#Moodboard Monday: Orange

I can’t actually believe it’s #MoodboardMonday again already.

Let’s talk orange today. This colour has many positive associations and is perfect to get in the mood for the warmer weather (here in South Africa, anyway). I can’t wear orange, it just isn’t suited to my skin tone, but I decided that it might be a good idea to wear different shades of it on my nails. Every time I look at my hands, I feel a pang of enthusiasm and energy. I need both after the downer-week I had last week.

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Moodboard Monday: Purple

A long while ago, I was tasked with making #moodboards for work. I decided to do some research on the Psychology of colours. It turned out to be an incredibly fun, creatively soothing exercise for me. Not being much in the mood to write of late, I lay in the bath wondering what I could do to inspire some blog posts. One of the things my therapist told me is to remember things that invoke good feelings and repeat them. It was then that I decided to write a series of colour-related posts.

I think it fitting to begin with my favourite colour: Purple.

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Day 76: At Least That’s What I Think It is…

I’ve lost count; I think it’s day 76 of the lockdown, or as I’ve come to realize, the new normal. It’s been challenging, but slowly I am beginning to get used to it. I’ve pretty much given up wearing my specs when I go out because they constantly fog up when I wear my mask.

My cooking skills continue to improve. I made an amazing Thai green chicken curry a while back which was beyond delicious. As I become more confident, I will experiment with spice mixtures myself, rather than the readymade ones. The Amish apple loaf is something I can make with my eyes closed and it is an absolute hit.

I also tried my hand at making a vegan tropical rice pudding. Oh my word! It was so delicious, I at the entire pot all by myself.

Tomorrow I plan to make chicken a’la king and somewhere in between then and Monday, I want to try a Jamaican banana bread. Yes, I’m finally climbing on the bandwagon. I also want to try making pizza dough in the breadmaker.

Staying in the kitchen, I finally used my juicer. I made an amazing mix of beetroot, cucumber, apple, pineapple, and orange juice. I stored it in a Douw Egberts coffee bottle, but it didn’t last. I drank it all. I felt spritely afterwards. My body must not have known what hit it – such freshness! I made some for Elizabeth and when II went into work, I took some for Carla and Rowena too. Carla is quite keen to try anything that comes out of my kitchen. I feel bad for all the pulp that goes to waste, but I will freeze it next time and use it in waffles, soup, cakes, or even try to make vegetarian patties of some sort.

On June 1st, the ban on alcohol was lifted. People queued for hours to get booze. I waited until Tuesday, went to Woolies and bought a bottle of Diemersfontein Chocolate Shiraz there. In and out in under ten minutes. Elizabeth and I drank it on Friday night while sitting a great social distance apart from each other.

There are rumours doing the rounds that some MEC’s are requesting a reinstatement of the ban because abuse cases are on the rise, as are accidents. Just last week, someone posted on a local Facebook group that a visibly drunk man knocked her son over – this while the inebriated prat had three children in his own vehicle. Apparently, he was let go, because under COVID-19 regulations, he couldn’t be breathalyzed. The question begs, why wasn’t he detained and taken to hospital to have his blood drawn? What if the child he hit had sustained serious injuries? The mind boggles…

On the subject of blood, I went to donate a pint yesterday. It’s been over a decade since I last made a donation. Turns out my details were still on record after the extended hiatus, and yesterday was a milestone donation: number 25. I got a nifty picnic blanket to mark the occasion. My hope is that when a modicum of normality returns to life, I can convince our management to host a clinic once every two months. I broached the subject in March, but then lockdown happened.

Last Wednesday, Lily-Rose celebrated her crown birthday. I could unfortunately not spend the day with her, her parents and her Nanna because I had work but took a drive out to the farm on Saturday. The great thing about the farm is the wide-open spaces, so visiting with social distancing in place is easy.

They have a few orphaned lambs that are bottle-fed which is always a highlight to me. I can confirm that Ba-Ba Black Sheep is indeed real. And he is a glutton for milk. If I didn’t have a tight grip on the bottle, he would have pulled the teat clean off.

Apologies for the bad quality pic, but the little bugger is lightning fast…

I also got better acquainted with the chickens.

