"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Blessings

This is quite a nostalgic moment. I sit here on the edge of my bed, while Michael sleeps. I need to upload some pictures off my camera and phone and thought it a good idea just to add them to my now almost non-existent blog. I am not even going to make any resolutions about blogging for 2016.

For now, I am savouring the moment. The house is starting to stir and Gareth and Hayley, Matt, Steve, Caroline and Dale will be leaving us to join their partner's families for their Christmas celebration.

I know how special these times of all being together are. We chatted last night about our previous themed Christmas Eve parties, going back many years and the people who have come and gone (some more permanently than others). My mom is amazing and manages to stay strong at these times. She had a cousin who passed away yesterday and a very close friend who she heard was in ICU. 

It was Matthew's idea to get away for Christmas and what a great one it was. For him to split himself at home between his family and to try and spend quality time with everybody would have been impossible. Here we have all been able to share ourselves, whether playing fuseball, walking on the beach or standing stirring sauces at the stove. Awesome times and lasting memories.

Clyde Amy and Kim
Test kitchen
Hayley and Amy

Sundowners and Eggnog on the balcony

Three Stooges

Mom and her grandchildren

Dalene  Haylz and I

All the ladies (Kim had gone home yesterday)
Moved the furniture around a bit

Me and my Muskateers

This Nigella Lemon Curd Pavlova from our test kitchen needed a picture
The Vans

Mom and the Sisters

Dale, Steve and Caroline 

 The fuseball contest

Looking forward
Alfie having a chat with Haylz


Quiet times

Cocktails on tap

And of course Alfie

Let me go now. Time to share a last cup of tea on the stoep and load up the cars. We are here until tomorrow.

Happy Christmas to you all.

I could not resist this one. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Who reads a book on a Friday night? ME...

A few years ago spending a Friday night at home reading would have made me feel like a total loser. Not anymore.

This picture on Facebook this morning got me thinking and after this evening has matched my thoughts, exactly:-

And, it was quite appropriate because last night I picked up H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald again. I had started reading it a few months ago, but it is a slow read and I lent it to a friend (who was going away and who I knew would enjoy it). She has now returned it and I re-visited it this evening. It is a very different read and a book that you need to savour. Macdonald's writing and sentence structure are beautiful. I love the way she uses commas, and the way she keeps changing the length of her sentences. So clever.

There are many sentences and lines in this book and I am reading it, like I might Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, slowly and staring at the wall (for a minute). It is my all-time favourite and the one book I have read far more than twice. 

Here, please read this paragraph:-

“Her library would have been valuable to a bibliophile except she treated her books execrably. I would rarely open a volume that she had not desecrated by underlining her favourite sections with a ball-point pen. Once I had told her that I would rather see a museum bombed than a book underlined, but she dismissed my argument as mere sentimentality. She marked her books so that stunning images and ideas would not be lost to her.” 
Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

I have never done it, but I am tempted to start underlining some sentences in this book … His coat. An envelope. His watch. His shoes. And when we left, clutching a plastic bag with his belongings….

Oh my word…

Friday, 15 May 2015

Ten years doesn't make a summer?

An invitation to my nearly 17 year-younger baby brother's 40th birthday has time travelled me back to almost exactly 10 years ago. As I am thinking "Could ten years have really gone by so fast?", I am also thinking "How can so much have happened and changed in the last ten years?"

May 2005

David (the brother) was about to turn 30. Always extravagant he sent air tickets for his mother and sisters to join him for his 30th birthday in London. 

Where was I?  Single, only Nic (middle son) home for the year, a wonderful man in my life and a steady job in a legal office.  The trip was special for all three of us but extra special for me because Gareth (my oldest) and Matthew (youngest) were both in the UK at the time.  I left Nic home alone with the dog and took advantage of my first overseas trip in years and was away for 5 weeks.  A special fun time, a road trip to Wales and the south of England. Ten days later, Dalene left for home to return to her two young daughters who were left with Tom, Rob (my mother's "man-friend") arrived to join her and they continued on their travels and my friend Nicky arrived for a crazy three weeks in London, Bristol and a Paddywagon tour through Ireland.

