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Kingdom of contrast

27 Jul

1158 kilometers, 6 friends, 6 kids, 3 days and a whole lot of contrast – our road trip to Lesotho was in one word – awesome.

I say a whole lot of contrast because Lesotho (while surrounded by South Africa) is nothing like SA. People are really destitute – and there is nothing for miles… except pure, raw beauty. We drove an hour into Lesotho once through the border to get to Maliba lodge, a 5 star lodge in the middle of nowhere. Infact…if you look at the map on the website, you will catch my drift. Just enough time to get a good feeling of the country, its people and its poverty. A country where in true African style, the monarchy live a lavish life, and its people suffer the consequences.

Through its tortured suffering, a true Kingdom never the less. Every bend a breath-taking view, every small village a sobering sight.

 When we arrived, I was awe-struck as to this treasure trove of  sites, literally tucked away in the folds of the valley, seemingly untouched.

Our cabin on the river was the perfect place to spend the weekend, snug and comfy. No warm water for showers did pose a small problem for the adults – but the kids enjoyed the 1 warm bath that seemed to be the daily quota.

The river that runs outside the cabin was ideal for putting our gumboots to the test. The top surface was frozen over, and Davon loved lifting the sheets up like a piece of glass (apparently like a superhero) while Caylee found her slice of river to suck.

After a good nights rest, the next morning we headed out to Afri ski. A first for all 4 of us, a day in the snow.

The excitement of the kids (and our) faces made the further 2 hour drive, (on some of the most dangerous roads I’ve ever been on) – absolutely worth it.  The ski slope is nestled in the  Mahlasela Valley, 3222 meters above sea level, we really were in the clouds.

The trip back to the lodge was much quieter than the one to the resort, with our little snow angels fast asleep after a very exciting day. After an early night for the littlins, the 6 of us were able to enjoy a good meal, some good laughs and some good gluwein.

Sunday mornings breakfast on the lodges balcony was the perfect end to the weekend. The lodges staff , amenities and incredible views are truly 5 star.

One last stop before heading home was the rock pools, where the 3 guys decided to brave the sub-zero water. A contrast to the snowy adventures from the day before. Seeing the same river had ice floating in it an hour prior…I was proud of them even considering to jump in.

The bravado demeanor very quickly turned to quiet, slightly blue quivers. They did a great job of getting us all home safe, even with their now slowed down heart rates.

I cant wait to go back and experience Lesotho’s glory again. My heart has a flame for the place – even though my fingers and toes are still slightly frozen.

Footnote: Ivan, Tracy, Erin and Adam Henin and Cuan, Louise, Jade and Nevada Demmer were our fabulous company for the weekend. Special times.

Old life…new story

19 Jul

 I have a craving for another visit to the absolutely gorgeous Midlands for some second-hand shop rummaging with the best relic hunter I know…my gran – Shirley.

Whenever I go to second-hand shops, my first love is the black and white photos…I just want them, I want to take them home – and frame them. I want to know their stories. We are the VERY proud owners of some old snaps of our own – the oldest being one of my great-grandfather in 1903 when he was at school.

We have  pictures of Stefan’s grandparents on holiday, my moms gran on her wedding day, my father playing in a band, my mom in a pram, my gran on her gran’s lap… and a few arb ones of some distant ‘someones’ that no-ones quite sure who they are. We have a small pile on the floor that don’t fit on our wall…. (we need a bigger wall!!)

Here are some fab shots I got from my gran on our last visit…

That’s my gran on the left. 4 years after World war 2, and 6 years before the birth of my mother….. and her – stuck somewhere in the middle. That’s her cousin next to her.

This is her entry for a beauty contest she won first princess for in Margate in 1949. (second from right)

kind of sad that I take so many photos everyday… and yet have non printed and framed (although…walls are in shortage around here).

Feeling much happier I have my blog to showcase them – each individual moment carefully framed.

Heres a piece our little collection.

If you wondering what to get me for my b-day… (uh huh)

get down to your local pawn joint – cos Im going to start a scrapbook for arb B and W pics. (please put your 1 line description on the back of what you think the story is) A new life for those old pics.

All photos by me

The Grass Menagerie

7 Jul

How lucky to be able to go away to the Bushveld for the weekend…. and how lucky to do it with people I love… and how lucky those people are  family! 🙂

Heres to open spaces…to blue crisp mornings…to warm camp fires, (and hearts.)

 

City lights

5 Jun

Every now and then you find yourself in a moment where your mind takes a snapshot. All your senses work together and you know its going to be a moment you remember forever. On Friday night as I stepped out of the lift onto the 22nd floor at Randlords – it happened to me.

Mobys Porcelain was playing, the sweet smell of bushveld wood burning, and the view over Joburg.

It was like being in Gotham City, the city sounds and buzz. I kept half expected Batman to land next to me on the balcony and the Bat signal to light up the dark night.

It made me feel a little excited, and a little nostalgic.

Once upon a time,  the city was the place to be – in the late 70s (just before I was born) my Mom and Dad used to party inside Ponte City (the tubular building that has made the Jozi skyline so unique). How cool?

I was lucky enough to get a tour (while at Wits Technikon studying Interior Design) to the 48th floor of the 54 floor apartment building, actually, maybe its more like I was lucky to get out unscathed from my tour. It was revolting…the rubbish piled up nearly 5 stories in the center of the tube. From the top, the birds eye view of Ellis Park (where the rugby world cup had taken place the year before) and a lot of Joburgs surrounds kinda took the attention off the filth. What a waste of a totally gorgeous view, I kept thinking. Since then, there has been a huge effort to clean parts of the old CBD up.

I love it that pieces of the city are being renewed –  🙂 , and it has some great trendy spots to visit  popping up all over –  with 70 Juta Street  , Arts on main (including a market on Sundays) the ever popular 12 decades hotel and of course Narina Trogan to name but a few.

The experience of the city at night, topped with the amazing pop up dining experience was honestly one for the memory box. It certainly wasn’t the last time I experience either of those…

So, watch out Jozi…here we come. Me and my ever adventurous partner in crime Stefan have you in our sights

Cape of good times

2 Jun

I felt a little guilty sitting on the plane home from Cape Town on Sunday night. It was a little like what I guess Francesca Johnson felt like in The bridges over Madison County… 3 days falling in love with something , romancing it – and then at the end of it all, facing reality, putting on your big girl brooks and getting on with your life. I have always been a Jozi girl, and have pledged allegiance to the smog and vibe – I have it tattooed onto my soul, and my first love will always be Joburg.

But there’s no denying it…there’s just something about Cape Town.

We started our weekend going up the cable cars , the weather was so kind to us – giving us blue skies and a breath-taking view (the gusts of wind were also a little breath-taking I must admit) Each view was more exquisite than the next

The Two Oceans Aquarium the next day was also such a treat – and the excited squeals from the kids made it even more worthwhile . I was so impressed how every staff member that we came into contact with went out of their way to interact with us, a knowledgable, friendly bunch.

Besides the abundant ocean life, clean tanks (still amazing to me because we can’t even keep our tiny pool blue), easy access and really amazing displays – there’s a fantastic play area downstairs for the kids to be entertained while looking into a tank and penguin pen, and cherry on the top? – coffee on tap for the exhausted moms and over stimulated dads. A general winner of an outing…and a must see for anyone.

The Jelly fish were the stars of my show, and the roving eye that Soles have, was my interesting fact for the day (weird and kinda eerie…but intersting)

Box Jelly fish with shrimp lunch

After the aquarium, we went for a walk on Camps bay beach. I just kept thinking on the drive there – THIS only 2 hours away from home?  Honestly quite beautiful.

On Sunday it was rainy and windy…so we decided to go to the Museum, (Iziko) where the Dinosaur skeletons kept Davon amused. I was really looking forward to seeing the Tretchikoff exhibit…but the kids weren’t keen at all… so we ventured to Deerpark for lunch and some outside play time under the Mediterranean pines (which are quite majestic…alien or not) Caylee kept dancing around in the wind laughing.

It was special to get to hang out with our good friends The Bones – V , Tony and Owen. Since they’ve moved to Cape town in October, our visits have been few, and because I didn’t get to see that exhibition (which runs until October 2011) I think another visit is a must !

So back to reality it is, in the city of Gold-en opportunities.

Looking forward to my next Jozi adventure on Friday night – our first pop up dining experience (Guerrilla Cheffing) …being held in the fabulous Randlords in Braamfontein.

What better way to fall back in love with Johannesburg than with a 360 degree view, great company and excellent cuisine. There may not be a mountain… but in a pink sunset, the mine dumps do look very pretty.

Buoys then boys …

26 May

Its been 5 years since we went on our Honeymoon to ‘the Med’ and just over 9 years since we’ve been married (uh huh , that’s right, something isn’t adding up here)

When we got married, instead of going on a mediocre Honeymoon, we decided to save up and go on a seriously kick ass trip. And THAT.WE.DID.

My mom was cleaning out some old files over the weekend, and when I popped in on Monday she gave me an envelope with a few of my things she had found. One of them was an old passport from the late 80s (including a very bad photo in which I look like the daughter in that Tony Danza movie  – she’s out of control) BEFORE the amazing change…. decided against posting a copy of the pic…

In the same pile was an itinerary of our trip –

Dubai – Piraeus(Greece) > Piraeus – Izmir(Turkey) > Izmir (Turkey) – Istanbul > Istanbul (Turkey) – Mykanos > Mykanos (Greece) – Dubrovnik  > Dubrovnik (Croatia)- Split > Split (Croatia)- Venice > Venice (Italy) – Rome… Rome (Italy) >and then Home

How awesome?

It was such a romantic and special trip, and so inspiring. Not a week goes by that I don’t think of something we did, or we saw…and I just cant wait to go back.

Because our trip was in May, its kind of the anniversary of it. There was one day we spent on the ship (Marco Polo such a gorgeous grand dame, and ex russian Ice breaker, a beautiful ship un-commercialised as far as cruise ships go) that I was so sea sick , and no-one else was… that’s probably because there were no waves.

Little did I know, I was already pregnant with Davon.

During our 2 weeks, there were way too many gorgeous sites and things to behold…but we managed to purchase a little treasure in every city. My favorite by far was the ring I found in a tiny shop in Venice.

It’s a combination of pewter and what I guess domed resin  – enveloping prints of different Madonna and child images.

It reminds me of Venice, and of us celebrating our marriage and of being pregnant… all such great memories.

It reminds me of the first moments of being a mother, and me not even beginning to fathom the amazing journey I was about to embark on (as soon as I got back from my other amazing journey)

It reminds me of the little treasures I see in my children every day – and how lucky I am that I don’t have to search for them in a little shop, down a little alley, in a foreign city, a million miles away…but the are beautifully wrapped up for me every day in their precious smiles.

Slice of Rainbow

10 May

When catching up on a bit of inspiration earlier, I read the follow-up from lucky pony and my giddy aunt    about amazing colourful cakes they made.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m no baker – but a big fan of baked goodies.

While driving to school one day in another powerful Jozi thunderstorm and talking about Rainbows, Davon asked me if we could bake a Rainbow cake. After a good 5 minute sales pitch and negotiation on why Grandma is better at that than me, his final verdict was ‘No, you mom’ and so…project Rainbow Cake began.

I checked out a few sites, and decided that baking one cake (rather than 7 layers) was the way to go for me. I checked the pictures on Not quite nigella and got the general idea.

It ended up being loads of fun, and quite delicious if I could say so myself. (Once the comments like ‘whoa, that is colourful’ and ‘flip, is this going to dye my teeth’ and ‘crickey’  subsided  – the Rainbow was devoured with not a crumb to tell the tale.

YAY!! here it is…our little (or not so little – who’s judging) slice of Rainbow

TIP: I don’t have any  🙂 , but would love to hear if you do

Diamond in the rough

8 May

Cullinan is a gem in the middle of nowhere. I didnt realise that it was so close – the home of the biggest rough gem quality diamond ever found.  3106.75 carats to be exact. Todays visit was both inspiring and thought provoking… 2 hours from Joburg – well worth the visit.

Firstly, my love for a good story – esspecially a local one. Stefan did some Wikipedia surfing on the Cullinan Diamond on our way home while I drove through a mild but still beautiful Jozi thunderstorm. Its not only is an intresting story on its incredible size, but an amusing one on its travels to the UK to become part of the crown jewels (which seemed apt regarding lasts weeks celebrations)

Secondly, my love for a good shop (or browse more like it) – I put together two collections of photos I took today

(all photos by me)

Teal, Red and a touch of Sunshine

Green, Blue and bits of Rust

I really enjoy seeing reuse of old materials and things reinvented. The shops in Cullinan are full with all sorts of treasures.

Reinventing I think is not only the art of changing somethings use , but also of looking at something in a new light, and taking it from being an old rusty cup – to a gorgeous wind chime.

Wind Chime

So, I guess reinventing can also apply to friendships (and relationships). As life (and kids) change us… all us rusty cups can be reinvented into a windchime, same cup – new vibe…

So glad I kept all those rusty cups.

The Hazeldene Food market in Pretoria for dinner with a difference was the perfect ending to the day. Nearly impossible to choose what to eat (there really was something for everyone) …and the mojitos were fabulous.