I Hear You Knocking

 

I suspect that I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life but I just did not have a name for it. When I moved from a tiny little town in rural Tennessee to Los Angeles in the 80’s I was diagnosed with asthma because when I would drive on the motorways I would hyperventilate and it was assumed it was a reaction to the air quality. Now I realise that I was experiencing my first full blown panic attacks.

Over the years they have reappeared in moments of extreme stress with different intensities. At their worst I faint and at their best I just feel a bit ‘twitchy’ and hypersensitive. A few years ago I was interviewing the CIO at a client and I blacked out in the middle of the interview, my vision went black and I heard the roaring in my ears but I stayed upright. Luckily the project manager I was working with realised something was going on with me and carried on the interview and I came around within a few minutes. On Wednesday this week the same intensity of breathless panic hit me. It started with being aware of my heartbeat, it seemed to be jumping around loudly in my chest. Then my bottom lip went numb which is the signal my doctor told me to be aware of, it signifies a panic attack. The symptoms then escalated until I could feel myself about to faint, I heard the roaring in my ears and my vision started to go dark. I managed to talk myself out of it by breathing deeply and slowly and reassuring myself that I was fine, it was not a heart attack, it was anxiety. Naming it took away some of its power. I scrambled around in my bag and found my anxiety medication and slipped an ativan under my tongue, drank some water and sent an SOS whatsapp to Norman asking him to ring me and talk me down. I walked around the office talking to him until I felt a bit more steady. However I could feel it’s insidious presence at the back of my mind, like a steady knocking to remind me of its presence.

One thing I find with anxiety is that if I try to be a typical Virgo and analyse what may have triggered it, it makes me more anxious. However I am pretty sure that it is the combination of work pressures, money pressures, the fear over Panda’s health and worries over his prognosis.

Sometimes you just have to accept that it is what it is and try to just take things a minute at a time.

When I went home I had to shower and get ready to go out again as it was Norman’s birthday.

We have a lot of history together.

We had made plans to go for dinner with our friends Mel and Steve. Caitlin had offered to babysit Panda so we could have a night out and so we dropped him off there enroute to Peddlars.

Caitlin has 2 kitty cats and neither of them were very happy about the interloper.

In fact there were a few stare offs going on between little Mittens and Panda.

We had booked and were seated at a nice big round table.

Soon after we were seated our friends Mel, Steve and their daughter Chloe arrived.

We were not allowed to take any pics of Chloe (teenagers) but it was lovely to catch up with them all, they had just returned from the UK where they were looking for Universities for Chloe.

We had a lovely dinner. Everyone except me ordered starters but I knew I wanted dessert and could not manage 3 courses. Mel was very generous and gave me one of her spinach and feta croquettes which were delicious! I will order these next time we go there. They were R59 and amazing, tasty little balls of heaven.

Norm ordered the Gnocchi Gorgonzola for R68: Potato dumplings with spinach, assorted mushrooms, cream and gorgonzola. Norm enjoyed it but I tasted it and thought it was revolting but then again I do not like gnocchi or gorgonzola so there you go.

Chloe had the calamari and it was a massive portion. Steve had the beef carpaccio. Everyone seemed to enjoy their food.

For his main, Norm ordered the fillet steak which was on special and had it with sweet potato fries but I did not snap a pic of it. The rest of us ordered burgers, Steve and I both had the Bacon and Cheddar Burger for R125: Crispy bacon, mature cheddar served with chips and onion rings.

Mel chose the Camembert Chicken Burger for R120: Chicken breast with melted camembert, cranberry and herb salsa, served with chips and onion rings. She enjoyed it but said it was very salty.

For dessert both Chloe and I had the chocolate brownie at R49. It came with ice cream and was garnished with strawberries.

I had asked the waitress about the brownie because as an American I have high standards for brownies and she assured me it was divine. She was wrong. It was full of chunks of chocolate and had very little actual brownie taste. The texture was wrong. I did not enjoy this dish very much at all.

I had advised the restaurant when booking that it was Norman’s birthday and so they did a special little bit of decoration on his cheesecake.

Norm gave his dinner 5 Kitten Stars but mine gets 4.5 as the brownie disappointed me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

We stayed quite late for a school night just chatting and having a laugh and then we went to collect Panda. He was so excited to see us, I am sure he thinks we may just abandon him. Silly boy. We are in it as long as he is willing to fight.

Norm has been working on Panda’s prototype for a walking frame to assist him with rehab once his legs will function. He bought an aluminium side table and removed the top so that he just had the frame. He tested out the size using towels and clamps to hold Panda up.

During the week Norm went to a fabric shop in town to get neoprene. He had Panda in his arms and the manager stopped him to advise no dogs were allowed in the shop. When Norm explained his illness and why he needed the fabric, the lovely manager went to get samples of the fabric and brought them to Norm, let him choose, cut the size needed and helped Norm pay. So sweet.

On Saturday he made a sling from the cloth to go into the frame.

Panda was confused as to what was going on.

Panda is slowly starting to get stronger while simultaneously losing weight and muscle mass. Trying to get him to eat is a nightmare, some nights Norm has to almost force feed him the recovery food with a syringe and some nights he will almost bite your arm off for a bit of roast chicken and sometimes he turns up his nose. However he always has an appetite for biltong or dried meat treats.

He is still having tissue salts melted into his drinking water and he loves them. He licks any sediment up from the bowl when the water finishes. He is also now taking a daily dose of Colostem. It is a mix of colostrum and stem cells. Colostrum is taken to strengthen your immune system and help your body fight disease-causing agents.

Stem cells have the following benefits:

  • Synergistic formulation,
  • Colostrum supports healthy immunity.
  • Supports many aspects of healthy adult stem cell cascade (activate, specialise & regenerate) Encourages normal immunity
  • Helps to maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal environment

He also has CBD drops at night to help relax him for sleep.

Next on the agenda is to take him to Dr Barry Hindmarch for acupuncture next month when I get paid. Meanwhile Norm and I do a bit of light physio to keep his joints supple. I work on each leg individually and take them through their range of motion and then give him a massage but he is just a bag of bones, skin and copious amounts of hair.

I have seen his back leg kicking and this week when it happened I clapped and cheered and he did it again. Initially we weren’t sure if he was using his body to move his leg or whether it was deliberate fine muscle movement. Either way it is encouraging even though it is such a minor thing.

