Do It Yourself Glazing

The building trade in Maritzburg is the worst I’ve ever dealt with. They’re useless, useless.

Its my xmas phone call from the old goat. He’s been in the old age home retirement village for something under a year now and has finally achieved one of his many goals to change things there, to improve things. Meaning, to do things his way. He has covered in the small veranda that was useless, useless, so he can now use it as a workshop. Or at least he has nearly covered it in. The steel framework for the windows and the door has been installed after much fighting with a guy ‘who Sheila has known for forty years. You’d think he would do my installation right!’ Now he’s fighting with glaziers. The glaziers in Maritzburg are the worst I’ve ever dealt with. They’re useless, useless.

I would do it myself, but I cant lift my right arm and my ladder has one dodgy leg, like me. My leg is 98yrs old, so it has an excuse. Otherwise I would just do it myself. They say I must use 4mm glass, but I’m going to use 3mm. I’ll save over R500. I should just do it myself.

I’m tired of cooking, eating, cleaning. I enjoyed it for a while, I was like a little girl playing house, but now I’m tired of it. It’s not productive. Cook, eat and clean; I’m not achieving anything.

So now I’ll have to wait till after xmas. I think I’ll phone them on Monday and shit all over them! What do you think?

Me, bellowing down the phone: NO, I DON’T THINK THAT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. PHONE THEM AND BE NICE AND SAY PLEASE.

Good. I’ll do that then. I’ll phone them and shit all over them.

** sigh ** I’ll get on now with preparing our lunch. His phone call interrupted the proceedings. I’m busy glazing the gammon.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Birthdays!

11 December. Jess is 23 and Tom is 19

Lellos and Lodders spoil them with gifts, lucky buggers. I told them Hey, after thirteen you don’t get any. They just gave me withering looks.

Tom cooked Petrea’s gift – a ‘tomahawk.’ Jess was away, so she dipped out. We waited for her, but she didn’t pitch.

We each ate a huge chunk, had some for breakfast and there’s still a bit left. Delish!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Smoked! I’ll take two please

Here’s a re-post from 2014:

Mother Mary (85 in 2013) went into Pick ‘n Pay looking for smoked hocks to use for making soup.

Two delightful ladies behind the butchery counter looked at her curiously when she asked for smoked hocks.

What?” they asked “Smoked ‘ocks?”

Yes,” she replied, “Smoked hocks.”

No, sorry, we don’t have smoked ‘ocks.”.

But I bought some here last month and made the most delicious soup!” Mary protested mildly.

.

The two of them looked at each other, turned to Mother Mary and the one said decisively, “We have never had a smoked ox in this shop.”

– What!? – oh shit! –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Natural Health Drink

The conifers are a wonderful group of trees including pines, yellow-woods, redwoods, junipers, cypresses, larch and spruce trees.

From the bark and sap of the pine one can distill TURPENTINE; and

From the berries of the juniper one can distill GIN. – . . . sort of . . .

YAY!!

Juniper berries are actually modified pine cones, but fleshy and edible.

Gin was first mentioned in the 13th century (in Belgium – called jenever) and the first recipe for gin was written in the 16th century.

For all our lives we’ve had to drink London Dry Gin.

Now we can drink JOBURG DRY GIN!

YAY!!

Now, don’t tell anyone, but gin is actually distilled from ANYTHING and then that clear spirit is just infused with juniper berries to make it taste (slightly) better. It’s cheap! Shhh

The way they ‘infuse’ it is to sommer bliksem whatever they’re adding, into the container holding the gin (called ‘bathtub gin’); or to go fancy by sort of ‘steaming it with the botanicals.’ Right!

Gin was REALLY popular in London around 1750. Cos it was cheap, it was loved. So much so that there were 7500 ‘Gin Joints,’ and being drunk was called being ‘gin-soaked’ and gin was called ‘mother’s ruin’. In Victorian times Gin made a comeback in ‘Gin Palaces.’ Same thing, but slightly higher-toned.

So tonight we’re drinking – Local; – Anti-malarial; – Convivial – GIN & TONIC

To get gin-soaked and experience mother’s ruin.

And because IT’S MEDICINAL.

Tonic

The poms in India had to drink quinine to stay alive. Being poms, they mixed the quinine with gin.

It tasted awful but they persevered. They’re poms.

Someone began mixing the powder with soda water and sugar. That was a bit better, and thus a basic tonic water was created. That way the poms drank more gin.

The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858.

So: The mixed drink “gin and tonic” originated in British Colonial India when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin. They’re poms, see.

So remember: IT’S MEDICINAL.

YAY!!

To make Pink Gin or Pink Tonic:
Simply add Angostura bitters, a botanically infused alcoholic mixture, 44.7% ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices, invented by a German doctor in the town of Angostura, Venezuela on the banks of the Orinoco River.

