Listen to that Little Voice Inside

Sometimes in life you forge a bond with someone that no amount of time, nor distance, can break.  You don’t have to talk to each other every day, nor do you have to see each other even once a year, or once a decade.  You’re connected, by something intangible, something some might even call supernatural.

I am extremely blessed to have a few of these ‘someones’ including Natalie, who I got to know in a very short period of three months, in 1993. Three years older than me, she was the proverbial big sister.

We stayed in touch over the years, writing actual letters to one another, when pen-pals were still a real thing, and then with the advent of Facebook and Skype, we got to share in each other’s’ lives, touching base on the odd occasion.

I watched her evolution from a timid, freckled-faced girl, into a successful, high-powered business person; an independent force to be reckoned with. After a long, tumultuous road, she married Jacob, a bloke she’d met while travelling on business in New Zealand. This year is lucky number thirteen, or maybe not-so-lucky…

Last night I spent the evening on the couch mapping out a few things for a story I’m writing, having renewed motivation after finding my writing tutor’s comment on an “on this day” post on Facebook.  It wasn’t that late, shortly before nine PM, when I received a message from her mum on Messenger, telling me that she thought I’d want to know: Nat, Jacob and Teagan, their ten-year-old, had been travelling home from a weekend away when they had had an accident. From what I can gather it was the result of a tyre issue.  Jacob came out of the wreck with scratches, but Nat is in hospital with pelvic injuries (which have fortunately not caused any internal bleeding) and a broken leg. Teagan is in a medically induced coma to slow down swelling on his brain. I was shaken. Not only because of the obvious shock and reminder (once again) of how precious life is, but from guilt.

For a while I’ve had this inkling to Skype with Nat and thought that if I did go to my parents this weekend, I’d schedule some time with her just to catch up.

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The adage of the best laid plans applies here. I am praying for all of them and reminding myself that she’s a tough broad, that loves life, her ‘boys’, her family and her friends – she has so many reasons to fight for a full- and speedy recovery. When she’s able to, come Hell or High Tide, we’re going to catch up. There is so much to tell her.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this post is that if you hear a little voice in your head telling you to get in touch with someone, whether it is just to say hello or make amends or whatever…heed it, because we never know what tomorrow holds.

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Looking Back on 2017…

It’s that time of the year, when I look back reflectively on the year past, and with excitement and expectation for the one that lies ahead.

2017 was a tough year.  As an individual I was tested, as a couple my parents were tested, and as a family, you guessed it, we were tested.  Yet, here we are on the first day January, with hope and courage in our hearts, and the faithful belief that things will be better this time round.  It was also the year that I bid goodbye to seven pairs of shoes, six pairs of which broke at the office.  Pair seven broke as I got out the car for my year-end-work-function. As I look back though, as tough as it was, it was a good year, all in all.

January started off slowly, but I did do one parkrun; the only one for the entire year.  It was a destined one though, because it was there that I met Heather, with whom I have become quite close.  We “get” each other, like uMeredith and Christina do.  We’re both book sluts and Dischem whores, who love drinking wine out of enamel mugs at Kaai 4, or eating fish and chips out of polystyrene containers on top of the iconic red London bus at the harbour.  In a short twelve months, she’s joined the ranks of “heart sister”.

In February I was faced with a bit of a surprise.  The institution through which I studied years ago let me know that if I didn’t complete the final subject of my tertiary year by the end of 2017, I would lose all the credits for that period.  I took the leap, borrowed the money and, at the tender age of thirty-seven, hit the books again.  It was an experience to say the least, because I struggled with self-discipline.  Honestly, had it been anything to do with writing I would have approached it with more enthusiasm.  It was also the month I met Charlie, in passing, at Heather’s birthday party, blissfully unaware that by the end of the year he too, would be someone genuinely important in my circle.

The Toppie, Bean and I also went on a bit of a safari adventure, arranged by Tina and some of her friends.  It was such a special time for us as a family, where memories were made.

March marched right by.  I’ve gone through my photos and I can’t find anything blog-worthy that happened that month.