I’m seriously not made for selfies…

 One thing I love about going to the farm is t a drive down to the river. The reflections on the water are always magnicient.

My heart is always happy when I’m close to the water
Another photo for Reflections of a Misfit, by the Reflective Misfit herself

Rachel the Rocket continues to grow, giving me hope that I might be able to cultivate other edible indoor plants after all. I don’t have the right set-up at The Cave to grow plants outside, and with the way the wind has been destroying things of late, even if I could, I wouldn’t.

Tonight, a ridiculous wind storm is expected, bringing with it a cold front and freezing temperatures. I fortunately still have some Cape Ruby Port left from last year, and The Bean gave me a pair of warm slippers to wear, on the proviso that I buy her another pair that simply slips on.

The one thing I do enjoy about the winter is the sunsets (I just hate that the sun is down by 17:30 already).

Work continues at a reasonable pace. The lockdown has changed many things and there is a ripple effect as a result. It can be extremely frustrating at times, but I’m still fortunate to have a job, and even more so, to still be able to work remotely. On cold days, I’m extra grateful because I can work while sitting under a blanket, with an unlimited supply of coffee.

That’s all for now. I promise my next post won’t be weeks away.

Until next time, stay safe and keep warm! And remember:

Days 12 and 13: Pets Control

Yes, you read right. I did not have a dyslexic moment. The major portion of this post is going to be about my friends’ pets, and how furry, feathered, and scaled companions have made lockdown easier for many, including myself.

For those of you that are inclined to have Seriously-Sensitive-Susan moments, a great deal of this post is written tongue-in-cheek. The idea is not to offend, but to bring humour, and hope. Please read (and accept) it in that way.

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Restaurant Review: Salt & Copper

I took my folks and a follower-friend to a new place that opened its doors during the week called Salt & Copper, based just outside Hartenbos, Mossel Bay.

We were met at the door by the hostess, Samantha, who gave us menus, and said she’d get our waiter. We perused the menus for about 10 minutes. The food options look delicious, with dishes available for both the carnivorous human, as well as the herbivorous ones. The dessert options sound sinfully good too.

Menu 1

Menu 2

Menu 3

There is a extensive wine list, featuring wines for all tastes from local wineries, as well as a great gin selection. There are also gin and wine tastings available as well as pairings for both. Prices are in line with what you would expect to pay at a mid-level to up-market restaurant.

Wine List

Gin & Cocktails

Pairings & Kids Menu

Sadly, the service left us wanting – we tried to get someone’s attention three times to no avail. Eventually our waiter came along and apologized, stating that it was his first day. There were more than enough staff on the floor (many of them behind the counter), but it is clear that some are still very unsure of themselves, and while I understand that teething problems are to be expected, I’ve lived in Mossel Bay long enough to know that bad service is not going to go down well with the often-impatient holiday makers that will be flooding in from up North later this month.

On the positive side:

The quips on the menu: “Unsupervised children will be sold to the circus…” got a chuckle out of me, as did “Champaign ice cubes” because Champaign is a city in the US State of Illonois. Champagne is what I think they meant to say. Proofreading is important, particularly when you’re presenting such a chic, swanky image.

The building itself has an industrial feel about it, but is very stylishly decorated, with various seating options, lovely glassware and striking copper items against dark, charcoal-like walls. It’s hip and trendy.

What’s also great to see is a spekboom (called an Elephant Bush, or in some instances a Pork Bush) in English on each table. It is referred to in many circles as a miracle plant and it is waterwise too, an added bonus given the water restrictions in our area.

Setting

Setting 2

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Table decor

Decor 2

We didn’t stay long, having only hot beverages as we had a reservation for lunch elsewhere.

Hot Beverages

** Menu, Wine, Gin and Hot Beverages Images from Salt and Copper’s webpage **

The tea was served in delightful glass teapots, but there were no teaspoons on the saucers. The only one that received a teaspoon with her drink was the cappuccino-drinker in our group. These small details need to enjoy more attention.

Teapot

The cappuccino had by my follower-friend was very tasty. My beetroot latte was deliciously hot, but a little too spicy (in comparison with those I’ve enjoyed at establishments in Wilderness and Knysna) for my personal taste. I love the cup in which it was served.

