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Some people say that climate influences everything. I think add in a beach in the vicinity and that at least doubles that feeling of a relaxed pace when in Cape Town. Move south along the coast from Cape Town a wee bit and you reach our little village, Hout Bay. It is like any other small village where everyone knows everyone’s business, it is 1 degree of separation, never mind 6. With all of these various factors you understand why Hout Bay is such a unique little microcosm.

I have always been rather Virgoish when it comes to my appearance and my home. Here we have a pool in summer, and year round we have 3 very messy dogs, 2 cats and 4 or 5 humans in residence. So my house is far more casual and messy.

For example, Norm has just taken the dogs for a walk and it is very wet. The 2 Poms have just returned and their little bellies are sodden as their hair drags the ground almost. I would have used the doggy mess towel to dry them but it is in the wash as we had used it to clean a Navajo accident as we were out of paper towels due to the other, previous Navajo spills and accidents. There always seems to be a puddle.

In the UK I went to work in tidy 3 piece pinstripe suits, or skirts, heels or boots, always with make up and my hair washed and styled every day.

In Cape Town if I do go to an office I might wear loose linen trousers and sandals. But most days I work from home. I get up and shower and put on a track suit, hair pulled up in a rubber band. No make up, usually no bra and my shoes are fur lined suede house slippers, frequently gnawed on by Navajo.

This week the doorbell rang and I was surprised to see my financial advisor as I had completely forgotten about him. Oops. I was in baggy track suit bottoms, 3 layers of shirts as it was freezing, no bra, and aforementioned slippers. My hair was a bit dirty as I had colored it on Saturday and I like to let it set in a bit before I wash it. The house was as per Sunday evening when we all stomped off to bed at midnight, I was very busy with work so hadn’t even looked in the lounge.

It was a mess.

There were 3 giant dog bones, the dog bed and blanket, each couch had at least 1 blanket on it and there were dirty coffee cups and dog toys everywhere. The bra I wasn’t wearing was draped across the couch. Oops.

I just said ‘excuse the mess’ and he said ‘it’s nice to see a house that is lived in’ which we all know means ‘damn what a mess’.

He sat and Pixie jumped up and lay full on against his leg, which he completely ignored thankfully. Then Panda decided he would jump on Pixie’s head and hump her. He loves to hump but he has no idea why. He does it backward and humps her head.

While we were dealing with this embarrassment Navajo walks up and takes the sheaf of papers in his mouth, right out the guys hand. He looked like I had slapped him across the face with a wet fish. I just yelled ‘drop it’ and luckily Navajo did.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a suit. Or heels for that matter. My lifestyle has changed to suit the ebb and flow of the sea into the bay. Slowly drifting, always shifting.

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Mirror, mirror, on the Wall

This week flew by what with sleepless nights thanks to our puppy. Friday came round so fast, and then Norm advised me he was not willing to leave Navajo alone so he wasn’t coming out with me. We had planned for ages to go to Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor as they were having a soirée to launch their new menu. So I decided to go on my own and my friends offered me a lift.

Before I left that night, I walked into Lily’s room and caught my reflection in her mirror and I thought how thin I was looking in my new jeans. I had just seen myself in the other mirrors and knew the image was deceptive, but still I let myself believe it. Because it was beneficial to my self image and because it helped me be confident. And surely how you look is influenced by how you feel, when you feel confident you walk taller, when you hold yourself straighter you look better. So is outer beauty influenced by your perceptions?

We arrived promptly at 6.30 and snagged a couch by the fire. We had the lovely sparkling wine on arrival, then we had a drink in the bar. Soon we were all ushered into the restaurant and we thought we were finally getting fed, but no. Still no sign of food by 8pm and both Pierre and I have blood sugar issues, when we need to eat we need to eat. So we decided to go to Papino’s. So off we go, arriving to a heaving full restaurant. We were given a table straight away and then forgotten. We tried waving our arms frantically in the air to no avail. We could see people walking in to the take out counter and ordering yet we had no visibility to the staff. We finally found the menus and decided what we wanted but no one arrived after 20 minutes. By then we just couldn’t cope and the friend who was driving wanted to go. So off we went home.

As well as us, we saw a lot of people leaving Pure, free wine and no food is a risky combo. Then today we see people saying how fabulous the food was and I am sorry we didn’t just stick it out another half hour, them we would have had a great night. If we had waited a few minutes with either scenario we would be fed. A lesson that anticipation is half the wait. That makes no sense – is that a saying or another Lisa-ism?

