Cinder-Cinderella

The last few days really sum up what it is like living in South Africa. The highs, the lows and the chaos and calmness in-between these polar opposites.

We had plans this weekend to go away to the wine lands a few hours outside of Cape Town. We were invited to a charity function in Somerset West on Saturday night and we decided that as it would finish late and we would want to have a drink, that we should rather stay over. We booked in for the night to NH Lord Charles Hotel.

We had understood that the function was black tie and neither Norm nor I had sussed out what to wear by that morning when we needed to pack. Norm has a tuxedo as well as his kilt so he thought he would be fine. I had in my mind a long silver silk skirt and top I wanted to wear. When we got up on Saturday we tried them on. My skirt was too big and the top was unflattering. Norm’s tux jacket fit fine, but his dress shirt and his trousers were a bit big. The trousers also had an old fashioned wider cut than the narrow style of men’s trousers now. But as it is Cape Town, we figured there would be all sorts of attire there and we were not wrong.

I dragged a dress I bought many years ago for a black tie event in the UK out from the depths of my cupboard . It is tea length but it is heavily beaded and so beautiful that it is acceptable as evening wear. I had not been able to fit into it in years, but I kept it because it was so expensive and my daughters have worn it for several 1920’s themed events. I thought, ‘let me just see how tight it is’ and tried it on and it fit me perfectly! I think it is looser than when I bought it many years ago. I was really chuffed about that but that meant I needed tights and I had none. We needed to stop at a shop somewhere on our journey.

We had a coffee in bed and then got up and showered and packed to go. The dogs mooched around staring at us with big sad eyes, when they see a suitcase they know exactly what is coming and they do not like it one little bit. Even though they love Vanessa and Robyn our house sitters, they love us more.

We packed the car and hit the road, dropping off a house key to our house sitter and then stopping quickly for me to buy some tights and get some cash and then we were on our way. Traffic was not bad at all and we were there in no time.

After we checked in we waited in the room for the bellboy to drop off our bags and then we headed off to the lobby to get a bite to eat. We were so surprised to find that the pub was called St Andrews pub! Norm was born and raised near St Andrews so we had to snap a pic.

We grabbed a seat in the lobby and ordered a drink. The lobby was very stylish and bright with cool sofas and chairs.

Our friends attending the dinner also arrived and joined us and we all ordered some sandwiches to tide us over until that night’s dinner.

Little did we know at that time the sandwich was far better than the dinner we would have later.

We all went back to the room to relax for a few minutes and get dressed and then Norm and I headed off to find the ballroom.

The ballroom was huge and there were loads of large tables set up but it was very well organised and we spotted our names on the board outside and easily found our group. There were 23 tables of at least 8 to 10 people each so it was a large crowd attending. We got settled in and poured a glass of wine and waited with great expectation.

As it was a charity fund raiser for Gabriella Centre, there was both a loud and silent auction on that evening and Norm and I wandered around looking at the items available but most were a bit too rich for our blood. The items mostly ranged from leather goods, wine, art, makeovers, and trips. There was a trip for 10 people to go on safari, complete with 5 air conditioned chalets. You still had to get all 10 of you there but if you had the cash this was a bargain of a prize!

The dinner was served buffet style. Strike one as I detest a buffet, especially at a function where you end up queuing to dish up from a mauled over vat of what is often overcooked food. The food was not very good. The meat was fatty and tough, the pasta overcooked and the chicken pie had a crust that tasted like it was made of Plasticine (aka playdough to you yanks).

But this event was not about the food, it was about raising funds for Gabriella’s Centre.  Gabriella Centre is a Residential and Day Care facility for children and young adults with profound Physical and Intellectual Disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy.

There were 2 different entertainment acts booked. The first was South African icon PJ Powers.

PJ Powers is a name that most South Africans over the age of 40 all know. My kids had never heard of her, nor did Norm and I know much about her other than the ‘World in Union’ song she sang for the 1995 Rugby world cup.

The South Africans seemed to love her and really enjoy it. Norm and I thought she talked too much and in quite a rambling fashion so to those of us who are not familiar with her history it was hard to follow. But she has a great voice. She had a famous drummer called Barry Van Zyl doing her percussion. Barry lives in Hout Bay but he has a great CV and has played with some amazing artists.

We had understood it was black tie but today I see that it says the dress code is ‘Cocktail’. Well that explains the men there in jeans and trainers! In Cape Town whatever the dress code, there will be someone who rocks up in jeans. If summer you may even get some shorts. Fashion has predominately passed Cape Town by. This was also evident by the number of women with bouffant 1990’s hair. You know the slick down the front and bouffant up the back style that was horrid back then? It is even more horrid now.

Anyway, I am not being very charitable. Norm and I made the effort and he was in a tux and I was in my beaded frock. The lighting was pink and so all of us have a rosy glow in my pics.

After PJ finished performing they held the auctions. There was so much money raised, it was brilliant to see the bids climb so high!

After the auctions finished they had a band called The Rites come on to get us all up for a boogie. They were such fun. They played loads of party songs to get you up and on the dance floor. Norm and I danced and danced to most of them. They were not a band you would pay to go and watch perform as they were not technically perfect, but they had soul, heart and enthusiasm and so we had a blast.

The night finished after midnight and we all happily wandered off to our rooms a bit tipsy but smiling. We had plans to meet at 9am the next morning for breakfast.

Despite the many vodkas I had that evening I could not get to sleep. I watched 3am go by and think I slept about 4 hours in total. I missed my own pillow and my snoring Pomeranians I guess.

We went down and had a lovely breakfast with some of the group we had dinner with. There was a whole section of different breads and pastries, a section with yogurts and toppings, a section with fresh fruit and juices and even champagne. There was a chef to make an omelette or whatever egg variety you wished for and next to him was a whole counter of cooked foods being kept piping hot in bain-maries. There was scambled eggs, bacon, sausage, halal food, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns. The service and the quality of the food was top notch. If they ran out of anything you just had to mention it and it was promptly restocked.

After breakfast we packed up and hit the road. Norm and I had decided to take our time getting home and go for a drive as we do not venture to that side of Cape Town very often. We drove to Stellenbosch and had a drive through town looking at all of the historic buildings but most of the shops were shut as it was Sunday so we decided not to stop. We drove through a national park and then up a mountain pass and then headed to Paarl.