In April, shortly after The Toppie’s 70th birthday celebration, my parents bid their home goodbye, and moved to a much smaller place, in an industrial area outside of town.  It was gut-wrenching to have to watch them sell off their possessions to be able to make ends meet, but through the hardship, they’ve learned that they didn’t need all that stuff – they’ve got each other.  It broke my heart when The Bean lost her precious cockatiel, Marley, shortly after.

That same month, a tiny pipe in my bathroom broke, resulting in a flood right through my flat.  For three months I couldn’t live there, but thanks to friends and an amazing colleague and his wife, I had a roof over my head the entire time.  If I’m honest, I kind of became attached to my transit-home, which was a garden cottage in said colleague’s back garden.  The fact that their beautiful Labrador would visit had nothing to do with it.

May was a cold month, so most of the studying I did for exams took place under the duvet, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.  I also spent a great deal of time reading for leisure in the evenings.  I discovered the literary genius of Afrikaans author, Deon Meyer and have since read two of his books, Koors and Spoor.

One of my best friends, Wolf also lost his mom, 19 days after having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 😦

June brought with it the birth of Shayla-Rae’s first child (and my goddaughter), Lily-Rose.  She was the most perfect little person I had ever seen.

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Here the precious little mite was not even a full day old yet.

My heart swelled with pride, not only because I was now a god-mommy, but for my childhood best friend, who pushed that perfect little person out of her vajajay.

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Now she’s almost seven months…

I won’t use the exact phrase she did to describe the process of child birth; needless to say, it was colourful.

June also brought with it exams, that, no matter how much I had studied, I still didn’t feel prepared for.  I dragged Tina with me to Cape Town, because she needed a break from the drama with her ex, and because I didn’t fancy being in the Mother City without decent company.  It was during that visit that I had the best Durban curry of my life – yes, in Cape Town.  It didn’t bode well for my exams the next day because it played havoc with my stomach.  I wrote what felt like a million words on the answer sheets provided and when I left, after not having completed the final question, I thought I think I’ve done enough to pass.  I took Tina up Signal Hill where we nearly blew away (Did someone say Cape Doctor?) and then we went to the Company Gardens to feed the squirrels.  The little critters are quite brazen when they know you’re hiding peanuts.

July was a good month.  I got to move back home, to newly installed floors and the luxury of a bath.  While I love my morning shower, sometimes all that cures the ails of a long day at the office in the middle of winter, is a hot, candlelit bubble bath.

I also got to visit Shalya-Rae, Shane and little Lily-Rose for a few days in the beautiful Tsitsikamma.  I really wanted to do the hike to the suspension bridge across the sea and Shayla-Rae indulged me, carrying a sleepy Lily the entire way in the car chair.  It was up countless stairs, and down through steep valleys.  The view, and the feeling of absolute freedom was amazing.  Granted we were windswept and a bit cold afterwards, but it was worth every leg-stiffening step.  It’s something I will definitely do again.

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The view from the end of the bridge – breathtaking!
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Windswept #Selfie
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The bridge is older than I am.

Charlie also came home for a holiday and we spent some time together, in an attempt to get to know each other better.  While he hasn’t managed to convert me to a KFC fan (yet), I think I did well to make him a Sherlockian.  He went back to work in August and his imminent return in January 2018 is something I’m looking forward to.

In August I got my exam results.  Thankfully I’d passed.  With distinction!  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the results.  Over eighty percent.  I still don’t know how I managed the excellent mark; I can only think that there were many prayers going up at the time on my behalf.

September.  The month of my birthday …Usually I have some kind of shindig to celebrate, but this year, I opted for something a little more low-key.  Jensen, a family friend of over twenty-five years, came to visit and took me out for pizza and wine at a new place in town.  It was a great catch-up.  First Sighting Shiraz is a wine I most certainly need in my collection.

Carmen and Ewan also welcomed their second child into the world.  World, meet little Roger!

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World, I love bathtime!

