Friday, 28 September 2018


Google image

I looked this up - it means a feeling of emotion or sympathy but the adjective 'pathetic' has always to me seemed to have evolved into something like a sneering attitude towards someone.  I would like to stick to the original in this post.  We have been away for some three weeks, visiting our ageing family, as we do every year about this time.  My sister-in-law with the vascular Parkinsonism, seems to be going backwards fast. I felt very sorry for her when we took her to visit a 17-year-old granddaughter, whom she sees rarely, and she exclaimed that "You have grown so much! You are as tall as me now and I am 5 foot 8".  Sadly, the illness has caused such curvature of the spine that she is now only my height - 5'5".  I doubt whether the said granddaughter has grown an inch since she was 13.
There were some lovely parts of our trip - 5 inches of snow which is unheard of in the centre of South Africa, and we saw some lovely things during our two days in the Addo Elephant park.  But mostly it was sad.  

Back to Book club this month: I do not like poetry much at all, but this month we decided we must all bring a poem to talk about instead of a book. Talk about Memory Lane: I recalled a couple of stanzas from Lorne Greene's rendering of "Ringo".  This was the song on the B side of a '45 I bought when I was 15 with the theme to "Bonanza" as the A side.  I loved this story about a cowboy so much, I learned all 8 verses.  I remember well the first four. So my challenge before next week is to learn the others again and recite it at the meeting!  It is a really beautiful ballad full of Pathos and the deep voice of Lorne Greene is magical  (find it on Youtube).  I still feel like shedding a few tears at the sad end.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Vacations with Friends

This lion and her mate were right near our camp !

We had visitors last week, actually friends of my brother-in-law, but they have been so enchanted with our part of the world they are building a house to retire to a few hundred yards from us.  They flew down to check on things (they live at the other end of SA just south of the Mozambique  border) and stayed with us for five days.  We thoroughly enjoyed their visit and we got on superbly well. In fact, it was mentioned how different my husband is from his brother.  We reminisced back about 30 years (can it be so long?) when we all went to the Kalahadi Frontier National Park together on a 5-day wilderness experience.  It was quite something: we even had to take our own water and a spade (for 'bathroom' visits in the veld).  Lions roamed around our temporary camps, with the side effect that my daughter and I refused to use our spades the whole time and had to use serious 'opening' medicines at the end of our stay. Each night we made a 'laager' of the three vehicles and pitched our tents.  Four of us would be happily settled around a fire with a drink in our hands while the remaining two - my brother-in-law and his wife, would still be rattling around in their car trying to find an ideal site to camp.  Each time we thought it was decided, my sister-in-law would find fault with something, and they would be off again.  My exasperated brother-in-law said he felt like a weaver bird - every nesting site he chose was rejected by his wife. The two of them entertained us throughout the five days, as they never seemed to agree on anything else.  Our current visitors commented that they had been on vacation with other couples since, but the holidays were rather tame by comparison, as there were absolutely no heated marital arguments at all.  They found themselves nostalgically wishing they could re-live their lively week in the Kalahadi.  I should add the couple we speak of have now been happily married for about 48 years.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Mirror in an A - Frame

Hi Denise, especially,

Just for you - the only pic I took of inside the Air B&B - I was most taken with the charming bathroom,  the mirror hangs in mid-air because of the sloping roof : you can see the shower door behind my image in the mirror.  (Me in new purple feather jacket). It was lovely showering next to the thatch.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Air B&B - First Timers

Oh my, those stairs
View from our balcony
Our children clubbed together to give my husband and I two nights in a really nice accommodation for his 69th Birthday.  We had spoken about visiting this seaside venue for some time but had not managed to get there.  It is about six hours drive from our home, so we had quite a drive.  It was well worth it, lovely place, lovely people and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Afterwards, my daughter ( who had made the booking) asked us to rate the experience for the owner to put on her website.  Naturally, we raved about the place - after all,  our kids had paid.  What I of course didn't mention were the down sides - there were so many steps up to our 'eyrie' and as it happened, both my husband and I have back problems at the moment and as you have to carry your own luggage...... the other two drawbacks for us were (a) the mattress was so hard, for me it was like lying on concrete and I had a sleepless night initially, followed by a marginally better second night as I slept on top of all the pretty, decorative cushions that adorned the bed.  Also, as the houses are thatched almost down to the ground, the fridge and crockery cupboards had to be situated at floor level which was quite a painful experience for my husband and myself. You will see from the pics that it is not possible to build cupboards at shoulder height.   Maybe we just shouldn't get old, or look a gift horse in the mouth.
Our room above the garages - owners' house below left

Monday, 23 July 2018

68 and Counting......

The before photo
As all my family decided to come to us for not only Mother's Day, but also Father's Day, and lately - my birthday, I decided to make an effort with making a cake with ALL my 68 candles for my 4 grandchildren to blow out.  This was a great idea, but not so practical in the execution.  I decided to make a healthier icing - a ganache - with dark chocolate and cream - so easy to do. However, it took my husband and oldest grandchild so long to light the candles, most of the wax melted into the chocolate and no-one could eat the icing. Bakers beware! Still, it was a lot of fun, my husband said there was enough heat to have a Bar-B-Q on top and the kitchen was full of smoke afterwards.
See how long I have been blogging - can't really change my blog title after all this time, but it does mean I can't find as many entertaining things to write about these days.  Nice if anybody I know popped in. How are you all? NB - my daughter took a Video of the main event - I have it on Whatsapp but don't know how to get it onto this post. 

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Things a Granny is Ill-Advised to Say to the Parents/Grandchild

Google image

"If you let them walk around with their food, it's no wonder the dog eats most of it. Why don't you put the dog outside when they eat?"
"Shouldn't they be in bed already?"
"If you bath them later and put them to bed straight away, they will sleep better and not run around outside and get dirty again".
"Don't they have all these tummy upsets from too many take-aways?"
"You really will have to restrict the time he spends on that Play-Station".
"What are you going to do with that trunk of Lego pieces?"
"You shouldn't make empty threats."
Why can't they play in the garden instead of having to take them to 'Adventure Playgrounds' in the school holidays?"
"Don't they eat too many crumb-covered things cooked in the Air Fryer?"

On the upside though:
"It's so nice to see them eat a home-cooked meal"
"I am so glad they don't have TVs or cell phones in their bedrooms."
"I am so glad you still read to them in bed every night"

However,  my 7-year-old granddaughter can be mean: when reprimanded by me for cheeking her mother in the car, there was a silence - then:
"I don't want Granny to baby-sit me tonight.  I want Elise (their maid)."
"You can't have Elise".
"Then I want Nana - Granny can go home".

Luckily, I didn't react to this and later, after 4 games of Junior Monopoly and half an hour of shooting a netball in the garden, peace was restored, baby-sitting went like a charm and bed was half an hour earlier than usual.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Learning to write a Novel

Google image - me 40 years ago

I mustn't make all my posts a moan about something, so I just thought I would share a few insights, now that self-publishing is so easy.  I've spent a long time - maybe 5 years, thinking about writing a novel (as you do).  I've now got to the stage that I've worked out the bones of a plot and have started.  I've worried that I find dialogue difficult, but a light bulb shone recently.  It all depends on the style you have to chosen. Predictably, most of the first part is based on people I have known and on my own experiences. This is the safest way to go, considering that everyone is on Internet and if you are inaccurate about anything, someone will pick you out.  This is daunting. Almost gone seem to be the days when you could write about fictional characters and fictional places, unless you can write in the science fiction mode.  At the moment, my book club is reading biographies and auto-biographies. Guess what?  Hardly any direct speech.  I don't miss it when the writing is basically a memoir. Apparently, 30 000 to 80 000 is the number of words required for an average length novel. But what about font size and the number of blank and half pages to be seen in a lot of popular fiction?  I've often been irritated by pages and pages of dialogue and no descriptive detail and chapters a page and a half long.  But then I've never thought to be popular: truth be told I am only trying to do this now because I have the time and need a new challenge in my life and it's so far only for my own satisfaction.  I've just read Joyce Carol Oates'  "A Widow's Story",  typically a thick piece of writing, pouring out her grief and how she dealt with it after the sudden death of her beloved husband.  It clearly helped her to heal: I would recommend it to anyone whose partner has just died.  Most of the book deals with a moment-by-moment account of her feelings during the first three weeks of widowhood. Very interestingly, her husband never read any of her fiction.  After he died, she discovered that he had been writing a book dealing with his problems with his father and his Catholic upbringing. He hadn't told her. Should she read it?  I am reassured: I don't want anyone I know to crit. my work - least of all my husband.  I am now at a painful 12000 words.  Thanks to Facebook, I am touch with a girl from my school who now writes.  She is actually on her fourth novel - based on the neighbourhood in which we both grew up.  She has a bona fide publisher and deadlines and freely confesses that she hates the 'research' part of the writing.  So I feel encouraged. Happily, our themes won't cross:  she was very much in the Mods and Rockers club scene, whereas I was a stay-at-home introvert.  Her family life was clearly very happy: mine was strained.  The hardest part I am finding is - now that I know the plot, beginning, middle and end - all the rest seems to be padding.  Not easy to be both the writer and the reader. Fun though.  Also  - thank God for computers - and that I learned to touch-type when I was a student, and for the Delete Key!  Happy writing.