As we drove along we spotted the Franschhoek Wine Tram tootling along the road on the train tracks next to us! We have wanted to do this tour for a while now so we will plan that adventure soon. Basically it is a hop on hop off tour around the wine farms in the area.

Norm seemed to know where he was going so I just relaxed and let him drive us about. He did seem to be looking for some place in particular however and eventually he turned into Drakenstein Correctional Centre. I saw the signs and wondered where he was heading (is he going to lock me up?) and then I looked up and saw the statue of our beloved Nelson Mandela.

The prison is famous for being the location where Nelson Mandela spent the last part of his imprisonment for being a political terrorist. We showed our solidarity and support for Madiba and the horrors of apartheid.

We tried to take a selfy with us both in it but the sun was coming at us and I was blinded.

Yeah, that did not work out too well. Sorry Madiba, no disrespect intended.

We decided as we were so near to see if we could get a table at Fairview as we love their Goatshed restaurant and philosophy on food. We were given a lovely seat outside. It was cool but sunny and perfect weather for dining alfresco.

Norm was a bit in the sun but as it was cool he could cope. Isn’t he cute?

We had a perfect view of the goat tower where the goats can trundle over a bridge from their pasture to climb and cavort.

Norm chose the Gammon sandwich: Smoked gammon slices, pickled cucumber, sweet mustard, tomato for R84. This looked divine and when I saw mine I was a bit jealous.

I am a pulled pork fanatic and so I ordered the ‘BBQ pulled pork, baby leaves, tomato, pickled cucumber & fried egg’ for R88.

It was not at all what expected when it arrived. The fried egg was a surprise as I had not read past ‘pulled pork’ in the description and the pork was chopped rather than pulled. It was also covered in a sauce, so I guess that was the ‘BBQ’ part of the description.

Once I got my head adjusted to what I was eating I got stuck into it. It may not have been what I expected, but when I removed my expectations and just ate it, it was very nice indeed! The pork was more like gammon than pork roast and it had a lot of fat on it but it was very tender and cooked perfectly.

We were surrounded by nature and fabulous views. I felt a bit like Cinderella as there were squirrels climbing above and around us on the vines and there were loads of tiny birds hopping on the tables and drinking from the trough of water that runs around the patio. I would not have been surprised by the appearance of a Fairy Godmother or a pumpkin.

After we finished our lunch we had a walk around the farm and a visit to the notorious scarecrow.

It was a lovely day and a perfect end to a fabulous weekend.

On Monday I woke at my usual time and feeling a bit tired I headed into the city for work. As I got to the roundabout just outside of the police station I noticed some strange things going on around me and ahead of me was chaos. As I pulled into the roundabout a taxi pulled in behind to block me moving back out.

There was a large 4×4 in front of me and he obviously saw clearly what was happening and he drove over the centre divider and went around the roundabout on the wrong side of the road, entered the other road on the wrong side of the road and managed to escape the protest. I then cottoned on to what was happening and went into panic mode. Honey I was almost holding onto Mr 4×4’s tail pipe and I stayed right with him, shrieking and swearing loudly in my car, willing to drive over whatever or whomever got in my way. This is the same roundabout where they often throw bricks through driver’s windows so it is not a place to linger even in times of peace.

After I got to work I read this post: “The blockade at the Imizamo Yethu traffic circle is allegedly as a result of Hout Bay-Wynberg Taxi Association drivers being threatened with guns in the early hours of this morning, Monday July 30. Sources told the Sentinel that drivers from the Codeta-aligned associations threatened Hout Bay operators with rifles and other firearms. These operators then rallied other Hout Bay drivers, who immediately blockaded Main Road in an attempt to prevent the alleged perpetrators from leaving the area. There is a heavy police presence on the scene. Attempts are being made to bring a negotiation between the two taxi groups.”

By the time I came home, peace was restored again.

So in a matter of days my experiences ranged from fabulous to terrifying. That pretty much sums up life in Cape Town. Whatever happens, you will never be bored.

Until next time, kisses from the (rather bedraggled) Kitten xoxoxoxox

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Light & Dark

Cape Town is one of those cities where the weather can be very unpredictable especially at this time of year. We were delighted with the sunny weather we have had recently after our bout of much needed rain. My garden is lush and green,  the lawn is mostly weeds but at least they are green weeds!

I was so tired on Friday after our busy week last week that Norm and I decided to just stay in and relax after I got home from the chiro. Saturday we had a lazy morning in bed drinking coffee and then Norm got busy with chores. He has been  sanding down the garage door so that he can re-stain it. It had a lot of sun damage and was looking a bit tired so Norm decided to freshen it up.

We decided to go out for dinner that night and headed to Constantia. We went to Primi. It is a chain so you know what you are getting and the food is generally always good. As we had gone out early we got a table, the place filled up soon after we arrived.

We ordered drinks and settled in.

We both ordered the Chicken Campagnola: Chicken scallops sautéed in garlic, mustard, mushrooms, rosemary, parsley, cream and white wine. Served with linguine and roasted vegetables. The veggies come in a separate bowl.

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Chicken Campagnola

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Norm ordered his with zucchini fries instead of pasta.

After we finished our mains we decided to treat ourselves to dessert. I ordered the  Crème Brûlée: Traditional baked custard with a crisp caramelised sugar crust. It was R48. It had a nice taste and lovely creamy texture.

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Creme Brûlée ❤️

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Norm ordered the cheesecake. On the menu as ‘Cheesecake: Thick and creamy baked cheesecake, topped with summer berries’. It was R58.

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Cheesecake

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Norm did not enjoy this dessert at all. The fruit on top was either heated too long or had too much gelatin in it or something else went wrong in the preparation as it was like toffee in texture, really thick and chewy. Very strange. He actually moved it off his cheesecake (with a thud) and ate around it.

We waited ages for them to clear our plates. One of my annoyances. We find the same issue often occurs at this particular Primi. The staff are very eager on arrival, your drinks order and food order is taken promptly, your food arrives relatively quickly, and then it is as if you become invisible. We always have to flag someone down to take away our plates. The waiter did not try to up-sell, he did not offer dessert or coffees, he did not offer bottled water or another round of drinks. When we asked to order dessert we had to shout our order at him quickly before he disappeared as he was running away while taking our order.

Anyway, we got fed and then we headed home.

