Privilege

In one of my local Hout Bay Facebook groups there is an on-going debate about the term ‘privileged’ and what that actually means. It is sometimes used as a divisive term in regards to race. It is actually more related to financial status as many white people are also poor. The primary difference that I see is that there are very few white people who live in shacks, where as there are millions of blacks who live in shacks.

IY-The-Old-768135.jpg

Image credit.

Based on statistics published by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) in South Africa in 2013 (the most recent I could find), the number of households living in shacks has increased at a rate of 4.5% per year. In terms of total households, Census 2011 indicates at total of 712,956 households living in shacks in backyards, compared to 459,526 in 2001.

stats SA

This varies across the various provinces in South Africa.

stats by province.JPG

Consider that in each shack you could have anywhere from 2-6 people living in them and you start to get an idea of the number of people who live in shacks.

stats by number_gender.png

For me the saddest statistic is that Census data indicates that there are just under one million children under the age of 18 who live in informal residential EAs accounting for 5% of all children in South Africa.

This analysis is based on Census 2011 data and I know for a fact that this data was incorrect. We know that to get an accurate Census of the counts of people living in shacks when they are often out working during the day or they may be of an illegal immigration status and unwilling to disclose personal info is near impossible. Aside from census data, the HDA analysis is supplemented by other survey data sources including the 2010/11 Income and Expenditure Surveys as well as the General Household Survey from various years. However as an analyst, I know that your outputs are only as good as your inputs. Dodgy data = dodgy analysis.

It is harder to find stats on informal settlements divided by race. The best figure I can isolate is that just 7,754 white households lived in informal settlements. This is extrapolated to estimate that 31,000 white people live in informal settlements.

So when defensive white people throw out the ‘my family was poor’ argument they are being somewhat disingenuous. The majority of whites in South Africa have no comprehension of the levels of poverty and lack of opportunity that shack dwellers experience.

Shack dwelling generally means that you do not have running water or electricity supplied to your shack or other amenities that most of the world take for granted.

stats acces to services.png

I was reflecting on my own privilege one morning this week when driving to work. I accept that I am privileged. I wake up in a warm, dry bed. In a home with a solid door and windows to keep out the elements and hopefully any unsavory people I do not want to wake up to in my bedroom. I shower with piped in heated water, available at the turn of a tap (albeit restricted amounts due to the drought). I choose from my closet full of clothing and shoes to decide what I want to wear. I take a lunch of healthy food with me to work. I get into my relatively new car which gets serviced regularly and I drive to my high paying job which has parking on site so that I do not have to walk into the rain. I am treated with respect in my work environment and have a certain level of control over what I choose to do and when. If I have health issues I make an appointment to go to the doctor and it is paid for by my medical aid (which I can afford to have) and I get paid sick leave from work. At night when I get home I have a supply of ready cut firewood which is delivered by the truck load to my home and I can start a big fire in my fireplace. I have 5 pets who are fed the best food available and which I can afford to take to the vet whenever they have a twinge. If we have a busy day we can afford to go to a restaurant or get a take away. Otherwise we can afford to buy the best food to cook and eat at home.

I thought about how grateful I am for all of this as I drove past people walking in the dark, enduring the pouring rain on their journey to what is most likely a low paying job. People who had probably spent the night sleeping in a shack which might have leaks and drafts of ice cold air keeping them awake, who if they wanted to wash with hot water had to go to a standpipe to get the water, bring it back to their living area and heat it in order to wash. People who most likely did not have any breakfast, but who if they were lucky, might be given a bit of toast and margarine before they start their day’s work. People who work at what may be a very physically exhausting job for an entire day for about what I get paid per hour just to sit on my arse doing analysis and writing reports.  People who have to suffer with any pains or ailments they have until they can get the time off to go to the free clinic for basic treatment, but will miss a day’s pay. People who may have only a few items of second hand clothing to wear, yet always look clean and well dressed.

It made me count all of my blessings and to be grateful for all of these things. It made me aware of my privilege.

Some people say ‘but I worked hard and sacrificed to get to where I am’, however the difference is that my parents could afford to educate me. I had books to read as a child and I had opportunities.

I cannot deny my privilege however I am not defensive of this nor do I carry guilt about my circumstances. I have had hardships, after my divorce from my first husband I had nothing. I worked as a waitress and I endured abuse from drunken idiots who came into my workplace. I survived off of the food they gave me at work. I struggled. But my way out was to move to a bigger city and fall back on my University degree. That led me to become self sufficient and financially stable again and when I met Norman and emigrated to the UK I was able to get a temp job which eventually led me back to SA where I have specialist skills which have allowed me to get the job I have now. Part of that was due to my drive and determination but a lot of it was opportunity and some of it  of course was destiny.

I count my blessings every day.

 

 

 

Thou Doth Protest Too Much

Navajo has still been struggling with his ear infection and as a result is not sleeping well. This means that none of us get any sleep as he sleeps by our bed and he is so restless. He went back to the vet this week for an ear cleaning and injection and is now also on tablets for the inflammation as well as the ear drops. We had to buy a muzzle to put on him when we put the drops in as he tries to snap at us and growls the most terrifying growl.

After waking at 4am from Nav I was a zombie on Wednesday and had a busy day at work so when Norm offered to cook us dinner I was so grateful. He did Banting food and wrapped chicken breasts in bacon, steamed broccoli and stir fried baby zucchini with mushrooms. He grated sharp cheddar to top the broccoli. It was delicious.

wed chicken2.png

While at the client site on Thursday we had a message come through that the protests had started up again. We have now had weeks of on-again, off-again protests which originated with people protesting the living conditions in the shacks which the government have arranged for them after the recent fires where 4500 informal houses were destroyed by fire in March‚ leaving 15000 people homeless. These conditions are not fit for humans to live in. They are in tin shacks which have no electricity or running water, only communal showers and long drop toilets. The field they live on is a flood plain and after months of drought the recent rains have resulted in the floor of their shacks being full of water. It is freezing cold at the moment and it is really unsuitable.

An update was posted onto a local Facebook group, Hout Bay Organised and the first post made at 11 a.m. advised us that “anti land invasion forces along with SAPS were removing illegal dwellings by court order in Dontse Yhake (DY). Apparently stun grenades have been let off to disperse crowds.

A court interdict has been in place and residents that have erected illegally and who are preventing the implementation of much needed infrastructure have been made aware.
Very large police presence containing situation in the DY area above IY. All main roads remain open. Hughenden Road is closed.”

