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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Look what we are having for dinner tonight …..

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Gem squash with a lovely blob of butter – and to top it all off a proper SA mielie (maize) on the cob and a nice big piece of steak!

We are making sure our last meal before our flight tomorrow really counts.

Ahhh! Good food, good friends, amazingly good God!

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It is a rare day that comes along, captures your heart and burrows deep in your soul – well, today was such a day.

My wonderful, amazing friends arranged a day out to the projects run by Northfield Methodist church in the fairly new township of Etwatwa east of Benoni.
I was not sure what to expect but it was a truly inspiring and uplifting experience – proof positive of the amazing power of the love of Jesus working through people to improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.
The South African people have an incredible spirit and despite many hardships should be an inspiration to everyone because of their love of life – here you are greeted with a beaming smile and many different handshakes.
The people in the church and these projects work tirelessly and have created an environment where the young are nurtured, the lost find a place of refuge, the sick find comfort in their time of need and every single one of them is grateful for the little they have – a truly humbling experience.

We stopped at a real African shop and were bought freshly baked fatcakes (vetkoek in Afrikaans) which we ate with burning fingers because they were too delicious to leave to cool down. We met inspirational people that work and run the John Wesley Centre. We watched the littlest children in a marimba band. We observed teachers in lessons for all the little ones they care for while their parents work to give them a better future. We walked around the newly built pre-school donated by one kind individual and built by local labour. I gave rides to a couple of children on my much admired Trekinetic K2 wheelchair and we ended our tour with tea and more fatcakes with Thoko, a new hero in my life, who manages the centre.

I believe it should be each and every persons responsibility to spend even the shortest amount of time in a place like this – here you will really learn about the beautiful people of this world – and learn to truly appreciate how fortunate we are.

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We headed off to do a little shopping and much visiting with our wonderful friends today. They suggested we try out the new Gautrain that was built in time for the soccer world cup and we happily agreed after the glowing reports it has received, but this is a story for another time.

Heading into the mall from the station is quite an incline and still not being at full strength myself, the two Mark’s with us lent a hand by pushing, one on each handlebar – this is really the life because we moved along at a very hasty rate of knots which I suggested was like Mk1 and Mk2 – pretty handy actually because now when I want to ask one of the Mark’s a question, I can ask for Mark1 or Mark2 and they know who it is addressed to.

Now, how do I arrange to get Mk2 over to England more often to make use of both of their outboard motor skills on tricky outings?

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…..is anyone still out there – or have you all given me up as a lost cause?
Don’t worry we are here in a beautiful sunny Johannesburg but what they have in sunshine, they lack in quick easy Internet access!
We Brits are truly spoiled and can get onto a wifi access point just about anywhere; we have had a few challenges in South Africa with us moving around so much. I am concerned that my iPad and iPhone have had to remember so many friends and families wifi passwords that I am going to run out of memory as they switch constantly from one to the other.
I really am hopelessly behind and will need to make a concerted effort with my writing when we are in one place long enough to take a breath AND have access at the same time!

Cheerio for now and have a cuppa on me…..

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I saw this place while walking around the shopping mall in Cape Town – I’m sure I heard choirs singing as I got closer!

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I was challenged by my family to take a photo of a McDonalds coffee cup in every country we visit – so here it is folks – mission accomplished!

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And now we are topped up we are heading to the wine route and some wine tasting – for hubby anyway.
Any challenges?

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Don’t panic – I wasn’t up to no good and dragged off by the SAP (South African Police)! On our walk around Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterside docks yesterday, we were tempted by many different types of boating and flying trips. We had the choice of deep-sea fishing, pirate ship excursion, sailing, power boating, bi-plane, combat helicopter etc. etc. We however found the Robben Island tour and this met two of our requirements – a boat out to the island and a tour around what is today a world heritage site and in the past where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were kept from the 1960s.

We are both really pleased that we chose this because it turned out to be an amazing morning with the bus tour having one of the best tour guides anywhere in the world and ending off with an incredibly poignant tour, led by another ex inmate, of the cell blocks and seeing where our great hero was detained.

I cannot recommend this tour more highly as it is a glimpse of our country’s once hidden past and reminds us of how fortunate we all are to have people like this prepared to fight for our freedom.

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We have had an amazing few days travelling down to the Cape. The only drawback has been the lack of time to keep my blog updated – and it hasn’t helped that I have not had a ready supply of internet and wifi access.
I therefore apologise up front because at some point I will get stuck in and write dozens of entries and upload them when I get access – it is famine or feast.

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I think our grandson should be really impressed with this picture of the Great White sharks ancestor. This is a replica of a mastodon in the uShaka water park and aquarium in Durban. They also have the jaw of the real thing which was caught off Durban many years ago. A photograph taken at the time shows a few men standing in and next to it and the jaw is taller than they are – and you thought it was only the stuff of movies!

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Our final evening in Durban was spent with the family at a restaurant in Umhloti. It didn’t quite turn out as planned with a quick pizza because unbeknown to us there had been a fire in the restaurant the previous evening and the pizza oven was out of commission – and ALL the ladies toilets as well. We were directed to the men’s (is there a theme developing here?) but the only thing was that the lights were not working as the wiring had been fried as well! In true South African resilient fashion they simply handed me a torch – only in Africa – anywhere else they would probably have closed the whole place down!

Another memorable moment to add to our trip.

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It was with great relief that my wheelchair arrived at the door of the plane – and in one piece, unmangled!
Having learned from the last couple of disasters, hubby and I took a piece of 50mm plumbing pipe that was lying around our personal landfill site, cut it down one side and taped this over the shock absorbers release mechanism. This should ensure that no prying hands can accidentally release the chair into the upright position. It seems to have done the trick – and it also helped that they didn’t drive a cargo container over it!
KLM have managed to do what the previous two airlines have not – thank you very much Royal Dutch Airlines.

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We arrived safely in King Williams Town at 5pm after a long and eventful trip from Durban – more on this later. The B&B is lovely and I can definitely recommend it but bear in mind that the rooms are not wheelchair accessible as there are some steps but if you can get around on crutches it is comfortable clean and beautiful.

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In order to buy the MOST gorgeous pair of bronze giraffes I spotted in Lifestyle mall in Ballito, I am not sure what the going rate for a very good, used ( only had one sherry after last weeks communion) kidney is, but it may take both to buy this pair at over R100,000!

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Oh boy, they would look amazing in my house but I probably won’t enjoy them much if I have to be on dialysis forever!

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Remember we went shopping in Durban for fabric? When we got outside into the car we heard a huge ruckus and crowds pointing up the street as a man ran past. As he went the crowds moved forward into the road with him, shouting and pointing at him – definitely a criminal on the run and they were definitely not letting him escape. Soon he was overtaken by a crowd of dozens, collared and dragged back to the scene of the crime.
I believe this is what is called local justice by the people – others will think twice before stealing – in this part of town, crime definitely does not pay!

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….hubby has finished work at the conference and is now ON HOLIDAY!!! Yippeee, Durban beach and uShaka  here we come 🙂

www.ushakamarineworld.co.za/

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Help! I went out fabric shopping with Beryl this morning and I had to be reigned in because otherwise I would have had no way of getting it all into my luggage on the return flight.

I wanted to get some locally produced African print fabric from my birthplace and the lovely Maggie who works for Beryl pointed us towards the fabric quarter in Durban Central. Oh my goodness! it was like sending a sweet junkie (which I am as well by the way) into the Cadbury’s factory unsupervised with instructions not to come out until they have had their fill – could be disasterous! We were confronted with row upon row of the most wonderful vibrant textiles and tons of SweSwe which is the local African print – seriously, I was in danger of getting whiplash with my head flicking this way then that, trying to take it all in.
We were served by a wonderful lady who proceeded to move mountains of fabric rolls onto the counter for my inspection. I asked for the prices and thought she said 80 Rand per meter which is a little cheaper than we can get in the UK – imagine my surprise when she corrected me and said it was 18 (yes 18) Rand per meter – I went into a minor tailspin with all the conflicting emotions of how to take tons back home – could I simply empty all my luggage out and leave it here, wear everything I brought with me onto the plane, send it by courier – oh! what a dilemma.
Anyway, after much debate I got back to reality and managed to settle on a dozen or so designs which we would hopefully not make us too overweight.
I now have all the fabric I need for an African quilt, placemats, tablecloths, aprons and more – and all without even denting the bank – what a lovely dilemma to have.

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My brother and sister-in-law have been so incredible with their care and attention during my stay in Durban. While hubby has been working they have fetched, carried and fed me – perhaps too much of the last! I got the opportunity to have a brother and sister lunch which was really special because living continents apart we don’t have much of. He took me to a lovely casual restaurant on the hills overlooking Durban North – Splashes. The food was wonderful – I had a flatbread made in the woodburning oven with avocado, chicken, some greens and a mild sweet chilli sauce – yum yum.
More important than the food or amazing views was time spent with family – priceless!

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In my experience there is nothing like a coffee made in Italy. I don’t know what they do differently but the love and attention given to its creation definitely makes them unbeatable.
However, we can’t spend all our time in Italy unfortunately, so we have to hunt high and low for an alternative – and I take great pride in my efforts at tracking down the perfect brew!
This morning the hotel made an excellent latte – I have observed that when served in a tall glass cup it should have a layer of milk at the bottom, a layer of espresso in the middle and a layer of foam on the top. The foam is perfect when you drop a spoon of sugar on it and it sits there for ages before dropping into the glass and mixing up the layers with swirls of coffee colours – a thing of beauty.
Now simply stir, sit back and enjoy.

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After a morning out shopping with my sister-in-law followed by a coffee in the most wonderful antique shop/coffee lounge, I got dropped off at La Lucia mall to see if I could pick up any shirts for hubby. All this tea and coffee has only one obvious drawback , and that is the size of my bladder (indelicate I know). I was assured that the toilets were very nice, given directions and headed for the lifts to the roof level. Toilets are one of those things that have become a bit of an obsession for me in a wheelchair; I get super excited if they are lovely and spacious and clean and really infuriated when they are untidy, smelly and IN USE BY SOMEBODY THAT THINKS IT IS OKAY TO USE THE ONLY TOILET I CAN GET INTO!!!! Sorry about the rant but you can tell this happens a lot?

Anyway, these toilets were not in use but there was one small design flaw – someone had built a supporting pillar behind the door and it did not open fully against the wall and no wheelchair could have passed through the gap – mmm, I wonder which clever clogs designed these. Necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to go try the men’s disabled toilet instead – the only problem? they are inside the men’s toilets! I simply knocked, invited myself in when only the attendant was around, explained to him the problem and asked him to inform any blokes that arrived to please keep it in their pants and not use the urinals while I was inside.

Much to my relief he obliged and when I came out of my cubicle I was not faced with a row of blokes peeing – it would have been pretty funny to see their faces if a woman had suddenly appeared in their inner sanctum.

The result – La Lucia mall gets NO POINTS for their ladies disabled toilets.

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….Michael Buble in my ear. Another perfect morning on the Rainbow Terrace.

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The owner was very helpful and arranged an easy entrance for us through the patio area because of the four steps into the restaurant and even though the place was jam packed he immediately found us a table.
The menu has some really good choices – except if you are a vegetarian and I would assume this type of place would not be on the top of your list unless you had a carnivore for a partner.
I settled for the sirloin and ribs with a Roquefort salad and hubby chose the sirloin with prawns and biltong and feta salad.
They all turned out to be incredible – beautifully prepared with wonderful flavour and exactly how we ordered them. I must say that in a lot of places the salad is generally an afterthought – like the poor relation to the main course, but this was definitely not the case here. It was fresh and very tasty and added to what would otherwise have been a purely protein meal.

So our first dinner out was a resounding success and we look forward to a few more over the next three weeks.

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In this case they are absolutely correct and I definitely trust this butcher after eating an amazing steak and rib dinner. This steak house was recommended by my brother and we are very pleased we followed his lead. So when in Durban or locale why not give them a try yourself – The Butcher Boys on Florida Road, Durban.

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Ahhhh! There is nothing like a cold glass of pure mango juice to make a Durban girl happy.  These are the things that you don’t realise you missed until you have them again and it grabs you and whips you back in time.

This is one happy lady on the terrace enjoying great weather and relaxing – maybe I should go out and sit by the sea; or maybe that is just too much effort when I can just about lift my glass for another drink!

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Heading off to the family for a day of catching up, eating and sun, sun, sun. I waited while the boys went in to buy meat for the braai (BBQ for the northerners) and as you can see it is early morning and the heat is on the rise. Ahhh! A lovely day to spend on the patio with a tall, cool drink (no alcohol – I think I have reached my lifetime limit after the church incident).

Hubby rushed out to inform me in his most excited voice that he could buy a huge, whole fillet for only £19 – definitely cheaper than the fuel. So no prizes for guessing what we had on the braai.

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I definitely did not start my day thinking that for the first time in my tea totalling life I would take a drink – and definitely not in church!!!!
The story unfolds at the 8.30am service at St. Martins Anglican church in Durban North where we joined my brother and his family for church. Sounds really innocent, until they started on communion and a nice lady asked me if I wanted to join in. I mentioned that because of the narrow aisle I would prefer to stay in my wheelchair and they were happy to bring communion to me. Not being Anglican is where things went horribly wrong and after everyone else had finished they brought over the cups, handed me a wafer? – no problem here and then gave me a sip from the cup – wow was I surprised when it hit my lips and before I could say NO, I had swallowed a mouthful of sherry! It hit the back of my throat and nearly bored a hole out the back of my head. I was too surprised to spit it out and my usual prayer of thankfulness turned into something else entirely. Hubby sat there in stunned silence unable to prevent what he only then realised had happened – but boy did we have a laugh about it – after I stopped spluttering and I had eaten a half box of mints!
So for any tea-total folks out there who usually have cranberry or grape juice at communion – watch out for those Anglicans, they use the real deal!
That memory is a definite keeper.

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I am amazed at the increase in the cost of fuel in South Africa as well as the UK. It has always been cheaper here than in the UK, but it is now not as much of a difference as it was before. We re-fueled for the first time this morning and it was around 97 pence per litre – not great when you have only done 700km of a 4500km trip!
Oh well, that will just mean less biltong for the road – heck NO – I’d rather push the car.

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They do say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and whilst we have such wonderful breakfast facilities available to us we might as well make the most of it. The Hilton hotel breakfast terrace is a real joy with its fountains, plants and birds. In the city it is a little haven and definitely worth it because it sets you up just right for the rest of the day.
So here we are at 7am fuelled up and about to set off to meet the family for church – food for the soul too.
As a matter of interest to our friends and family in England – we will have finished church before you open up the gates and begin preparation for the Party (church www.tcclife.comToday’s Community Church style). Here in Africa the days start early so we can get out and about to the beach.

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Nothing to do with cricket I’m afraid. We arrived safely in Durban and this morning woke to a glorious day of blue skies and a view from our hotel room of the conference facility where hubby will be spending the first week of our trip – I will be holiday-ing while he works to pay the bills – someone has to do it and he drew the short straw.

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… I just can’t wait to get on the road again! A country classic that sums up our excitement about the trip we have just started in Johannesburg on the way to Durban. I haven’t been to the old homeland for many years and as this is the city of my birth it is very exciting to be returning. I expect much has changed and a trip down memory lane is bound to bring a surprise or two.

And what trip around the country would be complete without ‘padkos’ – literally road food – and apart from sweets and other snacks, the obligatory biltong – heavenly! 🙂

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What a wonderful way to start the day – sunshine, sea and the prospect of a wonderful holiday.
Approaching Amsterdam on the first leg of our journey from England to South Africa.

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