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ex cape town

2 Feb

If this week has been a whirlwind of packing and organising and frenzy and partying and dining and last-minute admin like never seen before, then yesterday was a veritable tornado.

In retrospect it is clear that leaving ourselves a day to not only pack our own bags, but also pack up the office and cottage we’ve been using thanks to the world’s most magnanimous in-laws, was ridiculously ambitious. Stof and I have promised ourselves that we “won’t do that again”… the great thing about this being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is that the odds are fairly high that we WILL NOT do that again…

The craziness climaxed just as my parents arrived to fetch us for the airport, Stof’s dad and Sis-Curly came home from work for farewells and my mum-in-law shuffled over the garden from the main house to see if all was in order. The big bags were (over-)packed – more on that later – my “keep” clothes had been jammed into boxes, I’d crammed most of Stof’s remaining (but who knows whether they are keepers because he has refused to sort them since we moved out of our house in JULY. Breathe, Saartjie…) and all that remained was to pack my hand luggage, shower and re-attire in comfy but not too scruffy airplane clothes.* Then we could leave for the airport leaving only a minor wake of shambles behind us (sorry Nova for putting  you through that).

Enter: The Great Hand Luggage Crisis of (1 February) 2011. Set aside for my carrying were:

  1. My laptop;
  2. The B-GAN (satellite internet connection: not that much bigger than  a netbook, just bulkier and heavier);
  3. The folder with all our important documents;
  4. Small bag with important** jewelry, i-pods etc;
  5. Cruisers manual to commence the provisioning;
  6. Leggings and cardigan in case it was chilly in the plane (or LA);
  7. another Object which shall be revealed forthwith; and
  8. bitsnpieces…

I had Stof’s old backpack set aside to accommodate all of the above.  I own a rather larger, more accommodating backpack, but Stof had insisted that the green*** backpack be put  in storage so we had no alternative but to insert all of 1 – 8 above into the old (Stof’s) backpack.

It did not fit.

I issued forth a blood-curdling yelp. And a few more. There were probably some choice swear words mixed up in the yelping. All the stress and balance of the past few days, weeks and months were working towards this moment of getting to the airport with all in tact. The possibility that it might not happen smoothly (and the realisation that it was happening, period!) culminated in some pretty gnarly noises. Sorry mum and mum-in-law and dad and dad-in-law and Sis-Curly and (mostly) Stof-my-love for the horror of my outburst.

And then the problem was solved (temporarily, I am presently typing as quickly as I can so we can go out and buy a more suitable replacement hand luggage bag), goodbyes were hugged, and we were already at the airport with about 130kg of luggage.

130kg of luggage made up of three suitcases, a sail bag and a set of spear guns (for fishing) is not a small amount. Especially when your limit as a couple is four bags not weighing more than 23kg each. (Which would be about 92kg in total – for the numerically challenged.)

Somehow, miraculously, we had an angel (called Lynn) working the desk. With some imaginative solutions, strategic removal of various heavy objects, the insertion of the spear guns into the sailbag (ok, they do stick out a bit), biting-the-bullet to pay for some (not too ghastly) excess, and the genius intervention of Lynn: we were checked in! And it only took us and hour and a half… Moral? We are so arriving for our other flights at least three hours early. Probably more.

So now we are in Dubai. Whew. And Wow. Although I’m not really “wow-ing” Dubai as a city as we are yet to venture out of our hotel wich is RIGHT across the road from the airport. But this hotel has a bed and hot showers and place to walk around in and stretch out and with a 16-and-a-half hour flight to Los Angeles ahead of us, that is sounding pretty marvellous! There was a panic on the plane when I thought that I hadn’t actually paid the deposit for the hotel and then we would have to try to find somewhere to stay at 6am when we finally cleared customs, but standing at the bottom of the (long) escalator leading to passport control was a beautiful woman with a placard with our names on it! She showed us the way and assured us our hotel transfer would be on the other side. I nearly kissed her I was so delighted.

Now we are well and truly on our way.

*Speaking of airplane clothes: South Africans! What is it with that scruffy travel look??? I can spot you in almost any airport around the world. It’s like someone told us we didn’t have to travel in our Sunday best so we took the dress code of the sky to be “hanging out at the plaas (farm)”.

** Not important enough to leave behind, though.

***My one, of course it’s green.


a pain in the bot-tom

3 Dec

Blegh.  A fatal combination of stress (moving office! skippers exam! last work responsibilities!) and lack of exercise (see all of the time-consuming activities listed in the previous parentheses) has left me with a lower back in spasm. So there’s actually a pain in my bottom, my leg, my back and my waist. I’m experimenting with various industrial strength drugs to make life manageable.

