I must vacate The Cave by the 31st, which is still a week and some days away, but this moving in installments has me at my wits’ end, so two angels from my day job are going to come and help me pack the last ‘kaggel kakkies’, and then we’re going to hunker down and give the place a good clean. If all goes according to plan, maybe I can finalize the move by the end of the weekend – here’s hoping!
Being a sentimental person by nature, it is incredibly difficult to part with the possessions that friends have given me, but I’ve had to be ruthless in getting rid of the excess. I’ve donated clothes and some small appliances to a family that lost their home in a fire, and I’ve put a lot of stuff in the trash, and still, I have too much stuff. I am learning the lesson now, at the ripe age of forty-something, that it isn’t necessary to have five pairs of black pants or a wristwatch to match almost every outfit or two and a half dozen champagne flutes – although granted, if I do live the life I’m destined to, I will be sipping Mimosas with my besties for breakfast, lunch and supper dahling.
What. A. Year! Looking back, 2022 wasn’t a bad year – when compared with its two Covid-lockdown predecessors – but it wasn’t one that I will remember with insatiable amounts of fondness because it was a hard and often unforgiving, relentless with its onslaught of car troubles, illness, and teary goodbyes.
I should have known that things didn’t bode well when I had to get The Toppie to the doctor in January because he was too weak to even stand. He was diagnosed with an intestinal bleed, which later required hospitalization. His iron levels were very low and combined with hyperglycemia, his symptoms mimicked those of a stroke. It was a scary time for our little family, with me driving home from the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, crying into a voice note to a friend in Cape Town who was still awake to offer words of wisdom and comfort. Visiting The Toppie was tough because Covid infections were still high. The security guards at the provincial hospital see themselves as gods, which only exacerbated our already-high stress levels. The Toppie had scopes and what-not to find the source of the bleed but to no avail. With meds, the symptoms cleared up, but for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. More about that later…
The Bean and I went to a coffee shop in April called Axara. They serve pink lattes! Needless to say, I had to have one.
It was also the month I took myself out to dinner – something which I seldom do because it seems pitiful to dine alone. I went all out, three courses, and a tall G&T.
I also got to don a pretty dress because I was asked by my boss to attend the launch of the Garden Route Fashion Council.
June brought with it the end of mandatory mask-wearing. Three cheers for no more fogged-up glasses and maskne on my chin and cheeks. Finally, life was starting to feel pre-coronavirus normal. During the last week, our factory had its annual winter maintenance shutdown, so I had some time off. My friend, Shireen treated me to Elvis. Shireen is a real aficionado on the King of Rock ‘n Roll, so watching it with her made it even better!
Elizabeth and I also took a drive up to the St. Blaize lighthouse one morning for coffee and breakfast, mine being delicious carrot cake.
I had a few petsitting gigs too – I looked after a colleague’s two cats and three dogs in mid-August. Few things beat kitty snuggles and wagging tails.
For the first time in two years, I celebrated my birthday in September. Pre-2020, I would always have some kind of get-together, but this year, I didn’t have any kind of zeal to organize anything. The night before my birthday I went to watch little Nic’s school concert, a rendition of one of my best-loved stories, Alice in Wonderland. It was delightful.
On my actual birthday, my folks and I went to my favourite coffee roastery for a flat white, and the unveiling of a surprise for my folks – I had booked a cruise for them and me for April 2023.
Afterwards we had fish and chips at The Point and the weekend after, Eliza, Nathan, the kids and I ate ice cream sandwiches and then went for a meal. While it wasn’t a ‘regular’ birthday for me, it was one of the most memorable I have had in a long time.
The week after, I took ill. I contracted bronchitis, but thanks to Covid nine months earlier, it was the worst bout I have ever had; I eventually relented and went to the doctor when I started coughing blood. The GP prescribed meds and a chest cavity x-ray, but I could only afford the former. I petsat for Corine and another friend of hers – two brilliantly lovable Bassets Hounds.