I live off of Hughenden Road so this was rather worrying. I did not know if I would be able to get home. As Norm is part of Neighbourhood Watch I messaged him to find out what was going on and if our house was at risk but he did not reply. I found out later he was on the other side of the mountain having lunch with a friend. Later after he came home he told me the roads were clear but there was still a heavy police presence.

A house was invaded near the gates at DY and there were Nyala vehicles in place to deal with any further riots but they were being stoned and various battles were on-going between police and protestors.

nyala.jpg

We read about children being subjected to tear gas from within their shacks, as the shacks provide little protection from any outside elements. It was heart-breaking to read about the innocent being caught up in this chaos that was being perpetrated by a few.

protests.jpg

Friday morning we woke to read there had been a night of violence in Imizamo Yethu. The ANC offices were torched and a community leader’s home was attacked, various businesses looted, and a young person was shot dead.

This is the second death due to these protests. Earlier this month, a probe was launched into the death of Imizamo Yethu resident Songezo Ndude, 26, who sustained head injuries during clashes between police and residents.

We heard that they cleaned out the Somalian shops and burned all the containers on the Main road in IY where the businesses operate from.

We then heard that the people who were behind the protests were the slumlords who had paid the local meth addicts to cause havoc and torch the buildings.

We also read that a body was found in the streets of IY. It was a 19 year old young man named Siyamthanda Betana and he was murdered in the cross fire of the shooting. He was at a friend’s house when he heard a noise. He went outside and was shot.

student murdered

His family are devastated and one of his former teachers has offered a reward to anyone who has information about his death. Everything I have read about this young man has said he was a clever, kind and talented young man. This is such a tragic waste of life.

All of this seemed to happen predominately under cover of night as do most acts of cowardice. During the day it seemed to get relatively calm however we saw a heavy police presence when we ventured out on Saturday morning.

Friday night we stayed in to avoid any potential conflict with the chaos. When I got home from work I built a big fire as it is so cold. I played games on my iPad and indulged my addiction of home improvement shows. I cooked a banting dinner for the three of us as Caitlin was at home. I made pork chops & free range chicken sausages with roast veggies and steamed broccoli.

I had bought a new device for streaming which arrived that day and Norm spent the evening setting that up so we can watch telly from our bedroom. We love spending the morning in bed with the pups and endless cups of frothy coffee on weekends.

Saturday morning our gardener Mzudumo arrived early and said that he had not slept all night out of fear that his home would catch fire if they torched the area community leader who has a shack near him. The drought has meant our garden is barely growing and we cannot wash our cars so we asked him if he would mind going to Caitlin’s new flat and helping Cait with sanding the base boards which need to be repainted when she puts down her new floors. He is just happy for the work and it meant he was inside on that cold day rather than outside in the garden so he was agreeable with the change in routine.

Norm and I first went off to look at bathroom fittings as that is our next home renovation project. We needed something to eat and so we popped into the Earth Fair Market in Tokai.

earth market

We spotted Gail’s Kitchen, a trader who was selling Banting products.


We grabbed a chicken sandwich, an Origin coffee and a table out in the sun.


Norm got stuck in. The bread was divine!! Normally banting products can be very dry and tasteless but this bread was moist and tasty.


We decided to buy a couple of bite size quiches, a loaf of bread and some tiny carrot cake muffins to take home.


We finished our bathroom ideas shopping at the places nearby the market and headed off to Caitlin’s flat, stopping on the way at Mr Price. I needed a basket for carrying wood from the garage to the fireplace. They had several and I found the perfect one.

basket.png

I also bought a new tin to keep my coffee pods in.

I found a clock for my newly renovated kitchen which goes perfectly with the cupboards we have installed.

We went to Caitlin’s flat and Norm pottered about helping her remove nails from the floor and walls and rehung her cupboard doors which were a bit skew. We hung around until Mzudumo was finished at 3.30 and we drove him back to Hout Bay as Caitlin stayed to continue working on the flat.

We were off to our friends Alison and Andy for a spit braai that evening and so Norm walked the dogs and we showered and headed off. Our friend Retha was also there so we had a lovely evening chatting to friends and hanging out.

img_7256

We had heard at one stage of the evening that chaos was happening again in the township but none of the security groups was posting any thing new, but still we did not want to stay out too late and we headed home about 10ish.

The next day Caitlin went hiking but Norm and I had a pyjama day, I cooked a big pot of spicy tomato, sweet potato and carrot soup and we built a warm fire. A perfect lazy chilled out Sunday.

We watched the film Going In Style with Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine.

going in style

It was a perfect lazy choice and was a funny film. We really enjoyed it and give it 4 Kitten Stars.

The peace seemed to be across our valley as we read that finally there had been a Peace deal reached in Imizamo Yethu.

I hope this means that the re-blocking and building of more suitable homes can carry on and that the protests will cease.

Today I worked from home in the morning and I am currently at the hospital with Caitlin who is having minor surgery. Please send her your healing prayers and hopefully we will be at home soon.

Enjoy your week. xx

Nature or Nurture

I have read a few things about Virgos this week which made me ponder how much influence your star sign has over your personality traits and how much is environment.

Virgos are notorious for our organisation. As a child I read a book which really stuck with me. It was a very old book which I found on my Grandmother’s book shelf. It was called Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.

peppers.jpg

I was an only child and to amuse myself I read voraciously, I read pretty much any book I could get my hands on (some of which were entirely inappropriate for a child which is possibly why I have so many issues now lol). I even read her encyclopaedias. I was fascinated by many aspects of this book. I found the concept of so many people functioning in a tiny house quite bizarre as a middle class only child. My Grandmother’s house only had one bathroom but by the time I was spending a lot of time at her home not many people lived there full time. My cousins and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, myself in particular as I grew up in the house next door to her. The Peppers had a regimented routine which was timed by Mr Pepper and functioned in an almost military like precision.

I liked this idea and I still have a Bathroom Routine which I follow meticulously and if I get off track of this routine then I will generally forget one of my daily tasks. My routine is Virgo analytical and based on the least repeat actions and optimal process flow. After I shower I brush my teeth, that way if I drip toothpaste it does not get onto my clothing. If I wash my hair I put on my leave in conditioner or hair oils as soon as I am out of the shower while my hands are still clean of  other products which reduces the amount of water and time I waste on repeated hand washing. I put on my face cream then leave it to ‘set’ while I apply my body lotion. This stops your face being shiny and oily and leaves my body lotion time to soak in while I apply my make up in the next step and it avoids the body lotion being wiped off by my clothing. Then I put on my clothes and lastly I dry my hair which allows my hair time to air dry as much as possible (thus saving electricity as well as time and hair damage.)

