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!   

Seven Days and Counting

…and we will be in Durban, the night before our cruise.  While I’m excited about that, I am even more excited about seeing Geri and Dan, two very special friends of mine, as well as their two kids, James and Lulu.  I will be staying over with them on Sunday evening as well as the weekend after the cruise.  It is going to be great fun!  I am busy sharpening my wit to be a match for Dan who manages to cut me down to size without too much effort.

I have already started packing!  Only because Dad has rationed me to a single (super small) suitcase and I need to make sure everything can fit into it – particularly my hair dryer, straightener and my silver shoes.  I have packed a dress for every evening to wear to dinner (I have some beautiful clothes, but no real occassions to wear them to) and some nice sexy tops and jeans to go clubbing or gambling in.  I hope that the latter will be as good to me as it was on my first cruise.  Shorts and strappy tops have been allocated for the Maputo and Barra Lodge shore excursions. 

There is lots to do this week still – Mom is going to wash all the clothes that we want to take with tomorrow and on Tuesday it is off to Carmen to pick up our tickets and convert our Rands into US Dollars – once we have the tickets in hand I think Aunty Carol is going to uncork a bottle of champagne as the trip becomes a “true” reality.  She and Uncle Barry are going shopping for something to wear to the Captain’s Gala Cocktail evening too.

Thursday Mom and Aunty Carol are getting their hair done (I threw broad hints to get mine done too, but my cries fell on very deaf ears), while I will be fetching Dad at the airport and getting him and his paperwork sorted out for a Ghanaian Visa Application as this is where he will be working during his next stint.  The bad thing about this is that I won’t be able to go with Mary to her scan appointment, something which I was really looking so forward to 😦  Ah well, maybe next time.

Friday it is off to the dentist for me to get my knashers all pearly white and chip-free.  Mom and Aunty Carol are going to get their nails done and I have arranged with my Sh’zen Team Leader, Jennifer, (who is a qualified beauty therapist) to give the two old ducks a pampering pedi and a facial for me in the comfort of our home.

Anyhow, enough about that…

Last night Elizabeth and Candice (who is my “older sister”) were here to visit.  We didn’t have the energy to do much – even opening a bottle of wine was too much effort – so we sat round catching up.  By ten we were all tuckered out.  Candice is in the hospitality industry and has been working like a lunatic the past six weeks, and Elizabeth has been relieving in her boss’s position, so she too is dead on her feet.  So much so that this morning she was up just after five, sick as a dog with a migraine headache.  She went home soon after.  I tried phoning to find out she is doing, but her phone is off. 

This afternoon we are taking Candice back to Wilderness, but before that we are going to stop off at Mary and Mark for tea and cake as it is Mary’s birthday tomorrow.  Mark bought her a Chev Spark for her birthday – and when I asked him what we could get her, he said he didn’t know, but a bottle of red wine would be welcome because he would drink it on her behalf.  So, Mom and I are still presentless.  Maybe we’ll see something special on our travels that we can get for her…

My Spanish Hot Chocolate appears to be quite a hit – I gave Jay a bottle to take back to Cape Town, as well as a bottle for Carmen and Ewan (who I understand hasn’t had any as Carmen has been squirrerling it away at her office) and my personal bottle is empty, so I will have to make some more.  I also feel like baking again, which I will consider doing when I get back this afternoon, if I feel like it.

I still haven’t made any progress with Don’t Blink, but I will definitely finish it by the time we hit the road.  Before I forget, here is the bookmark that Rachel gave me the other night.  I think it is lovely, don’t you?

There isn’t much more to tell at the moment…

Have a Super Sunday folks!  ‘Til later 🙂

Reconnecting…

…with friends is just what the doctor ordered.

BUT, before I get to that:

A concerned friend who knows that I’m the blogger behind this blog called me up yesterday wanting to know WTF is up with me regarding my smutty post yesterday – because it has been over two years since I have written something raunchy; she even said she thinks I should delete the post because it might taint readers’ opinion of me.  I told her that my blog reflects who I am, at the time I’m in. I told her that if any of my readers found it (or anything else I write) offensive, they should leave a comment and I will use it as constructive criticism – and watch my P’s and Q’s in the future as a result, but if they don’t say anything, I am none the wiser…but just in case – if any of you that read my blog found my Sensual Shower (PG 18) post of yesterday sordid, offensive, shallow or dirty, then I do apologise.

