Course it’s probably taken me months to notice.

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RIP – Gymmie


Poor kitty, never really stood much chance in life. Abandoned by his mother, beaten up on a regular basis by the neighbourhood bully, shifted from pillar to post and finally harrassed by the symbiotic young upstarts.

It’s no wonder he (not so quietly) went insane.

He will be missed, although life is a lot quieter and less smelly now.

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An extract from an email I just wrote to a friend:

Then to add to my woes I had a horrible night last night……. first I couldn’t get my dear husband to turn over and stop snoring…. I swear I practically pushed him off the bed and he still wouldn’t wake up to turn over….. so I figured blow this and went to sleep in Tamsyn’s room (they were at their Dad’s), ended up having diabolical nightmares – really complicated, can’t remember any of it but I do remember waking up and each time I’d fall back asleep I’d be back in the damn dream……. gave up and went back to my room ….. husband still snoring but not quite so loudly…… then the cats got going…… they proceeded to play with whatever they’d dragged in for around an hour… all over the house….. cue Gymmie’s need for me to show him where his food bowl is (for some unknown reason he keeps forgetting each day)… get attacked by the giant moth the cats had dragged in….. stumble back to bed only to have the cats continue to chase their moth all over the house….. and then eat it in our bedroom complete with lip smacking noises……and to top it all off..Gymmie pee’d in the bath.”

And in other wonderful news – Friday the 13th claimed several victims in our household including my PC…..which has necessitated a new hard drive (double the size of the previous one… yay!) and hours upon hours of copying, re-installing and discovering what I’ve lost – fortunately I’d backed up all my photographs recently, ‘cos really they’re the most important thing on my pc.

Kind of glad the weekend is over.

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Belated April Fool!

Huh, and you thought I would go through an entire year not blogging….. pffft.

Since I’ve married into an Afrikaans family I’ve been exposed to a variety of different cultural experiences that have left me non-plussed sometimes and pleasantly surprised at others.  However most of my exposure has come from doing the KKNK thing.

It’s proved time and time again to be fun and this year was no exception. Although we did end up arriving a day late due to extenuating circumstances:

Me: The sign we just passed, did it say Albertinia or Albertina (remember I’m geographically challenged)

Wouter: What? (he’s kind of hard of hearing sometimes.. although he claims I mumble)

Me: The sign we just passed, did it say Albertinia or Albertina (slightly louder this time)

Wouter: Albertinia

Me: Oh, (long pause)

Me: Might be nice to stay at the hotel there and then you wouldn’t have to put up a tent in the dark and this torrential rain*

(for the record – this photo was taken on Saturday morning – and does not reflect in any way the appalling weather we were being subjected to on Friday!)

The Albertinia Hotel has a certain olde worlde charm which I have likened to Fawlty Towers before and every time we stay there I am more and more convinced. If you’re into modern, sophisticated or luxurious then this hotel isn’t for you, but if you enjoy eccentricity, home style cooking and being trusted to turn the lights off and lock up when you leave the main hotel area**, then you should definitely arrange a stay.

Our first show was at 14:00 so we had plenty of time to pitch our tent and soak up some atmosphere.

Unfortunately a lot of the “atmosphere” was parked right on our doorstep – the Huisgenoot’s Musiekplaas was set up in the field opposite us and we were subjected entertained by a variety of Afrikaans singers and their treffers.  I’ll give them their due though, they did pack up just after 22:00 which was fortunate ‘cos we’d about run out of port by then.

(for those not in the know and frankly it’s a pretty poor picture – then again I am zoomed in as far as my camera will go – the dude singing is Heinz Winckler)

The other two shows we went to were Buurtwag (sadly nothing to write home about) and from what I can gather three rather well known Afrikaans dudes telling stories interspersed with a song or two from Valiant Swart (now that was worthwhile, although I did have to concentrate really hard to follow and missed probably 95 % of the punchlines).

Couldn’t resist taking this photo, if you’ve ever heard the local kids sing, you’ll appreciate this tremendously.

