Flying North for the Winter

Most birds tend to emigrate south for warmer climates, but Mandi has always been someone who doesn’t adhere to the ‘norm’ or to what people expect from her. I think that is what bonds us – we never felt the need to be ‘normal’.

I still remember when I met Mandi over 20 years ago in George. I had just moved from Los Angeles to this tiny little town on the coast of Africa. I had met Mandi’s sister Cathi first. We have children of similar ages and we got chatting over the jungle gym and we have remained friends ever since, despite my leaving SA, moving to Northern Ireland, England and then back to South Africa – or Cathi moving to Canada. We will always be in touch and always be friends. Distance does not impact true friendship.

So back to Mandi – she was down in George with her brand new baby Cesco visiting Cathi. I remember she had on some mad stripey wide legged trousers and she had short curly hair and was so quiet. We did not really spend much one on one time or bond then, so fast forward several years to the end of both mine and Cathi’s marriages and we 3 are all now in Johannesburg, Cathi and I are sharing a house and reliving our youth. We were all in our prime and living a mad and crazy life, but having a lot of fun.

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This was the period of my life when I met Norman. We fell in love and I ended up joining him in Northern Ireland, then after a few years we moved to England. Cathi came to visit me there briefly, but Mandi and I did not really stay in contact. Then Cathi and Mandi both ended up in Canada, and life continued for a few years and then I decided to come back to SA.

Norm and I came to Cape Town on holiday first so that I could attend a few job interviews and make some contacts, and I was ever so surprised to hear that Mandi was back in SA, much less that she was living in the same tiny little fishing village where I intended to settle down!

When I first moved back I came without Norm, to set up home and get us settled. I was so grateful to have Mandi here as a side-kick. We would just get up on a weekend and get into the car and go on a road trip.

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It was the start of the South African summer and we explored the coast, the wine farms, and all manner of roads untraveled by us. We never had a plan, or a goal other than having adventures. I even remember once we tossed a coin to decide which way to go at an intersection.

We found some amazing little restaurants, interesting shops and all sorts of fabulousness – problem is we seldom had a clue where we were and could most likely never find them again!

But we had fun.

I had not been back in SA for very long when Mandi invited me to a braai. I did not know anyone there as I knew only a couple of people in Cape Town. Mandi didn’t even know the hosts as they were friends of friends. They all happened to be lesbian but that has nothing to do with anything. We arrived nervous (as one often is with a group of people who all know each other but you do not know any of them). Nervousness leads to excess of alcohol consumption and the food was not forthcoming which made for a dangerous combo and it got a bit messy. I don’t remember a lot of the details, I just know that the next day I realised I had taken someone else’s sunglasses and my head hurt. A lot. I then vaguely remembered shouting at everyone that someone had stolen my cute little Audrey Hepburn cat eye sunglasses and left only ugly sporty ones and I was holding a pair of ugly ones hostage. (Apparently lesbians like sporty sunglasses.)

We then could not find Mandi’s handbag, which put a damper on my stalking off in a huff with random sunglasses. Eventually her bag was found in a kayak. (Don’t ask.) The problem was the kayak was full of water and the car keys (and immobiliser) were in the bag and therefore underwater.

We somehow managed to get the car started and get home and Mandi somehow got into her security gate with her knackered keys. The next day I found my allegedly stolen glasses in my handbag along with the ones I had taken hostage. Oops. I had to phone a total stranger to confess and arrange a hostage handover.

We had Mandi’s leaving party at Polana in Kalk Bay on Saturday night.

This is our Gemini group posing for what may be our last pic together….*sob*
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We have had some majorly crazy nights (and days) there since we have lived in Cape Town. Last time we were at Polana, we ended up dancing with a little gang of dwarf coloured fishermen. This is us before the wheels fell off.

me mands polana

Hanging with the dwarves came in handy when Mandi dropped the entire contents of her handbag on the floor as they were able to nimbly retrieve all belongings from under the dancers’ feet. The party ended when Pixie my Pomeranian jumped out of her bag and peed on the sofa in the middle of the dance floor.

