"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, 29 July 2011

how to be a "wise wife", a "good wife" and the "right kind of wife"

I cannot believe it is Friday night.  This week has passed in a flash and a blur, a flashing blur in fact.  I apologise in advance for the cutting and pasting I have done on the posting for today but I think you will enjoy it.  The articles below make very interesting reading.  Please do not pick up any tips especially the "GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY" one.  I know there are a couple (3) men who read this blog and I would hate to be the instigator of the "GIVE SELDOM MOVEMENT OF WOMAN IN 2011".

Wish my grandmother was still around so that I could ask her a couple of pertinent questions.



Starting in 1894:-

The following is a reprint from The Madison Institute Newsletter, Fall Issue, 1894: © 1894 The Madison Institute.





INSTRUCTION AND ADVICE
FOR THE
YOUNG BRIDE
on the
Conduct and Procedure of the
Intimate and Personal Relationships
of the Marriage State
for the
Greater Spiritual Sanctity of this
Blessed Sacrament and the Glory of God
by
Ruth Smythers
beloved wife of
The Reverend L.D. Smythers
Pastor of the Arcadian Methodist
Church of the Eastern Regional Conference
Published in the year
of our Lord 1894
Spiritual Guidance Press
New York City
 

INSTRUCTION AND ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG BRIDE
To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.
     
At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.
    
On the other hand, the bride's terror need not be extreme. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it. 
 
It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.
 
Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency. Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among the wife's best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective, if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.
 
Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.
 
By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband. By this time she can depend upon his love for the children and social pressures to hold the husband in the home.
     
Just as she should be ever alert to keep the quantity of sex as low as possible, the wise bride will pay equal attention to limiting the kind and degree of sexual contacts. Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices. These practices include among others performing the normal act in abnormal positions; mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.
     
Nudity, talking about sex, reading stories about sex, viewing photographs and drawings depicting or suggesting sex are the obnoxious habits the male is likely to acquire if permitted.
     
A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. Many women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pajamas for their husbands. These should be donned in separate rooms. They need not be removed during the sex act. Thus, a minimum of flesh is exposed.
 
Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights, she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.
 
When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband.  If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand, she should make a fist. If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her anyplace else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet. This will generally dampen his desire to kiss in the forbidden territory.
     
If the husband attempts to seduce her with lascivious talk, the wise wife will suddenly remember some trivial non-sexual question to ask him. Once he answers she should keep the conversation going, no matter how frivolous it may seem at the time.
     
Eventually, the husband will learn that if he insists on having sexual contact, he must get on with it without amorous embellishment. The wise wife will allow him to pull the gown up no farther than the waist, and only permit him to open the front of his pajamas to thus make connection. She will be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while his huffing and puffing away. Above all, she will lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress. As soon as the husband has completed the act, the wise wife will start nagging him about various minor tasks she wishes him to perform on the morrow. Many men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must insure that there is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise, he might be encouraged to soon try for more.
     
One heartening factor for which the wife can be grateful is the fact that the husband's home, school, church, and social environment have been working together all through his life to instill in him a deep sense of guilt in regards to his sexual feelings, so that he comes to the marriage couch apologetically and filled with shame, already half cowed and subdued. The wise wife seizes upon this advantage and relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband's desire for sexual expression.


Then big progress.  On to 1955.  The "wise wife" now becomes the "good wife"
 

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
  • Be happy to see him.
  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.
  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  • A good wife always knows her place.




Then finally 2011:-






Don't you love it?




Thursday, 28 July 2011

the honey badger


Gareth forwarded this video to me a week or so ago.  I think it is absolutely brilliant. It has been doing the rounds and is now one of the most viewed "youtube" links at the moment.  My boys have the ability to always take things to another level.  There were a host of  "honey badger" quips going around this weekend. Gareth aspires to be the "honey badger" and Nicholas found a T-shirt for him.



I prefer this one - grey is my favourite colour, after all
Honey Badger Shirt
Some facts about the honey badger you may not know:-

Honey Badgers are the “most fearless animal in the world” according to the 2002 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. (That is what the narrator just told us)

Honey badgers are jet black except for the gray mantle, separated by a white stripe, extending from the crown to the base of the tail. The colour of the mantle and stripe may vary from one individual to another and often becomes darker with age.

The honey badger is also known as the ratel. The Norwegian for honey badger is Honninggraevling, and the French is “blaireau mange-miel”. In those parts of Africa where Swahili is spoken, the honey badger is called Nyegere. (Don't tell me I don't feed you interesting information from time to time)


Photo Credit: Francois Retief

A young / baby of a honey badger is called a ‘kit’. (Wonder if John Maytham knows that - Also testing if you are reading the details!!)

The females are called ‘sow’ and males ‘boar’. A honey badger group is called a ‘cete, colony, set or company’.

A fully grown adult male can stand as high as 30cm, and be up to 1m in total length.

