Category Archives: south-africa

Sunday Memories

I was feeling a little nostalgic anyway, playing with Overenthusiastic-Odie….

odieI gots a stick, I has!

I miss having my own dogs around. Luckily, I have an abundance of dogs and other critters who make me smile here. I spent yesterday playing with Lupa, a rather goofy 7 month old German Shepherd.

lupaI want to let go, so you can throw it, but tug-o-war is so much fun!

We don’t work weekends. Really. Honestly. Ok, sometimes. Thing is, farming’s like that. You’ve read ‘Animal Farm’, right? Today’s politics involved the chickens. You’ve met the existing chickens… Now meet the newbies!


These arrived here with warnings that they were wild and could fly and liked to sit in the trees. Um… ok… We clipped their wings, put them in the hen house and set about trying to make friends with them. A couple of weeks later, they no longer squeeze themselves into the corner to get away and they do come forward when greens are offered, but… they fly! They fly to the window sill with their clipped wings (to clarify – only one side, before anyone tells me we did it all wrong).

Today, we got another addition to the flock, Crocky’s sister, who looks a lot like that feather duster. She was put in with the other chickens by her now-ex-owner, only to be pecked on, so she was moved in with the frightened newbie group. We plan to try and put the whole lot with the old birds tomorrow. On Wednesday (or thereabouts), the new chicks should hatch. That’ll add another dimension to the whole drama. This should be an interesting week!

I’m now sitting here over my cup of dandelion and lemon balm tea with a wee drappie of honey. It’s delicious! I was feeling a little under the weather this past week. Hopefully this will give me the Oomph! that went missing.

I wanted to show Jurgis a video and was looking through my files with pictures of South Africa when we had a bit of a discussion about the location of a remembered landmark in our home town. That took us to Google Maps. I’d have lost a few kilos if I’d walked the distance we covered this afternoon :)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I had an idyllic childhood. How many children get to go to school in a school as full of character as this one. This is the old Albert Jackson Primary School. Its walls were solid stone and thick. It breathed history, but was bright and cheerful. It looked no different to the way it looks now (the building is protected by heritage laws), though it’s been many, many years since it held any children.

Albert Jackson Primary School (modern)

Albert Jackson had no playground of its own, so, at break time, we’d all line up and cross the road ‘crocodile’ fashion to the Donkin. Now can you imagine a nicer playground for school breaks? A view of the ocean, vast lawns, funky monuments and plenty of pigeons to absorb the lunch crumbs.


The Donkin is named after Sir Rufane Donkin, governor of Port Elizabeth in 1820, when the British settlers landed. The unusual pyramid next to the lighthouse is a monument to his wife. I thought the story to be really sweet:

“His life is also one of romance and undying love. He married Elizabeth Markham in Yorkshire under a traditional organised marriage which was the custom in those times for the social upper classes. But Sir Rufane Donkin truly fell in love with his beautiful young wife. In most cases the wives of high ranking military officials stayed at home while their husbands were abroad. However Elizabeth Donkin chose to be with her husband and travelled with him to India where she was to become seriously ill, and died in August 1818 after their first son George David was born.

The effect on Sir Rufane Donkin after her death was immense, and to such an extent was placed on leave from his post, however he was given the task of organising the 1820 Settlers in Port Elizabeth. He was officially the first governor of PE from the 6 June 1820 – 1821. His wife Elizabeth was buried in Meerut in India but her heart was embalmed at his request.

…… Love it is said is as strong as death! Sir Rufane Donkin built a memorial to his wife Elizabeth known as the Donkin Memorial atop a hill above the city centre and named the city, Port Elizabeth, in her memory. The Donkin Reserve is open to all in perpetuity according to his will.”

From The Port Elizabeth Times


Posted by on September 23, 2012 in animals, dogs, memories, south-africa


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Dear Reader – The Same

(A repost)



Dear Reader – The Same


land, land of my birth
are you my mother
or am i an orphan

where, where do i belong
will i find a place in this world
or forever just wander around

southern hemisphere
how did i end up here
i have nowhere to go
this is the only home that i know
such a great divide
between you and i
how i wish it would go
i live in a place in my mind

no i don’t listen to kwaito, wasn’t born in soweto
i don’t understand you
but i want to you know

same, were both the same
we share the same heart
we’re made of the same parts

please don’t look at me that way
i already live with the guilt that i own
from my forefather’s past
does this land belong to the tribes who engraved her stones with stories of old
they’re long gone you know
now this is our home

i want to strip you down to the core
take off your shirt, hat, shoes and trousers
erase my head, all the books that i’ve read
the language i speak, the customs you keep
keep on going right down to the heart
to the pain that is yours – the pain that is ours
tell you it’s all going to be alright
is it going to be alright

heal, can you heal
heal, oh can you heal
heal, oh mother, can you heal
or am i an orphan
forever a stranger here

same, we’re both the same
we share the same heart
we’re made of the same parts

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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in music, south-africa


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Magic on the tracks

steam train 2

I was listening to some Afrikaans songs tonight when “Trans Karoo” came on. Ah… memories…

Tchuk-tchuk- tchuck-tchuk, Clickety-clack… clickety clack…. one of the best lullabies a child can sleep to as the train rocks gently on the tracks. As I slept, I was concious of pulling into midnight middle-of-nowhere stations and the quiet fuss of loading up fresh coal and passengers. Come morning, the call of the stewardess, “Coffee, tea, Milo?” That is still used in our home. For once, I wasn’t interested in what was being served. I’d push up the window, resting forearms on the sill and leaning out as far as I could, I wanted to see the huge locomotive in front, gaze in awe at upcoming tunnels that secretly terrified me. Gran would get annoyed at the soot she’d have to clean off my clothes then. Looking back, I’d see the long red and beige train snaking behind.

steam train

The bathrooms were an adventure in themselves and the tiny metal washbasins. Going to the dining car was a journey of unbelievable excitement and trepidation. Crossing the concertina joins between carriages required a huge amount of courage and the comforting hand of an adult. White linen table cloths, linen serviettes and heavy silver cutlery. I can’t, for the life of me, remember the food. I think I had my nose pressed to the window. The train whistle blows, then Parrrp… parrrp… Khssshhhhhh…. we pull into the station. There’s the fuss of pulling cases down, checking nothing is left, the noisy compartment door crashing open. I look out the windows in the passage for the last time. The train empties out onto the smooth concrete platform. Train stations always seem to have ornate metal supports and rails, red brick or cream and grey buildings and pretty gardens.

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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in memories, south-africa


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I posted the photo of Jorge and I as a group challenge on the subject of ‘humour’. The South Africans will ‘get’ this one.

I’m the hard of hearing one in the family. Jorge, on the other hand, has selective hearing, but we often tease him about being deaf because he is so ‘tuned out’ a lot of the time. For our anniversary, Tatiana sent us an anniversary card from home with "Hoesê?" (translates directly to "How say?" or "What??" with emphasis) on it. Correctly written, it would be, "Hoe sê…", as a lead in to asking something like, "How do you say….?"  "Hoesê" in this form, though, is a catch phrase in South Africa. It comes from an old TV series where one of the characters would often shout that term. Seffies… please help me out with the name of the program. It is killing me!
PS. Did any of that make any sense to anyone who didn’t know what it meant?

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Posted by on September 3, 2008 in family, fun, jorge, language, south-africa



(a 360 repost) Someone asked me what we’re having for supper ; )


Tonight, we had samp and beans or as the Xhosa call it, umngqusbo, for supper and it made me think of Sophie. Samp, for those who don’t know, is a white hominy. It is cooked with sugar beans and beef. My version contains tomato extract too – delicious!

Sophie is on the far left in the photograph. I’m the grubby looking kid with the bright red ribbons. My gran always put ribbons in my hair, no matter what the activity was or where we were going. I think she loved ribbons and they were always big and bright. On the far right, is Hamish, my brother and between us is Jemimah, Sophie’s daughter and my playmate. Next to me is my gran. The other lady is a friend of hers, Gloria… a crazy lady.

Sophie was our maid. She worked for my gran from before I came along. Then she became my nanny. She is the one who walked me to and from school in the early grades. Ouma (my gran) was at the shop (for those who don’t know, I was raised by my grandparents.) I remember sitting at the kitchen table, eating my lunch after school and telling Sophie to sit with me. "No, miss, it’s not right." No amount of nagging on my part would get her to sit with me. She would stand at the counter, eating her lunch. Sophie was the one who taught me how to mop up the gravy from the stew with a chunk of bread… yummy! Sophie was also the one who taught me how to enjoy and later to make samp and beans. I have since used the dish for winter comfort food and even entertaining.

I remember once as a fairly new wife, we had had dinner with friends who were way out of our financial league. It was like eating at a hotel. They had servants doing all the preparation and serving. I was duly intimidated, as I knew we’d have to return the favour. In the end, I made samp and beans… something my friend had never tasted before. It was a hit. I love that stuff :)

Sophie was with us through my primary school years. It was Sophie who fetched me from school the day my grandad died. That was the end of an era. We moved and Sophie retired. Within a couple of months, I lost my beloved grandad, Jim, and Sophie. I can still picture her in her ever-present black beret, leaning over the kitchen counter, mopping up her gravy with a chunk of bread…. or chopping meat for supper, listening patiently to my jabbering.

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Posted by on July 24, 2008 in memories, south-africa


~ Extravagance ~ a Picture Perfect Theme


Every year, we would go to the South African Consulate Function in April. It was usually a rather grandiose affair, but on this occasion, they had outdone themselves. Food was French style, ie. more artistic than designed to sustain, with an appetiser of Carpaccio of Ostrich, a rare meat here, but fairly common in South Africa. Wine flowed freely the whole evening. Designer gowns, flashy jewelry, and fancy cars abounded. The venue was an upmarket Bingo hall, Imperatriz. The building was palacial, done in an African style, with dark African warriors lining the walls, huge tusks curving up towards the ceilings, which were lit with myriads of tiny lights. The entrance hall boasted enormous statues of elephants and giraffes.
The place and the event epitomised extravagance to me in every sense of the word.

Lindiwe Zulu, the South African ambassador to Brazil broke out in song during the speeches. I think the chap standing behind her looks somewhat uncomfortable. As you can hear by the background noise, the song was a hit, especially among her fellow Xhosa’s.

Apologies for the video quality with this last one.

Visit Picture Perfect to view more examples of Extravagance or to join in the fun.


Cheese, whine, worms, and words


First the whine…. Well, the end of the whine, at least. In case no one noticed, I was absent for a while. My last blog was a rather half-hearted attempt at Picture Perfect what seems like an age ago. Looking at that photo and the one I have here makes me want to toss the camera or at least let someone else take over the shutter. The last photo’s excuse is that it is a very old scanned in photo. This photo has no excuse, but it still illustrates the point.

I was having a chat with a friend last night when I needed to pop off to the kitchen to deal with the cheese. It was one of those meals. I thawed what I thought was stewing beef, but, once thawed, it turned out to be mince, or what some of you call ground beef or hamburger. Where on earth does that come from anyway?? No connection at all. This brings me around to the point of this blog…. words.

A Brazilianism for you… They don’t grate cheese here. Some of you would call that shredded cheese. Cheese is offered whole or sliced, more often sliced. I prefer sprinkling grated cheese on my food. One place that I found did ‘grated’ cheese, actually minced the cheese….. erm… what some of you would call ‘ground’, as in the ‘ground beef’. Ever seen minced cheese? It looks like worms. Seriously not appetising…. but back to the words thing…

While having this rather confusing conversation, I came to the conclusion that British English, South African English and American English are three different languages. In South Africa, we speak British English, for the most part, though there’s a healthy addition of localisms that would confuse the best of you. For us, for example, a traffic light is called a ‘robot’. Words like ‘bakkie’, ‘biltong’, ‘boerewors’, and ‘lekker’ abound. The Americans take the prize though.

The cheese I have photographed is, what I would call, ‘grated’. Americans call it shredded. I use a grater to grate cheese. The grater slices off slivers of cheese. Shredding is a different process, to my knowledge. Our cat shreds paper. I think she’d make a mess of cheese, if caught on a fussy day when she deems cheese inappropriate for diet. Then there’s the mince, or ‘ground beef’. I don’t know about you, but I grind pepper and other spices, either in a grinder or with a pestle and mortar, or we grind flour in a mill. Grinding beef would be rather hard to do. We won’t go down the hamburger route. According to Webster’s Random House, ‘hamburger’ is ground or chopped beef. ‘Chopped’? That would take forever! I tried to understand… honestly I did. I looked up ‘grind’ and found no beef. How is your… uh… finely processed beef actually processed? Is it processed with an odd-looking machine with a funnel thing at the top and holes in the front, producing, dare I say, ‘meat worms’? Now before I’m accused of word prejudice, Webster’s Random House is American, giving British ‘alternatives’. ‘Mince’ according to Webster’s is also, finely chopped. Ah…. I give up! I’m not one to mince my words…. Gee… that was bad… Bad, bad pun….. really bad… *slinks off again*

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Posted by on May 30, 2008 in brazil, south-africa, usa

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