Monday, 18 November 2013

Finally.

At last  the real truth.

Visiting Gaborone for a Birthday Party


Welcome to Botswana
 
You might remember that a month ago I said I would write more about my recent lovely holiday to Gaborone and Harare.  I did a good job of that didn’t I?
 
Honestly where is the time going?  I mostly blame (because I can)  the fact that we  moved. Everything for the next  year or so that goes wrong or I don’t do will be blamed on The Move. In case you had not picked up on that already.....

In my last blog ( via my rather traumatic first sighting of the new airport) I mentioned that the Gaborone landscape had changed a bit. Well, the airport was just the beginning of the surprises. The day after I arrived I was driven about for a quick catch up on what the city had been up to in my absence. There, sat shimmering in the heat  of the CBD, was a clutch of tall buildings where previously there had been a sad, lonely, mocking ( or as it turned out rather promising) road network. Look at it now! All grown up and happening.

                               Nicked off the internet. Not my own footage by the way.
Office buildings. Hotels. Shopping centres full of coffee shops and other assorted opportunities for you to part with your hard earned cash. There are developments on the way to the airport, around the diamond sorting  business - I guess.  It was impressive to see so much growth. Generally, I love things that stay the same. I am not an early adopter of changes and ideas but I do understand that growth is important so I was heartened to see so many new shiny buildings. I felt that as long as the character of Gaborone remained intact (and there was water available) I could live with the new stuff. Especially as much of the new is better than what was there before and civically edifying to boot. But not too edifying as that would be very un-Gaborone like and make me nervous. Of course there  are places that remain unchanging. Comforting.

Sitting on Sharon and Shaun’s veranda watching the bird life flit about the Phakalane Golf Estate was not only relaxing but oh so pretty. There are pockets of pretty in Gaborone. I forgot how much I love having bird life about. How can one forget that? My heart sang sitting there listening to the bush twitch and tweet in the buzzing, shimmering, warmth of the desert. I saw Egyptian Geese, Starlings, Francolins, Weavers, louwreis, mouse birds, guinea fowl, doves and a gazillion different LBJ’s. Heaven I tell you, Heaven.

The other thing I forgot was how ridiculous the traffic gets in Gaborone at "rush hour" it really is quiet astonishing when one considers how small Gabs is. It has no bloody right to traffic jams.
I loved visiting Gaborone and seeing all the lovely, special people that live in this grubby little town. The people really make it.

The bonus of it being Sharon’s Birthday (and let us not forget - the reason for me being in Gaborone) was that she had a Birthday Party and that meant that at her party I could catch up with many old friends. Not only from Gaborone but from Harare and father afield. Sharon  and Shaun really know how to put together a bunch of people for a good knees up.
It's my party and I will sing to a water bottle if I want to!

      
We can dance if we want to and thow our inhibitions away.
 
I was too busy quaffing drinks to take pictures myself so I have borrowed these from Sharon's face book and tweaked them a bit. I wish I could show you the divine Gloria (Maa) Jacques (true to her ageless form) with her outlandish new pink streaked silver fox hair doooooo and her timeless collection of bold and beautiful rings. Brian Jacques her adoring husband was in fine form and looking better than I have seen him in years, clearly his new responsibilities at the University are doing him the world of good.

I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Wayne Osterberg who seems to flit between living in Australia and Botswana. I can see the benefits of being in both places but oh my goodness how do you choose one over the other.  From now on Mr Osterberg will be "Wayne the Boomerang".
A lovely man, that  I did not know from a bar of soap, cleaned my specs! He just took them off the end of my nose and cleaned them. Always an appreciated if rarely offered service to someone such as myself. Somehow my glasses always seem to be smudged. I do the same thing to drinking glasses. How is it that I can always identify my glass by the greasy fingerprints prints all over it?  But I digress back to the peeps.I am reliably told (by Ange Stevenson in case you were wondering) that the old timer friends from Harare were given a stern warning by Sharon that they were to "Behave Themselves". Really what was she thinking?
  
I met people that I have only known  by reputation  via their relationship with Sharon.  I met the delightful (yet shy in a surprising way) Aldo Brincatt. Aldo (with Others) is putting on what I am sure will be a festive show at the end of the month. So if you are in Gaborone. Get down to the Theatre on the 30th November. 
I met the Charming Mirabel and her singing economist husband Nick who everyone I know in Gaborone talks about as if I should know them. It was almost a relief to finally be able to put faces to the peeps.
Old Friends with new friend!
All this catching up was done in-between imbibing large amounts of vodka, dancing about in an ungainly manner and falling on my bum  - as you do. Oh and making a small speech. Which, as I am sure the whole world knows, one should never do on an empty stomach with a few vodkas down ones gullet. 


Sober as a judge.
Live music was provided by the gorgeous members of SMS - So Much Soul.  
S.M.S fronted on this occasion by the Nick

 
The food looked totally delicious but I was so busy being a social butterfly that for once in my food centred life I did not get to eat anything till the very end of the evening were I sampled ( well scoffed down like a piggy wiggy) the deserts. YUMMY.

