Friday, February 27, 2015

Hello Friday

I know. I'm pretty much a terrible blogger these days ... but I think it's probably a sign of things to come.

At the moment it is because my life isn't really very exciting. We don't do much anymore (to be expected, really), so there just isn't that much to tell. I've been trying to get the Turkey Blog Posts done ... but have to get photos before I can publish the next one, so hopefully I'll remember this weekend.

I have 5 weeks of work left. And I haven't decided how I'll manage blogging after The Littlest One arrives ... I mean obviously at first I probably will be far too exhausted. And then? I guess I'll wait and see how much I feel is really up for public domain. I am not sure the role of mommy blogger really sits well with me. I guess, like everything coming up, it'll be a wait and see and take it as it comes kinda thing that'll just happen along the way.

This is going to be a crazy year. Did I mention we're selling up all our houses (my 2 investment properties, the one we live in and the one The Trucker is building)? We had the first 3 valued. I don't think we're going to make much on the sales because the oldest unit, I've only had almost 5 years ... And it's really kind of amazing, when you look at how much you put in to cover the lawyers fees, the bond registration and the transfer costs. And then you add in all the extra you've paid in on levies (in my case the rentals cover the bond repayments, but not the levies). And then what I'll probably lose after the sale in Capital Gains Tax. I would probably have been better off just putting all that money into a savings account or unit trusts. I would probably have more "cash in hand" that way than what I'll end up after selling.

That said, all purchases were the right decision at the time ... I had a 10 year plan (prior to The Trucker coming into my life). Buy 1 property at 30 and pay it off by 35. Buy a second one and use the rental from both to pay it off in 3 years and then buy a 3rd and use all 3 rentals to pay it off in 2 years. Then I figured I could either use the money from the rentals to buy my own place or sell all 3 and buy myself something.

That's obviously not what happened ... I did buy the first at 30, a place I never planned to live, only an investment. But I bought the 2nd at 31, as a place to live ... and then, at 33 The Trucker and I bought a place together.

See. Life gets in the way of the best laid plans :) I don't regret any of the decisions we made ... but it turns out, right now, with the imminent move to Cape Town and the need to afford a place there (OMG, how DO people actually do that?!?!) that we have no choice but to sell up everything here first.

Anyone wanna buy a studio, a 2 bedroom or a 3 bedroom ;) ?

Okay, so that was a ramble I wasn't expecting. I guess it's just been particularly on my mind. Yesterday was The Trucker's birthday. We went to Rocomamas for dinner together. I feel like we haven't really been out in ages, honestly. It was really nice :) Last child-free birthday for either of us!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

YOU THOUGHT YOUR LIFE WAS COMPLICATED
Private investigator Isabel Spellman is back on the case and back on the couch -- in court-ordered therapy after getting a little too close to her previous subject.

As the book opens, Izzy is on hiatus from Spellman Inc. But when her boss, Milo, simultaneously cuts her bartending hours and introduces her to a "friend" looking for a private eye, Izzy reluctantly finds herself with a new client. She assures herself that the case -- a suspicious husband who wants his wife tailed -- will be short and sweet, and will involve nothing more than the most boring of PI rituals: surveillance. But with each passing hour, Izzy finds herself with more questions than hard evidence.

Meanwhile, Spellmania continues. Izzy's brother, David, the family's most upright member, has adopted an uncharacteristically unkempt appearance and attitude toward work, life, and Izzy. And their wayward youngest sister, Rae, a historic academic underachiever, aces the PSATs and subsequently offends her study partner and object of obsession, Detective Henry Stone, to the point of excommunication. The only unsurprising behavior comes from her parents, whose visits to Milo's bar amount to thinly veiled surveillance and artful attempts (read: blackmail) at getting Izzy to return to the Spellman Inc. fold.

As the case of the wayward wife continues to vex her, Izzy's personal life -- and mental health -- seem to be disintegrating. Facing a housing crisis, she can't sleep, she can't remember where she parked her car, and, despite her shrinks' persistence, she can't seem to break through in her appointments. She certainly can't explain why she forgets dates with her lawyer's grandson, or fails to interpret the come-ons issued in an Irish brogue by Milo's new bartender. Nor can she explain exactly how she feels about Detective Henry Stone and his plans to move in with his new Assistant DA girlfriend...


Loved this. Seriously. Such a fun read. Am so enjoying this series!

* These books are part of The Spellmans series: The Spellman Files (2007), Curse of the Spellmans (2008), Revenge of the Spellmans (2009), The Spellmans Strike Again (2010), Trail of the Spellmans (2012), The Last Word (2013)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

At the end of the twenty-first century, in a transformed America?the families of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers. Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state, removed from their homes and raised on "Goodhouse" campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Goodhouse is a feral place, part prison, part boarding school and now a radical religious group, the Holy Redeemer's Church of Purity, is intent on destroying each campus and purifying every child with fire. We see all this through the eyes of James, a transfer student who watched as the radicals set fire to his old Goodhouse and everyone he'd ever known. In addition to adjusting to a new campus with new rules, James now has to contend with Bethany, a brilliant, medically fragile girl who wants to save him, and her father, the school's sinister director of medical studies. Soon, however, James realizes that the biggest threat might already be there, inside the fortified walls of Goodhouse itself. Partly based on the true story of the nineteenth-century Preston School of Industry and the boys who lived and died in its halls, Goodhouse explores questions of identity and free will and what it means to test the limits of human endurance.

So, I hadn't heard of this book before it arrived from Penguin Books for review. The blurb on the back cover made it sound interesting.

Unfortunately I wasn't very impressed. Even tho it has an interesting premise, it left me feeling mostly unsure of what it was supposed to be about or what feelings it was trying to evoke. I was too confused for the first half of it to really bond or care about the characters. There were obviously bad things happening, but I didn't really grasp why. Power corrupts? Yip, great, I got that already.

It alludes to being based on the Preston School story, which I had to look up online. I was assuming it was that reform school where all the bodies were found. But after a quick look on Google, it wasn't that one ...

All in all, I wouldn't recommend you bother with reading this. Honestly, I didn't find it page-turning or much of a thriller.


* This is one of my Featured Book Reviews, sponsored by Penguin Books.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quarantine

Urgh. What a weekend. Seems there was quite the tummy bug going round our office last week ... a few people were off with it on Thursday and by Friday there were loads of people affected. It hit me on Thursday evening and I took Friday off.

I was a little nervous, what with being 32 weeks pregnant, but I spoke to my gynae and she wasn't too concerned (the only real risk is dehydration) as long as I stayed hydrated. There was a lot of energade, a couple of apples and some bovril provitas in my day.

It seemed to lull by midday on Friday. A good sign because we had our Infant Survival course on Saturday from 8 - 3pm.

I am so glad we did it! The Trucker was a little bored ... because he's done cpr training before as part of his rescue divers course. But for me it was all new. I arrived a little nervous but left feeling much better about things. Definitely learnt some things! And, more importantly, learnt to think about a few things that hadn't even crossed my mind!

It was a long day tho. And after a brief rest at home, we headed to @clairam's birthday braai. I think I probably over-indulged on the food ... hard not to when you've been on a minimal bland diet the day before! And unfortunately I woke up with the tummy bug again on Sunday :(

So, on Sunday, I literally did nothing. More energade, lucozade, apples and bovril toast ...

Not sure yet if today will be okay or not. Am back in the office ... there are a lot of Zombie Quarantine posters around (haha). I have meetings all day, one that I can't miss first tho, so I guess I'll see how it goes after that one.

Urgh. Feel quite out of energy!

Friday, February 20, 2015

13 October: Urgup

Up and ready by 5am. Second morning in a row wasn't any easier. Clearly the novelty has worn off. Haha.

We were collected at our hotel and then dropped off at the Urgup Balloons offices where we got a little snack (juice and bread rolls) while we waited for everyone to arrive. We were in the Blue Group. No idea how many balloons they have, but there were red, orange and green .. as well as some people also with Blue stickers that weren't on our balloon?



Anyway, eventually they called us and we got driven to the launch site. It was still dark but you could start to see the silhouette of these large round shapes as we drove. And then a few lit up. It was very exciting, especially once we arrived at our balloon.

The experience was completely magical. Even tho I've been in a Hot Air Balloon before ... there is nothing like watching a hundred other balloons launching and flying around you! And then there is the unique cave landscape that you're flying over.



Spectacular and completely worth it! What a superb and perfect way to start a Monday - haha.

Oh and the morning weather could not have been better. Thanks goodness :)

Eventually when it was done, we landed and had a little toast of local champagne (not very good) to celebrate before returning to our hotel for breakfast. I squeezed in a shower while The Trucker had a nap before we had to pack our bags and head off on another day tour of Cappadocia.

Our tour started with a 5km "hike". Luckily it wasn't really a hike, a bit of a downhill and then a lot of flat walking thru a Valley and ending in the Old Greek City (no idea exactly what they were called). It was unexpected, but absolutely beautiful! We walked thru the trees and growth, between the mountains, spotting masses of pigeon houses along the way (so many that we joked we should have a drinking game for every time our guide said "pigeon house"! See photo below).

I had no idea Greek and Turkey swapped a bunch of their people back. Seems pretty peculiar, if you ask me ... am going to have to read up about it!

After our walk, we headed to a similar tourist buffet spot for lunch. And then we visited one of the apparently many underground cities. Bizarre. Apparently from way back when the Christians were hiding ... not quite like the Cu Chi Tunnels, these went underground for 4 floors (or more? apparently a lot has collapsed). Still. All these people hiding underground around the world, in such different times. Surreal.

We had one final viewpoint stop: of another castle (Ortahisar) ... but I found the surrounding architecture far more fascinating (photo below). It seems the cave hotels are all built in Greek Cave Houses and a lot of them apparently collapsed around 1960.



The Greek Cave Houses are obviously not the same as the Christian caves you see at the Goreme Open Air Museum. Or maybe they were adapted from them?

When our tour finished, we were dropped off at a different hotel with a few hours to wait till we'd be taken to the bus station. After a bit of sitting around doing nothing we decided to go for a walk.

We stopped for a drink, tried some pistachio baklava, bought some Cappadocian wine to take home to try ... you know, when I can drink wine again ;)

And we got some supplies for our bus trip. We got collected and taken to the bus station (which we'd walked past, like a road away!) at 7pm. At 8pm, we got put on a tiny little shuttle bus (full) like we'd used in the last 2 days on our tours. Pretty unimpressed at what was apparently our situation till 6:30am tomorrow morning but we tried to make the best of it.

Less than an hour later we pulled up at the next staion. And they started taking off all the luggage. Turns out that was just a shuttle from Urgup to the real bus station ... and our bus is only arriving here at 10:30!

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