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.

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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”.

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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!

 

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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That Peace…

…that Peace that Paul wrote to the Phillipians about…I received it!

Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

A great deal of things happened this weekend…Roosterkoeks the size of tablets, coffee at Steve’s folks on their farm, a touch of the mysterious at Sulina’s Faerie Sanctuary, an ice-cold something at the Dros in Roberton, a wors-braai on Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, a walk from Three Anchor Bay to Sea Point and back, photos at Signal Hill, a stop at the Lindt shop, a pop in at that Waterfront, rugby in a box at Newlands, watching the lights from Ou Kaapse Weg, a drive over Chapman’s Peak, via Hout Bay and Camp’s Bay, feeding the squirrels and pigeons in the Company Gardens…but that is not what I want to share today… despite all these wonderful memories, one moment, a few fleeting seconds actually, is what I will probably carry closest to my heart for a long while still.

This past Sunday, whilst on a weekend away to Cape Town with Steve and Elizabeth, I experienced a fleeting few moments of that God’s Peace that surpasses all understanding.

On a whim, we jumped in the car at 06:25 to find a good spot to check out the sunrise…knowing that the best sunsets are seen from the southern side of Cape Town, I took the two “tourists” up the scenic Boye’s Drive then into Fishoek where we decided to take a walk on the beach. I was dressed in my skinny jeans and the shirt I’d slept in (we weren’t initially planning to be getting out where people would see us) and no shoes. While Steve and Elizabeth took photos I rolled up my jeans (with no real success) and put my feet in the water. Before I knew it I was thigh deep and after a quick conference with Elizabeth regarding the use of her jersey, I walked right back into the water and it happened…just before I dived under the waves, there was complete silence around me.

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I could have dived under the waves and not resurfaced. It wouldn’t have mattered because…I. was. at. Peace.

I can’t qualify my experience with words, be they spoken or written. All I can say is that in that fleeting five to eight seconds, nothing in my life mattered, except me and my Father in Heaven. He touched me in a supernatural way – I have been teary ever since, but I know that tears bring healing, so I am letting them flow. God is working in me, making changes for the better. So, even as I am not sure what lies ahead, I know that I can walk in faith, because I am filled with peace.

Of All the Things I Never Thought I’d Be…

…Star struck is one of them.  Because, in my mind, I’ve always thought celebrities are people, just like you and me.  Most of them work to earn an income (granted, much for than the regular Joe Bloggs on the street), they need to eat, drink and visit the loo, they need a roof over their heads, and companionship (be it in the form of six kids like Brangelina, or a cute dog, like Carl, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by South African Celebrity DJ Gareth Cliff.  Love him, or hate him, he is a straight shooter, with strong opinions – something we don’t see much of anymore.  People are too aware of having to be P.C., but not Gareth…he calls a spade a front end loader and takes the consequences in his stride.

Last night Elizabeth, Jesse and I went to a DJ gig Gareth was doing at one of the local hot spots.  Before he started his set, I got him to sign his book, with his trademark “dog drawing” which I bought for myself for Christmas.

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I rushed up to him, pen in hand and asked “Sign my book!”  He extended his hand politely and said, “Sure, what’s your name?”  So I told him.  I was surprised at just how tall he is, because on TV, as an Idols judge, he looks much shorter…but, as Jesse so properly pointed out, “It’s because he’s always sitting down.” And he has the most striking blue eyes.  The book cover doesn’t do him justice.  I wanted to ask if he would take a photo with me, but I thought better, because my legs were shaking like reeds in the wind.

It was awesome, the music was great, the people were dancing and everyone was having a great time, although I will admit, I think I might be getting a bit old to pretend I’m a teenager, even though I have a better body now than I did when I was at school.

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Our trio stuck around until after the witching hour and then we took a drive to McDonald’s, bought coffee and went and sat at the beach.  I can’t remember when last the three of us spent time together.  It was a super night, and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to spend more time together this year.  The photos aren’t the greatest quality – it was dark and we were all quite tired… for those of you who don’t know, I’m the one in the blue top, and the long boots.

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Of Businesses and Books…

For quite some time now, I’ve been selling Avon products to the girls at work and after about six months, the commissions are finally carrying the business! *Happy Dance!*  Now, having a head for business, and the personality for direct sales, I decided to start another sideline business selling Herbalife products.  You’ve all seen the tremendous amount of weight I lost…if not…read this post.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy – it was damn hard work, both in and out of the gym – especially when it came to drinking my shake on a winter’s morning, but hey, the results speak for themselves.  The extra protein in the shake also helped me build muscle and I’m more focused than I have been for a long time, drinking their Herbal Beverage once daily.  I have loads of energy to do the things I enjoy – gym, work, walking.  At first I was really sceptical about selling when Steve approached me with the idea – but after attending two business opportunity meetings with him, and hearing others’ success stories, seeing the marketing plan, hearing that business can be done in over 80 countries, that they’re listed on the NY Stock Exchange and understanding that I would have an amazing support base, I was sold.  Two weeks into the business and I am chuffed to say I’ve made R625 profit.  I smiled very broadly when a friend sent me this…she gets me!  I made this my BBM profile- and whatsapp profile pic and it has got me some business 🙂

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I’ve already got a few return customers, so this is going to grow.  I’m hoping to sign a few friends up, so that they too can experience the benefits of the products, and so my business can grow.  Watch this space people!  Mid-Thirty Misfit is going places – in a stylish, healthy body!!

What’s great too is that there is no conflict of interests because while Herbalife does have health and beauty products, its focus is on good health and sport nutrition, so some of my Avon customers are showing an interest.  I’m super excited, because this extra cash comes in very handy, especially when one considers…I’m moving into my own place next month!  **Another Happy Dance**

The place is fully furnished, with two bedrooms (although with the right amount of shuffling the furniture about, I can make it three!), two bathrooms and a garage for my car.  I get the keys on the 15th of January and will move in the following Saturday.  A number of my friends have indicated that they will come and help me unpack my boxes, so the move should be quick and painless.  One thing I will say is that I have a truck load of books.  I couldn’t believe just how many boxes I have labelled “books”.  I’m quite sure I can start my a new town library! While packing the last bookshelf yesterday, I came across my very first book – “The Wind in the Willows”, inscribed – This Book Prize is awarded to Mid-Thirty Misfit, for the Most Improved Reader, Grade 2, December 8th, 1987.  Exactly 26 years to the day I received it.  I will pass that book on to my son/daughter one day.

Continuing with books, I’ve finished The Shack by William P. Young – it’s been on my shelf about five years already.  I was so taken with his writing style that I hurried off to the bookstore to get myself his next book:

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I only started reading it last night, so I can’t really say much more than, “I’m intrigued…”

I best get back to work…there is lots to be done before the holidays start on the 20th.  And yes, I know I still haven’t blogged about the Peace of Eden weekend.  I must, I know.  And I will.  Promise!

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!