(did my best to coax a smile from them, the little guy in the middle just wasn’t having any of it – guess keeping still is serious business – also my Afrikaans accent is horrible)

Another one to add to the list of great times had :-)

*the fact that when we did get to Oudshoorn and pitched our tent on relatively dry grass is completely besides the point.

** the staff having finished their duties figured home was definitely where they would like to be.

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One of these days I’m gonna…

People often mention how hard it is to raise children, they harp on about how your time is never your own, how privacy and sleep become a luxury coveted and grasped with greedy fingers whenever you can.

Well let me tell you something – my kids have nothing on the three moronic and delinquent cats we have.  At least my kids learnt to sleep through and no longer feel it necessary to join me whenever I’m either on the loo or in the bath.

The cats on the other hand have decided to partake in their own sleep and privacy deprivation experiment, the subject?  Me.

They each have a favourite test.

Gymmie’s is to see how long it takes for the subject to stumble from the bed (any time between 2:30 and 4:30) and open the front door to let him out. Variations on this is how long it takes the subject to let him in should he be outside, or how long it will take the subject before she starts swearing when said front door is open and he takes his merry time going out by alternatively hiding under the lounge table or behind the dining room wall.

Phoebe mixes things up a bit by luring the subject into a false sense of security by stopping her test for days on end only to surprise the subject with a sharp pat on the nose with a paw (nails extended), if one pat doesn’t wake the subject up then several more ensue.

Misty being the youngest of the three thinks it is hysterically funny to leap through the cat flap and proceed to pull a Simons Cat by sitting on the subject and meowing in her ear.

See the charming scene below, a pretty Xmas tree (listing slightly to the left), a Mom and Daughter enjoying some quality (albeit cut throat) bonding time playing monopoly and a sweet kitty lying on the couch?

Well now see what that “sweet” kitty did with a little help from a friend this morning.

*mutter* bloody cats!

If you aren’t already a Simon’s Cat fan (what’s wrong with you!?) you have to see this one – it’s even more appropriate than the previous one I pointed you to.

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An apple a day… or how I went over to the dark side

Birthdays for me have always been these special, magical days – as a kid I’d get super excited, butterflies in the tummy excited, every time I’d think of how many days to go. I’d also remind everyone weeks ahead of the time thus ensuring they never felt the angst or trauma of forgetting, some might say Sixteen Candles had an indelible effect on me. Because lets face it, there is nothing more miserable than a Leo on her birthday with no prettily be-ribboned boxes to open (one might be lead to believe this indicates a very very spoilt brat – fortunately no-one I know would ever say that about me *cough* and live).

As the years have passed and I’ve grown older (possibly wiser) I’ve learnt to contain my excitement somewhat, still remind everyone weeks ahead of the time because lets face it…..

Still this year the birthday excitement was somewhat tempered by the mind boggling fact that I was turning 40 – how the heck did that happen? How did I go from being the youngest in any social gathering to one of the more mature members of the group? (In case you’re doff – that was a rhetorical question, I. Do. Not. Want. An. Answer). There were moments in the build up to The Big Day where I questioned my sanity (again….comments are not required) and *gasp* even considered ignoring the day all together. Something which would have caused a crack in the very fabric of the universe (you can tell I don’t read much Sci Fi) that was until The Big Day arrived and my usual birthday optimism and joy on receiving all things wrapped in pretty paper and ribbon kicked in.

It was a stupendous weekend and ranked up there with a previous momentous birthday weekend a decade ago…. oh my friggen hell……. did I just write decade?

{there was a short interlude due to the writer of this post attempting to slit her wrists with a very blunt nail file}

Family came over, family flew down from Jhb, friends sent b/day sms’s and facebook messages and there were presents, oh boy were there presents which leads me to my somewhat cryptic title.

I am now the very proud owner of an Apple iPad 2* and have completely gone over to the dark side. This baby is beautiful, mind boggling beautiful and dare I even say it, might very well be the death of the physical book? *ducks the lightening bolt* The screen is insanely sharp, some of the apps are really very clever and Gina the talking Giraffe provides hours of mindless amusement. I am by nature a hoarder and collector of things, I don’t care if I now have more books in my library than I could possibly read in a lifetime (which keeps getting shorter and shorter every blimmen year!) the very idea of being able to carry around 1000’s of 1000’s of books in one relatively light device, excites me almost as much as waking up on my birthday.

