Monday, December 26, 2022

my year of bike

One evening in January I was on my second (maybe third, it was January) glass of wine when Husband saw a notice for a 'Small Bike Ride' the next day. Bikes under 250CC only.

That's perfect for the Madass he mused...

I messaged the organisers and signed up for the ride, woke the next morning feeling queasy and silly with apprehension and then got on the road and met a team of scooters heading south for coffee.
It was weird and nerve-wracking and I spent most of it feeling like a little old lady, but by later that day I'd had lots of compliments on my weird little Sachs Madass 125, met a bunch of fun people, and was on a whatsapp group of women riders.

For the next couple of months I joined them on the occasional Tuesday for a glorious ride after work, in the late summer evenings.

One of the most memorable taking us to Hout Bay harbour where we met this tame seal and the dude who wrangled him to pose with tourists or in this case, bikes.

In March, a bike weekend away! 150kms out of Cape Town - all tar - and with our friends meeting us there by car so they ferried our luggage - a cheat by real biker standards.

Getting more confident every day I more consciously started working bikes into my errands and meetings schedules - looking for those gaps where I could take a bike - a magical trifecta of no kids, no groceries, no wine...

I even, in a desire to improve my confidence off-road, got talked into buying a mid-size, lighter scrambler... turns out it's much too tall for me - even after adjustments - but weirdly it's still in our stable, being ridden by Husband and loaned to friends - and giving our eldest ideas...

Later in the year we took the Triumphs all the way (by trailer) to a friend's Karoo farm and I had some fun practising offroad and bashing around on the farm.

The best (bike) fun was on our return though. We had car trouble (not fun) and limped into town until about 15km from home, where we decided we couldn't push it anymore and pulled over to call for tow truck support before it got dark.
But we did have two motorbikes.
Leaving Husband with the girls I got my bike off the trailer and tore home through the traffic, to collect our other car to tow the trailer in and ferry girls and luggage home.
Mummy hero!

And then the best ride of them all...

Clarence Drive is biker heaven. A beautifully built, winding coastal road with a smooth surface and perfect design.
It was incredible riding it. Miraculously we had no traffic going our way. No cars to come up behind or anyone breathing down my back to get moving. I took every corner just the way I wanted to - fast or slow - and could really settle into the moment in all it's scenic glory. 
I feel like it was a moment I'll remember forever.

That ride was on the way to our raffle-ticket-win weekend away. 180km this time, a mix of fast, busy national road, beautiful coastal riding, through small towns and across bridges, and down a steep gravel section - me paddling down it at one stage, yelling at Husband why am I such a pussy??! while he giggled gently through our helmet comms and murmured encouraging words from the bottom of the hill.

We had luggage this time. Packed the bare minimum from home and stopped twice - once for a massive steak and then in the last closest town for necessities like milk, chocolate, beer and mince pies, before riding the last stretch through sunset weighed down with goodies, heading to our lux cabin in the fynbos for two days of bliss - all the cliched free as a bird biker tropes playing with the breeze through my helmet.

I've had my license since 2018, but just this year I feel like I got my wings.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

lucky draw

My Dad turned 76 today.

My brother is 44 next weekend.

We made them a half carrot, half chocolate cake to celebrate their 120 years of combined magnificence. 

Meat, potatoes, salads and wine. Cake.
These things that can be grounding, pedestrian, reliable, bask in the realm of miracles and wonder when you get old enough to understand how damn lucky you are to have them, to be here now.


31 years down the line with my man.

He turned 50 in July, we've been married for 19 years this month, together for 12 before that. So many numbers, just numbers, but translated into years and months and days together? I mean, talk about miracles.

Keeps the home fires burning, makes it home wherever he is.

On the subject of numbers...

Two weeks ago I bought a raffle ticket at a local fair. Standing in the queue to fill in my details on the sheet I overheard two ladies behind me. One was very concerned that someone else would take her lucky number before she got to claim it on the form.
This got me thinking about what number I would choose - I don't really have a 'lucky' one.
I was handed the sheet open in the 40's. I'll take 47 I thought, it's my age this year so why not.
Then I heard the whispering behind me again and I turned to the worried woman: What's your number? I asked, so I don't take it accidentally.
47, she said.
You know that moment when the world just slows a little? This is so weird I thought. So weird!
Then I filled in number 48 and we joked about her winning and I went about my day.

This afternoon I got a phone call. 48 drew for the main prize.
It's a romantic weekend away in an amazing location.
I mean, what benevolent karmic gods of glorious fuck did I awaken with that one??

Sunday, July 31, 2022

winter layers

 Winter layers - as in vest, shirt, jersey, scarf, coat you ask?


Well, a little bit coats. If you mean multiple coats (and so many hoodies) laying draped all over the place as the temperature fluctuates and different weather systems require different weights on different days. Add to that an assortment of beanies, but also caps because the winter sun can still be hot and biting, so low on the horizon.

Shoes also, in abundance at every junction of the house. We can't pretend that this is seasonal, but in winter these shoes are heftier. 6 pairs of discarded flip-flops in mid-summer don't hold the same sway.

Sports gear - also bulkier. Winter bike jackets collapse out the hall cupboard, too hefty to remain on their slim hangers. Two different weight riding gloves in circulation, naturally always pairing with an incompatible partner, like some of those friends one had at varsity.

Winter is hockey, which is shin pads and different sticks, used too regularly to be put away properly - apparently. Even the smaller accoutrements - gum guards, long socks - clutter about the place adding to a smaller but no less insidious layer.  

Hand creams play a big role on the hall table. Lip balm also. Our skin is dry. One half-hearted bottle of sanitiser remains there, jumbled amidst half-empty (half-full?) water bottles, notes from school, discarded rings, spare keys, a motorbike glove (a 5th one, how is this possible?), ancient post to Return To Sender and, like a cruel joke, some pretty knick-knack which was supposed to look elegant and nonchalantly curated, alone on that surface. 

Let's move on.

Winter is a time for Projects. Ongoing projects. Projects for which nothing can be thrown away.

There is macrame, 3D scanning, tail-light rebuilding, cardboard construction, Lego, puzzle-building, clay sculpturing and collaging all going on in our living area RIGHT NOW. Of course no is actually doing any of these things in there right now (15:20 on a wintery Sunday afternoon, what better time one asks oneself) but apparently they are all Very Important and Vital Projects which must remain active.

I think you can imagine that layer.

Let's talk pets. Pets need thicker blankets, and more of them, at this time of year. Dogs ask to be covered in said blankets but then 5 minutes later burst from their nest to bark (generally at nothing) and leave their blankets strewn across the floor. We've tried to train them to drag them back to their beds but those of you who know our dogs will know how ridiculous this notion is.

Also shedding. Winter is all about shedding. We have FOUR pets currently shedding.

And that's not even LOAD shedding, just fur shedding. Load-shedding requires its own fair supply of crap. Rechargeable solar jars must be put out for the sun during the day, but g(l)o off (see what I did there?) to far corners of the house with various members when the lights go out, to seek their fortune in new layers of clutter upstairs. Boxes of matches, burnt and otherwise, adorn the place. Saggy candles abound. The fireplace has its requisite crate of wood dropping bark and twiglets around and about, the tongs are always active, firelighters in a tin inexplicably on the other side of the room.

In winter our cave gets layered-up to pull through the cold. Three weeks of school holidays spent largely at home, 4 busy people, 4 crazy pets. The 8 beings, trundling through their layers of clutter and crap and lots and lots of love.

Friday, May 20, 2022

what I've been up to lately

Pretty much everything Lyndsay Rush lists here...

 ... her IG handle is @maryoliversdrunkcousin and she's the best thing on there right now.

I honestly couldn't love this list more. I'd get it tattooed down my forearm to read every day (if my friend Janine hadn't wisely declared NO WORDS as rule no. 1 for tattooing). 
Just making a fool of myself.

Instead I have it stuck up at my desk.
Making it happen.

It's my 47th birthday today and I have Covid. Well, my youngest tested positive on Tuesday and I've not been feeling very well so I'm going with I have it too.
Making a big deal.

47 weirdly feels quite seriously grown up! Not just as in the year sounding grown up, but I actually feel it a bit. It's hard to describe but I feel... capable of making big decisions. Is that the definition of a grown up?
Making it up as I go.

We've booked a weekend away, a cabin in the mountains with just us 4 and the dogs. I booked it months ago and I couldn't be more grateful, now that we're isolating and unable to see anyone else anyway.
...making a break for it.

The last few months have been fairly two steps forward, one step back. I should know by now that when I do a big optimistic beginning of the year post the universe is gonna have something to say about that.
Making a mess of things.

After my triumphant return to CrossFit I managed to slip a disc (old-fashioned term but a good description none-the-less) HANGING UP LAUNDRY. Way to feel like an old lady...
Booked off CrossFit for a long while, lots and lots of physio, lots of lame-ass walking for exercise.
Making a face.

But I did take advantage of the downtime to get a new tattoo. A paper airplane looping off my ankle surgery scar to show lightness and agility after that long time of infirmity. 
The irony of getting it now when I am once again somewhat infirm is not lost on me.
I've actually gotten really good at making a mountain out of a molehill.

Lots and lots of lame ass walking. Lame in comparison to rowing like a beast and busting out burpees and lifting huge weights that is. I've nothing against walking itself, I quite like it. And I do have some magnificent places to walk around here.
Making the best of things.

And after the walking, the resting. For a long while flat on my back was the only really comfortable way to be so there was quite a lot of that. Much to the joy of this floof.
Making my bed every morning.

We got away on a week long mini-break! It was delicious and affirming and super fun, it deserves it's own post. But it also allowed me to add a nice big thigh bruise to my list of ailments, after getting kicked by a cute but savage miniature horse.
I've really been trying to prioritize making a scene.

A beautiful autumnal visit to one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people.
Making it count.

And lots and lots and lots of lovely, rewarding, exhausting, hilarious parenting of these two prides and joy.
Making tiny, beautiful things I'll be proud to leave behind.

Let the birthday weekend begin!
Making my own luck.

Sunday, March 27, 2022


Have you also spent this last month looking at your kids, your pets, your home, your things and thinking what the actual fuck would I do with all of these if we had to flee?

Then doom-scrolling some more about the devastation in the Ukraine, making a comment about Zelenskyy being the hottest short guy in the world right now and going back to living your hyper-blessed life in your own deeply problematic and damaged country on this here burning planet?

What a time to be alive.

Because we are. We are alive and the wheel turns in the same ways it always has - the tide ebbs and flows.

Stella turned 12!

She planned her celebration down to the last detail, the group and the activities and the timings. We went to an indoor trampoline park - and took this 'album cover' photo on the way out - and then home to ours for pizza and movies and cake and a sleepover. 
I realised halfway through the evening that she wasn't doing great but she fiercely batted away all my queries, only the next day having a big sob about how she'd missed us at her party (us who were there throughout but just in the background making pizza and beds in the lounge) and wished it had just been the family at home and felt sad about one day living without us.
12 is hard y'all, that bridge between childhood and teen-dom is shaky and unknown and excitement for the future still so tightly bound to nostalgia for something which is not yet even really in the past. This photo was more prophetic than we'd realised.

Frieda - further along that bridge - went to her first big proper outdoor party recently, with DJ's and multiple dance-floors and cashless food trucks and (temporary) tattoo vendors. 
It was 13 - 18 year olds only, obviously no booze etc and heavily monitored (these parties are big business these days), but her first time alone in a big crowd with just her mates, her wits and (hopefully) her mother's voice in her ears ... 'trust your gut', 'stick with your friends', 'call me if you need to' and 'most importantly have fun'.
We were being very cool about it all, but as I drove away from dropping her off at a friend's to get ready I was surprised at how emotional I felt, and later - much later - when I'd fetched them from the party at midnight - hoarse, filthy and shiningly happy - and we were back home for tea and toast before bed she confessed to also feeling a small wobble as I'd driven away that afternoon.

The umbilical cord stretches, stretches very very far, but never breaks.

We rode off on our motorbikes last weekend for a grown ups trip up the coast.
As we packed the girls off to friends and grandparents for the weekend they both, separately, sincerely, and with no prompting, told us to have a really good time, to have fun, to enjoy the ride and the time away.
Is there any greater confirmation of parenting goals than your kids being lovely people - to you, their friends or themselves? I don't think so.

We spent the weekend at the edge of the ocean - reveling in the quiet and unstructured quality of time spent without any dependents, wondering at the luck of living in a place where even average middle-class folk such as ourselves can access places of such exclusive beauty, knowing that for the accident of birth us, and our children, could be leading totally different lives.

Watching the full moon Solstice tide ebb and flow, ebb and flow.. feeling tiny amongst the enormity of it all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


It's become a February tradition. Pick a day, inform all the partners and children that we'll be off, pack swim things and cold beer, get on the road.
Same gang, same route, same plan.
Same destination, same seafood platter for lunch, same wine.
Same ice cream, same beach.
Because we did everything SO PERFECTLY the first time that we can just redo it endlessly now. Until the end of time, or we all perish together in a tragic boating incident as we sometimes muse about.
We're a pretty irreverent bunch.

This time however, we did one thing differently.

We added a stop at this river for our pre-lunch swim, and it was sublime.
We're not opposed to adding new things, as long as they are EXCELLENT. This was.

As we relished our lunch - fresh fish, prawns, calamari, mussels, salad and the most excellent white wine with this view from our table, our friend told us about her prepan holiday in Italy in 2019.
The beaches and the views and the food and the wine. 
But you know she said, look at us here - we're in a tiny village an hour or so out of Cape Town, eating the best food, drinking internationally-acclaimed wine, swimming in wild rivers, off to sandy beaches with no access fee and hardly any people...Italy is magnificent, but this right here is GOLD.

And better than all this astounding natural beauty and the food and the wine and the silky summer air?
This bunch of girls and the aching abdominal muscles we have after a day of endlessly laughing together.
I'd love to visit Italy one day, but if it never happens I think I'll still die happy, be it in a tragic boating incident or not.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

we can do hard things

 ...but jeez, we will generally go to huge lengths not to.

Well, I do at least. When I have a choice, I'm all about that path of least resistance, min effort for max gain, keeping it simple, keeping it fun, taking the shortest way round.  

But already in these first few weeks of 2022 I've done some hard things - and it's felt really good.

I've gone on two group motorbike rides with total strangers. 

The first just me with a bunch of cool kids, but on my small bike on a route that I know well. The second with Charl, but on my big bike, a totally unknown route and at least 25 other proficient riders. Shooweee, my nerves!

Motorbike riders are cool right? And ballsy, and mostly all they want to talk about are bikes. This crowd is quite a bit younger than me, with hipper gear and better stories and way more experience. But I kept my nerve and un-wedgied my big girl panties and tried earnestly to remember my bike's specs for the coffee chat and not fall too far behind on the ride and to not forget to put on my gloves before my helmet like a newbie.

So rad.

How cute is my bike though?

I've gone back to CrossFit.

Six weeks short of two years later, I walked back in to a CrossFit box. With my atrophied muscles and my pandemic weight gain and my complete lack of fitness I've signed up to a box where I know no one. That first class I was a bundle of nerves, but I walked (staggered) out of there feeling like a champ and have been back and have signed up for more. What. A. Vibe.

How cute are my shoes though?

And then just today, another hard thing.

How cute is this though?

From motor-biking to CrossFit to puzzles which require reading glasses - 2022 has had some challenges already. But I'll take these over drought, death and disease - some of the challenges of the last few years - any day.

My wish for this year is to have agency. To not just be reactive to the shit life throws at us, but proactive in doing things which make me feel stronger and better and more in control. 

We can do hard things, and not all hard things have to suck.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

2 Feb 1990

Facebook just gave me this - the memory of something I wrote on 2 Feb 2015.

I'm reposting it here because I'd like to preserve it, and because I can still remember that hot, hot afternoon and the miraculous events which played out from then.

25 years ago today I was sitting in the school bus, in the sweltering heat of Napier on a February afternoon.
It was a Friday, and I was to spend the night at a friends house. The only reason I was in that school bus was that I, and the teacher who'd driven us there, were waiting for my friend and the rest of the school tennis team to finish an Inter-School match so that the weekend could begin.
The radio was on and suddenly programming was interrupted for a special announcement from Parliament.
Then-President FW de Klerk came on and addressed the nation, announced the imminent release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC.
I was privileged to have been brought up in a politically aware household and despite being a flighty 16 year old, I knew immediately what a massive, MASSIVE, moment this was for South Africa.
I had no one to share it with.
The teacher I was with - a total doos* - rested his head on the steering wheel and said nothing.
The small conservative village of Napier buzzed in the heat around us.
The tennis balls knocked back and forth on the courts.
I wanted nothing more than to speak to my Dad, and sat there with tears of excitement rolling down my cheeks as I pictured his face, his joy, and wished I was with him.
Dad said afterwards he'd never thought it would happen in his lifetime.
I will always be grateful for having witnessed a real life miracle, and will never forget that hot sweaty afternoon when the world changed forever.

*dickhead, but I think you got that.

Monday, January 24, 2022

the hottest place on earth

Well, so it was predicted on Friday, a day when we couldn't really even comprehend of how hot it would get. 

It got incredibly hot.

This last weekend Cape Town surpassed its own hottest recorded temperature ever by 3 degrees Celsius and clocked in a whopping 45.2C on Saturday.

It's been confirmed that we were the hottest place in southern Africa and you know, we'll take it. No need to go into direct competition with mid Australia ffs - Saturday and Sunday were hot enough and scary enough, we don't need any more accolade than that.

It was a weekend for lying down and avoiding really. And that's mostly what we did. 

Lying down and napping with the blinds closed. Drinking litres of water and moving slowly and mainly trying not to think about climate change.

Our children might never live on the same planet as polar bears Frieda tells her sister over dinner.

Yeah but, people told us that when we were younger too I say, and you do. 

Now recycle that container and don't use too much water rinsing it out.

Balancing the messaging is hard.

Then on Sunday we received a clip from family in the UK, a short capture from The Green Planet - Sir David Attenborough's latest series on BBC. It features an interview with my little brother.

My little brother as a whole ass PHD on ecology change being featured in an Attenborough series. Five year old Frieda would have EXPLODED with wonderment and joy. Fourteen year old Frieda was pretty damn excited. As were we all.

The clip was on fire (our fynbos needs it) and particularly the fire lilies which lie dormant for years (and years) waiting for fire and then blooming within days of one - making themselves the only source of nectar for miles and guaranteeing pollination (seems rather dramatic but then, nature). The takeaway was that fires are getting more frequent, hotter, faster and fragile ecosystems like this are in real danger.

Sobering stuff. And yet also, miraculous.

As is life.

PS, while writing this post I came across this one, and it seemed an apt reminder that we've been at the brink of societal collapse before... and also, jeez we've weathered a LOT in recent years.

Monday, January 10, 2022

weathering it...

I cannot explain how much better the first week of January feels this year in comparison to last.

Last year there was so little light coming down the tunnel, so little reason to feel optimistic. And I'm not even talking about Tr*mp and the storming of the Capitol, just about Cape Town and lockdown and how we never thought we'd get vaxxed or back to any semblance of proper life ever again. We'd never started a year so glum and uninspired.

But here we are. Things are easier. And whatever fuckening might be waiting just down the road, I'm having a moment of deep gratitude for how far we've come and how much easier and lighter things have been this holiday season.

We spent two 4-day stints on either side of Christmas in our favourite Onrus with some of our oldest friends.

And Christmas, Christmas was glorious.

All the sweeter for having spent last Christmas all apart, for being our first time hosting, for everyone being well and relaxed and happy. Magic.

We've weathered this storm alright, all things considered. As have many of my dearest friends, who for a time there looked like they'd never come out the other side.

A friend who got retrenched back in April 2020 has found a new, rewarding, fulfilling, bill-paying job after nearly two years of hustle and high stress.

Another who was facing a failing relationship back then, exacerbated by lockdowns and general weirdness, is happily blissed out with a new partner, after a long time of heartache and self-doubt and pain.

Friends who very nearly lost their home are clawing their way back up the credit-rating ladder, finally able to relax their jaws slightly and step back a bit from the daily anxiety of trying to keep their lives together.

The girls are back to full class, full time, in person school in a couple of weeks. Our curfew, the last of the Covid restrictions, was lifted on 31 Dec. Our National State of Disaster, 666 days old today, is most likely to be lifted soon.

Cautiously, cautiously, optimistic.