His bark gotten a bit stronger.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with Panda, on Monday when I got in from work Navajo was unable to get up from the floor. He had obviously put his back out. Against my advice Norm went behind Navajo and tried to lift his hindquarters up. Navajo screamed in pain and nipped out to try and bite Norm and barely missed his face. If you have ever had back pain you know that if someone tries to help you up it can cause you pain. We messaged David the doggy chiropractor to request an appointment the next day and fretted over him all night. We had been given some CBD Jell-O shots for Panda and I decided to give one to Navajo to help with his pain. He happily took it all and about an hour later he was as high as a kite. He refused to come upstairs and he collapsed and fell sound asleep. I worried about him all night and woke feeling like death. When we came downstairs Navajo was as good as new. He had refused food the day before but he wolfed down his breakfast and acting like he had no pain at all! Norm took him to the chiropractor and David also did a little treatment on Panda to release some tension in his neck.

I’ve not stuck to low carb this week. Norm and I are both stress eating. On Monday he made a nice chicken stir fry but we had no sauce and I made a sort of satay sauce with teriyaki, sugar free peanut butter, chili and a bit of honey. We served it on noodles.

Tuesday night we had pasta takeaways from Cassarechio which left me with leftovers for lunch the following day. Thursday we had takeaways again, I had tapas from Massimo’s: calamari and fried polenta bites.

Friday I went for lunch at Nuri sushi with my friend Sakshi. I left work early as I was having another high anxiety day and had to take my meds to cope. It meant I was really tired and as I had done my billable hours there was no need to stay.

That evening Norman decided to try this recipe from one of our favorite low carb sites. He bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded it up so it was quick and easy and they tasted delicious.

He made homemade coleslaw and frozen chips in the air fryer.

This week there was an armed robbery at the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel. It is a very high end beautiful building and has amazing service. Police spokesman FC Van Wyk said 15 armed men arrived at the hotel in two vehicles. The security guard at the access control gate was threatened with a firearm. Two of the suspects removed the guard’s baton and hand radio and stayed with him while other members of the gang proceeded to enter the hotel.

“They pointed staff members and guests with two firearms and robbed them of their personal belongings,” a statement from Van Wyk said.

“The suspects then started breaking the glass cabinet display windows in the foyer with big hammers and removed jewellery, and also took an undisclosed amount of cash from the cash register.”

The suspects fled the scene shortly after the robbery and 5 of them were later arrested.

Such high profile crimes are sure to impact tourism which is a large part of Cape Town’s economy.

The Army has now finally been deployed to the high crime areas around Cape Town to deal with the gang crime and high number of murders. It took a few weeks to get them on the streets. I hope it makes a difference.

Before the press all told us the Russians were stealing our information I downloaded the FaceApp and did the obligatory old lady shot.

I look just like my Grandmother ❤️

Saturday we just relaxed, I slept until 10 which is unusual for me. I obviously needed the rest.

It was freezing cold out so I built a fire. All five of the animals kept close by.

We had seen a few episodes of Killing Eve on a flight and we really enjoyed it and Caitlin downloaded both series for us and we watched a few episodes of that. It is gripping.

I put on a pot of chicken curry late that afternoon and it wasn’t ready for dinner that night so we are having it tonight. I’ll do spinach purée and cauliflower rice with coriander to go with, it smells divine.

Today I went to Marina da Gama for drumming. I have missed a few sessions so it was lovely to see everyone. Drumming and singing helps to ground me and gives me peace. This song is one of my favorite songs and I always get a lot of positive feelings from it. It is so beautiful.

I hope Panda makes more progress this week and I hope you all have a great week. Until next time. Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

 

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A Pyrrhic Victory

This week has been a week of lovely adventures and disappointing events. Or I guess under the circumstances some of them were non-events!

In my last blog I mentioned how excited I was about seeing Sam Smith in concert but Sam lost his voice and had to walk off stage in the middle of the first of the three nights he was booked to perform in Cape Town. We read about the cancellation of the Tuesday show on Wednesday morning but the promoters held back on making a commitment about whether the next two shows were going to be cancelled or not and in fact the news sites were still reassuring us that the Wednesday and Thursday shows were still going ahead.

Big Concerts finally made an announcement on social media at 2pm on the day of the show to say the remaining two shows were cancelled. They stated that Computicket would issue refunds to the same credit card we used to make the booking. As mentioned in my last blog, this is an issue for me because the card I used has expired and just getting the tickets printed was a major issue. As far as I was aware you cannot refund an inactive card? I emailed Computicket and their reply was to inform me they would refund the card used to book the tickets, which was the same info I had queried them about! I have tweeted Big Concerts and Computicket, raised a query via Facebook and raised a customer service query on the Computicket site. They finally told me to go to a Computicket branch and get my refund there so today Norm and I went to the offices at the Waterfront only to be told that the refund has already been issued and the bank will be able to route it to my account despite the card being expired. The bank holiday weekend appears to have slowed down the process but I will keep monitoring it as the tickets were almost 2k.

From the last minute confirmation of the cancellation to the responses to my queries, the customer service from Big Concerts has been abysmal.

On the night we were supposed to go to the show, as a consolation prize Norm suggested we go out for dinner so we decided to try a new spot and we picked the Cattle Baron in Constantia. We had not booked and they were very full but we were offered a table outside on the ‘patio’. The restaurant is in a little mall so the patio is actually inside the mall but outside the actual restaurant if that makes sense? We were seated under a gas heater so it was nice and cosy.

I chose the sautéed mushroom 200g fillet: Grilled beef fillet served on deep-fried rosti and topped with garlic sauteèd mushrooms for R195. It came with a choice of a side as well as creamed spinach and roast butternut and I also ordered onion rings (you all know about my onion ring addiction).

I am always torn about how to order my steak. I like it pink but not bloody. They had a little chart in the menu telling you what each ‘doneness’ meant in their terms and I went with ‘Medium’. It was utter perfection. The steak would melt in your mouth it was so tender. It was very garlicky and the mushrooms were very tasty. I enjoyed it so much!

Maybe not as much as I would have enjoyed Sam, but you gotta take your pleasures where you can get them.

Norm was brave this week and tried out a new low carb recipe I found online. He made cauliflower cheese topped with bacon and it tasted every bit as good as Mac and Cheese!

It was delicious and it was so cheesy that you could convince yourself that it was macaroni and cheese. I was so impressed.

He baked pork chops and roasted sweet potatoes, fried baby mushrooms and steamed broccoli to go with it another night.

I had a few lunches from OrderIn as I’m getting a bit bored with the NowNow offerings from next door to our office and OrderIn is so easy!

One day I had chicken strips and chips from Smak Deli.

The chicken was moist and tender and I enjoyed the panko crust. The chips were thin and crispy, more like crisps but they were very nice.