Beetroot Latte & Cappucino

There are play amenities outside to keep kids busy – one for 0-4 years, and another for bigger kids. There is also a large chessboard for those enthusiasts wanting to exercise their strategic brains into a good ol’ checkmate.

Chessboard

I do hope that things will improve, because its close proximity to home and variety of food and drink make it the ideal place to support. Honestly though, if I’m going to pay between R125 and R155 for a main meal, I do expect good service as well and unfortunately, our short experience yesterday left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

With that said, I am a believer in second chances, so will visit once the Silly Season is over (but it will have to be on a weekend, given the odd operating hours:

Sun-Thurs 08:00 – 17:00

Fri-Sat 08:00 – 22:00

In the Season it will undoubtedly be profitable to trade during these hours, given the setting, but what about the locals who work (both in and out of season) who would like to have an enjoyable dinner during the week?

My suggestion is that the business hours be revisited – possibly open later during the week (my suggestion would be round 10:00 and shut shop at 20:30).

Price

That’s my R91.00 worth, with a star rating of 2 ½ out of 5.

Circles in the Forest: Oakhurst Farm Cottages

One of the followers on my Facebook page asked for a few facts about me, so here they are – 13 of them because I’m not superstitious.

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Also, four come up in this post:

Forest-lover, but not tree hugger

Mild arachnophobe

Cheesecake freak

Enjoyer of puns

Growing up I spent time reading South African author, Dalene Matthee’s books because they were set in the Knysna Forest, which is an hour’s drive away, and also because I knew they would be our Afrikaans prescribed literature at some stage.  She published many books, but the two I think would be her most well known are Fiela se Kind (Fiela’s Child) and Kringe in ‘n Bos (Circles in a Forest).

Last weekend, after literally being home from Victoria Falls for two days, I set off on another adventure with three girlfriends from work, Catherine, Yoki, Rhonda and Kerryn (Rhonda’s daughter) to Oakhurst Farm, where we stayed in one of the quaint cottages, called Kween’s Kaya (Queen’s Home).  Apt, considering that we are amazing gals who could rule the world if the humdrum of work and paying bills didn’t stand in our way.

Kweens Kaya

We arrived at dusk on Friday afternoon, using trusty Google Maps.  We found our accommodation with no problem. There are various types of accommodation available – check out the website here.  Our home-away-from-home was clean and well equipped.  What I found particularly lovely is a box of different toys in one of the cupboards, for those people travelling with young ‘uns, and a really cool way to play Tic-Tac-Toe, or as some others may know it, Noughts-and-Crosses.

Tic Tac Toe

We lit a fire in the small indoor fireplace, more for atmosphere, than warmth and dinner prep was begun shortly after.

Kindling

Fire

I go away every year with the same group of friends and every year is an experience because we gel as a team.  One loves to cook, others don’t mind washing or dishes and I love setting the table.  We have a silent understanding that we’re all away to relax and that there is no need to keep one another entertained.

Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast we set off to explore the farm a bit.

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It is a working dairy farm so we saw many cows.

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We also got to sample the fresh farm milk because our hosts had placed a bottle in our fridge.  Soooooo creamy!

milk

There is a lovely playground for children, a delightful farm shop, a farm pool in which to cool off and activities such as archery and horse-riding, costs of which are not included in your stay.

Welcome Pack

Beautiful pastures, meadows and dams are dotted around the farm, and the dusty road is lined by tall Bluegum trees.

Road

We decided to do the Forest Walk, (which this forest lover, but not tree-hugger was happy about).

Forest Walk

It is meant to be a 5 Km circular route, with a waterfall just past halfway.  Not one of us thought to bring water, nor did we think that we would be character candidates for Kringe in ‘n Bos, volume 2.  We found the waterfall with relative ease, although the water was more of a trickle than a fall.

Waterfall

Maybe I’m biased after having seen Victoria Falls, who knows?  On the way to the waterfall, we saw a sign that read, “To Cottages/Church” and decided that this was the way home.  It may very well have been, had we not gone to the waterfall, because after circling back to get on that trail, we ended up doing almost 10 Km in total.  Catherine pretty much summed it up in a single sentence “It was fun, and then it wasn’t anymore”.