They are normally solitary animals, and are one of the lesser seen African mammals. (No wonder he is so tough.  It must be horrible to be solitary)

They have skin which is very thick and rubbery, to defend them from bites, and they are able to catch and eat even the most deadliest and poisonous snakes. (See the video is 100% true)

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Bachelor

Honey badgers have a unique relationship with the greater honey guide. The little bird leads a honey badger to a beehive, and then waits good-naturedly for the honey badger to open up the hive and enjoy the honey and bee larvae. Once the honey badger leaves the hive, the honey guide will then feed on the remaining beeswax. (Clever bird - a bit like I do to Michael - make him open the big slab of whole nut, he eats a couple of squares (okay 2), then I go in for the kill)

There is just one species of honey badger, Mellivora capensis. (Solitary Mellivora capensis - you told us that already)

Litters of 1-2 young are born in nursery dens lined with grass. A young honey badger reaches adult size at around 8 months of age, but stays with its mother until it is at least 14 months of age. (Lucky mom)

Honey badgers can be very aggressive animals, and have few predators. (I can see why)

Photo Credit: Bennie van Zyl

The badgers striking coloration makes them easily recognizable and they could only be confused with the much smaller Striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus) and Striped weasel (Poecilogale albinucha).

Honey badgers have a distinctive jog-trot.

Sadly, Honey Badgers are near threatened in South Africa due to attacks by bee-keepers, poultry and sheep farmers.

Photo Credit: Madach

The South African Defense Force named their Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), the Ratel, after the Honey Badger. (Interesting hey Tom? Checking that you are still following - Tom used to drive (ride) a ratel in the army)

A female honey badger has a home range of 100-150 square km. (Anyone know what that means? Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home)

The honey badger does not have visible ears. (How observant)


If anyone is keen for a t-shirt let me know.  I think Nic knows where to get them.  Maybe time for us to all cultivate a little bit of honey badger attitude.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

a couple of days of weird coincidences


Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous
Albert Einstein

I suppose in one week when you talk more than you have in ages, when you share stories and feelings and cry and laugh your mind is probably more open and alert to coincidences than usual.  A couple of strange things have happened to me this week, starting on Wednesday morning.  Nic had been using Michael's car.  I did a bit of clean up of books and papers (a few empty Steri Stumpie bottles) and stuff that had collected on (and under) the back seat.  Under the passenger seat I found a book by Edward de Bono - the lateral thinking guy who has written lots of books on positive thinking and other such stuff.  John read a lot of his books.  I picked up the book and opened it to see who it belonged to and in it were John's notes.  He used certain books as text books and made notes, drew pictures and used post-it's to reference pages.  I looked at it briefly, paged through it a bit and noted his distinctive handwriting and the way he loved to use graphs.  I had not seen anything he had written for ages, thought nothing of it and put the book down in a pile (a big pile) of Nic's belongings.  Later that same day I received the phone call from his brother Dennis advising me that John was dead.

On our road trip to Kimberley and back this weekend Nic started chatting about Rondebosch Prep School.  Mr Lane was the headmaster at the time and Nic told the story of how in assembly Mr Lane made nearly a whole hall of little boys cry while reading a story out of "Chicken Soup for the Soul".  Nic retold the story of a crippled little boy and a puppy that he wanted to buy.  At the end of the story Mr Lane made mention that Jenny Rosslee had given him the book to read and he thought he would use the stories in assembly.   That entire day Nic was persecuted by boys "Thanks for that, hey Rosslee!!".   Yesterday morning while looking through photographs the boys were wanting me to find, I found this thank you card:-






I was also looking for a lovely little book of poems and "words to comfort" that I had bought years ago.  My bookshelves are not organised at all but next to this little book was another one that I had totally forgotten about and if you had asked me where I had bought it or who had given it to me, I could not have told you.



Since finding it and thinking about it, I think John bought it for me when my step-dad died.  Not really the kind of thing he would normally have done and weird that I should have picked it up now.

To finish off when I broke the news to Albertina - my charlady who has been working for our family for many years.  She was the boys' "nanny" when they were growing up. She was so sad and tearful.  She told me that only last week Nic had asked her to pray for John and that they find him.   She said she had been saying lots of prayers.  When I told Nic the story his reply was "I thought her prayers would work".  I had not thought of it that way.

The text message she sent me was too special:-

"Hi Jen.  Hope you drive safe.  I pray for you and boys.  Tell the boys God is always there for them - all the time.  I love you guys"


So whether these are coincidences or not it has made me think.

According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment,  just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying.  Things don’t bother you anymore.  You become light hearted and full of joy.  The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.
- Deepak Chopra

For the first time, I think, that I am starting to understand some of the above.  I keep referring to the 4 Stages of Spirituality which I have printed out and re-read often.  It kind-of makes you make sense of the "bad stuff" that gets thrown our way.  Maybe it is time for me to start digging for my dusty Deepak Chopra books which I bought years ago after seeing him on Oprah when I was looking for answers to many questions. I thought he was just the guru I needed but I could not get fully into his way of thinking and a lot of it was a bit O double D.  Perhaps I am older and wiser and a little more open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Perhaps I am just plain O double D.
me and me boys at the beeg hole 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

on sticking your fingers in the jar


I have not bought Nutella for years and the other day I thought it would be a good idea to have some "just in case".  "Just in case" I needed to re-learn how to sweep my index finger into the jar and then into my mouth without making a mess (or getting caught).  I learn fast.  "Just in case" Kelly came to visit and we could butter Marie biscuits with Nutella.  We used left-over icing the other day but it was not quite right.

Chocolatey hazelnut goodness.  Sneak a finger dip or two...

