Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And I'm Off!

Ooooops. Entirely forgot to post earlier in the mad rush that was my afternoon. Will squeeze in a very brief re-telling of it now, because then I have to get packing!

So I sort of had that camera brain wave yesterday and after an sms last night from @saulkza, it struck with full force. I was decided. I was going to acquire for myself the Canon EOS 1000d, apparently Incredible Connection had a special on! Oh the timing, can you spell "meant to be"?

> Follow @saulkza on Twitter:

At lunch today I headed off to Woodmead (nearest spot with the two shops I needed to visit) and returned my Outdoor Warehouse Thermals. Let me explain. I'd bought them when we'd been there on Saturday, although I wasn't especially thrilled with the light blue nature of them ... And then while at Cape Union Mart yesterday I saw their thermals, 30 Ronts cheaper (per item, that's a total of 60 Ronts saved) and in nice and neutral black. If I could return the original ones, I was so going to!

And I did. And yesterday afternoon after work I headed to my local Cape Union Mart, again (they're starting to recognise me now!) and purchased the cheaper black ones. I'm very happy with this upgrade.

And during lunch I also hit the Woodmead Incredible Connection ... saldy it turns out their sale is only starting tomorrow, the 22nd :P But the dude did say if I went back after 4pm they'd probably be able to offer me the sale price. So I duly went to the Incredible Connection (who I'd usually be refering to as Incredible Rip-off, except they are in my super good books right now) nearest me after work.

OMG. They did not have anything but the Canon 450 on display (panic sets in). But the dude goes and checks the computer for me. They happen to have 3 in stock. At that moment I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. And then he tells me they're R6000 something (at a photo shop I priced earlier, the camera was selling for R6999). No no, I say, I want the special. The Canon EOS 1000d, it's 18-55mm lens, a Lowepro Bag and a 2GbSD Card for R5999. That's what I came here for ... after 4pm. I *need* this camera (I have long ago decided not to chance my luck on duty-free shops en-route to me destination) and I need it *now*, I'm flying tomorrow, I explain. He goes to ask his Manager who thankfully agrees.

I swipe my card. I remind myself that actually I'm not really paying for this camera at all ... You see, I got my single supplement refund now that @clairam is going with me on my trip and that is just over 6grand. See, meant to be. Money already spent. I practically float out of the store, thrilled with my purchase :)

Now I'm going to have to play around with it on my hours of wait in foreign airports, I bet it'll keep me plenty busy ;) Then it was briefly home for a bit of a run-around for the buns. And to marvel at the plants I've grown from seeds (my black-eyed susan has it's first flower and I have a *red* nasturtium!). And to charge my new battery and unpack the myriad of packages that came in my Canon Experssions Kit.

And then off to Yamada sushi to meet Varen for a last dinner out before I go. And now instead of typing this, I should be packing. We're off to the airport straight from work tomorrow - eep. @clairam is already in the air. I'll see y'all when I get back :)

> Follow @clairam on Twitter:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stuff Before I Go

Hmmm, another afternoon post and I'm stumped again. Writing and getting things out of my system does not work when I'm trying to wind down ... it works to refresh me and allow me to start on a new day. I may have to start waking up an hour earlier to be sure to get my blog post in ... Bwahahaha. Yeah, right :P

So, what can I tell you ... It's Tuesday. Awesome, because that means I only have 1 more dreaded afternoon post until my trip. On Thursday afternoon, instead of writing here, I will be headed to ORT at break-neck speeds to catch my flight. Well, let me say the first of my many many flights.

Sigh, the enormity of what I'm about to do purely to get half-way across the world to see some Polar Bears in their natural habitat is dawning on me ... I fly to Germany, and then to Canada and then to Canadian Destination Dos (where I join the tour group) and then to Canadian Destination Tres (included in the tour). I'll leave here on Thursday evening and arrive to Canada's Friday evening. Thailand & Singapore was the furthest time-zone change trip I've done before now. I'm marginally terrified of jet-lag since I don't have any idea what to expect. People keep telling me it's worse when you travel East. Which I hope it true because that'd be PERFECT since I've factored in about 3 days after my return before I'm due back at work.

And yes, I actually am still shopping for my trip. Today I popped into Cape Union Mart to buy a pair of fleece Nemesis Trackpants, which will make for nice warm winter PJ bottoms (there and here next year) and fit under my jeans (I especially tried this on in the shop!). Sadly they only had grey ... which is fine for my purposes (not really planning on hitting the town in them) although naturally I would've prefered black! Actually what I would've preferred were the Axis Waterproof Trousers ... but I wasn't spending 600 Ront on pants I'd probably only wear for a week and then never again.

That's pretty much what my little world revolves around this week ... final preparations for the trip. Oh, and another exciting snippet. I've almost nearly definitely decided to purchase for myself a Canon 1000d camera from a nice Duty-Free shop in Frankfurt. I have a very nice point-and-click that Varen got me for Christmas a few years back (Xmas 2007) but I'm seriously thinking of getting a new "real" camera ... now more than ever cause I'm not convinced I'll be able to get a decent pic of the Polar Bears with my little one what with "the glare of white" etc.

Sigh, quite a large decision left to the last minute ... this is wholly unlike me, I assure you. The thing is I can't get it from SA before I leave, so Duty-Free seems to be my only option if I want to use it on this trip - and it seems a little sad to go all that way with a crummy camera (which I still love, thanks babe!) and replace it on my return, you know?

