Monday, August 31, 2009


When someone once asked me what our strategy was with regards to conceiving a second child I, not very politely or tactfully, joked that we'd decided that on Frieda's 2nd birthday, when we'd waved goodbye to the last guests and gotten the birthday girl to bed, we'd drop and conceive the 'duty sibling' right there on the carpet amongst the cake crumbs and discarded wrapping paper.

And, um, not to overshare or anything, but it seems that's kinda what happened ... I'm sure we packed the dishwasher and put the dog out first (and frankly I'm really astounded we had the energy - those penguin cupcakes were hard work), but ja, looks like it all went down that weekend.

I'm not an events coordinator for nothing see.

And so from cake crumbs to cracker crumbs, in our bed, first thing in the morning, as I staved off some very mild morning queasiness. To the crumbs of energy that I mustered to write the pathetic handful of entries I've made here the last couple of months. To the crumb(ling) emotional moments I've had when The Reality of it all has seemed overwhelming. To the first crumbs of excitement and wonder as my belly's swelled (astoundingly quickly this time round!).

To the little crumb of a thing we met this morning at our first scan. 12 weeks and 3 days old, 7 cm long, waving hands and kicking legs, opening and closing its little teeny-weeny mouth. Hello you, here beginith a story indeed ...

Oh and PS, I hereby banish the phrase 'duty sibling' and will from now on vehemently deny ever having coined it or used it. 'Cos it's my blog so I can see : )

Saturday, August 29, 2009


The UK has recently decided to tighten its ass borders (who hasn't I suppose), and clearly regard us [shudder] Africans as a real threat (who doesn't I suppose). For the first time South Africans need a visa to visit Pomland. A very expensive and tediously detailed visa.
One which requires the completion of a 12 page form (which includes questions along the lines of 'Have you ever been involved in any activities which could cast you as a person of dubious character?') - I say old bean? Me, dubious, nevah! - and the collection of all kinds of letters of sponsorship and proof of this and that and, lordy, I just want to go for a 10 day stay!

Prior to this flexing of its chinless superiority, Britain let South Africans breeze in and out with an automatic 3 month visa and just a little bit of requisite questioning at Heathrow Immigration. Very sporting of them, what?

But those glory days are over. Now it's a mile long form, a dossier of accompanying documentation and - shudder - an interview.
So I toddle along at the appointed hour with duplicate copies of all said documents and my tongue firmly instructed to behave and my eyeballs instructed not to perform any rolling. I wait in the queue 'til the automated voice calls my number (and here, despite my annoyance with the whole process Ms Tannoy reminds me of the Tube and I feel a flutter of excitement about London. Yay!), and then all I have to do is hand over my dossier and go home (oh and be photographed and finger-printed. Yup, like a convict.) It seems the whole 'Interview' is merely a guise to actually see my face, to check that I really am the nice middle-class blonde I claim to be.

And if I wasn't?

Daily there are stories in our papers of ex-political activists being barred from travelling due to having 'criminal records' (i.e. charge sheets from the apartheid days) and Muslim clerics being barred for no good reason. But even for less illustrious travellers, it's getting harder to go anywhere. Unless you're in possession of an American, British or EU passport (and I think a Brit one is still first prize) you're basically doomed to a travelling life of exorbitant visa fees, pen cramp, queues and very possible major disappointment. Not to mention having to reveal all kinds of info about your life, family (the British visa application wanted me to list everyone I'm related to or know in the UK with their addresses and telephone numbers and 'nature of our relationship'. Excuse me big brother but actually you can fuck off.), financial situation, past, future, sexual preference, health (can you believe that HIV is a notifiable disease for an American visa applicant?) etc. etc.

Is this how we're ghettoising the global village?
We all purport to be sooooo interested in each other right now but what, only if we can communicate over the internet?
Let's have an massive rock concert to raise money for those poor Zimbabweans, but dear god don't let any of them in here!
We like to have your South African art in our government buildings but no, no, don't worry, we'll come over there and collect it.
We'd like to stock your homeware in our super exclusive stores but we want to pay even less than your local wholesale rate, oh ja and we're going to rebrand it and say it's from 'Africa' as opposed to an actual country within that vast and diverse continent.