I have endless tales of our crazy adventures. But most of them may not be suitable for public consumption, but they make for some wonderful fun memories.

These are some pics from our last few Halloween parties of me and Mandi acting a fool.
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We have had a visit from Cathi since Mandi and I settled here but a visit is not the same as having your friend just down the road. This was us in 2009.

To mark the end of an era, Mandi and I had one last road trip. We went to The Grand Beach Café for pizza and cocktails.
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We had a lovely lazy afternoon, sitting in the sun on the beach sipping frozen cocktails. What a beautiful life we lead. After that we went to 12 Apostles and had a Pimm’s while sitting on their patio in the sunshine looking out to sea. I wanted Mandi to have memories of the beautiful venues we have in Cape Town.

Mandi will leave a huge gap in my life. Mandi is the friend I call when I need a laugh, the friend I call when I need an adventure, the friend I call when I need a plus one, or just a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen. As soon as Norm tells me he is going away Mandi is the 1st person I ring, either to ask her to stay over with me or to make plans for frivolity and nonsense (or both).

I know that whatever I tell her is safe with her. She will not use my stories to boost up her conversations with other friends; she won’t use me as fodder for gossip.

I can trust her, I can rely on her and I can depend on her.

Except now I can’t. Whatever will I do without her?

But this move is not for my benefit – it is for Mandi’s and I must keep that uppermost in my mind. Mandi needs to be near her sister Cathi, she needs a change of scenery, and she needs to be somewhere else other than SA. It is the end of her SA journey. I know that this is what she wants, and I wish her every happiness and success possible. I hope she finds her soul mate, her perfect home, her perfect life – but most of all I hope she finds contentment, peace and joy.

Bon Voyage my friend – I know we were together in a past life, I have loved our time in this life and I hope we still have unfinished business which leads to our meeting in our next life.

Love you Long Time xx

It’s Just a Jump To The Left

This week kicked off on Monday with a safety talk put on by Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch. The speaker was my friend Kelee Arrowsmith of Advanced Conflict Training. Www.advancedconflict.com/ Advanced Conflict Training Kelee is amazing and I recommend you attend one of her courses if you live in Cape Town.

Wednesday morning the book club girls arranged a belated birthday celebration at Hout Bay Manor. I had delicious Eggs Benedict and we all shared a piece of chocolate cake.

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The girls gave me a voucher for the spa at the Manor.

Thursday I had a meeting with our MD who told me he has a few potential projects lined up for me with 2 new clients. That is exciting as things are wrapping up here on my current project. However that means an end to my working from home. I’ve loved just rattling downstairs and working in my track suits and baggy jumpers.

Friday I went for a mani-pedi with my friend Retha to Le Chic. We have started going together as it means we can have time to chat and catch up. Even though we see each other at events and things we don’t always get chat time.

Saturday was a hen night for our friend Melanie. She is already married to the man of her dreams, they are recognizing their 20th anniversary with a renewal on the beach in Mauritius. What posh friends I have!

We went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Fugard Theatre. http://www.thefugard.com/about-the-fugard-theatre/about-the-fugard-theatre
The theatre is named after one of SA’s best playrights, Athol Fugard. It is a charming ex-church hall in the centre of Cape Town next to District 6, an area rich in Apartheid history.

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The show was too fabulous!! The star was of course Frank N Furter played brilliantly by Brendan Van Rhyn, a massively tall, deep voiced, long legged apparition. He was just amazing! Born to play this role.

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All of the cast were great, with special mention for Janet and Riff Raff, both who were perfectly tuned with the movie version of the characters. And face it, for RHPS no one wants people to do their own interpretation, we want sound and look-a likes.