So now instead of sneak-eating the whole jar on my own I am going to make Nutella Cup Cakes.  Do yourself a favour and google "Nutella".  There are so many delicious recipes - Nutella and Banana Muffins, Nutella Brownies, Nutella and Banana Crepes, Nutella Chocolate Sauce.  A couple designed especially for me - Nutella and Amarula Hot Chocolate and Nutty Jack Cocktail.

Nutty Jack Cocktail Ingredients

  •  250ml (1 shot) Jack Daniels
  •  187.5ml (3/4 shot) Amaretto
  •  62.5ml (1/4 shot) Cointreau
  •  500ml (2 shots) Orange juice
  •  2 large tablespoons Nutella

Instructions

  •  Add Nutella and Cointreau into a boston glass, stir until it makes a paste. Add rest of ingredients and ice and shake thoroughly. Double strain into martini glass and garnish with chocolate shavings!!
Could be worth a try but not sure about the orange juice.  Not mad about orange flavoured chocolate.  My granny used to have that orange shaped chocolate where the chocolate was individually wrapped in wedges.  Let me see if I can find a picture:-


Amazing tool this Google*

Think I must have OD'd on her stock in my childhood.  We don't have fancy liquors anymore but I could easily knock up a Nutella and Jack Daniels in my blender.
However, the recipe below is the one I am going to try - sounds simple enough with only 4 ingredients.




Four-Ingredient Nutella Cupcakes
adapted from Savory Sweet Life
yields 9 mini cupcakes


1 cup Nutella spread, divided use
1 large egg
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tbsp cup chopped hazelnuts


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 cups of a mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners.


2. Put 1/2 cup of the Nutella and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.


3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 minutes. Don't over bake!


4. Set on a rack to cool completely. Once cool, warm the remaining 1/2 cup of Nutella in a small bowl in the microwave just until warm and fluid, about 15-25 seconds. Dip the tops of each cupcake in the Nutella, so that it's completely coated. (You will have extra Nutella left over. I trust you can find something to do with this.) Sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with the chopped hazelnuts. These keep for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.


Easy enough hey?  I will let you know how they turn out.  If I don't make them soon I am going to need another trip to the shops as I don't think there is still one cup left in the jar.  My knuckles are starting to get covered in Nutella when I dive into the jar.  Jennifer you piggy girl!!


Best Way To Eat Nutella
I tried to swap "spoon" for "finger" but could not get it right.


** Saw this t-shirt in Kimberley which I thought was brilliant.  Sorry Aunty Norma.
I wanted to ask the wearer where he bought it as I thought it would be a good gift for John Maytham.




Monday, 25 July 2011

i'm back, as i said i would be

h1j5299-copy
photo - damien schumann

It would not be that easy to get rid of me.  Gareth, Nic and I drove back to Cape Town yesterday and got back in the dark after a pretty hairy drive.  It rained all the way from Beaufort West - huge trucks on the road, spraying up water and the visibility was poor.  Both of them offered to drive but I kind of took it on as my job on the trip and was happy to drive.  While driving yesterday one of those "Things your mother said to you" kept coming into my head (I have a strange head).  After all we had shared and spoken about on the weekend, I kept smiling to myself but could not bring myself to utter these words to the boys:-

"I brought you into this world AND I will take you out of it!!".  

That could have been tempting fate and not an appropriate thing to talk about at this point in our lives.  At one time during the drive I spied Nic putting on his seat belt in the back seat, so things were pretty scary. 

We arrived home in the dark to a welcoming meal made by Dalene - mashed potatoes, van Vlaanderen "fall-apart-meat" and peas. "Comfort Food" of the highest standard.  Kathy who had been away for 6 weeks popped in for a hug, home to my own bed and back to work for me this morning.  Life carries on - you almost expect time to stop, even for a teeny, weeny bit - but it doesn't.

The trip away was everything I knew (and said) it would be.  We cried together, they cried on their own and we laughed together.  I had many questions to answer and they each had stories to share.  We were there for Matthew and the three of them had time to reconnect.  This was all stuff that I knew in advance and I was correct with my predictions.

What I did not even think about or imagine and what has blown me away is the support that Gareth, Nic and Matthew have received from their friends.  One does not expect boys to be able to share so freely their feelings.  Boys calling boys and chatting and not being afraid of crying.  These days they do not have to pretend to be brave and strong as they did in years before.  The messages that they have received have been truly overwhelming and having their friends share their memories of John of weekends away in Betty's Bay, being taught how to hold a cricket bat or throw a "skip pass", holidays in Plettenberg Bay or just sitting around listening to new "old" music have rekindled their memories of the wonderful qualities their father possessed.

This is not going to be easy for them.  They are organising a memorial for their dad on Sunday.  A difficult task but I am sure they will pull it off.  I was right before, wasn't I?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

on being a mother

I had a blog post for today which was all about "Things your mother said to you..."  I had prepared it around an email that did the rounds ages ago which I had recently found:-


  1. my mother taught me LOGIC -"because i said so, that's why"
  2. my mother taught me MORE LOGIC - "if you fall out of that tree and break your neck, you're not coming to the shops with me."
  3. my mother taught me FORESIGHT - "make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
Does any of it sound familiar?

But today is a little different.  It is scary how one phone call can change everything in an instant.  I received a phone call yesterday evening from my ex-brother-in-law in Johannesburg giving me the news that, for the last 3 months, I had been dreading.  They had found John's (the father of my sons) body.  It is a very sad story and I cannot share it right now but this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with.  One thing that my mother always tells me is "A mother can only ever be has happy as her unhappiest child" (which was how I was going to end off the above post).   It is something I often think about and something I only understood when I became a mother.  At the moment my heart is breaking for my three very sad boys.

