only positive things into my life, and into the lives of those around me – and if I stumble, to immediately ask God’s forgiveness immediately and restart the process.  I’ve bought Pastor Joel Osteen’s bestselling book I Declare and I’m going to be reading the 31 Promises this January and living them.

3.  Give my best at whatever I am asked to do.  I’m not saying that it will be perfect every time, but that I will give my best – and if I can’t do it on my own, that I will ask for help.

4.  To talk less, (be more patient), and listen more – to God’s Voice, and to those around me.

5.  Walk by Faith, and not by sight.

Right, that’s that…no wait!  There’s two more:

6.  To drink more water and green tea

7.  To not go to bed with my make-up on – no matter how tired I am!

Then, I have a bucket list of things I would like to do this year:

1.  Read more motivational books – I’ve just bought this book which Nianell signed, with a simple, yet effective message “Just Be…” on Sunday evening after her performance which I was privileged enough to attend.  She is an incredible local artist, blessed with an angel’s voice.  She is an amazing ambassador for God too – an inspiration and a true light.  In the 90 minutes she sang and brought her message, I was moved to tears a few times.  After the show, she patiently posed for a number of photos with fans and spoke to each one.  Here we are:

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2.  On the subject of reading, I want to also read all the books I bought in 2012 that I didn’t get around to reading.  I realize that this means I am going to be sleeping a lot less than I did last year…

3.  Go horse riding at Eight Bells – I’ve told Steve,  my trainer,  that I want to do this and he will ensure that there is enough lower-back strength training in my program for this to happen.   I’m thinking round about July / August – it’s cooler then, perfect weather for mountain outrides.  I can’t wait!

4.  To go hiking at least once every two months – the Garden Route has some beautiful trails, like the Giant Kingfisher Trail in Wilderness.  I think I shall start rallying the troops now already for a hike towards the end of the month.

5.  To save a few Rands every month, because I really do want to do the Advanced Novel Writing Course through the South African Writer’s College.  Having passed the first part of the course with merit, it is a step in the right direction.  I AM going to be published!  And my novel IS going to be a New York Bestseller – just you wait and see :-D!

6.  To swim in the sea more – I went with Carmen and Ewan to the beach on Thursday and swam in the sea for the first time in easily a decade (if not longer) and it was so refreshing.  The fact that I have a bikini ready body now helps too, I’ll admit 😉

7.  See more of my extended friendship circle – I am so blessed to have many true angels in my friendship circle, yet I don’t get to see them all as much as I’d like.

8.  Watch more movies (at the cinema) than I did in 2012 – shouldn’t be too hard, considering I only saw two last year 😀

9.  Take more photos – and share them with those around me, be it through the various forms of social media at my disposal, or here, on my blog.

10.  With that said…I will definitely be blogging more than the meagre 33 posts I did last year!

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Bad Service Does Cost You…Yes, YOU, the Service-Provider, NOT the Customer

I have a number of friends that work in jobs related to the provision of services, so I feel that I can write this blog with a reasonable sense of certainty.

Often my friends will complain about a rude customer, an I-can’t-fill-this-form-out-myself-because-I’m-just-too-lazy-customer or a general-pain-in-the-butt-customer. With that said, I am sure they aren’t exaggerating either. I have actually been in a queue at a friend’s workplace when I have witness such behaviour first-hand. But, now I wish to toss the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons…

What happens when a customer is desperate to make use of the service that your company is rendering, only to be given lip? Just this morning, Mom had to deal with such a scenario…

Our electricity is up the pole – on and off since just before the 07:00 news. This meant a shit start to the day for both of us. I had to do my make-up for work in the shadowed bathroom – the result…my face looks like it was stuck in Cuba for a month because I grabbed the wrong foundation out of the bag! Next, I couldn’t get my car out of the garage, because that too works with electricity. Eventually after cursing, screaming, kicking and shouting I managed to get the door’s manual release to work and was on my way to work, only to arrive about 30 minutes late. Anyway, that is the dark situation in a nutshell.

I eventually convinced Mom to phone the most well-known electrical company in our town (there is only one other…). After explaining to the woman answering the phone what the problem is, Mom is informed that the electrician will be at the house at about 15:30. Here I am rolling my eyes thinking, if this man has to work on the box outside the house, 15:30 is going to be much too late because the storm clouds are even darker than the bathroom was this morning¸ but I say nothing. The receptionist then proceeds to ask how the bill will be settled. A fair question, I don’t deny. Mom politely explained to her that she herself is a not-so-tech-savvy pensioner, so I would do an internet transfer as soon as I get home tonight. It was this response that not only made Mom angry, but me too, when she phoned me to tell me, “Well, what time exactly does your daughter get home? We only work ‘til five. We can’t wait until she gets home one day to do the payment.” Needless to say, they are not going to be coming round at 15:30, nor will we be recommending them to anyone else.  So now we will use the other company…they are well aware of their competitor’s good reputation, so I guarantee they will put in more effort to offer a better service.  The other company’s loss will no doubt be their gain.

