Things forgotten and changed

I spent a few days with Pete in Johannesburg; my first trip back since my folks moved down to the Eastern Cape.  It was a strange notion knowing I would not be going to the home where I spent majority of my childhood and early adult years.

I did however get to enjoy a special lunch with my brothers.  I would loved to have spent more time with them.  ♥

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Looks like I’m storing nuts in my cheeks

Johannesburg is a fast paced busy city.  There is a lingering concrete jungle smell in the air and at the same time a calm quiet in the absence of a breeze.  Living at the coast I am accustomed to the constant movement of air from a glorious gentle whisper of wind to full blown gales – the wind cleansing everything as it traverses and whistles through the trees.  I digress.

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Image courtesy:  Jay Caboz

I forgot what it is like to be in a corporate environment zipping here and there at speed.  Do I miss it, maybe just a little, although I am becoming more of a country bumpkin – a bad thing, I don’ think so.  Just the next phase of my evolution.  The trip up north did however rejuvenate my want to write and even though I have always been loyal to my obligations, I am feeling renewed to be more present in my commitments.

I spent a couple of hours catching up with an ex colleague – we commented how lovely it was to pick up from where we left off, almost as if the passed nearly 15 years were like 15 days.

After the hustle and bustle of a few days, the best part was being able to spend albeit short, uninterrupted time with my Pete before he headed back to Kenya and me home.  I did not want to let him go.  It gets harder and harder with each trip. ♥

Such is Life

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Our beautiful Sundays River

We chose to live where we do for the tranquil quality we appreciate and treasure –  to be on the doorstep of a National Park, River and Beach which for a large part are unscathed by man.  City life is just not our speed.

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King of the jungle in Addo National Elephant Park

We respect our environment and care for it as much as we can and help annually with a river and beach clean up which incorporates educating the local youth about the importance of reducing, re-using and recycling as well as being part of a team of committed folk who donate food, clothing and the like plus our time once a month to distribute these goods to the youngsters who bring plastic containers and tins to school for recycling further helping to keep our environment clean and encouraging them to be proud of where they live.

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There is also my involvement as Chair for our Community Police Forum and Neighbourhood Watch initiatives which boils down to a semi full time job sans remuneration but makes me no less committed.  My resolve is occasionally tested though, as a curve ball gets thrown our way and we have to endure unnecessary stress of people violating our rights by holding illegal protests and burning vehicles which throes me into endless texting and phone calls to determine who, what, when, how and why all the while trying to reassure a village we are safe.

Kinkelbos CPF Logo               NHW logo

It is a harsh reminder of how volatile life can be.  We enjoy the comfort of our daily lives and then in a heartbeat it changes.  I don’t believe we are unique by any means, we just feel it more being such a small community.

Then everything settles and returns to normal and just as I breathe a sigh of relief, the next hurdle gets put in front me to test my resolve  with the news of scary things, things I don’t know how to comprehend or how to deal with so I throw myself at the internet trying desperately to find answers.

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South Africa’s National flower – the protea

Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and was quickly in surgery to remove his left kidney.  Test results were positive, all the cancer was removed with the kidney, then quickly comes the news of lung cancer.  I have truly never experienced anything as traumatic and scary in my 43 years.  I have never felt such pain.  Deep! Right to my core.  Daddy is both mentally and physically strong and at 73 has never been sick or seen the inside of a hospital  for anything other than visiting someone else.  I can’t begin to comprehend what he and Mommy have felt through all of this.  They are remarkable and nothing will get them down, nothing!  Dad’s positive attitude has been inspiring to see.  We are in the midst of Dad’s treatment and believe he is already cancer free.  Believe it with us, and if you can, please light a candle for Daddy, he is a special man who deserves all the love in the world.

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Love, love, love. Mom, Me, Pete and Dad at a recent ruby match. SA VS Ireland – Ireland played a better game but we won in the end

During the same time as finding out about Dad’s cancer, my cousin was involved in a motorcycle accident, which resulted in his left leg being amputated.  What a remarkable young man – his attitude, like Dad’s  is awe inspiring and his being able to get back up and at em is wonderful to see.

My family has been tested the past while, not about how much we love each other and how we all stand strong together but how much we can actually deal with all the while still smiling. ♥

Swaziland & The Kruger National Park

We had the most wonderful few days away in Swaziland and the weather was heavenly!