In October, little Liam, Eliza and Neil’s second child celebrated his first birthday.  I have a special tie with him; he’s my “bonding-baby” – the first child I every held that wasn’t even a month old yet, and I believe that he prepared me for Lily-Rose.  In the imaginary world I sometimes live in, I imagine the two of them getting married one day.

It was also the first time I got hypnotised.  Theresa came to visit and I convinced her to tag along with me to a hypnosis entertainment show.  I’ve always wondered about going under but didn’t for a minute think I would be on stage.  For over an hour!  Theresa was awesome, filming all my shenanigans on her phone.  I looked like I had tremendous fun and without a doubt, I will do it again.  I woke up the next morning stiff as a board, but after watching the clips, I understand why – I was really active on stage, from being a dinosaur, to a washing machine, to a goldfish, to a rapper, to a lifeguard and then some.

Now, there are few things as daunting as having a man who you’re not having sex with inspect your lady-bits, but in November I trotted off to the surgery.  I’d been putting off the gynae visit for months, but due to exacerbating problems around Aunt Flo’s visit every month, I was left no choice but to face the Fanny Flapper and his dreaded (to coin a phrase by a good writer friend of mine) dildo cam.  It should be mentioned at this juncture that the past two times I’ve seen him, it has been for emergency procedures, so when he greeted me with, “It’s so lovely to see you here, in my office, instead of the operating theatre,” I couldn’t help but smile.  After likening my cycle to that of pig slaughter, it was decided that a deeper look would be crucial to get to the core of the problem.  Oh yay, off I go to the hospital.  Again.  What I wasn’t expecting was that it would be for two procedures.  I’d had the first, a laparoscopy, before so I knew what to expect.  The second, a hysteroscopy, I was a bit worried about because it sounded a bit scary.  Turns out there was reason for concern:  The monthly vampire bloodfest seeping from my uterus was due to a teratoma (the same thing the first laparoscopy had been done for to remove).  The odd thing was it wasn’t on my ovary, where the little bastards normally cling on, it was between my intestine and my stomach lining.  It had all kinds of different human tissue, which I of course find fascinating; most people find it gross.  The doctor said they do tend to grow back, but in this particular case, this might be the remnants of the original alien that the first doctor didn’t get entirely removed.  Thankfully, I am feeling a great deal better.  The night-dwelling-day-sleeping-bloodsuckers are probably really pissed off with me about it though.

December.  By definition: Hectic.  It is par for the course when one lives in a seaside-resort-holiday-town.  With only three weeks available to do what felt like three months’ worth of work, tempers were clearly frayed and the prospect of a holiday was all that kept me from committing murder.   Fortunately, before that happened, our bosses were awesome and gave us a delicious year end dinner, which gave me a reason to dress up.

I originally wore a pair of killer silver heels, but both shoes broke as I got out the car.

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I originally had a pair of killer silver heels on, but both shoes broke as I got out of the car.

Little Lily­-Rose was christened in the Dutch Reformed Church a stone-throw away from a one-horse-town called Kareedouw.  It wasn’t without its own hysterics.  Shayla-Rae’s mum put her button-up dress over her satin slip (which was keeping her warm).  As we stood up to sing the first hymn, her pretty, pink pyjamas landed in a crumpled heap at her feet.  I of course was the only one who saw it, and trying not to laugh, only made me want to laugh more.  It may not sound funny to those of you reading this, but to me it was hysterical.

It was also my twenty-year school reunion, which I didn’t attend due to other commitments.  From the photos it looks like much fun was had.  One pleasant surprise was seeing Nola and her husband Connor, who decided to surprise my parents and I with a visit.  She was also a best friend at school and boarded with us in our final year.  Our paths don’t cross often anymore, because she lives in a different city, and has Connor and two beautiful boys to look after, but she has never forgotten my-, or my parents’ birthdays.  I on the other hand am an epic failure at remembering hers.

It was also the month I realized what my biggest fear is.  After having written that post, and some of the responses I received, a few things have more perspective for me now, for which I’m grateful.

Christmas was not a lavish affair for which my jeans still thank me.  We had a small braai with Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry and vetkoek.  For those of you not familiar with the term, it is bread dough that is deep friend which can be enjoyed with a selection of savoury spreads or sweet preserves.

Shortly after, my former roommate, Sarah, and her fiancé, Sam, came to visit.  She is also someone I refer to as a “heart sister” and she is the youngest one of them all.  I am her “big (but thin) sister”.  We had plans for a day of catching up in the summer sunshine, but not before this:

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I said, “Yes!!!!!!”

They’re getting hitched in November next year, so I already have something to look forward to in 2018.  You see, I’ve never been a bridesmaid before.

And then, to almost end of 2017, Shayla-Rae and her other half, Shane took me to an open air concert, where there were 12000 people.  It may not sound like many, but in the sleepy hollow town where I live, that is probably the entire population out of season.  It was the most fun I’ve had in a long while.  The R150 Shane paid for six beers though, left a bitter taste in his mouth – it was R10 short of what they’d paid for one (golden circle) ticket.

I’m off to spend the last night of the year with Shayla-Rae and her family at the farm.

See y’all next year!  2018 is going to ROCK!

 

 

Aimee’s at It Again…

My blog is a relatively no-holds barred space.  I write about different things, and often from one extreme to the next.  I know that I have different readership, for which I am grateful, but I want to state, again, that I will not tolerate prejudice from those readers who disagree with the content of any of my posts – like the atheists about my religious/faith posts, or the Bible followers that disagree with my view on people like Aimee and her choices.  If you can’t respect that, then I’d rather have you unfollow me.

Thank you.

Now, if you’re still reading:

Read this post first, so that you have the background.

My exams are finally over.  *Happy dance*!  I got back from Cape Town on Friday afternoon, and was surprised to hear that Aimee was in town.  Obviously, we had to get together to catch up on what’s happened since our last visit, a fortnight shy of a year.

Poor woman.  She is totally fucked – in the physical sense of the word, but in the psychological realm too.  She’s not crazy (well, then again, she is in my inner circle, so maybe she is a bit touched), but mind-fucked.

A lot has gone down in the past year, which is the last time I saw her:

Junior got involved with a girl his own age and from what Aims tells me, he seems idyllically happy.  She seems okay about it, telling me that on the odd ocassion he’ll call, just to hear how she’s doing, which she appreciates, although he did tell her the other night that while he was in the shower, he thought to himself that he should phone her.  Hello?!  He’s involved with another chick, yet he thought about Aimee when there was steam surrounding his naked body while hot water was pounding his flesh.  Well, maybe it wasn’t just hot water…   In the back of her mind though, I think she knew even if they had got their groove on, it would have been short-lived.

Mr. Married Willy is also out of the picture.  I say, “Thank God!” even though she is devastated.  While all he initially wanted was the intellectual sex, they decided to meet in person a while ago, but he couldn’t get out of the house, “for fear of making my wife suspicious” and then again recently, but nothing came of it.  I said he got cold feet, she said he got a cold heart, which shriveled his dick and crumbled his spine.  I get her anger, but he is married, although I know better than to bring that up because it’s not what she needs-, nor wants to hear right now.

She tried to be brave when telling me of her disappointment, but I know she’s hurting.  I’m not sure if she was in love him, but she was curious, and with her vivid imagination, I think she had some kind of picture in her head of him getting a divorce, then having rip-roaring, sheet-tearing, chandelier-swinging sex with him, and possibly, some kind of future.  It’s a definite no-go after he made some shitty excuse about not being able to see her.  Snap!  That’s the sound of the little bit of frayed line that held whatever-it-was-they-had together.  I want to phone him and tear a strip off of him, but she’s put a leash on me, so she’s planning her own revenge.  She knows who his wife is, and it’s easy enough to get in touch with her on Facebook.  She has every last text message, and e-mail exchange of the almost two years they’ve been corresponding, and she has no qualms about forwarding them to his unsuspecting wife.  I can only hope she changes her mind because while he deserves to be miserable and alone, his children didn’t ask for this.

There’s no shortage of virile men around Aimee though.  Mr. Freak, now known as Mr. Hot Bunz is still in the picture, which surprises me, especially after her disconnection from the moment the last time and because Friends with Benefits is not her style; being a fuck-buddy, with the right guy is.  For those of you not sure what the difference is:

Friend with Benefits:  Person who is a friend, with whom you enjoy spending time, doing friend-stuff, but it may or may not end up with you doing the horizontal mambo.  When either one is in a relationship, then the benefits are forfeited.

Fuck Buddy: You both fuck each other senseless and then sleep in your respective homes.  There is nothing friend-like about the arrangement.  You’re basically carnal rabbits in a cosmic pheromone-filled warren. Synonym: Booty Call.

So, now that you have the nutshell meanings, Aims is the kind of girl that’ll hook up for the occasional one-night-stand, and if he has her coming like a garden hose, she might even enter into a fuck-buddy arrangement with him, but it will never involve doing ‘relationshippy’ things, like drinks at a fancy bar, walks on the beach or a movie-night, with pizza and wine, nor will it ever involve him/her spending the night.  It will be wanton sex. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it’s different with Mr. Hot Bunz and it’s messing with her head.  He’s become her friend and a confidante.  I’ll chalk the latter off to the fact that I live too far away for her to pop in for a heart-to-heart over a glass of good red.  She hooked up with him the same night Mr. Married Willy stood her up, and it blew her mind, but she feels guilty now.

“Oh. My. God!  Aims, you’re not…”

Yes, she’s in love with him, and she has made the epic mistake of telling him how she feels.  Kudos to him for not getting into his car and riding a million miles in the opposite direction, even more so when she may, or may not have told him in a hazy sleep-awake moment that she loved him, or someone else.  She knows she heard a loud, “What?” from a voice, but she’s not sure if it was his voice, or if she dreamt the whole thing.  If she did say it out loud, I hope it was that she loved him, because she’s already had one strike.  I also hope that if he is an actual knight in shining armour, that he will at least be open to something more, because while Aimee almost never has her shit together, she is a one in a million girl and when she’s in a committed relationship, she’s in it for keeps.  All she needs is a good guy to take a gamble on her.  I know if he does, he will have struck the biggest jackpot imaginable.

To balance things out, Aims finally stopped gushing about herself and Mr. Sexy Ass, just long enough to ask about how things are with my love life.

“Less complicated than yours”, was my response, which is the truth, but some days I wish I had her open mind, smoking hot body and happy-go-lucky (for the most part) attitude towards life and fiery rabbit-love.

I have a feeling too, that another year isn’t going to pass before I give you an update on Aimee’s Escapades, given that she is seeing Mr. Sexy Ass more often now.  So, ‘til next time…adios!

Goodbye April! Things are already better in May…

Inspiration.  It comes from the strangest of places sometimes most times.  More often than not, it isn’t really subtle either…

Today, the Giggling Gourmet, @Jenny Morris, whom I follow on Facebook posted a quote by Marilyn Vos Savant:

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If you read my previous post, you will be more than aware of how defeated I felt, how close I was to tossing it all in the fuck-it-bucket and having a pity party of epic proportions.  Giving up really did look like a promising option.  Not only because of my flooded flat, which more than two weeks later has still not been assessed by the insurance for damages, but because of the struggles my parents have faced of late.

Mom still mourns Marley daily, and their living conditions leave a lot to be desired, but, with that said, acceptance of- or resignation to the fact that this is how things may be for the foreseeable future, has made things a little easier to deal with.  I still hate having to see my parents live in an industrial area where all sorts of noxious fumes are the order of the day, especially with Mom’s propensity to bronchitis and asthma.  The confined space that she and Dad have to share is also not ideal because he is frustrated to the point of physical aggression.  Just yesterday, he tried to hang a shelf which he spent hours making.  A piece of the wood split when he drilled it into the wall and he almost smashed the thing to pieces with the hammer.  It worries me a great deal.  I wish there was something I could do, but short of holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to come and live with me, my hands are tied.