Had life worked out differently, and had I also had a stronger stomach to deal with the dark side of what humans are capable of, I would have loved to have studied journalism. One of my biggest aspirations was to have my work published in a newspaper. The dream eventually came true, when my good friend, Corine, put in a good word for me with the local community rag, securing me a regular column. The brief was that it has to incorporate something about the town, without being advertorial. I would have loved to have called it Reflections of a Misfit as I do here, but ‘misfit’ has a negative connotation to some, so I went with Roots ‘n Reflections instead, because my roots run deep in this Sleepy Hollow (well, it’s not so sleepy anymore!) and because of the mandate, I like the idea of the posts being somewhat reflective. My first column was published in October. I was beaming with pride.
The Bean makes The Toppie buy the paper whenever a column of mine is inside, because she cuts them out and keeps them in a scrapbook. My friend, Ray, In East London also asked me to send hard copies to him so he can keep them with his late Mom’s stuff. She wanted me to ghostwrite her life story, but pancreatic cancer took her before we ever had the chance to sit down and make notes.
Another highlight was a visit with Michelle, Len, their two lovely kids, Michelle’s friend, Val, and Michelle’s folks at De Vette Mossel. Sand, sun, superb company and unlimited seafood – what more could a girl ask for? As always, visits with special friends are just never long enough though.
In November, on the eighteenth, Elizabeth turned 50 – she didn’t want a big shindig, so her family and some of her friends had a light bite to eat with her at her parents’ home. To many, fifty is a dreadful milestone to reach, but Elizabeth says she’s worked hard to be so old. Mind you, she doesn’t look it – not a single wrinkle, just like her mom who’s already in her late 70’s. Three cheers for good genes! Sadly, the day before, The Toppie got bad news – the meds he was on for the bleed, along with his other chronic prescriptions for diabetes and high BP damaged his kidneys. He now has stage 3B chronic disease, the likelihood of which means that his kidneys will eventually fail. I took the decision to move back to The Toppie and The Bean to be there for both of them. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but it is one I have peace about. The Bean is not going to cope on her own when things really take a turn for the worse with The Toppie. Some of my friends think I’m making a grave mistake; others understand that my parents are my priority because they are my immediate family. I often say there is a reason God didn’t give me a husband or kids – He had already laid this path out for me.
December finally arrived, which meant time hadn’t stopped as I had hoped it would. I had to bid farewell to Eliza, Nathan, and their boys on the 12th, because they were embarking on the next chapter of their lives in Australia. Generally, I’m quite stoic when it comes to saying goodbye, but as I got up to get my keys, uttering the words, “there’s no point in delaying the inevitable”, my voice broke, and my vision blurred. We stood in the thick fog, all trying not to cry, failing hopelessly!
A week later Facebook reminded me that a year to the day, I had tested positive for Covid. It did a number on my lungs, which came to light when I got bronchitis earlier this year. I’m prone to chest infections, which I’ve often been able to shake off with OTC meds. Not this time… I eventually admitted defeat in the doctor’s surgery after I started coughing blood. He ordered a chest cavity X-ray and a list of meds including antibiotics. I couldn’t afford both, so to this day, as I write this, we still don’t know the extent of the damage to my lungs.
I shed more tears a few days before Christmas as I spoke to my landlord and his wife about having to move. They were the first ‘landpeople’ I’ve ever had, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for better people to let me a part of their home. Nine years I’ve lived in The Cave, and to think, in less than thirty days it will be as it was when I first set foot in it back in 2014. I can only hope that the person/people that rent it in the future have as wonderful a time living there as I did and realize how lucky they are to have Uncle H and Aunty J as their lessors. They really are good people.
And here I am, winding down the first day of 2023 – unsure about what the year holds, but earnestly praying that it brings fewer trials, because 2022, despite all the happy moments here, left me physically and emotionally exhausted. I chose not to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year – instead, I am just going to take each day as it comes and try to find something good in it. I may as well start here – the good thing about today was that I finished a book a friend lent me titled Mr Wrong Number by Lynn Painter. It was relatable and ridiculously funny. Not a bad way to kick off the year…
Happy New Year to you all!