Our friends on uMoya are returning to CT tomorrow after nearly two years of circumnavigating! We will be sailing out to greet them with bells and whistles (or, more likely, vuvuzelas and champagne). I can only imagine the cocktail of emotions they must be feeling right now.

Hope it’s a marvellous weekend. I shall have a fabulous time as soon as the pharmaceuticals kick in.


10 Nov

What is it with men when they’re in the company of other men and only one woman that breeds the idea that calling a woman “sweetie” or (worse) “sweetie pie” is in ANY way acceptable?

Now, I’m not exactly the kind of gal who can easily be described as “sweet”. I possess certain attributes that may be associated with “sweet” (generally good person, charitable, hospitable, well-mannered, respectful, etc), but I’m really too prickly to be “sweet”. Sometimes I wish I were “sweeter”, but… I’m not.

THREE times in the past week I have been called “sweetie [pie]”. Three. Once in a work context, twice in my sailing course.*

Although, perhaps, it was least called for from my colleague, at least I could respond in severe tones: ‘How interesting that you still think I’m “sweet”. Be sure to tell your client that the opposing counsel is “sweet” and let’s hope for the best.’ (Us lawyers should be capable of taking as well as we give.)

It was a little trickier with the sailing instructors. Of course, the mere reaction to the use of “sweetie” to describe the only woman present in the “classroom”** by that woman would probably strip anyone of the idea that the afore-mentioned woman is any way “sweet”. But being known as the “ragingsnarkybitch” is also far from ideal. Especially when we’re stuck on a boat for an entire afternoon.

So I kind of made a small joke: “Just because I [made a bad call / am the cleverest in the class] doesn’t mean you can swear at me!” And sat there seething in disbelief for the rest of the afternoon with the result that I either made more bad calls (but no more “sweetie” – so I achieved one objective) or started making silly mistakes such that I was no longer the cleverest in the class (so no more reason to warmly refer to me as “sweetie pie”). Urgh.

In lighter news: I love Wednesday mornings the most! These are the mornings which we dedicate to walking up the mountain before work. This is superb because:

  1. It is excellent to get in a good hour + of exercise before the day begins.
  2. Cowboy’s excitement levels when he realises we are actually going for an early walk are priceless. 
  3. It fills the soul to be on the mountain in the first light.
  4. Nothing makes one feel more superior than watching our fellow Capetonians snaking along in the traffic while we are marching along in the fresh mountain air. There’s a definite air of smugness to the nod and smile that fellow early morning walkers give as they pass each other.


*By TWO different instructors.

** Once was on the boat, once in the classroom.


13 Oct

Yesterday I had my hair cut. (I almost did not have my hair cut because I confused the time and arrived half an hour late and was told I would have to make another appointment. I then had a fairly embarrassing tantrum in the salon* and someone agreed to have their hair blow dried instead of straightened (thanks anonymous Nicky at the hairdresser) and I was in!) Snip! Snip! “Take off a lot,” I requested. So 10cm worth of Saartjie locks tumbled to the floor and I left feeling lighter and triumphant (but still blushing slightly from the toy-out-of-cot-throwing incident).

And? Not. One. Person. Has Noticed. !!!!

Ok, Stoffel noticed because I told him. I have not yet seen my mother and scissor and they are bound to notice (Mother! Scissor! Notice my 10cm shorter hair, please). But TEN CENTIMETRES is quite a lot of hair (even for someone like me who has a lot of hair to start with). 

In other news: Stoffel, Nix (who fortuitously was doing her test on the same day) and I all passed our radio exam licences! Hurrah! We are now single side band certified radio operators. Even though I failed the MAYDAY question (a fairly important one)… **

French is still marvellous. Especially the people in my french class. Even though the Nigerian supplier of awesome french music has been slacking off somewhat, which makes the classes marginally less enjoyable because I can’t crack snarky jokes with anyone any more. Pouty girl is still there. Chinese lady still can’t pronounce stuff, but she’s a hard worker (of course) and knows her theory. Only Browwwnnnne is too scared to speak up, even though she knows what is going on. Speak, Browwwnnne! Speak!

* It involved plenty of waving of hands and even one foot stomp. Mortifying. To my (weak) defence, I have been DESPERATE to have my hair cut and yesterday was the only appointment I could get for about a month… Still pitiful behaviour on my behalf.