Then of course, there are the tired expressions, such as, “this too shall pass”, or “it could be worse”, or “count your blessings, not your problems”, which I will admit, are all true.  Hearing these platitudes from people who actually are in my- and my parents’ life is acceptable, but I have to muster every last bit of self-control not to tell other people who know us, but prefer to live in happy obliviousness in their ivory towers, to shut the hell up.

Before I get lynched, I have the greatest respect for the trials we all have to face, but no two situations are the same.  Your wife leaving you for another man is regrettable and tragic, but so is my parents’ loss of almost everything they worked hard to build up.  I could go on like a long-playing record, but I would rather not rant more than is necessary.

In between all of this drama, I had to still find time to complete my second assignment before my upcoming exams in June.  I finished and handed in by the deadline, but part of me feels that had things been a bit calmer, I could have done more.  I anxiously await the results.

Since last week I have received incredible support from not only my friends and my colleagues.  Elizabeth and her parents put me up for a few nights, feeding me well (she still makes the best chicken pie in the whole world!) and allowing me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings.  The restlessness of living out of a suitcase got to me though and I opted to take a colleague and his wife up on their offer of staying in the granny flat on their property until such time that my flat is habitable again.  At first I was hesitant, but after arriving, and seeing a beautiful bunch of proteas on the table to welcome me, I immediately felt at home.

The stability of a “home-away-from-home” without distractions, has afforded me the opportunity to begin revision for my final exam.  Heaven knows, I want to get this subject over and done with.  Having failed twice, many years ago, I’m hoping that the third time will indeed be a charm, otherwise I will forfeit all the credits I have obtained to date, and then have to do the entire year over, which is something I cannot afford.  So, putting the positive vibes out there – when I receive the notification that I have passed my Diploma in International Trade (Exports) exam, I will be celebrating with something bubbly – even if it is just sparkling mineral water.

The messages of care from friends far and wide have been a comfort in a time that has been so dark for my parents and I.  A surprise visit from a Capetonian friend last weekend also did a lot to lift our spirits, as did a visit with Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and some friends.  Speaking of Uncle Barry – he worked incredibly hard to get dad’s car running again, which we are all so grateful for.  Dad can now get to work every day without hassles or stressing about rapturous steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Eliza and Nicholas have invited me to eat with them in the evenings (as they are very close to where I am residing for the interim), so I don’t have to cook.  Yay!

To every single one of you, who has, despite your own storms, blessed my parents and I with words of encouragement, a loan to keep the bank from taking my car back, a pot of soup, a bed to sleep in, an ear to listen, a long, flaming-hot shower, a back & neck destress massage or who did a load (more like a mountain!) of washing.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  You are the people that I will roll a boulder out of the way for.

So yes, things are not ideal, but they are 100% more ideal than they were in April.  And for that, I’m grateful, because while we’ve been defeated, we’re a long shot from giving up.

 

Where Were You? At Nyaru!

I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.

Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious.  This is not the case with Nyaru.  The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay.  Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people.  But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.

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When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation.  I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration.  The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren.  Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.

The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower.  All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only.  The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve.  If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.

We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units.  Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.

While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings.  The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps.  The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.

Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).

I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules.  I had enough of that in boarding school!  The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.

There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience.  We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.

Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair.  Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us.  Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us.  It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you.  There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.

The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.

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After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well.  The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people.  Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area.  The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas.  If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets.  Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.

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We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic.  The selection of food blew us away!  While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve.  A true ‘dinner with a view’.  We did have an unexpected guest too.

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Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest.  The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’.  I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations.  To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient.  The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee).  The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.

We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends.  We will definitely be back.  After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.

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2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

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Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

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June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

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July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

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In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

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September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

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I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

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My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

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The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

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One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

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Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

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The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

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Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

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The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

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There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

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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.

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We eventually arrived…

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

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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

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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…

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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!