"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"

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

a seven month long comedy of errors...

On the 17th of January this year Gareth had his white Citi Golf stolen from outside his home in Gardens.  He reported it to the police.  My involvement comes into it because the car is insured through my broker and on my householders policy for Albion Road from way back when Gareth used to live there.

It took a while to get a case number from the Cape Town police station, it was reported to the insurers and they sent me the necessary forms which were completed and returned.  About 3 weeks later, Gareth's girlfriend was forced to take a different route home as one of the roads was blocked with traffic.  Driving down this new road, she spied, 3 blocks from their home, Gareth's car.  All the windows were open and the car was about half a metre from the pavement (not too unlike how Gareth usually parks).  The police were called and a whole squad of them arrived to view the vehicle. Gareth presumed he would be given the car back immediately and could take it to be repaired.  Not so. It had to be taken to the pound in Stikland to be fingerprinted.   I informed the insurance company that the car had been found and that there would now probably only be a claim for locks.  Herein began the fun.

It took Gareth more than 3 months and 83 phone calls to find out what the procedure was to get the car back. The file had been lost and they were waiting for some forensic report.  Eventually he found a helpful lady sergeant who gave him a number and some details.  The insurance company had to approve the use of a tow truck to get the car to the garage where the locks and ignition had to replaced.  There was then a hold up with the insurance company while they got permission for the car to be towed.  A week or two later the insurance was sorted out and we were told that we could arrange for the car to be collected.  Gareth had to prepare a detailed affidavit to give the tow truck guy (Flippie) permission and consent to access the car.  For this we needed a copy of Flippies ID and all the details of his tow truck "company".  Flippie knew the procedure and provided us with all the details.  He then proceeded to Stikland one Friday to be turned away as they close early on Friday.  On the Monday he succeeded but only after a three hour wait for them to move all the other cars which were parked behind the now filthy and mouldy car. The windows were left open, dust and grime, bird poo and that grey powder which they use for finger prints covered the entire car. 

The car was delivered to the garage in a sad state.  The garage guy, who is now like a family friend, was happy to store the car until the assessor came to inspect.  It was now the end of April.  My insurance papers were now out of date. New forms were filled in and we waited for the assessor.   A new ignition was sourced and an immobiliser fitted.  New locks were fitted to the doors.  The insurance company agreed to the car having a full valet.  Things were starting to look good and it was mid-May.

Then we noticed that the licence on the car was about to expire.  A visit to the municipality to purchase a new licence led to us being advised that the car was still listed as "Stolen" and we could not renew the licence with getting police clearance.  Our friendly garage guy was happy to look after the car and started to look for a purchaser for this poor lonely car because Gareth had decided it was probably easier to buy a new car.

The next battle began.  The helpful lady sergeant at Stikland was on maternity leave.  We had the case number (and her number) and that was all.  Gareth started making more calls.  The file was now "lost" but we needed to get a PCF (police clearance form) from the municipality.  This we got.  It was now June.  The friendly garage guy had a purchaser for the car but Matthew was coming home for a month and would need a car so we told him to "hold fire" for a bit.  He is a very patient man and did not mind continuing to store this lonely, unregistered, "stolen" white car for us.

Two weeks ago I phoned the Bellville Police Station.  They gave me the number of the Stikland "pound".  It was no longer the helpful sergeant's division at Stikland (she was back from maternity leave and had had a baby girl) and she referred me to Bellville South.  She gave me a name and number.  Eventually when Bellville South Police station answered the phone they did not have anyone called Sgt. Meintjies on duty.  I was helped though and told to bring the PCF form, my identity document, a copy of the owners ID and the original registration forms to Osborne Street, Bellville South.  I had them all and was on a mission to get this sorted out.

However, last week was a busy week. This was now top of my list for "this week" and yesterday morning and I decided to head through to Bellville South.  Matthew offered to come with me on this little adventure.  "It won't take long.  I have everything they have asked for" (famous last words).  We dropped my car at the friendly garage guy and collected the lonely white golf.  It looked so new and shiny and was so happy to be taken out, I almost expected it to hoot like Herbie used to do.  

We found the Bellville South Police station (thanks to Google maps and Matthew).  What a sad looking place to work (or visit).   It is a bit like a neglected farm.  We found the right outbuilding and stood in the queue.  We were then told to move the car to under the carport.  Matt moved the car and the policeman looked at my papers, disapprovingly.  "These are not correk!!  You need to take the PCF form to the licencing office at the municipality and they must issue you with a stamped printout!! AND THEN...you must have your car micro dotted".   He pointed to some guys sitting on the corner over the road from the police station.  I had visions of heading back to Plumstead municipality but Matthew investigated finding the Bellville office.  With the help from his iPhone we found the offices and were told at the door to queue at Teller 8.  Not a long queue and the very, very large and miserable lady behind the counter looked at me, again disapprovingly, and sent to me the "Enquiries Queue".  This was at the entrance and it stretched outside the door.

