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...