As a former Brownie and Girl Guide, Be Prepared! is something I’m supposed to know…
What’s Been Happening
So, remember the list of goals I made last week? Well, I have ticked off at least one – the renewal application of my passport. I sat at Home Affairs for a while yesterday as they were offline, but once they were back on, the process was dealt with quickly. In seven to fourteen days I will have my new passport, so should a trip come across my path, I can grab it with both hands.Continue reading
Friday Morning Thoughts
For those of you that have just started following my blog, there are two people I often refer to as The Bean and The Toppie – these are my parents, the former being Mom and the latter being Dad.
The Bean often told me growing up that Yours Truly is as transparent as a pane of glass. Some days she’s wrong, because my condition has taught me how to be like the penguins of Madagascar. Most days the smile and wave approach to life works, but then there are days like yesterday where I’m visibly not my sparkling, rainbow-farting-unicorn self.
I went to my favourite restaurant in town after work to sit in what has become known as my table, which is in the cosiest of corners, intent on blogging. I read a few more chapters of my current novel, James Patterson’s 15th Affair instead. I had zero inspiration to write and I almost always have a real book with me. Failing that I have a selection of Kindle books on my phone, thanks to Charlie.
Some of the waitstaff who I’ve got to know over numerous cappuccinos and amazing meals came to ask if I was okay – not the standard implied question of are you satisfied with your meal and/or our service? One even sat next to me for what might have been thirty seconds and asked how my day was (because clearly something was amiss). They noticed me and that made a shitty’ish day a lot better.
The point that I’m trying to get across here, is that sometimes all that’s needed to life someone’s spirits is a kind word and a smile. What’s even better about this is that it costs nothing.
Thanks for reading this post 😊 Have a fantastic Friday!
Restaurant Review: Salt & Copper
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.
The Adventure of a Lifetime Begins…
Now, I live in a tourist country, as many of you know. More so, I live in what is regarded as a tourist town, although out-of-season, the streets are rolled up at 5 PM. My favourite local destinations are Cape Town and closer to home, Wilderness and the Tsitsikamma. I’ve been to Durban and I spent the first nine years of my life in The City of Gold, and while it holds a nostalgic place in my heart, I’m not sure I would ever want to live there again. I’m a lover of small towns, with history or places that have trees. Cape Town has both characteristics, so that’s why it qualifies for me, despite being a city.
Carmen once told me “you either have a heart for Africa, or you don’t”. I thought it was a joke. Seriously! Yet, ever since I was 12, having learned about Cecil John Rhodes, David Livingstone, and Henry Morton Stanley in history, I’ve had a yearning to visit Victoria Falls. I finally realized, after a stint in hospital earlier this year following a major depressive episode, that it’s time to realize long-term dreams, and then dream some more, turning those dreams into goals, with a definable deadline.
I’m going to blog about the best experience of my life in parts, because a single post will not do it justice.
I had a lovely flight from George to Johannseburg on Mango, enjoying a Zulu Blonde, a beer brewed in Eshowe in Natal.
I spent Thursday night with Kayla, at her home close to OR Tambo International Airport and met another amazing soul, Caroline. For the first time since my hospital stint, I had a drink, and then another and then another and well, at the end of the evening, it was 4 ½ bottles of wine and a truckload of laughter later.
Kayla made me swallow two paracetamols before bed, which thankfully warded off the worst part of an insane hangover. Caroline kindly dropped me at the airport, which was somewhat chaotic as the national airline, SAA is once again striking about wage increases. It irks me every time to hear about strikes, but even more so after my visit to Victoria Falls.
I went through passport control quite quickly because I was keen to browse around the duty-free area. So many shops, with so many wares, but nothing was bought because I didn’t want to have to lug anything all the way there, and then back again. Soon I was at the boarding area, where I sat reading my book, drinking coffee to properly wake up, and copious amounts of water to flush out the Wrath of the Grapes.
The BA flight to Livingstone left on time, and while I unfortunately had an aisle seat, the flight was pleasant. As we approached for landing, the Mighty Zambezi was clearly visible through the opposite window and I began to cry. I was so overwhelmed. My dream was slowly becoming truer by the second. Exiting the plane on the tarmac (which I’m used to, because we do it at George as well) at Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport, I was hit squarely in the face by stifling heat. I hate getting hot, but there is something magical about the rays of the real African sun kissing your skin.
Declaration to enter in hand, Customs formalities were dealt with. Quickly and efficiently. Soon I was on the transfer bus, with another declaration form to complete to cross the border into Zimbabwe, which would be my home for three nights. The bus driver’s name was Stanley, a Livingstone local.