May 2015

David is turning 40 next week and is now married to the girl he first kissed around the time of his 30th birthday. I am now married to "the wonderful man", I still have only one of my three sons (Gareth) close by (Nic is in Johannesburg and Matthew in Hong Kong). Dalene and Tom live around the corner and, as I write, they are waving goodbye to Amy (their eldest) who is heading off to London for a month.  My mom is great, she married the "man-friend" Rob, they moved into a retirement complex but he died late last year after a short illness. And Nicky? Well Nicky just died. She was here making ginger soup one week, waved goodbye to me in Wayside Road and went away on a special family holiday. She never came back. I know she is dead, I gave a eulogy at her funeral and carried the coffin (for goodness sake) but she did just go away on holiday and never came back. I still have a drawer of photographs, coasters, postcards and mementos from May/June 2005. (We never did get around to having that "scrap booking" evening and it is now May 2015).

So, in a nutshell that is where I was in May 2005 and am now in 2015. So much has happened in between and as I think of the happiness's and sadness's in my 56 year old life, I realise that the puzzle pieces are starting to slot in and make up that cliched "bigger picture".

Material stuff

Maybe because I did not have much I dreamt of that house on a hill with the wrap-around stoep, a trendy minimalistic interior, a heated swimming pool and a SMEG fridge. Although on a hectic budget, I still spoiled myself (put myself into debt) with a Clarins day and night cream and clothes from Hilton Weiner.

I love and am so content my simple square home and garden in the heart of suburbia (on the flat) with a vibracrete (horror) fence.  It is filled to overflowing with photos, tins, candles and inherited furniture. A Defy fridge (it is metallic) serves me well.  A R200 tube of Environ Alpha Hydroxy gel is a day and night cream and lasts for two months and the few clothes there are come from Woolworths.


A job in a legal office with a decent salary and an amazingly awesome boss (my husband to be), lovely co-workers but a comfort zone of note, sitting behind a stuffy desk, days spent surfing the net, streaming music, writing blogs and then cramming in some real work and drafting of documents when the pressure was on.

A new venture, marketing, selling and delivering wine with an enterprising and entertaining partner, not much salary (that will come) but a warehouse full of wine, my first brand new company van, loving the physical work, having time to walk every day, time on the road, stops at the beach, walking the grand-dog, meeting new people combined with lots of time on my own and generally having a great time.


Always fortunate to have special friends. We were infallible and maybe friendships were taken for granted as friends were always a phone call away (we had very long phone calls), they were there to laugh and cry with but mostly to party with.

I am still lucky to have special friends but value them more. I appreciate that we are not infallible. Friends die, friends get sick. Friends are fighting battles with cancer and are caring for sick partners. They are strong and resolute and I am in awe. But after cancer, there is always an unspoken uneasiness and nervousness that hovers around the friendship, the elephant in the room that scares you as you never know where it is hiding and when it will show up again. But. as horrible as cancer is for the sufferer, it does give you time, as a friend, to show you care. Unlike when a special infallible friend goes away on holiday and never comes back. 


I felt bad and sad that as a mother I had let my boys down because we no longer had the "normal" Rondebosch family. They did not get cars when they turned 18 (or 19 or 21 - we shared), they had to take out student loans as fees could not be paid and that fancy house on the hill with a SMEG fridge was still a dream.

I wanted the best for them, the degree, the first team, the best and prettiest girlfriends, to be the most likeable, funny and popular boys in the group.

I know now that I did not let them down.  I know that there is no "normal" family and that our little family is a very special and extremely close one. I made the best choice at the time.

I still want the best for them but forget the degree, the house, car and f-ing fridge, I want them to be happy.  My worst parenting moment (they have many more they could share, I am sure) was telling Nic (then aged 25) who was wanting to go back to university to study law "What?  Nic you will be 28 when you graduate and all your friends will have fancy jobs, wives and children and you will be an articled clerk until you are 31!"  Well Nic is so happy being an articled clerk and not having a house, wife or children (not many of his friends do have any of the three anyway). Two of them do have the best and prettiest girlfriends and I think all three are the best, most likeable, funny and popular boys in the world (nevermind just the group).

Over the last ten years they have seldom all been home at the same time. It is hard having them far away, especially when the move becomes more permanent, but somehow it eventually becomes the norm. Thank goodness for Whatsapp, Skype and Facebook. You miss them lots, it is wonderful to have them home for visits, harder when they have to leave again but as a mother I can handle anything when I know they are happy. 


Michael - my boss, best friend turned boyfriend - sane, stable, solid and steady. The easiest and most loving relationship I have ever had. He is trying to teach me to budget, to not owe money and he tries to show me how to get pleasure and appreciate the simple things in life (like finding a perfect screw in a gutter)

Still Michael - no longer my boss, still my best friend and now my husband - Still sane, stable, solid and steady. The easiest, best, most loving relationship I will ever have. He has taught me how to get pleasure out of the simple things in life (not only screws in gutters) but he still struggles with teaching me to budget.