Sunday I had a busy itinerary but on Saturday night I was up a few times in the night with a dodgy tummy, most likely due to all of the sugar in the Crème Brûlée. Hence I was not feeling strong enough to go to drumming that morning. It always disappoints me to miss my drumming as it soothes my soul.

I stayed in bed and Norm made us French Toast and bacon.

That perked me up and after a few hours my tummy settled down and we decided on going to the other engagements we had planned for the day.

We were off to a farewell picnic for our friends Hila and Jack who are emigrating to Germany. The picnic was being held in the Green Point Urban Park.

When we went outside to leave I was hit by a wave of heat and I realised it was incredibly hot. You do not feel the heat in our thick walled farmhouse. I went back inside to change my top but I kept on my boots (mistake) as they are the most comfortable shoes for walking and with my already knackered back I thought that should be my priority.

We arrived in the city and drove around and around the area of the park for ages looking for parking. It was so busy and crowded it seemed the whole of the city also wanted to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. We got a message from our friend Di who was meeting us there as she and I already had plans to meet for coffee before the picnic was arranged. Norm dropped me at the gate where Di was waiting and she and I wandered off to find Hila and Jack. Eventually Norm found a place to leave the car a few blocks from the lighthouse and hiked back to meet up with us. The park was very sunny and none of us pale faced oldies can endure the heat so we did not stay long. Me, Di and Norm walked across the park to the next gate and went to Newport Deli at Mouille Point.

We sat upstairs so that we could look out over the park and the sea views.

We all ordered a Freezerchino for R40 which is a delicious icy coffee, perfect for the hot weather.

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Iced coffees ❤️

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Norm had the cheesecake and Di and I had the carrot cake. Norm said that the cheesecake was better than the one at Primi but was not that nice. He gave it 3 stars.

The carrot cake was tasty and the icing was divine, however the cake itself was a wee bit dry. It may not have been fresh made that day.

Di, Norm and I sat for ages catching up and chatting. Di and I have so much in common and we both see the world with our eyes open – even our third eye! She and I both have the ability to sense things and see things that most people do not see. We both have extrasensory bullshit detectors as well and see things in people that most people choose NOT to see, those hidden, dark layers many try to keep covered. We see them.

After we finished eating and chatting we went outside to wait for Di’s uber to arrive and then after she was safely on her way Norm and I walked down along the seaside to our car and headed home.

Caitlin went to George for the weekend as it was her and Lily’s friend Jess’ wedding. I have such beautiful daughters.

Lily was one of the bridesmaids and the girls all looked so stunning.

Jess was such a beautiful bride.

I still have all of that ahead, however, Lily may be the only one of my 3 who opts for a proper wedding, the other 2 are making noises that they may have a registry wedding and a reception dinner and save their money as a wedding can be so crazy expensive. As I had 2 rather unconventional weddings myself I can hardly object!

Monday morning when I got ready to leave for work the gate key was not on the shelf where it normally is kept. As Norm had locked up I had to wake him to ask about the key. He got up and stumbled around (naked) looking for the key. He leaned around the banisters to see if the keys were left in the lock, took a misstep, swung round said banisters and tripped and fell down a few steps. This triggered the house alarm, which triggered hysteria with the dogs. The alarm was screeching, the dogs were howling, and a naked man was flailing about. It was one of those horrific yet hilarious moments. I was frightened that he fell right down the full set of steps and hurt himself, but the sight of a naked man bouncing around can be pretty funny.

He was not so amused. But at least he wasn’t injured (other than his pride).

This week I started watching a new Netflix series called Dark Tourist. I binge watched it and made it through the whole series.

Dark tourism has been defined as ‘tourism involving travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy’. The host is New Zealander David Farrier.  The show travels to various countries and either does proper tours where available or finds a guide to assist him in gaining entry to some of these nefarious places.

One of the last episodes was filmed in Africa and the last was filmed in America. Both of these episodes touched on people driven by fear, bigotry or religious fervor.

The Africa episode visited North Africa to experience a voodoo ceremony which looked very intimidating. A lot of animals are sacrificed to appease the gods which I found difficult to watch. The ceremony was quite violent, bloody and aggressive with those who are possessed slashing their skin with knives. But then Christian exorcisms are also sometimes violent so maybe regardless of your religion all removals of bad spirits involves this sort of physical battle?

The next stop on the Africa tour was in Orania, an enclave of right wing Afrikaners, the people who conceived and implemented apartheid in South Africa. The community started settling in the area in 1991 and after the democratic elections in 1994 it became evident that their narrow world was changing and many of the people raised in the apartheid era could not fathom living side by side with people of colour, or  people of colour having the same rights and privileges as they did, as the Afrikaners seem to view themselves as the superior race. The residents speak of ‘the good old days’ which basically just means the days when whites ruled and people of colour were treated like animals or inferior beings.

As inconceivable and extreme as this community is, there is another which seems even sadder to me. David interviewed a family who are part of the Suidlanders civil defense organisation group. This group seem a bit like a cult to me, they follow the prophesies of Siener van Rensburg, an almost illiterate uneducated Afrikaner who allegedly had visions, one of which was predicting white genocide. The founder and head of the Suidlanders is Gustav Zietsmann Muller. The family that were interviewed seemed to be verging on hysteria. The mother cried through every conversation and prayer. They held a rather chaotic cluster feck of an exercise where the community rehearsed an evacuation, packing their cars with the food, water and weapons they will need to stave off this imaginary attack and then moving off in their giant trucks as a convoy. They bumbled about, eventually realizing that all of the trucks were pointing towards the imaginary ambush rather than towards the planned escape route. After much negotiation they finally headed off on their pretend ambush. Eventually they all ended up around a campfire with a preacher shouting at them, instilling yet more fear and nonsense.

The final episode visited the States and went to Kentucky to visit The Ark. Yes, an ark. Obviously not THE Ark. Again, we see the levels of bigotry among the religious extremism groups. They talk about how being homosexual is depraved and that sexual behaviours such as infidelity and promiscuity were the reasons that their lord decided to drown everyone except Noah, his family and the dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. FFS. Words fail me. Do facts not matter at all to the religious zealots? They have other models of animals that they say were also on the ark, but I could not get past the dinosaurs. Read a book other than the bible people! (And yes I know the bible does not whitter on about dinosaurs, these eejits say it is the dragons that the bible mentions which are actually dinosaurs.)

