Day 32: Not-So-Much-Freedom Day

Waking up to the pitter-patter of the gentle rain this morning was a welcome surprise. It made me feel less guilty for a slow start out the blocks. Most of the days during lockdown have been sunny and warm – beach and ice-cream weather. I will never be blasé about living in a seaside town again, because even though I hate the sand, I wouldn’t mind just sitting on it, watching the waves break.

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Day 8: Hippos, Ravioli and No Mona Lisa

Friday, Day 8 of 21.

I didn’t feel much like coffee mug traveling this morning. I woke up with a jolt and started working seconds after I opened my eyes. I only had my wake-up-warm-beverage an hour and a half after I woke up. This morning it was a Red Velvet Latte from Woolies. It has beetroot in it. Delicious!

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Review: Bellevue Restaurant

I’m a firm believer of taking the road less travelled, because often, they do lead to stunning destinations, unless you get lost, of course!

On Saturday a friend celebrated her birthday and invited me to join her and some others at a place called Bellevue Restaurant, at The Village Lodge.  It is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house, seven kilometres of which are on a well-maintained gravel road.  A bonus is that on the way, you may get to see some game.  In this instance we saw zebra, Cape Buffalo and some antelope (but they were too far away to photograph).

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It is essential to book ahead if you’re planning a visit, as the lodge may have guests, and they have preference to dine at The Bellevue.  The atmosphere is relaxed, as both the lodge and restaurant are child friendly.  There is a luscious green lawn where kids can run around to their hearts’ content, as well as a jungle gym and tyre swings.

Saturday’s meal was so impressive, that I booked a place for Sunday, intent on taking a follower-friend and my parents for lunch.

Saturday’s meal consisted of two harvest boards:  A Ploughman’s Platter and an Antipasti Platter, and three pizzas:  Parma Ham, Cajun Chicken and Pulled Pork.  The platters are colourful and fresh.  The orange slices on the ploughman’s were sweet and juice, without spitting in your eye.  The pizzas were delicious too, and have super-thin bases, making them easy to fold to enjoy your pizza calzone-style if you prefer.

Afterwards we had milkshakes for dessert.  I’d seriously go all the way back there just to drink another one.  The Lemon Meringue one I had was out of this world!  There are other options, like Bar-One, Salted Caramel and Peppermint Crisp to name a few.

Lemon Meringue Milkshake

Sunday, after our coffee-stop, we hit the road again; this time we saw zebra, some antelope and rhinos.  Even if we’d gone home starving, seeing the rhinos would have been enough.

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We were seated outside, close to the bar area, and if it’s a little chilly, there are light blankets available for patrons on request.  There is also seating indoors and in the evenings the fireplace is lit.

Our lovely waitress, Claudine, took our drinks order and within a few minutes we were clinking glasses, drinking to happy days and new places.

I ordered a Ploughman’s Platter for the four of us (which mind you, was enough for us to all have our fill).

Ploughman's Platter

Follower-friend opted for the Parma ham pizza (as I told her it’d been a hit the day before), Mom had battered fish, hand-cut chips and salad, Dad had pork hock served with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables and I opted for a rosemary Karoo roast lamb sandwich on seed loaf with sweet potato fries and salad.  That seed loaf tastes almost sweet and has a cake-like consistency.  Deeeeee-lllliiiii-cious!!!!

At the beginning of our culinary adventure, we’d wanted dessert, but we were so full we had to take the leftovers home, so we’ll have to go back for sure.

Menu

There are dishes for every taste, ranging from mid-level to high prices.  The quality and freshness of the food justifies the price, as does the service.  The waitstaff are always close by, without hovering over patrons, which is a huge plus.  There is also a large selection of beers and ciders I’d not seen before until my visit.  The cocktails described on the drinks’ list sound superb, but if you’re driving, I’d probably say it’s safer to give them a miss until you can savour them and have someone drive you home.  The setting is tranquil, and given the distance from home, a delightful place to escape to over a weekend even if only for a cocktail, coffee and something light to nibble on.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars.  Highly Recommended.

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.

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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.

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Table decor

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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.

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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.

Review: The Cork and Plunger

I’ve lived in Mossel Bay for going-on 31 years now.  In that time, I’ve seen all kinds of places come and go: B&B’s, stationers, pharmacies, general cafés, clubs, movie houses and restaurants., particularly those of an upmarket caliber, but it appears that the tide may be turning.

As I withdraw from my memory bank, there is one posh place that has stood the test of time.  A few years back, another chic, golf-inspired place opened its doors and it appears to be going strong.

More recently though, about two weeks ago, a friend and I visited the newest kid on the block:  The Cork and Plunger.  As the name suggests, it serves wine and coffee – a vast selection of both.

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There is also a range of craft beers and gin on tap available.  These drinks can be enjoyed in the comfort of the wine bar on the upper level.  The way I would describe the décor upstairs is Gentleman’s Club. With its dark wood tables, comfortable booths, leather armchairs, it is a place to enjoy an aperitif or a post-dinner drink.

If you’re one for a more outdoorsy vibe, you can enjoy a cocktail on the balcony overlooking a portion of the harbour.  I’m not a drinker but have sampled both a virgin mojito and strawberry daquiri so far.

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If the balcony’s fully occupied, there is a vibey beer garden at the back of the building, with a pool table and a lighthouse-jungle gym for the kids to clamber around on, while you sip on a cold one.

The restaurant downstairs is combines comfortable furnishings with beautiful photographs of many stone buildings in Mossel Bay, lending to the atmosphere of homely comfort, while the white linen napkins, exquisite glassware, weighted cutlery and out-of-the-ordinary crockery remind you that you’re in a classy place.

Food wise there are various menus:  Canapés (which I’ve yet to try), breakfast & lunch, and dinner. All the dishes cater to varied tastes, including vegan and gluten-free options.  The dinner menu is limited to a few dishes in each category of starters, main courses and desserts.  In the first two groups, chicken, meat and fish are catered for. In my opinion this ensures consistent quality of the food served.  To date, during my various visits,  I’ve tried the Coq au Vin, which is served with Garlic Mash and Veggies, the Ribeye Steak (which I recommend eating rare to medium-rare at most), with the crispiest baby potatoes I’ve ever had and Veggies and Lloyd’s Pork Loin with Peppers & Butternut Risotto.  Honestly, I’d love to see that Risotto as a dish on its own too, because it is delicious.  Marc’s Lamb Shank appears to be a firm favourite – when I dining last night, I saw various people enjoying it.  Dessert wise, I’ve only had the chocolate mousse, which is a touch too bitter for my personal taste.  I’ve had their strawberry cake, which is good, but I’d opt for something less sweet, and more decadent next time, like the Carrot-, or Black Forest ones.

Finally, any place can serve good food, but it’s the added personal attention the patrons receive from both the waitstaff and the management that puts the Cork & Plunger in a league of its own.  I’m a firm believer that if a person wears a name badge, it’s an invitation to use their name.  To date I’ve been served by Marc, Herschel and Bridget, and when I was there with friends last weekend, Keagan showed us around the beer garden.  While referring to someone by name adds an informality to things, it allows for a relaxed experience, which is what I am looking for when I go out, whether alone, or with friends.

With every visit I’ve had to the restaurant, whether just for coffee or a meal, or as has become custom for me, to get some blogging done, both owners Marc and Taha have stopped by my table to say Welcome back or it’s good to see you again.

Nothing is too much trouble for the staff at the Cork and Plunger and that’s the recipe for long term success.  Keep up the good work!

I’ve also published this content on Tripadvisor

 

Wine Tasting in Herold…

It is scary just how quickly time flies, especially at this time of the year.  I have realized, with some dread, that it is a little over six weeks to Christmas!  And, with that said, a little over five weeks until we close for the summer holidays.  Eek!  There is so much still to do.  But, being a little more in control of my internal panic button, I am still taking time out to relax and recharge my batteries, like I did during two weekends in October, with friends, both old and new…

The first was with Elizabeth, Steve (who was no longer in a relationship with Michelle – not sure who broke it off, or why…) and another friend of ours Gerald.  We went wine tasting at Herold Wines, which is about 45 minutes from the town where we live.

We set off on the Saturday afternoon, the pouring rain not dampening our spirits.  We drove in Gerald’s 4 x 4 as we were travelling over the historic Montagu Pass, which is not a tarred road.  It wasn’t really necessary as many day to day cars travel the road, but it was definitely more comfortable.  The 45 minute journey took substantially longer than expected, but only because Elizabeth and I kept screaming “stop”, jumping out and snapping pictures.

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We eventually arrived…

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The range of wines is limited to six, so the tasting went quickly…

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and then we headed off to our digs for the evening, a self-catering cottage on the farm called Flufftail.

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It was quaint, clean and comfortable.  The water was hot, there was a fireplace and best of all…no cell phone reception, so we could really enjoy each other’s company.

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We stayed up quite late, but as is par for the course, Elizabeth was up first, then Gerald and then Steve, and as much as I tried to pretend not to hear the noise, I was up just after five too.

Steve went for a run, and Elizabeth and I decided to take a walk before breakfast.  There is something magical about farm life…

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Returning from our walk, we quickly prepared breakfast, while Gerald and Steve had a serious man-to-man talk at the fence … I love this photo because it looks like they are peeing at the fence, but they aren’t.

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It seems that everywhere we go, someone always ends up with wet feet or shoes…

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But, as with all good things…the visit soon came to an end and we had to head home…taking a few more pics along the way…

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Our journey ended with a quick lunch of leftovers at the beach.

I am so blessed to be able to make memories with the most amazing friends.  Life is good!

I will put up the post about my latest camping trip (the second October outing) either tomorrow or Thursday, so…pop by for another visit!

In the Pursuit of Happiness…I went…well…read it and find out…

First of all, before I continue this post, there are a few things you should know…

1. I don’t camp. If it doesn’t have four solid walls and a roof, I don’t sleep in it. If it’s on wheels, I’m not keen on sleeping in it either.

2. I don’t mind the rain, as longs as I am between four solid walls and a roof.

3. I have a love affair…with my bed. Sure, I sleep in hotels on the odd occasion, but I’m always happy to go home and sleep in my own bed. I have an orthopaedic mattress, you see…

4. Dogs should be taught that barking at night is a disturbance. In fact, I personally think it should be covered by the nuisance by-laws.

5. I like my shoes and socks dry.

6. I love hot, clear running water.

7. I like to be able to get fully dressed after a bath.

8. I am not much of a mariner.

Now that you have a semi-picture of the prima donna I can be, you will enjoy the story that lies ahead. I went camping this past weekend. In a tent. Close to home though, beautiful scenery…

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but still…in a tent. For those of you who are a bit slow on the uptake, a tent doesn’t have four walls and a roof. It is a material structure, which, if not properly erected will either implode on you during your not-so-comfortable-slumber, or simply blow over in a gale.
It’s amazing that whenever I plan something outdoorsy, something will happen. In this case, everything will happen.

Two weeks ago it was my 34th birthday and I decided that in this new life year, I would try everything, retaining the good…so I thought camping would be a good place to start. I sent out invitations to friends asking them to join me this past Saturday for fun, laughter and memory-making in the sun. My invitation was received with quite a substantial amount of enthusiasm and timeous RSVP’s. A good sign…

Saturday arrived somewhat sooner than I’d anticipated, but I got up early and went with my Dad to the campsite. He was going to set up the motorhome for him and Mom and I was going to pitch a tent for Elizabeth and I.

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Steve and his new girlfriend, Michelle joined us later, along with Sarah (another friend from the gym), her boyfriend, David and another mutual friend, Jack. Elizabeth arrived some time later, a little green around the gills with flu, but soldiering on as usual.

Dad was cooking up a pasta storm while we all sat around watching him. He is so incredibly at ease doing the caveman-thing, that none of us wanted to interfere.

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We had wine to focus on.

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Pasta was set aside for us to enjoy after the rugby. The clash of the world’s best…the All Blacks vs the Springboks. We all piled into the cars and headed off to a local haunt to watch the game. Despite all our cheering, the Springboks lost the game, and we pretty much lost our will to live.

Exiting the pub we were greeted by rain… Putting my best game-face on, I drove back to the campsite, thinking that Steve and Michelle were right behind us. Mom was snug under the covers in the motorhome and dad was waiting for us ever so patiently. Sarah, David and Jack decided to have dinner in their tent, but were soon piled into ours as they’d left the flap unzipped and as a result, all their goods and chattels were wet. After about a half hour, Steve and Michelle had still not returned and getting worried, I called. Steve told me they’d got lost. A likely story 😉

Now seven people in a four man tent is not exactly a bright idea, but we had good fun nevertheless. Laughing and joking and regaling tales of our childhood. I took a sip of my wine (which was in a mug because all the glasses were in the now-locked motorhome. I took a big swig and felt something solid go down my throat. I spat the wine out very quickly, but it was already too late. Jiminy Cricket had made is way down my throat. Thankfully he was already disinfected by the alcohol.

The rain had dampened spirits just a touch and soon everyone was ready for bed. Sarah and David decided to rather go home and come back the next morning; Jack did the same (he had to work at six a.m.). Part of me wished I was going home too, but soon the rhythmic pitter-patter of the rain lulled me to sleep. I was quite warm in my fluffy blanket and comforter on my inflatable mattress.

Said mattress did not remain inflated for during the night, so consequently, I had a not-so-comfortable-slumber. But not before first being assaulted by said mattress. Due to the fact that it was deflating, it was somewhat flexible, so every time I tried to turn over, which was often, the stupid thing would wrap around me like a hot dog, or, if I sat up, it would bend at my waist, knocking me on the back of my head, making me wish that it was morning already so that I could hunt down the barking dog that kept waking me up in the first place. I vowed that if that dog emerged I would bark right back at it.

Morning broke very quickly, with Elizabeth waking me up at 05:30 because she needed to go to the loo. Seriously?! “MTM, please come with me. I don’t feel well…” So, being the trusty friend I am, I unzipped the tent only to be confronted by a haze of smoke. Thinking WTF?! I tried to get out the tent only to walk straight into the gauze. That’s right people, I didn’t unzip the door properly. There are two zips. Once the second one was open, the smokiness was gone.

Steve was already up. Given the fact that he has to be at the gym at 5 a.m. every morning, it is understandable that his body-clock couldn’t sleep late. Michelle lay blissfully unaware of everything around her. Poor woman had worked the entire Friday night, and not had any sleep after coming off shift the Saturday.

After trotting off to the loo, Elizabeth and I wanted coffee and found Steve at dad’s magic bucket which warms water, but alas, does not boil it. Desperate for caffeine I asked Steve if he’d go to the gas station and buy us some and he obliged. He’d just finished putting on his shoes when Mom and Dad woke up which meant he didn’t have to anymore and we could make coffee in the motorhome! Parents to the rescue!

Now caffeinated, I was actually ready to face the world. I just couldn’t get warm though. Turns out that my sneakers, fabulous as they are, they are not waterproof, so as long as I kept walking on the wet grass, the water would seep in, wetting my socks, resulting in me staying cold.

After changing socks about five times, I decided that the only way to get warm would be to have a bath or a shower. I couldn’t get the shower taps turned on, so I decided to have a bath. I nearly plutzed when I opened the tap and brown water came out. Elizabeth was in the opposite bathroom and her water too, was brown. I was not amused. Turns out that the park uses the water from the river which is filtered to remove organisms and such, but it can’t remove the colour. I was horrified!

Knowing me better than I know myself, Elizabeth shoved me aside and poured about half a bottle of bath foam in the bath making the brown water invisible under a white blanket of sweet-smelling bubbles. I eventually climbed into the bath and was pleasantly surprised that the water is even hotter than ours at home! I lay and soaked for a while. When I was ready to eventually wash myself, I realized that I had no soap. Crap! I bemoaned my lot to Elizabeth who came to my rescue with body wash, but not after negotiating the use of my sponge because she’d left hers at home. Fair deal…

Out of the bath and ready to get back into dry clothes…only to discover I’d left my underwear in the tent! So I had to go commando…first thing I did when I got back to the tent was put on my bra and panty.

Dad being the awesome man that he is already had a fire going, so Elizabeth and I held our shoes over the flames and got them dry. A flame licked my shoelace and it caught alight, but I slapped it out very quickly.

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I’d rather have wet shoes than no shoes! We soon found out that the fire was for breakfast, not shoe-drying. Sausages, eggs and buns on the menu. Camping was turning out to be real fun.

Mom wasn’t feeling well, so I loaded her, and some of the stuff we wouldn’t be needing, like the bedding and my clothes in the car and quickly dashed her home. Once back at the site, I ended up with wet shoes again, so Dad said I should check in the motorhome. He remembered seeing mom’s wellies in there somewhere…I found them and soon I was happy camper because I was going to have dry feet for the rest of the day. Or so I thought…

Other friends had let me know that while they wouldn’t be able to camp, they’d join us for a barbeque on Sunday. They started arriving and soon we were a happy group of Dad, colleagues, friends and kids. I should mention at this point that I did this exact same barbeque thing, at the exact same venue for my birthday last year, and it was a great success. One of my friends Yasmin, who was there last year and I decided to repeat history and hire a pedal boat.