Another day I ordered a mexibowl from Tortilla Modern Mexican.

A mexibowl is your choice of protein, refried and black beans, corn, onion, sour cream, cheese, coriander and salsa. I had the shredded beef option as my protein and it was delicious.

One day I walked down to Nuri sushi for lunch. I had prawn pops.

I also had salmon roses.

It was as delicious as always. I love their food.

This week Woolworths released the products from their collaboration with Sir John. Sir John is Beyoncé’s make up artist. They all look lovely!

Speaking of Queen B, over the weekend I watched ‘Homecoming’, the Netflix documentary she has done about preparing for and starring in the Coachella festival.

She looks so amazing! The difference in her body from the start of rehearsals when she had not long given birth to her twins to the time of the actual show is unbelievable. She worked so hard to train and get her body back into shape. In my opinion she looks even better than she did before she had her children, she is so lean and toned.

I love that she brought on Destiny’s Child for a few songs.

There has been some chaos and negative events both locally and internationally.

Close to home this week we had a mugging near the graveyard where you turn up towards our house. This resulted in a chase by police and one of the perpetrators getting shot. Let us hope that deters the group who have been terrorizing Hughenden homeowners.

A church in Kwazulu Natal had thirteen people, mostly teenagers, killed on Thursday night. A wall at a Pentecostal church fell on top of congregants who gathered at the church for Easter celebrations. There had been heavy rain and there are rumors that lack of adherence to building regulations was the cause, however investigations are still underway.

After a bit of relief from train drama, it started up again this weekend when two Cape Town trains were set alight in the Cape Town city station.

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services received a call about a train alight at Cape Town Railway station at approximately 3.51pm yesterday and 8 coaches were badly damaged before it could be contained.

This weekend was the legendary Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon which normally routes through our village. It is an event of note with residents lining the streets and cheering on the runners. However this year there was a threat of protest action and the risk of violence was too great and the race was rerouted to avoid Hout Bay.

Many businesses in Hout Bay will suffer greatly as most of us park off and drink and eat and enjoy the vibe of the event. The restaurants will have lost this income. My friend Bronwyn called it a “Pyrrhic Victory” for the protestors and once I looked it up I totally agreed! (She’s a clever cookie) I do not know what benefit the cancellation will be for the protestors. Do they feel heard? Will it bring change? Will the City politicians listen? I just see another blow to our already struggling local venues and the potential for more layoffs of the very people the protesters are allegedly providing a voice for. I do understand the frustration of the protesters as their living conditions are abysmal, however I cannot see how moving the marathon benefits their cause.

There have also been multiple catastrophes globally.

The Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral caught fire this week and has burned. Luckily many of the artifacts were spared. Caitlin and I visited the Cathedral when I took her to Paris for her 18th birthday. I am so glad I was privileged to see it before the fire. Such a sad event and loss of history.

Jerusalem’s revered Al-Asqa Mosque was struck by a fire that broke out at the same time that Notre Dame was ablaze. Luckily the fire was contained quickly with no reported injuries or interior damage to the 2000-year-old building.

There have been multiple bombs detonated in Sri Lanka churches and hotels. At the time of writing the death toll is almost 300 innocent victims. Police found 87 detonators in a private terminal of the main bus station in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and a controlled explosion was carried out on a van near St. Anthony’s church, one of three churches targeted in the attack. On Sunday evening, an improvised explosive device (IED) was defused near the capital’s Bandaranaike International Airport. There had been intelligence warnings received days before the explosions but they were not acted upon.

And for a bit of light relief from the drama, we have been told that the SA police force have a new instrument for testing drunk drivers.

That is our Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande. While amusing it is also pretty scary stuff. Was he tongue tied or is he really that ignorant? Hard to know really! It is even scarier that he was formerly the Minister of Education. You can see why SA’s education system is ranked as one of the worst in the world! I worry about the future of this country in so many ways.

I had another one of my sleep paralysis incidents this week. Norm was woken by my keening, a horrid noise even to my own ears. I have read so many different points of view on what is happening when this occurs. Some say it is astral travel. I believe this is correct as I am always interacting with people from my past but in a different relationship than in this life. There is always a sense of loss when I wake and I often wake in tears.

Both of the shows I am watching at the moment are both about life in multiple dimensions (Outlander and The OA). Many of us believe in reincarnation but is it a ‘new life’ or is it a parallel life? Whatever it is, it fascinates me.

There are so many things that our one dimensional minds cannot conceive.

Norm and I have had lots of relaxation over the bank holiday. We had no plans and just played it by ear. We had long lies in bed most days and had outings when we got cabin fever.

Thursday was the new Friday so that night I had my usual sushi fest from K1. Prawn tempura, crab salad, prawn nigiri and salmon roses.

On Friday we went on an excursion to Game to get some steam cleaner stuff (she says vaguely) and enroute we stopped in Constantia at the newish Botanicum Cafe and Grill for lunch. We had not been to this venue since it changed over from the Bootleggers brand. The renovation looks lovely.

Norm ordered a chicken and avocado wrap.

I ordered the open faced chicken and mayo on ciabatta bread.

We both ordered chips which came in a cute little flower pot.

They were proper hand cut chips. I give our lunch 4 Kitten Stars.

We just had a takeaway from Massimo’s that night for dinner and watched some Netflix.

On Saturday we had a lazy day. I played games on my iPad and was amused by the silly pooches.

That night we decided to have a date night and we took a chance on getting a table at Cheyne’s and we were in luck! We nabbed the last available table.

I ordered a Passionate Buddha cocktail.

We chose the Yum Cha dining experience at R280 for 4 dishes. I chose the Baby Shrimp Tempura with garlic truffle mayo and red pepper flakes as my first dish.

Norm chose the Crispy Hake Tempura with pickled shallots, miso mayo and unagi sauce. He raved about this dish!

We both ordered the potato and coconut dumplings with penang sauce and toasted nuts.

For my third choice I had the Mumbai chili beef with cardamon and ginger syrup and toasted coconut.

Norm had the chicken yakitori with togarashi chips and pickled pineapple.

For dessert I had the vanilla creme brûlée with toasted banana bread and miso ice cream.

Norm had the Fuji apple crumble with apple caramel and peach ice cream.

The service was great and the food divine. I give our evening a full 5 Kitten Stars.

On Sunday we decided to venture out of the bay and we decided to drive across Chapman’s Peak drive.

It is a beautiful scenic drive.

We decided to stop at Jakes. We arrived at about 3 so the lunch crowd were finishing off and we managed to get a table.

There was live music on and the singer was brilliant, I really enjoyed his setlist.