And remember it too, IS MEDICINAL!

Cheers!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Safari 2003

On our trip up north in 2003 Aitch and five year old Jessie kept a diary; when they got home they made this picture album as a memento of the trip. Enjoy the slideshow!

(Slides change every four seconds. To pause a slide, click in the top right corner. To speed it up or to go back, use the arrows).

~~~oo0oo~~~

How To Cook

(I might write a book)

Open your wine; make sure its enough; check the label; must be a good wine, not a great wine, but a good wine – 13% minimum; 14% is obviously better.

Always cook with red wine, taking care not to spill any on the food.

Peel and cut a potato into four; Peel and cut an onion into four; Rotate them in a microwave.

Cut a pork chop into small cubes. Be guided by your superstitions here, use another animal or tofu or soya or kale if you have to, but for best results, stick to what I say: Cut a pork chop into small cubes.

Cubes into a pan with yesterdays pan fat; fry till browning.

Add salt. Gulp some wine.

Add potato and onion and brown. Brown the stuffin the pan, nê.

Add some cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped.

Add salt.

Put a lid on it. I often say that when people are gaan’ing aan like this: Put a lid on it. Another favourite saying when my gast is flabbered: Dis my gat se deksel.

Chop up some spinach and green beans. The spinach I bought off the back of a bakkie downtown. R10 a bunch, dark green, delicious, did wonders for me – whatever dark green leaf vegetables are meant to do for you? It did it for me. Mainly, leaves me (geddit? leaves me . . ) with lots, cos the kids turn up they noses.

Did I mention this is a recipe for one bachelor whose kids would rather die of hunger than eat this stuff?

Steadily add wine and I find it helps to imagine your favourite TV chef while cookin’.

So imagine your favourite chef . . . No, its Nigella.

Which reminds me of the inimitable Barks who every holiday would cackle Haw Haw Haw Haw! After asking the question (again) and providing the answer:
Where is Friderichs going these holidays, hey, hey? He’s going to Nigel. Haw Haw Haw Haw!

So Naai-Gella Awesome it is.

Keep lifting the lid and then at the right time toss in the chopped up spinach and green beans, never forgetting to keep steadily adding wine. Careful not to slosh any onto the food.

Add salt and a big knob of butter for the last round. Put a lid on it. The right amount of salt is the amount that makes it taste best. Did I mention this is health food? It is. Mental health.

Then eat it accompanied by sufficient more red wine. I actually licked the plate.

The 1812 overture was belting out in the background with real cannons. I hope they scared the neighbour’s incessantly-barking mongrels.

~~~oo0oo~~~

gaan’ing aan – blah blah; fit a cork

dis my gat se deksel – literally, that’s my arsehole’s lid; blow me down

bakkie – small pickup truck

~~~oo0oo~~~

Other domestic chores included cutting down a big Australian Bottlebrush tree

. . and putting its flowers in one of Aitch’s old vases as a requiem:

– who is A Kirk? She made the vase –

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Breakfast Serial

Janet has started a breakfast offering in a friend’s restaurant! Have a magic brekker in Maun from 7am to 11am cooked by Janet and her ladies.

Presently sharing a kitchen, plans are afoot to move her into her own space outdoors. Good luck with this brave new venture!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Update: Janet’s got more staff! The people like her breakfasts!

– Helen, Goitseone and Kay – Janet’s breakfast team –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mtamvuna River

Tom went fishing with Ryan – his first trip out of the house for ages! Ryan’s Dad Andy took them to The Old Pont on the Mtamvuna River, two hours south of home.

I joined them for a lovely braai – chuck, wors and garlic bread. Tom and Ryan braai’d the meat to perfection, but burnt the bread! Grrr!!

Overhead flocks of starlings and a flock of 22 Trumpeter Hornbills flew in the strong South-Westerly wind.

The next day they went to the coast at nearby Port Edward and Ryan sent pics of Tom on the rocks; and videos of dolphins in the breakers and a whale tail-sailing just behind backline.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Jess Cooks a Curry

Petrea said to Jess, Cook a curry for your Dad. Jess said, ‘I’ve never done that before.’ Don’ worry, says Petrea and delivers a box. Leaves it at the gate.

All you have to buy is chicken, Jess. On the day, Jess marches into my office, ‘Dad! There’s no recipe!’ Petrea says read the back of the spices. Oh.

It was delicious! Tom specially came in and gave his sis a big hug and kiss and said ‘Jess! Best curry ever!’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Xmas Activity

First a gang of bandits invade, foraging . .

– banded mongoose gang investigates what’s for lunch –

. . then a prinia flies in, busy, busy. Looking for nesting material

– tawny-flanked prinia chooses nesting material –

A busy xmas and boxing day in Elston Place, Westville, KZN.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Storm in a Shopping Trolley

Just yesterday I was dispensing my best Calm The Fuck Down advice to a friend, and today TomTom and I have a big fat fight!

He went shopping, wheeled the trolley home (knows he’s not meant to) down a steep footpath under the big fig tree and tipped the trolley. ’30 eggs broken and the bread squashed flat,’ he yells!

Came in in a rage. ‘No-one helps me!

Hey Tom, its OK boy.

Gaan’d aan and aaan. ‘No-one even came to help me.’

Well, did you ask us, fella? Did you phone? He didn’t. We should have arrived like knowing fairies.

Rage – so eventually I snapped OK ENOUGH NOW, You cocked up, you didn’t ask for help, it is what it is!

Rage

SHUT UP NOW! FFS!

Storms out of the yard.

About an hour later he’s back.

Sorry Daddy! I apologise!

Me too, fella, I’m sorry. Things happen. We OK?

We’re OK. I just lost it when I saw the damage.

That’s OK. That’s understandable.

Done.

~~~oo0oo~~~

~~~oo0oo~~~

Tom at the German Club

You can tan me hide when I’ve died, Clyde, and hang it up in the shed. ‘Cos I have developed a quite – not a very, but a quite – thick skin. I meet Bruce for a beer at The German Club, which has become a bit more like an Old Rhodesians Club. This is some years ago.

I think Bruce phoned ahead and asked to speak to the chairman. The man who’d answered said ‘Chairman? Ve’s all blutty Chairmans HERE!’ I think he did, but I’m not sure.

– Germans, Rhodesians and us. Tom sucks his lollipop in a beer bottle! –

I’m with TomTom who sticks out a bit in this euro-centric, deathly pale, colonial atmosphere. There are some stares. Tom has a blue lollipop which he pops into my empty beer bottle and raises every now and then for a suck, which looks like a swig! Ah, well, we’re used to stares.

Hell, in the years since then its got way more challenging and my skin has thickened even more. I have an Epic Epidermis. Since I became a Mom, I have loitered around many a lingerie department asking store ladies to please measure Jess and make sure she gets a good bra fit. I have discussed panty sizes with skeptical shop mamas. I am quite used to ‘Ja, Right!’ looks . . I just give a huge smile, make a joke, ask nicely, act matter-of-fact. Most people are just fine. Some are simply magic and ‘adopt’ Jess and take her under their wings for a brief while. They’re the STARS!

Where they act weird I just let it go. It’s like a duck’s water off my back.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Fogg’s Folly

or Destiny Castle

Driving through the beautiful Eastern Free State you see many flat-topped sandstone kopjes like these. But suddenly you say, ‘What’s on top of that one? It’s a CASTLE! Can’t be. But it is!’

Truth is, you knew it would be there – as you’ve been invited to visit it – to be at the dress rehearsal dinner, where the resident chef is going to present his first full meal to a small group of discerning – and two not-so-discerning – guests, courtesy of King and Queen of Destiny Castle, Mike and Denyse! So like the Grand Old Duke of York, you drive up to the top of the hill . .

. . where you’re welcomed and taken inside, up the spiral staircase, past the knight in shining armour, to an antechamber where the drinking can begin . . see the thickness of the castle walls! We’ll easily withstand a siege here.

On to dinner, where Aitch and I feed the kids first so that they can be asleep when the ribaldry begins. Once they’ve had their fill we shoot two bears, wrap them in the skins and soon they’re snoring.

Let the feasting begin!

Bottles are smashed open and revelry ensues . .

Common ground is found: Hey! We’re both bald! No I’m not! Oh, now I’m not . .

For once, it seems I was the photographer. After dessert we repair to the rooftop to gaze at the heavens through a telescope, and drink another toast to life, to life, l’chaim!

Good friends, great hospitality, lovely food – and of course, lots of vino!

. . and so to bed

~~~oo0oo~~~

What a stunning amazing place – a dream started by someone decades earlier, then realised by Mike and Denyse Fogg.

I’m guessing the ZF on the pics is Zena Fogg – thanks Zeens!!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly.

Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes.

– this swanepoel family –

My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer!

bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Simes’ Cottage in Lotheni

There’s a lovely old sandstone farmhouse in the Lotheni Valley, one of the Drakensberg / uKhahlamba’s beautiful valleys. We had some great adventures with good friends and our kids up there.

– Simes’ Cottage – . Lotheni valley -. in Ukahlamba –

As an adult retreat it’s our idea of paradise: no electricity, no cellphone reception, no wifi. Peace. Plenty of hot water, a gas stove to cook and boil water on, candlelight, a lovely fireplace, cozy inside. Luxury. Long-suffering friends the Adlams, Taylors and Abercrombies, all blissfully child-free, would tolerate the disruption our two – who were aged from about one to about thirteen over the ten years we went there – could cause. I think they loved it! I know they loved the brats and were very kind to them.

A great spot for fishing, birding, botanising or sitting with a G&T and gazing into the distance . .

Adventure in Yellowwood Cave

It had been years since I’d slept out in the ‘Berg and I was pleased when Gayle and Grant readily agreed to spend a night in a cave in 2011. Aitch was feeling a bit weak, so decided to stay in the comfort of the cottage. It was May already, so getting a bit chilly.

– we set off to overnight in Yellowwood Cave –

Settling down for the night on the hard floor of the cave I gazed out through the yellowwood tree branches at the night sky, ablaze with a million stars. I was just thinking ‘It’s been too long, this is the life! I’m in paradise!’ when a small voice piped up next to my ear, ‘Daddy I don’t like it here.’ Oh, well, she may not repeat the exercise, but I doubt she’ll ever forget it. Jessie lay on my one side. Tom on the other side in a double sleeping bag we shared. At least they were warm.

– pic from drakensberghikes.com – thanks –

Getting Bolder on Bikes

– wheee! –

Fun with Aitch

Once Ma took the kids off up the mountain trail, to give the fishing and reading adults ‘a piece of quiet,’ as TomTom used to say for peace and quiet.

– off they go – Aitch takes our kids on a walk – with her camera as always –
– peace descends on earth – goodwill too –
– Aitch says Shuck your clothes and jump in! Mud bath Simes Cottage 2007 –
– Really Mom? – Yes, Go ON! Jump in! – OK!! –
– What? Go back now? – – Just like this? – Yes, off you go! Just don’t go indoors! –
– Dad cleans up apres mud bath

Another Piece of Quiet

We snuck the kids off to have breakfast one morning in the kombi soon after they woke, to allow the adults to sleep in. Good birding opportunity, too.

– breakfast away from the cottage where addleds are sleeping – Jess takes blankets, Mom takes food – Afterwards, Jess drives back –

Whipping the Water into a Froth

– Simes’ Cottage Fishermen – please be polite – don’t work out the Hours-Per-Fish! –

Hiking

– Hike Lotheni –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mfolosi in March

Just a day trip. Late start, so it was already warm and quiet by the time we got there.

– Mfolosi March 2020 –

Bird list: Barbets, Crested and Acacia Pied; Bulbul, Dark-capped; Greenbul, Sombre; Eagles, Long-crested and Brown Snake-; Shrike, Red-backed and Fiscal; Bush-shrikes, Gorgeous and Orange-breasted; Starlings, Cape Glossy and Violet-backed; Swallows, Wire-tailed and Lesser Striped; Kite, Yellow-billed; Crow, Pied; Wagtail, Pied; Cisticola, Rattling; Lark, Rufous-naped; Petronia, Yellow-throated; Batis, Cape; Flycatcher, Spotted; Pytilia, Green-winged; Tchagra, Black-crowned; Vulture, White-backed; Lapwing, Blacksmith; Thick-knee, Water; Oxpecker, Red-billed; Heron, Black-headed; Mousebird, Red-faced; Waxbill, Blue; Kingfisher, Brown-hooded; Plover, Three-banded; – In four hours –

– Three-banded Plover –

Jess was the spotter as usual; She spotted the eles, buffalo, kudu, wildebeast, warthogs, impala, zebra, giraffe, rhino; and the dung beetles. The only animal she didn’t spot first was a crocodile in the Black Mfolosi river which I spotted while she and Jordi were making lunch!

And this was a better lunch! She remembered the mayonnaise. Forgot the tomatoes, though. I like tomato on my rolls. So – still room for improvement, Jess . .

A lovely feature this visit was four or five sounders of warthogs, with up to seven hotdog-sized hoglets trotting next to Ma, tails in the air. We say when their tails are up it means ‘they have signal.’

~~~oo0oo~~~

– Stapelia gigantea –

Jessie took the pic of the Stapelia – one of the largest flowers in the plant kingdom. This one was probably over 300mm across. Smells like something died – hence, Giant Carrion Flower. Used in traditional medicine to treat hysteria and pain; in sorcery, to cause the death of one you dislike! Take that!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Helpful people

My numberplate was hanging down on one side – yes, something clever I did – but it was secure on the other side; so just hanging vertically instead of horizontally like normal numberplates. An Ezimvelo ranger flagged us down: Your numberplate is falling off. Yes, thank you. It’s secure on one side. I’ll fix it when I get home. Nine times this happened before lunch! Four rangers and five citizens flagged me down and instead of saying ‘There are lions round the next bend’ each one of them said Your numberplate is falling off. And nine times I said Yes, thank you. It’s secure on one side. I’ll fix it when I get home.

Jeeesh! Uncharacteristically, I fixed it with cable ties at the lunch stop.

~~~oo0oo~~~