Sunday, December 23, 2007

'Tis the eve of Christmas Eve

Tonight we ate dinner outside on the patio as it was still very warm at 8.00 p.m.
Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, we head off on our summer holidays. We are going to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve to a lodge there called Kwa Maritane; you can Google their web site. Today it was a scorcher again; I don’t think it has rained all week. We went to the gym early (for us) at 8.45am. It was busy! It opens at 5.00 a.m.! I am finding it easier than I imagined; already after three visits I have increased the rate and level of the exercise programme they gave me and I am still standing (barely) at the end of an hour. Apart from the gym three times and a haircut (ultra short!) I have been mainly doing nothing all week. We have had more Christmas cards, thanks to all. Cards are not a big deal over here, most locals we gave to seemed quite surprised and we have received only one from anyone here. On 20th December, it was the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha. Our neighbours, Ibrahim and Fazeela, had their family around for a couple of days. Their tradition is to go to the mosque and to the family plot at the graveyard then get together for lunch. It is a festival of sacrifice, not celebration; however they told me that this year they were not buying a lamb to slaughter as they have enough to eat. Instead they were sending money to the poor people. But they also have a tradition of sharing food with family and friends and we were honoured to receive some fabulous spicy chicken, home made roti bread and a batch of lovely home made coconut biscuits. We still have some genuine Scottish shortbread with us and so we will be able to reciprocate at our New Year!
Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone and I will continue the blog after our summer holiday!!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday before the holidays

Today is a holiday. How good is that, a day off work the week before Christmas? It is Reconciliation Day. Since we are going away for Christmas, we have no shopping or preparation to do, so we went to Pretoria. I wanted to see the Voortrekker Monument as I had been reading about it in one of my books about the history of SA. It is a huge, stark edifice but inside it has a fabulous museum, stucco panels, tapestries and embroideries all depicting the Great Trek when the Dutch settlers left the Cape area, partly to find more fertile land and partly because, er, the Brits decided they would like to have the Cape, thank you very much, and chased the Dutch out! Oops! We decided we could look, but keep our mouths shut! It was very interesting. Before we set off to go to Pretoria, we joined the local gym. Yes, that’s right, WE joined, me too. I will probably regret it soon enough, but I am going to go to water aerobics and yoga as well as go on the walking treadmill. My induction is tomorrow morning. We’ll see how that goes!
The braii on Friday for the team from Les work was a great success.Drink was taken but not by me, sadly. Not much anyway. We all sat outside from 11.00pm until midnight whilst the gents enjoyed a fine cigar and the rest of the women finished the wine. I had coffee. Hmmph. It was still warm enough at that time of night not to need sweaters on. We decorated the braii area with tinsel and tiny trees and I had Christmas tablecloths and napkins so it all looked quite festive.
On Saturday, we went out for dinner then on to the Johnny Clegg concert which was fantastic. He is big in France but despite being born in Rochdale UK is a real South African and his songs are quite political, attacking racism, celebrating the new South Africa and attacking Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe. He is known here as “The White Zulu” as he has such strong sympathies with the people, and a command of the Zulu language.
The freight is here at last! How nice to see pictures of the wedding, graduation, nights out and also The Book which was prepared by kids from GHS and will be going with me to schools after the summer holidays. As for the eight handbags, you will all be glad to hear that included Les rucksack and briefcase, so it is only 6! So none spare, Susan!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Come rain, come shine

Today, Wed 12 is supposed to be the day our crate of stuff finally gets here. But as I write, no phonecall yet. So I wait. I will be glad to get some different clothes, but it’s funny; I can’t really remember what else is coming in the 18 boxes I dutifully signed for on 5 November. I am looking forward to seeing the wedding pics again of course and also some pics of nights out with The Sisterhood. It will be good to hear some of our CDs as well and get a fresh supply of books. But I can’t see how that takes up 18 boxes! Apparently, looking at the insurance inventory, I have 8 handbags coming! I have survived here on one samsonite travel pouch and the fab sparkly evening bag I got from The Sisters when I left work. As for all the rest, it is amazing what you can do without when needs must. I have resolutely refused to buy things I know are coming, to the extent we were using the tiny tubes of free airline toothpaste until I relented last week!
There is a great hubbub about the estate today as various tradesman try to sort out the chaos caused by rain. Yesterday, we had a violent rainstorm at about 4pm and apparently some carports collapsed at the apartment blocks on the other side of the estate, one of which went through someone’s living room window. And all the drains in the street were blocked with builders’ debris causing huge floods to gardens. When I went out to pick up Les it was like driving down a river. In the town, all the locals who were walking about were in their bare feet, with shoes balanced on their heads. Some wore plastic shopping bags as hats, actually looking quite stylish in the way they were tied! Across the road, the rain has lifted all our neighbour’s patio bricks so they are being relaid now. As we are on the “high” side of the street, we had no problem, but the water was very near the front door of those across the way. One lady opened her garage doors front and rear to let the torrent through! However, by the time I got to Les work, 15-20 minutes from here, it was hot and dusty, no rain at all. And by the time we got home, it had dried up here too, apart from the flood at the entrance caused by the blocked drains. Even the hilly street which was like a river was completely dry! Amazing! I’m sure Les thinks I was imagining the whole thing!
We had a surprise yesterday; we have now had the car a month and when the leaser called to find out if things were OK, he told Les the car we had was to be replaced with a new one! Wow! I’ve only just learned to cope with this one! However, it is exactly the same, just a lighter shade of silver grey and fewer kilometres on the clock.
We stopped to let the gate man know, he had already noticed the different numberplate and came out of his wee box to check who was entering. I must say the security seems to be excellent; on Sunday afternoon we were sitting outside when we heard our neighbour bawling to the gate which is a couple of houses behind us. Apparently he had received a call from his uncle, coming to visit unannounced and he had been refused entry! Neighbour: “Why you don’t let that car in?” Gateman: “I don’t know where is he going” Neighbour: “He is coming here” Gateman: “Where is there?” Neighbour: “Here, at my house” Gateman “Which house? What number?” Neighbour: “Why you need the number?” Gateman: “To send him there” Neighbour: ”He’s my uncle, he knows where is my house” Gateman: “Which is your house” Neighbour: “Just let him in now” (Neither has English as first language) At this point we were laughing so much I had to go indoors incase the neighbour heard us! By the way, we have video entryphones which apparently connect to the gate!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas is coming to Bah Humbug House

The cookery school evening was a great success. We were all paired up and given an apron and a big chef’s hat with our name on. Then we set to. We had very well explained recipe sheets and all the ingredients were at our work stations. The difference between this and H.E lessons at school was in the amount of beer and wine dispensed during the evening! My partner and I had to make chicken and peanut stew and spicy bread. When everyone was done cooking, we sat down and the food was served. Delicious. The stretch limo was also a great laugh, we scoffed the two bottles of fizz before we got to Joburg. There were 6 of us and capacity for 10. The gate man at our estate had a great time letting is in and out!
On Saturday we went to Cullinan, a diamond mining town about an hours drive from here, where the Cullinan diamond (strangely enough) was found. It was huge and was cut into 9 big stones and 96 small ones. Some of the big ones feature in the Crown Jewels and of course the famous Burton Taylor diamond was from the Cullinan. The museum there was excellent and the original mine managers cottages are all lovely shops, coffee shops and restaurants.
The mine is now owned by De Beers and still produces loads of diamonds today. We visited the actual mine head, the “big hole” which is …well… big!
Sunday was too hot to be bothered doing much!
Thanks to all who have sent Christmas cards, we have received some. I have a problem in that my address book is in the freight which is STILL NOT HERE. So if you don’t get a card, it’s not that I am ignoring you, its just that I don’t remember all the addresses, the old grey cells are not what they were!
It’s hard to think it will be Christmas in two weeks! Everyone here is getting ready for their summer holidays, we see people buying suitcases whenever we are at a shopping centre. Most people seem to head for the beach at some point over the two week break. I am looking forward to visiting the game reserve; we have arranged to go on the game drive at dawn on Christmas morning!
On Friday we are having some people over for dinner. I have succumbed to pressure from Les and bought tinsel, crackers and tiny Christmas tree table decorations. I was aiming to be a bit “Bah humbug” since we are not having a “proper” Christmas but now I have bought it all, I am quite looking forward to decorating the braai area for Friday. I’ve even bought a Christmas CD, Mariah Carey’s one which has a lot of carols I remember the girls at GHS singing, in fact there are even some I’ve sung in the Staff choir!!!
I am going to try making another traditional dish tonight, it is called bobotie and is basically like moussaka without the aubergine or lasagne without the pasta. So you’re thinking, that’s just mince then? ~Yes, that’s right, but quite spicy and served with a savoury white sauce over the top then oven baked. The sauce has egg in it to make it rise up like a moussaka topping. If this sounds expert, it isn’t! I’ve eaten it and looked at a recipe but this will be my first attempt to make it. Bon appetite!

Friday, December 7, 2007

"Why does it always rain on me?"

“Why does it always rain on me?”

Well, folks, to coin another song title, “Oh, no, it’s raining again!” As Les says, “Where’s the bloody sunshine?”
So today I am mostly mooching about in the house. We are having some people round tonight for drinks prior to going to the work night out which is to a cookery school. We are being picked up in a stretch limo. Hmm.That will be a sight for the neebours.
I have made friends with a lady called Anne who has a weaving business. She makes cashmere and cotton throws and has a loom modelled on the Scottish Harris Tweed loom. I’ve told her all about Paisley, my home town, which is the seat of the old Scottish thread industry. She has invited me to visit her workshop next week so that will be interesting.
As it is nearly the weekend, I am looking for trips to make! I am not going to Pretoria, the proposed talk is not happening, it seems. My friend Anne has given me details of some nice places to visit which are all around an hour from here and to please Les, don’t include too many shops…except for a craft market on Sunday…
Of course it all depends on this unpredictable weather! It is not at all cold but it is very, very wet and the pavements are quite flooded.
We went to the cinema the other night just to pass the time; all the schools are on holiday so there wasn’t much on for adults. We saw Mr Woodcock with Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon. Quite funny in an adolescent humour sort of way. We were the oldest there by far, I felt like I was on a school trip and could barely stop myself from counting heads and saying “Shh!” or “Get your feet off the seats!”
Next week” The Golden Compass” opens here, so I would like to go to see that, even though, shame on me, I haven’t read the books! However, that hasn’t stopped me from recommending them to scores of school kids over the years and they have all enjoyed them. As for my own reading, since arriving here I have read: Minette Walters “The chameleon’s shadow” a crime/ thriller, Douglas Kennedy “The woman from the fifth” a kind of bizarre time shift story, a magazine freebie by Taylor Smith called “Liar’s market” (spy novel) and Elsa Joubert “Isobelle’s Journey” which is translated from Afrikaans and is a historical saga covering the story of South Africa from the time of the Boer War to the end of apartheid. It served well to help me understand a little of the social and cultural background here. Now I am reading James Michener, “The covenant” which is a history of South Africa from ancient times up to the apartheid era, so that should fill in the period before the Joubert novel.
Not for me the scholarly trawl through mighty historical tomes, give me fiction any day! I finally found where the library is but is is closed on a Saturday and has no late nights, just Mon-Fri 9-5.Given that a lot of people seem to work 8-4.30, how’s that for reaching your audience, eh?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Whew! What a scorcher!

Friday was freezing, but we woke on Saturday to a real scorcher! It was a beautiful day. We spent some time driving round the local area, checking out the museum and library and we also found a pub, so I drove Les there for a pint at six o’clock. It was just like Saturday teatime in the Railway Inn back home! I had boring old soda water, of course, due to driving and the medication. Sunday was also a beautiful day. The people round the corner had an afternoon Christmas party in their garden and it was really strange to be slathering on the sun tan oil whilst listening to “Good King Wenceslas” at full blast on their karaoke machine! Doubt if they’ve ever walked in snow “deep and crisp and even” But…just when you think you’ve cracked it…. I was woken at 2.15a.m. this morning by thunder and torrential rain! I could also hear an ominous gurgling coming from the ensuite. This morning, after we had both showered and with washing machine and dishwasher on full throttle, I went outside and was met by water streaming up out of the drain! Quick phonecall and the plumber arrived with his entourage (within 10 minutes of call to maintenance, how’s that for service!) After a lengthy debate and one phonecall in Zulu or Xhosa, including the English words “Big problem”, the maintenance manager phoned back to say it was an external problem which would be fixed outside of our gate, it was nothing to do with our personal ablutions! I thought nothing further was happening but as I passed by I noticed a great big navvy’s pick at our front gate. Statement of intent or what! The rain has dried up and it is quite warm now although a little breezy.
I have discovered a new (to me) singer out here, Johnny Clegg. He looks a bit like Bruce Springsteen and sounds a bit like Paul Simon. Turns out he was born in Rochdale! He sings with an African backing chorus and I think he’s really good. You can check him out on . I have bought his latest CD and we are going to see him in a couple of weeks, he is playing at a venue about 15 minutes from here. He was also playing at the 46664 concert here in Joburg on Saturday, but although it was live on TV, we didn’t get to see it. Les was foutering with the remote control again…
So Saturday evening was spent playing cards. Les won. Hmph.
Now to culinary matters. We had ostrich fillet a week ago and to be honest it wasn’t as tender as the stuff from Aldi back home. So I made a casserole of the rest. Here it is called a sishebo and I used jikelele powder to season and flavour it. It was delicious! On Friday, it is the work night out and it is a bit different from the usual knees up in Scotland. We are going to a cookery school where we will be paired off to cook our dinner then all sit down to eat it. I will let you know how that goes.
My philosophy class has finished for the summer but there is an outing on Saturday which I might be able to go on. I don’t know yet if there will be a place for me as of course the others booked ages ago. I’d like to go along,to hear the speaker of course,but also to see a bit of Pretoria.Apparently that is the place to go to see all the jacaranda trees which have brilliant purple blooms at this time of year. I have seen a few round here, but in Pretoria the streets are lined with them, it seems.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Freedom of the road

The freedom of the open road is mine at last! I actually found it a lot easier than I had imagined when I was sitting in the passenger seat. What was putting me off was the size of the car; it’s a big BMW and the fact that obviously it doesn’t belong to us, as well as the fact that it’s an automatic which takes a bit of getting used to. I am sure my left arm should be bruised as every time I went to “change gears,” Les slapped it! So the answer was to get on out there on my own, which I did this week. The roads are wide and busy and the drivers are crazy!!! But I just kept my hands on the wheel, eyes fixed ahead and a look of grim determination on my face so that no one messed with me!
On Wednesday I drove Les to work then went to an event at my philosophy class which included lunch. That was very nice and I met some more people there. After the class on Thursday it was the end of term party and I met yet more new people, so I don’t feel so much like Nellie Nae Pals now.
I will be turning into a pumpkin or something, out two nights this week! The dinner on Monday with folk from Les work was good, especially the pudding which was a chocolate mousse served in a little pot in the shape of a witch’s cauldron, complete with lid and three little feet…all made out of chocolate! It looked almost too good to eat… So I didn’t …
HA HA HA what do you think? I didn’t get this size by turning down a chocolate pudding because it looked too good!! It was lovely.
The weather here is MISERABLE! It is freezing, high winds, rain, in fact just reminds me of Scotland, except there you can turn up the heat and put on a jumper. We have neither; the houses here don’t routinely have heating or air conditioning either for when it is hot. Our goods are still not here, although we have had an update. They seem to have reached the top of the queue and are with customs for inspection. We expect them the middle of next week, jumpers and all and it will probably be roasting hot by then!
There are a lot of trees round about us. But all is not as it seems; there is one just opposite that is much higher than all the others. It is a pine and has a beautiful even bark and perfect branches…almost too perfect, because, in fact, it turns out it is not real! It is a cunningly disguised mobile phone mast. The only giveaway is a wee red light on the top, bit early for Christmas! Then we noticed whilst out and about, a beautiful palm tree that was almost too perfect… red light was the giveaway again. I know it is false, not natural, but does it actually look nicer than a metal mast? Yes, I suppose it does.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday's musings (but posted on Tuesday!)

Saturday, we went to the craft market and bought: A terracotta oil burner, a lavender pomander and three big, well established cactus plants for the garden. Total expenditure: £5.50. Then we went to the bird garden where I did indeed find out the names of some of the garden birds. One is a bishopthe wee red one, another is a Rameron pigeon yellow eye socket, the others I forget already. But the bird garden was great, it also had monkeys, some little deer, geckos, lizards and…snakes….! They were big feckers! As we walked round the adjacent shopping centre, we heard, “Hi, Les!” Honestly, can’t take him anywhere but he meets someone he knows!
We had the braii on Friday and it was fantastic, so much so that we had another on Saturday. Today (Sunday) we are going to hang a painting we bought yesterday, that should be fun and games as we will never agree on how low it should go… being only 5’4 I obviously have a different perspective than Les! At home, I have several mirrors that the boys and Les can use but I can only see the top of my head! So I will be deciding where my painting goes!
The weather was great on Sunday,scorching hot and for the first time, no rain at all, so most of the day was spent relaxing in the garden.
Still no word of when the freight will get here ; I am running out of various ways to combine 10 tee shirts and two pairs of Capri trousers! We are going out to dinner with Les work people on Monday night so I will try my best to dress up the one pair of linen trousers I have brought.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Braiis birds and beasties

As most of you know, I take a lot of drugs. All prescribed!!! So I need to have regular blood checks in case I keel over one day. Today I visited the doctor. The “office” is a huge affair, more like a mini hospital with several doctors, dentists, pharmacy, body image clinic (?) and a casualty dept all under one roof. Very effective. But… doctors’ waiting rooms are the same the world over! My appointment was at 8.00 a.m. and I was called at 8.15. Not bad, I thought, but that was only to join my doctor’s queue! I was third up, so eventually got in around 8.30. From there on in everything was very efficient and I was poked, prodded and stabbed in several places before being presented with my bill at 9.15. We hope to finally get the braii going this weekend . Les bought the charcoal last weekend but we are still waiting for the grille to be fitted. It’s a bit big for two, you could roast a whole animal on there, our two wee chicken breasts will look a bit puny! Maybe we will go local and try the wors which is served with pap and chakalaka. (that’s sausage, cornmeal and spicy sauce to you). I’ll let you know what it is like. I have been finding out about various things to see and do in the local area. So we are going to a craft market and a bird garden this weekend. This morning I was in the garden and saw some beautiful birds. There were bright yellow ones like canaries, small black ones with bright red heads and tails and bigger tan coloured ones with great big yellow eyes! It will be good to try to put names to them. (I mean species, not Chirpy or Tweetiepie) Of course there are also all sorts of different flying and crawling beasties here, but fewer than I expected. The bathroom has natural travertine tiling and it has lots of little holes and crevices in it. I am always thinking I see a big scary beastie until I put my specs on and see it is only a natural mark on the tile!

Friday, November 23, 2007

An open and shut case

We need to open a bank account here. I have been looking at various banks. Firstly, there is Nedbank. Wonder if there is a free baseball cap for every account opened? Do the tellers were shell suits and call everyone “Aye, Man”? Then there is F N B. Reminds me of the Matt McGinn comic song,
He kept bees in the old town of Effen,
An Effen beekeeper was he,
And one day this Effen beekeeper,
Was stung by a big Effen bee.
I hope that is not the motto of this bank. We’ve decided to play safe and go with the boringly monikered Standard Bank. We also need a TV license, but the place to get it is the Post Office. There isn’t one near here, so we have to go after work when Les is here with the car. To get the license, we need his passport, which has been with the customs people as our freight has arrived in the country. Actually, it arrived the sane day we did but couldn’t be released without a passport, which we obviously needed to gain entry. Catch 22 or what? Anyway, he got the passport back, so we went to get the TV license. The Post Office is open until 5.30. Les came home from work early and we got there at 5.01. The office was “open” as in the doors weren’t locked. Guess what? Closed at 4.45 that one day for stock check. Hope the detector vans don’t come this way for a while!
Today we are having a security gate fitted to the garden. The doorbell will be outside of this and it is connected to a wee TV screen so I can see who is there before I go out to open the gate. The garden is surrounded by a 6 foot high brick wall. The complex has an electric gate manned by guards 24/7 with a big wall and electric fencing all round. At night, extra guards go round the estate in a van. Yet I am repeatedly told this is a safe area and I notice everyone goes out leaving windows open. The windows all have bars on them but they just look like part of the glazing. Apparently they are designed so that a human head will not fit through. Head, eh? What about the rest of the body? Will I come through one morning to find body parts all over the place but no head?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday's bits and bobs

We had a good weekend, spent a lot of time shopping! We also drove around a bit, looking at the area beyond Benoni. There is a fair amount of farmland nearby and the land is flat so you can see for miles from the roads. I chickened out of driving, mabe next weekend... We went to a nearby lake on Sunday for a walk. It seems to be a popular pastime to bring a picnic, use the BBQ ( or braii) provided and set up several fishing rods then sit in the shade and wait for a bite! We went to a couple of garden centres to buy planters and some plants, compost, etc. as I am already missing the garden! Les was asked if he was a pensioner to get the discount! He was not amused and said we won't be using that garden centre again! Next up we went to look at a restaurant Les had been telling me about, he has visited it before. After a look round, I asked about the price structure (it's one of these all you can eat buffet places).She took a look at Les and told us the pensioner price too! Then she complimented me on my lovely complexion and I'm sure I heard her say, "What's that young thing doing hanging about with a pensioner"
I've planted some containers by the back door with herbs for cooking; basil, coriander, parsley and rosemary. At the front, I've put in 4 planters with drought resistant plants such as lavender, gazanias, etc. Hopefully they will be in full flower soon. There were also tomatoes, peppers, etc.on sale so I hope to get some to see how they do here out of doors as I've only grown them in a greenhouse in Scotland!
At a bookshop, I bought the new McIlvanney, it was price reduced to R39 ( less than £3) for the hardback! Obviously Scottish literature is not a big seller out here! I also bought a couple of magazines, it is funny to see features on Christmas cookery with salads and BBQ recipes and ways to decorate your patio for the summer festivities. Also, it is odd in shops to see "Christmas is coming; stock up on sunblock"
I now have a local pay as you go phone, but I'm not sure yet what it will cost me and the person I'm calling if I use it to phone UK. I remember from phoning Mum in Spain that both parties foot the bill and it was mega expensive. The girl in the supermarket kindly showed me how to add airtime but I've no idea what calls cost!
Watched a TV quiz show where the penalty meant the contestant lost R5 (14 is a pound) for wrong answers. Wonder how that would go down in UK? Actually, though, the prize is cumulative with a car as star prize at the end of the week, so it's not that different, I suppose. TV this weekend also gave us Rebus with Ken Stott which was good. The city it was set in was full of beautiful old buildings and it was so green, with a lovely big castle in the background. Looks nice, maybe I will go there one day!
So that's pretty much it for now, folks, just getting on with the sweeping and mopping. I bought THE BEST mop in the WORLD and a BUCKET WITH WHEELS !!! So it's all go now!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday; the weekend approaches

The furniture man came this morning with another 2 sofas, a rug, a table and spare room furniture. Everything came in an open back truck so it was covered in dust!It took me most of the morning to clean it all. Happy days! We live very near a spent gold mine so there is a lot of dust as they are working on reducing the slag heap (or bing if you are reading this in West Lothian).However, the dust is just regular dust, I have had a close look but not a glimpse of anything remotely yellow or shiny, sadly. Last night I went along to my philosophy class and the people were great, I was made to feel very welcome.Les has a new satnav in the car, so we had fun on the way back disregarding the instructions because we actually knew a quicker way! What fun! she has quite a strident voice, I might try to change it for a deep and sexy male one when I get around to driving. I will try this weekend. Last night we had spectacular thunder and lightning and a sudden downpour, but the rain only lasted around 5 minutes and dried up immediately.Today is hot and sunny again. Wonder if I'll ever get tired of writng that? We might try out the braii this weekend, it is what they call the BBQ over here. I took some photographs of the house and garden, so I will attempt to upload them over the weekend. Internet connection is a little haphazard!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Feels like home

Wednesday 14th. After breakfast, we went to buy everything. And I mean everything! The house is furnished and equipped but no one has ever lived here before, so a brand new house is empty! By that I mean, at home if I look long and hard enough, I can usually turn up just about anything; a candle, a pair of scissors, a needle and thread(even if I don't always know what to do with stuff, I can find it). There's always stuff lurking at the back of a drawer. But here there is nothing!Imagine my distress trying to decide which dusters, what floor cleaner would be best! We filled two trolleys then came back to unload and figure out what was still essential. Quite a lot actually!Bathmats, kitchenroll holder, hooks for a dishtowel, breadboard, clothes pegs,hairdryer, adaptor plugs......... We went to a different shopping mall (three in two days, a record even for me) and picked up yet more stuff. Ok, I know I said I was going to declutter and keep it that way but everywhere looks so bare! The fridge now looks so much better with a shoal of magnetic fish swimming across it. Candles in nice simple white china holders look good on the black and glass dining table(I didn't choose it!)And we really need all the stuff I bought in the equivalent of the Pound Shop. I am not yet very familiar with the money here, the sums seem so huge I am sure I am spending a fortune. I actually quizzed the girl in one shop about the price of a storage jar and those magnetic fish until I realised that R23 is less than £2. This evening we had burgers and a salad (fried because I still can't work the oven and grill bit of the fancy cooker)and having had someone from the office come to sort out the TV, Les is installed in front of it while I am in the next room which is called the study. The TV room, this study, a loo and a huge outdoor covered entertainment area are upstairs while 3 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and dining/sitting room are downstairs.Everywhere is laminate flooring and the decor is plain painted walls in mainly neutral shaeds so I will be able to buy colourful accessories... Oh, wait! I forgot about the less cluttered lifestyle again!
Tomorrow Les goes to work and I am am going to spend the day cleaning,rearranging cupboards, doing laundry and making dinner, just like a good little housewife. Hmm. Wonder how long that will last!!

Settling in

Here we are at last! The past few days have been quite hectic to say the least. The journey was great, no hitches or holdups and champagne all the way. We arrived at the house in a big chauffeur driven limo and as arranged the relocation agent was waiting for us. She was quickly joined by the letting agent, neither of whom had keys!Les phoned the office because we knew a set had been delivered there and the letting agent phoned the owner. Within 10 minutes they all arrived and the place was like Paddy's Market!Four very assertive career women all tryng to get their point across to us two weary travellers. It was no contest! Eventually, having received four sets of instructions for everything, they went away and left us to it.Then the internet guy arrived and started in with more instructions! Most things were quite simple, but we don't have an electronic garage door or an integrated garden sprinkle system at home, so they were a challenge.The sprinklers were on and off,my trousers got a sprinkling too. Next up, Les tried out the satellite TV system and pressed so many buttons all we had was " A snowy scene".On 300 channels. We went a quick grocery shopping and got home to make a simple chicken salad as the instructions for the cooker were too difficult to interpret after 36 hours awake! We'd just sat down to eat it when the power went off! The whole estate was in total darkness. Fortunately one of the women had brought us candles so we just had a candlelit dinner then went to bed exhausted.Sometime in the night the power came back on so when Les woke up wide awake at 4.30a.m. the house was lit up like Blackpool! I slept like a log until 7.30 a.m.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

J-Day minus 3

That's the packing done, I know it's a bit early but we're tripping over stuff here. And since I'll have an iron when we get there, it doesn't really matter if things get crushed. Mind you, I have an iron here, although I don't really use it, as you know; I get other folk to do that for me! Another round of farewells this weekend, my liver will be the size of a house by the time we get away. Les had to fly to London yesterday to collect the visas in person but everything is now in order. Just waiting for the call from the limo company to fix the pick up time for Monday morning.Sounds posh, bet it's just a plain old taxi though.
I should have email by Wednesday, the relocation people have already arranged for the man to call to set up "I-Burst" which is the system we'll use. It works on the same priciple as a mobile phone as there are no land lines where we are going. Must admit I struggled to undertand this but thanks to Charlaine's scientific expertise I kinda get it now. If only she was a physicist instead of a chemist, I'm sure I'd have understood it more easily!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

J-Day minus 4

Well, just found out that our departure is likely to be on Monday 12 November, 12 days later than expected, but it's here at last!
We will be picked up around 9.30am to go to Glasgow for the flight to Johannesburg via Dubai (business class of course, dahlings, it's the only way to travel!)
I've never created a blog before so this will be trial and error, but so many people have suggested it that I thought I may as well give it a try!
The freight went on Monday 5th and it is very strange to open the wardrobe and see...nothing! It is quite a shock and no matter how many times I do it, I still give an involuntary gasp ! In the morning, open door, gasp "Oh! ". Go for a shower, come back, open door, gasp, "Oh!" and so on.
Okay, I realise this is not exactly riveting just yet, but once I actually get there I'm sure you'll all be hanging on my every word... Or not.
Righto, that's enough for now, let's just see if this works...