The Big Things in Life are Often Inexpensive…

…Yet leave us with a wealth of contentment.

Last week I headed off to the The Mother City to write exams.  My Herbalife-friend, Tina tagged along for the ride.  I was so grateful because she drove most of the way and as a result I had a few extra hours to study.

We stayed in a delightful flat in Mowbray that I found on Airbnb.  Our host, Noel, was absolutely amazing, adding a personal touch by including a small bottle of sparkling wine to the welcome basket in the flat, which we drank on Thursday afternoon after we’d spent the rest of the day at Signal Hill, playing silly buggers and The Company Gardens feeding the pigeons and the squirrels.  A highlight was “The Perfect Cup” which was served at the coffee shop at the latter.

19553856_10155323260895915_9080772554659439238_n19511294_10155323264180915_5488591869257266991_n19598826_10155323266630915_9034636377789719472_n19553913_10155323267850915_4965687582674810461_n19601296_10155323268890915_1563863584608554576_n

Other highlights included catching up with my friends, Jakes, and Alijay for quick coffees.  Oh, and I had the best curry of my life the Wednesday night (yes, in Cape Town, not Durban!)

and a smashing Lemon Meringue with “The Perfect Cup”.

19553966_10155323268770915_3519699546890082240_n

All in all, looking back, I am glad that I didn’t once, set foot in a mall and spend money on stuff that I not only don’t need, but can’t afford – and that will be fleeting pleasures.  These #memories are forever!

 

Wine Tasting in Herold…

It is scary just how quickly time flies, especially at this time of the year.  I have realized, with some dread, that it is a little over six weeks to Christmas!  And, with that said, a little over five weeks until we close for the summer holidays.  Eek!  There is so much still to do.  But, being a little more in control of my internal panic button, I am still taking time out to relax and recharge my batteries, like I did during two weekends in October, with friends, both old and new…

The first was with Elizabeth, Steve (who was no longer in a relationship with Michelle – not sure who broke it off, or why…) and another friend of ours Gerald.  We went wine tasting at Herold Wines, which is about 45 minutes from the town where we live.

We set off on the Saturday afternoon, the pouring rain not dampening our spirits.  We drove in Gerald’s 4 x 4 as we were travelling over the historic Montagu Pass, which is not a tarred road.  It wasn’t really necessary as many day to day cars travel the road, but it was definitely more comfortable.  The 45 minute journey took substantially longer than expected, but only because Elizabeth and I kept screaming “stop”, jumping out and snapping pictures.

Image

Image

We eventually arrived…

Image

Image

The range of wines is limited to six, so the tasting went quickly…

20131012_152458

and then we headed off to our digs for the evening, a self-catering cottage on the farm called Flufftail.

IMG-20131026-WA0010

It was quaint, clean and comfortable.  The water was hot, there was a fireplace and best of all…no cell phone reception, so we could really enjoy each other’s company.

IMG-20131026-WA0011 IMG-20131026-WA0014 IMG-20131026-WA0016 IMG-20131026-WA0019 IMG-20131026-WA0023

We stayed up quite late, but as is par for the course, Elizabeth was up first, then Gerald and then Steve, and as much as I tried to pretend not to hear the noise, I was up just after five too.

Steve went for a run, and Elizabeth and I decided to take a walk before breakfast.  There is something magical about farm life…

20131013_073440 20131013_074655 20131013_074723 20131013_075140 IMG-20131014-WA0007

Returning from our walk, we quickly prepared breakfast, while Gerald and Steve had a serious man-to-man talk at the fence … I love this photo because it looks like they are peeing at the fence, but they aren’t.

20131013_092217

It seems that everywhere we go, someone always ends up with wet feet or shoes…

IMG-20131026-WA0005

But, as with all good things…the visit soon came to an end and we had to head home…taking a few more pics along the way…

20131012_150244 20131012_151105 20131013_095519 IMG-20131026-WA0004

Our journey ended with a quick lunch of leftovers at the beach.

I am so blessed to be able to make memories with the most amazing friends.  Life is good!

I will put up the post about my latest camping trip (the second October outing) either tomorrow or Thursday, so…pop by for another visit!