So that's what's potting in my world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Karma Suture by Rosamund Kendal

Sue Carey is a driven, twenty-something doctor struggling to preserve her sanity, sobriety and humanity in the corridors of one of Cape Town's biggest public hospitals. Finding imaginative ways of saving patients is her life's work. Finding a man who wants more than a one-night stand would be nice as well. Sue's journey of self-discovery is both harrowing and hilarious. The Karma Suture visits the bedsides of the patients who make her weep and the men who make her weak. She discovers that all she ever wanted is waiting for her ... if only she can learn to see beyond the hard science into the mysteries of the heart.

I enjoyed this book. I've been curious to read it for ages, ever since I read about it on Just Up The Dose (do you know how hard it is to find a blog you used to read about 2 years ago .... ). I really enjoyed that blog and it seems she may be blogging again, I will have to update my Reader :) It's also pretty cool reading a story set in Cape Town :) Respect to all my doctor-friends. I couldn't do it.

> Follow Just Up The Dose on Twitter:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Almost on Holiday ... Again

Meh, it kinda sucks feeling like I have to get my weekend post written on a Sunday afternoon :(

But here goes anyway. Friday was quite a surprise. I had completely forgotten that some of the work crowd were organising after-work drinks. I'd actually planned to take Rex to the vet at 6pm because that's when I find the vet is the quietest with the shortest wait. As you know, I've been meaning to take him all week and finally on Thursday Coal gave us a whole bundle of pulled out fur (I think the girls are in heat again, both have been pulling out fur and Lily has spent her weekend outside-hours nesting the the hay burrow! Which has caused absolute mayhem with Coal because she is quite determined that the hay burrow is hers and no one else is allowed in there) Anyhoo. I didn't end up making it to the vet at all on Friday.

Instead we had after-work drinks in the office to celebrate a recent achievement and then moved on to Capello's in Rivonia for some cocktails (delish! I had the Watermelon & Black Pepper Martini and a White Chocolate Martini) and hubbly bubbly. Varen joined us after he finished work and eventually 4 of us went for dinner at Primi. Well, Varen and I had shared a Pizza at Capello's so we indulged in some dessert at Primi instead :) What a great evening!

So instead on Saturday morning we headed off to the Vet with Rexy. The vet isn't too worried about his foots just yet but has given us some F10 ointment to apply. His eye is also fine, he just probably has some remaining scar tissue but no new ulcer :) What a relief!

After that I headed of to the Throbbing Strawberry for a sort-of Bookclub lunch (without the books) to meet our two new mommy's babes. Aw, what completely darling little things, both of whom were quite well behaved for their first visit to a restaurant. I must also say that I tried the Bacon, Brie and Strawberry wrap and it was devine. I think I may definitely try to make this myself at home sometime! Yumyum.

And boy did the rain come down on Saturday afternoon. Varen and I decided to go and watch Public Enemies.

Meh, it wasn't the greatest of movies but staring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale goes a long way to make up for it :) The main thing I didn't like was the almost TV style filming that some of the shoot-up scenes had. It was like it had been filmed in the old 911-recreation-of-real-life-events style. Which I *really* didn't like. But again I did enjoy the storyline which inspired me to learn a little more about a real-life character I knew nothing about prior to watching the movie. (Most especially now that I read up on Wikipedia about all the historical inacuracies in the film ... quite interesting!)

And then we had dinner with Varen's mom at Mythos (pretty average and boring tapas). She's about to move to Mossel Bay and open a coffee shop. Interesting times :)

Sunday was far more relaxed ... we went and stocked up on the last Winter woolies I'll be buying for my Canada trip. And then just relaxed at home :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Blog Action Day: Climate Change

So, I totally wasn't going to write anything for this year's Blog Action Day. Not because it's a cause I don't believe in ... but rather because, honestly, what more could I add to some of the amazing things that have already been said?

And then on the drive home I found my inspiration. Being that it's a mere week till I'll be heading off to the airport with my bags packed to the brim with winter woolies for probably the longest trip of my life so far (well, at least on a par with the time it took me to get from Cape Town to Joburg!) and that it's Blog Action Day today, it seemed pertinent that an article on the news was about
the Arctic ice cap vanishing completely in summer months within 20-30 years.

And I won't lie, that's another contributing factor to me doing my trip now ... although Churchill is not quite an Arctic ice caps, it's about as close as I am likely to get in my lifetime! And I certainly don't want to miss the opportunity of seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat, while they still have one!

They're there waiting for the ice to freeze so that they can go hunting because they
prefer to remain on the sea ice where they hunt their main prey of seals
. So maybe it sounds like they'd be easier to see if Hudson Bay didn't freeze, but actually what it would mean is that they get to hunt less and would struggle to survive at all without their hunting grounds. As it is, all the Hudson Bay bears must come ashore for about 3-4 months when the bay melts completely. During this period of time, the bears are not actively hunting, therefore they must survive on fat reserves that they have built up through the winter. Apparently, they can lose up to half their body weight during this time. Polar bears also mate out on the sea ice in the spring.

The global polar bear population is currently relatively stable. However, in 2006, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) upgraded the polar bear from a species of Least Concern to a Vulnerable Species. It cited a "suspected population reduction of >30% within three generations (45 years)", due primarily to global warming. And as I said before, The key danger posed by global warming is malnutrition or starvation due to habitat loss.