The next visit was to other extremists, Doomsday Preppers. Many of the people who adhere to this belief also do so in the name of religion but all are driven by fear.

I found it a very interesting series and I will give it 4 Kitten Stars.

Norm has been great about cooking for us. He made baked chicken, brussel sprouts and roast sweet potatoes on Monday. On Tuesday he made chicken sausage, sweet potato mash and coleslaw. Wednesday night he had been busy working and had not shopped so we got takeaways from Posticino. I felt like I have been eating a lot of meat so I chose the melanzane parmiagiana and the caprese salad. No pasta and no meat = thumbs up.

It was really good and even though it was listed as a starter it was a huge portion, enough for my lunch the next day.

On Thursday Norm cooked again, pork roast, cauliflower mash, steamed broccoli and mushrooms cooked in butter.

This week has flown by. I’m happy Friday is finally here. We are invited to a charity dinner with our friends this weekend and we are both really looking forward to that. I will tell you all about it in my next post.

Until then, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox

Gathering No Moss

This week has been a hectic one. Last Friday afternoon I left work a little bit early as I had an appointment with my chiropractor. He managed to unlock my stiff back a bit but advised me to take it easy and put an ice pack on my back when I got home. I had to make an appointment to go back the following Monday. Once I got home Norm made a little ice pack for me and I applied it to my sore back and we quite literally chilled out in front of a warm fire as it was pouring with rain.

Norm had a very exciting day while I was off at work that day. He had gotten involved in an attempt to apprehend a robber at Mainstream, our main shopping area in Hout Bay. A dodgy character has been hanging out with a knife in the basement parking area and approaching people and taking their handbags or phones or whatever he can get from them. Norm was part of the chase and he came around a corner to find the guy sitting down on the pavement putting on his shoes, Norm shouted at him and the guy bolted right past him, dropping his rather large scary knife. Unfortunately he got away again but fortunately Norm was not injured in the process.

We had an easy morning drinking coffee in bed on Saturday until the doorbell rang and Norm remembered that we had workmen coming to repair the garage roof.

We then went downstairs to build a fire and watch the Royals tolerate the arrival of Trump the Twat and his prostitute companion.

It says so much about how the Queen received the Obamas vs the lower budget version of greetings she gave the Trumps. The Obamas had a proper state visit with her and Phillip collecting the Obamas in the Royal Land Rover as compared to this visit which was much like Trump himself: all flash, little depth.

But how much has this little adventure cost the UK taxpayers? Some say upwards of 30 million pounds, the cost of the Scotland foray alone was confirmed at up to 5 million quid. We can monitor this page for the results once published. Whatever the UK paid, it was not worth it. I would pay to stay away from the chief kitty grabber.

Trump was such an embarrassment (again). He would have been briefed on protocol but was probably either still under the sunbed or getting his hair backcombed and did not hear it.

He left a 92 year old woman standing in the sun for 15 minutes while he fecked about. He did not bow to acknowledge her once he finally sloped in, he then walked in front of her and roamed vaguely around the military grounds and then wandered off in the middle of the final salute from the guard. He then later went on telly and gossiped about his private conversations with the Queen. He is a clueless feckwit.

He then went on to talk about how strong and powerful Putin was the night before with him and….oh wait. He said that Putin claimed he is innocent regarding interference and tampering with the US elections. He then said he believes Putin over his own staff and the FBI. And still his believers keep making excuses for him.

Anyway we enjoyed the scenes of pomp and circumstance from Windsor as they bring back our memories of Norman’s investiture ceremony at Windsor.

It started drizzling with rain and the repairmen had to pack up and go. Later in the afternoon Norm answered a neighborhood watch call about an African woman ringing doorbells on the road behind us. They said she seemed distraught. There is a mentally ill woman who rings all the bells in the neighbourhood on Sundays begging for food or money so we assumed it was her and so Norm drove over to see what was going on. He found a young woman covered in blood frantically waving him down. She had a deep gash on her arm and told Norman that she had been stabbed because she could not pay rent to the man whose shack she stays in. Norm could see that she was in a bad way and he drove her to the fire station. The men on duty told her that she must go to the hospital. She was not happy with that and was still in a panic about money and the risk to her life if she does not get funds. The emergency tech told her that if she did not get her arm sutured she risked gangrene and the loss of her arm. I think he tried to scare her into looking after her injury but he is correct in his dire prognosis, that was a definite risk if she did not get it seen to. She reeked of booze either from the night before or from earlier that day. Norm left her there with the fire and rescue team waiting on an ambulance to collect her. I hope that she found a safe place to stay once she was released from the hospital.

Yet another desperate victim of abuse who was drawn to us? I am glad the universe sent her to us so Norm could get her help. She was so distracted by the money issues she was not at all concerned about the large gash on her arm.

Saturday was a very lazy day and evening surrounded by the dogs.

Norm and I binge watched the documentary ‘Staircase‘. It is a miniseries about the trial of novelist Michael Peterson and his conviction for the murder of his wife Kathleen. I think that this man was convicted predominately for his lifestyle rather than the evidence presented. It was revealed that Michael was bisexual and that he and Kathleen had an open marriage. They denied that they could have had a happy marriage and they felt that this gave him a motive.

The parochial conservative residents of the town where they lived in North Carolina had a completely narrow point of view and an inability to accept an unconventional lifestyle consisting of multiple partners or involving bisexuality. The prosecutor was so full of venom it was obvious she lives a vanilla life full of 5 minute missionary interactions with eyes furiously clenched shut.

I know straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, asexual, pansexual, and all manner of people who are living many different lifestyles. That is no one’s business except the adults involved in these relationships and lifestyles. Why do other humans feel that they have the right to judge other people based on their own ideas of what is acceptable and what is not?

Not being heterosexual does not make one more predisposed to murder than any other sexual proclivity does.

It makes me sad that still so many people cannot live an open life with no judgement.

On Saturday night I really fancied Chinese food so Norm went to the Blue Lotus in Hout Bay and got a take away for us.

I ordered Bamboo Rolls, Spicy Crispy Pork and noodles with vegetables.