We both ordered burgers, Norm chose the Whatta Burger with sweet potato fries. His burger had cheese, bacon, gherkins, port & mushroom sauce, crumbed feta & crispy onions.

I ordered the Classic American burger. It came with mature cheddar, chipotle mayo, gherkin & onion rings.

The service was a bit dodgy, the drinks took a lifetime to arrive, then they brought Norm’s burger a good ten minutes before they brought mine. I give the service 3 stars at most but the burgers were a solid 5 Kitten Stars they were divine. They were awkward to eat and we were not given side plates to juggle the toppings but we managed. We really enjoyed the food.

I had a Kahlua Dom Pedro and it is only now that I check the menu I see that they charged me for a separate shot of Kahlua yet the menu includes the shot in the price of the Dom Pedro! How dodgy!

Oh well, it was nice even if I was overcharged for it.

We came home via the longer route through Noordhoek and around the mountain, it is also a stunning view out over the entire city.

When we got home we sat out on our balcony for a bit enjoying our own amazing view. This is my happy place.

Today our adventure was based around trying to get my refund from Computicket. We did that as soon as we arrived at the Waterfront as we were not sure how long Computicket would stay open on a holiday. Afterwards we were walking down the steps from the upper level to the lower level and there was a lone woman standing on the stairs faffing about with her tightly tied hoody. As she was stopped on the stairs I went around her and as soon as I got in front of her she started to move up close to me and reach toward my handbag. She obviously had not seen my bodyguard Norm who smoothly slid in between us, triggering a string of profanity and abuse from her, she started yelling “I am not a pick pocket” and ran off in the opposite direction. The waterfront is so busy and is full of tourists so is the perfect setting for opportunistic crime.

We were still a bit shocked but we carried on our way and went to Sevruga for lunch. We were given a table in the glass surrounded veranda so we could see the sea and people watch, but yet we were protected from the howling wind.

We love people watching.

Norm ordered the kingklip that was on special. It came with an orange beurre blanc sauce and was served on a bed of wilted baby spinach and was surrounded by cubes of fondant potato, wedges of grapefruit and orange and grilled artichokes.

Norm gave this dish 5 Kitten Stars and I must say it was a feast for the eyes as well.

I had sushi. I ordered the Prawn salad, chopped prawn, cucumber and spicy mayo. It had some slivers of avocado on top.

I also had 2 pieces of prawn nigiri.

I also had an order of Creamy Salmon Roses which is salmon roses with a lovely creamy sauce and topped with a large tempura prawn.

My food was also amazing. That was the best prawn salad I have ever had. The added bit of chili made all the difference and elevated it from bland to fabulous. The creamy salmon roses were hands down the best sushi I have ever eaten. I was literally moaning with pleasure.

We had such a lovely meal and then we went for a walk around the waterfront. There is a gorgeous view of Table Mountain from the waterfront.

We watched the Cape Wheel for a bit.

And we listened to a band playing who were really talented.

We had a wander around the shops and then headed home. I am back at work tomorrow so we are just relaxing this evening. I have really enjoyed my long weekend and all of our adventures. I hope you have had a lovely break as well.

Until next time, Kisses from The Kitten xoxoxo

Sizzling

There was a fire last Friday night and we could smell the smoke from our house so intensely that I checked social media to see if it was nearby but it was miles away in Grabouw. When I woke up on Saturday the whole valley was covered in smoke and the horses across the valley were whinnying which I assume was due to being agitated by the smoke.

We read that this fire had been contained and was under control but then on Sunday evening we started smelling smoke again.

We read on social media that there was a new fire on Kloof Nek and Signal Hill which had spread across to Sea Point. It was dark but we could see from our balcony that there were thick clouds of smoke rising over the back of Table Mountain. The pics we saw were horrific.

When I drove in on Monday morning I could see the mountain was still smoldering and the choppers were busy dousing the flames.

These ongoing fires are worse than I have ever experienced since I have lived in SA. It seems too coincidental that they are occurring in an election year. There have been rumours for years that the ANC party are trying to make the Western Cape ungovernable and to challenge our resources to the point of collapse in an attempt to shift the voters from the DA to the ANC.

Several people were on twitter claiming that the ancestors were punishing the white home owners by the fire on Signal Hill.

We had a tragedy this week where 4 children were killed when a walkway collapsed. The Black First Land First (BLF) spokesperson Lindsay Maasdorp has come out in support of a comment by Facebook user Siyanda Gumede, in which he said he “doesn’t have a heart to feel pain” for the three children who died after the tragic collapse of a walkway at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark, who he assumed to be white. This political party has been accused of hate speech over their comments on many occasions. The BLF seem to hate all white people and want us all out of South Africa.

The EFF party also want the white people to leave South Africa and think that any land or property we own should be taken from us. Their leader Julius Malema has said that we must be happy that the EFF have not called for white genocide.

The EFF have also had claims of hate speech levied about their abuse of journalists, predominately women journalists.

Bheki Cele who is our Police Minister had objected to the appeal for additional police officers being allocated to the Western Cape. The Western Cape Equality Court estimated that the Western Cape is 4,500 officers short of the amount needed to police the province. In December, the court found that the system being used to allocate police resourcing was unfairly discriminating against poor and black people in the Western Cape. The provincial police-to-population ratio was one officer for every 509 residents and in Cape Town it was even worse – 1:560. This had to be corrected so that crime-fighting capacity in the province could get close to the national average of 1:375, so that crime could effectively be addressed.

The fact that Cele is one of the ANC’s disciples just feeds into that theory that the treatment of the Western Cape is deliberately subversive.

The newly implemented Rail Enforcement Unit has been somewhat successful in their arrests of a few of the culprits who are committing crimes on the railways. The  stats I can find are that thirteen arrests were made by the end of 2018: for assault, possession of drugs and stolen property, theft and fraud. It is just a shame that there had to be millions worth of damages done and many injuries and a death to trigger any results to happen.

There were more arrests made in 2019 for cable theft. In January the police arrested five suspects allegedly involved in cable theft in Rondebosch.

Regardless, it is still not a safe environment to travel on the trains in the Western Cape. It is not safe to venture into many of the areas in Cape Town due to gang violence and lack of police presence. It is not always safe just to walk around being white. I have had verbal abuse when walking in the city being told to ‘go home’ or ‘get out’. It can be very intimidating.

Norm was called out to attend a break in very near our home on Friday night. The family were violently attacked when 5 African men walked into their home carrying axes. The security beams were off and the back door was open due to the intense heat. There was a delivery driver arriving to drop off food or cigarettes and he was also attacked. There were several children there who witnessed this all. I hope the family and their visitors get over this trauma. I hope the smaller children do not even realise what was going on and therefore won’t have too much residual trauma.