PS. The months of which I’ve made no mention in this post, don’t mean that nothing happened, it’s just that I don’t have any ‘happy snaps’ (as Elizabeth calls them) to share with the written content.
On Thursday last week I had a MS Teams meeting at 11 and I was out of data, along with money to buy, so Eliza offered that I work at her and Nathan’s place for the day. Their little boy, Lambert, aged almost four called for Eliza and I to ‘come look’ and eventually we got round to it. There on the ground in front of the sliding door lay a tiny bird, clearly stunned from flying into the sliding glass door.
If for nothing else, this lockdown has taught me to utilise my kitchen. I am not going to lie – if The Cave didn’t come with a dishwasher included in the rent, I would be living in PB&J sammies, served on paper plates and drinking my coffee out of a paper cup.
I got my new passport on Monday! Judging by the photo, I look like the Godmother of a Mafia family. Seriously, the camera adds way more than 5lbs. Especially to my chin! If I was green, I could pass for a Raxacoricofallapatorian Slitheen. If you don’t know what that is, you need to find The Doctor, and soon!
I’ve been seeing daily ads in my Facebook newsfeed for a place called Sekelbos Restaurant, so decided to take The Bean there yesterday for a light bite. Sekelbos, as explained to us by our polite waitress (whose name I didn’t get) is a type of wood that is said to burn for ages, but never to ash.
I’m a firm believer of taking the road less travelled, because often, they do lead to stunning destinations, unless you get lost, of course!
On Saturday a friend celebrated her birthday and invited me to join her and some others at a place called Bellevue Restaurant, at The Village Lodge. It is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house, seven kilometres of which are on a well-maintained gravel road. A bonus is that on the way, you may get to see some game. In this instance we saw zebra, Cape Buffalo and some antelope (but they were too far away to photograph).
It is essential to book ahead if you’re planning a visit, as the lodge may have guests, and they have preference to dine at The Bellevue. The atmosphere is relaxed, as both the lodge and restaurant are child friendly. There is a luscious green lawn where kids can run around to their hearts’ content, as well as a jungle gym and tyre swings.
Saturday’s meal was so impressive, that I booked a place for Sunday, intent on taking a follower-friend and my parents for lunch.
Saturday’s meal consisted of two harvest boards: A Ploughman’s Platter and an Antipasti Platter, and three pizzas: Parma Ham, Cajun Chicken and Pulled Pork. The platters are colourful and fresh. The orange slices on the ploughman’s were sweet and juice, without spitting in your eye. The pizzas were delicious too, and have super-thin bases, making them easy to fold to enjoy your pizza calzone-style if you prefer.
Afterwards we had milkshakes for dessert. I’d seriously go all the way back there just to drink another one. The Lemon Meringue one I had was out of this world! There are other options, like Bar-One, Salted Caramel and Peppermint Crisp to name a few.
Sunday, after our coffee-stop, we hit the road again; this time we saw zebra, some antelope and rhinos. Even if we’d gone home starving, seeing the rhinos would have been enough.
We were seated outside, close to the bar area, and if it’s a little chilly, there are light blankets available for patrons on request. There is also seating indoors and in the evenings the fireplace is lit.
Our lovely waitress, Claudine, took our drinks order and within a few minutes we were clinking glasses, drinking to happy days and new places.
I ordered a Ploughman’s Platter for the four of us (which mind you, was enough for us to all have our fill).
Follower-friend opted for the Parma ham pizza (as I told her it’d been a hit the day before), Mom had battered fish, hand-cut chips and salad, Dad had pork hock served with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables and I opted for a rosemary Karoo roast lamb sandwich on seed loaf with sweet potato fries and salad. That seed loaf tastes almost sweet and has a cake-like consistency. Deeeeee-lllliiiii-cious!!!!
At the beginning of our culinary adventure, we’d wanted dessert, but we were so full we had to take the leftovers home, so we’ll have to go back for sure.
There are dishes for every taste, ranging from mid-level to high prices. The quality and freshness of the food justifies the price, as does the service. The waitstaff are always close by, without hovering over patrons, which is a huge plus. There is also a large selection of beers and ciders I’d not seen before until my visit. The cocktails described on the drinks’ list sound superb, but if you’re driving, I’d probably say it’s safer to give them a miss until you can savour them and have someone drive you home. The setting is tranquil, and given the distance from home, a delightful place to escape to over a weekend even if only for a cocktail, coffee and something light to nibble on.
I took my folks and a follower-friend to a new place that opened its doors during the week called Salt & Copper, based just outside Hartenbos, Mossel Bay.
We were met at the door by the hostess, Samantha, who gave us menus, and said she’d get our waiter. We perused the menus for about 10 minutes. The food options look delicious, with dishes available for both the carnivorous human, as well as the herbivorous ones. The dessert options sound sinfully good too.
There is a extensive wine list, featuring wines for all tastes from local wineries, as well as a great gin selection. There are also gin and wine tastings available as well as pairings for both. Prices are in line with what you would expect to pay at a mid-level to up-market restaurant.
Sadly, the service left us wanting – we tried to get someone’s attention three times to no avail. Eventually our waiter came along and apologized, stating that it was his first day. There were more than enough staff on the floor (many of them behind the counter), but it is clear that some are still very unsure of themselves, and while I understand that teething problems are to be expected, I’ve lived in Mossel Bay long enough to know that bad service is not going to go down well with the often-impatient holiday makers that will be flooding in from up North later this month.
On the positive side:
The quips on the menu: “Unsupervised children will be sold to the circus…” got a chuckle out of me, as did “Champaign ice cubes” because Champaign is a city in the US State of Illonois. Champagne is what I think they meant to say. Proofreading is important, particularly when you’re presenting such a chic, swanky image.
The building itself has an industrial feel about it, but is very stylishly decorated, with various seating options, lovely glassware and striking copper items against dark, charcoal-like walls. It’s hip and trendy.
What’s also great to see is a spekboom (called an Elephant Bush, or in some instances a Pork Bush) in English on each table. It is referred to in many circles as a miracle plant and it is waterwise too, an added bonus given the water restrictions in our area.
We didn’t stay long, having only hot beverages as we had a reservation for lunch elsewhere.
** Menu, Wine, Gin and Hot Beverages Images from Salt and Copper’s webpage **
The tea was served in delightful glass teapots, but there were no teaspoons on the saucers. The only one that received a teaspoon with her drink was the cappuccino-drinker in our group. These small details need to enjoy more attention.
The cappuccino had by my follower-friend was very tasty. My beetroot latte was deliciously hot, but a little too spicy (in comparison with those I’ve enjoyed at establishments in Wilderness and Knysna) for my personal taste. I love the cup in which it was served.
There are play amenities outside to keep kids busy – one for 0-4 years, and another for bigger kids. There is also a large chessboard for those enthusiasts wanting to exercise their strategic brains into a good ol’ checkmate.
I do hope that things will improve, because its close proximity to home and variety of food and drink make it the ideal place to support. Honestly though, if I’m going to pay between R125 and R155 for a main meal, I do expect good service as well and unfortunately, our short experience yesterday left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
With that said, I am a believer in second chances, so will visit once the Silly Season is over (but it will have to be on a weekend, given the odd operating hours:
Sun-Thurs 08:00 – 17:00
Fri-Sat 08:00 – 22:00
In the Season it will undoubtedly be profitable to trade during these hours, given the setting, but what about the locals who work (both in and out of season) who would like to have an enjoyable dinner during the week?
My suggestion is that the business hours be revisited – possibly open later during the week (my suggestion would be round 10:00 and shut shop at 20:30).
That’s my R91.00 worth, with a star rating of 2 ½ out of 5.