A bit of luck , after a 15 minute wait, the very helpful chap gave me a print out and stamped the forms without insisting that I pay for a temporary licence.  We were breaking the law by driving an unlicensed "stolen" vehicle.  No charge involved either.  Bonus. Back to Bellville South to find out about the micro dotting.

This is when I became a bit nervous and suspicious.  The two, pretty undesirable fellows lying on the grass jumped up to help us.  We were told it would cost R500 and one of them would take us to where the job would be done and asked us to open the back door so that he could get in and drive with us.  I felt braver because Matthew was driving and we let him in.  The toothless tattooed chap was very excitable and friendly and gave us quite a long explanation, between directions, of what needed to be done to the car.  We took back roads and sharp turns through a very dodgy area.  We arrived at a vibracrete wall with a driveway and a steel gate. He jumped out of the car and disappeared. There was an office (selling second hand car parts and motor oil) and a few calls were made.  The owner of this lucrative business arrived and explained how with this spray gun he would spray over 8 000 dots on the car to identify it. Everything looked suspicious except for the very fancy original certificate which I was presented with after handing over R500 (in cash).  The entire job took about 15 minutes and we headed back to the police station (not sure where our tattooed friend disappeared to).  If you are interested, read more about microdotting here.  Do you think that the cost of microdotting can be claimed from insurance?

We parked the car under the carport (we now knew the routine) and the same policeman arrived, examined the certificate and the official looking form from the municipality and gave me an approving look. I gave him a sarcastic smile.  He double checked the VIN number on the engine and sent me inside with the form and all the ticks in the right places.   A very disinterested lady police officer (on the phone and chewing gum) fiddled with her mouse for about five minutes and pressed a key or two on her keyboard.  She then took out a stamp and stamped the form in a couple of places and told me everything was OK.  I asked her whether it was all fine now to get the car licenced and checked with her that it was not still marked as "Stolen".  She told me it "should be OK" but we may have to re-licence the car as sometimes they need to re-enter all the details.  This could mean re-registering the car and buying new number plates.

Quite a story hey?

Gareth's abridged version:-

My car got stolen.  I reported it to the police.  Three weeks later I found my own car.  The police took it away for 3 months. The licence expired.  I can't licence it because it is still "Stolen" on the computer.  My mother is helping me today and has to take the "stolen" car to Bellville South.  It would be a terrible irony should my mother get arrested or, even worse, shot for driving a stolen vehicle. 

Sometimes it is probably not a bad thing that our policing is up to maggots.

The five hours spent yesterday, I suppose is pretty small compared to more than seven months it has taken us to try to sort it out.  Now we still have to see what the licencing department have to say.

Anyone want to buy a sweet little golf?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

it's just another day....

July is slowly slipping past and I have been a bit out of blogging of late.  No real reason, not too busy either, just a nice winter hibernating time.  Our week in Knysna also got me on track with reading again - I am definitely an "all or nothing" reader - 3 books in a week or 1 book which I read slowly for a month (or two). I have been carrying my latest book around with me and find that if I have to wait for a delivery instead of fiddling around on my phone or counting boxes, I get into the car and read a couple more chapters. Maybe I should get really jacked up and have a blanket and a flask of tea as well.

So sorry for the neglect.  A few things I know you will like.

How true is this?

It sums up perfectly, for me, the difference between being in your 30's and being in your 50's.  There are many perks in growing older and one of them being that you don't really worry about silly things anymore.

How beautifully put together are these words?
If you love oysters, I suppose.  I do.  I must find a Hemingway novel to read again. About travel and bullfights and wine and oysters.

How funny is this Pinterest page?  This lady has labelled her "board" - "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter".  She has given her a name - Quinoa - and then has taken all those sometimes cute, often pretentious pictures that people post on Pinterest of their children modelling and she made up her own little story.

Take a look at the page first - here.  Really funny and I love the names that she has given all her imaginary daughter's imaginary friends.  Quite scary too to see how these beautiful children are turned into fashion icons and exploited.  If you are on Pinterest - follow this board, you won't be sorry.  