There will most likely not be any arrests made and if so they most likely will not make it to court or a conviction.

There have still been no arrests for the train arson attacks. A whopping 214 trains were burnt in suspected arson attacks in South Africa in the past three years, with 174 of them torched in the Western Cape.

Transport minister Blade Nzimande’s response to a parliamentary question revealed that most cases of arson took place in 2016 when 69 coaches were burnt, compared to 65 in 2018 and 41 in 2017.

The Western Cape accounted for 56 of the 65 coaches burnt in 2018, with eight incidents taking place in Gauteng and one in KwaZulu-Natal.

All of these problem areas are under the ownership of the National government, the ANC, so I am a bit confused why they think that non-delivery in these areas will impact on people’s votes?

But then again as a westerner there are many things I do not understand about South Africa.

We have chosen to make our home here and so we just get on with life.  I can only hope that we can find a way for us all to live in peace and harmony.

I started a new project with a client on Friday. This is the 3rd project I have done for this client since 2010. I am documenting the metadata for their data warehouse. It seems like it will be interesting.

It has been a busy week and we have not been eating that healthy so we are going to get back to banting from tomorrow.

I tried the quail’s eggs my friend gave me and boiled them and added them to a chinese slaw salad I picked up from woolies and some tuna.

Norm did cook one night and made baked pork fillet with mushrooms, corn on the cob and gem squash and it was very yummy.

We ended up having take aways a few nights however so our balance of healthy vs unhealthy was off.

Last night we met our friends Mel, Steve and their daughter Chloe at Hoghouse Brewing Company.

We took an uber so that Norm could have a few drinks.

One thing that I struggle with at this venue is drinks. I know it is a brewery but I do not drink beer. I tried their cider but it was just OK, I did not really enjoy it. I ended up drinking water. I go there purely for the food. We ordered food to share for the table, we ordered lots of meat as you do at a BBQ joint.

We ordered 300g of pork ribs, 300g of pulled pork, 300g of burnt ends and 300g of pork belly.

The boys ordered the chorizo scotch eggs, Chloe ordered some nachos, Mel ordered the eggplant parmiagiana and we ordered chips, onion rings, chili poppers and wild mushroom arancini.

For dessert I had a pasteis de nata, Chloe had a vanilla milkshake and Mel and Steve had sorbet.

I found that  few of the dishes had changed since we were last there. The burnt ends were quite fatty, next time I would choose the beef brisket in the hopes it was less fatty. I did not try the pork belly but there was a gorgeous crackling and it looked nice. I loved the pulled pork. In fact next time I may just order that only it was so good. We had a lovely evening catching up with our friends and eating like piggies.

Today Norm and I are having a pajama day. I have been fasting with only hot water with lemon until lunch time to clear my digestion. I have tidied my clothes and have been writing. Norm is going to make us a high fat low carb lunch of eggs, bacon and avocado. I know that I will feel better once we get back to reducing our sugar intake. It makes a huge difference to my digestion and my arthritis symptoms. We will derail temporarily next weekend as the girls are coming up for our belated Christmas lunch. I look forward to that! Seeing my girls, not the banting derailing.

I have also booked a few events to look forward to, I booked to go to the theatre to see Into the Woods. It is playing at The Theatre on the Bay which is our fave venue and we have booked the dinner and show option which is usually lovely. I booked a lunch at Foxcroft with some girl friends. I love that restaurant.

Today we woke to some cool weather and it has rained quite a bit which hopefully will dampen some of the ongoing fires we have been having.

I am very grateful for the rain.

I wish you all a happy week.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten x0x0x0x0x0

A Smashing Start

I started a new project this week at UCT in their IT department. We are a team of 3 consultants but one of us is not really on board yet as our role informs hers so she arrives more towards the end of the timeline. It’s a short term project so we have a lot to learn in a very short time. As a result my head is thumping every night when I get in. It’s a rather risky area of the city to be wandering around wearing a laptop and the traffic home is dreadful which adds to the stress but it’s a good project with a potential of a long term contract so at least it’s interesting and I’m learning about a new domain of data. With growth there comes pain!

I’ve been driving into the city then around onto the motorway and nipping off by the windmill. It seems crazy to drive so far but it’s quicker as it’s against the traffic. As it’s not stop start like surface roads it’s better on petrol consumption.

It has been awkward with Norm’s car being in the garage as he can’t shop for dinner. I might have to start to do so at the Shoprite by my new office. He cooked where he could do so last week. He did a quick shop on Monday and he did sausage, cheese topped steamed broccoli and cole slaw with mashed sweet potatoes.

On Tuesday after work Caitlin popped around and we got take away chicken schnitzel from Posticino. She brought back our ladder as we had more lights burned out than we had functioning and we needed to sort them or buy miners headlamps to navigate the house at night. She has finished most of her renovations now so she shouldn’t need it.

Norman went for a Chinese meal at Blue Lotus one night.

I had spicy crispy pork with noodles. The coating was crispy and the pork was tender. The amount of chili was perfect, a kick but no pain. This is my fave dish of theirs by far.

I had left overs for work only a few days but one day I was in workshops all day until well after 1 and was starving by the time I was free. As I start at 7am I tend to eat at 12. I ended up having KFC as Chicken Licken and JoJo’s fish and chip shop are the only other alternatives. It was the first time I had KFC in years! The next day when I had no lunch I decided to use OrderIn for a healthier alternative and picked Tigers Milk. I chose the Corny Chicken salad which consisted of: Mexican chicken strips, chargrilled corn, black beans, fresh avo, jalapeños, lettuce and pico de gallo with tortilla dippers. It was really delicious. I will order that again.

The weather has finally cooled down after intense heat during the last few weeks of October.

On Monday a thick mist was still present when I drove into work and then later that day a thick cloud rolled over the mountain.

After that it was lovely and cool all week. It heated up a bit as the week went on. The project office is freezing so I am still wearing boots and sweaters to work, but then I have to walk to my car so it can get hot.

I didn’t make it down to Dance to Heal The Earth this weekend as work is too intense and I just can’t spare the time. I’m rather exhausted. As a result we had a quiet night in on Friday night. I got home late as traffic was a nightmare. Norm popped into Cassarechio for a takeaway and we started watching a new series on Netflix.

Saturday we had a lazy morning. I woke to this cheeky face lying on my chest.

I had a coffee in bed then Norm and I had another coffee out on our balcony. I love this view.