In today’s day and age, where money is tight and often, business is scarce, surely it is better to be polite to a potential customer than to cost your company current business now and referral business in the future. So too all my friends and those others of you in the service industry, next time you have a difficult customer, rather smile politely and conduct the transaction professionally. You need your customers to keep coming back, to maintain your company’s income, and so too, your jobs.

Day Five: Six Places

I haven’t had much access to the Internet lately, hence only getting around to updating my blog now…

Continuing with the Challenge…

Six Places:

1. I am in love with Singapore. I have visited the country twice, the first time just after the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004, and then again with my parents in 2009. If I could land a job there tomorrow, I would leave South Africa at the drop of a hat – I love the people, the mix of buildings old and new, the culture, the food and the fact that it is so clean. I am definitely going to visit the country again – hopefully sooner rather than later.

2. Argentina – I already have the brochures…so now it’s time to start saving for the holiday.

3. Montagu – this quaint little village town in the Western Cape of South Africa has an attractive charm about it. It also holds fond memories of the Rugby World Cup 2007 and a girls’ weekend the following year, which helped me get through a shocking break-up. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is freezing in winter.

4. Cape Town – without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on this earth – from Table Mountain, to Simon’s Town, to Boulders Beach, to the V&A Waterfront, to Kirstenbosch, to Hout Bay – the city is alive with culture, food, sunshine and some really gorgeous men.

5. New York – while I have only ever read about the “City that Never Sleeps” or seen it on TV, part of me wants to sit under a tree in Central Park, sipping a coffee from Starbucks while I show off my purchases from Saks 5th Avenue. I want to see a Broadway show too…

6. Home – it’s where my heart is. It doesn’t matter what the building is, if my family and friends are close by, that’s where I want to be.

Day Two: Nine Loves

Nine Loves…

I uhm’ed and ah’ed about this one quite a bit, but I realized I have more than nine – deciding on the top nine was the difficult bit. 

  1. My Parents

Yes, yes, it probably sounds so clichéd, but it’s the truth.  Without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  They still chide me when I do something wrong, but are supportive of me in every way.  I sometimes think about what life will be like when they’re gone, and it breaks my heart – the time we have is so precious…

  1. My friends and Some of my Family…

 …Most of them anyway, although honestly, I love some a lot more than others. 

 I can count on a single hand the really awesome friends I have (and this is in no particular order) – there is Kerry in Jo’burg – no matter how much time goes by without us seeing each other, we are always able to pick up where we left off, and she is always there when I need to talk. 

Elisabeth is another top-notch friend – sure, there are days when she makes me so angry I’d like to throttle her, but I will never find another friend like her – she is loyal, caring, always willing to listen, and always around with a helping hand to help plan or clean up after a get-together.  I love the way she always brings me back to earth – even though the ride is sometime bumpy.  She said to me one day that I am her “honourary sister” and that made me feel so special. 

Geri & Dan in Durbs – who strangely enough are friends I met online (in a trivia chat room).  We met in person in November 2002 and just gelled so well.  They have two gorgeous kids and they are always willing to open their home to me.  They were Godsends in January when we had our car accident – the towing company wouldn’t come and get us out until we paid the money upfront – (really now, talk about unreasonable), but when I phoned Dan and Geri with the details, they didn’t hesitate to immediately transfer the cash and get us sorted.

Cousin Lara – while we live in the same town, and don’t see each other as often as we should, when we do, well, there are always tears – tears from laughing so much that our tummies ache. 

That’s not all of them, but if I have to list everyone – this will end up being a thesis-long post. 

  1. Books

I cannot function without books.  Sure, the Kindle is a great invention, but to me, there is nothing like the feel of turning a page to find out whodunit.  I have been gifted some old books over the years, and there is something magical about the smell of the yellowing pages that makes me wonder what those books had seen before they landed on my shelf.  My love of reading is something I inherited from Mom (another reason I love her… Dad on the other hand doesn’t understand why I spend a fortune on books that I am only going to read once…) 

  1. Cooking

While I am by no means a foodie like some of the blogger friends I have, I do love being in the kitchen rustling up something to eat.  Mom has a number of kitchen gadgets, which makes the exercise all the more entertaining.  I am totally in love with (her) Russell (Hobbs Bread Machine).  I have mastered a Cottage Cheese and Herb Bread and on Sunday I made a Trail Mix Wholewheat Loaf (it was almost perfect, except that all the raisins were on the outside of the loaf.  Generally I am not a bad cook (well, nobody has died from anything I’ve made), but heaven knows, I am definitely not a contender for Masterchef… 

  1. Writing

I have been blessed with a vivid imagination, a knack for telling a story, and a love of words – this combination has grown into a love of writing.  I enrolled for a novel-writing course with the South African Writers’ College.  I am loving every minute of it and I am so inspired because the feedback I have been getting from my tutor has been constructive, but always positive.  One of my dreams to be on the New York Bestseller’s List – who knows, maybe this is the beginning of realizing that dream. 