The image above is straight from Wikipedia (if you want to see a larger image) and shows projected changes in polar bear habitat from 2001–2010 to 2041–2050 based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Red areas indicate loss of optimal polar bear habitat; blue areas indicate gain.

> Follow the World Conservation Union (IUCN) on Twitter:

Imagine if this ice which the Polar Bears are so reliant on were never to refreeze because of rising temperatures? That could be their future.

Thanks to Churchill Northern Studies Centre and Wikipedia for the more detailed information on Churchill Polar Bears.

> Follow Polar Bear Trust on Twitter:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Let me just say that today did not start off very well. It started with Banking. Yes, I know, I probably don't even need to go on to explain any further from there ... but I will. Since Varen is making dinner I have a little time on my hands :) I still am not used to this blogging at night thing!

So back to my banking. The entire reason I was on there was to check if my single supplement has come thru yet and how much they refunded me (it should be in the region of six and a half grand! You can see the importance now, I'm sure :) ) since I want to go and purchase some dollars this weekend. They notified me they would be doing it on the 9th. It's now the 14th and there's no sign of it - annoying.

And then while randomly clicking around the site (trying to figure out how to get it to show me more than my last 30 transactions or whatever it is - note to self FNB does NOT offer this handy service online. Annoying again) I land up on my detailed balance page. And under my detailed balance is a transaction from when we went to The Marrakesh Lounge (back in early September) ... with an installment amount!

Now this may seem like an obvious thing to all of you, but I've never actually used the budget feature on my credit card ... intentionally. Although I've since found out I have now used it, completely unintentionally. The Freaking Marrakesh Lounge (as it will henceforth be known), charged my meal to my credit card using the budget facility. And not only that, it was budgeted over FORTY-EIGHT months.

A car, sure ... but a two hundred and ninety rond meal budgeted over 48 months. Are you kidding me? I actually laughed a little when the lady from FNB told me over the phone. How does a restaurant even have the facilities to charge anything over more than 6 months anyway? Stupid waiter, or whichever staff member there did this!

I told her to pay it off *immediately*. I wanted proof of the interest I was being charged, I wanted to phone The Freaking Marrakesh Lounge and complain. Loudly. But, the interest was only R4. So instead I'm letting out my little vent (and, since it was only a mere R4, quite amusing story) out here.

Another thing that annoyed me was the "prove you are who you say you are" questions FNB was asking me. Physical address. Well quite honestly since I've had an FNB account since I was abotu 6, I have no idea which physical address you folks have for me ... since my post goes to a PO Box ... actually now all my statements get sent to my email address anyway! And do I have a linked Petrol card? I opened my Petrol card account in about 2002 so how on earth should I know or remember if it's linked ... and linked to what?!? At least she had a useful answer when I asked her how on earth I was supposed to know the answer to that. I get a separate statement. It's not linked. Sigh. A mission of a morning, I'll tell you.

And now ... to dinner :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Minor Update

So I guess I should be writing a blog post. I can't quite get into the new routine of it ... after work is my down time. I barely remember what happened last night to blog about it and certainly nothing worth mentioning has happened since this morning. Maybe today is a bad example since I would've (and did) just used a book review post as filler for a nothing-to-say Monday evening.

I'm worried about the boons: They're "digging" up the Yoga mat in their hutch & I still wanna take Rex to the vet for his feet, but I wanna print the foot-binding instructions from the internet first - chances are they've never done this before either! They're driving me crazy, there's always something ... can't just live in peace, you know?

Sigh. We've just re-nailed down the yoga mats in the hutch. The boons have been destroying them in some places so now they're patched too. I hope they leave it be for a while now.

Varen is off at Soccer and I'm messing around online, as I do. Exciting life I lead, hey? I should probably be making a list of everything I need to get done before my trip ... But I'm not. I'm making dinner and deciding if I'm even in the mood to eat it :P

The Sanctuary by Raymond Khoury

Naples, 1750. In the dead of the night, three men with swords burst into the palazzo of a marquis. The intruders' leader, the Prince of San Severo, accuses the marquis of being an impostor, and demands to know a secret that he believes the man harbours. In the fight that ensues, the false marquis escapes over the rooftops, leaving behind a burning palazzo and a raging prince who is now obsessed with finding his quarry at any cost. Baghdad, 2003. An American army unit hunting down Saddam's inner circle makes a horrifying discovery: a state-of-the-art, concealed lab where dozens - men, women, children - have died after enduring gruesome experiments. The mysterious scientist they were after, a man believed to be working on a bioweapons program and known only as the hakeem - the doctor - escapes, taking with him the startling truth about his work. A puzzling clue is left behind, crudely carved into the wall of one of the underground prison's cells: a circular symbol of a snake feeding on its own tail. So begins Raymond Khoury's explosive new novel, placing two bold women at the centre of the action as they get caught up in a murderous trail of ancient clues.

This book started out a bit slow for me ... I just didn't get into it right away. But I was definitely enjoying it by the end :) It wasn't spectacular and didn't have any really surprising twists, but a decent enough read none the less.