That so many people can perceive the same event so differently? The same sleight of mirror as the one in Lily’s room I suspect, we believe what we choose and react how we wish.

My daughters went to a birthday party Friday night and got home very tipsy at 2am so I was concerned about Lily waking for our hair appointment in the CBD at MOP Hair. I was right to be concerned as Lily was feeling a bit rough. But we made our 10am appointment and we both had our hair done and I treated Lily to a pedi. After we had been going for lunch but decided to opt for take outs. We stopped at Jason’s bakery but as it was after noon nothing was left except lamb.

We popped across the street to Cafe Frank. We ordered 2 club sandwiches on bagels and coffees to go. We somehow ended up with one chicken mayo and one club sandwich but never mind they were halved so we each had a half of each. They were delicious! But very very messy. You could never eat it dressed in work clothes unless very carefully or with a fork. The sauce dripped from it, a tangy blend which tasted of Dijon mustard. The chicken mayo had loads of dill slices and the club had perfectly crispy bacon. The coffees were perfect, strong, not bitter and with a rich creamy topping of foam. We also had cookies to share which were very nice as well. Definitely a place to be recommended if in the city centre and you want something filling yet quick.

Tonight we are building a big fire and getting Chinese food. Cozy night in with the family in order. Last night even Lola came in and chilled on the settee unbothered by the presence of Navajo. Slowly we are all settling into our pack.

The Kindness of Strangers

The same as the weather is a standard topic of conversation in the UK, crime is always an area of common ground when making small talk in South Africa. It is rife and you don’t have to go 6 degrees of separation to find a person who has been a victim, almost everyone you talk to has either been a victim of it themselves or has a close friend who has.

Even so, when my domestic goddess Cordelia arrived at work on Tuesday morning and told me that she had been hit on the weekend it still wrenches your gut. Cord is a very religious devout Christian. She goes to church on Saturday evening and her daughter who is 17 is afraid to stay on her own in the shack. So she goes to stay with a friend when her Mom is out. Luckily she was at her friend this weekend as they had their front door to their shack pried open with a crowbar and everything they own smashed to bits. They stole their television and DVD player, and took her daughters suitcase where she stores all of her clothes. The timing could not have been worse as both Caitlin and Lily had cleaned out their closets and given Cord 2 big black bags full of cute clothes they did not want any more. Cord’s daughter had been so excited. I had even given her 2 lovely down insulated jackets to keep her warm on a school trip – and everything including her school uniforms was taken.

The criminals broke all of her chest where she keeps her belongings and trashed the shack. They even stole the meat she had in the fridge for their Sunday dinner.

I was so upset about it so I posted on Facebook about what happened. I then started getting people sending me messages to say they have some clothes, can they drop them off? Lily went back through her cupboard again and found a few more things to pass on as well. I gave Cord enough money to buy her daughter a school uniform as she cannot go to school without it and I did not want her to miss any more school. I hated the thought that Cordelia would have to spend most of her weeks wages to replace the uniform.

Then a miraculous thing happened, a friend who had left SA to move to the UK asked if he could send some pounds sterling via PayPal. I found a friend willing to let me use his account and then another friend sent some Australian dollars to the PayPal account.

I have been so touched by the kindness of strangers willing to reach out to help another stranger. I have not told Cordelia about any of it yet, she did get the cash for the uniforms and 2 bags of clothes yesterday from Lily and my friend Dawn, but the cash from my friends overseas and the other clothes will be given to her on Friday. I am just so grateful that people have responded so kindheartedly.

I am trying to focus on the positivity of the people helping rather than the anger directed towards the animals who did the criminal activity. Karma will have to deal with them and I will choose to stay focused on the positive.
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Leader of the Pack

Last week I had my 1st day alone with Navajo for an entire day, we have now moved over to feeding all of the dogs the raw diet the breeder had used for Navajo and her dogs. It seems a great idea but the actuality of having to handle everything from kidneys to sheep’s ears is a bit much. But 4 times a day I man up, chop veggies and fruit and make some mealy meal and mix it in the meat. The dogs love it! But it is a full time job almost.
Our lives have changed so much since we brought home Navajo. He is a lovely, clever dog but having a puppy, especially such a large lumbering puppy, means that you have to be there for him.