Our breakaway started with a night’s stopover at my folks which is always a wonderful treat and after breakfast the following morning Pete and I packed the car and hit the road.  Before I knew it, we were at the border post.  A quick three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg  – fabulous!


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Swaziland has beautiful rolling hills and mountains.  Sadly the autumn weather wasn’t kind enough to give us a clear view but they were breathtaking nonetheless.

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Unfortunately for Pete he had to work the whole day after we arrived which left me to my own devices for a leisurely long breakfast, followed by tea in the room with my feet up on the bed doing a crossword before heading to the pool for some additional R&R followed by what I thought was a necessary run around the very hilly golf course.  All that relaxation leaves a girl a little plump around the middle!  Pete took me on the route the day before when we arrived and I almost thought he was joking about how steep some of the inclines were – I had to go up on my toes otherwise I would have rolled back down.  Needless to say these were the most challenging runs of my life!  I wish I could capture it on a photo so you can see how steep it all is.

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Pete treated me to the best meal of my life in the hotels in house restaurant, Planters – a quaint welcoming and elegant restaurant/bar.  It was lovely to dress up and put on some lippy for the evening out and I have truly never eaten a better steak in my life!  The wine and company weren’t half bad either. 😉

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Seems our waiter had the shakes when taking our photo. At least I look slim and young. 🙂

Sadly 3 days later it was time to leave Swaziland  and decided to do one more stopover en route back to the folks and went into the Kruger National Park, a sister park to our Addo where you know Pete and I spend lots of time.  Holy macaroni!  We weren’t anticipating much excitement as we could only spend a couple of hours in the park (it is HUGE – you need 5 days or more to cover its magnificence) before heading to our overnight accommodation but were we in for a serious surprise!

Kruger map

No sooner had we entered the park and driven  around 1 km when we were graced with the presence of 2 snoozing rhinos!  We have only spotted one in our park which we may never see again so this was incredible!  I snapped away frantically thinking we would never have such an opportunity again but wait…there was more!  We were squealing with delight by the time we left the park as we saw no less than 13 rhinos – all with their horns.  Now that I am typing this it worries me that some revolting poacher may read it and hunt down these near extinct magnificent animals for their horns.  What idiots to think their horns are an aphrodisiac.  How can keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails possibly be an aphrodisiac.  They can just as well grind up their own hair and nails, but I am getting off the point.  I have always said to Pete that a giraffe and squirrel will complete our family – he ain’t buying it. 😀  Well, the second I spotted a graceful long legged beauty, I whacked Pete so hard on the arm, I am sure he has a permanent bruise!  I couldn’t believe how incredibly lucky we were.  Short of putting in an order before heading into the Kruger, I couldn’t have asked for better viewing.

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We also saw loads of Impala and a couple of buffalo, a pair of vultures and a wildebeest (gnu) and some fascinating birds!  What a treasured couple of hours in the park.  Must say though the toasted sandwiches we ordered for lunch were revolting.  No matter as the viewing was out of this world.

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We enjoyed 2 more sleeps with my folks and had a wonderful evening with my brothers and their families.  Unfortunately my one sister in law and her youngest weren’t able to join us as the little one was sickly.

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Two brothers and a sister

Guess we will just have to go back and visit again soon.

Finally… I’m back!

It feels like an age since I sat down to write a post or popped over to read all your lovely blogs; I hope I haven’t missed out on too much in my absence.

Nicely rested with a lovely golden tan after a wonderful holiday with family, it’s time to get the ball rolling again, I’m just not sure where to start.

up river

A quick synopsis of our holiday… We watched in awe with tears streaming down our cheeks as  a friend with Parkinson’s disease stood up and sang in a hall filled with people he doesn’t know.  I honed my skills on reversing our boat trailer, learnt how to throw a throw net and even managed to net a few fish, took a good few blurry photo’s of our resident fish eagle, heard it’s magnificent call, saw a leguaan being attacked by starlings to steer it away from their nests; enjoyed many a breakfast on the river on our little boat – crispy bacon, boiled eggs and toasted seed loaf with a nice cuppa.  We enjoyed a few trips with my folks too which was awesome.  These morning rejuvenated our souls.  We spent a morning in the Addo National Elephant park.  I watched Pete skurf (skiing using a surfboard) for the first time in over 10 years – clearly it’s like riding a bike.  We celebrated my dad and Pete’s birthday and as with so many other meals, ate far too much wonderful food.  We tried in vein to get my mom to put her feet up after her second foot operation on both feet but alas she needs to mother us all – It is wonderful being spoilt by my mommy.  I went for a run most days – yay for me.  We viewed what we thought would be our new home but sadly it was not right, the second was beautiful and near perfect but alas it is out of our price range.  Our new forever home is around here somewhere, I’m just not sure exactly where it is yet.