> Follow Raymond Khoury on Twitter:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekends Stuffs

Yep, the end of last week was a pretty grumpy time for me. Work has gotten stricter about how we spend our time there and as such I have had little to no time for blogging. As you well know, getting my blog post out of the way before really starting my day is my routine ... and has become quite a requirement in my daily habit. And not having the freedom or space to do it left me quite grumpy. Yeah, yeah comfort zones and whatever, but there are just some things, like brushing ones teeth and blogging that simply must be done :) My balance has been seriously upset and sadly I don't see it going back to normal any time soon :(

So I will being attempting to blog instead in the afternoons when I get home from work ... let's just see how it goes, okay?

The weekend had a very pitiful start. You know when you *know* you're in no mood to do something and someone invites you out and for some reason you simply can't fathom you agree to go thinking perhaps it'll improve your mood? Well let me tell you something, you're far better off listening to that little voice telling you to just say No. Why is it so many of us have trouble saying No ... fear of missing out on something great? I've mostly gotten over the inability to say No, in fact I often prefer to say No and later, if I change my mind, say Yes instead of just saying Yes right away and regretting it. It's never as fun as you think it's going to be if you start out in the wrong mood and mindspace.

But on Friday night I didn't listen to that internal voice of mine because Varen invited me out for dinner with some work people. I wanted to say no because as I said before my daily balance had been upset and I was grumpy. It may also have had something to do with the fact that I was tired after book club on Thursday night and had pictured a quite night in, maybe with take-out and definitely spent in my PJs. Or maybe it was because my mom had called a little earlier to say that now both our dogs in Cape Town were not doing so well and the chances were good I wouldn't get to see them again (next time I'll be there is December for Xmas). Or maybe it was because I'd had a suprememly frustrating few hours fighting with Lily trying to get her out from under our bed on my own - she's a very willful little thing! But still I agreed to this last minute plan of his because he's done plenty with my work crowd yet I've never met any of his (he has been working there abotu 6 months now?).

Silly silly me. I was in a foul mood by the time I turned up and realised that they'd all already ate and were getting ready to leave, I'd naively assumed "dinner" meant arriving before 7 would still be appropriate. Not so much. So yes, I'd missioned all the way there to arrive in time to say goodbye and then Varen and I left because we were told the table was booked for 8. It left neither of us in good moods because he was annoyed with me because I was annoyed with him and the world and life in general.

Things didnt' improve because we're about as stubborn as each other and we only sorted things out around midday on Saturday. We've resolved to be less stubborn and talk more and be nicer. Finger's crossed.

Saturday afternoon we headed out to Greenstone for a change of scenery and then went for sushi at Yamada with @saulkza, @nadgia and another couple from (my) work. We had an awesome evening :) I ♥ my now standard order from Yamada: Tempura Prawn California Rolls, Yamada Fashion Sandwiches, Hana California Rolls, Prawn Fashion Sandwiches and Spicy Butterfish Fashion Sandwiches :) The weekend was definitely on an upward swing :)

> Follow @saulkza on Twitter:

> Follow @nadgia on Twitter:

On Sunday Varen was out working on his top-secret not-work-related project and I got the general day-to-day stuff done. I finished lining the hutch with Yoga mat :) Will probably have to take Rex to the vet later today because I think his sore hocks are getting worse :( He's been such a problematic little dude, poor thing.

We've also ended up resorting to mouse traps, which I feel guilty about but I have tried alternatives, which probably work when you're not trying to get rid of 15 or so mice. They driving me nuts! And I simply can't use poison cause of the bunnies so this seems like the only alternative :( I feel really horrible about it, but I've tried to nicely have a chat with them and ask them to leave, but they simply won't listen :P

As you will notice, there is an abundance of bunny photo's in this post ... an advantage of writing my post on the weekends (it is actually 6pm on Sunday afternoon and Varen still hasn't left Pretoria yet, leaving me with loads of time for things like finally taking & downloading photo's from my camera & phone - these were all taken in the last week). And I know I haven't posted any photos of the boons in a while ... This one on the right is quite amusing actually, it's where Coala spends most of her "outside time". She has essentially dug a burrow into the bale of hay that we keep in the garden for them. I must say I'm quite happy to rather have her digging in that than the garden!

And here's a cute one of Rexy stretching to reach the "eating plants". As I said previously, I've planted a whole lot of seeds, most of them as bunny food. And We're using part of their old 2-storey hutch to fence all the pot-plants in. I kinda like it like this (although I'm not using my garden shelves that much because of this new arrangement) cause as the plants grow they can nibble on bits of it without completely destroying the plant (which I know they would if they could!). Obviously the ones that are being grown purely for their enjoyment (like the raddish, beetroot and nasturtium) I put closer to the fence for them and turn every few days so they can nibble a bit more and the other half of the pot can get a chance to grow a little more.

Last night I watched Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Yes, I'm not entirely sure why either, but I'm putting it down to the fact that of the movies I had available at the time that I hadn't seen, this was the closest to what I was in the mood for (Requiem for a Dream and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas both seemed a little intense!). Meh, it was fine. Nothing too exciting, except for a rather star-studded cast.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Not in a good place right now work-wise STOP No time to post STOP Thank goodness it's Friday STOP

Thursday, October 08, 2009

2 Weeks till Canada!

Just a quick one this morning ... am a little disappointed because I was so sure last night that today was Friday. But on the plus side I have book club tonight, so the extra day is not a total loss ;)

We also had a little pandemonium this morning because I fell and bent the latch on the hutch last night (I'm fine), so we tried to latch it as best we could before bed last night and it seemed like it worked ... until I noticed all 3 scoundrels running around our garden this morning! Who knows how long they'd be out for but I can tell you, it's times like these that I'm super glad we have a large noisy dog next door that keeps the cats away ;)

Oh, and most important of all ... It's 2 weeks today till I head off on my chilly Canadian adventure. You'll notice I've updated my weather gadget in the hopes that it'll somehow acclimatise me ;) Haha.

