Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And the Bride Wore Red

You all wanted to see the pics so here they are! I had to take photos of the photograph album, so the quality is a bit dodgy but you get the idea.

First of all with my Dad waiting halfway up the garden while they get themselves sorted inside.

Then the rings - such concentration. And nasturtiums in my hair.

It's done!

Lunch in the apricot orchard.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Marriage Meme

Charlotte tentatively tagged me for this one and it's so long since I did a meme that I leapt on it. Plus it's lovely to be invited to spend time recollecting our wedding day of course!

1. Where/how did you meet?
At his photographic studio in London. A friend of mine was taking part in an exhibition he was putting on and I was at a loose end so went along to help …and stayed!

2. How long have you known each other?
14 years. We were late starters!

3. How long after you met did you start dating?
It took about a week of me being a calm and indispensable presence in the middle of a maelstrom of exhibition mayhem. We never did the going out on dates thing though, too broke for the most part, so we just hung out at the studio a lot.

4. How long did you date before getting engaged?
A year and a bit. He was always intending to come back to South Africa, so we made a couple of trips over here and met his family before he popped the question on the second visit, once I'd proved I could cope with SA and his family!

5. How long was your engagement?
5 months. We had to arrange yet another trip back to get married in South Africa as his parents were getting too old to travel. Mine we knew would enjoy the trip out here ..at least we hoped they would!

6. How long have you been married?
12.5 years

7. What is your anniversary?
30th September

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?
About 30 or so.

9. What kind of cake did you serve?
I don't think we had one at all!

10. Where was your wedding?
At his parents cottage in a small town in a wine growing area in the Cape. The local magistrate was very kind and came to the house to marry us on a Saturday rather than have us come to her office, as we were flying over from the UK just before the wedding.

11. What did you serve for the meal?
A friend brought her own farm butter and home-made bread, which we had with gravad lax to start. Then we had the most wonderful whole fillet steak, cooked on the braai and crusted in black pepper and sea salt - it was so tender and succulent, I can still taste it! I can't remember what the puddings were but there would have been lots of them.

12. How many people were in your bridal party?
All 30 of them. They all crowded into the sitting room together then my father walked me up the garden path to the door and we had a very short and simple ceremony. My husband vowed to bring me breakfast in bed sometimes amongst the usual things!

13. Are you still friends with them?
Yes - they were all family and close friends, though the friends are spread over a wide range of countries now. We've only completely lost touch with my brother's then girlfriend, now ex.

14. Did your spouse cry during the wedding ceremony?

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
All of it - I felt all aglow the whole day.

16. Any funny moments?
My sister-in-law thought we should have some music to come in to and started singing Happy Birthday! My brother with perfect timing after we'd given each other a first big kiss as a married couple solemnly intoned "You may now kiss the bride". Otherwise there was a constant stream of talk and laughter through the day.

17. Any big disasters?
No - though it was all very last minute organization - we were buying the champagne from Graham Beck at the estate at 4.30 the afternoon before our wedding day, and only got to the next estate, where we wanted to get our red wine from, just before it closed!

18. Where did you honeymoon?
We had an enormous breakfast at the Mount Nelson, Cape Town's finest old Belle Epoque hotel, with some of the friends who'd come out from England, before parting ways, then we headed up the West Coast to explore. We then had a massive sea-food blow-out on the beach, where I over-indulged on the warm pot-bread and got massive indigestion, prior to coming down with the flu, so we headed back to his parents house and took to our bed!

19. For how long?
We had about three weeks in SA altogether, but the rest of it was visiting with family, so we never really got the romantic honeymoon experience.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
The only thing we didn't think of was music, too busy concentrating on food. I'd have got somebody to play for us and had some great background music too.

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?

22. What size is your bed?
King size to have room for kids too, though now they hardly ever need it.

23. Greatest strength as a couple?
We like being together and can work together too.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?
Neither of us is at all tidy. Actually that isn't really a challenge - it just means we live in a messy house.

25. Who literally pays the bills?
These days he does - I used to, but once the babies came I handed over the chore.

26. What is your song?
Soppy stuff - Dusty Springfield - The Look of Love!

27. What did you dance your first dance to?
We didn't dance at the wedding - what a missed opportunity!

28. Describe your wedding dress?
I'd always wanted to get married in red and orange - so I had a dark red silk wrapover skirt and a burnt orange silk vest top, with a dark red and gold silk scarf and orange nasturtiums plaited into my hair.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
I carried three arum lilies, freshly picked that morning from a ditch by one of our guests.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Wisdom of Solomon?

We have our main meal in the evening, together as a family and my sister-in-law usually sits with us. It's her time to catch up with the children, read them a story while I'm cooking, share the events of our day. There are often two simultaneous conversations going on at the supper table - adult conversation interweaves with the children's non-sequiturs and general clamour as all three kids try to get in their 2 cents worth.

Last night the conversation turned to Jacob Zuma (recently elected president of the ANC, despite a contraversial impending court case) and the latest newspaper headlines of his plans to take on two more wives this year, making a total of five. The adults shook their heads in despair at the retrogressive international figure he is cutting and hoping against hope that we don't end up with him as president of our country, feeling sure that fate will come to our aid and deal out some just desserts. One of us commented on his sheer irresponsibility and the terrible example he is setting to South African men in treating women as possessions and in fathering as many as 25 children.

Our son had obviously been following the conversation, for here he chipped in with:

"That's nothing. Solomon had 200 children. He had lots of wives. I think he had a weakness for girls…"

We collapsed.

Modern life holds no surprises once you've studied the Old Testament!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Recipe for Rainy Day Soup

Sometimes it rains in summer here too - an ideal opportunity to enjoy being cool, the smell of damp hot earth, lavender releasing its scent, the novelty of raindrops splashing on your head and finally get a chance to use those umbrellas ... as a camp for your owls on the stoep ... and cook them some soup with 100% organic ingredients. Here is my children's recipe for rainy day soup:

1. First catch your rainwater.

2. Add some finely ground clay dust for colour and thickness.

3. Stir it up with lavender leaves.

4. Grind some shale into rough chunks and add to the mix.

5. Cook slowly for a minute or two.

6. Serve straight from the pan. Spoon feed if required.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's the SA Blog Awards again!

nominate this blog

It's that time of year again - the time when all South African bloggers chew their finger-nails in the exciting contest that is the SA Blog Awards, elbow each other as they hustle up the red carpet all for the honour and prestige of it...and of course the grand prize of 2008 south african cents or to put it into perspective R20.08. which will almost buy a bar of Green and Black's Maya Gold chocolate ...almost ...you'd have to scape together the other R5 from your loose change bowl in coppers, but it does go some of the way towards satisfying an unsupported chocolate craving!

Anyway you've got till Friday to nominate your favourite SA blogs so please click on the button to choose me, me, me!!! Then fill in all the blanks with some of the other fine South African bloggers such as Cooksister, Charlotte's Web, Vanielje Kitchen or look at Cooksister's list for more inspiration! They've increased the number and scope of categories this year and asked you to give reasons for voting for the blogs you like, all new and improved on last year.

Here are the rules which I have lazily copied and pasted from Cooksister!

Once you've had a browse and decided who you like, head on over to the 2008 SA Blog Awards site, read the small print and get nominating. In short, the important rules are:

  • Only ONE nomination per person is allowed, so do give some thought to your nominations. Send a second sheet and your first will be cancelled.
  • You MUST nominate at least three different blogs
  • You will need to provide the URL of each nomination and a reason for your nomination.
  • You MUST provide a name and valid e-mail address in order to nominate.
  • You'll get a confirmation e-mail and will need to click on the confirmation link for your vote to count.

Nominations are open until Friday 22 February 2008, after which the 10 blogs with the most nominations in each category (taking into account their relevance to the category in which they have been nominated) will go through to the finals. Final voting will be open to the public from Monday 3 March 2008 till midnight Friday 14 March 2008. During the final voting stage, you will be able to cast your vote on the 2008 Awards website and a panel of bloggers and "celebrity judges" will also judge the nominated blogs in each category. Their and your votes will be tallied and the top blogs resulting from this in each category will be announced as winners on 3 April.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Driving home from dropping the older kids off at school, Youngest on the back seat, apropos of nothing, comes out with the F word. It sounds strange and innocent tripping off her lips.

After a pause I calmly say:

" You do know that that is a very rude word don't you?"

"Yes," she replies, "it's not Afrikaans, it's German for poo."

What can I say, we live in a multilingual society here in South Africa!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Home Again

I'm back home now and back into my everyday life again. It took a while to adjust back. The contrast between a Somerset winter of mild grey days and the South African summer with its dry air and shimmering light; the sleepless night flight and travelling; the emerging from the insulated bubble that seems to surround you after someone has died with its intense focus on that person, the reminiscences and the practical pulling together as a family; with all of that I felt like I did when we used to visit South Africa on holiday - unreal, foreign, not quite all there, with my feet hovering above the ground.

A weekend of drifting and then the demands of school, of picking up the thread of work again with my clients, pulled me back into myself again. Youngest's start at kindergarten hadn't gone well. My husband had tried to take her when the school term started while I was still away. She had refused to join in with anything and when he left her after two hours had stayed behind a curtain, refused to go to the loo and only eaten her sandwiches later outside on her own. Wisely he'd decided to leave another go until I was back.

So this week I spent two mornings at kindergarten with her, to try and make her feel secure enough to at least try and join in. Part of her problem is that she is shy of strangers and refuses to let anyone she doesn't know touch her or help her.. and that includes the teachers. Plus she has an innate fear of failure - hating to get anything wrong and she'd rather not join in with a song or game that she doesn't know than risk embarrassing herself by getting it wrong - a big burden for a five year old, who hasn't had time to learn everything in the whole world just yet.

The two mornings went better than I thought and on the second day she actually went off to play out of my line of vision with two girls that she knows from before. I'll have to keep going a bit longer though, as any new song or activity puts her back to the starting point of insecurity and the teachers are still Public Enemy Number 1 in her eyes! So another two mornings of unutterable tedium for me next week - I need to find some sewing or something to keep me busy so that I can gradually fade into the wallpaper as she finds her feet.

Meanwhile we are having hot hot weather, relieved a bit by rain last night, though it is still horribly humid and the worst indignity of all - a mole has killed off my mulberry tree, which was growing brilliantly and had the most delicious fruit, and it has now sunk into the ground and is lolling at a drunken angle. There are still a few roots attached so I've filled in the ground around it and watered profusely, but I think the mole is just saving those roots for afters, so I don't hold out much hope. We are seriously considering putting our organic principles to one side and resorting to gassing the creatures. BTW these aren't the cute little English moles, these are great huge African moles with long teeth, capable of turning a lawn into the Sahara desert in a matter of days and dragging tasty plants and trees into the ground to munch on at their leisure.

I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who commented here and sent messages of sympathy to me and my family. It was enormously comforting feeling that wave of energy and the sense of community from the blog world, from friends and friends of friends, and we all really appreciated it.