I find routines give me a feeling of comfort and calm. Lord knows I need all the calm I can get in my life as I am a complete stress kitten full of senseless anxiety.

Recently a friend sent me a Ted Talk video about the Philosophy of Stoicism which I found fascinating.

It basically discusses how our reactions to events are the root of our emotions, not the actual events themselves. In a kind of ‘we choose whether to be happy or sad’ sort of way. That whether a situation is stressful or not is down to how we choose to react to that situation. Personal Mastery.

suffering.JPG

Norm is very good at recognising whether my reactions are based on current situations or whether they are ‘triggered’ by my tumultuous past.

The video also describes how we can strive for self improvement through the 4 Cardinal Virtues.

4 virtues

Nelson Mandela was influenced by the study of these principals. I suspect this is where he made the decision to lead through peace rather then the methods which had gotten him imprisoned.

I found this concept very interesting and it gave me some goals to strive for in my own personal growth where as my husband is high on these scales. He is a natural born leader and is excellent at communication and staying calm. (Most of the time.) He stresses over things I find silly, such as cooking, as he does not feel confident in the kitchen. However he can stand in front of a thousand people and confidently present or speak to them. That situation would make me physically ill.

However my Mom and my husband are both Cancerians and while my Mom is great at engaging on a one to one basis I cannot imagine her speaking to a group of people in a professional capacity. So how much is nature and how much is nurture?

It makes one think. But then I think too much.

Last week was a busy week. We returned from our anniversary trip  last Saturday and then on Sunday we relaxed as we were rather exhausted and it was cold and dreary outside. I made a huge fire and a big pot of chicken curry for that night which then did us for a few lunches during the week.

I went back to the nurse last Monday who says my blood pressure is still high. It may be diet related as we did not stick to low carb eating while we were away. I then went for a follow up at the ENT on Tuesday and she told me my ears are still full of fluid so I am back on different meds. I only go back in a month’s time.

Norm took Navajo to the vet on Tuesday and he also has an ear infection, he is not very happy at the moment and is rather moany and groany so hope the drops help the poor baby.

Wednesday Norm did a shop for me as he was going to be away in Gabarone from Thursday morning until late on Friday and it is difficult for me to get to the shops, deal with the animals and still take Cordelia home on the days when she is working for us.

Thursday night I cooked chicken breasts in spinach and coconut cream and served it with corn on the cob and fried zucchini left over from my lasagne which I also made that night. It was a short cut low carb lasagne for me and Caitlin to have on Friday while Norm was away. I made my normal meat sauce but instead of slicing the zucchini into long strips lengthwise to mimic lasagne noodles (which takes ages) I just chopped it into little round disc shaped slices and popped a layer of those on top of the meat and then topped it all with mozzarella. It tasted just as good and saved on the faffing with slicing the zucchini.

lasagna.JPG

Norm had some travel issues and only arrived home after midnight on Friday but I waited up for him as I was very happy to see him.

Saturday we were up early as I had an appointment at the chiro for myself and Pixie so we toddled off to Noordhoek for that. Our appointment was at 9.30am so we were back home by 11. I had invited friends around for Norm’s birthday celebrations on Sunday so I showered and headed out to the shops to buy party food and Norm’s presents. I was starving so I stopped at Woolworth’s to have some breakfast. I had their eggs benedict and added some bacon to it.

woolies egg

They are usually really slow there but they were on the ball and I was fed and off on my way quickly. I did a huge shop of snack type food. I used to do proper cooking when we entertained but then I would spend all day on my feet cooking and end up tired and if I am faffing with food service I can’t relax and enjoy it so I decided to do all finger foods.

Norm spent the day Saturday painting our new kitchen. He did the ceilings and the walls around the cupboards. Now he only has the dining room left to finish. The end is in sight! Our next project is the upstairs bathrooms but we are not sure when we are going to start that project but I am putting away money each month to fund it.

As Norm was busy painting and it was pouring with rain we decided to be lazy and use OrderIn to get takeaways. Norm normally hates using a delivery service but there was just too much going on for him to pop out and I cannot drive at night so I persuaded him to use OrderIn. We ordered from a new place as saw on their menu that we could get low carb food. We chose RT’s Pub & Grill. We got the usual email saying our food would arrive in 45 minutes. Usually this is an over-estimate with OrderIn and it arrives in half an hour. However after an hour I received a call from OrderIn to apologise that they were running a bit late and it should be there soon. After an hour and a half had passed I received an SMS to say it was on it’s way but then I got an SMS asking me to rate their service which usually arrives after the food has been delivered so I phoned them back to ask what was going on. The guy on the phone was rambling nonsense at me, first saying the driver had been in an accident, then saying that the food was not ready and he would have to phone the driver and phone me back. I waited another 15 minutes and I phoned back to the call centre and got a different agent who slagged off the first agent saying he ‘wasn’t surprised he did not ring back’ and implied that he is not very good at his job. He then said HE had to phone the driver and he promised to phone me back. I was raging by the time. He phoned me back in about 10 minutes and said that the delivery guy had been almost at my house, but then the restaurant had phoned to say they had given him the wrong order and he had to go back. This all reeked of utter bullshit. The food eventually arrived after over 2 hours. It was ice cold. I was so angry I gave them a 1 star rating and tweeted how poor the service was.

I then got an email saying they will credit my account. I have not seen it reflect as yet but they said it might take a few days. Norm will never order from them again. I was so disappointed as it is a life saver when he is away and I have to feed me and Caitlin with no shopping in the house. It was also a shame as I think the food would have been fine if it was warm.

On Sunday we were up early getting the house cleaned for Norm’s birthday drinks. We are both pack rats and end up with piles of books and paper and all sorts of crap piling up. Norm also steam cleaned the tile floors.

We had invited everyone from 4pm as it was a Sunday we knew every one had work the next day (including me!) so we started early.

I made devilled eggs, fried some little free range chicken chipolattas, and put out fresh bread, a cheese board, nuts, crisps, popcorn, dips, some veggies with dips, olives, crackers, jams and all sorts of nibbles. We stocked the bar with spirits and had a cooler with beer and cider. We had various bottles of red wine on the bar and plenty of white wine in the drinks fridge.