Mental note to self:  Do not wear jeans during a hike, regardless of the distance.

Additional note to self:  Take water, regardless of the distance.

While the distance was slightly killer, we made it and we got to see some beautiful things walk.

FeatherFungiMushrooms

Rhonda spotted a skull in a hole in the ground.  I of course immediately thought murder in the forest, but it turned out I read too many mystery novels.  The victim was a baboon. Did you see what this Enjoyer of Puns did there?  Kerryn adopted it, christening it Bobby/Bobbi (because we’re not anthropologists, so we couldn’t sex it just by looking at its orbital sockets), intent on gifting it to her Biology teacher.

Bobby

Back at the cottage we all wolfed down our lunch (tuna or ham & cheese rolls) and Kerry and I headed off to the outride we’d booked for the afternoon.  Her horse was called Striker and mine, Home James.  We had a lovely walk on the farm and again through the forest, guided by Isaac, who comes from a jockeying family and clearly loves horses.  He even showed off some of his dressage moves in one of the meadows.

We got back to the cottage and soon the fire was lit outside for a braai.  We were intent on dining al-fresco, but we found quite a few eight-legged creepy crawlies which very quickly made us rethink our plans.  This mild arachnophobe was just grateful to be inside, because even though there were spiders indoors too, they were smaller than the one that had nearly hitched a ride on me because I’d been standing too close to the wall it was on.  After dinner and washed dishes, we all checked out to Club Duvet.  The walk had tuckered us out.

Sunday morning, we headed home after another delicious breakfast, but not before stopping at Hoekwil Country Café, for something to drink.

 

Whenever I’m with Catherine I always feel the need to drink a pot of tea, preferably Earl Grey.  The friendly waitress shared a story with us about the café’s cheesecake having been voted the best cheesecake in South Africa in 2010.

 

It may be nine years later, but oh my giddy aunt, the cheesecake freak in me had what Sally had when she met Harry.  I will drive to Hoekwil again just to have cheesecake; it was that good!

Tomorrow is Catherine’s birthday and she’s invited some friends and I to join her for lunch at a place I’ve not been to yet, and on Sunday I will be taking my mum and dad to lunch at a new place that opened on Thursday less than five minutes’ drive from my house.  Reviews to follow next week 😊

In the meantime, have an amazing weekend, and if you’re crazy enough to venture to the stores for the biggest shopping day of the year, don’t get trampled by the Stampede of Shoppers.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Drift Lodge Sunrise Cruises

As I mentioned here, Carmen once told me “you either have a heart for Africa or you don’t”.

During my trip I did two sunrise cruises at the Old Drift Lodge, and both were spectacular.  The boat sets sail from the jetty shortly after 05:30 AM, but dawn breaks much earlier, meaning me getting up at 04:30 AM to catch the first light, which changes from dark shades of blue to warm oranges and then fiery red, with a touch of purple.  If I hadn’t had a heart for Africa before, I would have after seeing the magnificent sunrises.

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I cannot put into words the feeling that being on the water as the sun begins to rise brings.  The water is so calm, a mirror of only beautiful reflections and yet there is an underlying excitement within which surfaces when a pod of hippos does the same, although I did get a huge fright one morning while taking photos (from above, on the  jetty) when a hippo decided to make his presence known to me, but the river was so calm, even his reflection was captured on camera.

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Hippo 1

Both morning cruises, Fanwell was the guide.   He is friendly, well-versed with the birdlife and game along the river, and he is a good boat Captain to boot.

Fanwell

The first cruise I shared with a South African couple, Marko and Maryke, from Pretoria, both keen bird watchers.  As we sailed up and down the river, we saw many birds, many of which were firsts for the pair.

I recall great excitement and joy when they saw a Lesser Jacana, and a bird with bright reddish orange feet (and beak) which name I can’t remember, but Marko told me that what I was seeing was something truly special.

We saw Maribou Storks nesting in the high treetops, and an array of other water birds, including a Black Heron, which Maryke explained to me, spreads its wings to form an ‘umbrella shadow’.  The little fish swim towards the shade and before they know it, breakfast is served and they’re it!

Maribou Storks

There are also many Water Berry trees on the banks of the river.  Their roots are exposed during the drier months, but when the rain comes and the river rises, their roots are covered entirely and the don’t drown.  How incredible is that?

Waterberry Tree

My last morning at the lodge, I went out on a solo trip with Fanwell and again we saw much birdlife.  I was so lost in the serenity of it all, at peace for the first time in as long as I can remember, that I almost forgot to take photos.

It was only when a lone hippo (not the same one from the jetty) stepped out of the shallows that I grabbed my phone to snap a picture of it.

Hipp 3

We saw a few crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, with some white billed ducks keeping a close eye from what I don’t think was a safe enough distance.  To me, crocodiles always look dead, but I’ve seen how quickly they can move.  They are reptiles not to be trifled with.

Croc 1

We heard the call of an African Fish Eagle, and while we spotted him with the help of binoculars, I couldn’t get close enough to get a picture.  I was a little sad about that because again, The Toppie and The Bean would have loved to see it.  I did get to see a Water Buck drinking on the banks, which was a super consolation prize.

Water Buck

The Zambezi is known as mighty, and it is.  But for me, it is a soul-restorer too.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to MMMMEEEEEE!

Yay!  Cake for days…

This is what Tina said when I sent her a picture of the FOURTH cake I’d had in as many days in celebration of my fortieth birthday this past weekend.  It was the absolute best commemoration of my earth-joining ever.  To say I’m all caked-out is an understatement, but knowing me, and my insatiable sweet-tooth, the feeling will pass soon.

On Sunday (my actual birthday) night, as I lay on the couch with a sore tummy (not from cake, but lots of laughter), I felt immense gratitude for my blessings – my parents, my friends and their love for me.  I know I’m special to them, but somehow I was reminded of it, and extremely overwhelmed.

It all started on Friday evening.  Eliza, Nathan and Carmen, along with their little ones hosted a surprise party for me.  There was sushi, the most amazing quiches, milk tart (a South African confection) and a coconut cake.  There was also bubbly…

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We spent the evening on the couch under blankets watching Rocketman.  I have newfound love for Elton John’s music.  When I suffered my major depressive episode earlier this year, I would often play I’m Still Standing, singing along at the top of my lungs.  Then I’d burst into tears afterwards.

The next morning I woke up at 06:15.  For those of you a little slow on the uptake, it was Saturday.  Who in their right mind wakes up so early?  I’ll tell you:  People that are (almost) forty.  I made the best of it with a cappuccino as I watched the sunrise.  This photo doesn’t do it justice.

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The afternoon The Bean, some of my closest girl friends and Cousin Lara got together for a vintage high tea at Déjà vu Vintage House.  The Bean and I even “bopped” on the stage and the pillbox hat I was wearing came right off.

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We regaled stories and shared memories and Cousin Lara had us in stitches with some of her tales.  Our host, Joan, baked a royal lemon and elderflower cake for the occasion and her husband, De Waal took many photographs for us.

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The day was perfect.  It ended with The Bean, The Toppie, Elizabeth and I staying over in Eliza and Nathan’s Airbnb, Eagle’s Rest.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling different.  I can’t pinpoint what exactly is different, but something is.   It makes me excited and hopeful for the future.  That morning, I did something that I’ve always loved:  I crept into bed with my folks and had coffee with them.  I realize more and more that these moments often taken for granted are going to be no more some time in the future, so I cherish them even more now.  We had a lazy morning before heading off to The Cork & Plunger for lunch.  As always, the food and service was en-point.  This was also where we enjoyed cake number three, a Vegas-themed one, baked by one of my colleagues, Marjorie.  The wording underneath the cards reads A Royal Start to a New Decade.  After way too much food, everyone went their separate ways.

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Yesterday I got to work and there was another cake, again baked by Marjorie.

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I got a lovely card from my colleagues.  Many of the messages inside touched me deeply, but one in particular brought tears to my eyes.  It read “May you receive the abundant kindness you always give to everyone around you”.  Even just thinking about it makes me emotional.  I’ve always said that I want to be remembered for something.  To be remembered for kindness is better than my name on a plaque.  I’m blessed to know that I do reach people and that it is my heart that they see.

I’ve made a promise to myself – to be as kind to myself as I am to others. Cheers to forty!