Vigilante Justice

I find that when you take ownership of something it empowers you. Norman has now joined the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) and this means you have access to a radio where you can be tuned into everything happening in the bay. It also means (and this is why we wanted it) that if in a crisis you can call the whole group of HBNW who then rides in like the cavalry. There are some very dedicated people who spend a lot of time and effort making this group possible.

Now for the negative side of the situation – you hear everything that is going on from a crime standpoint: all hours of the night. Last night at bedtime we discussed whether we should mute it or not but Norm felt he wanted to keep it tuned to our local area so if any instances occurred we are aware.

At approx. 2am the 1st voice came over the radio to say intruders on the property about 2 blocks away. Then the next one, 1 block away about 20 minutes later. And then the neighbours alarm goes off at approximately 3am. Norm and the dogs were then up dealing with the resulting chaos for an hour or so. These neighbours have just bought the house; they did a lot of renovations and therefore had a lot of workmen on site. It is funny how the risk of burglary increases post workmen. There are just 2 uni age kids living there as their parents bought the house for them to attend UCT. The perps just knocked down or pulled down the electric fencing and climbed over, in the house, goods removed and out again in less than 10 minutes.

I feel bad for Caitlin as she had an exam at 8am and I doubt she got much rest.

The only way that this country has a chance of taking control of the crime is by contributing to stopping it. We cannot all sit back and expect the police to do it – they cannot cope as they openly admit. It is vigilante time.

I am becoming hardened by this, I see it. If I found an intruder and I had a gun I would not hesitate to kill him. But my family do not want guns in the house and I respect that. The odds are not in your favour when you do have a gun, and I accept that but I grew up with guns, I was shooting targets with my cousins from a young age. I used to do target practice at the gun club in London.

But our house is not a democracy we like to decide collectively where possible. So for now – no guns.

On a lighter less explosive topic we are off to Pure Restaurant again tonight which is a real treat. They have a special tonight on a 5 course tasting menu with wine pairing – 2 for the price of one. I didn’t even need to see the menu to know I wanted to go so that is what we are planning for tonight.

I hope we have a night of peace in our little bay tonight. I hope you all have a fabulous Friday and a brilliant weekend.

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Daddy’s Home

It has become a bit of a standing joke in our house that as soon as Norm (Mr Kitten in the city) goes away, chaos ensues. At one point I almost believed he had set things up to go wrong just so I appreciate him. But that level of underhandedness is more my style than his.

Since he left 2 weeks ago we had another break in attempt, my car battery decided to take a holiday and the washing machine packed in. But we all survived, and it gave me another lesson in being self sufficient.

My weekend was enjoyable however. I had a hair appointment on Friday afternoon in the CBD and my car would not start so I had to man up and drive Norm’s. My car is a sleek 2 seater, low riding, cabriolet and Norm drives a 7 seater mega soccer mom-mobile. I thought I might need a ladder just to get in the damn thing. But I managed to get in and even managed to back out of the garage and gate. I did fine and started to feel quite confident until I needed 3rd gear. WTF?! Who took 3rd gear?? I kept ramming into 1st when I needed 3rd but eventually managed to make my way over the mountain, round the mountain etc and into town, mostly in 2nd or 4th gear. I cannot parallel park even in my own car so knew that was off the cards, I drove round til I found a spot on a corner I could just drive into. Brilliant right? Yes until the attendant asked me to back up as I was straddling 2 spots. Could I find reverse? Could I heck. I kept grinding the gears and each time I edged closer to the wee car in front of me, until finally the attendant just told me it was fine, just to leave it. (That made me laugh.)

On Friday evening the kids were all away or busy so I invited my friend Mandi over after my hair appointment and we got Thai take aways, drank lots of wine and watched ‘The Perks of Being a Wildflower.’ If you have not watched it then I would recommend it. I loved that movie but it was so heartbreaking at times – I wanted to give the lead character a big hug starting from his opening speech and it carried right through to the end.