Ok, I'll shut up now, I'm just having a little moan about cultural imperialism and bureaucracy and the fact that I had to spend so much time on this piddly little piece of paper in my passport.

Which, did I mention, I got! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay - bring on the London funtimes! Yes I will flock to your foreign shores and spend my hard earned forex and take a zillion photos and go on and on about how amazing it all was to the utter boredom of everyone at home. And yes I will glance away from the bench of desperate asylum-seekers (many of them African) as I breeze through immigration, visa in hand, to visit the Tate Modern and gorge myself on European cheese and relish your efficient public transport systems.

Yes, I will pander to the West you fuckers. I can't wait!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Happy Birthday Blog!

In the family tradition of birthday cupcakes, I made some for you ... I think they perfectly reflect everything I love about you; an outlet for my frustrated creativity, the perfect distraction and refuge from the real world, the ultimate work/chore avoidance, a space for some utter randomness ...

A burger cupcake. Can you handle?

I saw them first here, and studied the instructions here but was way too lazy to leave the house to get any ingredients I didn't have so adapted the technique a little and da daa! my very own blogburgers. And although in the cold light of morning I do find they look a little unappetising, can I just say they taste delicious!

Side order of fries anyone?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

all over the place

That's me.

Did I mention I've been doing a second part-time job for the last few weeks? Too busy/lazy to read back and check, but I may have. 2 part time jobs (to be accomplished over 4 mornings a week), plus another Baby Show weekend (in Cape Town this time), plus a nasty, nasty winter cold, plus a cat who bizarrely got ulcers on the inside of her mouth due to excessive tartar build up on her teeth (have you ever ... ?), plus a toddler who decided to drop her daytime snooze (causing me to lose 3 hours in working time a week - don't try and work out how I got to that figure, it's complicated ... ), plus ... some other factors I'm not at liberty to divulge right now.

In short: fucking busy.

And even though I really should be doing something more constructive Right Now, I did a long overdue download from my camera this evening and found a bunch of random pics from the last couple of weeks. Pics not related to anything in particular really ...

Frieda and I have spent some rare sunny afternoons in our favourite place. The allure of the gardens has totally sky-rocketed after the discovery of the 'Elefint'. For some time now she's had an imaginary 'Elefint' friend - I think it's been embodied in this stone sculpture. We spend a lot of time talking about it ...

My fabulous friend treated me to lunch at Gordon Ramsey's new Cape Town restaurant a week or so ago. We had a super fun time being all snooty and critical - and giggling into our (frikkin yummy) breadrolls. In all honesty the Caeser Salads were the best we've ever eaten (and we've eaten plenty of caesers in our time), but the decor was crap - retro-Southern-Sun/Holiday-Inn-yuk-yuk-yuk - and the desserts? Tsk tsk tsk. Not up to scratch Gordon.
This was the exorbitantly priced 'Lemon Meringue Pie with Lemon Sorbet'. Yuk. Tasted like a microwave version thereof. The most exciting part was the meringue 'wand' you can see in the pic - how do they do that?

(oh but the good news is that Gordon's Caeser dressing recipe is available here - highly recommended ... )

And finally this, a note in a car parked facing the wrong way down our main street. It's quite sweet living in a 'burb full of students and hippies.

Best they hope they're luckier than that other car which parked in that same fateful space a few months ago ...

That's all I've got in me - one week to go 'til the second (and frightfully tiresome) job is over. One more week.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Observatory is often referred to as 'colourful'. A nice word, a word used to paint over the exceedingly grimy cracks in this old suburb's facade. A bright and cheery word to describe a 'burb which could in all fairness also be called 'grimy', 'seedy', 'rough' and yup, let's be honest here: 'skanky'.
There are other nice words used by estate-agents and the like to describe this old Grande Dame of Cape Town ~ 'bohemian' is a favourite, 'diverse' is a nice trendy one, 'unique' is utterly transparent in its patronising glibness.

Obs is Obs, she embodies and defies all of the above labels, and warrants far more too, good and bad. But 'colourful' is the one she deserves the most, not least of all in the most literal sense of the word. Colour. Full.

She might not be no pot o' gold, but she's home. For now. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We thought she was campaigning to change her name.

'Alfreda fetch it.'

'Alfreda carry it.'

'Alfreda eat it.'

Then we realised she's just flexing her ego. 'I'll Frieda fetch it, carry it, eat it etc'

'I'll Frieda show Mummy.'

'I'll Frieda put this shoe on.'

I'll Frieda will take on this big wide world in I'll Frieda's own magnificent style, and we'll gladly watch from the sidelines knowing that every day, no matter how exciting and glorious it was, she comes back to be our baby and I'll Frieda kiss Mummy and I'll Frieda kiss Daddy and I'll Frieda kiss Lego and I'll Frieda kiss kitty and I'll Frieda kiss Penguin and, and, and ...

Goodnight Alfreda, love you.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

brown paper packages tied up with ... memories

My morning at work was spent packing stock for wholesale orders, piles of luscious prints all tied up in brown paper to be shipped around the world, a wonderful task which frees your mind to wander a bit. Which mine did. It has a tendency when left unattended.

And so I got to thinking about the butchery in the small town where I grew up. It was a regular stop on a Saturday morning, along with other ritual weekly errands such as getting new books from the library and stopping in at the Portuguese corner shop to spend our 50c allowance on Chappies.

The butchery was utterly fascinating to us kids. The rows of sheep and pig carcasses in the refrigerated back room visible through glass windows, the whine of the electric meat saws as the butcher sliced cuts of meat, how the whine went up in pitch as he sawed through bone, the troughed floor which ran with pink water when his assistant hosed it down, the unidentifiable pile of off-cuts and bone chips which gathered in big trays just under the counter, the trays which were then moved to the Other Counter, the one closest to the door, the one from which non-white customers were served.

And always a clean, pure meat smell. Never unpleasant, just fresh and meaty. The butcher's fingers were as clean and pink as the smell of his shop, and his hands worked fast. Slicing meat, drumming on the top of the chest height counter to indicate he was ready to take your order, expertly twirling links of sausage to fold into a neat parcel, and wrapping up your order in crisp squares of brown paper.

He had a stack pre-cut and waiting by the till and I could've watched him pack meat for hours. He folded, tucked, turned and retucked those parcels so expertly that they were as secure as could be, solid cool packages of meaty goodness.

Kobus Chops. That's what the village called him. His name was Kobus and he was the butcher and in the way of small towns the world over, he was given a nickname. And when a new pharmacist, also named Kobus,  moved to town a few years later and set up shop across the street from the butchers, he was called Kobus Pills. Kobus Chops and Kobus Pills. Naturally.

Funny where your mind will take you when you let it run on autopilot. Funny how something as simple as squares of brown paper can unlock a memory you thought you'd long forgotten.

PS See some examples of my work here.

PPS Just to be clear, I only taking credit for wrapping these beautiful things.

PPPS Apologies to all vegetarians (especially you Heather!), no animals were harmed in the writing of this post (though I can't say the same for the creation of these memories ... )

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I have a bit of a yellow thing at the moment. No dear god I'm not wearing it, just noticing it around. A lot. I finally managed to walk past this house at the right time of day for a photo last week. It's very yellow. As is the car. Which definitely belongs to the owner/tenant of the house.
So the only question really is: if you love yellow so much you paint your house to match your car (or vice versa), shouldn't you have tried a little harder to match the shade?

This also seemed a nice pic to try out my new streeeeeeetched photo format. Inspired by Julie. Of course.