  1. Children and their Innocence

Even though I don’t have any of my own, I love children.  I love their innocence – like a friend of mine’s daughter telling the minister’s wife that she has big nose.  Her mom is cringing with embarrassment, yet the little one doesn’t realize that she has just committed a social faux pas. 

  1. A Good Red Wine

Elisabeth and I hadn’t been friends long, but she took it upon herself to turn me into a red wine drinker – and I love her for it!  There have been countless evenings when I have polished off a bottle with either her or another friend – and always felt better for it.  A spicy Shiraz on a frosty evening wards off the cold – and what’s better, the empty bottle doesn’t tell secrets… 

  1. Rainy Weekends

 Because then I don’t have to find an excuse to lay in bed all day watching DVD’s or reading a book or working on my novel.

  1. Chocolate

It doesn’t matter what shape, size, form or colour – if it is chocolate, I love it.

 

Interesting Purchases on a Budget

Seeing as I only start work on the 11th, money is still a bit tight.  Dad puts money in my account to cover my debit orders and that is pretty much it.  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t live in their house – because I would most likely die of starvation, or the horror of not being able to shower every day.  Small things that many people don’t have, so I’m blessed.

Anyhow, yesterday the great clean up continued and I found R67 in one of my handbags that I haven’t used in a while.  It is such a cool feeling 🙂  and I was also lucky enough to make some commission on my Sh’zen sales last month which also came in handy.

Elizabeth was off on Wednesday, so we spent the day walking into every little Chinese shop in town.  The heart of our beautiful town has died since the erection of the shopping mall, so I can’t tell you when last I walked the length of the main road – never mind in heels!  We didn’t buy anything for ourselves, but seeing as her youngest sister is getting married and her bachelorette is coming up, we looked for stuff we could use there.  We found a sassy G-string, and paper plates and streamers in the right colours.

Having to fill my prescription we stopped in at Clicks where I found the ideal thing for the Honeymoon Survival Kit…

They are flavoured and come in three different types…but, what made them a bargain is that they were being as a banded pack with this interesting little sex toy:

I am of course extremely curious to find out if it works, but it was the last one.

This little duo of goodies came in at less that R70.

Then yesterday, while we were sitting at home waiting for something interesting to happen, we heard a car going by with a loud speaker mounted to its roof, telling the entire neighbourhood that one of the local churches would be hosting their annual feté, so we went to that.  Now, I am a hoarder (don’t tell Dad that I have confessed because he will have a field day), so I can’t resist bric-a-brac tables, nor the tombola.  I spent R50 at the tombola yesterday and got 10 tickets.  Look at the things I brought home.

Now I obviously don’t have a need for soft toys, so I will gift one of them to Mary and Martin and the other to Carmen to use in the studio she uses to take photos of babies.

I just love the bag!  They were actually selling inside for R50, so I reckon I was lucky to have won mine.

I am very chuffed with the balsa wood elephants, as well as the candles.  I gave Mom the glasses and the tray and they will be used in the camper.

What is even better is that I still had cash left over to put petrol in my car 🙂

Right, now I have to get out of my PJ’s and do something constructive.

‘Til later 🙂

Maputo…

…was once a thriving city known as Lourenco Marques – and when Mom and Aunty Carol it was one of the places to go on holiday.   By the time we had eaten breakfast, we had already berthed at port.

Sadly, civil war has left many parts of the city ravaged.  The buildings are falling apart, and those that aren’t are in dire need of a coat of paint.  Going into the city was a thought-provoking exercise, but not something I would do again.

Initially I hadn’t planned on going ashore, but because Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry wanted to go, I opted to join them.  We didn’t book an excursion as such, but caught a shuttle bus that took us to two different drop-off points, where we could walk and see at our own pace.

Parts of the city where tourists, like ourselves, are bussed through are kept tidy, but the unseen areas are squalid.

At the first stop we saw a big white cathedral and popped onto what was meant to be the botanical garden.  If there was care in place, the garden would be a thriving oasis, instead it is a forlorn park area with the grass reaching knee height in some areas.

Terribly sad.

