Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Safari in Pilansberg National Park

The first day we had booked the 5am game drive B and I slept right through the alarm clock. Our friends, noticing everything being very quiet in our room, decided that we must have been very organised and already up at reception waiting.

It was definitely worth setting both alarms the next day:

Three cubs practising their hunting skills.


Our first stop on the way to Bakubung was the colonial town Majtiesfontain (pronounced Mar-keys-fontain) once an outpost for British Officers during the Boer War. B and I had spent a night here a few years previously. Drinking in the pub accompanied by an old fella playing old tunes on the piano with as much gusto as a Madonna concert.

The little chapel which seats only 20

The pub with its still working original cash register.

Naughty monkeys

These little monkeys skilfully jumped the electric barbed wire fenced to play in front of our house every morning. But you had to be careful. Before you knew it they were in our kitchen making off with our mangos and watermelon!

So human-like in their movements and interaction with each other. It was fascinating.
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Bakubung Summer Fun

We went road tripped north to Bakabung (pronounced baka-boom) for our week of summer holidays.

The boys in their element: Beer, Braai (BBQ) and Cricket

A summer holiday isn't a summer holiday without Pina Coladas

Around 4pm on NYE we discovered an invitation for a Pirates of the Carribean Party.

Ahhr, I seeh you 'ave your berd.

Of course Jusin knew a good drinking game involving cards,

and guess who lost and had to drink the punishment drink? EEEEEewe

Q: How do you know you're a pirate?

A: You just Arrrh.


Day Out

On Sunday Sammie and I helped Mum celebrate her birthday by visiting GoMA, Brisbane’s modern art gallery. To make a day of it we left the car behind and took the City Cat (ferry) up the river and then strolled along the Southbank promenade until researching the newly renovated museum and gallery complex.

I’ll admit we spent equally amounts of time in the gallery shop and cafĂ© as in the gallery itself, but that’s the idea isn’t it?

The highlight was definitely the interactive installation in the international art event; the Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Viewers were given paper and use of crayons to rub etchings of Thai symbols which had been cleverly carved into those old school lecture chairs with the fold over writing rest. Just like in school were we were sent out into the playground to make rubbings of tree bark and coins.

Southbank, Brisbane

B - this photo is for you. Some inspiration for our Bougainville trellis.

The lost art of handwritten letters

On Mum’s birthday (Sat 17 Feb) we attended a local community group session on Making Handmade Cards. Mummy, Marnie and I thought it would be a great laugh and were looking forward to it as none of us could remember the last time we played with craft glue and paint.

Mum and Marnie having a ball.

The birthday girl & her cake.

As usual I embarrassed myself with how industrious I was, making 10 cards where as most people only made 2 or 3. I was in my element. Functional Art.

Only problem is I’m finding it rather hard to part with them.

I’ve come across a new object of desire: Montegrappa Italian Handcrafted Fountain Pens. Ooh la la. So if anyone is interested in viewing the site, the writing jewel I’m after is from the Celluloid Collection. It was inspired by a 1930’s model which they hold in their private museum.

The Extra 1930 (Turtle Brown)

PJ bought Mum a new fountain pen for her birthday and I was reminded how elegant and pleasurable it is to write with one. Mum taught me how to draw up the ink from the bottle and I was hooked. I remember being impressed how the kids at Ardingly College in the UK, where I gapped for a year, started using fountain pens from 4th grade. Poor darlings used to get covered in ink but it just seemed so regal and fitting that it didn’t seem to matter.

PJ always tells us;

If you have to ask 'how much?', you obviously can’t afford it.

So I guess I’ll just have to 'wait a little while' as John Legend says.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Lesson 101: Spoons

Our Mulberry tree is bearing fruit so for dessert Mum and I made stewed Mulberries with Homemade Custard.

After almost 7 years of independent cooking I was rudely awoken to the fact that a table spoon is NOT the spoon we use everyday (this would be a dessert spoon), and thus every recipe I have cooked up until now has been measured incorrectly: I now see my Pie in new light.

Introducing from the left: Mr. Table, Ms. Dessert and Miss. Teaspoon
never to be confused again.

Pick a Posy for your Pocket

I’ve officially moved into The Artists Studio. But it’s a bit lonely being just me. So I picked some flowers to reminisce a Vanilla Bouquet B and I had bought in Cape Town.

Vanilla Bouquet

Champagne Roses & Bowl of Figs

Bunnyconnellen Kitchen

Surprise Brunch

Sunday morning had Sammie and I out of bed far too early – Dad was enticing us with cooked breakfast. And before I knew it we were at Hovenden surprising Mum and PJ who were there visiting Marnie and Pang. Far too hangover to coordinate a special surprise, I just made a run for it, trying not to be spotted by everyone brunching in the courtyard.

Shame, poor Mummy almost had a heart attack. I sometimes forget how much my parents miss me, and how cruel it is that I have moved permanently overseas. She went as pink as her Polo shirt and promptly burst into tears. Aunty Jo grabbed her car keys and made a quick exit to buy celebratory champagne. Sammie passed out in the spare room while I retold my deportation story in all its gory detail.

Monday, 19 February 2007


Sammie and I surprised Dad at home. Sammie told him to sit on her bed with his hands out as she had a late birthday surprise for him. I crept in and put my hands in his and we squealed, “Surprise!”. He late told us that he was startled and opened his eyes early because he could hear two sets of breathing in the room – true, I was panting from having run in off the street where I was hiding.

After the surprise we tucked into our traditional lunch of roast chicken
followed by cream & syrup on fresh bread

That evening I attended Arlie (my cousin) and Grant’s wedding. It was the first wedding I’ve attended that wasn’t for my parents. Arlie looked a dream in a stunning gown with a crystal beaded bodice and long train. But her second bridesmaid, Foxy almost stole the show. Foxy was all dressed up in a lace collar with matching satin lead and gracefully followed Arlie down the isle to sit at her left. Everyone was joking that Foxy didn’t recognise Arlie because she was in a dress!

Dad & Sam "Lets Twist Again"

Sammie & Cousin Jill

As always it was great to catch up with the cousins and we ended the night in high spirits at the infamous Fibber Magees.

Straylia Calling

Even though I have a return ticket to Australia with Qantas, of course, at such short notice I couldn’t get a seat. There were seats available, but no, my ticket could not be upgraded into another economy class seat. Yes, externally they all look the same, but in the system each seat is different. I was pulling my hair out. Darling B said it wasn’t a problem and I should just save from stressing and book with another airline. Of course I didn’t, I waited until the last available moment. I knew the Qantas Waitlist phone number and all the call waiting songs off by heart, I hoped and prayed there would be a cancellation but there wasn’t.

Thankyou B for getting me another flight with the AMAZING Singapore Airlines. Brilliant service. The complete opposite of the dreaded Iberian Airlines we used to and from Cuba. Singapore always hands out those little steaming facial towels which always puts me in such a good mood. I snuggle down in my seat, with pillow and blanket, flip my remote control out and then start a Movie Marathon with such endurance it’s on scale with Comrades. Please don’t ask me what I watched, it’s all a bit of a blur. But I do remember being brought 3 Tex chocolate bars, 1 apple (which I ate out of guilt), Cointreau to add to my coffee and numerous orange juices. And that was on top of the delightful little in-flight meals.

In Singapore I was planning to meet Catalina for coffee but unfortunately she was ill. So instead I called her from a cafe and caught up on all the goss for over an hour! This probably didn’t help her ear ache but there was just so much to talk about especially since we’re in similar situations. Though she isn’t running from the authorities just yet, as she put it.

Sammie picked me up at the airport on Thursday night, after I’d eaten my last in-flight meal of Croissant and Orange Juice. Crazy meal, as universally I'm sure it's usually classified as breakfast. It thus started some loppy jet lag.

Thank you to Sammie and Dan for looking after me on my first few days.

Border Hopper

The mission was not accomplished. I flew to Zambia with the intentions of re-entering South Africa to gain a new 3 month Tourist Visa, but no, I was called a Border Hopper instead.

“but, ahh, Zambia is not on the boarder of South Africa”

“it doesn’t matter, you’re still a border hopper”

“oh, but…

“you have to go back to where you came from”

“oh, but…

“you have seven days”

“but please…. asseblief!”

“okay, you can have fourteen days”


Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Cuba revisited

Heaven amongst the mad streets of Havana - La Floridita!

La Boca Beach, where the river meets the sea.


Monday, 5 February 2007

Aussie Meat Pie

Earlier that morning I’d been browsing in the Wordsworth book shop and flicking through a book dedicated to the art of baking pies.


So that night I decided I would cook my first pie. A pie just for me - Happy Australia Day. I looked up a recipe in the Maggie Beer cookbook (Mum and PJ gave it to B for Christmas a few years ago) and nothing was going to hold me back.

No sour cream for the pastry – no worries.
No pastry scraper – what's that for anyway?
No pie tin – no problem.
No rolling pin – I have a hand.
No clue what I was doing – normal.

For the filling I though I would improvise on the Cottage Pie filling B and I make – mince, lots of sauce and this time I added some peas. (I think B would die if I added peas to his traditional pie.)

Then while that was cooking I started with the pastry. I was making a Rough Puff Pastry. But I was making it my way. The recipe was:

450g Flour
450g Butter
250ml Cold water.

I decided to make half this because it was only one pie. After I made the ‘well’ with my flour I went to add the butter – and Oh My! Do you know how much butter that is? I knew I was going end the whole pie, and while I like butter, that was probably my calorie intake for a week. So I just added a bit and decided to see how it goes. With no scraper – what ever that it – I used my fingers to make crumbs like I’ve seen Marnie do with Shortbread cookies.

After refrigerating it for about 5 mins (I am the impatient chef) I rolled it out with my hands. Looking back I should have used a glass, but at the time just pushing it out and flipping it over worked just fine.

Finally I made it to the best part: cutting the edge off and making shapes!

It was pretty decent. The pastry didn’t taste like pie pastry but at least it was tasty and slighly puffy around the edges. I ate it for dinner then lunch then dinner again and I’m going to eat the last piece for lunch today. AA says I'm crazy and must eat some of her leftover chicken instead.

Cuba revisited II

Buena vista

Trinidad's aguardiente is my favourite drink in the world!

Served with fresh lime juice and a layer of golden honey on the bottom.

Finally we found a bakery and what I guess you could call a deli.