Once people started arriving I turned on the oven to heat up the frikkadels (meatballs), chicken and cheese meatballs, and the chicken samosas I had bought at woollies. They were tasty and so easy to prepare.

party food

Our house is perfect for entertaining now with all of the counter space in the new kitchen as well as the new bar area. Downstairs is all open plan so people could gather in various areas and still mingle about and be part of the different convos. It was lovely to see our friends, we ended up with over 20 people there.

party2.png

efftings retha.jpg

Eventually we all ended up gathered around the bar. I love that new bar.

party the boys.jpg

We had such a lovely evening. We still managed to be in bed by 11 even if we were a bit tipsy with it!

Tonight Norm and I are going out for dinner to a venue we have never been to before. I don’t want to spoil his surprise so I will save it for my next blog.

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

 

Rose Petals & Thorn Bushes

On Monday morning I woke early and when I checked my phone I saw a message from a friend telling me that our street was closed due to chaos from the riots. A fire had been started in the middle of the only street out of our suburb and a barricade put up. I then checked our local Facebook group and saw that the rioters had also cut down a tree and placed it across the road. We were totally blocked in.

The problem was that we had a flight to catch and I panicked that we wouldn’t get out to get to the airport. Our flight was at 10am and we decided to keep to our itinerary and hope the police managed to clear the roads by the time we had to leave.

Navajo was desperate to come along with us.


We left the house at 9am and when we got to the intersection shown in the top pic the road had been cleared and was being manned by Neighbourhood Watch members as well as the police. We got out of our road and then once we got out of Hout Bay we knew we would make our flight. It was so stressful! We also were worried about Caitlin being left home alone for a week but we knew she had a good support system what with the neighbours in our street, Neighbourhood Watch, Navajo and the police.

Later when we checked the Facebook groups we saw pics of the malicious damage done by the protestors. Offices were vandalized, cars turned over and torched. A retirement village was targeted and the residents terrorized. Bricks were hurled and rubber bullets fired.

We had not had any breakfast due to the stress and chaos of the morning so we stopped at Mugg & Bean at the airport for a muffin and a quick coffee.

Once we were on the plane I took an aspirin and tried to relax and get into holiday mode.

We arrived at Port Elizabeth airport, rented a car and drove 100kms to Kichaka, the lodge where we were booked for the first three nights.

The accommodation is in the actual game park so you arrive at the reception building and leave your car there and they put your bags into a Safari truck and drive you through the park to the lodge.


We saw a herd of buffalo on our trip to the lodge.


We checked in and they gave us a tour and took us to our room. It was rather spectacular.


We had an amazing view of the water hole from our room. There were 3 hippos swimming around.


We even had our own little swimming pool if we chose to swim, but when we arrived it was freezing cold.

We unpacked and changed into warm clothes for our safari drive and went for afternoon High Tea at 2:30pm.



It was served in the main lodge in front of a roaring fire. We were the only people in the lodge and we felt very spoiled.

At 3pm we were off on our first sundowners safari and we saw a Warthog as soon as we left the gate.


We saw more Buffalo (or the same ones which moved?), a lonely wildebeest and loads of different types of buck.


Then we drove all the way across the park and we saw a whole herd of Elephants including several babies.


Very near to the herd we saw 4 Rhino: a male and three females.


The drive finished at 6pm and we went back to the lodge. We went to our room to get ready for dinner and then we were treated to a local African children’s choir. They sang in Xhosa and did some traditional dances for us. They are the children of the hotel staff. I really enjoyed this special treat.


After the choir finished we went in for dinner. They have 3 choices for each of the 3 courses. You place your order for that night in the afternoon at tea time.

My battery on my phone had crashed so I did not get any pics but I had the Baked Brie with berry compote, the kingklip, and bread and butter pudding for dessert. It was all very nice. The fish was thick with a crispy coating and was divine, it was served with sweet potatoes and veggies. All drinks are included in the deal so I had a few cocktails and Norm had a few glasses of wine. We were both very tired so we moved off to have a last round of drinks in the main room and then went off to sleep.

Jonty our guide gave us a wake up call at 630am and we went to the main lodge to have coffee, juice, croissants and fruit before our drive.


Then at 7am we set off on another 3 hour game drive.

Straight out of the gate we saw a herd of giraffe.


We drove a bit and saw a large troop of monkeys grooming each other in the sun.

We saw another group of giraffes munching on thorn trees.


We saw more warthogs and various other animals and then headed back to the lodge for breakfast at 10. There was a buffet of meats, cheeses, breads, fresh fruit, juices, yogurts, cereals and all sorts.

Then they brought a menu to choose a hot cooked breakfast. I had eggs benedict. Norm had an omelette stuffed full with cheese, bacon and mushrooms.


After we ate we sat in the sun outside and relaxed by the waterhole.


While we were drinking we watched some warthogs drinking in the pond.

We were so full from three rounds of breakfast we went off and had a wee nap after we sat on the balcony for a while and decided to rather skip lunch.

We woke up and went down at 2.30pm for High Tea.


At 3pm we set off again on a Game drive. We saw some more warthogs and another group of giraffes. Then we missioned across the park as Jonty our guide had heard on the radio that there was a lioness hiding in the grass watching some buck.

We found her and sat watching her hoping that she was hungry enough to hunt.

We watched her for ages and then moved off a bit of a distance and Jonty served us cocktails and snacks on the plains while watching the animal world go by.

We then went back to check on the lioness and we stayed longer than we were scheduled to and the sun had started to set. I looked up on the horizon at the sun going down and saw a huge bull elephant coming straight towards us at a hell of a pace. We had our engine off and as he walked past a nearby land cruiser from a different camp which was full of people he stopped in his tracks. He turned and looked at the truck and lifted his trunk and sniffed the van. He was inches from them. He then just turned and sauntered casually off.

If I had been in that truck I would have peed my pants! By now it was pitch dark. In the bush when the sun goes down it is so dark you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. We rattled quickly back to the camp and just as we got near the gate we saw a tiny buck called a duiker. But it was too dark for a pic.

After every game drive we were always greeted on arrival back to camp by a concierge holding hot towels to wipe the dust off our hands and faces. Then when we got to the front door of the lodge another staff member greeted us with a cocktail or a hot drink. This night it was hot chocolate and amarula, it was so delicious.

We freshened up and went through to the dining room where there was the usual cosy fire waiting.

That night for dinner I had spicy prawns on curried lentils. This was my fave dish of the week, the prawns were done in a marmite coating which sounds odd but it was so tasty.

Norm had mushroom soup.