I sang at the top of my lungs as I have seen this movie and show more times than I can count. They did some very clever graphics so that it looked like Brad and Janet were driving in a car, and a similar thing at the end with Riff Raff and Magenta flying back to Transexual Transylvania. I just loved it. The girls all dressed up for the occasion in tiaras and we made Melanie wear a silly veil.

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After the show we all headed back to Hout Bay to the new restaurant Pescarne. A couple of other ladies joined us and we were all quite festive in our tiaras after a few glasses of wine. The menu was very extensive – mostly meat and seafood as the name implies but lots of options. We decided to have a selection of starters to share. We ordered the prawn, mango and avocado salad, the fried halloumi, carpaccio, tempura prawns, calamari and rice. It was all beautifully presented and really tasty. They also brought plates of pita with pesto for the table. All the cutlery and serving items were Carol Boyce, all very classy and stylish. Chunky silver cutlery and white dinner ware with rich linens.

For my main I ordered the fillet steak with a king prawn on top but I dug in so quick I didn’t get a pic which is a shame as it was so pretty! The prawn was butterflied and grilled and covered in a garlic aioli type sauce heavy with coconut flavour, it was divine! The fillet rested on a bed of mash and was cooked to perfection. It was so rich in taste, it had to have been hung as it was delicious. Everyone seemed to really enjoy their food. We were washing it all down with copious amounts of wine, I was having the La Motte Sauvignon Blanc, an easy drinking, sharp dry wine I love as it is easily affordable.

For dessert many of us ordered the chocolate fondant which came with ice cream and a yummy spun sugar nest.

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I would return just for a repeat of this! It was warm and melting inside, chocolate oozing when cut into. The outside was crispy and light. It really was exceptional.

I had a great night with lots of laughs with my girls, it ended in a panic as I realized I had no house keys to get in and no one was home. I rang Norm who came to rescue me and we collected Navajo from a friend who volunteered to look after him for us.

It has been a busy week and I am enjoying resting today. Enjoy your remaining little bit of weekend everyone. X

Rosemary: Quite Contrary

When I posted my blog earlier in the week, I had completely neglected to mention the drama we had that morning. We were woken by the phone at 7am, it was our neighbour across the street who asked us about the car parked outside our gate. She drives a big van and sometimes struggles to get it turned out of her gate so assumed she was phoning to ask us to move it. But then she told me that someone was in the process of trying to break into it.

Norm was out of bed in a heartbeat, he threw open our upstairs balcony door and started shouting out toward the street. By the time he got dressed and out the crackhead had ran away. (I call him a crackhead, but in reality he is most likely addicted to tik – or methamphetamine as it is known by its proper name.)

I find it interesting that when I wrote my last post I just did not even think to mention this event – I take this to mean that I am no longer worked up about the drama of everyday life in Hout Bay now. I am getting so used to Norman being out with the Neighbourhood Watch it is now commonplace!

The rest of the week passed in a blur and then it was Friday again. We had booked to go to Don Pedro in Woodstock. The reason I wanted to go was because they usually have brilliant entertainment but for some reason there was nothing happening when we went on Friday? Maybe it is only on certain nights, but either way I was a bit disappointed.

We all decided what we wanted to order, and while ordering we mentioned that 3 of us were having the fillet steak, but we did not like rosemary and wanted it to be left off or else served on the side. 2 others in our group are allergic to garlic, so we had a few issues with that. At one point the waitress had gone to ask the chef what was garlic free and then came to tell my friends that virtually everything has garlic as it is a French themed restaurant. I loved my friend’s comeback – she told them that she had spent a lot of time in France and she managed to survive that, so if France could cater for her she was sure this little restaurant could.

The waitress then told me that the sauce already has the rosemary in it, so they cannot leave it out. I then said, but it is a sauce? Just serve the sauce on the side?! (I really really really hate rosemary.)

If I was a person who earned my money based on the size of the bill at the end of the night, I would have done all possible to get the 3 orders of fillet steak (at R140 per plate) instead of any other dish on the menu which were averaged about R75. A bit of a no brainer.

The wine was served and it was warm. We had to ask for ice cubes, I really hate putting ice into a nice glass of wine, but I also cannot drink warm wine.

The kids and I shared some starters – we had chilli poppers, nachos and salt and pepper squid. The chilli poppers were very nice, the batter stayed intact, the pepper was still crispy and they were top notch. The nachos were average – the biggest issue to me as a Yank is when restaurants use chips which are flavoured. That is so wrong!
The salt and pepper squid was divine however! It was so light and soft – it just melted in your mouth.

The main was the previously debated fillet steak.

imageIt was very tender, perfectly cooked and the side veggies were really good – to the point that we were almost fighting over the cauliflower and cheese sauce. There was spinach, crushed new potatoes and cauliflower cheese. Very delicious! The chef even sent out some mushroom sauce for our steaks to replace the rosemary jus. (that even sounds pretentious haha)

The dessert I picksd was the creme brûlée which was one of the best I’ve ever eaten, so creamy and rich, vanilla flavored and with a perfect topping.
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The celebratory candle was a nice touch.

It was very dark in the venue so I did not take many pics of the food. We did however get a pic taken by the roaming photographer on site. Not sure why he dressed us up, but the warm wine had taken effect by now and we were agreeable.

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All in all we had a pleasant evening, we had a lot of laughs and great conversation. (And hopefully no one spat in our food :O )

Snips & snails & puppy-dog tails

This last week has been full of surprises and both good and bad events.

Saturday we had been planning on going to a tweet up at Burrata in The Old Biscuit Mill. I’ve heard good things about their food, but I was also keen on seeing some of my twitter friends whom I had not seen in a while. But then I was told that my son and his girlfriend Amber were coming down to attend their great uncle’s 90th birthday and would be staying with us. I really do hate it when people flake out on a commitment, so we decided we would just pop into Burrata and have dinner and then get home to hang out with the kids, so off we went.

It may have been better if we had cancelled as it ended up with the usual Cape Town event – more people showed than RSVP’d so there was not enough room in the restaurant for us all. In Cape Town you never know which way it will go – either more show than expected or fewer. It makes it very hard to cater. We ended up having to use every chair in the restaurant and the owner was very accommodating.

The menu said that you could make no substitutions on the pizzas – a bizarre idea to me. If I do not like capers, why should I eat them just because the chef things the taste combo on that pizza is not quite perfect without the capers? A bit rigid for my taste. I decided I would rather not have pizza. I was going to try the risotto with crispy pork, granny smith apple and currant vinaigrette. But then the waiter came to tell us the specials and there was wild boar on the menu which in my head was going to be like pulled pork. It was sort of, but it had the gamey taste associated to…well, game. And I did not fancy it.

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Norm kindly offered to swap with me as he had ordered the risotto with crispy pork.

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It was full of flavour. The risotto was perfectly cooked and seasoned. But I found the small chunks of uncooked apple a bit odd – I had expected them to be cooked. It was quite salty as well. Final verdict – it was ‘OK’. Would I rush back to order it again? Nope. The pizzas however looked fabulous, so I will indeed go back for a pizza should I get the opportunity.

We finished off our dinner and then headed home to spend time with the kids. The next morning the girls were all heading off to the Hout Bay Harbour Market, but Trevor and I just relaxed at home. I made pancakes and strawberries in a lovely sauce and we had a nice day.

The kids baby daddy came to collect Trevor and Amber and they headed back to George that afternoon. We then heard the next day that Trevor and Amber’s cat had been hit by a car and killed. I was so sad for them as they had raised Gremlin from a tiny wee ball of fluff and he was like their child. Amber works away and Gremlin is such good company for Trevor when he is on his own. I understand that as my dogs and cats are so special to me and such good companions when on my own.

Our pups have not been well either, they have taken turns now not eating and feeling a bit miserable. We took Panda to the vet as he had the worst of it, but they think it is just a virus and he indeed did perk back up.

My birthday was yesterday and we had to arrange a dog sitter for Navajo as he still cannot be trusted on his own. It is like we have a toddler to deal with. A messy, hair shedding, rambunctious toddler who is full of nonsense. But we do adore him.

I received some fabulous presents, a shelf unit for outside to put plants on, a buddha, a tuareg necklace, some gorgeous little hanging planters and some birds which you stick in plant pots. I then later got some stunning candlesticks from Mandi which match my other art on my mantel piece. Very spoiled!

My daughters had been very sweet and organised 2 dinners for my birthday. The first one was for just family and we opted for a venue where we knew we would have a special meal. We chose Myoga at the Vineyard Hotel. We were going to opt for the 7 course taster menu which can be seen at http://www.myoga.co.za/downloads/dinner_menu.pdf

We had been once before and I had high expectations based on that visit. I quickly found out that the experience was so special the 1st visit due to the staff. We had an amazing waiter who knew that menu inside and out and he also knew food. He spent so much time explaining the menu, answering questions and making sure we were aware of what we were ordering and that our expectations were met.

In contrast the waitress we had last night was clearly just doing a job. She did not smile, she did not converse, she basically gave out the menus, told us we had to order all 7 courses at the start of the evening and we could have time to decide and then wandered off. For what felt like ages.

We all felt a bit shell-shocked by the vast array of choices and just picked something quickly and ordered.

I chose the following for my 7 courses:
The Kataifi prawn, orange gastrique, coriander pesto. This was really nice, plump prawns, crispy coating and a lovely sauce.
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Twice cooked pork belly, apple parsnip puree and bacon chutney. I had hoped by being twice cooked it would be crispy. It wasn’t. It was rather horrid in fact.
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It was gelatinous and fatty. And YES I know pork belly is fatty, but there is fatty and there is fatty.

Next was Steamed mussels in a creamy broth. The mussels were fresh and fat and scrumptious. The broth was incredibly salty. So salty I could not really enjoy it. Which was a shame as I so love that dish normally. But it was not inedible, rather it prevented you from eating the broth only, the mussels themselves were delicious.
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Next was the Prawn and Chive risotto, squid ink emulsion, tempura squid. This was a HUGE portion, more the size of a main. But it was fabulous. The tempura batter was perfectly crunchy, the squid was tender, the risotto was full of big chunks of tender prawn. This dish was a stunner. Unfortunately my phone had died and the pic was taken with no flash 😦

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Next there was a palate cleanser of 5 different sorbets to choose from, I opted for Coconut and lemon. It was fresh and tangy and really yummy.

The Main I chose was due mostly to the sides as I am a red cabbage freak. I went for the BBQ Pork Tenderloin, pan crisped potatoes, sauteed apples, red cabbage, chorizo, red currant jus and chive sauce. It was very nice, the apples kind of threw us as we thought we were eating potato, and thought it very odd in texture til we realised it was apple. Silly us. That is a problem with not having the menu in front of you, you cannot remember what the heck you are eating by the time you get to the 2nd or 3rd course.

Most of us could not finish the main course as it is just such a huge amount of food. I find the portions at La Mouette and Cheyne’s to be perfect – you leave completely full but not so full you feel nauseous. You still have space in your tummy to eat (and enjoy) every course.

I was then presented with an additional course as it was my birthday! The chef had made a plate with what tasted like malva pudding, ice cream and happy birthday written in chocolate sauce. Very cute.

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For my last course I opted for the Trio of sorbet. The desserts were all very elaborate and complicated and after 6 previous courses, I could not face it as the thought of a heavy dessert was too much for me.
The sorbet flavours I received were strawberry, passion fruit and banana, and coconut and lemon.

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It was the perfect decision.

We continue our celebration this weekend when we do a dinner at Don Pedro, that is on Friday so I can actually have a proper knees up as it is not a school night.

We had a lovely evening and I am feeling very blessed and loved. Cheers!

me n norm