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We pedalled up river back to the campsite and Steve and some other guy-friends were standing at the fire, close to the riverbank, so when we pedalled in, Steve grabbed the rope and pulled us in. Yasmin and I couldn’t manoeuvre the rudder to come alongside the bank, so we “parked” as best we would with Steve holding the rope tight. We both got up at the same time and balance along the pontoons, but Yasmin stepped off a split second sooner than I did which resulted in the boat tipping and me going arse over kettle, fully clothed, with heavy wellies on, straight into the murky brown water.

Apparently it was like watching something in slow-motion – but it was not slow enough for someone to reach out their hand and grab me without falling in themselves. I emerged from the water like someone who’d been baptized by a madman, hair all matted on my face, clothes clinging to my figure and wellies filled with water and Lord knows what else.

The guys helped me onto the bank but once I was up and I’d realized what had happened, I burst into tears. Tears of embarrassment and shock. The fright was bigger than the embarrassment, because some years ago I dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool, which resulted in my cracking my head open and breaking my nose. The doctor said that it was a miracle that I hadn’t broken my neck. It dawned on me at that moment when I saw everyone that I could very well have fallen back, and hit my head, or broken my neck because I didn’t know how deep the water was.

Michelle and Elizabeth both came running with towels and calmed me down. I was shivering with cold. Elizabeth took me back to the ablution block and ran me another hot bath. At this stage I was so cold I didn’t care what colour the water was. The problem arose when I realized I had no clothes. They were at home, with mom. All Elizabeth had to lend me was her pyjama pants and her top. I put them on, this time forced to go commando, only to realize that the pants were short and the hair on my legs was so long you could pick up a signal from a space satellite. I grabbed another pair of pants out of her bag – mom’s very bright, pink, fluffy pants and pulled them over. Ah…legs covered.

I had to put on one of Dad’s tops over Elizabeth’s one because without it, it was quite obvious that I wasn’t wearing a bra. I really looked glam. Trendsetter, I tell you!

After lunch everyone went home and we packed up camp, with many wonderful memories. I can’t wait to go camping again, but next time I’ll be a tad more prepared. I’ll make sure:

1. To inflate the mattress extra hard and put newspaper underneath it (I heard it keeps the cold away).

2. To have more than one pair of shoes (and to make sure they’re water proof)

3. To have more than two pairs of socks.

4. To have more than one change of clothes, and not to take them home before I’m sure I’m not going to need them.

5. To have soap and all my clothes in the bathroom when I go to clean myself up.

6. To wear my bathing costume if I’m going to be close to the water.

7. To check my cup/glass of wine for bugs before simply taking a swig.

Next camping trip is booked for 25 and 26 October, at a place called Peace of Eden… but this is a different type of camping – the tents have beds in them, and there is a shower off the tent. Carmen and Ewan arranged it quite a while ago. I am looking forward to it!

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Work Week One is Almost Done!

There isn’t really much to tell.  I’m fresh out of funny anecdotes.  It sucks, I know. I’m sorry.  After reminiscing about freezing a dead canary and Flaming-Phoenix-Cortina-Man, almost everything I think about blogging about simply pales in comparison.  Well, I suppose I can’t always have a better act to follow the one I’ve previously sent on stage, now can I?  So sorry, readers, you’ll have to settle for a mundane post today.  I’m sure something exciting will happen over the weekend, which will make for decent writing fodder on Monday.

I woke up this morning feeling more-than-just-a-tad-stiff this morning.  Steve was so kind to me on Wednesday at my first session of the year – nothing too strenuous, but yesterday he seriously worked me (I did three step-sets and I think I had multiple hearts beating in my chest).  I was beyond exhausted!

I have made it through my first week back at work, although granted, twice this week I have lost a day, on Wednesday I thought it was Thursday, and today I’m thinking it’s Thursday again, so I’m not really sure what’s going on, but regardless of that, I’m going to sleep late tomorrow.  Yay!  It won’t be too late though because the sun tends to bake me out of my bed, but that’s okay; as long as it’s something other than the alarm clock waking me up, I’ll happily rise and shine (just not at the same time)!  Shit!  No!  I can’t sleep late – Elizabeth is coming to stay with us tonight, and has to be at work at 07:30 – so I guess I’ll be trotting off to gym after I’ve dropped her.  Ah well, she needs to just chill, so that’s what we’ll do.  Dad’s made spaghetti bolognaise (like only he can!  And that two weeks before my fitness evaluation!), for supper and there will be wine I suppose, so gym is not a bad idea tomorrow.  All’s well that ends well.