Pete and I started the new year off by going for medicals and blood tests to check our cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, bmi, fitness and a few other things I have already forgotten- oops.  Seems our medical company is a wee bit confused though as with one of the results I am a year younger than my actual age and with another set of results I am two years older!  Maybe I am supposed to subtract the one from the other to get my actual age.  Haa.  Oh well, guess there is no exact science to it all. Overall I am healthy so there’s a luck although I do seem to be being wrapped over the knuckles for enjoying a glass or two of red wine in the evenings, other than that according to their criteria I am practising 6 of the 7 lifestyle habits. I’m happy with that.

I must confess to not taking many photos this holiday.  I was enjoying the moments of happiness far too much to interrupt them with my camera.

I know that 2014 is going to be a wonderful year for us all and I am looking forward to enjoying the journey with you all.

My brother Greg and his Family

Seems I have a bit of a family theme going on at the moment seeing this is my third family post this month.

Earlier in the month my brother Greg and his lovely family visited the River for a family vacation and stayed at my folks holiday home just down the road from our home.

Greg, Karin, Tom, Anne

Unfortunately the 2 days we set aside to do a family photo shoot  didn’t work out so the best I can do is share this 18 month old family portrait with you.

Sadly Pete was away at the time of their visit.  I think Greg and Karin felt a little sorry for me being on my own, even though I am more than used to it.  They lovingly invited me to join them every evening for dinner.

Karin is a vegetarian while the rest of the family are omnivores so there was a wonderful array of dishes and Karin opened my eyes to how delicious and varied vegetarian food can be.  I hope to share a few of her recipes soon.

Besides all the eating, which we as a family are very good at, it was such a heart warming experience to be a “fly on the wall” to watch how my brother and his family interact.  I never realised children can be so well behaved!  Tom is 7 and Annie 5 and never once did they argue with mommy or daddy when they were told to switch the telly off or get washed up for dinner, oh and these two little ones eat everything, what a refreshing change.  After dinner, instead of everybody sitting in front of the telly, they played games together, the children put on shows (so adorable) and they shared their favourite bits about that days outing with each other and planned what they were doing the next day before it was bath and bedtime for the little ones, which also came with no argument. Lovely.

I received daily notes from Tom and Anne with messages of how much they love their Aunty Mandy with pictures of the animals they saw, the sand dunes they played on, the river they swam in and the fish their daddy caught.  I even have a note saying Aunty Mandy is the best! 😀  I will treasure that always.

Notes for Aunty Mandy

It was lovely to spend time with a part of my family whom I hardly get to see as we live so many hundreds of kilometres away from each other.  Special times, the after effects of which are still keeping me all warm and fuzzy.

Farewell to a dear uncle

My Uncle Eugene sadly succumbed to the cancer which had taken over his body in the early hours of 14 July 2014.

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Pete and I learned of the news of Uncle Eugene’s cancer while we were still living in Mauritius.  It was extremely difficult being so far away from family and not being able to just pick up the phone to chat to see how everybody was.  Thankfully, we were able to enjoy the last 2 years of Uncle Eugene’s life with him when we returned home.  Not once in those 2 years did I ever hear him complain – he always found the good or positive about everything, even when he was in excruciating pain.

My Uncle was a very special and wonderful man who taught me insurmountable amounts about so much!  He, like me was a perfectionist – everything always had to be in its place.  His workshop always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling with everything immaculately labelled and in perfect alphabetically and numerical order.

Uncle Eugene was a man who worked with his hands and what wondrous work he did.  I have lost count of the repairs and maintenance he has done on our home.  Anybody who knew him, knew how invaluable his work was to all of us – there honestly isn’t another being who could take as much care and pride with what they do as my uncle did.

I have faultless hand drawn sketches of sections of our home where Uncle Eugene explained whatever it was that needed to be done – they would look rather good in frames on our wall now that I come to think about it. 🙂

I like to believe we had a special relationship, my uncle and I.  There were a number of standing “chirps” and terms of endearment we always shared, I will miss that.

I am grateful I was able to say goodbye to my uncle the evening before he passed.

Farewell to a special and much loved man – rest in pain free peace.  I love you.