We got off at the second stop, intent on visiting one of the markets, but the humidity, combined with vendors in one’s face all the time made it so unpleasant, that we got back on the bus and went back to the ship.

The afternoon on board was filled with many activities, including The Bingo Show, with Stephen, our fabulous cruise director,

 

and the Bingo Boys.  I bought three bingo cards and treated myself to an orgasmic cocktail called a Choc Mint Stinger – Cape Velvet, Nachtmusik, White Creme de Menthe and Cream.

The Bingo Boys were made to do a short performance every time a number in the B-column was  called.  Some skits were really funny, others challenging and others downright painful…

After Bingo, losing with two numbers to spare, I joined the family upstairs on the deck for a buffet dinner, just because none of us felt like getting all dressed up for the dining room.

After dinner, another show awaited us – this time it was Twilight

After the show, which left me with quite a few chills down my spine, we headed up to one of the lounges for karaoke, which in itself was super-entertaining.  I was first up with Jailhouse Rock, but some of my successors were a lot worse that I had been – it’s amazing how easily liquor turns people into idiots…

It was an exhausting day, so after karaoke was over, we all went to bed…after all, we had an early day planned – Barra Lodge was next on our itinerary.

 

Bye-Bye Durban…

…Hello four days of 5-star floating luxury!

Geri and Dan dropped us off at the harbour just before nine, where we got our luggage booked in (I forgot to take my bottle of wine out, so was forced to unpack it, only to be told, “seeing that it is a small one, you can take it.” 

We sat in the N-Shed waiting for our boarding call, which came after two hours.  Here are some pics of us, patiently waiting our turn.

Passport control was an absolute breeze and soon we were onboard what was to be our luxurious home for the next four nights.  I was escorted to my cabin and quickly trotted upstairs to the pool deck, where the party was already hopping.  We set sail just after 14:30 and soon everyone was enjoying the entertainment.

From there it was off to the Captain’s Gala Cocktail (I am waiting for Aunty Carol to scan the photos that the professional photographers on board took as I don’t have a single one).  Not one of the family joined me at the event, which meant I had a front row seat, where I met a mother and daughter named Charlotte and Madelein.  They had in actual fact been on the cruise the weekend before, enjoyed it so much, that they just stayed on!  The Master of the Vessel Commandante Ciro Pinto selected Madelein to join him on stage for a dance and Yours Truly was selected by the Chief Engineer Guiseppe Balzano.  It was enjoyable despite that fact that I was more than a head taller than him in my killer silver heels.

Once that was over, I headed of to the restuarant for dinner.  The food was amazing.  I had a shrimp started, butterfish for main, and the most sublime coffee and chocolate gateau for dessert. Our waiter tried to tempt me with a second helping of dessert, and while I was seriously tempted, I passed.  My dinner companions were Coen and Johanna Marais, their daughter Yolanda and an elderly gentleman, Ken Cornish.  I have got details for all of them, and will definitely keep in touch. 

From there I went to the cabaret show entitled Destination Nowhere.  It was fabulous! 

After that there was even more entertainment in store.  The election of the ship’s celebrity Miss Sinfonia.  Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry opted to give it a miss because they thought it would be all young girls.  How terribly wrong they were…

The entertainment team (fondly called the Dream Team) selected a number of random ladies from the audience, of all ages, sizes and colours (including Mom and I) and proceeded to introduce them to Miss Sinfonia 2010 – a very busty babe called Petronella.

 

All the contestants had to do what Petronella did and then the finalists were selected.

I didn’t make it through to the finals, but Mom did – and then the hysterical fun started!  The Dream Team selected random blokes from the audience and the finalists had to pop balloons against the poor blokes. 

First chest-to-chest, then “happy place” to “happy place”, then the bloke on a chair and the finalist facing away from him, and then on the chair again, this time facing him.  When it came to the facing away from him, Petronella naughtily moved the balloon and Mom, wanting to burst it as quickly as possible, leapt onto the poor guy!  I’m sure she deballed him in the process.  I was hysterical with laughter.  I have never known my mom to do something so “out there” – she is quite stated.

The winner was selected by an applause-o-meter.  I was stunned at the roaring applause Mom received, winning her the title of Miss Sinfonia 2011.  She won a bottle of lovely champagne, a backpack, a blanket, a T-shirt and a real satin banner.



But…there was more in store for the ship’s newest beauty queen, a show by the resident hot-bods called the Shippendale…

After all that excitement, Miss Sinfonia 2011 and Dad headed off to their cabin.  I wasn’t at all tired, so I popped in at the disco, but it was still dead quiet, so I headed down to the Manhattan Lounge where I had a cocktail, listened to some music and eventually trotted off to bed.

What a fabulous first day!