Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

In this darkly riveting debut novel - a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging - an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory - and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud - not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth's mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud's rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey's disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

Yep, I read this is a whirlwind 2 days. I really enjoyed it and I really enjoyed reading something written in such a different style (a woman with alzheimers/dementia), it reminds me of reading things like Room or The Curious Incident or Extremely Loud (which are written in the voice of a child). It is quite refreshingly different. And, it made me want to phone my grandmother immediately (which I did :) ).

I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery of this story because it felt like as much a mystery for me as it did for Maud. I highly recommend this book!

30 April: Cape Agulhas to Bot River

Awe, we had to say Goodbye to Cape Agulhas today. Was very upset, would have loved another night! But we still had two more nights of our fantastic roadtrip before we started the journey home. But I will be back someday!

Before we packed up the car, we had one last walk along the beach (the last we'd see of it this trip). This time we strolled along the pebble beach in front of the chalets. And we timed it just right because as we were leaving, it started to drizzle.

We didn't have far to go today so we had a very busy drive with many stops. First on the list was The Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp. It was quite interesting and there were a lot more wrecks there than I imagined! Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area ...

After that we got on the road and did some wine tasting! Our first stop was Raka. It felt a bit random after we went to a few more spots. But we did buy a Spliced and a Malbec (which we've drunk and replaced already!) from them. After there we drove past The Birkenhead Brewery so decided to pop in there since they offered Craft Beer for The Trucker as well (although after this trip and our purchases he has been drinking more red wine than usual, it's not a preference for him).

This was a fabulous stop. A gorgeous table outdoors with a lovely view and a Beer Taster tray for him and a Wine taster plate for me. I found a white wine I actually like!! (I NEVER drink white). So we bought another 2 bottles, a Cab-Sav and a Sauvignon Blanc. Seriously, a pretty perfect little stop, this one.

After that, we needed some lunch so headed into Hermanus and stopped at Harbour Rock (which we had missed in December!). We ate some yummy sushi at a window seat overlooking the harbour. This really was a perfect day.

Before we left Hermanus, we stopped at Hermanuspietersfontein's tasting room. Sorry I missed the market they have there, it looks like it'd be good fun. We were struggling by this point and throwing out anything that we didn't immediately enjoy. But we found something we both absolutely loved, their Die Martha. Wow. Naturally we bought a bottle. But, I must get my hands on some more of that. And I got a bottle of their Rose, Bloos, too.

We were pretty wine-farmed out and although we sort of intended one last one on the way to Bot River, we skipped it and went straight on to KolKol. Not without a number of farm stall stops trying to get our hands on some more Cloudy Apple ... sadly we had no luck with that :(

This was an interesting spot. I'd never heard of it till a friend of mine sent me the link (we share amazing places we'd love to one day stay ... she basically wants to kill me after this trip! Haha) And then I saw it popping up all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds. The place is amazing. Seriously.

I didn't need more than one night here, but it wouldn't have gone amiss and I reckon this is another one we'll be adding to the "go back to" list for a weekend getaway when we live closer (one day). We made the most of our evening there (We were in the Bugsy Cabin, with it's incredible peach-pit floors!). We fired up the hot tub immediately.

Unfortunately this was kind of disappointing. It takes absolute ages to warm up. We tried hopping in at around 6pm. But it was only luke warm from the step up and as soon as we were in and swirling the water around it cooled down VERY quickly. We left it going and decided to try again after dinner. This was a bit better and we quite enjoyed it. Because we were fairly chilly after our dips, we had the fire going and inside was warm and toasty.

Just before bed, around 9pm we decided to hop in again and it was AMAZING. Seriously superb. It was hotter than I run my bath with only the very tips of our toes able to find a cooler spot. We switched all the lights in the cabin out and sat enjoying the hot water looking at the stars, watching them shoot. It was about as close to perfect as it gets, honestly. That is a half hour I will treasure for ever. Absolutely the cherry on top of our amazing holiday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dead Guilty by Beverly Connor

In Beverly Connor's absorbing series, the bones of the dead reveal the secrets of the living. In this latest investigation, forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon must lead a chilling excavation of a crime with harrowing implications: the murder of three people, hanged execution-style in an isolated patch of Georgia woods.

This was alright as a follow up to One Grave Too Many (although it seems to take place about a year later, which confused me for a little). But I did find it a little same-same-but-different. Diane seems to be setting a a peculiar trend of being kidnapped on her way to her car o_0.

Still, I am looking forward to the rest of the books in the series and I'm enjoying the Museum / Forensic cross-over :)

* This book is part of the Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation series: One Grave Too Many (2004), Dead Guilty (2004), Dead Secret (2005), Dead Past (2007), Dead Hunt (2008), Scattered Graves (2008), Dust to Dust (2009), The Night Killer (2010), One Grave Less (2010)

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Visit to Pretoria

#sigh Another weekend come and gone. This one absolutely flew past. I'm tired and not feeling 100% and have to work late today (sad face). Doing that on a Monday really screws with my week. It's like you never quite recover.

The traffic was so bad on Friday afternoon in all directions leaving the office (I left nearly half an hour later than usual) that I got passed the first robot (traffic light) and then did a U-Turn and came straight back. At least it was Friday so there were people around and a mere 45mins wait for the bar fridges to open. So that turned out to be a much better way to spend a few hours than stuck in the traffic.

We watched Noah on Friday night. I assumed it'd be good. Or at least entertaining / interesting based on the star-studded cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson & Anthony Hopkins. Nope. Don't even waste a minute of your time on this. We very nearly switched it off very early on, but we thought it might improve ... but it didn't. And then we just finished it for the sake of it. It was terrible.

On Saturday we had a long day planned. But we had a late-ish morning because we had no puppy-training. I did manage to take Peps out for a quick walk before we headed out tho. We met up with some friends at the Hazel Food Market in Pretoria at 11am.

It's a mad packed little spot. Parking can be a hassle, but it was great. We wandered from stall to stall tasting in buying. Loved the koeksisters, bought a ton of fudge from Sweet Angels (wow, what a variety of flavours!), bought cabanossi, melktert, tried a chili popper (a little disappointing), bought home made ginger beer, and some drunken cheese. And more ... even more. It was such a fun morning. And when we finished with the tasting, we wandered thru the craft area and into the Capital Craft Beer Academy for the rest of the day. Another friend from work and her hubby joined us there.

It was a great day out :) I think we got home after 5pm! Took Peps out for another quick walk and then napped / bathed / read my book before we headed off to @jarredcinman's for dinner. (Told you it was a busy one!)

We had a lovely evening although we were exhausted by the time we left (shortly after 10pm).

We had a completely lazy Sunday, I think we only got out of bed around 11am. Haha. Just what I needed. We did our grocery shopping and made lunch at home. I researched more on our Turkey trip while The Trucker went to cricket. I don't think we're gonna be able to fit it into our budget :(

And then we made some yummy pasta with the cabanossi and drunken cheese and a spicy tomato sauce for dinner. I almost finished a whole book today! Haha. It was pretty perfect.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gobble gobble?

I know, today's post is rather late. I didn't have time this morning ... I told you, I've been super busy at work. It hasn't stopped and is showing no signs of letting up next week either!

Which is annoying because I would love nothing more than to spend some more time trying to squeeze or tiny budget into a September trip to Turkey (!) I have secured the leave and we've found an awesome deal on Emirates flights with our Discovery discounts ... but the rest is proving tricky. We'd obviously land in Istanbul. And I MUST get to Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia and swim in Pamukkale's travertine pools (Didya see? That'd tick of *two* Life List items. Score!). And after a little research, some time in Fethiye wouldn't go amiss either! I found the perfect trip itinerary ... but it's only like double our budget :/


Anyway, other than the crazy of work and the highs and lows of the possibility of Turkey, it's been a pretty cool but quiet week.

On Monday evening I had another attack of Domestic Godessery (well I guess on Sunday actually, since that's when I bought the ingredients and planned the meal). I made the MOST AMAZING salad. It's a Mandarin Broccoli Salad and we served it with chicken breasts. It was quite simple to make and I'll definitely be making it again. I even had the leftovers for lunch on Tuesday. Yum. Yum.

No SCM on Tuesday. The Trucker and I have been very lazy this week. Although Pepper has been getting her daily walks (of course). Lookit how she's grown! Aside from that we've barely done anything.

I did get to do a Birthday celebration for a friend at work tho. Which has been such fun! I designed a quote we got printed on canvas and raised some cash and managed to get her some proper French Champagne and macaroons. (Can you tell we went with a French theme :) ) And the birthday girl loved it :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

29 April: Sedgefield to Cape Agulhas

Today we said goodbye to Teniqua Treetops and took a rainy drive back along the N2. Seriously it seems to rain every time!

We stopped again in Riversdale, this time for lunch so we decided to try find a place The Trucker had been told about by friends in Joburg, Die Ou Tronk.

You have to turn off to get to it but it's quite a nice little stop. The tables were outside under branches heavy with avocados. It's an interesting little piece of history and while all the nick-nacks and what not that filled the rooms didn't interest me, the building itself did.

I can't remember what we had for lunch, but it was nothing spectacular but we did taste a slice of the melktert they had on sale and The Trucker then bought us a whole one. It was good :)

The rest of the drive to Cape Agulhas, our next overnight stop, was fairly boring. Grey rain clouds all the way ... but eventually we could see the sea!

Can you believe I'd never been to Cape Agulhas before? Me neither. I don't quite know what I was expecting, but it doesn't look very impressive on arrival. That said, it honestly is the place I will without doubt be going back to from everywhere we went on this trip.

If I thought I was impressed by the SANPark's accommodation at Addo, well this was EVEN BETTER. They were still in the process of building the 15 chalets that will be there. There were only 7. And they really do feel like they are on the tip of the world. You look out from each one onto a stretch of fynbos before the sea.

The units themselves are gorgeous little wooden chalets with a completely stocked (utensil-wise, not food-wise, obvs) kitchen, a small 4-seater table, a lounge area and a bedroom with a nicely sized bathroom (shower only). There is an indoor fireplace. And then there is the deck, looking seaward.

When we arrived, we decided to go and check out the 2 ocean marker and visit the Meisho Maru wreck for sunset (we'd been advised in advance). It was fabulous. We strolled along the wooden walkways for quite a while, enjoying breathing in the sea air. We got our touristy photos.

And then we got the most stunning photos of the wreck as the sun was setting before heading back to braai on the deck. It was a superb stay and I will advise everyone living in Cape Town that this is the perfect weekend break-away. I can't wait to go back!

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