In the Pursuit of Happiness…I went…well…read it and find out…

First of all, before I continue this post, there are a few things you should know…

1. I don’t camp. If it doesn’t have four solid walls and a roof, I don’t sleep in it. If it’s on wheels, I’m not keen on sleeping in it either.

2. I don’t mind the rain, as longs as I am between four solid walls and a roof.

3. I have a love affair…with my bed. Sure, I sleep in hotels on the odd occasion, but I’m always happy to go home and sleep in my own bed. I have an orthopaedic mattress, you see…

4. Dogs should be taught that barking at night is a disturbance. In fact, I personally think it should be covered by the nuisance by-laws.

5. I like my shoes and socks dry.

6. I love hot, clear running water.

7. I like to be able to get fully dressed after a bath.

8. I am not much of a mariner.

Now that you have a semi-picture of the prima donna I can be, you will enjoy the story that lies ahead. I went camping this past weekend. In a tent. Close to home though, beautiful scenery…

20131006_064443

IMG-20131007-WA0021

IMG-20131007-WA0008

but still…in a tent. For those of you who are a bit slow on the uptake, a tent doesn’t have four walls and a roof. It is a material structure, which, if not properly erected will either implode on you during your not-so-comfortable-slumber, or simply blow over in a gale.
It’s amazing that whenever I plan something outdoorsy, something will happen. In this case, everything will happen.

Two weeks ago it was my 34th birthday and I decided that in this new life year, I would try everything, retaining the good…so I thought camping would be a good place to start. I sent out invitations to friends asking them to join me this past Saturday for fun, laughter and memory-making in the sun. My invitation was received with quite a substantial amount of enthusiasm and timeous RSVP’s. A good sign…

Saturday arrived somewhat sooner than I’d anticipated, but I got up early and went with my Dad to the campsite. He was going to set up the motorhome for him and Mom and I was going to pitch a tent for Elizabeth and I.

20131005_101514
Steve and his new girlfriend, Michelle joined us later, along with Sarah (another friend from the gym), her boyfriend, David and another mutual friend, Jack. Elizabeth arrived some time later, a little green around the gills with flu, but soldiering on as usual.

Dad was cooking up a pasta storm while we all sat around watching him. He is so incredibly at ease doing the caveman-thing, that none of us wanted to interfere.

20131005_140205

We had wine to focus on.

20131005_161940

Pasta was set aside for us to enjoy after the rugby. The clash of the world’s best…the All Blacks vs the Springboks. We all piled into the cars and headed off to a local haunt to watch the game. Despite all our cheering, the Springboks lost the game, and we pretty much lost our will to live.

Exiting the pub we were greeted by rain… Putting my best game-face on, I drove back to the campsite, thinking that Steve and Michelle were right behind us. Mom was snug under the covers in the motorhome and dad was waiting for us ever so patiently. Sarah, David and Jack decided to have dinner in their tent, but were soon piled into ours as they’d left the flap unzipped and as a result, all their goods and chattels were wet. After about a half hour, Steve and Michelle had still not returned and getting worried, I called. Steve told me they’d got lost. A likely story 😉

Now seven people in a four man tent is not exactly a bright idea, but we had good fun nevertheless. Laughing and joking and regaling tales of our childhood. I took a sip of my wine (which was in a mug because all the glasses were in the now-locked motorhome. I took a big swig and felt something solid go down my throat. I spat the wine out very quickly, but it was already too late. Jiminy Cricket had made is way down my throat. Thankfully he was already disinfected by the alcohol.

The rain had dampened spirits just a touch and soon everyone was ready for bed. Sarah and David decided to rather go home and come back the next morning; Jack did the same (he had to work at six a.m.). Part of me wished I was going home too, but soon the rhythmic pitter-patter of the rain lulled me to sleep. I was quite warm in my fluffy blanket and comforter on my inflatable mattress.

Said mattress did not remain inflated for during the night, so consequently, I had a not-so-comfortable-slumber. But not before first being assaulted by said mattress. Due to the fact that it was deflating, it was somewhat flexible, so every time I tried to turn over, which was often, the stupid thing would wrap around me like a hot dog, or, if I sat up, it would bend at my waist, knocking me on the back of my head, making me wish that it was morning already so that I could hunt down the barking dog that kept waking me up in the first place. I vowed that if that dog emerged I would bark right back at it.