Best quote from the film: ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’. This is so true! It took me many years to realise that I deserve to be treated with kindness, care and love and that when someone offered me that – to realise I deserve it and am worthy of that level of love and attention. I see so many of the women I know who do not think they deserve this same level of care and love and repeatedly choose horrendous men who treat them badly. This is not completely the fault of the men as no one can take anything we do not give away. (and this is on a ‘spiritual’ or emotional level obviously as I did not give away my ipad and computer to the drug crazed eejit yet he still took it, work with me here people.)

Saturday I woke quite late to find that I had an hour to get ready for an event. My usual event companion Retha was ill and so she sent her hubby Pierre. Pierre and I always have a laugh as we have the same sense of humour so while I missed hanging with Retha I knew that Pierre and I would still have fun.

I have to confess that I had no idea who the speaker was at the event, I had just read that she was a chef and I had wrongfully assumed she was cooking for us, but nope. We had the normal chef from Hout Bay Manor and instead I was at the head table and got to actually meet the speaker, Jenny Morris who turned out to be such a funny, entertaining woman. In other circumstances I would have gotten her number and had her round for a meal – but no chance am I cooking for a chef even if she was interested in hanging out with me.

Jenny is such a well known chef not only in SA but around the world. She has written several cookbooks and has her own cooking show on the Food Network. She told loads of amusing stories and talked about her childhood and how she got started with cooking.

The guests were offered 2 options:
menu

When I saw the 2 starters I thought a ‘veloute’ was something in pastry or I never would have chosen it as I detest mushroom soup. It smells like a cross between dirt and man seed. Eek. But this was a different beast than any mushroom soup I have eaten, it was so delicious! The truffle cream was a special touch…
mushroomsoup

For my main I had chosen chicken, but the linefish also looked divine. There were so many flavours, the salsa was very intense and it all just combined in your mouth to a rather heavenly mix. And it was so colourful and fun on the plate.

chicken
It was such a fun day, we had a lot of laughs, intriguing conversations and lovely food.

How was your weekend?

Afraid of the Dark

I know that this blog was meant to be a social happy type blog about life in SAfrica, but at the moment it is not a happy little experience living here and therefore my experiences shared here are not so full of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns at the moment.

We have had a giant metal gate put up at the back, and have had quotes on putting up metal slam lock security doors for each of the bedrooms as the girls are not sleeping.

Last night I was watching telly downstairs on my own at about 10.30 and I could hear a lot of strange noises, but as the wind was howling I just thought it was my paranoid imagination. The dogs kept running around but not making too much of a fuss. But I was too anxious to stay downstairs alone so headed off to bed.

I was woken at 12.30 by the dogs barking like lunatics. Caitlin could hear voices but we could see nothing. Then this morning we hear that the little old lady behind us with the guest house was hit. They took her laptop, jewellry, cash and even her car. No word yet on whether she was injured. This is the house where they accessed our property the 1st time we were broken into. We have not put up razor wire there so they cannot get through.

None of us are sleeping. I am in a constant daze…..and I do not see an end to this. It is horrid to live your life in a state of fear, afraid to even sit in your own garden, panicking if you forget to put on the alarm.

My prayers are with my neighbour, I hope she was not injured.

Feet of Clay

I was determined not to let the robbery attempt force me to withdraw into my house, and as a result I had a fab weekend.

Friday night I just chilled at home with Lily and Josh. It’s nice to have family time too.

Saturday the gardener came and I also had a few hours of work to make up, then that evening Retha came to get me and Pierre made some delicious pizza crust which was so nice and crisp, just perfect. He had also made some divine sauce so we all then decorated our own pizzas to our individual tastes. I had ham, black olives, feta, & spinach on top of the mozzarella and tomato sauce, then once cooked I added avocado.

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The gypsy ham from our local Spar went crispy and tasted almost like pancetta. Mmmm. We washed it down with the bottles of Graham Beck bubbly we received in our goody bags from La Mouette twitterati party.

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Today we went off to Clay Cafe, a little gem hidden up a dirt track off of the Main
Rd through Hout Bay. It is a hotspot for kids parties, so if you are kid averse then phone first and ask. There were no parties today so it was relatively quiet. There were all sorts of items to choose from- plates, cups, statues, ashtrays, dishes, teapots and vases. I chose a pâté dish and a bowl. I thought they would be nice when entertaining to be able to put olives, side dishes, all manner of things in both. I used the colors I want for my new kitchen. I chose teal, turquoise and sunflower yellow. The colors of sunshine and happiness and the sea.

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The colors will darken once they have been fired.

We then went to Delish for a late lunch, I had an excellent beef burger with emmenthaler cheese and avocado while Retha had the calamari strips which were quite chunky but looked nice.

I’ve now settled in to watch American Idols while snuggled up with the pups.

I miss my hubby of course but am glad he is getting to see his family. The girls and Josh and I are coping, we all manage to get by. Wherever you are I hope you are surrounded by friends and family, because after all, that is all that matters.

The Heart Knows

I’ve been promising to start blogging again, a public blog, less introspective and more frivolous. So I may as well start today.

The thing most prevalent in my life this week is safety. As most of you know we were robbed by 2 armed drug fuelled African men in January. Until then we had been rather complacent with safety, not very vigilant and possibly even foolish. Despite hearing regular horror stories, we felt safe as we live opposite a security estate, have cameras up and down our road and had our own beams and security in place. But all it takes is one slip – not putting the beams on, not putting the alarm on because you are in and out of the house…just once is all it takes and if the opportunity arises then you can be a victim.

As a result of this incident we beefed up our existing security, added new beams, new sensors, metal slam lock doors and a new system to support the additional items. We met with a security consultant and devised a plan in case it happened again – allocated the paths we take in an invasion, plan what needs to be there in that room etc.

Luckily when the latest incident happened my daughters acted perfectly. Lily shouted at them but did not go near them, Caitlin hit the panic button and ushered everyone into my bedroom and then slammed shut the metal safety door.

The family were nowhere as distressed as we were by the 1st incident, partly because there was no face to face contact and partly because they were not actually in the house – just the property.

The next morning I posted in Hout Bay Organised Facebook group and I received an email from a guy who said he could be at my house at 9.30 am and could sort my door for me. He posted a link to his company page so I could see that he is a professional contractor. He showed up on time and fixed the issues.

I had a call yesterday from the neighbour across the road who told me that she caught the guys on her camera and that they had been in her property the week before, they had lifted her gate off the rollers and entered her property.

So we have some footage of them and hopefully the screwdriver they left at the property after mine will result in them getting an arrest. But even if they do, chances of it resulting in a conviction in this country is slim to none.

It is frustrating but that is just the way it is. I can get annoyed or angry but it does no good. I refuse to just accept it but what are the alternatives?

I phoned the captain of the police station today to tell him about the camera footage and to complain that no one had come to take fingerprints, and that an officer phoned wanting to do so today but this is several days later when the work has been done to repair the door so obviously the door has been wiped clean of fingerprints.

His response is that his systems have been down for days, they have not even had email for a week.

WTF.

This is life in Africa. It moves at its own pace.

The only remaining issue I am left to deal with is the pressure from friends and family telling me enough now, time to move to a more civilised less violent place.

That is not happening. Norm and I gave up so much to return to SA. We lost so much financially and we have given up good careers to come here and earn pennies.

But we made this choice. We want to be near my children. I want to be near my future grandchildren. I want the lifestyle we are able to have in Cape Town. In Europe we made a lot of money and we had a lovely home. But it was NOT my home. I never felt like the UK was a place where I could live forever, it always felt like a stop gap to me.

After over 20 years outside of the USA I can’t imagine going back there to live. The only thing I miss is my family, big spacious houses, air conditioning and 24 hour shopping and that is not a reason to go back.

If we had to leave due to a change in the political climate I do not know where I would want to go. I do not see the point of even contemplating that until forced to do so.

People who have never been to Africa do not understand. It is a country which gets into your blood, your heart, your soul. I love the climate, the people, the rich diversity of cultures.

For now, here I am right where I am meant to be…..