It is now 4.30 in the morning and I have not slept much. Today I am going to do what I think is best.  I am taking Gareth and Nic off in the car for a road trip.  We are heading to Kimberley to get to Matthew as soon as we can.  We need this time together. The time in the car will be good to chat and think and listen to music.  I need to hug my baby and have them together in one place.  These three boys love each other so much and have been through so much together.  They need to be together now.

We will watch Matthew play rugby on Saturday and drive back on Sunday.  Poor Nic only left Kimberley on Tuesday and completed the long drive there and back and will re-trace his steps today.

So it is going to be a sad trip, a long trip, there will be tears and, I am sure, laughs.  It will also be a time for me to thank John Rosslee, like I do everyday (and will continue to do for the rest of my life), for the wonderful boys we share.

Sorry Mom and Ellen if I made you cry (again).  Aunty Norma I will be back on Monday.  Michael, I love you more than words can say.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

jenny takes on barry

On Monday night my mother, the brother's mother-in-law-to-be, the bride-to-be, the two ugly sisters and Lesley took ourselves off to an early show of "Bridesmaids".  The title was appropriate (although the three bridesmaids are in Glasgow, New York and London) and because Barry Ronge had said that he had thoroughly enjoyed the movie, off we went. Who am I to argue with Barry?  I love his movie reviews.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to be a film buff and I take no responsibility to refund you the cost of your ticket if you hate it but Barry and I agreed on this one.

"Barry"

We seated ourselves in the movie and poor Lesley ended up sitting next to my mother, who she still sometimes mistakenly calls "Mrs Pay".  My mother has had quite a few name changes since then.  Lesley is that type of very proper friend and no matter how many times my mother asks her to "Please call me Joan", Lesley shows her the respect her age deserves and calls her "Mrs Pay".  (Unlike another friend, who shall remain unnamed, who flashed her boobs at my father (who art in heaven) - okay she did not know he was looking and the flash was not intended for him but he got a full view anyway (RIP Cyril)).  The movie started and within the first 5 minutes we must have seen at least 12 of the Karma Sutra positions (don't ask me how I know that) up close and personal Karma Sutra positions.  Lesley by now had slipped down very low into her seat.


(actually taking a closer look probably 17 of the above)

I was expecting the usual American wedding movie with beautiful airbrushed girls, stunning apartments, lots of shopping and glossy magazine type fashion.  However, this movie was very in-your-face and filmed in more of an Australian Muriel's Wedding kind of way. Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live was the lead actress as the main bridesmaid.   Rose Byrne is beautiful and was of course, the nasty, rich bridesmaid.  The whole cast were brilliant comedians and actresses.  The script was great - there was much swearing, lots of toilet noises and humour but it was real (too real at times).   Dalene had to tell me who the other characters were and "the fat one" is from Mike and Molly which is apparently on Channel 101 on Friday nights.  Melissa McCarthy (Molly) was brilliant and I now must make a point of watching or recording the show.

bridesmaids-movie-image-02

Neurotic One, Fat One, Main One, Pretty but Horrible One, Bride, Married and Frustrated One

I won't tell you too much, in case you want to see it except to say that it was a roller coaster of a movie which took you through the ups and downs of friendships focusing on new versus old friends (rich versus poor friends kind-of-vibe).  It gave you insight into the lives of 30 something single woman who were going through some hard times but still managed to find the humour in the sometimes sad situations. The timing of the comedians was brilliant and director Judd Apatow did very well in allowing the tenderness of the friendships come through in what could have just been a crude movie called "The Hangover for Girls".

The final scene was the best ever and it left you feeling uplifted and happy.  It brought back memories of the early '80's when you did karaoke at Stokers on Newlands station with your friends to Wilson Phillips.


(Me in the middle, with lovely voice and microphone)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

dear God, this is jenny

Sunrise2

I went out into the garden with my tea this morning
(in my fluffy, shabby (but clean) gown)
And watched the sun rise over the rooftops of suburbia
I sat at my dewy table and breathed in the crisp air
and watched the steam from my tea rise
and get swallowed by the cold air
I am not an overly religious person
but sitting quietly on my own
I felt the need to pray
Usually my prayers start with an apology to God
"Please forgive me for only calling you when I need your help but I do.........."
But this morning I did not start the prayer the same way
(although I would be asking for help)
 Does God really know everything?
Even what we think?
 Would he see through my new approach?
I thought it a good idea to start by saying thank you for
all that is good in my life
and of that there is much
for my family who I love so much
(and could not do without)
for my friends who I could not do without
(and love so much)
for my husband who I love and could not do without
for my home and garden and kitchen
and courtyard
for the beautiful country that we live in
for Nelson Mandela
(and I hoped he had a good birthday)
for the mountain and the sun
and that perhaps it should rain soon so that the dams
can be full for summer and that we can water our gardens
(that was just a suggestion)
there was lots more and
(since I was giving some suggestions)
 I went on to the "not-so-nice-stuff"
the troubles and sadness and illness
that so many of the people I know and love are going through
and mentioned them by name
the two old ladies in my life
and the friends who are sad or lonely
the friends that are having treatment for cancer
and for their families and friends
who love them so much
for another wonderful friend who is having an operation tomorrow
and another who is making her way home
for family and friends who are far away and missing home
for my friends who have family who are far away and miss them lots
for my sister who is wonderful but fragile and so precious to us all
and
for my boys and their loves and their fears
and
to please keep Nic safe because he is travelling home by car on his own
from Kimberley today
and if he knows any lotto numbers, please send clues
(joking)
Then I thanked him again for everything
because life and love and family and friends are so precious
Then I thought I had better tell him that I do know that he knows best
but please, if he could
would he try his very, very best to make everyone in my prayers
well and happy and safe


I took another sip of tea, tossed it onto the grass because it was cold,
got up and walked inside only to note that the back of the fluffy and shabby gown
was now wet with dew and not so clean
(from the not-so-clean table)
but I felt a whole lot better






Monday, 18 July 2011

oooh anyone for a wee dram?................

cartoon scottish bagpipes
 
A lovely long  (for me, anyway) weekend with perfect weather.  Colette (Lucie's mom who is in Cape Town from Glasgow) cannot believe that we are in the middle of winter.  Saturday's weather in Cape Town was close to heatwave conditions for Scotland.  Did you see the weather at Royal St George's for the golf?  My word.  Last night we were invited to a traditional Scottish supper.   We started off with a starter of oatmeal crackers and cheese.  Haggis is traditionally served in Scotland with neeps (swedes or turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes).  We sampled it with mash and butternut.  Not too unlike our boerewors in texture and I loved the flavour.  I am not frightened by sheep's stomach (tripe and onions on a Friday night at the Barn, is my best), offal, kidneys, liver and onion are all favourites so haggis was just up my street.  Colette did mention that they do not particularly like it and she only prepares it once a year for Robbie Burns night.  It went down well with all of us except for one vegetarian but she was brave enough to have a "curiosity" taste.


Haggis, neeps & tatties (Haggis, mashed potato & swede, Scotland)

Recipe for the brave.  Most people buy them ready to boil.

HAGGIS INGREDIENTS
1 sheep's stomach cleaned and thoroughly, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold salted water.
heart and lungs of one lamb
1lb/450g beef or lamb
2 large onions, finely chopped
8oz/225g oatmeal
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black freshly ground pepper
1 tsp ground dried coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Enough water to cook the haggis

Stock from lungs


There was more excitement to come with Atholl Brose for dessert.  This is an interesting one and can be served as a pudding or a drink.  Colette and Lucie served it in shot glasses.  Mmmm..... quite a bit like my Christmas Egg Nog but with no eggs - I am sure it was just the strong whiskey content that reminded me of it. 

I did a bit of research on it (nice way to use up all the whiskey in our cabinet).   Here are the details:-

Atholl Brose is often made specially at Hogmany and makes a welcome drink and dessert treat.  It is very sweet so should only be served in small drams to see in the New Year. (I quite fancy a tall milkshake sized glass myself)



This easy to make Atholl Brose recipe can be made in a few minutes and can be made on the day it is to be drunk but tastes much better if stored for a week.

 
Ingredients
One bottle of Scotch whisky
10 fluid ounces (Half Pint) of double cream
450g of clear Scottish honey
The whites of six large eggs
One handful of fine ground oatmeal


1. Soak the oatmeal with the Scotch whiskey and set aside.
2. Beat the egg whites until they become stiff.
3. Fold the cream into the egg white mixture.
4. Add the honey.
5. Blend in the whisky and oatmeal mixture at a slow but steady pace
.
6. Pour the liquid into some bottles and set aside for one week.


Shake each bottle of Atholl Brose daily. (A wee dram to taste daily (after stirring) to check on progress is the cook's reward).

Cranachan is another Scottish dessert.  This one also sounds great and thanks to Colette and Wikipedia we have the information:-

"Cranachan (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ˈkʰɾanəxan]) is a traditional Scottish dessert.  In more modern times it is usually made from a mixture of whipped cream, whiskey, honey and fresh raspberries topped with toasted oatmeal.  Earlier recipes used crowdie cheese rather than (or as well as) cream, and were sometimes called cream-crowdie.

A traditional way to serve cranachan is to bring dishes of each ingredient to the table, so that each person can assemble their dessert to taste. Tall dessert glasses are also of typical presentation.

It was originally a summer dish and often consumed around harvest time, but is now more likely to be served all year round at weddings and on special occasions. A variant dish was ale-crowdie, consisting of ale, treacle and whisky with the oatmeal - served at a wedding with a ring in the mixture: whoever got the ring would be the next to marry."


I can't wait for this African / Scottish wedding if this weekend was anything to go by.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

and the moral of the story is.....?

I used to love an English teacher at "that school" on the Main Road called Mr Rumboll.  He would spend an entire term reading to us.  I can still remember the book he read us called "Unman, Wittering and Zigo" and must try and find a copy of it to re-read sometime.  I know Gareth and Nic would love it.  He also had a habit of reading us very obscure short stories and ask us to write an essay on the moral of the story.  Sometimes an impossible task and especially when the story was out of Roald Dahl's "Switch Bitch". The best moral that you could sometimes come up with was "Never trust a man who wears a plaster on his index finger".  I had always associated morals with bible stories and parables but Mr Rumboll put a whole new slant on morals.  He loved debating and I sometimes remind myself of him when I stand up for Tiger Woods around the dinner table and throw in my 10c worth about his morals (which is worse - to sleep with 10 (or 20) woman who mean nothing emotionally to you or to have a long standing affair with one woman who you love?).  Okay, I won't go there Dalene (she has higher morals than I do).

So, "Sorry Mr Rumboll" today I am going to give you a short story with a moral that is simplistic and easy to understand, thought provoking and which, at the same time, makes you wish that life was so simple.

Fishing boat on the beach in small fishing village near Portimao


A tourist boat arrived in a small fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them. "Not very long" they answered

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the tourist

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?" asked the tourist

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children and take a siesta with our wives. In the evenings we go into the village to see our friends, we have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs.  We have a full and happy life"

The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked a fisherman. 

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the fishermen.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting, " answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

"With all due respect Sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now. So what's the point of wasting twenty-five years?" asked the fishermen

Saturday, 16 July 2011

10 simple things that have made me happy and it is not yet 9.30

1.  Getting up early this morning, putting on my warm and fluffy (and scruffy) gown, heading outside with a cup of tea and watching the full moon dip behind the Constantiaberg.  Everything so crisp and quiet.  Another wonderful day in Cape Town.



2.  Coming inside to see Michael chopping fruit for our breakfast fruit salad.  It is my job Monday to Friday but on weekends he takes control.  It is too funny to watch the precision and length of time it takes him to chop an apple and peel a papino.


3.  Nic had a sleepover last night.  Watching him walking down the passage trying to open his eyes and stretching.  Nothing has changed since he was 4 except he is now hairy and big.

Now on the couch

4.  Unpacking the dishwasher and marvelling at how shiny and sparkly my glasses are.  How did I never have a dishwasher until 4 years ago when I moved in with Michael.
5.  Standing back and looking at my now tidy kitchen which I love so much.  20 people for dinner last night and 10 or more of them in the kitchen at times during the evening.  At 11 last night it looked like it would never be the same again.  Gratitude to Dalene who is great at fussing around, tidying up and rearranging things (Where is the sugar bowl?)
6.   Opening the garage door and looking at Matthew's new car (which he took possession of last night).  A second hand Audi A3 in perfect condition.  Quite a milestone when your "baby" of 23 is all grown-up with expensive possessions (don't think of the debt, Jennifer).
7.   The beautiful white roses which Lesley and Waynne brought for me last night.
 8.   Now looking at the computer and reading the messages from my wonderful friends and "followers".  I did not ever think that I would get so much enjoyment out of converting the mess in my head into writing this blog.
9.  Looking at the calendar and realising that Kathy will be back next weekend from a 6 week working trip to the States.
10.  Reading a special sms from my mom, thanking me for supper and saying she loves me.  I love you so much too Mom.

I am now off to shower.  Downloading these pictures takes so long on this computer, I should change the time to 11.15

Amy (who is a mine of useless information) told me last night that the best thing ever is to take a Lindt ball chocolate, pop it whole inside your cheek, get into the shower and let the hot water hit your cheek and melt the Lindt ball.   I had better get to do this quickly as I have nearly finished the entire box waiting for these damn pictures.



Off to Lesley for lunch and drinks before heading off to Newlands to support Griquas.  Gareth and Hayley, Caroline, Dalene, Lesley, Nic, Amy and I are all going.  A drink or two at Kelvin afterwards? Matt will be sleeping at home tonight and he and Nic are heading back to Kimberley early tomorrow in the new vehicle.  Nic will bring back the Honda and our car problems will be over.  I love it when a plan comes together.

I told you it was going to be a good weekend.  Hopefully Matt will get some game time and I will report back later on the “Lindt Ball in Cheek” saga.  Sorry no pictures on this one!!


Friday, 15 July 2011

fun for a friday

Just before Aunty Norma sends out any red alerts looking for me today I thought I would just let you know that I am taking the day off.  What an absolutely stunning day in Cape Town.  It must be the first time that I can remember that I have had to water my garden in the dark in July but everything is so dry and I have just planted my favourite primulas on my pathway. 



I was very sad to have to pull out all the lavender but I needed a change and hopefully the light green "salt bush" (?) will grow and will give the pathway a bit of of a small hedge look. 

Today I am off with Lucie (daughter-in-law-to-be - ooops sister-in-law (thanks Christine)) and her mum who is out from Scotland.  We are going to see a caterer and then are going to see the venue for the wedding.  We have people coming to quote on tents and stuff so it is all very exciting.  After the inspection we are heading to Buitenverwagting for lunch and a wine tasting. Good times sourcing wines for the wedding.  The date is set 11.11.11 - a Friday which will make it a whole weekend of celebration.  Fun times ahead.

I have quite a few fun things in the bag and thought for today I would share the following two videos with you.  Anyone for yoga?


video



How cute is this one?

So expect a lot of news from me after this weekend. Matthew is arriving today and playing at Newlands tomorrow.  My brother-in-law is phoning our friend Theuns who works for WP rugby to ask him if we can buy a block of tickets from him.  A bit cheeky when we are all going to be shouting for Griquas!! I am having the whole family around for bobotie tonight with our new Scottish family.

Okay I am out of here.  Yeah!!!!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

lessons from a prince

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a book that has been on my bookshelf for forever. I have bought many copies and given them away for gifts through the years and often pick up my battered copy and re-read a passage or two.  I, funnily enough, do not remember re-reading it in it's entirety.  It was published in 1943 and the pictures are simplistic but lovely. It has maybe perhaps lost a bit in translation but the messages are clear and although this book is recommended for children and is taught in France to beginners, it is more appropriate for adults.   It is one of the best selling books in history and it is the best selling French book with over 80 million copies sold.  It has been translated into more than 190 languages.  The author  recommended that his young readers dedicate his book to an adult (great idea) and it was pity that he died only a year after it was published.   

It is a fantasy story about a pilot, stranded in the desert, who meets a small boy from another planet. The boy (the Prince) is on a quest for knowledge. He asks questions and tells the pilot of life on his own very small planet.  It is a story of an adult who has almost forgotten what is important in life, the story of the pilot's reconnection to his own sense of childishness, wonder and imagination.

This posting actually has a theme so let me not get too sidetracked by the actual book except to ask you to read the extract below:-





"Good morning," said the little prince.
"Good morning," said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant. "Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like . . ."
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

How great is that?

I could find lots of deeper meanings in this passage - imagine not being thirsty or drinking? Perhaps with the help of the magic pill I would not need to wake up so often during the night to go to the toilet and therefore sleep a whole lot better.  Off the track again, Jennifer.

Now for my story:-

For those of us (there are a quite a few of us Caroline, Gareth and Nic - I am not the only one) who listen to Cape Talk during the day (morning and evening for me) will know about the initiative on at the moment about Madiba's 93rd birthday on Monday.  Firstly at 8.05 on Monday the whole country is supposed to sing a new version of "Happy Birthday" to the great man (you can download the song to your phone for R1-00) on Monday morning.  You are also supposed to donate 67 minutes of your time to a good cause on Sunday.  Most days I am able to tolerate Aden Thomas but yesterday morning (I must be in serious need of a new hormone patch) I was highly irritated and an sms would have had too few characters to convey my point, so I headed for the computer to email him.  He was going on and on about doing something good for others for 67 minutes on Sunday. Every suggestion he made involved some charity or other. To quote Mr Thomas  "Go to www.greatergoodsa.co.za, its a time to give 67 minutes to make the world a better place, a time to reflect on what Madiba means to us, and a time to teach our children about this remarkable human being, a time to give of our time and put in some effort to a worthwhile charity, a time to let our actions speak rather than our words" (Shut up, Aden, practice what you preach!!) 

What about good old family values?  What about looking after those that are close to you?  Do you know how many people have their own family and friends who could do with 67 minutes of quality time from them but they would rather go and clean dirty cages, wash dirty penguins or buy clothes for an unknown baby than visit their ageing father, aunt or uncle in a frail care centre? 

Sorry I am finding it quite hard to get my real message across and now that I have re-read the bit above, I am coming across as negative and uncaring. This is because I am getting tired of being made to feel guilty when I don't give money to the blind man at the traffic lights or when I don't feel like giving the car guard another R5-00 for doing absolutely nothing for me (I don't know why but I would rather make an excuse about not having any cash on me than insult him by giving him only a rand or two).   Why do I find it less stressful parking at Cavendish Square and paying R10-00 (to Old Mutual) for parking than when you go and park at Palmyra Junction (supposedly for nothing) but then get badgered into giving the very pleasant faced car guard R5-00?  Feeling guilty I associate with not doing what you are supposed to do or doing something wrong.  Why should I be made to feel guilty when I have done nothing wrong except to shake my head?  Why do I say "sorry" when I am not guilty or sorry?  Maybe I need a therapist.
Okay, had my moan for the day and am feeling much better.

Back to The Little Prince and my stupidity.  At the lovely gift shop at Palmyra Junction (I should start walking there) called Caramel & Co., I bought a lovely stencil for my wall knowing that the quote came from The Little Prince.

 Caramel & Co.
 Carmel & Co.

I stuck the stencilled words up on my wall and was a bit confused as to where the semi-colon should go (I should have just looked in the book but the translation is different).   Now while looking online for pictures from the book, I found the poster below:-


I have stuck it up on my wall and it reads as follows:-

It is only with the heart that one can rightly see what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Not too bad, I suppose, basically the same thing.  One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes.
Now I probably need to open up my heart a bit more before Sunday and if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I too should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.  But, I ask "What about the other 14 minutes?"  Anyone want to join me?


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

an unexpected inheritance

Aluminium 'Tala Cook's Measure'

I went out at lunchtime yesterday and when I returned to my desk, on it was gift from Gillie and Ellen.  Their mom sadly passed away last week and they are busy sorting out and clearing up her flat.  In this "Tala Cook's Measure" was a lovely note from them.  They are right, it is perfect for my kitchen.  I love vintage tins and coloured glass and the colour and style is just perfect in my kitchen.

I did a bit of online investigating last night and these retro measures are very much in demand on e-bay (sorry for all of you, it is now mine). Tala have recently re-released the range and it is available at Argos in the UK (hint hint).  Etsy have some of the cookie cutters and cake tins for sale as well (pretty expensive though).

The flour sifter
and how nice are these ceramic bowls

Gillie, I believe Michael made a comment about me not being a great measurer?  Quite right. He is often horrified as to just how cavalier my attitude to cooking really is.  I hate using a scale and love it when recipes use cups as their first choice of measure. 

 New home for Edna's cook's measure
Anyone know where to buy groats?

This measuring cone now has a special place in my kitchen and although I did not know Edna I shall think of her and her lovely daughters whenever I use it.  Thank you!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

new york continued..........

Well once again it was fairly late to bed to be followed by a night of tossing and turning and, for some reason, going through the New York alphabet in my head.  Yesterday I should have written things down first instead of rushing it but you are getting to know me better and my if jumbled thoughts and ramblings have not put you off already, I don't suppose they will do so now. 


K is a bit difficult and I cannot be a fraud.  Chris told us to go and have a pastrami at Katz Deli on Houston Street in Manhattan and we never got there.  The kosher deli was made famous by the scene in "Where Harry met Sally" where Meg Ryan had her famous "I want one of those" orgasms.  Not that I have a thing about Meg Ryan but Michael had been pretty bummed that he did not find her on the top of the Empire State Building waiting for him and being the possessive new wife that I was, I did not fancy any competition and heaven help me if they seated me on the very same chair!!  Under C I forgot about cheesecake - we sampled a couple of perfect slices, plain baked ones, pecan toffee topped ones, dark and white chocolate marbled ones.   I voted the one at Juniors at Grand Central Station the best.  The most creamy and decadent slice of cheesecake you could ever sample.  I still dream about it.  The waitress told me that Philadelphia cream cheese is the secret!!

Great foodie picture hey?
Which leads me onto G and the fact that I forgot about Grand Central Station (seriously slipping up).  The light shining through the arched windows, the marble, the people who move so fast and never bump into each other - what a great building.  Next time the tour must be done.  Did you know there are secret rooms and tunnels and a "whispering bar"

Michael looking for Meg at Grand Central (looking a tad despondent)

L is for Library.  The public library next to Bryant Park on 5th Avenue (I think).  Another beautiful building with incredible windows and paintings and marble and which as you walk into it you get the feeling that you have been there before but that is because you have been there before - in movies - "Regarding Henry", "Sex in the City", "Breakfast at Tiffany's" "Ghostbusters" and plenty others.


M is for Museums (sorry we did not do too much of them), Macy's (very disappointing - rails crammed tight with bargains but too difficult to find anything) but we did use (and recommend) the Megabus.  New York to Washington DC return for 2 for $4.50 (the 50c was the booking fee - their adverts don't lie).  About 3 and half hours each way, amazing coach, smooth drive, lovely scenery.  We had 2 days and 1 night in Washington DC (post for another time)
P is for pavements, parks (and pretzels).  The pavements are wide and smooth and you wish that you also had a scooter or roller skates.  You see rich old ladies with purple hair walking their poodles with rhinestone studded collars (promise) and young people walking lots of dogs (professional dog walkers).  You look out for Jack Nicholson jumping over the cracks in the pavement but you must have missed him by minutes.  You look up to the top of the buildings and see rooftop gardens and realise that so many people actually live in the centre of the city.  Very rich people.  I loved greeting those posh "doormen" standing to attention outside the buildings.

The parks and gardens are great.  The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is a piece of paradise in middle of suburbia and Central Park (sorry C) is enormous.  I loved the buskers in the parks (and subways) and at Strawberry Fields in Central Park we spent ages listening to fans playing their favourite John Lennon song, kneeling down to pray, to lay down flowers or just sit and watch the crowds passing by and eating their lunch bought at Zabar's Deli (like us). 
Pavement on 5th Avenue

Central Park, New York

This "Dude" looks after the mosaic and calls himself the "Curator"

Mayor of Strawberry Fields

R is for Rockefeller Centre.  When we first arrived in New York the front of the Rockefeller Centre was a food court with people sitting and eating and reading in the sun.  After travelling for 3 weeks and getting back to New York for the second time it had been converted into an ice skating rink.  We spent one cold evening watching some of the crazy characters on the ice. 


S is for subways.  Pretty easy to understand - no colours, just numbers and all you have to be sure of is that you know your north from your south (thank goodness for Michael).



T is for taxi (lots of yellow taxis around but never needed to use one) and Times Square.  Our bus from Washington dropped us off at Madison Square Gardens just when all the shows were starting.  We took time to watch the people (again) and took lots of pictures on Times Square.  Did not see David Letterman.


Every movie I now see which was filmed in New York immediately grabs my attention.  Judy, my sister-in-law is a great tour guide and also a movie buff so she filled me in on exactly where movies like August Rush were filmed.  She pointed out areas of Columbia University that are often filmed and she is correct, they keep popping up in movies and TV shows.

UVWXYZ - is the end of the alphabet.  I am sure if I really tried I could get all the way to the end but on looking at my photographs I have on this computer, it is a bit complicated.

I don't mean to sound like a travel agent or pretend that I am well-travelled, I am not.  Any chance I had to travel in the past was always to head to the UK or Europe (the UK to visit my brother or boys who were all there at some time, and Europe because there is so much there that I still want to see).  I still love London and hopefully Michael and I will visit there together soon (like next year) to visit his sister Jennifer and Andrea and their families, to visit the lake district and throw in a visit to St Andrews (as a reward to Michael).  Then on to Glasgow to say hello to the new additions to our family, the Rutherford's.

I cannot put my finger on exactly what is so special about New York.  My feeling is that it feels like home because you have been transported there so often in the movies.  It is big and bold and loud but it makes you feel brave and welcome. 

Perhaps Andrea can find a special flight deal from Manchester to New York for a week or so? September is a good month to travel.