He drove me and some other BA travellers to their respective hotels (if within Livingstone), and the rest of us to the Victoria Falls border post. Once again, Customs entry was painless. Stanley handed us over to another driver, Lungile, and we entered Zimbabwe. I was the last person to be dropped off, as my accommodation was in the Zambezi National Park itself – an incredible place called The Old Drift Lodge.
My next post will be about The Old Drift Lodge, in the form of a review, which I will post to other-travel related sites, such as Tripadvisor.
See-Saw Happy-Sad…Am I Mad?
If jam equals sunshine as it does in my vocabulary, then this past weekend qualifies as jam-packed.
Friday night Melody and I went out for what was supposed to be dinner, but it ended up being a scallop starter each, a shared bowl of sorbet and countless Virgin Strawberry Daquiris. As is almost always the case when we see each other, the restaurant started closing around us, but we just couldn’t stop talking. It was so great to see her; she is tonic for the soul. We’ll likely catch up again during the week, this time with her husband, Leonard. I dropped her off shortly after eleven and headed home, only to be pulled off by the cops. I’m never fazed because I don’t drink anymore, but it is a schlep, even more so when their handheld scanners are on the fritz. A regular two-minute-routine-license-check took almost fifteen minutes and by then the Sandman had entered already. It was too late to drink my meds, so I skipped them. Not. A. Good. Idea. I had the most awful nightmares, vividly memorable and upsetting as I woke up crying and covered in perspiration.
I had to be up early too on Saturday as Carla and I decided that we’d take a drive through to George as she was looking to buy some ‘not-blue-because-that-is-all-I-have-in-my-cupboard’ tops. On the way, we picked up a friend of hers, Arissa, who was house-sitting for friends. The house is stunning and the view left me breathless. Shopping went rather quickly and I found myself two cashmere-like sweaters at Queenspark for R99 (about $6.50) a piece on sale. I also bought a snakeskin-look belt. So I now have a dress, a bodysuit, shoes, a handbag and a belt in the look, but they’re all different colours. The irony is I don’t own a single full-quill ostrich leather item, and I’ve been in the industry for almost nine years. I do have a leg-skin purse, so I’m not a completely bad example.
After shopping we spent the afternoon with Arissa, at the place she’s housesitting, chatting over snacks and freshly-brewed Java. I immediately comfortable with Arissa – she is an open person, with an extremely warm and welcoming personality. We walked round the grounds and I got to see adult miniature horses and a foal that is not much higher than the resident border collie. I also got to see a majestic Waterbuck, some springbuck and teeny-tiny little ducklings. It was such a lovely experience.
Headed off to spend the night with The Toppie and The Bean. We had chicken, butternut and The Bean’s roast potatoes – as if my Saturday couldn’t get any better! By something to eight I was pulling amps because of the lack of sleep the night before. My folks went to bed round nine and when I got couch all kitted out for sleep, I discovered I’d left my meds at home. Skip night number two. I tossed and turned and again woke up in a glistening film of sweat. Aside from that, I didn’t feel off, until Sunday night, but I’ll get to that in a bit. We decided on a whim to take a Sunday drive to Still Bay and Jongensfontein, which is about an hour away.
The sky was a cloudless blue and the sun was warm despite the wind. We stopped at the well-known Lappiesbaai restaurant for a light bite to eat before driving to Jongensfontein. Seeing the tidal pool brought back memories of a weekend I took away with Carmen, Ewan, Elena and Nick many moons again when Elena was still pregnant with her first-born who is now almost seven.
Sunday night after all the excitement wore off, the lack of medication and restless sleep hit me like a ton of bricks and I sat on the couch, in the eerie quietness of The Cave, with not a single light on. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of immense loneliness and self-doubt. I cried. For how long I don’t know, but at some stage I got into bed and prayed for sleep so that the feelings of no companionship and being the girl that’s always everyone’s friend but no-one’s person could end, even if only temporarily.
What many people don’t realize is that a depressive ‘episode’ isn’t always a case of ‘going ballistic’, or ‘losing one’s shit’ requiring hardcore antidepressants or a stint in a psych facility. In my case, it is sometimes just an immense moment of immeasurable sadness that has me wondering what my purpose on earth is, and if anyone aside from my parents would really miss me if I wasn’t here anymore. The smile on my face in the photo is genuine, but in a moment, that smile can be erased as Sunday night is testimony of.
I know this melancholy feeling is something momentary; that it will pass. I have so much to look forward to, and be grateful for. I’m just in a dip at the moment.
I have since filled my prescription, and I have back-up meds in my handbag with me at all times now. What’s that thing we learned as Girl Scouts? Be prepared!
My Time is Now
So, during this week I joined Yasmin and her writers’ group for a historical/ghost walk through town. I’ve lived here for 31 years and some of the things I saw for the first time, only because they were pointed out to the group. Just goes to show, as people, we’re not as observant as we’d like to think. I did get spooked when someone closed a window above us while we were being told the tale of a soldier that allegedly haunts a former hotel after being stabbed in the stomach.
The story that stuck with me though is that of Louisa Ann Delbridge (aka Popsy) who in 1887 was raped and murdered at the age of seven. Her body was found in the grounds of a local church. The perpetrator, William Matfield, who was married, with four children of his own, confessed and was condemned to death. While I didn’t say it, I immediately thought: how history repeats itself. I remembered the report of a murder in 2005 where the victim had also been found church garden, and of all the crimes committed against women and children (particularly those trusting little souls that don’t have the instinct to know something bad is going to happen). It not only maddens me, but saddens me tremendously. Part of me would like to understand what drives someone to do something so inhumane; so diabolically evil, and the other part of me is incredibly grateful that I don’t.
Anyhow, enough about the darkness that lurks in our society, and onto something happier.
One of my favourite people, Melody, surprised me with a text last night, letting me know she’s in town, so we are going to get together tomorrow night for a catch-up. I last saw her in July last year when she, her hubby, some other friends and I had dinner. Seeing her is tonic for the soul. We have the kind of friendship where we don’t talk for months, but when we see each other, it’s as if not time whatsoever has passed.
Further in the future, 42 days and a few hours to be exact, I depart on my dream-come-true holiday to Victoria Falls. I got confirmation of the extra excursions I booked and paid for them, so shit’s getting real! I’ve been watching YouTube videos to get a feel of what I can expect and I’ve already cried. I will probably bawl my eyes out when I see the Smoke that Thunders for the first time.
I was chatting to Elena over sushi about all my plans and she said she is happy for me because I’ve worked hard for this and I deserve it. And you know what, as conceited as it sounds, I do! I am going to soak up every second and be in the moment from the time I walk across the tarmac to board the plane in George (yes, our airport is that big!) until I get back home almost a week later.
I’ve decided that my new motto is going to be Life’s for Living. I’m going to do what makes me happy, because for too long I’ve just existed, or lived vicariously through others because of fear. Another friend of mine, Tyron said when I turned forty “Something changes, you look at life differently and your perspective completely changes” – he is right. My time is now! Watch out world, this Misfit may be reflective, but she’s also Fabulously Forty.
Time in a Bottle
So, Charlie, knowing that I was saving for a bottle of perfume I’ve wanted ever since Granny fell of the bus, gave me money for my upcoming birthday before he left to go back to work. The notes were safely packed away in my underwear drawer. I also told all my friends that if they wanted to get me something, money or a gift certificate from the perfume stockist would be much appreciated. During this week, I found out the stockist had all beauty products, including their perfume range on a 20% discount, so I charged there as quickly as I could after work, only to be told, Sorry Ma’am, but we are sold out and have not reordered. I left there, deflated and irritable. I’ve wanted this perfume for almost twenty years – that’s how long it hasn’t been available in South Africa! Yes, I searched online during that time too, and found many perfumes by the designer, but not the one.
Turns out that thing about one door closing means another one opens is sometimes true. In this case, I found the same perfume (in a smaller size) online. Placed the order and received it the very next day. I haven’t been so excited to receive a parcel in ages; I nearly tackled the delivery man.
The instant I saw the box, I smiled and the moment I retrieved the bottle from the box and removed the top and smelled the familiar scent, my olfactory sense took me back in time to some happy memories.
I received the bottle of perfume as a Christmas gift from The Toppie’s stepfather the Christmas before my final year of high school. I often wore it on a Friday or Saturday night when Cousin Lara and I would go dancing at the local haunt. I also wore it for my first formal red-carpet event: my matric farewell/senior prom. I remember feeling so grown up in my black evening dress. My shoes were slightly scuffed; already well worn-in from the weekly langarm’ing*, which was a blessing, because the last thing I wanted on that Magic Arabian Night, was aching feet.
I used the last droplets on my 21st birthday, which was a fun event in its own right, because it was a whole weekend of celebration. The Friday night, my at-the-time-boyfriend, Joe, drove me home and hit a bump, which claimed my car’s exhaust as a trophy. The next morning when we started it, it sounded like a John Deere on steroids.
I think it’s only fitting that as the dawn of a new decade awaits, with much of it unknown, unfamiliar and a little scary, I have something familiar to keep me company and take me time-travelling when things are a little daunting to deal with.
Thank you Charlie, and thank you, Oscar de la Renta!