** I KNEW which one of the “multiple guess” answers was correct (“a”), but they confused me by saying how many people (200) needed to be rescued in one option (“c”) that was not too incorrect. Flip, I think it’s quite important to know that they need to rescue two hundred drowning persons. At least, that’s what I thought in the test, but I now see the error of my ways.

the near-disastrous anniversary

29 Sep

Before I give any description of the start or end of our anniversary, I must explain that my car keys are not the only Important Things that were lost last week. Last Sunday we returned from an immeasurably wonderful weekend with the fabulous jennamay in the Natal Midlands.* On the plane, I removed my WEDDING EARRINGS** and put them on my lap. Of course, as the flight landed, I stood up and went home only to realise the next day my splendid wedding earrings were missing . Sob! THEN, on Friday (i.e. Heritage Day) Stoffel insisted on taking the camera (our ONLY digital camera) on a hike across Table Mountain from the City Bowl to his parent’s possie in Constantia.*** He took a new, really tricky route up the mountain which required much clambering and hoisting of Cowboy. Near the top, he took a picture of Cow wedged in a particularly impressive crack with Cape Town stretching out beyond him. AND, that was the last any of the Hillratts (or their immediate associates) saw of the camera!

So, our first ever anniversary morning contained a series of not very enjoyable moments:

  • my husband-of-one-year awoke wincing from a sore back (perhaps something to do with the clambering and hoisting of Cowboy?).
  • Then I discovered the missing camera. Wraaahhh! Fury! Misery!
  • We scuttled all our belongings into the car and shot down to the Constantia Woolies in case Stof had removed it there when he’d stopped in to purchase braai goodies after his walk. No luck.
  • Still no breakfast by this time and my blood sugars were waning (and my lip was dragging along the floor as a result of the husband-losing-camera incident). Because we were all the way down the southern part of the peninsula, we popped in at Muizenberg for coffee and croissant on the beach: lovely? No: it was an absolute nightmare with (seemingly) thousands of surfers milling around trying set a Guinness record.
  • We decided to tootle along the beach to the N2 and find food later (probably somewhere delicious, pretty and romantic). Unfortunately, about a quarter of the way along Strandfontein road we were turned around at a road block : a whale had beached itself and the extraordinary number of spectators had forced authorities to close the road.
  • So we spent an hour driving around back to where we would have been in 20 minutes.
  • A lot of this time I am being rather miserable/sulky/generally unpleasant.
  • We pulled into the Engen 1 Stop roadside petrol station at lightening speed to fill up the car, with the idea that we would then hit the road to find something to eat (somewhere delicious, pretty and romantic).
  • EXCEPT, then the car did not restart. At all.
  • Helpful petrol attendants helped us push Suzi (an Isuzu bakkie) to the side and we called for the Automobile Association.
  • We *enjoyed* an oily anniversary lunch of Wimpy burgers at the 1-stop as we waited for the AA to arrive…

I admit that, at this point, I suggested that the whole idea of going away to celebrate our baby marriage might just go to h-ll and that we should return to the Matchbox and sulk. (I may or may not have been close to tears.****)  To which Stof pointed out that we couldn’t even do that because were STUCK on the side of the highway eating Wimpy burgers with our fingers.

Which is when we started to snigger uncontrollably and things got better:

  • AA arrived and (of course) Suzi started first time. Without coercion or assistance!
  • We hit the road with blood sugar levels restored (generally much happier).
  • We arrived at the Breede River in time to unpack the car, feed the dogs, light a fire and open a bottle of wine while the sun set.
  • WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO MAKE THE BED (Yay! We were lazy last time we visited and left the linen on…)
  • We made a bloody delicious dinner of mushroom, asparagus and chorizo risotto which we ate in front of the fire while it rained outside.
  • For the rest of our visit the weather was exquisite!
  • All of our wedding trees (we planted 14 trees the day after our wedding) are still alive! Good omen (if nothing else).

Here are some pictures of our little piece of paradise on the Breede. Obviously they aren’t from this weekend, but I’m desperate to have a photograph or two in this blog.

Sunset at the Breede with Saartjie and a dog (I think that’s Maggie, Cowboy’s sister) in silhouette…

Oh it’s lovely during daylight too! This from when our matey Larry flew up and “buzzed” us… hmm.

The veld really is this breath-taking.

Happy-tired dogs falling asleep in front of the fire while spooning. Like we did.

*I even took millions of fantastic photies for showntell. These are forever lost to the mountain. We think…

** Which I love(d).

*** I was not traipsing across the mountain alongside him because I had to work. On a public holiday. Ghastly.

**** Pathetic. I know. 

lost. ergh.

21 Sep

I just wanted to say that, sometime between yesterday evening (when I returned to the Matchbox from grocery shopping) and this morning (when I attempted to rush out of the house to pilates) I lost my car key.


The Matchbox is not called a matchbox for nothing. Therefore there are not too many places that key could have disappeared to. Sadly, the place it HAS gotten to has not been found and we are now a 1 car family.* The irritation factor of having to fetchncarry his wife has not yet struck Stof, who is merely delighted that someone other than him has engaged in losing important stuff.


* Of course, we still have another car. But we can just look at it. Which is a relief because it means that the key has not been found by some lucky passing skollie.