Oh, and I've also added a link to my Fakebook fan page ... which I finally decided to make and see how it all goes, and if there's any worth to it. so Become a phillygirl fan :)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Panic Stations

Yesterday was a rubbish day. On the one day I could sleep a little later than usual cause my car was being serviced (and they only opened half an hour after I'm usually at work :P), I woke up when my first alarm went off (at the usual time) in a flat panic about all sorts of things I need to get done. And a mild headache, to boot.

So what were these things I couldn't get out of my head. The one was my 2009 Tax Return. Good old SARS has gone with technology and now let's you do e-filing. Which, don't get me wrong is *great* but, the down side of this is there is no giant envelope arriving in my PO Box to remind me that it needs doing. Sigh. So now I need to remind myself what all documentation my Tax Lady requires and ensure I have it all and get it sent to her pronto. Have at least scanned in the documents I can find so far. My big worry is finding out what documentation I need since Bean & I sold the flat we owned together in August last year ...

The second thing was my travel insurance claim for my delayed luggage in Zanzibar. I have all the documentation, they just needed to be scanned and sent. [Check] - I scanned them last night as well :) Hopefully I'll be able to get the claim sent off sometime today. And even more hopefully they'll actually accept it (Varen & my luggage were checked in together ... under his name :P) But I figure they deal with this all the time, I can't be the first person with a luggage claim like this ... right? Equally hopefully I can get hold of their email address ... can I just say that TIC has a very shoddy website :P Honestly. And in this day & age, what sort of company are you running if you can only accept claims via actual post or fax and not via email?!

And the third was the fact that I really really need to collect my new credit card that has been waiting at the bank for me since before we went to Zanzibar. Eurgh. I hate actually having to go to into a bank branch for *anything* ... besides, who has time to head over to their bank branch during their insane office hours :P So hopefully I'll remember to do it on Saturday!! It expires at the end of October, so I kinda really have to get it done asap before I head off to Canada.

And then I took my car in for it's 2nd annual service (I say annual service because there's no way I ever hit the require kilometers for a service ...). Which in itself was fine. It's just that as I said I had to leave later than usual to be there when they opened ... and traffic freaking sucks. If ever I'm struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, this is the sort of trip that reminds me why I put in the effort! I'm so used to my route in the mornings and which lanes I should be in when and how to avoid the taxi's etc. But when there are that many other cars around you, it is not nearly as easy a drive! So it was not an ideal start to my day, followed by the fact that arriving an hour later than my usual time to work meant I didn't have any quiet time to "adjust" myself in the morning ... hence the pre-written blog post for yesterday.

My headache didn't disappear until about 16h30 when I got home and was instructed by Varen to take 2 of his synap forte (And yes, I'd tried drinking water all day to rehydrate and what not ... after a full day of it, I was all for medication!).

Am feeling much better today ... a weight has lifted now that I made a bit of a dent in the things that were panic-ing me, I have no headache and I have my morning time in the office while the world is still fresh :) Have a lovely Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson

Since 1922, when Howard Carter discovered Tut's 3,000-year-old tomb, most Egyptologists have presumed that the young king died of disease, or perhaps an accident, such as a chariot fall. But what if his fate was actually much more sinister? Now, in The Murder of King Tut , James Patterson and Martin Dugard chronicle their epic quest to find out what happened to the boy-king. The result is a true crime tale of intrigue, betrayal, and usurpation that presents a compelling case that King Tut's death was anything but natural.

Now as you may or may not know, I have an absolute fascination with Egyptian history, the mummies, the tombs, the temples, pyramids, all of it! I've even considered studying Egyptology ... sort of. So when I saw this book I was immediately interested. Now it's not your usual James Patterson novel, really. It's set in 3 times and has been well researched. But there's still something a little too James Patterson about it, and to be honest I find his writing style quite dull ... it's a little too easy to read (does that make any sense?). Either way, I was surprised that the bit I really enjoyed was not the bit set in historical Egypt, but rather the bit about Howard Carter, which I didn't actually know too much about. For historical Egyptian reading, however, I'd far rather recommend Christian Jacq's books.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Taste of Joburg 2009

Well, let me start by saying that we almost didn't go to the Taste of Joburg this year. Last year was disappointing compared to the year before. They changed the venue and it was an absolutely boiling hot day. And while we were umming and ahhing about whether or not to get tickets, I was offered not only free tickets for Varen and myself, but a Press Pass to boot! Chuffed ;)

So on Saturday afternoon off we headed to the Monte monstrosity, it's still at a less than perfect venue, in my opinion ... I so prefered the grass of 2007 to the tar of 2008 & 2009. And we were in for quite a treat ... one I'm certainly glad I didn't miss and one that was made so much sweeter by my Press Pass :)

The most impressive thing they've improved on since last year is the portion sizes. I guess they realised charging R40 for a tiny morsel was a little steep ... and that most people wanted to be sharing these bite-sized samples. This year Varen and I easily managed to share every item we bought. We only bought 2 of a single item and that was because it was the first item we bought and we were used to last year's portion sizes. We didn't bother with 2 of anything again for the entire afternoon and definitely got more out of the tasters because of it!

