We are on the move, again! Say hello to our new home!
It's no secret that Chris and I have moved around a lot over the years - either for work purposes, as our family has outgrown our rentals (read: acquiring more pets) or if we've had landlord issues - and then we finally bought our own house in Johannesburg, at the beginning of this year. Sadly things change - as per life, these things happen - but the opportunity to start our own company, that would buy a franchise in Durban was too great a deal to miss out on.
We've been in a rental in Morningside since arriving here in early August but as previously mentioned in another blog, it's just too big for us - not the property size per say - which is about 1/4 the size of our property in Bramley but the actual house. It literally takes me a good part of a whole day to clean: Yes, no domestic worker or gardener for us - we fortunately (or is that unfortunately?) are both control freaks and find it hard to let go of anything, apart from ironing - that gets done at the local laundromat down the road!
All rentals we've stayed in aside - which have always served as a means to an end - has made us realise what we want and don't want in a property to buy. The house we bought in Johannesburg had last been sold in 1968 - so we are the third owners of that house, I know it may sound silly but knowing that the house has not changed hands often is what attracted us to it. It was a family home right up until we bought it - it had never been rented out - not to mention the 43m long driveway, sprawling front and back lawn, the century old Oak Tree in the front garden that I can hug without my hands touching, it even has all the keys to every single cupboard in the house.
See?! Super long driveway and one can even see the top of our massive Oak Tree peeking over on the left
It's now a rental to us and I have made peace with that. It's an investment for our future
Chris mentioned to me that a house had come onto the market a few weeks back in Glenmore, an area we both adore from an architectural point of view. In relative terms it's a new suburb - formed in and around the 1960's - think mid-century style, sleeker lines and newer types of materials used in construction as apposed to Morningside, Umbilo, Glenwood and Berea, which are as old as Durban itself.
Our current rental was built in the 1890's and most of the properties in Durban's older, central suburbs suffer terribly from Wood Borer - unless the owners have totally gutted their home and rebuilt - which is sad, as you lose the charm of these older homes but in some cases there's no other option.
Back to the Glenmore house that WAS on the market! So we went and had a look-see at this house - turns out it was master-built by the current owner's late husband in 1969 - 70, i.e. the house has never been on the market before now and has never been rented out - ticked a box. It is above road level, another box ticked. It is a corner plot, another big box ticked. It has a huge but shallow swimming pool, another box ticked. It has the classic garage under the house design, another box ticked. Does it need a bit of sprucing up, yes and is it in good condition? Absolutely! Bar replacing the oven and stove and a coat or two of paint, and freshening up the open plan en-suite - oh, and fencing in the property at the back - which just goes to show that Glenmore hasn't earned a reputation as being one of Durban's safest suburbs for no reason if an elderly lady could stay alone in the house without an enclosed back yard!
It also has one of the most well supported community watch forums in Durban - so I shall be baking treats to sell at the stall they have just around the corner every Friday afternoon - with all proceeds going to Blue Security who actively patrol the suburb and have been doing so since 1997.
So... one cheeky offer placed, a counter offer made, we counter offered that offer and boom! house sold to us!
See below for some photos of our new soon-to-be home, obviously the decor is not ours, but just to so proud of both myself and Chris that we've managed to not only start a company this year but have also managed to buy two houses - feeling very blessed and scared and excited and everything all rolled into one!
Our deposit has been paid, all lawyer's documents signed - just have to wait for transfer - which should take place in January.
So, do I have the energy for one more move? Yes!
Could I potentially have a mini-breakdown in the process? Maybe...? Let's see how it goes.
Just thought I'd share our good news with everyone reading.
Until next time,
So I have known the Durban-Folks for well over 11 years now and for as long as I have known them, Aunty Helen has always made the most delicious prawns, ever!
I have never really thought about cooking prawns as I've never had to because I knew if I wanted some, I'd just go visit the the folks - again, Aunty Helen is known for her prawns! - but in late August, both Chris and myself found ourselves at their house, celebrating Andre, their son's Birthday and wishing both him, his gorgeous daughter Mia and Mia's mother a safe trip - they were going to visit Mia's maternal family in Greece.