The sushi was not the best, it was loosely rolled and was predominately rice. But it was edible. The crispy pork was divine! Tender pork with a crispy coating with just the right amount of spices. The noodles seemed a bit bereft of actual vegetables, it only had a few onions. But the noodles went nicely with the pork.

On Sunday we had the repairmen come back around to finish painting the roof in the morning and then we had plans to go to the shops to buy Norm’s birthday presents afterwards. However when we got ready to leave and went outside it was such a stunning, sunny winter day that we decided to rather go on an adventure.

We drove through Hout Bay village and over Chapman’s Peak Drive. It is quite often called one of the world’s most stunning drives.

For once the road did not seem terribly busy, often the traffic is insane as it is popular with tourists and cyclists and the roads are crazy curvy and narrow.

Norm took a pic of me after he paid the toll fee but was holding the receipt in his hand. The wind was pumping so I asked him to put it down but of course I was being difficult.

*Cough that is not a cloud*

After we hit Noordhoek we decided to stop at Jakes On the Common to see if there was space for us but it looked very busy. We were quite lucky and we were given a table upstairs.

We were starving as it was late afternoon so we quickly ordered and were served very promptly. Norm chose the Pulled Pork burger with chips and looked very pleased with his choice when it arrived even though he ordered sweet potato fries and got normal full carb fries. His dish was R109 (if he had paid for sweet potato fries they would be R15 extra).

I had the pulled pork Moroccan flatbread for R136. It was divine!! I really enjoyed this.

They also had live music  on for the afternoon which we really enjoyed a lot.

I did not catch this guy’s name but he played some brilliant songs. In SA in particular these sorts of entertainers usually all have the same repertoire of about 5 or 10 songs. There is little variety. But this guy was laying down some beauties. So many of them triggered some wonderful memories.

He played the Rolling Stones classic ‘Angie’. This is one of my all time favourite songs. One of my Desert Island discs if you will.

Who else had forgotten how gorgeous Mick was back in the day?

‘Angie’ always brings back memories of listening to this album in the car on our annual family treks to Daytona Beach Florida. My Dad and I would sing at the top of our lungs.

Brilliant that Norm didn’t have his phone so we ended up chatting more than usual. The music kept generating conversations around the places we were at the time the songs were popular or the times or places that the musical memories took us to.

He played ‘Perfect’ by the Scottish band Fairground Attraction which reminded us of going to see the lead singer Edie Reader when we lived in Belfast.

We happily listened and chatted and we decided to order dessert.

I chose the Cinnamon Donut Holes for R48. They were served with a Nutella dipping sauce. The menu said they came with cream but there was no cream. The donut holes were a bit firm as opposed to light and airy but they did have a nice taste and I did enjoy them and eat every bite. They were more like a churro than a donut in texture.

Norm had the Upside Down Potted Cheesecake for R55. He thought it was OK, but not the best cheesecake he has ever had. It was not supposed to have cream so he gave me his.

Norm had a chat to the waitress about it but she wasn’t listening it seemed.

We drove home around the mountain roads to avoid both the R50 tolls as well as any traffic we might encounter.

In the evening I started watching Stephen Fry’s America on Netflix while Norm was out with the dogs. It brought home to me how far removed my life is in Cape Town or Europe to what the lives of people on this show are like. I could barely understand the people he spoke to who live in the same state I grew up in!

Overall it has been a hectic week. I had another appointment at the Chiro on Monday so got home a bit later than usual. Norm cooked dinner for us that night. He made fillet steak, roasted butternut, steamed asparagus and stir fried mushrooms.

On Tuesday I got a call from my son Trevor. He was upstairs gaming on his computer and there was a fire downstairs in the fireplace. He heard a strange crackling noise and when he looked out there were flames billowing out of the garage. He ran into the garage and put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. He has burned his left hand and there is a lot of damage to the garage but the house is all fine.

The next morning I ended up spilling a boiling hot latte on my left hand and burning the same fingers that Trevor burned the day before. This empathy thing is now getting a bit silly!

Tuesday was Norman’s birthday and we invited Caitlin and Wesley to come to dinner with us at Cheyne’s. They collected us and we arrived for 7pm.

The menu has recently been updated and I was happy to see some familiar items and some new ones to try. The Yum Cha Dining Experience is R150 per person for 3 dishes and R50 extra for a 4th dish. We all opted for 4 dishes.

Me, Caitlin and Norm all started with the Crispy Hake Tempura: picked shallots, miso mayo, unagi sauce.

For my choice on the Land section of the menu I had the Mumbai Chilli Beef: cardamon and ginger syrup, toasted coconut and chili.

For my Earth choice I had the potato and coconut dumplings: penang sauce and toasted nuts.

Caitlin and Wes both had the baby back pork ribs: sweet yakaniku glaze, toasted sesame.

For dessert the girls both had the peanut butter shake. (I am a creature of habit.)

Both of the fellas had the Fuji Apple crumble: apple caramel and peach ice cream. They both seemed to really enjoy it.

The service was impeccable and as always the food divine. After we finished our meal we headed home so that Norm could open his presents. The kids got him some trendy track suit pants and a warm woolly sweater perfect for our winter weather.

He also was given a bottle of wine from Wes. This resulted in us staying up far later than we should on a school night.

Therefore I was feeling a bit tired on Wednesday night but we had plans straight after work. We went to Kalk Bay Books for a book signing by Mandy Wiener. As you see below, Norm and I were the youngest people in attendance. And we are old AF.

It was really interesting. She talked about her new book The Ministry of Crime. This is a follow up book to Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed. There is such a criminal underbelly to South Africa, most of us have no clue as to the depth of corruption in our country.

After the talk was over we left and wandered off towards our car. We were parked right outside of the Kalk Bay Kitchen Bar so we decided we might as well give them a try. Norm had a burger and I had the Chicken Burrito Bowl.

The flavours were brilliant. The combination of items was really perfect. I found a bone in my chicken however which put me off. After that I just picked about in the bowl trying to avoid death by chicken bone.

Also on Wednesday my shipment from my Mom in Atlanta finally arrived!

We opened it up and had a quick peek of my new goodies. My mom sent a chair and footstool that belonged to my Grandmother.

The other item is an old Victrola that belonged to my Daddy.

It just needs a polish and it will be grand.

I also received a stack of the old records it plays so we will try and get it operational. It would be nice to have a cocktail evening and play the records.