Morning broke very quickly, with Elizabeth waking me up at 05:30 because she needed to go to the loo. Seriously?! “MTM, please come with me. I don’t feel well…” So, being the trusty friend I am, I unzipped the tent only to be confronted by a haze of smoke. Thinking WTF?! I tried to get out the tent only to walk straight into the gauze. That’s right people, I didn’t unzip the door properly. There are two zips. Once the second one was open, the smokiness was gone.

Steve was already up. Given the fact that he has to be at the gym at 5 a.m. every morning, it is understandable that his body-clock couldn’t sleep late. Michelle lay blissfully unaware of everything around her. Poor woman had worked the entire Friday night, and not had any sleep after coming off shift the Saturday.

After trotting off to the loo, Elizabeth and I wanted coffee and found Steve at dad’s magic bucket which warms water, but alas, does not boil it. Desperate for caffeine I asked Steve if he’d go to the gas station and buy us some and he obliged. He’d just finished putting on his shoes when Mom and Dad woke up which meant he didn’t have to anymore and we could make coffee in the motorhome! Parents to the rescue!

Now caffeinated, I was actually ready to face the world. I just couldn’t get warm though. Turns out that my sneakers, fabulous as they are, they are not waterproof, so as long as I kept walking on the wet grass, the water would seep in, wetting my socks, resulting in me staying cold.

After changing socks about five times, I decided that the only way to get warm would be to have a bath or a shower. I couldn’t get the shower taps turned on, so I decided to have a bath. I nearly plutzed when I opened the tap and brown water came out. Elizabeth was in the opposite bathroom and her water too, was brown. I was not amused. Turns out that the park uses the water from the river which is filtered to remove organisms and such, but it can’t remove the colour. I was horrified!

Knowing me better than I know myself, Elizabeth shoved me aside and poured about half a bottle of bath foam in the bath making the brown water invisible under a white blanket of sweet-smelling bubbles. I eventually climbed into the bath and was pleasantly surprised that the water is even hotter than ours at home! I lay and soaked for a while. When I was ready to eventually wash myself, I realized that I had no soap. Crap! I bemoaned my lot to Elizabeth who came to my rescue with body wash, but not after negotiating the use of my sponge because she’d left hers at home. Fair deal…

Out of the bath and ready to get back into dry clothes…only to discover I’d left my underwear in the tent! So I had to go commando…first thing I did when I got back to the tent was put on my bra and panty.

Dad being the awesome man that he is already had a fire going, so Elizabeth and I held our shoes over the flames and got them dry. A flame licked my shoelace and it caught alight, but I slapped it out very quickly.

IMG-20131007-WA0023

I’d rather have wet shoes than no shoes! We soon found out that the fire was for breakfast, not shoe-drying. Sausages, eggs and buns on the menu. Camping was turning out to be real fun.

Mom wasn’t feeling well, so I loaded her, and some of the stuff we wouldn’t be needing, like the bedding and my clothes in the car and quickly dashed her home. Once back at the site, I ended up with wet shoes again, so Dad said I should check in the motorhome. He remembered seeing mom’s wellies in there somewhere…I found them and soon I was happy camper because I was going to have dry feet for the rest of the day. Or so I thought…

Other friends had let me know that while they wouldn’t be able to camp, they’d join us for a barbeque on Sunday. They started arriving and soon we were a happy group of Dad, colleagues, friends and kids. I should mention at this point that I did this exact same barbeque thing, at the exact same venue for my birthday last year, and it was a great success. One of my friends Yasmin, who was there last year and I decided to repeat history and hire a pedal boat.

IMG-20131006-WA0000

We pedalled up river back to the campsite and Steve and some other guy-friends were standing at the fire, close to the riverbank, so when we pedalled in, Steve grabbed the rope and pulled us in. Yasmin and I couldn’t manoeuvre the rudder to come alongside the bank, so we “parked” as best we would with Steve holding the rope tight. We both got up at the same time and balance along the pontoons, but Yasmin stepped off a split second sooner than I did which resulted in the boat tipping and me going arse over kettle, fully clothed, with heavy wellies on, straight into the murky brown water.

Apparently it was like watching something in slow-motion – but it was not slow enough for someone to reach out their hand and grab me without falling in themselves. I emerged from the water like someone who’d been baptized by a madman, hair all matted on my face, clothes clinging to my figure and wellies filled with water and Lord knows what else.

The guys helped me onto the bank but once I was up and I’d realized what had happened, I burst into tears. Tears of embarrassment and shock. The fright was bigger than the embarrassment, because some years ago I dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool, which resulted in my cracking my head open and breaking my nose. The doctor said that it was a miracle that I hadn’t broken my neck. It dawned on me at that moment when I saw everyone that I could very well have fallen back, and hit my head, or broken my neck because I didn’t know how deep the water was.

Michelle and Elizabeth both came running with towels and calmed me down. I was shivering with cold. Elizabeth took me back to the ablution block and ran me another hot bath. At this stage I was so cold I didn’t care what colour the water was. The problem arose when I realized I had no clothes. They were at home, with mom. All Elizabeth had to lend me was her pyjama pants and her top. I put them on, this time forced to go commando, only to realize that the pants were short and the hair on my legs was so long you could pick up a signal from a space satellite. I grabbed another pair of pants out of her bag – mom’s very bright, pink, fluffy pants and pulled them over. Ah…legs covered.

I had to put on one of Dad’s tops over Elizabeth’s one because without it, it was quite obvious that I wasn’t wearing a bra. I really looked glam. Trendsetter, I tell you!

After lunch everyone went home and we packed up camp, with many wonderful memories. I can’t wait to go camping again, but next time I’ll be a tad more prepared. I’ll make sure:

1. To inflate the mattress extra hard and put newspaper underneath it (I heard it keeps the cold away).

2. To have more than one pair of shoes (and to make sure they’re water proof)

3. To have more than two pairs of socks.

4. To have more than one change of clothes, and not to take them home before I’m sure I’m not going to need them.

5. To have soap and all my clothes in the bathroom when I go to clean myself up.

6. To wear my bathing costume if I’m going to be close to the water.

7. To check my cup/glass of wine for bugs before simply taking a swig.

Next camping trip is booked for 25 and 26 October, at a place called Peace of Eden… but this is a different type of camping – the tents have beds in them, and there is a shower off the tent. Carmen and Ewan arranged it quite a while ago. I am looking forward to it!

galleryimage-tent-inside

Triple F – First Fabulous Friday…of 2013

Woke up this morning to cool weather!  What a blessing after the extremely hot days we’ve had recently – and no, I’m not complaining about the heat, because if it hadn’t been so hot, I wouldn’t have got to go to the beach…in my sassy, new, blue bikini 😉

Now, many of you know that I lost 15 Kg (33 lb) last year when I wrote this post.  Well, I’ve lost a few more Kg’s and it was finally time to show off my new curves at the beach.  Not only am I looking gorgeous (okay, granted, I need to work on the tan a bit), but I’m also feeling so great.  Like I said, in 2013 I am going to be more positive.

Blue Bikini

I did get a bit of colour (mainly on my shoulders and back), and for it to last, I can’t stay in the sun for hours, nor be in the sun every day, so that’s why I’m thankful for the cooler weather…so I’m not tempted to overdue things.

Later this afternoon I’m off to have coffee with Carmen and another friend of ours, Mary, whom I haven’t seen for ages!  She is back off to varsity early next week, so this catch-up is going to be fabulous, I just know it!  It’s the last weekend before I go back to work, so I’m going to make the best of it (and finish James Patterson’s Zoo (it’s one of the books I bought last year.  Yes, I’m already working on my 2013 bucket list).   Monday it’s back to the routine (which I’m glad about too, I haven’t been in the gym as much as I’d have liked while I’ve been on holiday, but I have to drive past there on the way home from work every day, so I don’t have an excuse NOT to go…) I’m looking forward to going back to work, to seeing my colleagues – after all, they’ve become special friends too.

Whatever you and yours do today, make the best of it – be grateful for everything and don’t forget to smile!

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?

IMG-20130101-00688

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:

IMG-20121230-00685

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!

Spring is Slowly Springing…

My Muse has been in hibernation. We’ve had an extremely wet, cold, windy winter, but at last it seems that Spring is slowly springing. The sun is rising earlier and the birdsong is audible. Soon the sun will be up early enough to take a pre-shower-pre-work walk on the beach, and some Sundays will warrant an ice-cream cone down at the promenade over a game of putt-putt, or, as is the case this past Sunday, a nature hike.

Eliza sent me a text message last week saying she wasn’t sure if Carmen had already spoken to me about taking a walk with them, but that if I wanted to, I was more than welcome. I was under the impression that it would be Carmen, Ewan, Eliza and her hubby Nick, and I. It turned out that there was a dozen of us doing this Sunday stroll…

We all set off from Carmen and Ewan’s house to Wilderness, which is about a 40 minute drive from us. We set off on a trail called the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail which later split off onto the Greater Kingfisher Trail, at the end of which is a waterfall – our actual destination. Maintaining a steady pace, we got to the waterfall (3.6 Km – a smidgeon over 2 miles) in just over an hour.

As we began a comfortable climb, this was our view. How blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world!

As our walk progressed, we had to cross the river…on a pont! This led to great deals of laughter, but thankfully, we all made it across without anyone ending up in the chilly river.

Here we are, not paying any attention to Ewan’s instructions…

Later we came to the split in the path and headed off along this route:

Once we’d arrived at the waterfall, we all took out our packed lunches and sat in the sunshine, soaking up the Vitamin D. The guys of course, wanted to climb higher, or go swimming, but us gals, being the clever creatures we are, remained on Terra Firma. Ewan was the first to toss his shirt and brave the icy water. Joe, who wasn’t intent on swimming, slipped on a rock and fell in, clothes and all. I simply opted for a photo at the waterfall…

After about an hour, we headed back toward the car – another 3.2 Km (2 Miles) and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t huff and puff once – being15 Kg’s (33 lb) lighter has obviously made a huge difference.

My next post won’t be in a month…I’m already drafting it, so…watch this space!

Emotions Running High

The last week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride. In a matter of seven days I went from:

High on happiness after receiving the results of my novel writing course
to
Low because I heard that I won’t be able to carry on because the finance I applied for is not going to be granted.
to
Angry when a friend hurt my feelings by jumping to a wrong conclusion
to
Excited when I heard another friend is coming to visit
to
Confused at receiving mixed signals from a chap I fancy
to
Proud after doing extremely well at my second fitness test
to
Heartbroken when I heard that a friend of mine had lost his mother
to
Surprised when I heard that Julius Malema’s appeal was rejected and that he has finally been stripped of his position as leader of the ANC Youth League.

I told Carmen last week that I’m scared (so another emotion) I’m having a relapse, considering that I just tossed my anti-depressants aside without really consulting anyone. I felt I didn’t need the crutch anymore, so I just stopped drinking them. After all I have so many positive things to focus on. Some days though I wish I could have the crutch back…

Anyhow, I’ve been in the mood to write poetry again – the emotional up and downs seem to have that effect on me, but the question was what to write about. So, I got hold of Suzelle this morning and said, “Help! I want to write some poetry, but I have no idea about what. Give me a theme.” She replied that I should write about dreams…and so, as is par for the course when I want to write poetry, I trawl the internet for some visual inspiration. I came across this picture on Outinleftfield and thought that it is absolutely perfect.

Focused on a goal
Transfixed by a hope
Mesmerized by a dream

Her hazel eyes stare
Into a dark oblivion
Yearning to find treasure

You look at her
But she doesn’t notice
Her mind is whirling

She reaches her dream
Clings onto it tightly
Wanting to realize it
She plans the execution
The intricate battle plan
Her demeanour cat like

You wonder about her
But she doesn’t notice
She chases her dream

At the last hurdle
She stumbles, she falls
Her dream is lost

Hazel eyes are puffy
Staring into the light
Her dream is gone

You speak to her
But she doesn’t notice
She can’t carry on

Focused on her religion
Transfixed by her heaven
Mesmerized by her Lord

Her hazel eyes alight
With a hopeful future
Clinging to His Promise

You look at her
Her smile welcomes you
Invites you to celebrate

She finds her heaven
Enters it with excitement
She wants to stay

Her heart is light
Her spirit is peaceful
Her life is complete

You wonder about her
You question your motives
You finally ask her

But it’s too late
You wasted previous time
Her heart has flatlined…