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Good Morning World 🌎😘

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Then we showered and went for brunch at La Cuccina. We grabbed a table outside in the shade.

We both fancied a change from our usual fare. Norm ordered the Smashed Avocado with grilled halloumi on Banting bread and I ordered Smashed Avo with two poached eggs on sourdough for R89. A lot of smashing. It was thick smashed avo, lemon juice, salt & black pepper served with fresh coriander, chilli, thinly sliced red onion & olive oil. I ordered well done bacon on the side.

This dish was divine. It may be my fave new thing. Nice and fresh with the tart lemony avo and the burst of chili and sweet red onion is perfect. Next time I’ll also order mine with Banting bread as Norm said their version was nice. Not many Banting options taste nice, they are often very dry.

We also picked up two low carb ready meals for our dinner that night.

On our way out I noticed this mural, isn’t it stunning?

While we were leaving, Trevor my son rang and told me he asked his long term partner Amber to marry him!

I’m so pleased for them. Amber was one of Lily’s best friends as a child so she is like part of the family already. She is good for Trevor as she gets him out of the house and away from his computer. He would be such a hermit without her. I also love her mother Rose, she’s a fabulous woman and her baby sis Sage is too cute.

Trevor asked Amber in such a cute unique way. There’s this rapper they both like that started a twitch account and Trev asked him to say “Amber will you marry Trevor” ❤. You can watch here:

Proposal

I’m so excited!

We popped over to Earthworx after brunch as I needed potting soil. I love wandering around there.

We watched a film called “The Invitation” last night. It was really odd. I’ll give it 3 Kitten Stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Last night for dinner we popped our ready meals in the oven and I made fried cauliflower and onion rice to go with them. We shared them, we had beef curry and beef bourguignon.

The beef was high quality with no fat or revolting bits. The sauces were rich and plentiful. At what I think was about R80 and R95 respectively they were a bargain. They also do vegan and gluten free options as well. I think we will get a take away from here weekly. It’s great quality at a good price.

Today has been a chilled Sunday as we had no obligations so we have had a long lie in bed drinking coffees and then a lazy day after our lazy morning.

Norm made brunch for us: eggs, bacon, avo and tomato. I chose boiled, he had his scrambled.

We heard on the radio that another fire has started in Hout Bay. The winds are blowing quite a bit so hope it’s out and no one is injured or loses their home.

On Thursday night there was also a furor on the radio and social media. Many people were complaining of gunshots being heard somewhere in the valley. It was the funeral of a taxi driver who had been shot recently. They were firing off their guns in recognition I assume.

Never a dull moment in our wee village.

I feel a bit readier to tackle another intense week after lolling about all weekend. I needed complete downtime or I was going to splinter. A mental health day (or two). I’m feeling much calmer.

I wish you all a week of peace and love.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

The Count Down

I am stressed. I tend to not sleep when I am stressed which only compounds my stress. I am stressing over several things. I am struggling a bit financially and just do not seem to get on top of it. I am stressing over that as I hate being in debt. Norm is having issues with his very old car, we need to buy a new one but cannot at the moment. I hope repairing it will not cost too terribly much. It is what it is.

I am about to start a new project at work with a new client so I am stressing about that. We got approval on our proposal to UCT for assessing their Master Data Management maturity, we will start with a small pilot and then broaden our scope once we process prove our approach. It is not the best place to be based from a comfort point of view in regards to travel and parking and being near to places to get healthy food, but at least it is a project I can get my teeth into.

And finally on my list of stresses, this Saturday is our annual Halloween party and I always panic beforehand that no one shows up and that if they do the evening will fall flat. There is always a decent turn out, but this year there are many other events going on that weekend and so a lot of friends are not coming. We have the same DJ booked this year as we have had the last 2 years and he is brilliant at keeping us dancing so I should relax. But I can’t. I will only relax on the actual night of the event, once I have had a few drinks and I see that everyone is having fun. And then it is over for another year.

I have a busy week planned this week and that just compounds my stress levels.

As much as I was not looking forward to my Data Governance training last week it was actually very interesting! There were 4 of us getting trained, one was a client and the other 3 attendees were myself and my colleagues. We had some interesting discussions and we gave the client a lot of insight into what it is like to be a consultant. He was quite shocked when we told him some of the challenges we have with clients.

Norm had cooked most of last week since we are on a tight budget. He made a nice beef bolognaise type dish and he served it with sweet potato mash and stir fried red cabbage on Wednesday and on Thursday he served it over spinach noodles with steamed veggies. It was healthy and tasty. As it is so hot tonight he has cooked dinner on the gas grill, he made chicken and feta sausages and corn on the cob and then made a salad to go with it. It was perfect fare for the weather.

Last Friday night we had chicken burgers from the Kitchen Takeaway. These are usually so tasty but on Friday they were very average. One of the reasons they are so good is the roll, they are usually served on a kitke roll. A kitke roll by any other name is just challah bread. I love the texture and almost sweet taste and the sprinkling of sesame seeds is the perfect finish. However on Friday the burgers were served on a hard, stale, cheap burger bun. It was also missing the copious amount of pickle slices which are usually very prevalent (I love pickles). There was not the usual ‘sauce’ on the burger either. If this was the first time I had eaten their food I would most likely not go back. It was the quality equivalent of a KFC burger for twice the price. I am not sure what is going on at this restaurant but we have watched many venues in Hout Bay go under once they start cutting corners. I love their ribs too so I hope they sort their issues out and do not end up going under. That would result in unemployment for their staff and there is plenty of that in SAfrica already.

I have booked to go to the US Consulate this week as my Mom needs some papers notarised and posted over to her. She has just recently bought a new house in North Georgia and she had put the house she lived in with her husband just outside of Atlanta on the market months ago but has not managed to sell it yet. It is a big beautiful house in the countryside so I thought it would be snapped up instantly. It was originally listed with a family ‘friend’ who did absolutely nothing to help my mother prepare for the move. She did not help my mom pack up, sort the estate sale or even give her any discount on her commission. She did not even get her act together to take the brochure and website images when the house was beautifully decorated, she waited until my Mom had the estate sale and her draperies and decor were gone and then photographed an empty house. My Mom has now listed with a different agent and he has gotten things moving, however we just discovered that she had never had the house put into her name after my stepdad died. How the previous agent did not catch this I have no idea. Now the lawyer has decided that as the obituary had named me as Tom’s daughter rather than his stepdaughter, I have to send a notarised document saying that I will not try and lay any claim to the house when it does sell. As I am her daughter this seems so bizarre to me, but if that is what is required to help her get things sorted I will do so. In SA we get our documents certified at the police station which I did last week and sent to the lawyer, however the lawyer says this is not acceptable and I have to go to the US Consulate to get it properly notarised. The consulate charges $50 USD per document and there are 2 documents and I cannot afford to pay this as once you do the exchange to rands it is a lot of money in my currency. My Mom sent me the money via forex and I have made an appointment to go next week, it just means I have to take time off of work to do so. This process has been ongoing for weeks now, what a drama it has turned out to be!

It has been quite warm and windy the last few days with today being 38 degrees! The strong winds have continued and this has possibly been instrumental in several horrendous township fires this past week.

In the wee hours of Friday morning there was a fire in Hout Bay. This was in the township that is up high over the Hout Bay harbour and there were 2 deaths in the fire, a mother and her 14 year old son.

The firemen are so brave, I cannot imagine running into a scenario that most are running from.

The fire was finally under control by morning and from the pic made by The Aerial Perspective you can see the extent of the devastation.

Thula Thula were on site straight away sorting out donations of clothing and essentials to the victims of the fire. Hout Bay is so lucky to have them on their doorstep.

Then in the early hours of Saturday morning 342 informal structures were destroyed in Silver Town, Khayelitsha another settlement area a few miles from us. This has resulted in 1,355 people being displaced.

Later on Saturday night there was yet another fire in the Kosovo informal settlement in Philippi‚ Cape Town which destroyed about 120 dwellings and it is estimated about 1‚400 people have been affected by the blaze.

I hope that the government will rise to support these families, it is so tragic. I read that the Gift of the Givers foundation are assisting the victims.

On Friday afternoon after work I went to pick up my new eyeglasses. My eyes have deteriorated quite a bit which explains my deep frown lines earned from squinting at everything. My astigmatism has also gotten worse. Add to this my Posterior Vitreous Detachment which causes a huge amount of ‘floaters‘ and I am lucky I can still get about without falling over anything. These challenges are why I hate to drive on the motorway and why I cannot drive at night.

Saturday I was up and out early as I had drumming practice at my friend Gerri’s. Gerri is our drum chief at the moment, it is usually her daughter Jesse who is working in the UK but Gerri did a great job. We all practiced on the communal drum which will be used in the upcoming dance.

After we finished our rehearsal we stayed to make Prayer Flags for tying around the four gates of the arbour.

Prayer flags or prayer ties are sacred bundles of tobacco which are used as offerings of prayer in sacred ceremonies. Our drum group are performing at a 4 day dance at the end of the month, however I am not going with them. One, I cannot afford it and two, I think it will be too much for me physically. One day solid drumming pretty much finishes me off, add to this the sleeping conditions of being in a camp and I cannot risk challenging my arthritis to this degree at a time when I am starting a new project and cannot take time off. But Gerri offered to take my prayer ties with her and then a little bit of me will be there too. The ties will be tied around the dance arbour.

We smudged all of the items used to make the flags: the tobacco, the material and the ties. I offered prayers for each of the items. Tobacco is sacred in the NA culture and as much a medicine as sage. It is used as a spiritual offering. We placed the tobacco into the material and followed the prescribed method of wrapping and tying it.

I found a video which shows the process much better than I can explain it.

After I got home from drumming I collected Norm and we headed out for something to eat as it was 3.30 and I was ravenous. We decided to go to the local German restaurant Zur Holzbucht.

The Chelsea game was on so Norm was happy watching that on their big screen.

The wind was so strong down at the beach that we could barely get in and out of the car as the wind whipped the doors of the car so hard. It was worth the battle though as their food is always so delicious and we were not disappointed. Norm ordered the Goulash which was on special.

I had the pork schnitzel and chose to have it with chips and then I wanted to kick myself as I love German potato salad and missed a trick there! But my food was very yummy.

Norm had dessert but I was full up. He had the cheesecake which was a proper baked cheesecake.

We headed over to the shops after we ate and bought some bits and pieces to tide us over for the weekend. We had a quiet night in that evening and started watching series two of ‘Making a Murderer‘. We have not finished it yet so no spoilers! This is a brilliant series if you have not seen series 1 then you must must must watch it! I wish I could remember the details of the first series better but we watched it a few years ago when it first came out. This is a 5 Kitten Star series.

On Sunday we had a lazy day. Norm was working on a bid and I stayed in bed playing games on my iPad surrounded by the animals for most of the morning. Norm made us a yummy breakfast when I finally got up.

I had a long session of dog grooming as the dogs were looking a mess. I got enough hair from all 3 beasties to make a whole new dog.

When it cooled down a bit Norm went out to clean the pool with much assistance by the dogs who barked madly and chased the end of the pool net every time it was raised out of the water. Due to the wind,  the pool cover was littered in debris so he spent most of the time actually cleaning the cover rather than the pool itself.

All manner of insanity is going on around the world. The 2 items which I have been following in the news are firstly, the murder which occurred in the Turkish embassy, a place which is supposed to symbolise a place of safety. The news of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been a shock to many, other than the Saudis who murdered him of course. Trump thinks the Saudis are very nice people of course. He is such an imbecile.

The second item I have been following is the murder of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara who was a witness in the trial of Indian Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal who has been accused of raping a nun on multiple occasions over two years.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal was released on bail on the condition that he return to Jalandhar, and when he returns he is given a hero’s welcome. Within a week, Father Kuriakose who testified against the Bishop is found dead in a church in Jalandhar. He had complained of threats to his life and it appears those complaints were justified.

Sometimes the world is a sad place. Even THAT stresses me out if I lie awake and think too much about it. As an empath if I let all of that pain and sadness in, it incapacitates me.

Until next time, hold your loved ones close and count your blessings.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxo

 

 

Shutting Down

We have had a bit of on and off rain this week with more water to fill our dams. However after our weekend last week of sunny gorgeous weather it was a bit disorientating to have some days of cold weather interspersed with the warm sunny days. Do I wear boots? Do I wear flip flops? Those are predominately the only foot wear I wear and the weather in South Africa can change from one extreme to the other as it has done all week. We have not had a fire in the evenings all week so that tells you the temperature has been manageable by just wearing a warm sweater and wrapping up in furry blankets. Then again today was 27 degrees Celsius and it was a glorious day (that is about 78 in F for my American readers who can’t be arsed to google and covert).

We had one morning this week where it was pouring with rain and on my way in to work I spotted a huge bird of prey sitting on a road sign. The bird was as tall as the road sign and really fat with fluffy brown and white feathers. I wish I could have snapped a pic as he looked so majestic but trying to shoot a one handed photo while hurtling along a curvy road in the dark while it is pouring with rain is maybe not the safest so I chose to rather not risk it. I love it when we spot random animals just going about our daily lives, there are a few little bucks which have been spotted in our suburb lately as well, I would have thought it could be due to the drought except our streams are full again.

On Tuesday night Norm cooked dinner for us. He chopped up chicken breasts and mushrooms and fried them, then added baby broccoli and made a sauce out of cream, chicken stock, fromage frais, and a wee squizz of tomato paste.

It was low carb and very tasty and it was nice to try something different as it is easy to get into a menu rut, especially when trying to eat low carb. One can only create so many different types of salad or make cauliflower into so many different potato or rice substitutes.

Tuesday afternoon after work I had to stop for petrol. The South African petrol price had a monstrous hike of a Rand a liter on Wednesday. This puts our petrol up to almost R17 a liter. If my math and metric conversion skills are correct, this translates to $4.50 (USD) per gallon. As everyone was trying to fill up before the midnight price change I had to visit 2 different petrol stations to fill my tank up completely as the first station ran out of petrol in the middle of filling my car. The hike is being blamed on the poor rand value, however the poor rand value can be blamed on the cluster feck of our government and the fact that most of the government’s funds have been embezzled in the State Capture fiasco. So the root cause is the government’s lack of proper governing without the ability to avoid sticking their hands in the taxpayers pockets. I was curious about how our petrol prices rank against the rest of the world and I found this info which tells me we are not the most expensive globally. However this link is NOT considering the average salary in that country so there is very little perspective on the impact of the price to drivers. If the cost of petrol is high as are salaries then the effect is negligible, however South African salaries are not very high and this will really impact all of us. No road trips in my future for a while and this will probably mean my kids cannot pop down for the weekend as often.

Later on Tuesday night I had a dig through our family dress up box. We are having our annual Halloween party on the 27th of October. I am still not even 100% sure of what I am going as but I found a dress which I wore before I met Norman. I was unable to fit into it for decades, but as it is such a lovely funky dress I kept it, if only for Halloween options.

I was so pleased to see that it fit me again! I will possibly use this as the basis of my outfit and just tweak it. It is velvet and I love velvet. I am on the hunt for a crinoline and then I will be able to create the exact look I am after.

Meanwhile, we have had plenty of turmoil in South Africa with multiple different protests occurring across the country. (Much like the US where many women are protesting the potential Supreme Court appointment of the petulant man child Brett Kavanaugh.)

I received a demonstration alert from the US Embassy notifying us that there was a protest planned in the city on the 2nd October under the Western Cape Total Shutdown banner. However I later saw an article saying that this was fake news so I am not sure whether the Cape Town demo went ahead on the 2nd or not?!

The Western Cape Total Shutdown concept was implemented to protest gangster-ism, violence, unemployment and crime in the suburbs around Cape Town. But I am struggling to find any details other than this link.

A march had taken place on the 29th of August where scores of Kensington residents shut down a large part of Voortrekker Road as they peacefully demonstrated with placards and posters. A similar demonstration occurred in Bonteheuwel a few weeks later on the 25th of September when there was another protest held about the crime in the Cape Town suburbs. Residents in areas including Kensington, Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Kraaifontein and Hanover Park took to the streets to highlight an increase in gang violence in their communities. A total of 13 protesters were arrested in Bonteheuwel and the police shot rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds.

On Thursday in the Bonteheuwel area a man was murdered by a known gangster. This issue with gangs is part of the basis for much of the protests. the gangs rule these areas. The victim was not associated to a gang so the reason for his murder is so far unknown or at least not yet publicised.

Today the Total Shutdown protests continued, this time in the north of SA near Johannesburg. The coloured communities are protesting over the killing of a woman during alleged gang violence.

They also highlighted their dissatisfaction with what they believe is the lack of prioritisation of people who identify as coloured. The term of ‘coloured’ is not a racial slur, this is a term used in SA to designate a particular distinct group of people. The term may have originated during the apartheid era, however now it is part of every day terminology here and is used by the coloured community themselves.

Another protest which occurred this week is regarding the ongoing issues with the Train Services in the Western Cape which I have blogged about previously. The rail service has been targeted for attack with many fires being set and many instances of robbery due to lack of proper security on the trains. This protest was under the banner of #UniteBehind. We have had at least one death from the arson attacks and at least one death from the robberies. In July alone 32 coaches were damaged as a result of arson. The damage caused to trains and infrastructure came to a total of more than R50m.

#UniteBehind launched #DelayRepay, a campaign to demand better rail service and compensation in cases of continued delays on Thursday. The coalition of civil society movements held a rally at the Cape Town Train Station.

The #DelayRepay campaign is a response to the “disastrous” deterioration of the Metrorail service. The rail service, the organisation said, “robs commuters and the public of money and human dignity”. People have lost their jobs due to this issue when they were late on a recurring basis. Some people spend up to 5 hours commuting every day due to delays and cancellations.

On Thursday there was a collision between 2 trains in the northern part of SA and 320 people were injured.

The first train was stationary due to technical problems when it was rear-ended by the second train. Metrorail’s spokesperson said they were investigating how the second train driver was allowed into a section where the existence of a stationary train had been reported to the depot. They were using the controversial manual authorisation system at the time. Metrorail has said previously it is forced to use this method because of severe cable theft and infrastructure damage that has crippled electronic communication to the signalling network.

Yet another issue due to lack of policing and non-adherence to safety processes in our rail system.

I am so grateful to have a car and to be independent of this drama (and to have a valid license albeit a temporary one.)

Another huge challenge in SA is unemployment where the unemployed rate is over 26% and is as high as 30% for the unemployed youth. This equates to over 6 million people without employment according to stats from the last quarter. The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 36.7% in the first quarter from 36.3% in the previous quarter. The cycle of poverty can lead to an increase in drug abuse and crime. I am so blessed that my children are all employed.

Thursday night Norm and I cooked dinner together. We did a Mexican themed dinner of spicy mince and beans.

We just served the mince like a salad, on a bed of lettuce and topped with cheese, salsa, fromage frais and home made guacamole. It was really yummy and the best thing is it is so fast to prepare when there are two of you to chop and prep.

This weekend I have to take Pixie to the chiro for her 5 week adjustment. Navajo had a visit this week, Norm took him on Thursday. He is such a curious alert dog.

He is getting better about going to the chiro, he was a raging nightmare the first visit but he has gotten used to it now and still remains alert, but is more relaxed.

As for the rest of the weekend, it is open to possibilities. I hope you enjoy yours.

Until next time, Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxox

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