The boxes were packed full of second hand clothes from my Mom as well so I will need to do a cupboard clean out to accommodate them all. My mom has fabulous taste so I am very pleased with most of them.

Tonight we have nothing on our itinerary so we are having an easy night in. Norm cooked a fab dinner of chicken in a cream sauce on cauliflower noodles with sweet potatoes and squash.

We have a busy weekend planned. Sunday is non-stop with drumming in the morning and a pop in at a friend’s farewell picnic and coffee with a friend among the highlights.

Until then, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x0x0

#SheToo

I am beginning to think that someone must have a voodoo doll of me and that they are enjoying sticking pins into it as my body has moved from one ailment to the next for what feels like months now. The strange thing is that each ailment is corresponding with the symptoms of someone in my life who also has that ailment. Is this some sort of empathetic referral? Is this part of my exploration into spirit medicine work?

A work colleague was out of work all of last week with back pain. On the weekend I managed to put my lower back out ironically on the day when he suddenly felt fine.  I am in a lot of discomfort but I have not been to a chiro, I am stretching and trying to endure in the hopes it resolves itself. So far, no luck but it has gotten better. My whole lower back was locked the first few days but now it has settled into the one hip. Specifically my left hip which is the same hip I had replaced a few years ago. I will have to go to the chiro so I booked in for tomorrow after work.

Josh has been with us all week but he left to go back home to Mossel Bay on Thursday. Lily will be happy to have him home. I will miss him, every time he goes it is like empty nest syndrome again as he is as much our son as the 3 humans I gave birth to are. I wonder if Lily’s Spirit Guardian Owl is going to remain now that Josh has come back home?

Our family have a strong connection with birds. They send me messages often.

We have had a few days of really warm weather which was a nice change. We were able to go without a fire in the evenings to keep us warm. On Thursday the rain started again and it turned a bit colder.

The flowers that Norman gave me for our anniversary last week are blooming and are so stunning. I love lilies. The smell is so gorgeous.

Norm has been looking after Josh and I very well as always. On Sunday he had not shopped so we had a takeaway from Spiro’s.

On Monday Norm shopped and cooked for us for the rest of the week. He baked chicken with mushrooms and zucchini in chicken stock and then stir fried baby spinach and fried brussel sprouts to go with it that evening.

He made a pork roast and fried red cabbage and roasted butternut and steamed some cauliflower on Tuesday.

On Wednesday he did chicken sausage and sweet potato mash with fried zucchini and home made coleslaw.

Thursday he made Banting cottage pie with a beefy stock topped with cauliflower mash and a thick layer of cheese. He steamed baby corn and gem squash to go with and it was delicious. His cooking skills are so good he does most of our cooking now.

I had a conversation with yet another friend this week who has told me that she too has been the victim of domestic abuse and is ready to get out of this situation after many years of suffering. I am not sure why the universe has sent me so many women to talk to about abuse lately. It is like I am the Survivor Whisperer. Much of the conversation seems to be around reversing the psychological conditioning that has resulted in them blaming themselves for the abuse or for not leaving sooner. That conditioning is hard to escape when you have heard it for years from the man abusing you and the other enablers who may be in your life. Even if that enabler is a seemingly well intentioned parent who tells you that you should be thankful for a man who stays with you. The previous generation does not always understand the power we women possess and that we have the ability to just put our backs into it and push through to the other side. We can make a powerful foe once we decide to push back against our oppressors. I feel the female energy rising up in pacha mama.

I do not know my role in these women’s lives unless it is simply to share my own experiences and to listen to them when they need to talk. I am also trying to listen to the messages I hear from my guides and to do the footwork they suggest I should do. If my guides tell me that I have to say a specific thing to a specific person, I am trying to simply be the vehicle to deliver that message with no filters.

The hardest thing to ignore is the messages I get about the women who are still caught up in their own cycles of dysfunction. I get messages that specific women need help, but if they do not acknowledge that need, then what should I do? THAT part I have not figured out. I am still very new at this healing role which is being forced upon me by the universe. I am not at all sure of the path the universe has in store for me in regards to support of women who have been victimised. I will just keep being present and doing what I can until the Great Spirit makes it clear.

I do feel a universal energy shift. It is coming. I have been reading about this particular prophesy or potential energy shift.

“We live in a time of great change… a time which appears and reappears in the prophesies of many Aboriginal cultures from all over the world. The world is in decay, the systems man has built and valued for so long are falling apart… this is the time of the 7th Fire.

We must begin the healing now. We must live as flesh ruled by spirit, choosing compassion over greed … choosing love over fear. We must be the change we want to see in the world, if we are to become the Warriors of the Rainbow.”

The Anishinaabe people believe in the 7 Fires Prophecy. Each fire represents a prophetical age, marking phases. They seem to feel a change coming as well and believe that there will be a shift back towards Walking the Red Road. “It is at this time that the Light Skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal Fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the wrong choice of roads, the destruction which they brought with them in coming to this country will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people.”

Walking The Red Road means living a consciously present life of practicing and honouring The Seven Sacred Values of the Lakota:

1. Wóčhekiya – Prayer

2. Wičákha – Honesty

3. Wahwala – Humility

4. Waúnšila – Compassion

5. Waóhola – Respect

6. Wawokiye – Generosity

7. Wóksape – Wisdom

I identify strongly with the people of these tribes. I have a deep connection to White Buffalo Woman and the Lakota believe that White Buffalo Calf Woman brought them the 7 virtues.

I am reading everything I can find to try and broaden my knowledge about my own heritage as well as the cultures and teachings of other indigenous people throughout the world. I am trying to be conscious and tuned into the universal energy and the voices of the spirits around me. I have removed the people from my life who impede me in that growth by tainting me with their darkness. I have learned many sacred songs and we sing them in their native tongues at our drumming circles. I still struggle with my own mind, keeping it positive and focused. I’m easily distracted.

My eyes are open. I feel the simmering sizzle of energy and I pray for the light which will emerge out of the ashes of this fire.

A’ho Mitakuye Oyasin.

Soul Mates

When you are twenty, twenty years seems like a life time. I guess that is because it is. Even when you are old AF twenty years seems like a life time. Hence my surprise every time mine and Norman’s anniversary rolls around and I add up the duration of our years together. (Much like my age, I have to add it up every time, but at least I remember the YEAR I was born, unlike the year we got married which tends to be elusive to my memory.)