* very very spoilt brat!!

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Walt Disney World…

Disney isn’t kind like the rest of the hotels, motels and inns we’ve stayed at along the way, there is no free wifi hence the lack of blog posts excitedly extolling the wonder that is Disney. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been wonderful or exciting just means they’re too money grubbing to give us free internet….big corporate meanies.

Anyway let me sum up the days so far:

We left New Orleans fairly early in the morning having arranged for the taxi guy to pick us up, good thing he gave us his personal number because the taxi rank’s number just rang and rang, not sure how legit the whole thing was but we really didn’t care. Two planes later (had to stop in Atlanta and transfer to another plane) we landed in Florida.

Urgh it’s just as hot here as New Orleans only the humidity isn’t quite as life threatening – won’t whinge about the heat again just remember it’s flippen hot.

The transfer from the airport to the hotel went smoothly, the electronic voice in the bus raving about what we can see and do got a little annoying and then we were finally at our hotel – the All Star Music resort. Had told the kids we had to hit Disney running seeing as it was 4th July and all, besides which we have 4 days in which to cram 4 parks, a universal studio plus the water parks.

First park – Hollywood studios where Tamsyn and I discovered what millions of people know (and believe me there are millions of people here) that being scared half to death on a ride is the only way to go. Our first ride (and personal favourite so far) – the Tower of Terror, where you’re ushered into a beautifully decorated room, the door closes behind you and scary music starts piping from the speakers, you’re convinced they’re going to plummet you to your doom without so much as a handle to cling to when they turn the lights out but really it’s all just the build up to the actual ride. That’s the nice thing about the rides here the build up (ie the long wait in really long queues) is part of the whole experience and just adds to the enjoyment. Having scared me half witless we were shown where to take our seats for the ride, 30 seconds later adrenalin pumping, heart racing we were out in the street again. The ride basically drops you and picks you up again several times and most of it is spent alternatively screaming and trying to hang on – So Much Fun!!

Once we’d established I wasn’t going to freak out or throw up after a ride the game was on and we have since tried to find all the ‘x-factor’ rides in each theme park. None, in my opinion, have really lived up to the Tower of Terror although the Rock and Roll coaster has come pretty darn close. Not even the Hulk at Universal Studios was as bad as it looked from the ground, can kind of understand those nut cases you hear about who travel the world in search of the ultimate rollercoaster.

Each park is beautifully decorated and you really do feel like you’re in a fairytale especially in the Magic Kingdom. We haven’t really had time to explore it’s been more a rush to get to a ride, see how long the wait is, grab a fast pass if available, stop in as many air conditioned shops available, find a bite to eat and survive the crush of people. That’s really the only downside the overwhelming mass of people (and the heat of course) you can’t enjoy things as much as you would if you weren’t fighting and jostling with people. Having said that everyone waits very patiently in the queues and you don’t get any feeling of impatience or animosity in fact most people are really friendly and will strike up a conversation given half a chance.

We watched the 4th July fireworks display in the Hollywood Studios park and one can’t leave without seeing them go off over the castle in the Magic Kingdom. They’re really beautiful and almost impossible to capture on camera.

Yesterday we went to Universal Studios park which for Jessica has been a major highlight – two words Harry Potter, she’s been waiting for this moment since the trip began and I do believe it lived up to her expectations. I’ve had people say they prefer Universal to Disney but I’m not so sure. The park was great and I especially enjoyed the Dr Seuss part of it but it doesn’t have the same feel as Disney it’s more like going to Ratanga. Of course I goofed and we initially ended up in the wrong park which would have been a total disaster. They have two theme parks and the one I figured Potter would be in turned out not to be, so it was a mad rush to the customer services centre to have our tickets re-issued. They were very good about it (I’m guessing I’m not the only nit around) and gave us half an hour to get to the other park. It was fun and we spent most of the day there.