I went through to George today to meet Mary and her hubby Mark for lunch at a local coffee shop.  Mary is 7 months pregnant (her due date is the 22nd of March) and it really agrees with her.  I’ve heard people often say that pregnant women are radiant – well it is definitely true in this case.  Mark is walking around with his chest puffed out too because the little man is the first born.  Dad is due home a week from today – I hope that his flight arrives early because Mary has asked me if I would like to go with her to her 31-week scan, which I really would like to do.  I have seen the first scan on their DVD and heard the baby’s heartbeat.  I’m seldom speechless, but I was then.  It was really kind of her to offer.   Anyhow, before I get too emotional…

From there I headed off to the farm to have a cup of coffee with Jenna who has been begging me for weeks pop round.  She and Linda in accounts are both taking tremendous strain – Linda got me alone for about 15 minutes and bawled her eyes out.  My heart went out to her, because I genuinely know how she feels.  Jenna says that she too has shed a few tears the past few weeks, but in spite of that, she is up for a G.N.O – the sooner the better.  I told her it would have to wait ’til after the cruise, so she has made me promise that it will be an entire night out – and that I will crash in her spare bedroom.  What ever am I letting myself in for?

The girls in the packhouse were very glad to see me – all smiles and hugs for the New Year.  They sang for me, which made my heart melt and left me with a huge lump in my throat.  I don’t miss the job, but I miss some of the people.

The Quality Controller in the packhouse was keen to tell me that her little one is crawling already and that when she has a cellphone that can take photos, she will send me one.

On the subject of cell phone photos – I popped down to Herold’s Bay on my way home, intent on taking photos to post here, but clever clogs here forgot to charge her phone last night, so the battery croaked before any photos could be taken.  Oh well, I will just have to go back there sometime, won’t I?

Rachel popped round for a cup of coffee and brought me a gorgeous bookmark – made out of a teaspoon!  I will take a pic of it and post – once the phone is charged.

Uncle Barry and Aunty Carol came to dinner on my invitation.  I made a three-cheese macaroni cheese, which turned out to be a winner!  I made enough for mom and I to be able to have some for lunch tomorrow, but it is all finished.  At least my cooking skills are not too shabby, but I’ll admit I’m not a gourmet…yet.

I’m still working on the text installment for my Writer’s Course, and hopefully it will be ready by the end of the weekend.  I have also asked my tutor to look at some of my creative writing pieces here, to assist me with adjusting my writing style because blogging and novel-writing are vastly different.  She initially referred to my writing as “lyrical” and asked if I have ever written songs – so I am trying to move away from that, and writing different kinds of things is the only way I will eventually get it perfect – I have set my mind to pass this course with distinction (although cum laude would be even better.)

On other subjects:

My pre-cruise tan is coming along nicely.  I’m hoping to catch some more sun tomorrow morning, because the dress I’m wearing to the Captain’s Gala Dinner is off shoulder.

I’m hoping to make a substantial dent in my latest James Patterson novel, Don’t Blink.

Poor Elizabeth is working herself to death, but she is coming here on Saturday night to relax a bit and for me to colour her hair.  Little does she know that I need a shoulder too – part of me has been feeling very lost again 😦

Right, I’m heading off to drink my anti-mental pill and get some sleep.  All the excitement has tuckered me out.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new hope and promise.  I’m going to take it one step at a time…

Night Y’all, sleep tight ‘n sweet dreams.

Then and Now

Yesterday Cousin Lara’s  youngest tyke, Roman turned two.  As she likes to tell everyone, he is “Mommy’s lubby lub…”  He is hopelessly spoiled, but such a cutie, one can’t help but want to eat him up.

This is a pic of him, the day he was born – The Thinker, in miniature…

and this is him, two years on…with the rocking horse my mom bought him for his birthday.  He is terrified to sit on it, but spends countless hours shouting at it and trying to feed it his biscuits.

Her other two kiddies are off to school on Monday – Pierre to Grade two and quiet little Kayla to Grade one.  They were just babies the other day…where has the time gone?