Friday was a public holiday here, and I had lunch plans and was very happy my domestic arrived as I did not expect her too and was in a quandary about what to do with Navajo while I was out. Paying double time was well worth the freedom!!

My friend Mandi and I went for the Women’s Day lunch at Pure at Hout Bay Manor Hotel. I love this venue, the décor is so lovely, the staff are so attentive and the food is always fab. The sun was shining and it was a gorgeous warm day so we chose to sit outside by the pool.
me at pure

We shared a salad to start, it was just a normal garden salad but a bit fancied up suitable for the venue.

Then for my main I had a fillet steak which came with these fancy wee mushrooms and roasted baby tomatoes and chips. There was a little puddle of the most divine sauce, very intense so only a drop was needed to accentuate the flavour of the beef. It was so tender and just melted in my mouth.

fillet pure

There is a special on during the month of August for cake and coffee for R20. That of course cannot be beaten it is so cheap. On Friday they had lemon meringue, chocolate cheesecake or brownies fresh out of the oven. We had a bit of banter with one of the managers about dessert, I told him that as an American I know my brownies. And outside of the USA they are never quite up to standard. He then tried to convince us to try the homemade olive oil ice cream. We resisted his charms and both ordered the chocolate cheesecake. He did bring us a little taster of the olive oil ice-cream which I did not enjoy – it was like olive oil mixed into butter. I found it very heavy and not to my taste. But the cheesecake was so delicious! We made the right choice there.

pure cheesecake

It had a thick topping of solid chocolate and was so rich and delicious. It had a bit of coulis – I think it would have been better with a bit more coulis as it was so decadently rich – the sharpness of the coulis lifted it to perfection.

We had a lovely day chatting over a bottle of wine from which is one of my favourite vineyards. My absolute fave wine is their Chardonnay and I do not even usually like Chardonnay as I find it too oaky and heavy. It is completely without any taste of oak and it is crisp and fruity and dry. Pure does not have their Chardonnay but the Sauvignon Blanc was divine.

Saturday we had to run errands and had a dilemma about leaving Navajo so off he went with us. It was a cool day luckily so he was happy enough going out with us. We went to Gabriella’s for breakfast and the staff were brilliant, they brought him a big bowl of water and I bought a treat for him at the pet shop so he was so well behaved. He lay at our feet and watched the world go by. A rather rude woman came past and complained that we had a water bowl for him as she said it should be under the table so no one slips. What a miserable old cow. I wanted to have a go but Norm restrained me.

Instead we enjoyed our Eggs Benedict.

egg
I resorted to shooting her daggers with my eyes instead of using my butter knife as an instrument of death. I am like a mother lion when it comes to my babies.

We had some friends come to visit to meet Navajo that afternoon. It was nice to see them and nice to socialise Navajo a bit. He is still such a baby and I want him to be comfortable around strangers.

On Sunday we had planned to go to the Hout Bay Harbour Market with friends. I have found that lately the market is just too busy to be enjoyable. I can cope with the crowds shopping but if you want to eat or watch the band it is impossible to get a seat, and as there were 6 of us it was nightmarish. We wandered round getting annoyed and then wondered why we even were bothering and went off to The Lookout Deck instead. We got a table right by the window and ordered some cocktails.

cocktail view

The Lookout Deck had a special on crayfish tails. For my non-South African readers, this is not a crawfish, it is the SA equivalent of a lobster. The deal was that you get 1 and a half tails for the price of 1. And it came with butter sauce for dipping and chips or rice.

crayfish

It was so yummy! The only issue was that 2 of our friends ordered sushi and it was not delivered with the cooked items for the other 4 of us, in fact we 4 had all finished our food and still no sign of their food. This is not acceptable – a table needs to be served at the same time, not in shifts. After we had a word with the manager the sushi not only arrived but was taken off the bill. That was beyond what I had expected and I was very impressed with the professional way the manager dealt with it. Big up to their response when dealing with it.

We had a lovely day and it was great to catch up with our friends. Life is so busy we often just do not make the time to do so.

We are waking up so early now and our routines are built around the dogs – Navajo is being crate trained and he wakes up and tells us he needs to wee, Norm takes him down and outside, then takes him for a long morning walk as he needs so much exercise, then they all settle down for breakfast.

