Saturday, April 23, 2011

And I'm Off...

Just one last post before I head off ... am now all packed and just biding my time till it's time to head off to the airport.

So what have I been up to since my last working day? I saw The Trucker again on Thursday evening. And on Friday I had a very lazy day (relaxing as much as possible before my trip where I expect there'll be very little relaxing). But I did head out for lunch at TSG to celebrate @samanthaperry's birthday, which was great fun and delish. Good pizzas :)

Today started at 7am when I got up and cleaned the bunny hutch and then headed off to Woodmead dump to drop off my piles of recycling. And then some last minute shopping for my trip and breakfast at Doppio with The Trucker.

And so, that's goodbye till I get back from my longer-than-usual (thanks to all these South African Public Holidays) holiday jaunt. See y'all in May.

Here are a few of (what I expect to be) the highlights of my trip:
1. Traveling on the Trans-Mongolian Railway

2. The Great Wall of China

3. The Terracotta Army

4. The Giant Panda Bears

Miss me xxx

Don't Tell Mom I Work On The Rigs by Paul Carter

A take no prisoners' approach to life has seen Paul Carter heading to some of the world's most remote, wild and dangerous places as a contractor in the oil business. Amazingly, he's survived (so far) to tell these stories from the edge of civilization. He has been shot at, hijacked and held hostage; almost died of dysentery in Asia and toothache in Russia; watched a Texan lose his mind in the jungles of Asia; lost a lot of money backing a scorpion against a mouse in a fight to the death, and been served cocktails by an orang-utan on an ocean freighter. And that's just his day job. Taking postings in some of the world's wildest and most remote regions, not to mention some of the roughest rigs on the planet, Paul has worked, got into trouble, and been given serious talkings to, in locations as far-flung as the North Sea, Middle East, Borneo and Tunisia, as exotic as Sumatra, Vietnam and Thailand, and as flat-out dangerous as Columbia, Nigeria and Russia, with some of the maddest, baddest and strangest people you could ever hope not to meet.

Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I won't lie there are plenty of completely cringe-worthy moments, but it is all riveting. Jackson's Mom, you should absolutely add this to your kindle list ;) Oh, and the most awesome part? I think I have photos of the orang-utan he mentions in the last chapter from the Singapore Zoo!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Please Work, Blogger

Only 2 more working days ... Everyone keeps asking if I'm excited yet. I don't really get too excited beforehand, I've noticed. I mean it's still completely surreal to me. I know I'm going but since i have no idea of what to expect from the places I'm visiting it's not like I can imagine being there yet. Mostly I get panic-y about what to take and over-packing (which I do every time) and last minute things I need. This time I'm also quite nervous for my trip. I think this is the most foreign I've ever been. I mean neither of the languages are even written with the same alphabet ... and I'm nervous about the food. I'm nervous about packing for a temperature difference of up to 30degrees between Russia and China. But I know I'll be fine and it'll be awesome and amazing and I'll see some unbelievable new places. So I guess I am a little excited :)

The week has been good, I'm aiming for a fairly quiet one after the overly social weekend. I hosted SCM Dinner on Monday night (our usual hostess was off SCM-ing in Kruger Park). It was awesome, I made my Ostrich Chili soup. And I reminded myself how much I do enjoy having people over - although I do it so infrequently. Last night I had a typical Tuesday night at home. Series, lazy dinner (left over soup) and chatted to both my grandparents.

Okay, so I wrote that bit yesterday. And Blogger wasn't co-operating. And I can't find any solutions online ... But I have switched to their updated editor now in the hopes that perhaps that was the problem ... finger's crossed.

In other news last night I went to Cranks for dinner with The Trucker. Yum. And then we went for delish hot choc at Rocket. Which sadly was not as good as usual because the milk was not hot enough. Oh well.

And today I am having a miserable day. I woke up at 4am (I don't know what is up with my sleeping patterns lately). And I seem to be misplacing all sorts of things (first my post box key and now my little hard drive ... ) I never normally lose stuff. And then I had to turn back home after I'd left for work this morn to unlock the bolt because the maid is coming today. Sigh. But, it is my last working day for a very very long time (almost a month!). YAY.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Shoo. That was more of a busy weekend than I'd usually like for my last on in Joburg, but I guess since Friday is a public holiday I can get away with it ... But it was awesome :) I will admit I am starting to panic slightly (in the back of my head) about packing (temperatures are ranging between 0 and 27 degrees!) and the fact that I am heading off in less than a week now.

Friday started off with The Trucker coming to collect me and us heading off to watch Mummenschanz (after a brief stop on the highway which involved us waiting for BMW Roadside assistance, who were very helpful). The show was fantastic. It was like watching magic on stage (and not that ridiculous card-trick magic). Really, such fun! And it's going to sound completely weird but I was so impressed at the age of all the performers. They've been doing this a long time and honestly until they finish the show and you actually get to see them and their grey hair, you would never say they weren't far younger based on their performances.

After that we grabbed a quick bite at the Newscafe and then headed home.

Saturday I woke up early to a very rainy day. But we persevered and headed thru to Ellis park where a bunch of us set off on a BRT tour to Soweto. I must say I do love the Rea Vaya Bus system. It was very sad to see the state of town as we drove thru, with this services strike, the garbage is over flowing and piling the streets of Joburg. It's quite revolting to see. Anyway, we started at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church. I'll be honest and say I'd never even heard of it. I'm not so big on recent history or South Africa's struggle history, which is part of why I wanted to do this tour. The most interesting part of the church visit for me was the photo exhibition upstairs.

Then it was off to Nelson Mandela's old house in Vilakazi street. This is thoroughly enjoyed. I only really became aware of Mandela back in 1994 when those iconic elections took place and I got a public holiday just after my bday (being that I was only 14 at the time and politics has never been high on my priorities). It was fascinating to be transported back to a much earlier stage of his life. I love how they've delivered snippets of information printed thruout the house and I also really liked the brick-timeline. After that we stopped and had lunch at a little cafe opposite his house. And then we took a stroll up to the Hector Pieterson museum. Well obviously I know about that iconic photograph, but if asked before Saturday I probably couldn't have told you why they were marching (I know, my knowledge of history is shocking, but it was all before I was even born!). This museum is completely fascinating and done really well, aside from the fact that it is a complete information overload. There really is too much to take in and I pretty much ignored all the different televisions spouting information. I love how they've used the huge windows around the building and there was definitely a damper on our group after learning so much more about this horrific event.

It was a very interesting day and I'm so glad we braved the weather :) I really must get to the Apartheid Museum too now.

I had a very lazy Saturday evening in bed with series & soup for dinner, to make up for my very unlazy morning in the rain. Haha.

Sunday was yet another fairly early morning, Zoo's wedding at The Cradle. Wow, it was beautiful and the weather played along so nicely for them (I was a little worried for her after Saturday!). The venue is gorgeous! And she looked absolutely amazing. I've never been to a wedding before where the bride didn't actually wear white (she wore a pale olive green) but seriously, wow. And the food was so delish! I think I am going to have to make a plan to visit the restaurant again :)

After the wedding I went over to The Trucker's house and we went for a long walk (which I needed after a very decadent chocolate mousse dessert!) and spent the evening watching Series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yet Another New Camera

So, what else have I been up to? Well, Wednesday did eventually improve and I ended the day at Ghazals with the SCM Crowd for a birthday dinner. Yum!

And then yesterday was decidedly average ... till about 18h30 when The Trucker showed up with my new Canon SX210 and some home-baked cheesecake (he maintains he makes the best cheesecake ever, the theory had to be tested!). Oh My Word. I think I love my new camera ... although have not played with it too much yet (just wait till this weekend!!). But will seriously have to find something to keep it in asap to make sure it doesn't get scratched.

And the cheesecake ... it was delish :)

And, just in case you thought I'd be spending my last full Joburg weekend doing last minute trip stuff, I'll tell you I have a super-busy-super-social weekend ahead. With dinner and a show this evening, a tour into Soweto tomorrow and a wedding on Sunday! Shoo.

Ps. I have 5 working days and 8 more sleeps till Holiday 2011 kicks off! Yay :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday's Post

So, I dunno what is going on but this has not been a fabulous week by any stretch of the imagination. Oh, wait. I did get my forex all sorted and my new camera has been ordered so I guess it hasn't been *all* bad. But work has, and my experience of the service industry (read: The Post Office) has reached all time lows.

So first, the camera. I decided when I got back from Peru that I needed a new point-n-click before my next trip ... since my one broke on that trip and I certainly wasn't doing another travel-intense trip with my SLR. So I started looking at what I wanted and discovered the Canon SX210. Which I pretty much decided on instantly, although I did briefly hope for the SX230, but it's not available here yet and I can't exactly wait around. So, I'm a little annoyed about that, obviously getting the newest model would be ideal (the SX210 is last year's model as far as I know). But, the SX210 is still a very nice little camera and I can't wait to get it :)

The forex process thru FNB was simple and easy and efficient. What a pleasure. Unfortunately my experience of the Post Office, specifically the Benmore Post Office, has left me reeling and questioning the world. I mean I feel completely powerless to do anything, since they don't give a damn at all, and we all just sit around and tolerate the way things are and generally it makes my head hurt and I want to cry in frustration with the futility of it all. I don't think I've ever been to that Post Office were there haven't been 10+ people in the queue. I've been there for the last 2 days trying to get a replacement key for my PO Box, the same one I've used since I moved to Joburg (7 years ago). Sigh. Day 1 (Monday) I was told their systems were down but I could come and pay in cash and I could get a key but it would only take effect once the system was back up. So I went and there were no queues and the woman behind the counter looked at me blankly and just kept repeating "Our systems are down, come back tomorrow" in response to every question (that's right, because I have nothing better to do with my time). So I went back yesterday (since I had to collect my cash forex from the bank anyway), queued (of course!) and then was asked if I had paid my annual renewal. Well yes, I've just lost my key, it's not like I have it and it stopped working. So then she brings out some book that has no record of my payment. I paid online I say (I do every year). Oh, well then, she says, you need to bring in your receipt because they don't have records of people who pay online apparently. Is that not THE MOST ridiculous thing you've ever heard? But wait, it get's better. I logged onto my account where I renewed my PO Box. Do you think there is an option to print a receipt? Of course not. Don't be ridiculous. Sigh. Again I wonder how people survive or get anything done around here.

And work. Well work I don't want to discuss here right now. Perhaps I just need a holiday, but more likely things need to settle after the merger and office move. And in the mean time I'm annoyed as hell and don't really want to be here. Which is not ideal, I find.

Sigh, and now I can't post this because Blogger is having issues and my bbm's aren't going thru either. It's a swell day all round. Definitely should've stayed in bed this morning.

Monday, April 11, 2011

9 Working Days ...

Yawn. My sleeping patterns seem very weird lately. I woke up at 3:30am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep properly. Also I'm dreaming (or rather actually remembering dreams) lately (which is weird). And, weirder still I'm dreaming about people I know. Not that I could tell you now what they were about, I don't remember them anymore, just in that brief post wake up haze.

So anyway, the weekend, right. On Friday night @Louiseysch suggested we have drinks at The Baron in Sandton (I don't think I've ever actually been to that one) followed by dinner at Gourmet Garage. It was a surreal experience. It was like Investec had vomited up it's entire male staff contingent. The place was packed and the bar was impossible to reach and the crowd was boring. I felt old and like I was surrounded by ex-boyfriend clones. Sigh. Needless to say we moved on to dinner quite early. And I dunno exactly why it is, but I definitely prefer the Monte on to the Sandton one.

I didn't have a late night as I was planning a Super Admin Saturday. All sorts of things to get done before I leave (9 working days left!!). But it was not an especially successful day. I appear to have lost my PO Box key. Bugger. And I forgot to print my flight details, so I couldn't even attempt to get my forex. I did get my travel insurance tho. And I spent 45mins waiting in a bloody Telkom queue to get a print out of my statement since I haven't received one in months at home (I despise not having a post box, I mean really!) and it's usually all I have to FICA myself with. I did, however, successfully get the bachelorette & wedding gifts I needed.

I also managed to get my hard drive, now full of series, back and so spent the afternoon recovering from my morning's annoyance with some escapism. In the evening I went to Zoo's bachelorette where we had a Mexican Cooking Evening at the Wicked Food Cooking School. It's quite a fun idea for a bachelorette's, I must say. And the cooking at this place was far less intense than at uShef. I loved that the bachelor party arrived midway thru the evening and kidnapped out bride-to-be and left us with the groom. They brought her back a while later and we had a really delish meal. After that, it was off to Beach Blanket Bohemia for some drinks & dancing. It was a really fun evening :)

On Sunday I had a pretty lazy day, which started with a beautiful morning walk, cleaning the bunny-hutch and then grocery shopping (riveting life, this). And then The Trucker came to visit for the afternoon.

Yawn. And now it is my last 5 day work-week Monday till May 23rd. Hee hee.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Our Little Treasure by Isobel Randall

'Our Little Treasure' is a light-hearted yet illuminating account of supply teaching in the English Midlands in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The 'little treasure' worked at 77 junior and senior schools and her experiences, both amusing and painful, help to illuminate aspects of schooling in Britain. The author also describes her contrasting experiences as a teacher in South Africa over the past half-century.

Okay, so I realise that this is probably never a book you would expect me to read. And to be honest I wouldn't have given it even a first look if it hadn't been written by my darling Great Aunt, who I met recently at my grandfather's 80th and who I absolutely adore.

And I absolutely loved reading this. It is fascinating and funny. And maybe it's because I can hear her voice as I read it, but really, I would recommend this (although it's probably unlikely you'll be able to get your hands on it, I gather it was a limited print run ... but I have a signed copy!). And I will definitely NOT be sending my kid to any school in England, that is for sure. Haha. Not, I'm guessing, the intended result of reading this, but still.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

My Week So Far

Awe, and now I've run out of Book Review posts, so I guess I'll have to do a real one. Haha.

There is plenty swirling in my head at the moment, but nothing I'm going to write down here just yet. So far it's been a busier week than I expected (not a night at home yet!). On Monday was SCM Dinner, Tuesday I went for our traditional sushi & hot chocolate with @saulkza. Was so fab to catch up, we hardly see each other anymore. And then last night I ended up having dinner and watching Californication at The Trucker's house. Very spur-of-the-moment, I tell you.

And that is my week. I'm in a weird place work-wise at the moment. I'm sort of concerned that I have only 2 weekends left before I head off on an almost month-long holiday (but oh, so excited!). And then there is all sorts of other general life stuff I'm trying to figure out. My brain is a crowded and busy place to be these days.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in this small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and full of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation. She records everything she sees and hears: but are her deductions correct? What is the real truth? And what will be the consequences of finding out, for Gwenni, her family and her community?

Awe, this was quite lovely. I'm not sure it exactly would qualify as a children's book at all, but it definitely is written with a child-like wonder. I suspect that The Peeb will adore this book. I'll admit it's one of the 8 I picked up at the Exclusive Books warehouse sale and I only bought it because I adored the title :) But I did like reading the book too, it suited my mood, I think. Gwenni is a fantastic little character :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

My Lobotomy by Howard Dully

Howard Dully was 12 years old when he was given a lobotomy. He was 56 years old when he found out why. The four decades in between tell a story of profound love and compassion. In 1960, Howard's father and stepmother delivered him into the hands of the man who had invented the 'ice pick' lobotomy. Expelled from the mainstream medical community, his once-popular procedure now a grisly medical relic, Dr Walter Freeman was eager to turn this temperamental 12-year-old into a submissive boy - especially after hearing the terrible lies his stepmother told about him. Howard, told he was going into the hospital for tests, was instead given electro-shock treatments and a transorbital lobotomy. It took him 40 years to recover. Howard Dully's escape from that dark place is a voyage of enormous hope and universal appeal.

I rather adored and was completely terrified by this book. It's written in a truly charming style that really helps you connect with the characters and the time. Well, as much as is possible, because as I've said before, it's really hard to imagine living in other times, in a life so different from your own. I would recommend this book as an interesting look at an interesting time, realising that as recently as 50years ago, things were medically and socially accepted norms were quite different.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Somewhat Better

Hmm, well not a relaxed weekend, but an up and down one. I dunno if you can tell from the blog posts (or lack thereof), but last week was not a particularly good headspace for me. Was just feeling especially lonely. Normally I can't relate to lonely single people much at all, but last week I felt like I was drowning in it. Sigh.

The weekend started off with an Italian Cooking Course at uShef. Now this sounded like a fab idea when I bought it back in November. But I hadn't been able to use it till now and on Friday I was certainly not in the best mood for it, or to be the only one there on my own. It did not serve to help my mental state at all. But aside from that I really did quite enjoy it - I even had to make mushrooms. Haha, the irony, since they are on of my list of foods I don't like to eat ... which is topped by olives, followed by asparagus (which I did eat on Friday night, but it was wrapped in bacon and pastry and not all bad, I will say!).

The course itself was quite cool and I think it might be quite cool to organise something again with people I know. But then when I really think about it I'm not entirely sure how much I like these sorts of courses. The first Cooking course I ever did was an 8 week one (1 night a week) at Pick n Pay's School of Cooking, which I loved and everyone made the exact same dish. These one-off evening courses seem to be more of the everyone makes some random dish (that you have no hand in choosing, and therefore can end up making something like mushrooms :P) and everyone tries everything at the end. And everything is ready for you and you do no washing up (not like the original course I did).

So anyway, that was okay and probably good to get me out of the house for a bit. Met some nice people honestly. And then came an early Saturday morning, which I was *really* looking forward to.

So, I've been on a mission lately to go to the local museums and on Saturday I'd organised a private tour with Jo from Past Experiences to take 8 of us on an archaeological tour of the Origins Centre at Wits. The best part was we even got a sneak peek at the Wits Collections room, which was fascniating (I know The Peeb was jealous!).

After that a few of us grabbed some lunch at Cafe Fino and then we headed to the Sci-Bono Museum in Newtown and wow did we have some fun. I mean yes, it is primarily geared for kiddies, but we all loved it! So awesome being exposed to something new and discovering your own city, I love it :)

But by the end of the day (we left when the Sci-Bono Museum closed after a 9am start at Origins!), my feet were absolutely killing me and the rest of Saturday was very relaxed :)

On Sunday, I guess perhaps after Saturday's full day of people, I woke up feeling blue again. I had a lazy start to the day and went for my walk and even headed off to Rosebank in search of the final 4 frames I need for my wall. But I was not in the mood at all. After a little bit of grocery shopping for the week ahead on my way home, I ended up going and spending the afternoon with The Trucker. Which was exactly what I needed. We sat and chatted and watched the storm and played music and went for a long walk after the rains and got take out and watched Lord of War. A perfect Sunday, really. We'd both seen Lord of War before, but not in ages. Still a brilliant movie.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Mkay, I spose it's time for a real post ... although there is not a lot to tell, honestly. I have had a supremely melancholy week and have kinda just been hibernating. Have just got home from work and curled in a ball with my book most nights ...

To be fair, I did get to SCM on Monday night, first time in a while. And I had DJMike and his girlf over for dinner last night. Made Ostrich Chili soup :) So that was cool. In other news I got my Holiday 2011 book order from Kalahari, so I am thrilled. (Although supremely un-thrilled with the sheer lack of service at Benmore Post Office, yet again ... I don't think I've ever been there when the queue has been shorter than 10 people)

And that was my week. Not very impressive, huh?

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