Twenty one years! We have certainly had a lot of fun (and a lot of fancy dress parties).

I have had past life regression and know that we have been married in past lives as well, and know that Norm is my soul partner. I have been very lucky to have even found him considering that I grew up in Georgia and he grew up in Scotland, but it was meant to be that we met. We met in Johannesburg South Africa after my first marriage ended. We were introduced by a common friend and when we met we recognised each other. Call it crazy but we were meant to be.

Saying that, we are both rubbish at remembering dates and the only reason I realised that the 5th of July was our anniversary was that the posts from our 20th anniversary safari trip last year came up as a memory on Facebook.

This year will be a bit less dramatic than our wonderful safari trip, we just booked to go for dinner at Foxcroft in Constantia this year. I love this restaurant, the food and service is always outstanding.

We booked for 7pm and arrived a bit early for a change.

We ordered a bottle of Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc from a nearby vineyard and settled in to peruse the menu.

Norm had promised to keep his beard until after our anniversary because I love it but it drives him mad as it is itchy.

The server brought some gorgeous olive ciabatta and some sort of fancy butter. It was so nice and was very charmingly presented.

We were given menus which offered a choice of 2 tapas, 1 main and 1 dessert course for R495 per person.

I chose the Tuna Tataki as one of my tapas dishes. It was described as ‘Seared Tuna Tataki: Chipotle, avocado, cucumber and rice puffs’. It comes with a wee vial of sauce / oil which you drizzle over. This was a gorgeous taste combination.

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Tuna tataki

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Norm started with the Sunchoke Mille Feuille which did not photograph well as it was flat, covered in a thick dusting of cocoa powder and was served on a black plate. However he really loved this dish and raved about it all night. It was described as ‘pickled mushroom, naartjie, hazelnut, burnt onion’. A naartjie is a local nectarine type fruit. The funny thing is there is no mention of artichoke in the description, yet apparently that was the main ingredient and we discovered that a sunchoke is a Jerusalem artichoke. Nevermind. Now we are educated on our artichoke varieties.

I have to confess to not being very adventurous overall in my choices as I had 2 pork dishes. I love their pork. Norm and I both had the ‘Free-range pork collar: Gochujang, white cabbage, sweet potato, kimchi’ for our second tapas choice. The lighting was a bit dark so apologies for the quality of the pic but you get the gist. This was a very tasty dish.

For my main I chose the Pork again, this time it was billed as ‘Oak Valley Pork: Butternut, sage, spiced apple and pecans’. The pork belly was very tender and the flavours were divine.

Norm had the linefish as he wanted to experience as many varieties of tastes as possible. The fish of the day was Angelfish. It was described as ‘Yakiniku Linefish: Aubergine, sweetcorn, chicory, puffed rice, nori’. He said this was a very nice dish, tasty and well cooked.

For dessert I chose the ‘Toasted Carrot Cake: Pecan ice cream, carrot ganache, cream cheese espuma’. It was very tasty and yummy. Of course I bit that crispy pastry tube without noticing it was chock full of the foamy espuma mixture which of course ejected out of the end of the pastry shell but luckily landed on my plate as opposed to my boobs where most things usually land.

Norm chose the ‘Mango, Chocolate, Madras: mango jelly, 55% itakuja, passionfruit and madras curry’. This did not appeal to me at all but Norm loved this dish.

After dessert they bring little treats of sweets to the table to have with your coffee but we avoided coffee as it was late. They specialise in macarons. The other little blocky was a coconutty yummy thing. Dunno. It was almond flavoured. Other than that I have no clue what it was but it was delicious.

We had a lovely night out together and counted the many blessings we have had and reminisced about the wonderful things we have experienced in our lives together. It has been an exciting adventure.

Josh has come back to stay with us for a few more weeks as his project in Simonstown has picked up pace again.

Norm has been great about cooking for us. On Monday he cooked a gorgeous pork fillet roast, spinach and roasted root vegetables. I ate it in front of the fire with Pixie drooling at my feet.

On Tuesday night he made chicken sausages, mashed sweet potatoes with chicken gravy and home made coleslaw. (He burns my sausages because I like them like that.)

Then on Wednesday night he made a rich, beefy, tomatoey sauce and served it with roast butternut and a delicious cheesy potato bake.

It is so lovely to have yummy leftovers for lunch at work each day, or else my options are to go out in the winter chill and rain to forage for food or settle for a crappy toasted cheese.

I mentioned the ongoing taxi wars in South Africa in my last blog. We keep receiving mixed messages in the media, that the battle has been resolved and then we hear of yet more shootings, injuries or deaths. Five more people were shot in Pretoria on Thursday.

We had another fire in Hout Bay on Monday. After the fire they discovered the body  of a 6 month old baby in one of the 15 shacks that burned. The news is not clear about whether the baby was at home alone or whether the mother & father were home during the fire or why the baby did not get rescued. It is such a tragedy, RIP to this beautiful baby girl. My only hope is that she died while sleeping and did not wake. Heartbreaking.

I left work early today as I went back to the doctor. My cold symptoms have just not gone away and I am coughing constantly and my throat is so sore. He has given me a list of things to do, salt water up my nostrils to cleanse my sinuses, nose drops and something to dry me up to stop the coughing so that I can sleep. He says there is no infection just inflammation.

We had a quiet night in last night, we ordered pizza and just chilled out with a big fire.

We woke up this morning and headed out. Before I went to my drumming session Norm and I popped over to Constantia to Mugg & Bean.

I had the M&B Classic with poached eggs, bacon, tomato, a hash brown, chips and toast.

Norman had the All American breakfast with scrambled egg, bacon, tomato, beans, sausage, chips and toast. I find it funny they call it the All American. I never had beans for brekkie in the USA but it is a constant item for a British fry up.

I was supposed to drum and sing at a Spirit Dance today but it was cancelled as we did not have enough dancers booked. I would say it is because of the dubious weather we have been having but today was stunning! As the dance was cancelled we had a rehearsal at Owl Lodge in Constantia. There were lots of us attending as it was a good bye party for Jesse and Neo who are off to Europe indefinitely. I will miss them both, they have such great energy in our drumming sessions and Jesse is the drum master.

Here is a pic of all of us after the last Spirit Dance.

We have tentatively rescheduled the dance for September when the weather might be more reliable.

