Archive | October, 2010

thank-you, matchbox

28 Oct

Dear Matchbox

We move out of you today and into the luxury of the (more than one-roomed) cottage on The Wine Farm. I just wanted to thank you for being fab.

Thank you for showing the Hillratts that we can live in a tiny space. And for teaching us how to live in a tiny space. Stoffel and I always knew it might be important to tidy up after ourselves, put things away in particular places and have an actual organisation system, but we’d never quite got the practice of that theory right. It will be an awfully useful skill on a boat.

Thank you for coming with marvellous landlords, including: (1) a wonderful little girl with tight strawberry blonde curls, an open face and the most delicious way of dancing with excitement (particularly on sighting Stoffie); and (2) a sandy-blonde dog called Sparky who is Cowboy’s n.b.f.f.

Thanks for being in such a beautiful place. For having a gorgeous view of Lion’s Head and loads of sunlight in the afternoon. Thank you for being so close to a place where an actual albino squirrel lives.* I also particularly appreciate how I could virtually free-wheel down the road from you to  work, achieving an all-time-low consumption rate of 3l/100km by the time I hit the traffic lights at the corner of Orange street. That makes me feel awesome.

Thank you for feeling like home, even though you are nothing more than a little garden flat. It helped that you have fresh cotton sheets and beautiful crockery. Mostly, it helped that all three Hillratts could be together (Stoffel, Saartjie and Cowboy).

We’re going to miss you, Matchbox (especially me, when I’m stuck in traffic in the morning and the evening for the next month).

With love

S, S & C

PS: Oh! And thank you for not actually being the place where my keys were lost. While I am glad that they turned up in my Scissor’s car a month later, I am particularly chuffed that a space as small as you did not turn into a car-key vortex.

* I saw it again! This time I was close enough to see its pink eyes.


minus one plus five

27 Oct

What is it with to-do lists?

Every time I open our volume of Important Things To Do Before We Leave to proudly cross off an item or two that Team SnS has achieved, I am reminded of a whole bunch more that still need doing.

We’re tickling the hundreds here, people! Just under three months to go…

have you always wanted to do this?

26 Oct

[I’ve decided to commence a weekly feature of “frequently asked questions”. When there is more than one of them, I will give them their own page (but hopefully with a title that is somewhat snappier than “FAQ”). I’m still not sure which day of the week this will appear on. This first one is on a Tuesday.]

This Question (or variations thereon) is Asked very Frequently.

One of the major things that attracted Stoffel to me (and, I am reliably informed, vice versa) was his sense of adventure. As our relationship progressed, it became clear that we would plan a life full of escapades together. We have planned and enjoyed mini-journeys all around Southern Africa for weekends and holidays. We’ve travelled overseas a couple of times too.

But we were unanimously convinced that we wanted to embark on a longer voyage before we settled down and started breeding. This is largely philosophical. We want to adventure with sproglets. Evidence suggests that parents actually do this less than they plan to before childbirth. BUT, if we travel while we’re Two, then we might be inclined to travel more when we’re Three or Four*…

So we purposely took a short honeymoon in Southern Africa because we wanted to embark on a trip that was at least six months long at some time in the future (i.e. after the World Cup). Six months quickly stretched into a year.

Originally we wanted to spend three four-month chunks in different countries: travelling via different means or living in an exciting place.

At the same time as we started having these discussions (which was only very seriously after our wedding, really), we had some friends doing pretty amazing excursions themselves. Amongst others, DavenRejane took themselves around India on a motorbike. SarahnDoug lived in a tiny town in Argentina long enough to become part of the community and emerge fluent in Spanish. RijknJen are currently sailing around the world.

All of a sudden, because our friends had done it, we felt like we could do something really outrageous too. So we decided to travel around the Pacific Rim.

Initially, we had planned to do a little sailing in any event. We’d hoped to island-hop up from Australia to China and explore PNG, Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia and other such wonderful places. From China, we’d continue our trip via more traditional transport (trains, cars, planes). Then we purchased Jimmy Cornell’s sailing tome: World Cruising Routes. He described the route we’d hoped to follow as being beset by “violent typhoons, all through the year”. It didn’t sound like a very positive sailing experience.

Emboldened by our circumnavigating friends on uMoya**, we realised that the Pacific was something that we would be able to conquer if we set our minds to it.*** So we did. And so began our search for the perfect boat…

* Or SEVEN. Two people told me this weekend that they could see us having five children. Ha!

** Rijk and Stof essentially grew up sailing together. Jen, similarly to me, has not grown up sailing anything.

*** Also: Jimmy didn’t use the combination of “violent”, “typhoons” and “all through the year” in the same sentence when describing a Pacific crossing.

black cat

25 Oct

Stoffel has a new nickname when he’s on the boat: Black Cat. Lucky for him.

Here is the timeline of a nickname from Saartjie:

  1. Teasing the self-important “skip”.
  2. Teasing morphs into calling him “Skippy” 
  3. Yippee for Skippy… the peanut butter tagline and Stoffel are united. 
  4. A series of cheeky, but not terribly useful remarks lead Saartjie to demand that there be silence from the pea(nut butter) gallery. 
  5. AND if we’re going to call him peanut butter, it might as well be the most deliciousandcool p.b. ever made: Black Cat peanut butter
  6. Nick-named.


“Black belt, huh?”  “Nah, Black Cat.”*

* My apologies to my dear non-Saffa readers who may think I’ve lost the plot. I will return with a less cryptic post tomorrow.

albino squirrels… and a cool gadget

21 Oct

Inexplicably, my car broke down yesterday. Rather, it refused to start working again after I ran into the Matchbox to collect the groceries that we would use to cook Stoffie’s birthday dinner with his family. I (fairly quickly) established that it wasn’t going to fire up without some kind of professional external intervention. So I called Stoffel for a lift and decided to deal with it in the morning.

It was a wise decision: This morning as I waited for the tow-truck to arrive I saw an albino squirrel!!! Although, Google tells me it might have just been a white one instead of an actual albino one. According to the interwebs, you have to look at their eyes to establish whether it merely has white fur or actually doesn’t have any pigment. I was (a) not close enough to see its eyes; (b) too amazed to move closer to look at its eyes; (c) reluctant to move closer in case it scampered away; and (d) ignorant that there was a distinction between white squirrels and actual albino squirrels anyway.

A snow-white squirrel! Surely this is good luck? I must purchase a lottery ticket. Or something. Pity I’m not in court today…*

That’s about all I have for you today. Oh! I lie:

Stof received a winner birthday present from his sisters: A Twist coffee-maker.

Perfect for making awesome cups of coffee on the big wide ocean. It requires no power! Delicious coffee! Basically, they’re a whole lot of marvellous.

* I am strangely superstitious about court appearances. I have two/three pairs of panties I consider “lucky”. (There is no particular reason for this.) I must wear one of my lucky panties every time I appear in court. Often I specially handwash to ensure I don’t run out of lucky panties if I have a lot of appearances in one week.

hey stoffel, it’s your birthday

19 Oct

It was Stoffie’s birthday on Friday 15 October. I initially felt a small bit guilty about dragging Stof away from CT for his last birthday in SA for the next few years. So I regarded it as my responsibility to find us somewhere special and (importantly) cheap (cruise fund!) to stay for the night before his birthday.

My lovelies, I did good.

We stayed in the Marakele National Part in their tented camp. It is pretty frikkin gorgeous and perhaps one of the most lovely places we have visited as a couple.*So I raided the interwebs and have lifted some photies from this site (sorry and thanks) just so you can have a peek at the loveliness.

On the night before my beloved’s 36th b-day I cooked artichokes for starters (yum) and ostrich kebabs and a delicious salad for mains. Then, we sat by the fire looking up at the stars while being serenaded by the frogs and crickets. We retired as early as we could drag ourselves away from the night vista in order to wake up early-squirly. We drove to the top of the mountain (because one can in the Marakele National Park) and watched the sun rise over the Waterberg by ourselves on top of the world.

We saw many beautiful things.

Vultures gliding on the thermals of the rising sun. We (obv) did not make this video. Our amazingly talented friend did and it is lovely beyond any singing of it.


Majestic cliff tops. **


Rhinos and giraffes and kudu and impala and warthogs and snakes (long ones, crossing the road) and sable antelope.

We also went through a pretty awesome tunnel. Which is quite a metaphoric thing to do on a birthday.

Happy birthday, my love. May it be a year full of magic.***

* Which is saying a lot.

** The pics of the mountain, giraffe and tunnel are of dubious quality because I took them with my ‘berry. It was too lovely not to record in some way.

*** How can it not be, huh?

back to my roots

18 Oct

Once upon a time a man called Jack from Somerset, England went to South Africa to fight in the Anglo-Boer war. He signed up for the shorter of a year or the duration of the war and when his time was up, Jack and his best matey (also Jack) took themselves to a deserted, but beautiful corner of southern Africa: the Waterberg. He arrived and bought a farm and promptly set about courting the prettiest girl in the district: Rhoda. Over sets of tennis in her parent’s garden, Jack beat off Rhoda’s suitors and the two of them married. They had four children: Marjorie (Marge), Kathleen (Kay), Rupert and Mabel (Mabs). Marge was my grandmother.

Those four children must have had an amazing bond. They cared deeply for each other well into their old age. More than that, they insisted that holiday time should be shared together. Husbands and wives and countless offspring were dragged to holidays at their siblings’ homes. More often than not there was at least one gathering per annum at the family farm in Vaalwater where the cousins caused all manner of havoc. Children were swapped over school holidays and my mum can remember few school breaks when she did not see at least one of her cousins.

Of course, the cousins they grew up and reproduced as well: giving birth to a generation of second cousins. Although we never spent quite as much time growing up together, I count my second cousins as some of the most interesting people I know. Some of them I see often, some I have only met once. Pretty much all of them are spunky and caring and make a mark in their community.

This weekend my cousin Lindsay married her Pilot beau in Vaalwater* and a stack of the cousins were invited: well, at least one for every branch of the family. I hadn’t been to the Waterberg since early high school (I think) so Stof and I turned the journey into a bit of a pilgrimage.** It is marvellous that a small town plays such an important role in my family history: and that my family played an important role in that small town. It is even more splendid that two branches of that family are still firmly represented in Vaalies (Rupert and Kay’s descendents respectively run the family farm and the old trading post turned awesome lil’ shopping centre). They’re about the most cosmopolitan small-towners I’ve ever met.

So this weekend we’ve been in the bush. Hanging with the cuzzins (and other family). Celebrating a beautiful and graceful woman’s marriage to her love and saluting four siblings who had an amazing bond.***

* A lunch-time wedding (my first)! It was pretty fabulous: so relaxed. I reckon my favourite kinds of party happen during the day (with the option of stretching into the night, of course). The other thing that must be said about that wedding was the deliciousness of the wine which was made by the Pilot’s family. How awesome? All I want to say is that if you get a chance to get your hands on a bottle of Rico Suter wines, do it. Immediately.

** On our way up to Vaalwater, stofnsara enjoyed a delicious and drunken dinner with some of my fav Jozi girlfriends and their partners. Then in our babalas-daze, we visited the Constitutional Court (because it is worth it on so many levels. If you go to Jozi, visit the Court, ok?) and Maropeng. Maropeng is the Cradle of Humankind. Maropeng is a most satisfying word to repeat multitudinous times. As a place, it is fascinating and brilliant and interactive and you even get to go on a boat ride and walk through a trippy vortex! And then we spent a night in the Waterberg mountains for Stoffel’s birthday before heading to Vaalwater.  Once again I apologise for the lack of photographs, but the new camera has been ordered and we stand to be among the first owners of a Canon G12 in South Africa. In about 6 weeks time. Sigh.

*** The thing about four siblings with an uber-strong relationship that makes me so jolly excited is that Stoffel is also one of 4. That we might be able to give our children (and their children) a community of cousins is one of the most wonderful legacies I can imagine.