We have had a bit of backlash from people about using crate training, but he was raised sleeping in one and it is familiar to him. Last night we realised he was nowhere to be seen and like a naughty toddler, silence is not golden when they are on the loose! We went upstairs to find him sound asleep in his crate. Obviously the family were too noisy for him to have a snooze in his giant bed in the lounge.

The cats are terrified of Navajo, but there is no need to be. He has never seen a cat in his life before he arrived here and when he did get a glimpse of Blue, Navajo screamed like a little girl and jumped in my lap whimpering. We have had to gently introduce them all to each other and I hope it works.

Navajo torments poor Panda. He nips him on the bum and the ankles and then Panda squeals or snarls and then they do it all over again and again. He slams his giant paw down onto Panda’s head trying to get him to play but Panda is not having it, he does not know what to do with this large beast. Pixie is doing her best to remain dominant; she even defends Panda and will sit between them if Navajo is being particularly obnoxious. However she does play fair and when Navajo whimpers or cries she goes over to comfort him. There are some moments of peace and bonding, or maybe it is just temporary tolerance.
bones

We are hoping that they do bond, that they form a pack and that he will become a brave little soldier to defend us – after all that is why we bought him.

New Member of the Family

Our project had a go live this week so I worked a lot of overtime. By Friday I was exhausted and luckily finished early. The weather has been glorious so I snuggled up in my sunny bedroom and had a snooze in the sun.

Norm went out to get sushi for Lily and I and we just had a chilled out night at home watching movies. I needed the down time and it was good to spend time with Lily as she had been away most of the week.

Saturday we had made an appointment to go and meet the breeder of Swiss Shepherds I had been chatting to online. It was in the northern suburbs so off we went with Pixie and Panda in tow. We were planning on buying one of the new litter of only 2 weeks in age, but we met a gorgeous little boy of 11 weeks, Ivanhoe. She had him for breeding purposes so she wasn’t willing to sale him. But we hit it off so well she offered him to us, with a clause for us allowing her to use him for breeding. She wants to preserve his bloodline as he is highly intelligent. She plays all sorts of games with the pups to test their intelligence and nature. So he is going to be our dog. How cute is he? We have decided to name him Navajo in honour of our Native American heritage and to keep the name similar to what he is used to.

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He will grow to be huge. We will have him go for extensive training. We can’t have a dog that size with manners as bad as our Pomeranians or it will be unmanageable. I can’t wait for him to come live with us. We just need to get the bits and pieces sorted then we will collect him this week.

After our morning with the dog we headed back to Hout Bay. We dropped the gardener off at home and went to our new local pub The Woodcutters Arms for a late lunch / early dinner.

We sat outside in the beer garden as it was a lovely day. We decided to have a proper meal and let that be our only meal of the day, so we both had starters. Norm had the scotch eggs which I did not fancy at all as I am not a fan of sausage. But he seemed to enjoy them

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I had the warm Camembert which was served with a large bit of French stick and some berries which I think were cranberries. They had a lot of orangey marmalade taste but also a heavy taste of cloves, one of my most hated tastes. Blah. So I had the heavy rich cheese just with the bread and I found that a bit much. It needed the fruit to lift it.

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For my main I had the chicken which came with mash and spinach. The sauce as very rich and tasty, slightly salty for my taste but all in all it was yummy. The mash was lovely and creamy and the spinach was delicious. I love spinach. The dish certainly was a standard above what I would call ‘pub grub’.

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We stayed there til sundown and then it got a bit chilly outside so we headed home. Saturday evening we had a family night at home.

Sunday Norm’s colleague arrived in Cape Town and we were all invited out for breakfast at Bistro Sixteen82, we had eaten lunch there before but not breakfast.

There were 8 of us and we opted to sit outside as it was a stunning morning.

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The menu is limited, only a handful of choices. Norman and I both opted for the Eggs Benedict, my fave breakfast choice. It came with pork belly bacon which sounded interesting and it tasted divine! I cut off the fat and it tasted like a tender gammon. The hollandaise was perfect, not overwhelmingly lemony or tart. It came on a crispy rosti and with grilled sliced rosa tomatoes.

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We had several cappuccinos and lots of chat. We were a very cosmopolitan group: Scottish, English, American, Australian and several South Africans of Indian descent. We had a lovely morning and then Norm had to deal with his visitors so I am happy to just relax the rest of the afternoon. This week is a 4 day week so that will be a nice change. I hope you had a great weekend too!