The Party was a roaring success.
I love the small townness of Gaborone. I loved that I could have a good old chin wag with everyone that lives there and  catch up on what they were up to. I am without a doubt a small town gal. I really don't mind everyone knowing my business  - as long as I know theirs! By the by.... it is about bloody time you organised a wedding Partick Marsay... I love the instant warmth that comes from a small community. It was great to be picked up at the airport by Steve Pezarro and begin jabbering at the poor man as if I had seen him yesterday. I am sure he was relieved to be able to drop  me off at the Berringtons  (hosts extraordinaire) so that I could then continue to jabber up a storm  in a catch up session with Lindy. The next morning (still jabbering) I was able to walk a few house down the road and spend time chatting around the breakfast  table as people came and went in the busy Pezzaro household. Casual and friendly and the company just delightful.  I talked sooooo much.

And there is never enough time is there? Maybe if I had planned the trip a bit more in advance I could have seen a few more people and maybe I would have thought to take a drive out to Mokolodi but I did not and it is not a train smash. There will be another time. It might take as many years to get me there again ( I hope not) but it will happen.

It was so special to see that people do not change. There may be the odd new wrinkle, or kilo lost or found. There were lovely children all grown up, but other than that people stay the same. It’s a good thing.
I felt loved and welcome and my  heart opened up and did a little happy dance. I drank too much, ate too much, and loved seeing special friends. I loved catching up with Gennai and Fred and dropping in unannounced on the Bay's family with poor Nick suffering a concussion and seeing their lovely girls so composed and just delightful.



I felt like I was given a little bit of a life rejuvenating elixir by just being there with special people. How many time can you say "Special People" before it gets tired? I got much needed advise from  a trusted wise friend -  thanks Nicola.  I was energised by the whole trip and had very mixed feelings getting on the plane to go to Harare. I was leaving Gaborone reluctantly, wanting more time there, but also excited about going home for the first time since Dad died.

 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Suddenly Travelling to Botswana And Zimbabwe


View from my seat.


Before I start let me tell you that this is the second time I have written this post. I worked on it for a few days. Saving it each time. A few days ago I published it and looked at it on line and linked it and sent it off to all of you.  A few of you actually got to read it. Then it disappeared. POOF. Just like that.  I could try and explain the sheer frustration of it all but that would take too long. I will say I was CRUSHED. I worked doubly hard on this one to get it just right. I don't know if I have the spirit to do it all again but I will try. Bryan said it was a good thing as one should always scrap the first draft. First bloody @@#%^&^&**  draft?????? after days of work?????? The man is a tower of insensitivity. CRUSHED . I tell you CRUSHED.
 
Having gotten that off my chest and reverted to my cheerful demeanour (no snickering here peeps) I will start again and tell you the lovely story about how and why I came to be suddenly and unexpectedly and delightfully travelling to the southern climes of Africa - my beloved home land.
 
I am a very bad friend and daughter. Do you want to know why? As usual with me this involves a long and winding story. The list of whys is long and mundane. Lists tend to be, so I won't put you through that, but I can give you an example that highlights my failing and what I did to redeem myself a bit.
 
Earlier this year Bryan and I prevaricated about two things. The Reps Reunion in England and my dear friend Nicola's wedding to a lovely special man called Paul in Australia. We dithered, as we do, and in the end we did not get to either event, which I regret. Living life once bla, bla, bla. Seizing the moment bla, bla, bla. Don't have a life of regrets bla, bla, bitter bla.
 
My friend Sharon has a birthday in September. My Mother in early October. Birthdays happen but milestone birthdays you know 21st's, turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 etc those count. And I have missed a lot of these over the years.  A few weeks ago I noticed a post on Sharon's face book that alerted me to the fact that this birthday was a biggie. A half century biggie. And I thought that was happening next year! Obviously I thought this because of Sharon's  youthful appearance and demeanour ....... Not convincing is it?  I can't even get a birthday right....... My blood ran a bit cool because I know that if Sharon was turning the "Big Five Ohhhh My Giddy Aunt" then my mother was turning "Finally Free From Remembering Everything Seventy". And I had not remembered either milestone Birthday. So you see that is why I am a terrible friend and daughter.
 
I had to fix this double whammy faux pas.
 
I had only a few days till Sharon's birthday. I told my boss that I might need to desert my post for a couple of weeks within the next couple of days. HE WAS FANTASTIC about it. Bryan was in Egypt. I messaged him with my dilemma. What should I do? I want to see my Friend on her special birthday. I want to see my Mum on hers. How do I do this? Visit them both but miss the actual day for one of them? ARRRGHHH the timing of it all. Agony. Bryan sent me a one line message. "You have to do both." Got to love that man.
 
So with days to spare I contacted Sharon's husband Shaun and desperately asked if he could sort out accommodation and airport pick ups etc. for me if I came  to Gaborone for Sharon's Birthday. Clearly I could not do these things for myself with only two days and work and oh a million things to get into a panic about. And anyway Shaun is always calm and calming and I needed that. Another reason for calling Shaun and not Sharon was that  I did not want to let Sharon down if something had gone wrong with me trying to get flights so late bla, bla, bla, anyway Shaun said to me "That will be a lovely surprise for Sharon." and a light bulb moment happened. YES. A surprise visit for both of them was the way to go. How Cool. How unlike me. How clever of Shaun.

The travel office at work very kindly took pity on my panic and booked all my flights. Bryan came home in time to watch  in amusement while I did not pack. Imagine if you can. Suitcase open on bed. Clothing and toiletries and hairdryers strewn all about. ARRRGHHH. Having just recently moved  house and not being terribly unpacked yet meant that I could not find my toiletry bag. MY ESSENTIAL SECURITY BLANKET TRAVELLING TOILETRY BAG. I could not find the box with all my travelling essentials. International adaptor. Travel pack deodorant, toothpaste, ear buds, small nail clippers - well you never know. Silly small keys to lock my suitcase with. You know how easy it is to open a locked suitcase don't you? Well I do. But, I still must lock my suitcase with more than one lock. It was all too much for me. I ignored my  gaping open empty suitcase and sat in front of the TV pretending that I was not catching a plane in the morning. Bryan started to say "Don't you think you should be pack..." I gave him a look that would have wilted steel. Needless to say I did eventually find my security blanket and I did finish packing and I did catch a plane to Gaborone via Joburg.

For reasons that I do not need to go into but include the effects of the above  I was feeling more than my usual unhappiness about travelling away from my nest. I had a long wait in Joburg as my flight was delayed so by the time I flew into Sir Seretse Khama airport it was dark. I looked out the window expecting to see the familiar airport building welcoming me back. What I saw in no way resembled Gaborone's old fashioned cosy airport. W.T.F???????? I was in the wrong city. Clearly. I gave myself a talking to and reasoned that this could not happen. I can't tell you how relieved I was to see designated airport pick up man Steve outside the arrivals gate.

What I was expecting to see when I landed in Gaborne
 

What I saw - at night with imposing bright lights.
Steve  dropped me off at "last minute hostess with the mostest" "Lindy B's house and I settled in. The next morning Lindy and I spent many hours nattering and catching up and making plans to ensure that I did not bump into The Birthday Person on my travels during the day  so that in the evening when we were to gather for dinner and I would pop up as the surprise guest. HUMPH. Gaborone is not a big town. HUMPH. Well you can imagine the lack of success we had. Firstly whilst being driven into town by Lindy as we were nattering up a storm in her car we notice someone hooting at us. We turn and look and in the lane beside us is Sharon waving like mad trying to get her attention. I sigh - turn my head in the opposite direction - and thought "Oh well there goes that surprise." Lindy waved back and the two of them gesticulated a bit in the traffic while I studiously stared out of the passenger window. Then Sharon drove off. Lindy turned to me and said "I don't think she saw you." Yeah right. I was deposited at Airport Junction (one of the several new shopping malls that has sprung up since my last visit to that sunny city) to have a day of meet and greet old friends. All the while expecting a call from someone to say that the cat was out of the bag. No call came. Lindy arrived in the late afternoon to pick me up  to go back to her home and prepare for our not surprise, surprise dinner. As we walked about the mall, once again talking up a veritable storm, I paused  for breath, looked up and not more than three meters in front of us bearing down on us with purpose came Sharon. I did an about turn, leaving Lindy in mid fascinating sentence, and slipped into the nearest shop to hide and spy. Lindy greeting Sharon in a flurry of nervous laughter and chatted on about how lovely Sharon's bag was and how was she (?) and, and, etc, etc. with Sharon all the while looking over Lindy's shoulder. I thought Sharon was being a very good sport. She is a quick thinker so I knew she had caught on. "Ha." I thought "Let the baggage sweat it out a bit. I can play this game". When Lindy and I had finished our spot of Must Be Done Shopping and were leaving the mall who  should I notice walking behind us? Yup you guessed it. Sharon. Turning up like a bad smell again and again all day long. Let me tell you that 25 odd years of friendship was in serious jeopardy that afternoon. I mean how much skulking about can one do?
 
That evening as we arrived at the dinner venue once again there was Sharon parking right where we were. The woman has a scarily unerring ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lindy said "Quick let's go and get her now." "Like a kidnapping," I thought vaguely as we scuttled under the cover of semi darkness to Sharon's now parked car. Lindy posted her self in front of Sharon, greeted her gaily with a hug and stepped aside. So there I was stood right in front of Sharon. She looked at me like I was a complete stranger. I stepped up almost nose to nose and said (slightly exasperated by now) "Sharon!". Well Sharon set up a squawking and a shrieking  that would have had anyone within a half a kilometre radius convinced a mugging was taking place. There was much hand flapping of totally shocked shaky paws. There was a lot of ooo's, aaarrrghh's, ohhhhh's and other unintelligible gibberish while her brain processed who was in front of her. I WAS A COMPLETE SURPRISE to my dear friend. Her wonderful reaction was so worth the trip. It was just utterly fabulous.

Pontificating Birthday Girl #1
There will be more about my holiday and Sharon's birthday in my next blog post but now for my Mother's surprise. 
 
My mother looks at her computer as a mortal enemy that needs to be approached with a support team. I knew that the likelihood of her discovering about my trip to Botswana from any social media stream (which would place me one international border away from her) was slim to nothing. So on that score I felt safe from the cat being let out of the proverbial bag.
 
I had to arrange my arrival. I did not want my mother to be off gadding when I arrived and I wanted a bed to be ready and made up in my room - yes my room, really, after all these years. To achieve this I contacted my cousin Serena and asked if she would phone my mum and spin a bit of a yarn to act as a cover story for my arrival. I asked Serena to pretend that she had a friend that was coming through Harare who would need a bed for the night of my arrival. Serena did a sterling job. My mother was expecting an Australian house guest complete with a name, age (60?) and  a warm personality.
 
A mutual friend of ours (Sharon and me), Ange, picked me up from the airport and drove me to my Mum's home. We had a lovely drive into town catching up and getting glimpses of my home town. Each mile warming my heart. We arrived and Ange took control. I hid behind a wall near the front door. Ange went inside the house calling "Cooee, helllooooo?" My mum found Ange in her lounge and asked if she was the Australian visitor. Ange explained that she was not but that she had come from the airport to deliver a parcel to her and that it was too heavy for her to carry, so could Mum come outside to the car and help? I just want to say here  "too heavy? thanks Ange". All the while chivvying my mum outside. Once my mum was near the car I stepped out from behind the corner. Her reaction? NONE at all. My mum looked at me as if she was trying to place me. She said "You're not, you're not......"I said "MUM!!!!!" and it suddenly dawned on her who I was. Honestly it was bad enough that my dear friend did not recognise me (and I have not aged that much in less than a year) but my own mother? It was beyond the pale.
 
In the time it took my mum to get us indoors and make  us a cup of tea she had the jungle drums going and very soon there was welcoming committee. Beautiful flowers arrived from her friend Fiona and over several rounds of tea and various pastries for various guests my life was arranged for the next few days while my mum recovered from her lovely shocking surprise. Just thinking about it all has me feeling all warm and fuzzy and tearful. I wish I had recorded my mum recounting the delightful story of the "Australian Visitor". She tells the tale of my arrival and her preparing for her visitor with flair and panache.
 

Strelitzias for "The Australia visitor"

 

Pontificating Birthday Girl #2
I will post another blog about the Birthdays and my holiday soon. Just as soon, that is, as I have unpacked a few more boxes and pictures and hung them in my new home. So much to do. So little time. AAARRRGGHHH.
 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Moving to Jebel Ali. Al Muntazah here we come.


Sadly (because I like to have a moan) I cannot really give you a great big honestly miserable account of our move because it went off so much better than I thought it would. You see there is an upside to being negative.

But that won’t stop me from making a meal of the move now will it?  “No.” I answer myself gaily. “It won’t.”
Bryan and I spent a great deal of time thinking that we should move. Not because we did not love our apartment on the Palm but because every year we would have to run the gauntlet of the negotiations with the landlady where we would refuse to pay the increases she was asking for. It just got tiresome. Our Palm landlady is a feisty octogenarian who is frail of body and more sound of mind that she would have you believe. She had Bryan hook line and sinker. Bryan will tell you that he did all the things that he did for her because if she got an estate agent to do it somehow we would land up the worse for it. Well there is a great deal of truth in that, but, those of you who know Bryan will know that old ladies and babies can wind Bryan around their little fingers.  This year she did get herself an estate agent and of course the estate agent agreed with her that she could get a better rental. Presumably knowing full well she can’t. Of course the agent gets no real income from the apartment unless a new tenant takes over. We managed, yet again, to convince her that we would not pay more but she insisted that we pay a years’ rent in advance. Now before you are utterly horrified at that statement bear in mind that this is not unusual in Dubai. Not unusual at all. However what was a bit beyond the pale was her wanting to retain the right to give us one months’ notice in case she found a tenant willing to pay more. Well you know enough is enough. You can’t have it both ways.
After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, discussions, lists of pros and cons,  boring everyone we know with talk of should we or shouldn’t we and where should we and putting our names on lists we got a call to say there was a villa available in the Complex of Bryan's choice. Yip-a –dee doo-da the move was underway and not a moment too soon as we were about to sign a year’s lease in the absence of a preferred alternative coming up. WHEW.
And then naturally (with me) panic set in. And really? What for? People move all the time.

I went on line and logged on the Dubai ladies go to for anything site - Expat Women - Dubai

 
I did a search for conversations relating to removal companies. You know the sort of thing - who recommended who, who was best avoided, and who should be run away from screaming. I found 4 respectable operators. Thank heavens for the comfort and sense of security that comes with a bunch of housewives swapping tips on line. Somehow I landed up with five companies coming to quote on the back of my four phone calls …… go figure. Let’s just say that the stroppy door stopper interloper was given a set down and sent on his way.
I downloaded pages of hints on what to do when you move. I printed them out. I printed out lists with boxes to tick. I printed out a 6 page check off list for snags. HA bloody HA. What a waste of paper that was. I was full of good intentions. Frankly just the process calmed me down which is really the point -right? What I did not do was check much off of the many pieces of paper I had on my clip board. Yes, I had a clip board. I went and bought coloured markers and coloured stickers. I printed out floor plans of the villa and colour-coded the rooms. I absolutely was going to label each box with the corresponding colour room that the box was to be delivered to. I would have bought a lot more coloured markers and stickers but fortunately I had the  House Guest Extraordinaire visiting (yes in the middle of the move poor brave soul) and she managed to stop me from emptying my savings into a felt-tip pen purchasing frenzy. When the movers arrived they summarily rejected my brilliant plan and did what they do and know best, very efficiently and very quickly. They packed up my home and moved my stuff.  



House Guest Extraordinaire keeping out of the way of the efficient movers. In the bath tub.... as you do......


















We did have a bit of a drama before we moved. I went down to the building lobby security to let them know that we would be moving and that they should put up those things that protect the sides of elevators from people moving big stuff. The security man said “NO” . Apparently we cannot leave the building without an  NOC ( No Objection Certificate) from the developers of the Palm. W.T.F. I have absolutely no relationship with bloody Nakheel so why do I need their permission to leave the building? Apparently this is them looking out for the interests of the owners. Well that was news to the owner.  What followed was a frenzied rush of me gadding about trying to find out what was required to get this N.O.C. Mixed messages are what I got. Now I know that when The Little Man say “no” you know that  he will not move until The Big Man says he can, so I could not possibly move without something from Management to The Worker Ant telling him I could leave the building. Many emails later and Bryan making phone calls and still we had nothing. It took Bryan hunting down some man in an office and checking said man’s junk mail for us to finally get what we needed.  Bryan needed a session of calming therapy after that. What he got was time to work out how his apple lap top worked with a bit of help from Frances  -remember  I mentioned the house guest extraordinaire?


Bryan calming himself after his run in with Nakheel by working from home and getting to grips with his new computer.
The actual packing and moving and unpacking of the furniture was a complete breeze. Mainly because I did not do it. Yawningly boring for me - YAY.

moving out of Apt. 503. the last few items.....
The unpacking of my kitchen, crockery and linen is another matter altogether. I now realise that our apartment was very well designed in terms of storage. My new huge kitchen (and laundry) has the same amount of storage space one would expect to find in a bedsit. It is a HUGE problem for me. I look in despair at my space and think WHY MEEEEEEEEEE in the most pathetic way. Honestly you would think I was dealing with solving the problem of World Poverty. And of course I have my PICTURES. Where oh where am I going to hang them all?  So many walls. So many rooms. So many choices. I want to put them all in the best spot. But there can only be one best spot. What do I do with the rest of my art? Oh the delicious agony of it all.
I will bore you all with the details in a few weeks time.
Right now I must dash. I cannot for the life of me find the kettle. And I personally packed that because I had this list of handy hints. You know the sort:- Pack a box of essential supplies,  the kettle, a loo roll, bla, bla, bla. Fat lot of good that was. I do know were the Nespresso machine is because house guest extraordinaire was in charge of that. It was the only really essential item and it is unpacked and much used already.

Wish me luck unpacking.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A visit to the dentist.


Last week Bryan started talking about the dentist. He said something like "I need to go to the dentist. My filling fell out a squillion years ago and I have not had it fixed. My tooth is breaking were the filling fell out" At this point I tuned out. What I took from this was Bryan is talking about going to the dentist. I know that at some point he may have asked me if I needed to go to the dentist. Now I am a semi-hypochondriac so of course I KNOW that I need to go to the dentist but that does not mean that I am planning to go just that I know that maybe I should go and get a check-up or get my teeth cleaned and in the process find out that I have to have all my teeth removed and get dentures or screw ins or something and it is all just too horrible to think about. So I may have said something like "Yeah, I probably need to go to the dentist" and then moved on with my life. Fast.

Over the weekend Bryan told me that he had booked an appointment on line. I made interested noises, I assumed he was thrilled at the fact that he could book an appointment on line. Because, snakes alive, not even Bryan could think that booking a dentist’s appointment is news for anyone other than the person going to the dentist. Which was not me. 

On Saturday night as I was nodding off to sleep Bryan said "Now remember you will be going to work late on Monday because of the Dentist” I thought he was rubbing it in a bit much on his whole dentist malarkey. In all the years we have been together he has never shared so much bloody information about any bloody appointment and how did him going to the dentist affect me getting to work late. I would take a taxi. Job done. Anyway it was very late and I thought "oh I am too tired to actually transfer my going to bed mode brain to engage my faculties and talk mode brain" so I muttered snuffley noises (to indicate that I heard him) and went to sleep.

On Sunday night at around the same time (i.e. just before I dropped off to the land of Nod) Bryan said "Don't forget WE have the dentist tomorrow". My whole body was awake in nanoseconds. "We?????? What is this 'we' Pale Face?" I asked incredulously.  Bryan sighed. You know the kind of sigh. The patient sigh. And used his I am a grown up patient voice. "Penny I have been telling you all week that I have booked a dentist appointment for US" What the hell? Never, ever have we gone to the dentist together. The only times we ever did anything vaguely medical together was when I gave birth to the boys and when I had to give my permission in front of the doctor for Bryan to have a vasectomy (that is another story and not for this forum.) What the hell?  My health is being hijacked by my husband. "What are you talking about?" I started my rant.  "At no point did you say that I was going to the dentist with you. I did not ask you to book me a dentist appointment. What the hell?" I squealed.   Visions of bloody mouth cavities filled my mind. But the appointment was booked, so off I went...... with Bryan.

The dentist told me that my mouth and teeth were all in very good order and all they needed was a clean and really why had I come, I was not due for a check-up. Well that gave me an opening to pour out my woes. How I was hoodwinked into visiting the dentist (bet that made the dentist feel good about his profession) and how I was very glad to hear that I would not have to see him again for quite some time (again, winning comments to make to a person who can cause you great physical pain) and how my husband was going to get a full treatment of smugness from me. I distressed and amused the lovely dentist in equal measure, I think. 

I am all right on the dental scene.

Bryan on the other hand has ground his teeth almost to the roots. He has gnashed and bashed his teeth to the point that they have stress fractures (just like mountains under the pressure of the tectonic plates I am guessing) and splintering shards of enamel cracking away from his teeth and has been instructed to hold a pencil between his teeth when he works to protect his gnashers from his strong grinding jaw. Ha, Ha, Ha!  All this in addition to the gum guard that he already wears while sleeping to stop him grinding away at what is left of his bite. I have a game that I like to play with his gum guard. I wait till he has it in his mouth and then I will start a conversation so that he has to take it out.  I don't do it often, just every now and then to mix up our bedtime routine a bit.




Did I mention that I have a healthy set of teeth?


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ethical Living - give a thought to those that prepare your meals.


 
This rant has a few twists. The result of a rather convoluted mind at work. Bear with me.
 
"Animal Lover" is now a term  that can be used to describe almost anyone with a conscience. The waves of pressure on communities to care for creatures that cannot help themselves, has over the past few decades, gone from kooky to mainstream. Although, it has to be said, it now seems to be slowly veering off towards the kooky in the other direction. But that is another rant. It is admirable and worthy that people feel and act on a sense of  responsibility to care for the creatures that share the planet with us.
 
Look at our Facebook posts and  see the love and devotion that we show towards our pets. Our pets are now "a part of the family"  and we carry with us, in this regard, the burdens and joys that go with the commitment that one has for a family member.
 
Most of us are are aware of the problems that are faced by animals in the wild, their diminishing habitats, poaching and an ever increasing number of animal speices being added to endangered lists. We believe in sustainable eco-tourism  and visit elephant sanctuaries and other such wildlife rehabilitation programmes when we go on holiday.
 
We are, for the most part, well aware of the conditions under which the livestock that will be our dinner is reared.  We are able, if we earn enough money, to make choices about what we will eat based on how our dinner is treated for the duration of its life  and during the slaughtering process that end its live. We agonise about what we eat. Just how free range is free range? We don't want to eat cruel meat. Some of us go so far as to become vegans in our quest for kindness.  We want our food to be raised for the table in humane conditions. We want to live and eat  "authentically".  
 
We want to be able to afford a good dinner out without feeling guilty about it so we sit in restaurants and grill the serving staff over  the source of our dinner to ensure that we are not being poisoned by or being cruel to the food.  And now I am getting to the point of all this......all the while, more often than not, giving very little thought to the people serving up our dinner.

 

 
The below link is a timely reminder that we need to focus on our fellow man.  It is not enought to care about the animals we eat. We have to show respect and compassion for people. And we need to focus close to home. It is easy to feel empathy for a starving child in the back end of nowhere and be outraged by the misfortune inevitably inherited by the coincidence of a  third world birth far away - over there. Most of us, regardless of where we live or come from, can relate to the below clip and the following link Ethical Eating.
 

“Men feel that cruelty to the poor is a kind of cruelty to animals. They never feel that it is an injustice to equals; nay it is treachery to comrades.” G. K Cherterton.

 
  
 
 
Now here is the killer, having been guilt tripped  by the video what do we do about it? 
 
I am not going to offer up solutions and suggestion on what we can do. I did start to rabbit on about it. Well I would - wouldn't I. I am opinionated and bossy, but as I read over what I had written I realised that all I was doing was sounding like a self righteous prig preaching way more than I really need to. And that won't do at all. What we can do to help our fellow man depends on where we live and our own circumstances. So gentle people, spare a thought, or a dime, or a vote or volunteer to make a difference in your community.
                                                                                                                                                                     
 
 
The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied... but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing. ~John Berger
 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lacking inspiration and feeling sorry for myself

 
This is how I feel.
You know how one sometimes get totally shagged out by a long squawk?  That’s me. Having ranted and raved over the last few weeks about computers and having a hissy fit at Poor Old Bryan (is this the beginning of menopause?) over the  house guest  (mentioned in the computer rant) who overstayed his welcome on account of Bryan not being totally upfront with me about how long the house guest was staying (but let us not go there) I am all deflated.

Now that I have my home to myself and my calm demeanour (peanut gallery keep your comments to yourselves) is restored I am all of a funk. Well not so much a funk as a “can’t be bothered”.  Also, when I say "I have my home to myself" I mean entirely to myself.  Bryan had a work thing in Jo’burg and has taken the opportunity, whilst in that part of the world to get a bit of peace  and quiet from his Witchy wife  and to gad about South Africa visiting his mum and the boys.  By the way, when should I stop calling my sons “the boys”? Consequently I am home alone.

The first few days were bliss - sheer unadulterated bliss. But I have had enough of that. I have no one to annoy.  And I don’t have Bryan forcing me to do things that I don’t want to do  that get me out and about and having fun. And it is summer in Dubai and the humidity is killing me. Oh I must explain. I love the heat and I really don’t have strong feelings about the humidity but my lungs have a very strong reaction to the combination of heat and humidity. If I walk across the road from our building to the building that houses Sophie’s (one of the few places in Dubai where you can get a cup of coffee during Ramadan - if you were wondering why I was crossing the road) I am wheezing in a tight chested I have smoked 200 cigarettes a day for 120 years kind of a way.  And it is just plain exhausting. I am also back in the gym with my wonderful trainer Fairel. Ho hum  - one of the triggers of asthma in me is exercise. So the combo of time of the year and exercise resulting in a semi-permanent state of discomfort and  being alone has me feeling sorry for myself because I have nothing to distract me. I am exhausted. I am in bed by 10pm. Pity party is in full swing. I can’t help but think that I should have gone with Bryan to South Africa, BUT there is one thing that is worse than feeling like you have been run over by a truck and that is feeling the bitter winter Antarctic wind whipping around about you in Cape Town at this time of the year.

So I am having a friend over for tea this afternoon courtesy of Ramadan working hours. A gentle feminine afternoon of cooing over a new baby is exactly what I need. I don’t have pets you see.

I have crocheted a baby blanket for the visiting baby.  Here it is.

 
 
I did toy with the idea of being stylish and trendy with the design and colours but I am terribly traditional in my choices of craft executions.

On the subject of needle work I still have Cameron’s blanket to finish ( that will be terribly vibrant) and a wedding sampler to do. Between keeping up with my reading  ( people STOP making wonderful  book reading suggestions) and TV watching  ( my addiction – so much better than being a middle aged soak - although not as interesting it has to be said) and needle craft I really should not be falling into bed at 10pm. Tomorrow is FRIDAY. I am reading and crafting all day. DO NOT DISTURB.
Oh, oh, oh I have to do a shout out today. My nephew (I am Greek its complicated) is competing in the World BMX Championships in New Zealand this week. GO MATT. Show ‘em what Zimbabwe has.



Matt Denslow - super biker


 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Shake your Bootie Baby.


 

My friend posted a video clip on face book of Ottawans  "Hands Up" and it MADE MY DAY.

Memories of Mabelreign Girls High School Disco's came flooding back. Click  the video clips ( or links if you are using a mobile device) and be cheered up.

YouTube - Hands Up
 
Ottawan - Hands Up
 
 
 
My poor father had the unenviable task of acting as a "bouncer" at the infamous MGHS fund raising Discos. It served him right. There is nothing more uncool than having a parent on the PTA.  I would go, dragging my heels to the School Hall doors because I had to get a lift with him. I was torn because I knew that it was only because he was acting as a bouncer and all round herder of teenagers that I was allowed to go at all. It did not help that of my friends a handful had an almighty crush on him. I would be mortified by their sing song "Hello Mr Panas"  accompanied by hair tossing and a flurry of giggles. My father did not understand girls. He had no sisters. Girls did  not play rugby and were not  interested in shooting. He went to all-boys boarding schools  pretty much from kindergarten. He totally understood boys. Totally. And nothing shocked or surprised him about them. And in relation to his daughters he kept a beady mistrustful eye out. Which of course is a total waste of time. He would have known this if he had had sisters and knew anything about the cunning of a teenage girl.... But I am being side tracked.

Yes Sir I can Boogie

Baccara - Yes sir I can boogie
 



Once at the Hall I would tear off to the bathrooms to plaster my face with too much make up and sexy up my disco outfit from "appropriate for parents" to frankly, and in retrospect, just plain bloody awful. Of course I thought I was just the bee's knees with my headband and strawberry flavoured lip gloss and just been punched eye make up. I would then spend the better part of the night trying to avoid my father. Skulking in dark, damp corners of the school property with boys of disrepute or disco dancing with friends. If I was not doing that I was commiserating with some hysterical girlfriend about how cruel her now ex-best friend was or being commiserated on the same. A fair amount of time was also spent leaning against the wall of the hall looking unapproachable.

Call Me
 
Blondie - Call me



All that teenage hysteria , testosterone, and angst. God we must have been a bloody nightmare to supervise.

I would have to stay until the bitter end of the discos to get my parental lift home. PTA members counted up the door taking "That cash can be added to the squash court fund" and cleared the property of unruly youth and the discarded remnants of prohibited alcohol. Older teens would sneak in what they could - and what they could afford. I do remember on one occasion finding a loaf of bread that had been used to filter methylated spirits. My father went ballistic. I had no idea what it was all about or how stupid is was to do. Needless to say the discos did not last forever. MGHS and Ellis Robins had a bunch of reprobates attending their schools. Polite ones mind you but reprobates none the less. I may have caught a whiff or two of dagga but at that age had not a clue.

Those discos were a great experience. A thrilling introduction to music and mayhem  for a young teen hell-bent on destruction - in a reasonably safe environment. I don't think, at the end of the day, there were the wisest fund raising exercises the PTA ever organised but I am so glad they did.


The Bee's Knees half in school uniform

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Istanbul the Old Beauty

Domes and the sea. 


How sad to see the news of late from Turkey. And yet also inspiring, it is heartening to see people rise up and say “No, this is not what we want. We want and demand something different.” Mind you that is the history of Turkey. Forceful, powerful, inspiring leaders that do great things and then forget who  they are and how they got to be where they are and become part of the problem. And good for the Turks that they consistently do not put up with it.  I am not in any way trying to simplify the complicated social and political  history of Turkey but you have to admire a people that don’t take anything lying down. 
 

Meadow grass and tulips
Last year, at the end of April, Bryan and I visited Istanbul with our dear friends Sharon and Shaun. Here is a link  to that Trip. I knew as I boarded the plane home at the end of that short holiday that I wanted go back. Now, please bear in mind that I am not a well-travelled person. I know that there are a great many places that I should visit for the first time before I revisit a spot but  the heart wants what the heart wants and this heart wanted to go back to Istanbul.
 

Crumbling Beauty
 
I recently blogged about our wedding on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. We don’t usually celebrate wedding anniversaries, actually we usually forget altogether. We have the delightful (?) distinction of NEVER remembering on the day. We always remember that it's coming up some time soon but ALWAYS forget at the crucial moment. Telling? Well I don’t know but I think that if we have made it through 25 years of marriage without contemplating slitting each other’s throats while bringing up children, moving continents and suffering the losses one does in the course of a life - then we are pretty solid. Anyway, we decided that 25 years of marriage really was an occasion to celebrate. I insisted that we go to Istanbul again. So for a few days at the end of April and the beginning of May we spent three glorious days in the warm spring sunshine in the charming and romantic city of Istanbul.
 

Domes and Sea at sunset.


Domes and Water and Boats and ferries and ships and tugs and and and....
 
We saw beauty everywhere. The spring flowers at their best. Tulips, violets, daisies, daffodils, forget-me-nots, and baby’s breath. Meadow grass, strewn with delicate flowers, and oh so many more pretty, plant things. Everything growing green and fresh and new. The ancient, historical buildings. Crumbling walls, stained leaning wooden houses, cobbled streets, alleys, avenues. Walking up hills and down again. The promise of a view of water at every turn. Fishing boats, tugs, ferries, pleasure boats, and tankers - chugging, gliding, bobbing, hooting, honking, the life of a city with water as its centre, water as a cultural divide, two continents together, East meets West. The sea playing with the light, sparkling  shimmering, breeze whipped and salt scented.  Seaways so busy and yet calming to watch. The freshest of fish. A fisherman with a cigarette in the corner of his smile, admiring his catch of silver shards of sardines dripping wet, wriggling and fresh - still on the line.
 

Fresh salads.

 
Squirming fresh fingers of sardines


And fresh Juice!
When we last we visited  Istanbul, old family friends Nikkiforos Metaxa and Vassiliki Papageorgiou were in Greece so we missed seeing each other. This year we met up and had a lovely meal in the oldest Greek restaurant in Istanbul tucked away in the spice market.



Nikiforos and Vasiliki

Nikki and Vassiliki gave us a few pointers and we set off around the city hunting down recommendations mainly of the mosaic and tile variety. Bryan was determined to do this using every available type of public transport so we got about via the by now familiar trams and we tried out the buses this time too. Bryan dragged me off to use the world’s 2nd oldest tunnel train in the world after London’s Underground and my first ever ride on a funicular, yes you may break in to operatic song. Istanbul has two.The Tunnel" inaugurated in January of 1875. How historical is that? We also used the more Modern  Kabataş-TaksimFunicular. There is still one form of transport hat we have missed. The cable car, but never fear there is always next year.

In the spice souk district beautiful tiles in a Mosque


Tiling details
 
I even allowed Bryan to follow his sense of direction to get us to and from destinations . That took a lot of sucking it up on my part let me tell you. It was worth it. On our adventures we came across, quite by accident, the ingenious and delightful Panorama 1453. What a gem. Considering that it was built only in 2009 it is a bit old fashioned, but oh my word, what a treat for museum lovers. The 360% view of one of the fiercest battles of the Constantinople siege, the event that gave Sultan Mehmet II his title of Fatih (the Conqueror), should be on your list of things not to miss. Terribly nationalistic in nature and consequently wonderfully grand. I loved the whole experience. I loved the soundtrack, the models, the amazing painted dome. I felt like a 10 year old child on a school trip. It was just so cool.
 

Under this dome there is magic! Panorama 1453

 


a model of the real thing to give you a taster.

Have a peek at it here Panorama 1453
  
We worked up an appetite and we  walked our meals off. Good trade-off I think. We did not revisit the big tourist attractions. There is plenty to do and see in Istanbul without repeating oneself.  Although we did stay in the same hotel that we stayed in before. This got us a room upgrade on arrival. YAY! It was a lovely gesture.The staff were, down to the last man, the same staff as last year and that was charming. We received the same care and attention and  the same delicious breakfasts that set us up for our hitting the streets for a lot of walking days. I definitely recommend staying there Click here to book; Best Point Hotel Fatih and his staff will make you feel most welcome.


Humble Hotel with a Huge Heart

I desperately wanted to visit the Mosaic Museum which was closed for renovations last year. This museum alone was worth the trip. The most splendid mosaics. Here is the blurb that I cribbed for the internet:

The museum hosts the mosaics used to decorate the pavement of a peristyle court, dating possibly to the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565). It was uncovered by Turkish archaeologists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland during extensive excavations at the Arasta Bazaar in Sultan Ahmet Squarein 1935-1938 and 1951-1954. The area formed part of the south-western Great Palace, and the excavations discovered a large peristyle courtyard, with a surface of 1872 m²,entirely decorated with mosaics. It was at this point that the Austrian Academy of Sciences, supervised by Prof. Dr. Werner Jobst, undertook to study and preserve the famous palace mosaic and to carry out additional archeological examinations (1983-1997) within the scope of a cooperative project with the Directorate General of Monuments and Museums in Turkey.

and what they found had me spellbound.


Mosaics in situ since around AD 550.


Mosaic Museum


Mosaic Museum


Once again the trip was not enough and we have promised to visit again. If I could become a cobble in  a street of Istanbul I would be happy.
 


I absolutley want to be buried under this fellow. I love the idea of become fertilizer under his paws.