Mia is a special little girl, at all of 18 months, she has her South African, Portuguese and Greek passport - what a little international toddler she is!
Andre feeding Mia, last December, when Mom and I visited Durban to see the folks
Rocking 'em shades!
Back to my story, Chris offered to do the braai'ng - he's happiest with a braai tong in one hand and a beer in the other - so whilst he was outside manning the coals, Aunty Helen was inside preparing the prawns. When we all sat down to have lunch, Chris tasted the prawns and when he went back for seconds - I thought, oh no! - low and behold, he loved them just as much as everyone else sitting around the table and as he had so kindly offered to braai for the folks, Aunty Helen ensured that he had his full of prawns - Chris even commented on how nice they were - so I mentally made a note to look out for prawns on my next grocery shop run.
I did indeed manage to find some, they've been in the freezer ever since, well up until yesterday anyhow.
This past Sunday, Chris and myself popped in to see the folks, I'd been away so hadn't seen them in 10 or 11 days and just wanted to check up on them and see if all was ok, I also had some pasta that I bought in Johannesburg to give to her - she loves Bucatini, a type of pasta that is hard to find in Durban - so whenever I buy, I always get an extra few packs for her too. A few weekends before that, Chris had kindly re-lined Aunty Helen's washing line making it easier for her to hang her washing up - he is good like that - so he is in both the folks good books.
As luck would have it, we arrived at around lunchtime - purely by accident I can assure you - but as quickly as we arrived, two extra plates were graciously set out on the table and an impromptu get together was held, laughs were had and a good catch up ensued. Plus, did I mention a serving dish full of prawns arrived at the table too?!
Everyone around the table - Vanessa, Sajeeda, Andre, Aunty Helen and myself - all agreed that Chris did an awesome job on fixing the washing line, so naturally he was offered more prawns than most. He thoroughly enjoyed them. So obviously I had to make them...
Before leaving, I asked Aunty Helen for her recipe - bearing in mind she's probably been making them for the last few decades, her recipe instructions were vague to say the least - as with anyone who has a signature dish, it's all stored inside her head but the one thing she stressed was to not overcook them.
So we set off for home later that afternoon, me with what roughly goes into making them but without any quantities as such but I had enough to get me started.
Last night I attempted cooking the prawns - they turned out brilliantly - if I may say so myself! Look out for the recipe under my 'Recipes' tab - give them a try, they are quick and easy.
Thanks Aunty Helen, I now have another go-to recipe that reminds me of you - love you lots!
Until next time,
Our gorgeous rental in Morningside, Durban has been a fantastic place to live - bar the odd noisy evening emanating from the hub that is Florida Road - which is to be expected from living in the centre of things.
She's a well proportioned home, consisting of 4 1/2 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a lovely upstairs balcony leading off the master bedroom and my creative, office space - upper right hand side in the photo - but she's just too big for the two of us and the hounds. There, unfortunately, wasn't any other suitable options for us at the time, so we have been very creative in decorating the rooms - two offices, a guest bedroom, a library, etc..
Don't get me wrong, Morningside is so central to everything; the office is a short 2Km drive away, the Durban-Folks are about a Km away - in fact, everything is mostly a walk away from us - which has been fun.
We've even managed to walk the hounds down to the beachfront, we just follow along Argyle Road, over the Umgeni Road intersection and boom! at the beach. One of the funniest moments was us walking the hounds past the Stables along NMR Avenue and us passing a paddock with about 10 or so horses grazing in it and having them all gravitate towards the fence, following us along as we passed by - just watching and following us. It was so random, having these beautiful animals curiously following us go by.
I have even started walking by myself again and have been doing so for about the last 6 weeks - something I would never have done in Johannesburg, after the attack anyhow - so am very pleased to see that my tan is coming along nicely, I even have my various routes all planned out (I use a pedometer, which captures the amount of steps one takes and I try to do 10 000 aerobic steps, which is essentially non-stop steps as opposed to stop start - I try as much as is possible to jog a bit too but it invariably turns into a combination of the both, which I fondly call 'wogging' - jog for the duration of one song, walk for two songs, etc. All depending on how I feel and also depending on the heat - its been super hot down here along the East Coast!
We even had to have curtains made for the lounge and dining area - our curtain drop is a massive 3,2m - which is crazy, we have never had curtains made, let alone having them the size of theatre proportions! But if we look after them, they should last us 20 or so years and at what they cost to make, they better!
It's no secret that I found this particular move very traumatic to my person - up until recently (i.e. being prescribed sleeping pills) I was on a daily basis getting up anytime from 02:00am onwards - which was starting to wear me down - as would anyone who was totally sleep deprived - but we soldier on! We've now been here almost a whole four months and I don't regret our decision to leave Johannesburg. In fact, my recent trip up there confirmed this - I naively thought I'd arrive there and immediately miss all that we had become used to - apart from Super Sconto (my go-to Italian delicatessen and pantry stock up shop - which I shall always go to when up there to stock up on pasta, chick peas, anything Mediterranean) which Durban unfortunately doesn't have - and taking a drive by our rental - I miss nothing! If anything, I had totally forgotten about the horrendous traffic, traffic lights out at every second or third intersection and the constant smell of exhaust fumes (I know it's weird but the smell of those fumes drove me mad! Aircon was always on.) Amazing what one can forget in four short months.
Our little Johannesburg home
All stocked up whilst sipping on a cappuccino in the canteen above the store - Note some was for my Durban Mom
Dawn and myself went there last year on my Birthday for a quick something something to eat and drink
Dawn - my true Italian friend - we ate a lot that day!
Later that day at Tashas with Dawn again, the restaurant where Oscar infamously fired a bullet whilst it was packed with diners!
Chris' father asked me to join both him and Chris in growing a moustache for Movember - along with a small donation to a cancer research organisation - so... both Chris and myself are 23 days into Movember, along with Totes - so look out for a mo' photo coming soon to a blog post near you!
I have added a comfort food recipe, some vintage finds and a collection of photos of Chris under my Media page - just because I can! - ok, off for my daily walk soon, then some gardening and then some baking - shall be working on our company accounts later in the week, so getting some things out the way early on in the week.
Again, really, nothing comes close to living on the East Coast!
Until next time,
Chris and myself are Godparents to three wonderful children - weighing in at 3,71 Kg and 53cm at birth - meet Morgan, the third and latest addition to our Godchildren. She turns all of one years old on 27 November 2015.
The last time I saw my 'adopted' sister, Margot, was last year when she came to Johannesburg on a training course for work - she's the admin manager of a clothing store in Bloemfontein and was barely a month or 3 pregnant when I last saw her.
Knowing Morgan was turning one this month was part of my reasoning for travelling up to visit - I just had to meet her. What a precious little girl she is - she truly is her mommy's girl.
What blue eyes you have, Morgan!
Margot & Morgan
Even though Chris and myself will not see you as often as we do our other two Godchildren, you will always be close in our hearts and you are loved.
Happy Birthday my darling little Morgan, we can't wait to watch you grow up!
Until next time,
As my week long road trip is starting to draw to a close, thought I'd put some of my thoughts down on the events that have taken place in the last few days.
Firstly, my heart goes out to all those innocent souls who were mercilessly mowed down at their respective venues in Paris - whilst enjoying dinner or a concert - none of those people deserved to die so, so tragically.
This had me thinking about what's happening in South Africa - yes, we have load shedding and water issues and mismanagement of state owned entities - but is it not better the devil we know, than the devil we don't know? That goes to all of our friends and family who have given up on our beautiful country for greener pastures - which is totally your own decision and you are all fully supported - but what irks me is this preconception that all is better on the First World side of things - when indeed the wheels are obviously starting to shake and wobble a bit. All I ask is that we don't have it shoved in our face that South Africa is a bad place, when it is plain to see that each and every country is battling it's own war; war on terrorism, war on inequalities, war on tyrannical leaders, war amongst each other - just because a country has public transport that runs efficiently, as a random example, doesn't make it the bees knees.
Saying that, I really wonder why France - not that I particularly would ever want to visit that country - is being targeted? Is it just a decoy to throw authorities off the real target? My conspiracy theorist mind at play? I don't know but what happened in Paris could happen anywhere. I sincerely hope that all the heads of the world's various states are putting plans in place to step up security at all public venues, this includes softer targets, like schools where security is minimal - at best.
Again, France you're in my thoughts.
Back to my trip - I usually don't travel without Chris but as he has been very busy with work - I needed to go this one alone. A whole week without him and the hounds. The longest we've ever been apart is when he left on a trip to Munich a few years back for 10 or 11 days. Bless him, he has been a trooper looking after the company and the house, not forgetting the hounds. Thank You, Chris. I miss you muchly!
Speaking of being a trooper, I bravely set out from Durban to Bloemfontein without filling up completely (Note: I did check my tyres though!) See photo above for my petrol gauge as I drove into Bloemfontein. Shew! That was a close call! Maya (as in Maya the Bee - I drive a B Class - see where her name comes from? Maya the Bee, Maya the B Class?!). I started to stress 20Km outside of Bloemfontein but all for nothing. My little car bravely got us there.
Maya, the day we saw her on the 'pre-owned' lot
Chris has the Discovery Insure tracker attached to our cars - it monitors speed travelled, handling, braking, acceleration and phone motion - the better one drives, the more points are earned and knowing that your driving is being monitored - one is inclined to drive with more attention to detail such as following speed limits, avoiding harsh acceleration and the dreaded phone motion - luckily having bluetooth, handsfree in my car, I always score 100 / 100 for that but what intrigued me was that Chris was able to locate my car right to the street that I was parked on in Bloemfontein - I was visiting my Goddaughter, Morgan (more about her in an upcoming post) for the first time - she turns a whole 1 years old month-end). I was very impressed with that feature, not that he was checking up on me mind you but that should - heaven forbid - someone steal my adorable 'mom's taxi' I could potentially be able to locate it with minimal trouble. or if I get stuck someplace or have an accident and am unable to make contact via a phone, Chris will always be able to find me. Which is very comforting to know.
Plus, as it records all my trips, I have travelled 1287,5Km so far since Thursday last week.
I'm now in Johannesburg, finishing up some business related tasks - I highly recommend staying at the Sandton City Lodge, just off Rivonia Road - brilliant service, food to die for and so, so, so centrally located. I even managed a 45min jog on the treadmill in the fitness room yesterday and this morning!
The cheese and bacon bun-less burger I had for dinner last night - very tasty
I have also been on the hunt for a decent tea pot and as I had to stop in Melville on business, I took a stroll down 7th Street and walked into a charity store (knowing that part of the proceeds go to charity also warms my heart) I found this gorgeous, vintage Pyrex 6 cup tea pot - I snapped it up! - I don't know it's age or the history of it but I have never seen one before.
Looking forward to having my hair cut later today by Sandy, at Franco International Cresta - She's an awesome stylist - if you're on the look out for a new hairdresser in Johannesburg, go see her - tell her Rev recommended her.
Looking forward to seeing Chris and the hounds tomorrow - missing my not-so-little family terribly.
Until next time,
Yay! Arrived home yesterday to find that my Amazon order had arrived early, by a week!
As you can see by the photo below, Jagged Little Pill turned 20 this year and a commemorative, re-mastered version of the album was released, I ordered the limited 4 disc edition - naturally.
I was watching 'QI' a couple of months back when Stephen Fry (or one of his guests?) mentioned that we, as individuals, start making our own choices when listening to music from around the age of 11 or 12 - any music we would've listened to before that would most likely have been influenced by what our parents tastes in music were.
Which made me think back to when I was that age and to which musician's music I first chose to listen to - outside of any parental or adult influence - for myself. Hands down it has to be Alanis Morissette and Jagged Little Pill (eeeeck! 20 years later) - her music has, with every album she's released, been profoundly relatable to me.
I can't explain why.
I do sort of find it sad that she is only really remembered for her international debut and being described as angry - in her own words though, is that if she were to be singularly labelled as one dimensional, angry is fine by her - 'an angry woman is a thinking women!' - according to the interview she had with Oprah. There is so much more to her than that, there is so much more to us too, more than one word to describe who we are as individuals.
She goes on to say that she thought fame would bring her comfort and be the healing balm, when in fact it just amplified all her insecurities - bearing in mind she was only 20 years old at the time - and at the height of her fame she felt the most isolated.
See link below. for the full interview.
Apart from the remastered original album, there is also an unreleased first-time-performance-in-London concert, a 10 year commemorative acoustic version and - what I was looking out for - a disc with 10 unreleased demo songs from that recording period and which never made it onto the final album - what a treat to listen to them - my off-the-bat favourite is 'Superstar Wonderful Weirdos'. Listen to it below.
For those who would like to see her more humorous side, below are two links of her appearing on the 'The Late Late Show With James Corden' and 'The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon', obviously promoting the re-release - where she sings updated versions of her not so ironic song, Ironic - thanks Amy, her singing with James Corden is so funny!
And it's one of only 30, 000 made, how cool is that?
So?! Are you a Superstar Wonderful Weirdo?
Until next time,
I have a friend, whom I haven't seen in many years but she holds a dear place in my heart. She is a single mom of two lovely daughters. She happens to also live in one of the most gorgeous and mystical parts of the Western Cape.
She left her husband, which was probably the hardest thing for her to do as a parent, her children's father - with responsibilities, and have-to's, and need-to's and deadlines to meet before 3pm - but I support her from afar.
In fact, I support any woman or man for that matter who chooses to call it quits on a marriage / long-term relationship and who step out of their comfort zone and who choose the scary unknown over the comfortably numb. Abuse is not only one dimensional, there are many facets to it. It can be physical, verbal and emotional.
There are those from the school of thought that it's easier to stay together for the children's sake and that life will be far harder alone than together but as someone who grew up in a 'broken family environment' - I disagree and feel I have every right to comment on this (often touchy, even taboo) subject.
Back to my friend, she is considering leaving her day job (and it's accompanying security) to go it alone and focus on her more creative, freelance work (which ultimately pays better) so that she can provide a better life for her two daughters, as mentioned, she is a single mom and doesn't rely on her ex for anything (again, a big supportive hug your way). I say go for it! You have already done what so many people are too afraid to do, leave.
You are already teaching your children what it is to be a strong, independent person (there are many men in the same position, so I shall try not focus too much on female / male - a toxic relationship can affect both) and in the years to come, they will appreciate your bravery. They will be better people for it.
The link above will take you to a preview of a documentary, A Small Section of the World, about a bunch of women who found themselves in a position where they had to be creative and generate a source of income for themselves and their children, in doing so, their community too - who revolutionised their own small section of the world. I found it very inspiring. It reminded me of my friend and what she's toying with doing herself - not making coffee as such - but the idea of climbing outside her comfort zone and putting in real work to make it succeed.
Alanis Morissette wrote the theme tune for the documentary, my friend knows I am a follower of Alanis - I would never have seen this documentary otherwise - wish more musicians and actors would lend their voices and success to the lessor known causes.
Above is the 'official music video' - give it a listen. Such an inspiring song to go with such an inspiring story.
To my friend, and her two daughters - I know it has been hard (and still is) and you have cried (and will cry again) and have been frustrated, but keep at it. You are supported. You are loved.
Until next time,
November used to be the month that I'd reflect on my scooter accident that took place on 3 November 2010 - it may have been the 4th of the month for all I know - it was a blur of Morphine, hospitals, operations, Tramacet, anti-anxiety medication, having my arm in a sling for almost the entire following year and - of course - the associated weight gain that took place.
Last November, the 6th (I think - again, another blur) added another 'I'm going to learn a big life lesson moment' when I was attacked, stabbed and robbed, whilst on my daily exercise walk - all the while in broad daylight with people driving by. Not really caring. Not offering any help whatsoever - I will never forget how I ran all the way home straddling the white, dotted centre line of the road in my socks, sans stolen shoes - it wasn't until Chris pointed out that I was bleeding, did I realise that in the mayhem that was the ambush and attack, I must have put my hand out to block the knife and was stabbed (superficially luckily, but still). Traumatised.
Above is my Big Boy scooter - we still have him - admittedly he hasn't been driven in a while, but he is safely parked and covered and will always be my first mode of transport. He has become a part of the family really.
Prior to the accident, I honestly was under, underweight - at my skinniest, I weighed about 65kg (for someone who is over 6ft tall) - I recall a friend of mine saying once that one could see my hip bones sticking out on my back. I did a lot of yoga - on top of - three times a week, I would go to gym, set the cycling machine on it's highest tension setting and cycle 10km but every time I would try and improve my own 'record', think I managed at my peak just over 10 minutes - not too bad considering I survived on coffee and cigarettes, well mostly.
Then I was involved in the accident, all activities came to a halt - in fact - I had no choice but to just stop. At the time, some people would ask why my collar bone was taking such a long time to heal - I had crushed (think bone disintegrating) it, not the usual snap - so essentially I had a 3cm gap in the centre that was missing. Never underestimate losing the ability to use a limb for a year. Also, just my luck that I'd crush my bone as opposed to a simple break that would've healed in six weeks!
The Titanium plate and seven screws holding it in place - note the gap between the 4th and 5th screw - that's where my collar bone disintegrated - the first operation, my surgeon attempted to bridge the gap with synthetic bone material in the hopes that my collar bone would regenerate - think along the lines of a grit of sand getting lodged inside an oyster and forming a pearl - that in theory - was what my surgeon thought would happen but alas.
Me, shortly after the accident.
The December after the accident, Chris thought it would be a good idea to get away for a few days - so we road tripped down from Durban, ending up at Oudtshoorn. One night, whilst on the trip I woke up in agonising pain - a screw had started to work itself out of my collar bone. Pain. Pain.
After a second opinion, because I was not convinced that my first surgeon knew what he was doing, it turned out that the synthetic material had been rejected by my body and so after 6 months with my arm in a sling - I had to have surgery again but this time bone was removed from my hip to build up my collar bone. All the while, I was being less active, as at this stage I had my arm in a sling, was walking with a crutch and on very heavy painkillers and anti-anxiety meds - which left me no other choice but to turn to the one thing I found (and still do find) comfort in. Food.
The bruising after they removed roughly 3cm of my left hip. The body weight gain was considerable - hell, I was so skinny people would've noticed an extra 5kg but as I don't do things half-measure - I gained over 30kg in that year.
It's sort of surreal looking back at these photos, to think that I had allowed myself to balloon to - at my heaviest - roughly 112kg. What compounded it was the fact that I was originally on the opposite side of the weight spectrum but as I mentioned earlier, all or nothing for me.
I am the first to admit that I allowed it, like I had an excuse - a valid reason - naturally this was distorted in my own mind as I obviously had and still do have self-image issues, as I'd never have been so skinny to start off with in the first place but I reached a turning point - I needed to lose the weight - my 'fat years' were coming to an end.
So after many km's walked - I also eventually found an awesome Yoga Ashram in Johannesburg, which I relished for the last few months of us staying upcountry - the weight started to melt off.
The two photos above represent my 'after photos' - I have managed to keep the weight off (give or take a kg here or there).
Before starting this post, I even climbed onto our scale to see what I weigh. I can gladly say that I am currently 80kg - that means I have lost over 31kg - or 62 blocks of 500g butter.
Yet, the odd thing thing is, if you're underweight you worry about picking up weight, and if you're overweight you worry about losing the extra kg's. It really is a fine line and I empathise with both sides - as I have been both thin and fat.
I like how I look now, I will never be skinny again - nor do I ever want to be but I will never be borderline obese again. Never. Promise. Hopefully!
It is about finding that balance, which is never easy.
Until next time,
PS: Can anyone in Durban town recommend a good Yoga school?