Epcot (back in Disney) was quite disappointing so we didn’t stay there long, the Animal Kingdom was interesting, and had a rollercoaster which at one point takes you backwards in the dark, still it wasn’t as good as the Tower. Have also realised one shouldn’t do the rides again ‘cos they are never as thrilling or nail biting as the first time.

Tamsyn and I swam for a bit this afternoon but these crazy Americans heat their pools so its like swimming in a tepid bath, boggles my brain it does especially as the outside temperature is somewhere in the high 30’s with humidity tossed in and they go and heat the pools, madness.

For our final night we went back to Hollywood Studios and did our two favourite rides, bought loads of Disney merchandise and then Wouter and I celebrated our anniversary by having a drink at the poolside bar – ten years together, pretty darn amazing.

Which finally brings our trip to an end, our bags are packed and the long flight(s) lie ahead of us.  It’s been an awesome trip and one not likely to be forgotten any time soon.

Photos to be added at a later date.

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RIP – Janice

Have just found out a good friend of mine passed away recently – I don’t know many details from what I can gather her colon ruptured and she had to have an emergency operation from which she never recovered.

Rest in peace Janice.

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Figure Hell isn’t this hot

Humidity and heat are not a good combination, toss in a group of people and you have a really good chance of them turning on each other, as was evidenced yesterday. Damn but this place is HOT, hotter than Las Vegas (only because of the humidity).

Other than the heat New Orleans is as equally fascinating as San Francisco just in a different way. The people are friendly and I just adore their accent, hard to describe but definitely distinctive. We’re staying in the Historic Creole Inn which is everything its website claims it is. The rooms are charming and we have a bar fridge, access to a microwave and for some reason at least a dozen flannels (go figure). There is no maid service during your stay but there is aircon and right now I’d take aircon above absolutely anything else.

This sign is pretty much the only indication that one is at the right place

We walked around the French Quarter popping into many shops unfortunately prices of things around here are exorbitant, they’re beautiful but way out of our price range, sadly. Many antique shops with inkwells (Mom collects them) but I figured $175 was definitely more than we were willing to fork out.

A typical street in the French Quarter

Yup, they want $15k for 7 signed Potter books – are they nuts?

In our travels around town we spotted a tour booth, initially we thought we’d take one of the Ghost tours but as soon as the seller mentioned it was a 2 hour walking tour I put my foot down. We ended up on the swamp tour which was made almost bearable by our guide, he was both informative and funny. I know I’m going on and on about the heat but it is as bad as I’m making out. Oh and the tour booth seller could seriously do with an anger management class whilst he was dealing with us some poor unsuspecting tourist reached out to take a pamphlet and got her head bitten off in the process much yelling on the part of our seller and then he turns back to us as sweet as can be.

Anger Management Dude

The swamp

The only gator we saw – even he was too hot to swim out to eat the marshmallow

For some reason they feed them marshmallows, not sure if that’s ecologically a good thing but its what they do. They apparently have a couple of really big alligators reaching up to 11 feet in length.

After the swamps we came back to our rooms (oh sweet aircon) and played google trying to find somewhere to eat but more importantly somewhere to buy booze. Both missions accomplished we left the kids happily watching tv while we foraged.

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Bye, bye Yellowstone

Up early to strike the tents and head off for the long drive back to Salt Lake City (six hours) to catch our flight to New Orleans – good thing Wouter enjoys driving ‘cos we’ve sure done enough of it on this trip, then again this is the last time we hand the car in at the airport and will have to rely on public transport and our feet from now on – oh the horror!

Leaving the park we saw the ever present Bison, but did manage to spot two male elk and a mule deer, still no wolves though, maybe next time. Forgot to mention how much we enjoyed the snow as well, I’ve never been this close to so much of it and even though I was instructed not to step on it on the grounds that I’d end up killing myself, it was wonderful to experience it. Yellowstone has been an amazing experience and I’m pretty sure we won’t forget it for a long time.

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