So where and what did we eat? I was thrilled to discover that with my Press Pass came a few free foods and drinks and I used up almost all of them :) We ate Tea-smoked Warthog with pickled root vegetables and gooseberry sauce from The Attic. As much as we love this restaurant, we weren't especially impressed with this dish. It was chilled and the pickled veggies and the gooseberry sauce made it quite sour all round.

We ate the best spring roll of the day from The Dining Room at the Grace: Guinness braised duck spring roll with milk chocolate dressing. We also had to try their Home-made Amarula ice cream with brandy snaps and caramel sauce. Varen and I decided we definitely have to make a plan to actually have a proper meal at The Grace ... the food has always been delish at the Taste of Joburg.

After my trip to Spain last year, I couldn't pass up Fino's Churros con Chocolate, which were crisper than the ones I remember from Spain, but delish none the less :)

We weren't very impressed by the Masala fried prawns served with a tamarind dip from Karma, I should've choosen their Chicken Tikka Masala rather I think. But we did get a R60 voucher for our next meal with them ... so we'll definitely be going the next time we're craving Indian food ;)

We had some Sesame Crusted seared Tuna served on grilled Vegetables and topped with a Wasabi mayo from Koi. Sadly this was one of our last dishes and I think Varen was a bit full to fully appreciate it. It was quite good, although I think the veggies were quite unnecessary and didn't suit the Tuna at all. Most impressive of all to me was the small additional touch of giving us a book of toothpicks (like those old match books).

Varen has a soft spot for Tiramisu of any sort so we had to try La Cucina di Ciro's White chocolate tiramisu with amaretto & espresso coffee.

My dessert of choice is usually Creme Brulee so I simply couldn't miss Piccolo Mondo at The Michelangelo's Wild Berry Brulee Classical creme served with chocolate almond biscotti, which was absolutely sublime!

The dish we started with, that I mentioned we each had one of, was the Ostrich steak prego roll with mango atchar from the Polo Bar @ The Westcliff. It was yummy, but a bit too over-poweringly spicy in my opinion. I had to also try their Grappa panna cotta with strawberries in black pepper which was delish.

We ate the Spicy Moroccan-style lamb phyllo fingers served with an apricot, apple and cucumber salad and Prawn tempura with ouzo mayonnaise dressing served with a lime and avocado salad from Prosopa. I must say, the nice thing about Taste of Joburg is discovering restaurants I've never heard of (because they're in Pretoria) ... although we'll probably never visit them for a meal (since they are in Pretoria).

The Dark Chocolate and Berry Decadence from Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient was decadent! (Another Pretoria restaurant that I'll probably never get to ...)

Our absolute worst taste of the day was by far the Seasonal Melon soaked in Campari syrup & wrapped in Prosciutto do Parma from Ristrorante Ritrovo. Honestly I should've rather gone with their Vegetable stuffed Conchiglioni roasted in a mozzarella blanket, that looked quite yummy.

From our old favourite, roots @ Forum Homini, we had the Slow roasted springbok loin with a sweet potato puree and beetroot. Yumyum. I'm sad to report however, that I did not win another night at Forum Homini :(

I think Varen's favourite dish of the day was Sel et Poivre's Stuffed pancake with Veal sweet breads and Oyster mushroom sauce. Although it had more mushrooms than I care to think about, I also had a bite (minus mushrooms) and it was definitely quite delish! I will say that it is a huge pity it is so freaking hard to find out where this restaurant actually is in real life online ... the best I can figure (although not from the Quartermain website!) is that they are inside the Quartermain Inn.

And we just couldn't resist trying the Salmon Rose Sushi from Yamato Japanese Restaurant ... I ♥ Salmon Roses!

On top of all that, we hit the Amarula stand again, they didn't have as nice cocktails as last year, but it's still worth it to sit and rest your feet a while. I tried some Vawter, a Red Sarita (and although I'm not much of a Sarita fan, I definitely prefer the Red one) and a cider from Burchell's.

All in all a well spent afternoon.

> Follow Taste of Joburg on Twitter:

The Weekend That Was

Erm, let me cast my mind back ... Friday. I'm sure we did something on Friday. Oh yes, how could I forget? Varen had booked us tickets to see Trevor Noah at The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City - I ♥ live comedy shows! Varen had heard him on 5fm a while back and thought he was brilliant so booked tickets for us.

It was absolutely brilliant. I'll admit I was terrified because when we arrived and sat down, we saw that Varen had actually booked us tickets right in the middle of the row, a mere three rows from the front! OMG. I was like dude, you saw what happened at the John Vlismas show, are you insane? Luckily Trevor Noah is not one to pick on the audience ... shoo! We laughed till our cheeks hurt because man, can this guy put on an accent, from a Xhosa granny to a Cape coloured to a rop Afrikaans Rugby oke. Unbelievable, so so spot on!

> Follow Trevor Noah on Twitter:

On Saturday all we pretty much did was go to the Taste of Joburg ... which will be a whole separate post on it's own. We did, however, both manage to hit the gym in the morning beforehand ... not that after the amount we "tasted" I think it'd help at all ;)

By the time we left we were so full of food and drink that we just went home and did *nothing*. Varen slept away an approaching migrane and a little later we vegged in front of the tv with Defiance.

Don't worry, I'd never heard of it either ... but it was one of very few things at the video store we haven't yet seen and had any sort of interest in ... it had Daniel Craig on the cover, okay? It started out quite slow and confusing and I wasn't quite sure why we'd rented it. But by the end, I really enjoyed it. It was another of those movies based on real-life events that made me want to Wikipedia the real people and learn more about what happened. I kinda like movies like that ... broadening my knowledge, if not by the movie itself, at least by interesting me enough to look up the events for myself.

Sunday was quite the admin day ... with breakfast at Caffe Rossini, our weekly shop and a big clean up of the bunny hutch. And then after a little research online about Sore Hocks, we got very industrious. Basically what happens to some rabbits (and Rex bunnies are particularly prone to it because of their unique fur type) is they can start to lose fur at the base of their back feet. Obviously this is *not* good and I noticed in the last week it seems to be affecting little Rexy's heels :( Only a very small amount, but enough to worry me. I knew when we got him that his breed could have this problem ... but I thought it was most likely to occur if they had a wire mesh based hutch so I figured sine ours was entirely wood he'd be fine. Unfortunately after some research I read that wood is equally bad and they need a more spongey surface to walk around on ... grass is obviously best but would be impossible for us. So instead Varen & I decided to cut up our 2 barely-used Yoga mats. Sacrilege, I know :P Honestly I haven't used my Yoga mat in more than 2 years and I'm not likely to start now ... this seems like a far better use for it than gathering dust in my cupboard!

We even went so far as to head off to Mr Price Sport to buy a third mat since we haven't managed to line all the surfaces yet, but I am hoping it'll help poor Rex's feet. Poor bunny he's always got something up with him! I need to take him back to the vet for his eye again. The mark in his eye is still there although it's white now. I have a feeling that it's actually fine but just lost colour after the infection ... but I'd rather know for sure, you know? Plus I'm not sure I could wrap his feet on my own! Sigh, pets! Oh and plus, I am seriously wondering if we should get Coala spayed. She's been quite aggressive with the others since we got back from Zanzibar ...

In other bunny news, I got some photo's of Rex's dad from the breeder and I can NOT believe just how exactly like our little boy he looks :) (see photo above). I think I'm going to try getting a photo of Rex in a similar pose this week so I can post it for comparison!

In the evening I went to watch The Time-Traveler's Wife with J9 and Squeak. The movie, what I saw of it, was lovely and I was quite happy with how they'd adapted it from the book ... even tho the story was told in a different order, I felt that the way they re-wrote it for screen worked well. I guess when you have a jumbled up time-line you can do that without impacting the story at all, which is actually quite incredible :)

Sadly tho, we never saw the ending of the movie :( First as we were sitting there watching, the whole cinema went dark and then the screen lit up again and we watched the film burn and melt across the screen. Surreal, I tell you! And then somehow they actually managed to get it started again (I assume they just skipped a few frames to one that was whole) - what a relief. Only for about 5 minutes later the whole of The Rosebank Mall to loose power. There went our movie watching aspirations. The power failure thing has happened to me once before, while watching Kill Bill 2, also, typically, 10 minutes before the film's ending!

It's very frustrating, first of all because I am unlikely to go and watch the whole movie all over again just for the ending (good thing I read the book!!), I'll probably just wait for dvd or something instead. And secondly because although they stamp your ticket so you can get a free movie ticket another time ... when you actually want to use that ticket, you have to go and stand in their annoying queues and book at their counter ... no self-service machine or internet bookings allowed. Sigh, annoying! It'd be so much easier if they could've just given me a discount code or something :P I hate buying movie tickets from an actual person, a waste of my time if you ask me.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Good Week

Last night was a simple night at home, which was lovely. Even more so since Varen has been home before I've gone to bed every night this week! I think that's what's kept me in an up-beat mood for the week (admittedly with one or two very minor bumps). And even more amazing is that I still have my post-holiday refreshed feeling ... perhaps that's because it's already Friday ;) And it's October which means there's less than a month until my trip to Canada!

And we've made the decision that we'll be driving down to Cape Town for December ... I'm not usually a fan of going that route, but the flight prices have gotten quite expensive. And we have the time, we've organised it so that we'll still be arriving and leaving Cape Town on the same day, so I guess I can survive the loong loong drive (let me point out here that Varen absolutely loves to drive long distances ... he's weird like that, but I'm super greatful for it!).

Other than that, Wednesday night was my ladies poker night and I was back on form :) (finally!) I shared first place - since it got a bit late and we were yawning into our cards, we decided to just split the pot since our chips were pretty evenly matched! And best of all, I didn't have to buy-in once!

And here's looking to a busy first weekend back. We're off to a Comedy Show this evening and then, yay!, Taste of Joburg tomorrow and then I plan to also squeeze in finally watching the Time-Traveler's Wife.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My Holiday Reads

Being an especially relaxing holiday, I did plenty of reading and turned out to be quite lucky that the places we stayed all had libraries that I could read from instead of racing thru the 3 books I'd taken along.

A brilliantly paced psychological thriller, 'The Reunion' is a chilling story of just how difficult it can be to cope when the past comes back to haunt you...Sabine is twenty-four years old and has just returned to work following a nervous breakdown. Unsurprisingly, life in the office has changed since she left, and Sabine is now the brunt of her colleagues' cruel jokes, as well as the main topic of office gossip. It soon becomes clear, however, that Sabine's problems are far deeper than those she faces daily, at work. Unable to forget her friend Isabel, who went missing when the pair were at school, an approaching class reunion forces Sabine to think about what really happened all those years ago, and why. The terrifying flashbacks that she begins to experience make her all the more determined to solve the mystery of her friend's fate. A new love interest and her own brother soon fall under Sabine's suspicions. Do they know what happened to Isabel? Were they in fact present in the forest from which she vanished that fateful day?As the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place, Sabine realises that the answers lie even closer to home - much closer than she could ever have possibly imagined. Exciting, frightening and utterly compelling, 'The Reunion' is a psychological thriller that is impossible to put down.

I thought this was a pretty good book. Considering I'm usual averse to translations set in European places (as I've mentioned before, I have no idea why this might be?!). But this one was easy to read, I liked the writing style and I didn't think whodunnit was so obvious at all ... although Varen guessed it just from reading over my shoulder, on the plane, for a few pages towards the end.

Physics lecturer David Swift is summoned to hospital to comfort his dying mentor, a renowned scientist suffering from horrifying wounds. David is shocked when the old man dies after wheezing 'Einheitlichen Feldtheorie': The Destroyer of Worlds. The Theory of Everything. It was Einstein's lifetime quest to pin down a unified set of equations, combining physics of stars with the laws of atoms. He died without achieving this goal. Or did he? In the two hours after hearing these words, David's ex-wife and child are threatened; he's attacked by a Russian assassin, arrested by the FBI and nearly killed three times. But he's too busy running for his life to work out what it all means. Teaming up with his ex-girlfriend and an autistic teenager addicted to video games, David must work out what Einstein's theories could possibly be worth to the powers desperate for them - and if the world is ready for the consequences.

Now this one is right up my alley and I completely enjoyed it, devouring it in little over a day while waiting for my luggage to arrive (thank goodness my books were packed in Varen's suitcase!). The only criticism I have is that they ended it with one of those "a few months in the future" happily-ever-after scenes that just annoy me.

In the most brutal killing crusade Philadelphia has seen in years, a series of young Catholic women are found dead, their bodies mutilated and their hands bolted together. Each clutches a rosary in her lifeless grasp. Veteran cop, Kevin Byrne and his rookie partner, Jessica Balzano set out to hunt down the elusive killer, who leads them deeper and deeper into the abyss of a madman's depravity. Suspects appear before them like bad dreams - and vanish just as quickly. While the body count rises, Easter is fast approaching: the day of resurrection and of the last rosary to be counted...

Good old Crime Fiction, ideal for holiday reading :) I must admit I got the whodunnit completely wrong tho, which is always a bonus! But it was one of those where you know the guy you suspect can't really be the killer because that would ruin their Hollywood happy ending (very few novels are brave enough to do that ... think Arlington Road!)

When the Cutter family's next-door-neighbours, the Langleys, are gunned down in their house one hot August night, the Cutters' world is turned upside down. That violent death should have come so close to them is shocking enough in suburban Promise Falls, but at least the Cutters can console themselves with the thought that lightning is unlikely to strike twice in the same place. Unless, of course, the killers went to the wrong house...At first the idea seems crazy - but each of the Cutter family has a secret they'd rather keep buried. What was on that old computer teenage Derek and his friend Adam Langley had salvaged? And where is it now? What hold does a local professor and bestselling author have on Eileen Cutter? And what does Jim Cutter know about Mrs Langley that even her husband didn't? To find out who killed the Langleys and why, everybody's secrets are going to have to come out. But the final secret - the secret that could save them or destroy them - is in the one place nobody would ever think of looking...

This book I also enjoyed, it has plenty of twists and I enjoyed the characters. And whatever you think the plot is about, you're wrong! And the concept is pretty cool, because really, it would be quite scary if killers just got the house wrong ...

Garlic and Sapphires is Ruth Reichl's riotous account of the many disguises she employs to dine undetected when she takes on the much coveted and highly prestigious job of New York Times restaurant critic. Reichl knows that to be a good critic she has to be anonymous - but her picture is posted in every four-star, low-star kitchen in town and so she embarks on an extraordinary - and hilarious - undercover game of disguise - keeping even her husband and son in the dark. There is her stint as Molly, a frumpy blonde in an off-beige Armani suit that Ruth takes on when reviewing Le Cirque resulting in a double review of the restaurant: first she ate there as Molly; and then as she was coddled and pampered on her visit there as Ruth, New York Times food critic. Then, there is the eccentric, mysterious red head on whom her husband - both disconcertingly and reassuringly - develops a terrible crush. She becomes Brenda the earth mother, Chloe the seductress and even Miriam her own (deceased) mother. What is even more remarkable about Reichl's spy games is that as she takes on these various guises, she finds herself changed not just physically, but also in character revealing how one's outer appearance can very much influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites.

I loved loved loved this book! I savoured every moment of it (although I doubt I'd try any of her recipes). The only downside is how is it going to end ... because it's a real life snippet, it's a tricky thing and it was handled far better than I was expecting, although still just a slow gradual end instead of the twists and turns I usually prefer ;) But that's what you get in real life. A lovely book!

> Follow Ruth Reichl on Twitter:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin