A Scotsman, an Irishwoman & an American walk out of a bar….

It has been three weeks since I have had the time to blog. I was signed off of work due to stress for two days just after Norm arrived back home from his trip to the states. We are under such time pressure on this project that I could not afford to have any down time so despite being signed off I worked from home both days. I made great progress at home with no distractions. When we are in the office we spend up to four or five hours of the day in meetings rather than designing our solution and documenting it.

I went back to work the following Monday and have focused on applying various tools to help me deal with the personalities around me. The work does not stress me, I am one of the few people who enjoy creating documentation, but I love writing so to me it is paying me to do what I love to do, as long as I have the proper level of understanding of the design I am trying to document. The stress comes from the people around me who cannot cope with their own stress and therefore displace it towards the team.

My friend Rosie has been over to visit us for the last 2 weeks. We have been friends for over 20 years.  I first met Rosie when I moved to the UK to live with Norm in November 1996. Norm and I still lived in Belfast when we got married in Scotland in July 1997 but I cannot remember when we left there to move to England, but we were probably living there about 18 months to 2 years. Rosie was part of the group I hung out with in Belfast, we went to the same pubs, went on weekends away and attended various other events as a group together. Rosie was also one of our friends who made the effort to come and spend time with us when we visited the UK in January 2017 on our whirlwind tour.

Unfortunately I was knee deep in my very tightly dead-lined intense project for the majority of her visit and Norm was left to be the tour guide. He took Rosie to the Cape Point Nature Reserve and they were lucky enough to see a pair of Eland, DassiesPenguins, Baboons and all manner of lovely things. He took her to the V&A Waterfront where she got to see the new Zeitz MOCAA museum and wander around the shops. She went to the Slave Museum and saw the Bo kaap and District Six.

We took her to dinner and lunch at some of the area’s nicest spots for either their vistas, their food or both. I will not do my usual blow by blow or it will bore you to tears so I will touch on the highlights of her visit.

Lily and Josh came down for Rosie’s first weekend,

and Caitlin and Wes also joined us all for dinner at my fave venue, Cheyne’s.

We had a lovely evening and a lot of laughs.

How funny is the photo bomb dude in the background?

I do not have a copy of the menu that night but I will try and remember the basic description of what I had. The beauty of Cheyne’s food however is the alchemy of the combinations he puts together and I will not be able to express that level of granularity. We all went for the Yum Cha experience which is any four dishes from his menu. His menu is divided into 4 themed sections: one with seafood dishes, one with carnivorous choices, one with ‘side’ dishes and one with sweet dishes.

I started with this dish in the pic below. It is baby shrimp tempura with a delicious sauce. I adore this dish.

For my selection from the Land section of the menu I had the Mumbai Chill Beef. It is always divine and nothing else tempted me away from choosing it again this visit. It was so yum, I love the combination of the raw coconut and the slices of chili.

I was delighted that the sweet potato fritters were back on the menu. I adore these fried dumplings in the rich peanut buttery coconut sauce. Rosie asked to swap one of her duck fat fries for one of my fritters and I threatened to impale her in the eye with my chopsticks. I think she got the message I do not share my food.

These are little balls of heaven.

For my fourth choice I had the peanut butter shake. There was a bit of drama when the waitress forgot our fourth course. She came around to our table after having disappeared for ages after our third round of dishes and asked us if we wanted anything else or should she bring the bill and we said ‘ummm yes, we would like the rest of our dinner’. Josh had just been about to give up and leave as he had a race the following day and was up really early so in order to get him to come out with us we had promised him he would be home by 9pm. But he had also ordered dessert as had the rest of the table except Wes and Cait who both had 4 savoury courses. Josh got home late but luckily it did not impair him as he still kicked ass and took home first prize.

He also loved his milkshake luckily!

We had a great evening and it was lovely having my girls and Rosie all together. They were so tiny when Rosie and I were friends years ago I wanted her to get to meet them, I only wish Trevor had been here too.

Saturday morning Rosie and I got up and headed out to the Hout Bay Harbour Market. We had a wander around the stalls and a tour of the food section and Rosie bought a hat and had a healthy salmon poke  bowl.

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Salmon Poke Bowl @bayharbourmarket ❤️

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It was too early for that for me as I was feeling a wee bit hung over from the previous night as my Cherokee liver cannot metabolise the fire water and I ended up being tempted by a plate of bite sized, fresh, hot, iced donuts.

Oh my gawd they were amazing.

I regret nothing.

We left the market and drove over to the actual harbour and had a wander around the stalls selling African artifacts. Rosie bought a little musical instrument at one of the stalls and then found some sunglasses to go with her new hat.

It was a stunning warm sunny day. We bought a gorgeous soft serve ice cream at Muriel’s and walked to the end of the pier, watching the variety of people strolling around us.

We are so blessed to live in such a stunning village.

The local man who feeds the seals and drags them out of the water to beg for tourist donations was around but we avoided him and I took a pic of the seal as he headed back out to sea.

That evening we headed back to the Harbour for dinner at the Lookout Deck as we went for their Saturday night kilo of prawns special.

We had our prawns and sat by the window looking out to sea, it was a lovely setting and the food was nice, the prawns were quite difficult to peel this time for some reason but once you managed to wrest it out of the shell it was lovely. A huge catch of tuna were being processed just nearby and we watched all of the activity with interest.

On Sunday we went to the stunning Constantia Glen vineyard.

It was a gorgeous sunny day outside with just a bit of wind to keep it pleasant.

Both Norm and Rosie had the flammkuchen. (That is just German for pizza.)

Norm had the Caprese Flammkuchen.

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Caprese Flammkuchen @constantiaglen

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I had the charcuterie and cheese platter.

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Cheese and Charcuterie platter

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I really enjoyed the Constantia Glen Two wine, it was a blend but was really easy on the palate and not too acidic.

I was back at work on Monday but Rosie had been struggling with anxiety since her Mom’s recent death and so I arranged some healing treatments of various modalities for her and Norm took her to them during the week. Luckily I knew who to make the first booking with and that person helped with the connections for the other treatments which Rosie managed to have. She went for Reiki, hypnotherapy and family constellations therapy which deals with how our past can affect our present. She also happened to time it so that she was here when my spirit workers group held an all women sweat lodge and she got a lot of benefit from that too.

I booked midweek for us all to go and see a singer we knew nothing at all about on Wednesday night at our fave music venue, Cafe Roux in town. Usually I watch a video to gauge whether the artists will be my type of music before booking but this time I was so busy I just looked for someone appearing that week and chose Lucy Kruger and the Lost Boys.

They were very talented, Lucy had a haunting voice and she called up various other artists she knew to perform with her. There was a guy next to her who she called Andre who was half genius and half irritating twat. He needed to be noticed and sometimes he just made a lot of noise, occasionally adding a positive element to the sound. Another woman sang with her and their voices were the perfect complement to each other.

However we had a brilliant night despite Andre and toddled home quite late for a school night. I was sluggish the next day at work, however I had promised Rosie a night out on the legendary Cape Town gay scene the following night. I asked a gay friend to recommend some options and she suggested we go onto the group Cape Town Lesbians on Facebook and look for suggestions. I went on to the page and saw an event posted for a singer called Janelle Botha who was performing at what appeared to be a small venue in Cape Town called the Cheeky Bean Cafe. It was a really cheap entry of R30 and there were only a few people saying they were attending so I thought it sounded like a nice cosy environment in which to gently dip our toe into the Cape Town scene. We thought we might meet some friendly women who could direct us onto our next venue.

Norm had to take Caitlin to the airport that day and had a busy day chasing around trying to sort his visa (that is a blog all on it’s own) so he decided to have a chilled night at home. Rosie and I booked an Uber and set off into town in high spirits. We did not know exactly where we were going but once we got to Somerset Square the driver got out of the car and spoke to the guards and found the venue and dropped us right outside. There were less than 10 people there all of whom were sitting outside smoking, however all of the inside tables had signs saying ‘Reserved’ on them. We walked up to the bar and were approached by a very pretty and friendly member of staff who asked if we knew about the cover charge. I said we did but it looked like the tables were all taken. She said they would ‘sort something out’ for us. She told us to pay at the bar when Rosie offered her a R200 note for our joint R60 cover charge. I placed an order for a round with the bartender and also handed over R100. The barmaid then gave us a sour look and asked did we not have anything smaller. We dug around and came up with exact change which she took. We got our drinks and we asked the first waitress again where could we sit? She said they would ‘sort something out’. In the meantime we went to sit on the couch in the corner of the room. As soon as we sat the grumpy little barmaid stomped over and started ranting again about us not booking. We told her the invite said nothing about booking being required, besides which they took our entrance fee! You cannot make someone pay entrance and then tell them there is not enough room for them. We got up and moved to a table which had become available outside but it was a cold evening and I was dressed for being inside in a bar, not sitting outside. Besides which the smell of cigarettes was overpowering. I was freezing cold and very hungry. We again asked about a table inside for the third time when Rosie went for a new round and the grumpy barmaid shouted ‘I don’t know you!’ which seemed a bizarre thing for a manager of a public venue to say. We clearly were not welcome and she seemed to be rather angry about us being there and asking for a seat apparently! Why did they not just ask a group at a bigger reserved table whether we could join them? The singer was average but we would have enjoyed the event except that the manager was so unwelcoming and unpleasant that I phoned Norm and begged him to rescue us. He was not happy as he had driven all the way to the airport and had just arrived back home and had to come back to the city. He kindly agreed to come through and collect us and we all drove down the main road until we spotted a Hudsons Burgers and parking available just across the road and we were lucky enough to get a table with a stunning and friendly waitress who was very efficient and had us all munching happily on a burger in no time at all.

I was feeling so traumatised by the horrid experience at The Cheeky Bean Cafe that I even had a milkshake to cool me down.

Our waitress asked us where we were from and when I said ‘Hout Bay’ she looked perplexed so we had a laugh and explained how a Scotsman, a Northern Irish woman and an American all ended up together in Africa. She really was lovely. She proved to me again just how the waiter or waitress is such a big part of your overall experience.

When we got home we enjoyed relaxing on our new sofa which I bought second hand from a friend. Our old one was lovely but Norm hated it and I knew that this one was really well made and comfy and as I am a red freak I bought it spur of the moment.

I love it so much! It was a bit of drama getting it home as it poured with rain and it was being temporarily stored on a patio but luckily it did not get damaged. The dogs are baffled by the change as the back is not cushy enough for dogs to be draping over it and there are no blankets covering it like we needed with the creamy sofa so there are no hidey places for them under the blankets. It has just confused them terribly.

I was off work on Thursday as it was Freedom Day in South Africa and Rosie had booked to go to Robben Island. Norm and I drove her to the waterfront and put her onto a boat then we had some shopping to do and a nice afternoon together planned. We did the things we needed to do and then we went to the Zeitz MOCAA and were pleasantly surprised it was free as it was a public holiday. We went to the 6th floor and grabbed a table with a gorgeous view all around us.

We ordered a simple lunch of chicken and chips. We were a bit naughty and both indulged in the gorgeous looking desserts we saw being served. I had a piece of the Red Velvet Cake of the day.

Norm had the lemon meringue with coconut sorbet.

Norm and I had over 4 hours to kill in total. We wandered through the Zeitz after our leisurely lunch even though we saw most of the displays recently, but we saw some new items and noticed things we missed the first visit. Afterwards we walked about outside the silo and spotted that the Chavonnes Battery Museum had a sign announcing a Mandela Photography exhibit was on. It was R100 entry each but profits go to youth development so we decided to bite the bullet even though we only had less than an hour before Rosie was due to arrive back.

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Mandela photo exhibition

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After that we sat by the water at the arrival point waiting for Rosie, it was a moody and dark and somewhat gloomy day inland but when she returned Rosie said the weather was gorgeous at sea.

On our way home we drove up to the top of Signal Hill so that Rosie could see the beautiful view of the city laid out below but as we drove up the mountain, the already dreary weather turned worse and a thick mist rolled over the city. Rosie hopped out and tried to snap some pics, I snapped this pic of her snapping a pic which I thought looked quite cool.

That evening we took Rosie to Papino’s for dinner, one of our fave venues which only locals have discovered. Norm and I both had our usual, the hollandse biefsteak but Rosie had lamb shank and raved about it. Ours was as divine as it always is.

On Saturday Rosie attended the sweat lodge I mentioned so Norm and I dropped her off and then popped out for lunch. We stopped in at Pastis in Constantia as it was a lovely sunny day and it feels like you are in a pub garden in Europe when sitting there outside under the vines.

We had two of the items on special and shared them. We ordered fishcakes and Portuguese calamari. The fishcakes were a bit gooey for my taste and the calamari was a bit chewy despite the coating being a bit insipid in colour. It was OK but nothing amazing.

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Calamari and fish cakes

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We were enjoying sitting in the sun however so we decided to linger and have dessert. I had the lemon meringue.

Norm had the cheesecake.

We woke to a sunny morning for Rosie’s last full day and Rosie and Norman headed off early to catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. After they returned home Norm dropped Rosie and I at Dune’s on the Beach for a late lunch.

The venue has a gorgeous setting of simple picnic tables under umbrellas with a sand floor. We got a seat under the shaded area at the back of the restaurant.

I ordered the chili poppers for us to nibble on as starters.

Rosie and I both ordered the mussels with fries to share.

They were delicious! We both really enjoyed every morsel of our food, the bread was fresh, the chips crispy and the sauce on the mussels was moreish.

We had a gorgeous afternoon chatting and munching and drinking. I had to be back at work on Monday so I took it easy and only had a few ciders and we did not have a late night.

On Monday I shot off early as always and arrived at the client site about 7.30am. I knew the client was not going to be in the office as they had all taken a day’s leave as Tuesday was another public holiday. I did expect my team to be in the office though and when I discovered they were all working from home I was so annoyed. What a waste of petrol just because no one seems able to communicate in a professional manner. I packed up and drove back home and started working from there. I was using our Bluetooth mouse and when working my screen suddenly flipped upside down and my spreadsheets started closing down. I lifted my hands up but the typing in front of me continued as if my laptop was possessed by a demon. I quickly pulled out the USB thingy (what the hell is that thing called?) and tapped furiously on my laptop mouse rather than the Bluetooth one. The crazy activity all stopped. I restarted my laptop and Norm googled to find out how to reset my screen and then I managed to retrieve all of my documents. I assumed it was a virus of some sort that caused it and then carried on working. A bit later my wrists started aching so I asked Norm for the keyboard which goes with the mouse. Norm went to rummage around to find it and when I came back into the room he confessed that while rummaging around in that same box earlier he had bashed around the keyboard which was linked to my laptop and that was what had resulted in my bizarre pseudo-possession. I think he only confessed in order to shut me up going on about bad juju and muttering about doing a spirit cleansing on the house.

That afternoon we drove Rosie to the airport and went in to have lunch with her and send her on her way. She has now messaged to say she has made it home safe and sound. I have had a lazy pajama day today and have a pot of chicken curry on the stove bubbling away. It will be a 3 day work week for the remainder of it, our project ends at week end and then I move offices back to the foreshore. It has been an exciting & busy few weeks for both work and our social lives, I could do with a bit of quiet now really! We have a few weeks until the family all go away for Caitlin’s 30th birthday. I hope I have some peace until then.

One thing that having a visitor highlights is just how beautiful my home and country is and just how blessed I am.

I am such a lucky woman. Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo

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Old Becomes New

Living in a tourist town and having such a constant stream of visitors I thought I was familiar with every bit of Hout Bay. Today I discovered several delights I hadn’t yet experienced. We had spotted a lady selling her outside seating, cushions and table on the Hout Bay 2nd hand site. We loved the cushions and got 16 of them for R900. They were all made up by a seamstress as opposed to shop bought. They are beach themed and look perfect with our furniture.

   

We are thrilled!

Since we had to go and collect these on the harbour side of town, we decided to stop at the Hout Bay Harbour.

   
 We parked up and walked to Muriel’s Munchies and ordered 5 Queen Prawns and chips for R129 and Calamari and chips for R85 (that’s off memory as I can’t find their menu online).

  
We climbed up to the balcony on top of the building and settled in. 

   
 
Our food arrived quickly. The views are so fantastic I didn’t take any food pics. But the view is so stunning you can see why?

   
    
The calamari was tender, the prawns large and really fresh and the chips the perfect consistency for dousing with the plentiful vinegar. Just divine. It was so affordable and the portions perfect for lunch and it was piping hot. The prawns were done in a garlicky butter which we dipped our chips in.

It was such a warm beautiful day today. 

After we finished lunch I got a soft swirl ice cream and Caitlin got a milkshake and we took a walk to the end of the pier.

   

There were lots of seals.

   

 

Afterwards we stopped at Fish4Africa and bought a big bag of frozen prawns, perfect to have in the freezer to chuck into creamy pastas or stir fries, and 2 large pieces of yellow tail, one to freeze and one for tomorrow night. 

We had never been to Muriel’s, or to Fish4Africa and we have never walked on the pier! We don’t take advantage of the magical affordable places right on our doorsteps. 

I’ve had a lovely day!