A few classics:-

Sometimes Quinoa is too cool for school, so she doesn't go. Wouldn't be fair to the other kids.
"If you're going to wear an oversized coat, wear oversized glasses to balance it out." - Quinoa
One thing about Quinoa's friend G√ľnter and his ill-fitting Burberry sweaters, he knows where he is going in life. Quinoa respects that.

And then something special and sensible:-

Life isn’t supposed to be an all or nothing battle between misery and bliss. Life isn’t supposed to be a battle at all. And when it comes to happiness, well, sometimes life is just okay, sometimes it’s comfortable, sometimes wonderful, sometimes boring, sometimes unpleasant. When your day’s not perfect, it’s not a failure or a terrible loss. It’s just another day - Barbara Sher

Sunday, 21 July 2013

i love airports

The last couple of weeks have seen many loved ones coming and going. I would love to work at Cape Town International airport.  It is a wonderful place to observe people, and, if the parking did not cost so much I could very easily spend a spare hour or two there, once or twice a week, and sit and observe.

I love the expectation on a person's face when coming through those arrival doors, looking around for a familiar face - and finally finding them.  It is something special.  I could sit there for hours and try to match people.  I love to see the hugs and the emotion.  I notice the luggage, the art bag, the skateboard, the teddy bears.  Everyone has their own story, which I will never know and it sparks my imagination and makes me make up my own stories.  I like the words below, it is about reuniting and about the end of missing someone, which is the happy side of airports.

Often too it is the beginning of learning about missing someone and that is sad. Airports hold more emotions than any other place.  The "Arrivals" is a far happier place than the "Departures" but each place holds it's own adventure for those arriving or departing.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

just one of "those" days

Thank goodness I don't have too many days like yesterday.  Everything should have worked so well. It started off with a long walk in the morning and by 10.30 was ready to face the day.  A quick visit to the office to check emails and bank statements, off to the warehouse to collect 2 nice orders for delivery.  Route planned via Constantia Pick n Pay where I would do the shopping for the dinner party.  Nic and Matt were back, not many of the family had seen them, so a good reason to get together. 16 or 18 people sounds like an enormous amount of guests but it is pretty regular for our family. 

I had my list of ingredients and it was to be a budget type winter supper.  Nicky's Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup, loaves of crusty breads, a penne type macaroni dish with bacon and mushrooms and a vegetarian version with spinach and feta for the virtuous ones.

The soup is easy and always a success.  Nice big pot simmering away - maybe a tad too much chilli - or was it just the slightly burning sensation of the ginger? That element of doubt gave the soup the edge (I thought) and, I am sure would open up the conversation for an interesting tasting debate around the table.  What are you tasting, ginger or chilli? Is it a ginger burn or a chilli burn?

The thermostat on my oven is giving me trouble.  I thought I was understanding it and could work around it, but last night it decided to not play by the rules.  The pasta had a crispy crust (almost on the burnt side) but was cold below.  I had used my biggest (huge) dish that does not fit into microwave, crispy (almost burnt) crust that is now stuck to the sides of the big dish, impatient me who decides to lift it into small dishes for microwaving with an egg lifter.  Broken crust, pasta on the floor and 3 new dishes now being warmed in the microwave.

Anyway back to the soup.  Dished from the pot at the table.  New soup bowls which are probably quite a bit bigger than what I am used to.  Usually, I am not a bad judge of quantities when dishing up.  However, when I got down to the last four ladles in the pot I realised that I had two latecomers still to arrive and four people waiting for soup.  The rest were tucking in happily so it would have been hard to ask for some back.   I began to regret the "please eat, it is going to get cold" comment.

Bright idea - Add more coconut milk!!  The soup was on the thick side.  Whisked the pot off back to the kitchen and stove top, a can of coconut milk added.  Now a very milky looking liquid.  The latecomers would not be aware of the viscosity of the soup the others were enjoying but what about the other four who were now patiently watching the others eat?  I remembered some Woolies croutons that were hidden (and a bit soggy) in the lettuce drawer of the fridge.  I floated them on top.  "I didn't get any croutons" mentioned Kelly politely as I delivered to the hungry four.  She received a poke in the ribs and a wink from me.

The wine was flowing the fire was roaring.  It was great to have everyone around the table again (except for Gareth who is working in Borneo - Good dinner to miss Gareth).  It was good to hear the tales of London, LA and Bangalore.

Eventually the macaroni was warm (could have been warmer).  Matthew decided to invent a last minute addition to the salad of toasted sesame seeds.  Another short wait for the salad.  The macaroni is dry (and not warm enough).  I had forgotten that both Hayley and Dalene are not eating carbs, the salad is not very substantial (it was only supposed to be a garnish) but there is plenty of bread - even a crusty rye variety (but that does not help their cause either).  Main course done!  

My mom has done the honours with her apple tart.  Another big dish that does not fit into the defunct (I could spell it a different way) oven. Cut up the pie and warmed it in the microwave (another 3 dishes).  Not quite the same to nuke a delicious crispy apple crumble.  Cream to whip.  I am now tired and flushed and lazy so decide to use the processor to whip the cream because the international two pronged adaptor for my hand beater is visiting Borneo.  Lucky adaptor.  I wish I was there too.

I have done this before (not Borneo, the cream in the processor story).  It can work but tonight it does not (what was I thinking??). The cream turns to butter and water.  My mother looks on in horror at the waste of her litre of cream.  Not to worry, we have ice cream.  "Kelly, did you guys bring the ice cream?"   Oops.  They (wife and 2 daughters) blame Tom who arrived punctually at 6.  We had to make do with a scraping of freshly whipped butter on each helping.

Hayley and Dalene looking a tad gaunt in the face (but they had nice berry coloured lips from the wine and were not complaining).  The apple crumble was also not on their diet.  They could have had the cream (which looked awful) or the ice cream (bad boy Tom) but not the flour in the crumble (wheat free next time please Nanna).

Back to the table for some lively discussion (and thankfully some more wine).  What would we do without wine?  Everyone seemed happy and fine but Caroline is still eating bread like I have never seen before. Thank goodness for bread (and wine). 

I had to smile when I eventually got into bed and kissed Michael goodnight.  He was already sleeping.  "Thank you.  That was a lovely meal and evening"  Dreaming?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

mecurial july....

July is a month of contrasts for me.  Contrasts in the weather from cold, wet days around a fire to perfect winter days with clear blue skies, a warm sun and amazing colours and greenness.  The contrast of jerseys in Cape Town and swimming costumes in Plett.  The contrast and luxury of having a winter break surrounded by family and friends, noise and laughter to having quiet times alone walking, reading and thinking. Time to reflect on memories of happy times in July - of family holidays, of rugby tours, of watching Wimbledon with girlfriends, a fire, strawberries and pink champagne, and of a crazy bus tour through Ireland.  It is a month of birthdays and celebrations and the certain sadness of the loss of a friend - the anniversary of her death and, later in the month, the celebration of her birth.

Whilst the 3 July will be etched and scarred in my mind and life forever, I look forward to the contrast of raising a glass of ice cold champagne on the 26 July to the most special friend who taught me so much more than how to make a perfect sweet potato and ginger soup.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

the last 10 days.....

29 June - Saturday afternoon Matthew arrived home and was bundled in the car after a flight from LA.  We headed off to Knysna.  Door to door time, he was travelling for 47 hours!!

A garage toilet with a difference just outside Swellendam - Amazing the difference a good attitude to your job makes and manages to cheer up weary travellers.

On our return trip the flower arrangement had changed and there were orange honeysuckle petals everywhere.

Leisure Isle and the first of many walks around the island.  Camera setting wrong - no glasses, sorry.
 The lookout points from the Heads

 After the wet walk, warm drinks at the Heads

A lovely dinner at Emily Moon

Leisure Isle.  What an awesome place.  We played games, laughed, rode bicycles, ate wonderful meals and generally just chilled and caught up with each other.  Thanks to Jackie and Hayley for the invite and for making us so welcome in your wonderful home.

 Dreaming of that holiday house with a white picket fence

 Plenty of lawn for visitors (or family) to camp on!!
  A visit to Knysna would not be complete without a visit and pizza at Carnuti's in Plett
 Matt and Marcel after running the Knysna half.
Home on Sunday to a very chilly Cape Town, got the fire roaring, the Old Brown out and settled down to watch the tennis.  
Not too many comments in case I lose friends (and family who are friends) but really did not think I would ever be a Djokovic supporter (I was). Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler more than made up for the loss and Andy's girlfriend was easy on the eye (so some consolation).  Well done to Murray though - he deserved to win and time for me to be less judgmental about his personality, his mother, the size of both of their Adam's apples, the anger in their fist pumps and appreciate the tennis (and the spectators).
Oh and did I mention that Matthew is home!!  Back on the couch, next to me watching tennis (but not keen on any Old Brown).
But now Gareth has gone away (only for two weeks)  Nic will be home on Sunday after a month of working and revelry in the UK.  Maybe sometime soon we will all be in the same place at the same time.  Will keep you posted.