We both had fillet steak for our main course. I felt this needed something like some crispy chips or mash. Something…but the fillet was tender and tasty.

For my Dessert I chose the chocolate pancake stuffed with amarula mousse. The mousse had a touch too much gelatin and was set too firm. But it was tasty.

Norm had the Cheese plate which was served on such a cute platter with a silver meerkat lying chilled out on the edge.

We had a few more drinks then headed off to our room, that 6.30am wake up comes early and it is amazing how exhausting bouncing around in a land cruiser for 6 hours a day is.

The next day was our 20th wedding anniversary which was why we had planned our trip. We woke at 6.30 as usual and headed off for our fruit and croissant tummy liner before we went on the morning safari. We went straight off to where the lioness was last seen and were lucky enough to find her again.

I was ever so chuffed.


This time she got up and strolled across to sit and stare out across the valley.



We sat watching her for a while, she was such a beauty.

Then we headed off to see what else we could find. We saw zebra, various buck and some red hartebeest. We drove further and we spotted our friends the rhinos again!


We sat so close to them, listening to them graze and snort their way around. With so few of these magnificent beasts left in the world we felt very privileged to spend so much time with them.

We headed back to camp at 10am and the staff had set up our breakfast table on the veranda as it was a stunning crisp sunny winter day.


We both had some fruit and yogurt followed by a cooked breakfast of bacon stacked on hash browns, mushrooms, grilled tomato and two fried eggs.


We then sat by the waterhole for a bit and relaxed and at 11am I went for a facial and massage.


It was heavenly even if the massage was a bit painful over my always sore back. After the massage I went for a shower and Norm and I then relaxed until time for a late lunch. We opted to skip High Tea and rather have our lunch later.

I had an avocado salad.


Norm had broccoli and cauliflower soup.


We relaxed in the main lodge until time for the next game drive. It’s a stunning lodge.


We headed off at 3pm again. We tracked two large male lions but even though we could see them, we could not get very close to them.

We saw lots of other game from giraffe & hippos to a large solo eland and then we stopped for champagne and snacks on the plains again.


We continued driving and viewing and then just before we arrived back at sundown we saw a young caracal, also called a Rooikat. They are nocturnal and it was too dark for a photo.

When we popped down to our room to freshen up before dinner we were so surprised to find that they had decorated our bed with rose petals, ran us a bubble bath, lit candles and left a bottle of champagne for our anniversary.


We felt so spoiled.

We went down to have dinner. We had the butternut soup to start.


We then had very tender kudu fillet.


For main we had the chocolate fondant with ice cream.


After dinner we went back to the room to drink our champagne and relax in our bubble bath together. We could hear lions roaring across the valley and it was magical and ever so romantic.

It was a pretty amazing anniversary.

We woke up again at 6.30 for our final day at the resort and we had our croissants and headed off. We saw our friends the rhino and hung out with them for a while.

We then saw a gorgeous tiny giraffe with her mommy.


Then we heard on the radio that there was a pride of lion nearby and we raced off to see them. There was a large male and 3 young males.


We watched them for a while and then we searched across the park and managed to find a herd of elephants.


We then headed back very happy for our last breakfast and when we went to our table looked out and spotted a large bull elephant cavorting in the water hole!


He stayed for most of our breakfast. We went and packed and showered and then headed out to the main reception to check out and collect our car.

We headed off to Grahamstown where there was an arts festival on.

We found a beer garden and sat listening to reggae in the sun.


Then we walked around town and went to many art exhibitions where Norm bought me a lovely statue of a rhino.


We thought he was the perfect remembrance of our holiday.

We spent the day wandering about the festival and then headed off to Port Elizabeth late in the afternoon. We checked into the hotel and were so surprised to find more rose petals and champagne awaiting us!


The view from our room on the 15th floor was stunning.


As it was late and we were exhausted we just had dinner in the hotel restaurant. We then took a drink back to our room and relaxed. We had a slow morning the next day and headed out to the Boardwalk for breakfast.


We had breakfast at Mugg and Bean and then went for a wander round the waterfront.

We then went off to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and after that we went to the mall where I bought some new boots and a few new tops as it was so hot and I had only brought heavy winter items. We went back to the room to relax a bit and then phoned an uber to go out to dinner.

We went to Fushin. We had such amazing food. The sushi was delicious. We also had prawn ‘toast’ on aubergines, crispy schezuan prawns, pepper fillet carpaccio, salt and pepper squid, dim sum, and tempura vegetables. It was all fabulous!


The next day was our last and we had a lazy morning then checked out and went down to the beach for a stroll and some breakfast.


I had jalapeño eggs benedict which was so nice.


After a leisurely breakfast we went for a walk then stopped for iced coffees.


We flew home that afternoon and got back to Cape Town about 4pm. The dogs went crazy with happiness when we got home.

We have had loads of rain since last night which Cape Town desperately needs. Today we have stayed in just relaxing. I made a chicken and butternut curry for dinner tonight which I served with cauliflower rice.


I made a chilli con carne for tomorrow as I am back at work.

I had an amazing week but reality comes soon enough.

❤️💕❤️💕

Worlds Apart

I had such a stressful day at work on Thursday. I am usually part of a team, working with a technical resource who does the data extraction and performs the assessment and I get the output for Quality Assurance. However my current client does not have anyone to fulfill this role and I spent all of Thursday trying to download their analysis tool, connect to the database and get extracts for analysis. It was incredibly frustrating as no one was willing to help me or give me the info I needed to be self sufficient. I left work with my data eventually but my stress levels were off the chart. 

When I got home Norm told me he had shopped and was cooking for us all and I was so relieved, 

He made us a tasty low carb dinner. He made fillet steaks, grilled halloumi, roasted veggies in the oven, steamed cauliflower and then topped it with cheddar cheese and popped it under the grill. It was so delicious.


It was so delicious I didn’t have any left for my lunch on Friday. There is no canteen on site and it was pouring with rain so I decided to stay put and use OrderIn delivery service to get some lunch. The closest place to me was Fat Cactus. As I love Mexican food I decided to order the pulled pork quesadillas and some chilli poppers. 


It arrived hot and relatively quickly. I’m so impressed with their service. The food was really yummy. The pork was full of flavor and not at all fatty. 

We had a quiet night in on Friday and just stayed home and wrapped up to avoid the cold and rain and Norm built us a big cozy fire. 


We have finally finished all of the episodes of our addiction Breaking Bad and now we are watching the spin off ‘Better Call Saul’.


When we woke on Saturday morning Norm saw on the local security group that there was chaos in Hout Bay. The weather is freezing cold and damp and the people who have been displaced by the recent fire in the informal settlements were blocking the roads and hurling bricks and setting things alight to protest the fact that no progress has been made in returning them to a more permanent home. They have no electricity or water in their temporary shacks. They have to use portable toilets and communal showers. They are saying that some of the plots in the area recently cleared by the fire have been given to people who are not even on the list of original residents who were fire victims. The City of Cape Town had asked for patience while they reblocked the area but the field where they are housed is now flooding due to the recent rain. According to someone who spoke to a person at the scene, the protesters were setting up for a demonstration early Saturday morning when some guy trying to drive through swore at them for blocking the road and apparently pulled a gun. The protesters threw rocks at him and things escalated from there.


Photos sourced from the HBO group on Facebook.

We did not have to go out that morning so we stayed in, listening to the sirens and following it all on the Neighborhood Watch radio. 

Later around lunch time we heard the roads were open and Caitlin headed out to the northern suburbs to a friend’s baby shower. 

I decided to make pancakes and bacon for brunch for Norm and I. There is no stressful situation that can’t be improved by pancakes. 💕

Norm and I were booked to go out last night to one our favorite Cape Town restaurants, La Mouette. We were not sure if the road was open via the village so we took the long way out via Constantia. 

We were seated in the front room near one of their roaring fires. 

We ordered the Winter Special at R295 per person.


Norm was happy with the carafe of wine which came with the Winter Special as was I. I didn’t catch what label it was but it was a really tasty Sauvignon Blanc and wasn’t too acidic.

They served fresh homemade bread with little dishes of hummus spread, rendered beef fat and pickled onion.

The first course was the infamous cheese croquettes with a smoked aioli. These are so heavenly. The cheese is warm and liquid, the coating crispy and the aioli the perfect accompaniment to the smoky cheese filling.

The second course was Butternut Soup. It was served with a bowl of the accent flavours and the soup is then poured over the Parmesan, shiitake mushrooms, croutons and beurre noisette crumb by the waiter. The flavours all popped and it was such a gorgeous combination.


The Main Course was Roast Chicken, served with purée of root vegetables, crispy kale and triple cooked potatoes. A little pot of chicken jus was poured over at the table when it was served. This chicken was so tender it melted in your mouth.


Dessert was Beignets served warm with hazelnut praline butter and a dark chocolate sauce.

You opened the pastry and spread it with the praline cream and then dipped it in the sauce. I could have eaten a dozen of these they were light and the flavours so tasty. The meal was perfect for a cold winter night. We had a lovely evening.

When we left we reminisced about all of the parties we have attended there sitting around the lovely old fountain in the courtyard.

Driving home we decided that we would take the shortest route as we had heard the roads were all clear. However we saw lots of debris from the fires and lots of broken glass and rubbish littering the roads. As we passed by the main protest area our car started making a very odd noise, like it was dragging something. It was too dangerous to stop there so I was panicking that our tire was punctured but we kept driving. When we went over a speed bump the noise stopped. When we got home we could see nothing untoward so we are unsure what the sound was. 

We saw later that night that there was a group of 20 or so people out throwing bricks and stones in that same area where our car had issues and a guy had his side mirror knocked off his car when they tried to put a brick through his window. We were lucky we got through safely.

I woke at 3am last night and could not get back to sleep. The medication I am on for my ears makes me quite nauseous and once I was awake Navajo was making so much noise moaning and groaning I could not get back to sleep so I am rather tired today. I managed to go back to sleep at 730 but after Norm fed the dogs Panda came up and barked to get back into the bed. I love my dogs but sometimes I want to kill the wee buggars.

Today the protests started back up causing the village once again to shut down. There are only 3 routes into our village. One is shut due to landslides from our recent storms, in the protest the traffic lights were all damaged and the roads blocked on the coastal side of the village and the other was also blocked by protesters so all routes in have been compromised for two days. For those of us who have contributed to helping the victims of the recent fire by donations or financial contributions it is hard to understand. But then we have never had to sleep in a cold, damp metal box for months on end. I don’t think we ever can understand it. Our lives are worlds apart. The meal we had last night is more in cost than many people make in a day’s wages. We are part of the privileged few, educated, employed and earning a decent wage to enable us to buy our own warm, dry homes.

I hope the city now speeds up the rehousing of the fire victims, these people have suffered so much already. 

Late this morning I made brunch for me, Norm and Caitlin. I made cheesy zucchini fritters.


I made bacon and eggs and served it with avocado and rosa tomatoes.


We are now relaxing by the fire and Norm is busy on a bid for some work and Caitlin is painting her tables for her new flat. We have a busy week ahead so I’m having down time.

I wish you all a safe week ahead. 

Music & Cocktails

This weekend we really enjoyed watching Glastonbury live via our BBC iPlayer. We try to catch the key acts every year, however until this year it was only available once they were on YouTube. We can now watch real time via streaming. On Friday evening we  loved the set by The Pretenders, it is hard to believe that Chrissie Hynde is 65 years old, unlike many aged artists she has not lost any of her vocal abilities.

chrissie

We also really enjoyed Radiohead. They sound exactly the same as they always did too they just look a bit older (as do we all).

Saturday we watched some new artists and a few others, but my fave was Katy Perry. Her shows are always so fun to watch. Her dancers were dressed in all manner of silly headdresses which made it interesting. Sunday night we watched Ed Sheeran. I do love Ed Sheeran but am not a fan of his ‘rapping’. It does not sit nicely on him. I prefer his folky / pop songs.

It was freezing cold and I was wearing about 5 layers of clothes, a furry blanket and snuggling an animal or 2 while watching in front of a roaring fire. It felt funny to see people who were attending the festival in shorts and t-shirts looking hot and flustered.

Saturday I had a busy schedule. First thing that morning I had a follow up session at Skin in Hout Bay for the laser treatments I am having. It was a small area we are working on so I was in and out and back home quick sticks.

I had a bit of time before my next appointment so I made a HFLC breakfast for Norm, Caitlin and I. I added feta, cheddar and cilantro to the omelette. I love salsa even though it is not banting if store bought, but I added it to mine. The bacon was preservative free.

Norm was busy painting the pantry ceiling & Caitlin has been busy renovating some tables for her new flat so our house has a lot of painting going on. She had bought the tables on a local Facebook group where people sell off their bits and pieces of furniture and used clothing. She got them very cheap and they are solid wood. She sanded them down and is busy painting them white. She has replaced the glass tops with adorable wall tiles. Her furniture is all white, grey or blue so these will be perfect.

Cait Tables

Excuse my big boot in the pic, oops. They are not finished so this is a pic of them in the garage.

I then had an appointment at the hairdresser Saturday afternoon. My hairdresser Leandra has moved to a new venue in Cape Town city centre and I was not 100% sure where it was so I gave myself an hour to get parked and find it. I am glad I did as the street signs were very misleading. I cannot parallel park so I parked up a few blocks away from Church Street and walked down. I knew I was looking for number 66 and the street sign pointed towards the mountain for numbers below 84 so off I trudged in that direction. I got into the 1st bit of road which was quite dark as the sun was blocked by the buildings and I came face to face with a dude with his penis in his hand. I think he was having a pee, however I did not stop to find out. I crossed over to the other side of the road but he had already seen me and he shouted out to me and waved his willy in my general direction, looking rather disappointed that I was not keen on a close up. This was rather frightening as we were the only 2 people anywhere to be seen. If he had pursued me I would have been in a spot of bother. I kept moving quickly and he went off in the direction I had just come from and so we went our separate ways. I got to the main road and realised that I had ran out of buildings and was obviously going the wrong way, so I turned around and headed back in the direction I had come from but luckily he had moved out of sight.

Eventually I found the spot for the new salon and climbed upstairs and settled in.

 

I had my hair coloured and trimmed and then I offered the hairdressers assistant Thembi a lift home. Thembi shared with me that she is so excited that her daughter was coming soon for a visit. She has been living in the Eastern Cape with her grandfather and aunts. She had been getting in with a bad crowd when living here in Cape Town and so Thembi sent her off to school there. It is so hard for parents who work to keep an eye on their teens and all it takes is getting in with a bad crowd and then there is trouble. We discussed how her kids have been so much more privileged than she was growing up and how they take this for granted. I think if you have never been hungry, you cannot conceptualise it or appreciate how blessed you are to not have to worry about your next meal.

Norm and I had a date night on Saturday and went out for dinner to Papino’s which is one of our faves in the winter. They had a roaring fire and it was nice and cosy.


We both ordered our usual, the Hollandse Biefstuk which is a pan-fried beef fillet with mushrooms flambéed with brandy at R172. We had Portuguese chips with it which are like thick home made potato chips (or crisps to you brits.) We shared an order of their fried mushrooms.

We even had a bit of dessert and squeezed in a cheeky Malva pudding. Described as ‘Served Home-made, warm Cape pudding served with vanilla ice-cream or cream’ it costs R45.

On Sunday while Norm was continuing working on painting the kitchen I lazed about and finished the last few episodes of OITNB which left me emotional and wound up so I then watched a couple of films while slow cooking a pot roast for dinner that evening. I picked random films I thought would not interest Norm as I prefer to save those we both are keen on to watch together.

First I watched Brain on Fire which is based on a real life event.

brain on fire

It was pretty good, if a bit intense. I give it 3.5 Kitten Stars.

Next I watched Captain Fantastic just because I was intrigued by the cover pic.

capn fantastic

I did not even look at the cast list beforehand and I only realised the lead was played by Viggo Mortensen when he shaved his beard about 3/4 of the way through the film as he is thin as a whippet in this film and far from his usual handsome self. I really loved this movie. I laughed out loud, I sobbed with heartbreak and I sat amazed and breathless. It was riveting and very emotionally gut-wrenching.

I give it a full 5 Kitten Stars.

Once Norm finished painting he joined me in the lounge and he built us a big cosy fire.

By then my beef roast was ready.

I had cooked carrots in the sauce with the roast and to go with it I steamed broccoli and made fondant sweet potatoes. It was rather delicious if I say so myself.

The following night I started our dinner before Vanessa arrived to do my pedicure to save a bit of time later. I cleaned the fat layer off of the roast from the previous night and shredded the meat, chopped the carrots and put it with the sauce from the pot roast into a casserole dish and heated it in the oven. Norm peeled and thinly sliced the remainder of the sweet potatoes and layered with cream and mozzarella cheese and we baked this too. It was delicious and perfect for a cold night.

Roast 2nds.png

It even stretched until lunch on Tuesday!

Monday morning I had an appointment to see the ENT specialist my GP had recommended. She is in the new Christian Barnard Hospital at the foreshore so I walked over from my office. It is about a 10 minute walk so was very easy. The new hospital is stunning, bright and clean. I hope it stays that way.

I liked the ENT. She was very approachable and seemed to find me funny. She did an ultrasound check of my ears and discovered my middle ear is full of fluid. She sprayed a bit of anaesthetic up my nose followed by a scope and discovered I have a deviated septum. She could see the scar tissue from all of my childhood issues with my ears. I missed so much school as a child due to chronic ear infections. She also noted the scarring of my oesophagus from acid reflux. It was like a psychic doctor asking about stuff from my past which I had not mentioned. She has given me a list of things to do twice a day. First I have to wash out my sinuses with a salt water solution, followed by a nasal spray to open my sinuses, then turn my head upside down and drop in a steroid and antibiotic mix which is actually eye drops. Then I must do the Valsalva manoeuvre. The Valsalva manoeuvre is performed by moderately forceful attempted exhalation against a closed airway, usually done by closing one’s mouth, pinching one’s nose shut while pressing out as if blowing up a balloon.

Valsalva_maneuver.jpg

All of this will be done twice a day for 2 weeks and then I must go back to see if it is resolved. It is a mission and rather awkward to achieve in the mornings before work as I leave so early.

After work last night we were invited to a cocktails evening at Retha’s. She has a friend Jennifer who is working on the yachts in Europe who wanted to practice her cocktail skills. Here is our lovely bartender with a round of cosmos.

bartender

I was willing to be a guinea pig as I love cocktails.


We got to choose a few different cocktails for Jennifer to make and I asked for a pina colada. They were divine!


She made a few different ones. I am not a fan of mint so I skipped the mojito round.

We had been nibbling on cheese and nuts and homemade bread but eventually we decided we needed proper food and we ordered Thai food on OrderIn.

We ended the night on a round of chili chocolate tequila drinks.

chili choc martini

It was so delicious.

cocktails me.jpg

Dunno what Norm is up to in the background? Trying to drag me off home most likely as he was driving and not cocktailing.

We did not stay late but all those different cocktails meant I suffered a bit on Wednesday morning. But it was worth it as it was a fun evening.

I have a few fun events coming up this weekend. We are going to the winter warmer special at La Mouette on Saturday so I am very excited about that.

lamouettefood

lamouette.JPG

It is one of our favourite restaurants in all of Cape Town.

Sunday I have a drum circle to attend. I have booked to attend a workshop late July to make my own drum which I am so excited about. I have asked for a hartebeest skin rather than a goat skin as the colour is much richer. I thank the animal who shall give his skin to my drum.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and weekend. Much love.

New Beginnings

Wednesday was a day of new beginnings for me. It was the day I started the project with the new client that I have been undergoing the arduous recruitment process for. It is a very different working environment to the corporate environment I am used to. It is more like a government office environment, i.e. it is rather dirty and low budget. If you want a cup of coffee there is only instant available and you have to bring your own spoon and cup to make it. None of the luxuries of ground coffee beans and an espresso like the office I am in on Mondays and Tuesdays. You have to bring your own plate, knife and fork as well as your own food unless you want to risk walking down the main road for sustenance. You will be taking your life in your own hands to walk down the road on your own as it is a rather chaotic street.

The bathrooms are horrific. You feel the need to wash your hands after going to wash your hands there.

It is a long travel time to get here, I spend about 20 minutes getting through one single junction which queues up for miles. The full trip is almost an hour each way.

I do not have comfy, safe, dry undercover parking, I park across the road and have to walk through a rather unsavoury, dirty, noisy street to get to the offices. If it is raining, then my laptop and I just get drenched. If you have never been to Africa you cannot conceptualise the noise of an African taxi rank which is just outside my desk window. A constant hooting of horns, whistles of the guys touting for passengers, shouting and catcalling. It is deafening and difficult to concentrate.

However the work seems like it will be interesting and I will learn new skills and have the knowledge and experience of a new system to add to my CV. It is a common system being rolled out to multiple universities internationally. Also in the current economic climate I am just grateful for work, I will adjust to the other details soon I am sure. But that does not mean you won’t have to listen to me whinge. 🙂

Wednesday was also the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere.

Solstice image

Image credit.

I was invited to attend a Sweat Lodge to celebrate the Solstice. The sweat lodge has many uses and can be used to achieve whatever you wish; either just for cleansing and purification or to get answers and guidance by asking spiritual entities or the Great Spirit and Mother Earth for wisdom, or help with an issue.

The lodge itself is made up of saplings tied together and draped with blankets to keep in the heat from the stones. An actual fire is not built inside, the heat is from stones heated in the ceremonial fire pit outside of the lodge.

sweat lodge.jpg

Image Source.

The ceremony has protocols which must be honoured before you even arrive, you should either fast or have only light fruit for at least a few hours prior to entering the lodge. Women who are on their moon cycle should not enter the lodge. We were asked to dress in skirts or dresses and the women should cover their shoulders, the men should wear a shirt to cover their chests. I wore a long dress and a sarong around my shoulders. The long dress made crawling around in the lodge a bit of a challenge.

The process around building the fire is also bound by tradition, you build up the rocks into the fire pit with each attendee offering a rock to the Great Spirit and Mother Earth and silently stating their intentions for the ceremony either silently or aloud for the group. You go round the fire pit in a clockwise manner, each person placing a stone until the designated number of stones is piled onto the wood ready for lighting. Once the fire is lit only the lodge keeper or the fire keeper may cross between the fire pit and the altar which is set up midway between the fire pit and the opening of the lodge. The Stone People spirits are awakened in the stones by heating them in the sacred fire until red-hot.

Prior to entering the lodge everyone must smudge themselves from the smoke being emitted from the abalone shell filled with sage at the entrance to the sweat lodge. The entrance faces to the East and towards the sacred fire pit. This has very significant spiritual value. Each new day begins in the East with the rising of Father Sun, the source of life and power, dawn of wisdom, while the fire heating the rocks is the undying light of the world, eternity, and a new spiritual beginning that we seek in the sweat ceremony.

Once the fire outside the lodge has had an hour or so to get very hot everyone enters the lodge and settled around the pit.  There were 23 of us in the lodge so it was very full.

One at a time the white hot stones were loaded onto a shovel and pushed into the lodge, then lowered into the shallow pit inside the sweat lodge, first placing a stone on the west, then north, east, south, and in the centre to symbolise the Grandfather. Additional stones are then placed to Grandmother and The People. The lodge keeper and the attendees all welcomed the stones, saying ‘welcome grandfather’ or ‘welcome grandmother’. After seven stones were in the pit, the entrance is closed by the Fire Keeper. This began the first round of ceremony in the lodge. The sweat leader played the Drum and called forth the spirit guides in prayer from the Four Directions. The sweat leader then dips water and pours it onto the hot stones in the pit, producing large amounts of steam, usually one dipper for each of the four directions, or until told by the spirits to stop. Then she begins the prayers, songs and chants.

We started by all stating our ancestry and calling on our ancestors to join us in the lodge. I called on my Cherokee ancestors and White Buffalo Woman.

img_0004
There are multiple rounds of prayer and with each of these rounds 7 new stones are brought into the lodge. There is a minimum of a round for each of the four directions, where each direction symbolises a different purpose and energy.

The temperature in the lodge increases in heat as the fire pit fills up with the stones. At one stage it became too hot and we begged for air and the side was opened slightly.

I personally felt that the lodge was too full, when I have had a lodge before there was enough space to lie down should the heat become too intense. I also went into a trance like state in that previous lodge as I was able to relax and lie down. This facilitated visions and mysticism. However I still felt the benefit of the lodge, it was just not very physically comfortable.

By the time we finished the rounds it was midnight. Norm came to collect me and we went home without my indulging in the meal with the group. As I had started my new job that day I was exhausted. The night before I woke at 4am having only gone to bed at midnight so I had done all of this on 4 hours sleep.

The night after the lodge I was only in bed just before 1 am but I slept straight through until 7am. I never do that. In fact, there was a short in our security beam and the alarm went off, the dogs went insane and the security company came to trawl around our garden and I slept right through it all.

I feel so relaxed after the lodge, more in touch with my ancestors and my spirituality. I think that what has been missing in my life was prayer and spirituality. I have found this in my Cherokee roots and it is grounding me. I was raised with no religion or spirituality in our home, my Dad was agnostic. I have always been sceptical of the concept of a singular god. I am far more comfortable praying to The Great Spirit and calling on my ancestors for guidance and blessings.

I am so happy that I have found this path.

I wish you all a great weekend. ❤️💕❤️