Then and Now
Life is good, never perfect, I struggle these days to not be so verbal about the things that upset me. Before I could keep my mouth shut when things annoyed me. I now blurt things out and sometimes hurt people but it is my inner voice that maybe menopause has stoked. 
Ten years ago life was very different and ten years later I don't feel like a much different person but writing this has made me realise that a decade is a long time. It is the sad things that have happened to me and my family which have shaped me most and made me take stock. I now realise what is important and what is not. Family and friends and walks and swims and wine and kindness and talking and sharing and even screws in gutters.

I also have to confess that I really would still love a big pastel coloured SMEG fridge.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

january - first page of the new book

What a day in Cape Town! It started early with a walk from Kalk Bay to Fish Hoek with Nicky, a swim at Dalebrook, my first taste of a C'est la Vie cinnamon twist and a strong black Americano. A quick swim in Nicky's pool and back home to get some cleaning chores and Wine Time work done.

Now here I sit at the computer downloading some photographs for my new email and at the same time eating a packet of Lays crisps and drinking my first beer of the year.  It must be 35 degrees outside and not conducive to working. It still feels like holiday time.

Starting my new diary last week made me realise that it is important to set some goals for 2015.

There are many things I do want to do this year and these are some scribblings that I have already made in my book.

To read more - I have already read two books this year. Ben Elton's - Two Brothers and JoJo Moyes - Me before You.  Both good reads and I have now started Paulo Coelho's Adultery.  Every January I start off like a train and then my reading fizzles out a bit. I will keep a log book of books read this year and try to read a bit every day.

To travel - Michael has a family reunion in Canada in August and we hope to travel to the UK and Scotland first. Michael is not the most adventurous traveller and a trip to Hermanus is far enough for him. We have procrastinated for too long, there will never be enough money, work commitments will always be there but last year I saw fit people die, friends battling cancer and others getting suddenly old and frail. Sometimes you just have to do things and not waste time waiting for the right time, saving and planning for the event.

To push myself harder in my business.  Things at Wine Time are going well but I am inclined to get myself into a comfort zone and wait for things to happen. Unfortunately (or fortunately) money does not motivate me but with travel on the cards, it would be good to increase our business database, get more customers and earn more money. The potential is all there and we have had a good year. Our warehouse is full and most of  the wines paid for, we have bought a brand new van for deliveries and we get so much positive feedback from our customers about our wines and service. For the first time I have a job that gives me time for myself and I am happy and content with what I am doing. Morning walks and swims and a job that is physically tiring and gets me out and about with a good balance of time alone and time with people. This makes me very happy.

To never miss a chance to swim in the sea. An old bathing costume and beach towel is a permanent fixture underneath my car seat.

To continue to explore my creative side. 

Art classes this year have been awesome and have taught me that everyone can draw and has their own style and flair. A lovely group of ladies getting together once a week, for a couple of hours, with pencils and wine is a wonderful way to end a day.

Gardening is something else I would like to do more of and learn more about. It must be one of the most rewarding hobbies to dig and plant and water and at the end create something that gives you so much pleasure.

To try my best not to spend money on unnecessary stuff. A sucker for grey and black t-shirts and vintage stuff for my kitchen and garden (which I do not have space for). Time to avoid the shops and make do with all the excess that I already have and give away what I do not need.

To keep walking and stay fit and strong. I could say lose 10kgs and cut back on the wine - BUT WHY? 

To visit new places close to home. Nicky has made a list of places in Cape Town that she wants to go to.  Dalebrooke this morning was one that she has now ticked on her list.  Driving home she told me about swimming in the Silvermine dam (which I have not done for 20 years) and how beautiful sitting on the verandah at Chart Farm is (can you believe that I have never been there?). So there are two more for my list. I will let you have my complete list next week.

Counting my blessings everyday. The bestest husband in the world, healthy and happy children all making new lives and careers for themselves, a healthy mother and an extra special family, so many wonderful friends, food and wine in the fridge and more grey t-shirts than any girl could ever want. I am blessed!!

It is indeed brave of me to publish this picture (hence the reason I have kept it small) but it is the only picture of the boys and I taken together this Christmas. 
It is a special one, taken in the rough seas on Boxing Day (on the day when I did not win the race into the water) of my three sons who are best mates and still little boys at heart and who give their mother much joy