Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

This was my least favourite Gillian Flynn novel. It was kinda twisty, but I still found it fairly predictable. The characters were strange. I dunno. It didn't really resonate with me. I think read it if you've read her others, but if you haven't ... start with something else.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

01 - 03 May: Bot River to Cape Town to Johannesburg

We left KolKol after a delish breakfast (did I mention they provide you with fresh eggs, milk and butter?!) and headed home to Mom's for our last night before catching the train back to Joburg.

We had a little bit of a debacle in our quest to acquire some Cloudy Apple. We stopped at Peregrine again but they were sold out. But apparently the Houw Hoek Farmstall, which we'd passed earlier, should still have. So we decided we weren't in a rush so why not. And we managed to get their last four-pack. Yay!

For our last dinner in Cape Town, we headed to Catherina's with the folks. Shew. It was a pretty delish dinner and we discovered another good wine (which we're still trying to get more of!), Steenberg's Echo Red Blend.

The next morning we headed out early to catch our train home. This time we left on time, yay! The first half of the trip was lovely. I read a lot and we got to enjoy the scenery. But we did seem to have a carriage full of kiddies.

Sadly the next day proved to cement our decision to not use the train again any time soon. When we woke up, we were running about an hour late. A vast improvement on our trip down, you'd think? But we progressively lost more and more time.

We thought when we got to Krugersdorp station, it'd be safe to let our friends who had offered to collect us know we'd probably arrive in an hour. Unfortunately it took us over 2 hours to go 5km. Apparently there was something wrong with the signals.

Now I get that things can go wrong, but really, no one communicated well with us on either train trip and you really are stuck, waiting in the queue when things do. There is no faster option (except if they put you on a bus, which is way less comfortable).

We eventually, along with a lot of other people, decided to give up and get out at Luipaardsvlei and get a lift from there. The train did end up leaving in the 20mins after making the decision that we were left waiting for our lift, but who knows how many more stops they had along the way.

I loved the train trip. I would recommend it, but really you need a lot of books (Kindle ftw!) and to not be in any sort of hurry. And I think if you have kids under the age of 10 it's probably quite a fun experience for them. So, maybe we'll try again one day ... for our eventual kids.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Weekend with Mom

Shew. This weekend flew by. It was a decent mix of busy and relaxed ... but I definitely could've done with a lie in this morning.

On Friday I raced home after work to see Mom. We hung out and took Pepper for a walk. Gypsy loved having her here too and spent the weekend sleeping in the spare room with Mom instead of us - haha. At least she had a substitute for Finny & Jax (her cats), that she'd left at home (obvs).

On Friday evening we decided to stay in so The Trucker made us the Gammon with Broccoli and we watched The Other Woman.

Meh, the movie was nothing special. Pretty predictable. I have been banned from picking the movies since Noah and now this - haha. Also, can you believe Cameron Diaz is over 40. It's so bizarre. While she doesn't look like she should be in an older "mom" role (not that she was in this), I'm also not so sure she is aging very well. Anyhoo. Still, don't bother watching this one.

On Saturday morning The Trucker took Pepper to Puppy Training while I stayed home and had a lazy morning with Mom. When he got home we headed out. We tried the Bosheuval Market. I think it is their first one. Perhaps it'll get better and fill out ... it was pretty dull. We took a wander around their beautiful gardens and left.

We decided that since we were out that way, we'd try The Culinary Table for lunch. Shewee. The Trucker & I shared their Butternut & Feta Open Lasagne (BEST!) and a 3-Cheese Toasted Cheese. And Mom had a starter portion of their Laksa Mussels (which I got to taste). Very good. And it looks like they change their menu monthly.

After that we headed home for a relaxing afternoon and a nap. I took Pepper for a quick walk around the complex as well.

For dinner we headed to Cafe Mexicho, which we haven't been to in ages! Shewee but the Chili Poppers were hotter than I remembered! And they have a new flavoured Frozen Margarita (Pina Colada), which I tried and was quite nice mixed with the strawberry :) We shared their nachos with chicken and quesadilla's for mains. Good thing too! We've definitely learnt we can not finish the food there :)

We rolled home! Haha. And then decided to try another movie before bed. This time we tried Transcendence. It wasn't bad (hello, Johnny Depp) but, I still managed to fall asleep somewhere towards the end.

On Sunday The Trucker was up early again for an early cricket game and Mom and I had another lazyish morning reading in bed. But we were up and walking Pepper around the complex before 10am and then I took her to the Fourways Farmers Market :) Damn, that place has exploded since I was last there (okay so it was more than a year ago)!

The parking was insane! And there were masses of people bustling around. We wandered the stalls tasting and trying things along the way before attempting to get Mom some coffee ... which we very quickly gave up on and decided that Bubbly was the better way to go. The queue had barely moved in the coffee queue by the time we got back and were sipping while sitting on a hay bale.

We decided to share a Balkan Burger and follow it up with a Nutella and Custard Pancake (also to share, wow it was so rich, I could never have had my own one!). And then we decided to head home with our bags of goodies (I got some aubergine pesto and halloumi and a Brownie from The Counter for The Trucker).

And then we didn't do much for the rest of the afternoon till we had to take mom back to the airport :( We took Pepper along and took her to Golden Harvest afterwards for a walk (she met geese for the first time. And barked her head off at some horses being ridden by policemen in a road block en route to the airport! Haha).

And then we had an early dinner at The Mariner with @Sascha_with_a_C. Half price sushi? Yes, please.

Now do you see why I needed a lie-in? Haha.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Having the Best Day

Sorry today's post is late, I was busy booking flights to Istanbul (!!) Squeal. Yes folks. This is happening for really reals.

But before I get to that, back to the past week. /Tries to remember/ ...

Oh yes. I had to be in a workshop for work on Monday & Tuesday so got home later than usual (after a much longer drive thru traffic than usual!). Pretty exhausted. So we didn't do anything in the evenings.

But I did still manage to squeeze in a walk for Pepper, every day this week :) Mom flew up from Cape Town for the weekend yesterday. Awe, she got to see our new house and meet the Pepsicle :D And she brought me my new pair of alpaca wool gloves, knitted by The Peeb.

Oh yes, and Pepper went for a wash and came back with a trim! She is looking like a proper little Schnauzer now. It's not a full Schnauzer-cut, but more like a winter cut. So she's lost the rough long curls (and no longer looks like a teddy bear) and you can finally see her face! Would've taken a pic, but haven't had a chance for a good one yet. She looks sooo cute and is so soft now :)

We took Mom out to Parkhurst's Christmas in July last night. It was alright. We bought some gluhwein and strolled the street. The Trucker was right, it would've been much nicer if they had actually closed the road for the evening. And unfortunately the shops didn't really have anything that interested us enough to buy.

And I'd tried to book a table for dinner at Craft, but they weren't taking bookings (I hate that in a restaurant). So we thought we'd try Coobs. But we didn't have a booking :/ Can't win. So we left and headed to Tei Avon for shwarmas. Yum :)

So yeah, today could not be better: 1. It's pay day 2. We booked our flights this morning and 3. Mom is here for the weekend. Work is also going well, although busy, I'm enjoying it. And we are about to book our tour in Turkey. The smile on my face is huge.

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.

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