Tonight Caitlin is popping round for dinner which will be lovely. The rest of the weekend will be spent relaxing. I hope you enjoy the rest of yours.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxo

 

Midwinter Nightmares & Dreamy Evenings

I mentioned in my last blog about the ongoing police operations going on in my village.

On Thursday I had another crazy drive to work which I assumed was related to the police operations.

I turned out of my suburb onto the main road only to find a half naked man gamboling down the street with a large dog in tow. He was beckoning me on, it felt like a surreal moment where I fell into a bizarre version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Puck was leading me to mischief. All he was missing was a flute.

Except it is not midsummer it is the start of winter and this was more of a nightmare than a dream.

It all seemed a bit suspect & then I saw some sort of reflective barricade placed across the road which turns up by the African taxi rank. I did not know if it was placed there by the police or criminals so I did a quick U-turn and went a different route where I found Public Order Police (POP) vehicles parked with flashing lights at every round about.

They blocked the roundabout by the police station with taxis and large stones.

Photo credit for the above images: Ashraf Hendricks.

I later saw this post by Ashraf Hendricks showing the POP shooting tear gas to disperse the protesters.

And then this post showing the police advancing onto the main road to push back the protesters.

Later I discovered on Twitter that Taxi drivers affiliated to Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) are staging a demonstration in Hout Bay main road. This protest is to do with the local taxi drivers fighting over routes. This dispute was allegedly resolved and agreement reached, but it would appear someone forgot to send that memo to Hout Bay.  They say The Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations  (CODETA) has been allowed to operate on their routes illegally.

Eventually I saw that the protesters had been dispersed but things were still tense.

This News article gives more info on the background. There is a bitter history between the parties involved, healing and forgiveness is required. So far at least 13 people have died in the taxi wars.

On a personal front, I have been practicing the songs for the upcoming Spirit Dance to Heal the Earth which is scheduled on the 7th of July.

It is such a different sound to hear the songs sung with a strong male voice as most of our drummers are women.

The cold rainy weather has continued with our dams filling up with precious rainfall. We have been building cozy fires every evening.

I finally got some money in this week so we could loosen up a bit on our tight budget. In fact we splurged on takeaways from Spiro’s on the very night it hit my account.

Thursday night Norm cooked and we finished off the beef stew / goulash he made on Tuesday by using it to top off some low carb noodles. He fried some chopped cabbage and baby zucchini to accompany it.

The week rattled by with busy days full of meetings and cozy nights at home, the weather making us want to bunker down and stay in. On Friday we did just that, we again had a takeaway for dinner. I had chicken schnitzel and linguine with Napoletana sauce from Posticino’s.

Saturday was busy. We went for breakfast at La Cuccina. They were out of hollandaise which forced me to be adventurous and veer away from my usual order. I had The Tyson. You can have it as an omelette or as a wrap) Scrambled eggs, spring onion, mature cheddar, bacon, fresh chilli a tomato, HP and tabasco sauce. There is also a Veg option — you just take out the bacon and add mushrooms. It is R86.

Norm had his fave, Scrambled Eggs and bacon.

After breakfast Norm settled the bill and headed home and I drove into the CBD for a hair appointment at Pause.

It is such a spacious airy venue, there is nothing worse than having clients and staff all crammed together in a tiny salon, but the high ceilings at Pause make the place feel vast. The energy is nice and light and the tall windows bring in lots of light.

While the color on my hair was setting I had an appointment for a foot massage. There are treatment rooms at the back and they do lots of different therapies and treatments.

I was quite amused by the therapist talking about the drought and “Dojo Tanks”. Bless. I think she meant JoJo tanks. 🤭😂 I just let her whitter on, shut my eyes and relaxed.

My feet and legs felt wonderful afterwards, then when my hair was rinsed, I had a treatment and received a scalp and shoulder massage from Thembi which was just perfect, I felt relaxed top to toe!

I traipsed across town to my car in the drizzly rain afterwards and headed home for the afternoon. Then about 6:30pm Norm and I bundled up and headed back into the city yet again for my second time that day.

We had booked to see Ann Jangle at Cafe Roux our fave music venue.

I subscribe to their upcoming events notifications and I always read the description of the artists advertised to narrow down the choices, then try and find videos of performances to decide who we want to see. I loved all of the videos I could find for Ann.

We enjoy the venue, the vibe and the staff at Cafe Roux so it seemed an easy decision to make.

The rain stopped for our walk across the city, but it was bitterly cold. We settled into our fave table and ordered a drink while deciding what to eat.

Norm ordered the butternut ravioli and I had the bacon, feta and avo pizza. I forgot to snap a pic of either. They were both very tasty, however midway through mine I bit down on something hard and my tooth almost cracked. I fished out a piece of hard plastic, the type that snaps off of a feta container lid. We tried in vain to get the attention of any member of staff. Eventually after being acknowledged by the staff several times yet no one coming near, a waiter came to us. I told him about the plastic and he apologized and called over Mr T who was the manager on duty. He offered to replace my pizza but as I had eaten half of it by then I told him not to bother. He said he would comp the pizza and apologized again and went to get drinks for us. While he was gone I found yet another piece of plastic in my pizza topping. It made me feel quite ill but the manager handled it well, so fair play to him.

At 8.30 Ann Jangle came onstage with her band.

We had fabulous seats and a wonderful view. The trio at the table next to us however had been drinking all day and were very talkative throughout the evening and the man could not keep still, he kept kept invading my personal space, he sat on my jacket, put his jacket in my lap, elbowed me in the ribs and almost knocked me out while clapping maniacally. He had no clue about personal space. I tried to not lose it with the eejit. I silently imagined breaking my glass and impaling him on it.

But I’m a lady.

*cough*

Ann’s voice was stunning. She had a very powerful voice and unbelievable range, she could sound almost girly, dreamlike and tender, then switch to this deep, strong voice so easily. The childlike quality does not come through in her video recordings that I found. I loved that she had only 4 people on stage, it kept her voice as the focal point. I really enjoyed her, she is so talented.

We got home late and as a result had a long lie in bed this morning. When we got up Norm started a roaring fire and made us breakfast.

It was delicious.

I’ve been enjoying the sounds of the crazy storm outside and being grateful for the rain and my warm home.

I’m very blessed.

Until next time.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo