Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Car Guard

car guard

Roughly 10 to 12 years ago, a new phenomenon appeared in shopping mall car parks and on the streets of South Africa – it was the birth of the Car Guard. I find it fascinating, how this new industry grew, seemingly out of nowhere. Basically how it happened is that the high level of unemployment in the country, coupled with a huge increase in crime, particularly motor vehicle theft, resulted in unemployed people offering to keep watch over motorists’ cars, in exchange for a donation.

At first this informal industry was largely unregulated – basically anyone could arrive, declare a particular area his/hers and become the car guard in that area on that day. In general this remains true in municipal areas and on the streets, although many car guards have “their” designated areas and other guards respect that.

Over time, particularly in shopping malls, organisations developed and only car guards belonging to that particular group are allowed to guard in that area. Many shopping centres enter into contracts with a particular organisation and the organisation then provides car guards to that mall. The car guards pay a fee to belong to the organization and to wear the ID card and “uniform” of that organisation. They are not paid a wage, but rely on the donations (or tips) that they are given by the public for the service that they provide.

There are many people who find car guards an irritation and are quite insulting about their presence. Personally, I don’t have a problem with them at all. The car guards that I have dealings with are, in general, very friendly, they sometimes help to unpack my groceries into my car and always offer to take my shopping trolley away and guide me out of my parking space. Many of them are incredibly kind and helpful to the elderly and disabled people that they have dealings with. Quite honestly, I feel much more secure in the parking lot, especially at night, knowing that they are there keeping an eye on things.

I have often heard it said that these people are earning large sums of money for doing very little. In fact, that’s not true. In a study conducted in Bloemfontein, it was established that car guards earn on average R52 (formal sector) and R32 (informal sector) per day. Bearing in mind that they often work in appalling weather conditions, for long hours, that does not seem like a huge wage.

Interestingly enough, the study conducted in Bloemfontein established that out of 88 car guards in the formal sector who were interviewed, 4 had tertiary education, 10 had completed their high school education and 46 had passed the 10th grade.

I think it is brilliant that these people, who would otherwise be unemployed, are now earning a living and providing for their dependents. They aren’t just sitting back accepting charity and feeling sorry for themselves, or resorting to crime - they are being proactive and working at getting themselves out of their unfortunate circumstances. In many cases, car guarding has given them their self-respect back. It is also sometimes a stepping stone to better things. I know of two car guards at the mall where I do my shopping, who are now working at shops inside the mall.

There are of course always going to be “bad eggs” - much has been made of car guards who steal while putting your groceries in your boot for you etc etc. But that’s life, unfortunately, no matter what line or work you’re in there are going to be those who give the rest a bad name.

For other interesting phenomena visit Sunday Scribblings

Photo by jhm

Friday, July 27, 2007

A meme this Friday

I'm always a sucker for a meme - I wonder why that is? I'm sure a psychologist would have something to say about it. Anyway, I thought the meme that follows was a good one, it really was quite challenging and thought-provoking.

1. I love …… my girls, my husband, my family, Impi, my dogs, reading

2. I hate…… cruelty

3. I am crazy about…… dark chocolate

4. I love the smell of…… vanilla, cocoa butter

5. I enjoy… blogging

6 everything I need…… I can find in my own home

7. I can't live without…… my daughters

8. I stand for…… peace

9. I believe …… that you're never to old to learn something new

10. When I open my eyes in the morning…… I just want to shut them again

11. I believe in…… love

12. My most valued possession is…… the ring my aunt gave me and my new car

13. I wanted to be a ……… teacher

14. My one wish is …… for my daughters to live happy lives

15. I am easily…… convinced to eat chocolate

16. I fear……… a painful death

17. I cry when……… I hear about children or animals being harmed

18. I live for… oh my goodness what does it mean when you can't think of what you live for??

19. I know…… I can sometimes be quite bossy

20. I care about…… children, dogs, dolphins, whales

21. Don't ever ask me to……… mountain bike!

22. I'd risk my life for……… my girls

23. If I could I'd ……… make sure that not one more child was born HIV positive

24. Life is…… a roller coaster, you just gotta ride it...

25. I know for sure that……… I will never be thin again

26. Friends and family……… mean a lot to me

27. I'll never……… bungee jump

28. To love is to……… be vulnerable

29. Give and receive……… lots of love and hugs

30. Power is………. not a very desirable thing

31. My dreams…….. are something I like to keep in mind, but they don't rule my life

32. Money is ……… nice to have

33. Struggles are…… part of the package

34. Risks are…… scary

35. The future………… is very unpredictable

36. I look forward to……… retirement

37. My greatest achievement……… raising 2 really special daughters

38. I don't believe in……… vanity

39. You can't always……… have everything you want

40. I am…………… nearly forty, plump and satisfied with my life

If anyone who reads this would like to do this meme, please leave a comment with the link to your site, as I would love to read your answers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Family Tree

family tree
We have recently been working on our family tree. It's something I've always wanted to do, it was just a matter of finding the time and getting around to it. I'm so glad we finally did it, it's been a fun and interesting exercise for the whole family. We have discovered some interesting details about our ancestors - Grant has a pair of first cousins who married in his tree (that explains a lot, hee hee!) and one of his ancestors was born to a mother of 55!! I kid you not - we have proof!

I discovered a really good website to assist in compiling the tree, it's called Genes Reunited and can be found here. Registration is free, but you can also join and then you have access to message boards, are able to view other trees etc. I joined for a 6 month period and through the site have managed to contact a couple of very distant cousins, who helped me in tracking down a couple of ancestors and one of them pointed me in the direction of the 1820 Settlers site, which is another great site. If you have ancestors who were 1820 settlers (as I do), you'd find the site very informative, it has hordes of information about the settlers, their family trees, which boats they came on etc. Another useful tool is Family Tree Maker, where you can import your tree from Genes Reunited and print it out in various formats and do loads of other interesting things pertaining to family trees.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Asian Prawn Salad

thai prawn salad
Our family loves this prawn salad, it makes a delicious light lunch.


4Tbl sweet chilli sauce

2tsp Thai fish sauce

2Tbl lemon juice

handful of chopped mint leaves

250g cooked prawns

2 carrots, peeled and ribboned

1 cucumber, peeled and ribboned

1 spring onion, finely sliced

100g radishes, finely sliced

50g cashews, toasted and roughly chopped

Mix together the sauces and lemon juice, add the chopped mint leaves. Add the prawns, mix well, and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Mix the carrots, cucumber, radishes and spring onion. Serve onto individual plates, top with the prawns and marinade and sprinkle with the cashews.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Meet Maggie

I got a new car today!! It's a Toyota RunX 140i Sport and I am soooo pleased with it :-)

I have to confess though, that I am really, really sad to say goodbye to my trusty old Golf, which has served me so well for 11 years. I have honestly loved that car and it will always have a special place in my heart (someone bring out the tissues....) Thankfully, I don't have to say a complete goodbye, as the Golf is being passed on to Rox, who is already showering it with love now that it is officially her car.

The new car's name is "Maggie" and her and I are fast becoming best friends. Now all I need to do is remember that the indicators are on the right!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday's Feast 152

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how much do enjoy watching sports on television?
I'd have to say about....8. Although it depends what I am watching - I love watching The Sharks play rugby, but mostly when they are winning ;-) And watching Ryk Neethling or Roland Schoeman!

If you could completely memorize any one work of fiction, which one would you pick?
Good grief this is a tough one. Ummm, it would probably be a kids' story book, so that I would always have a story available for my grand-kids oneday. I'd say "Corduroy" by Don Freeman would be a good one, as both boys and girls would enjoy it. My girls loved this story when they were smaller and I have happy memories of us all snuggled on the bed as I read it aloud to them.

What is your favorite breakfast food?
Cereal (Otees) with vanilla soya milk

Main Course
Name something fun you can do for less than $10.00.
Go to the beach and buy an ice cream to eat, while you people watch and enjoy the fresh air and the sun on your face.

How long does it usually take you to fall asleep?
Usually 10 - 20 minutes, but sometimes it can take me hours!

For more delectable feasts go to this page

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Is it just a South African thing?

water bottle
Remember the fad for putting water-filled two litre cooldrink bottles all over the lawn to stop the dogs from pooing there? The idea behind it was that dogs do not poop where they drink. Unfortunately our dogs didn’t buy into that theory one little bit. On one notable occasion, one of our dogs actually pooped on the water-filled bottle.

What about the “baby on board” bumper sticker fad? It seems like I saw one and thought “Oh sweet, what a cute idea” and the next thing nearly every “mom’s taxi” was wearing one! This particular fad has been an enduring one – the stickers are still around and now come in all shapes, sizes and permutations of the original.

Hands up every South African who had a "Twister" in their kitchen. (Picture me waving ;-))Remember those irritating infomercials for the Twister, with Isabel Jones doing the demos?

Fashion is just a fad mine-field! Who can forget the horrors of knicker-bockers, leg-warmers and bubble skirts? (I can’t believe they are resurrecting those!) Remember the “Purdey” hairstyle? As a teenager, I simply loved the “Princess Diana” look; hairstyle, frilly collars and all.
I suppose it’s an adult version of the old playground fads. I remember as a school kid, seeing a kid with a yo-yo and a week later we were all playing with yo-yos. Then it was marbles, then skipping ropes… and so it continued, until we were adults…. putting water filled bottles on our lawns!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Madiba magic!


Nelson Mandela turns 89 today. Happy Birthday Madiba! An example to us all and a man that makes me proud to be South African.

Visit this site to leave a birthday wish for Madiba

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


diet food
Generally, when I go on a diet I don't tell anyone. Reason being, that if I decide to abandon the diet the very next day, or even at lunch time on the day that I started it (if I make it that far!), no one is going to be any the wiser. As you can imagine, with this level of commitment, my diets are not usually spectacularly successful!

Well here I am announcing my latest diet to the blogosphere at large. Yes people, I am on a diet! My husband and I are dieting together, this is uncharted territory for us!

We are doing a 21 day diet which I found in a magazine (Woman & Home June 2007, if anyone's interested). What appealed to me about the diet is that it is only 21 days long - that feels "do-able". It's also quite easy to follow.

There is a list of forbidden foods - sugar (obviously!), cows milk or milk products (no biggie for me as I don't do dairy anyway, but a huge sacrifice for my man), wheat (okay, that hurts!), red meat, alcohol (no glass of red wine with Grey's Anatomy on a Monday, sob!), no potatoes, no processed foods etc. It encourages lots of fesh fruit and veggies, a minimum of 2l of water a day etc. The bonus here is that there are a lot of lovely recipes included, with really interesting ingredients - I think this factor is going to help us a lot. There is also an optional meal plan for the full 21 days and we are sticking to that.

We started yesterday and so far so good. I'll keep you posted on our progress and weight loss! Two days down and counting!!

Photo by by Malias

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow

There is a teenage girl in our neighbourhood with a beautiful head of hair. Her hair is thick, shiny and healthy looking. Every time I see that hair my heart feels so glad.

The girl in question is T. Over a period of roughly a year in 2005/2006, T lost nearly all of her hair through alopecia. Last year she came and homeschooled with Rox. It was the year she would have started high school and to start at a new school, where they wear a uniform, being the only girl wearing a bandana would have been very difficult for her. Rox and I were only too happy to have her in our “school” because T is a sweetie pie. Through being with T every day Rox and I learnt so much, I’d like to share a little of what we learnt with you.

We learnt about alopecia, a condition about which we knew very little. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. There is a very good description of the disease and its cause here

We learnt that our society puts way too much emphasis on outward appearance. We’ve always known this to a degree, but going through this experience with T brought it home to us in such a vivid way. T is a beautiful girl, both outwardly and inwardly. As her alopecia progressed, if anything, she grew inwardly more beautiful and yet she was subject to stares from the general public and going out became very difficult for her.

We learnt about faith. T is a devout Christian and throughout her ordeal she believed that God was doing this to her for a reason and that in His time she would be cured. We were and still are, humbled by her faith.

We learnt to look for the positive in the negative. T was unfailingly glad that through her experience others were learning about hair loss. She also made her bandanas and baseball caps a fashion statement!

We learnt that you don’t have to be an adult to be wise. T showed wisdom and courage way beyond her years during this time.

I will obviously never be glad that this happened to T, but I am glad for the lessons my daughters and I and even T herself, learnt through her experience. And I am SO glad that she sports a beautiful head of hair today.

This post is my contribution for this weeks Sunday Scribblings

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday's Feast 151

What is your favorite fruit? Peaches (but it's hard to decided because I love lots of fruits!)

Who is someone you consider as a great role model? Wow, this is a toughie because there are quite a few people I consider role models.

One of them is my friend "G" (I don't think she'd take kindly to me blabbing her name all over the internet!) "G" fought a battle with a particularly horrible form of cancer and she won that battle. But it's not what you do, it's how you do it, in my opinion and it's this that makes "G" so special to me. She fought her cancer with the most incredible courage and grace. She lives with the consequences of that battle daily and she does it with a dignity that leaves me in awe of her. She's one inspirational lady!

If you were to spend one night anywhere within an hour of your home, where would you choose? The Wild Coast Sun resort

Main Course
Name something you do too often. Mess about on the computer

Fill in the blank: I really like ___________ because ____________.
I really like reading because it relaxes me.

For more Friday's feast responses click here

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What does your birth date mean?

Your Birthdate: January 13

You're dominant and powerful. You always need to be in charge.
While others respect your competence, you can be a bit of a dictator.
Hard working and serious, you never let yourself down.
You are exact and accurate - and you expect others to be the same way.

Your strength: You always get the job done

Your weakness: You're a perfectionist to a fault

Your power color: Gray

Your power symbol: Checkmark

Your power month: April

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some mid-week inspiration

I read this on Sophia Lindop's blog on Sunday and found it hugely inspirational, so (with her permission) I am sharing it with you -

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume:
I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre at my job if those other things were not true. You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live. I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the back yard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moments that changed my life forever - Part Three

my newborn babe
After the rather traumatic arrival of Rox, surprisingly enough, we decided we didn’t want a huge age gap between our babes. There was a six year age gap between my brother and me and I always felt that it was too big, so I wanted a fairly small gap between my babies.

When Rox was one year old, we set about planning baby No.2. I fell pregnant with no problem at all, but it was an ectopic pregnancy. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Grant and I are disaster prone… In a very dramatic fashion, I collapsed at work with internal bleeding and had to be rushed to hospital. These flits to the hospital, a 45 minute drive away, started feeling like the norm - we’d done it twice before Rox was born and here we were doing it again! I had surgery and the gynae patched up my tube as best he could. Three months later I had a laparoscopy to check on the condition of my tubes, happily the prospect of my falling pregnant again looked good. Unfortunately, nothing happened…. for nearly two years! I had another laparoscopy to make sure all was okay and was assured that it was only a matter of time – there was nothing stopping me falling pregnant again, I just needed to relax and let nature takes it’s course.

Finally when Rox was 3 years old, I fell pregnant again. We were thrilled to bits. But, it was another ectopic pregnancy – yet another flit to the hospital! More surgery and this time the offending tube was removed, drastically affecting my chances of conceiving. So began a real struggle to naturally conceive a sibling for Roxy. At the time, I was not keen on the idea of IVF, which my gynae suggested as an option. 18 months down the line we were starting to seriously consider it.

Then, believe it or not, in September 1994, Grant shot himself in the hand by mistake (it’s a long story….remember what I said about us being disaster prone??) and had to spend a couple of weeks off work, recuperating after surgery to his hand. Yup it happened, Grant had to shoot himself to get me to fall pregnant ;-) By the time he went back to work, baby number two was on the way and scans revealed that this babe was growing right where it should be.

We decided to tell Roxy quite early on that I was pregnant, so that we would have plenty of time to prepare our indulged, only child for the “sibling invasion”. We sat her down one evening and Grant explained to her that “Mommy has a little brother or sister for you growing in her tummy”. Rox’s reaction was “No she hasn’t!” We explained that “Yes, indeed she has”. Rox just adamantly refused to believe it and kept on saying “No, she hasn’t” We explained that the baby was “small like a bean” and that was why she couldn’t see that there was a baby in there, but still, all she would say was “No, she hasn’t” Not quite the reaction we were expecting!

Rox’s disbelief aside, it was a blissful pregnancy. I took Rox with for all my scans and she then took to the idea with a vengeance, notify passers-by in the street that “My mommy has a baby in her tummy” – quite a turn around there!!
I was scheduled to have a Caesar 10 days before my due date, which was 29 June. On the 3rd of June we were watching the world cup rugby in action – this was very important to Grant. I went to bed as I was tired and had an achy back and left Grant and my Dad to watch the game. Late that night Grant came to bed and a while later I got up to go to the loo. I came back to bed and as I sat down my waters broke. I told Grant this interesting tidbit of information and his sleepy reaction was “No love, it didn’t” (And we wonder where Rox gets it from!!) I finally convinced him that “Yes, indeed it did!” Yet another flit to hospital!

By the time we got to Maritzburg I was having major contractions, scarily regularly. We came to some traffic lights near the hospital and Grant who was having visions of delivering this baby single handedly, looked for cars and then drove through the intersection without stopping. Unbelievably, a police car appeared out of nowhere and began chasing us with lights flashing and sirens blaring. It was like something out of a movie! Grant pulled over and leant out of the window and said something along the lines of “Officer, my wife is in labour” – cringe-making. We got escorted to the hospital by a police car, with lights flashing. I couldn’t make things like this up!

Paula arrived by C-section a couple of hours later. She was born with her cord wrapped tightly, 3 times around her neck and gave us all a fright by being grey in colour and unresponsive for a short while. We were very thankful that Grant hadn’t had to deliver her on the side of the road!

By the time she was sorted out, cleaned up and presented to me, she was a chubby little, perfectly formed 3 kg baby - rosy in colour and just perfect in every way. The emotions at finally having the long-awaited second baby we had hoped for were indescribable! During my pregnancy the only thing that worried me was how I could possibly love another child the way I loved Rox, the moment they handed Paula to me, those worries were gone.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Bobotie is one of my favourite dishes. Of Cape Malay origin, it is a dish prepared with mildly curried mince meat, with some dried fruit added, usually in the form of apricots or raisins, and possibly the addition of some grated apple and apricot jam; the meat is then topped with an egg custard and baked until brown. It is serious comfort food.

I have tried various recipes for Bobotie, but the one I like best is one recently posted on Sophia Lindop’s delightful cookery blog, which you can find here.

Sophia Lindop’s Bobotie (Serves 6)
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (medium strength)
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons smooth apricot jam
1kg minced meat - beef or ostrich or lamb
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 thick slices of white breadmilk to soak the bread in
1 egg
a handful of raisins
a few soft, dried apricots, chopped into smaller bits or 1 Granny Smith apple, grated
salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup yogurt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt
bay leaves

To prepare:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions until cooked.
3. Add the garlic and cook through.
4. Sprinkle the curry powder over the onions add salt and stir.
5. Add the mince and stir until cooked.
6. Add the vinegar and cook together for ± 15 minutes.
7. Add the turmeric and stir through.
8. Soak the slice of bread in the milk. Remove the soggy bread, squeeze lightly and mash with a fork.
9. Add the soggy bread to the meat mixture and add 1 beaten egg. Stir with a wooden spoon.
10.Add the smooth apricot jam and stir it into the mixture.
11.Add the raisins and apricots / apple.
12.Taste the mince and add salt and pepper if necessary.
13.Place the cooked mince in a buttered pie dish.
14.Tuck the bay leaves into the mince or place them on top.
15.To make the topping, add the 2 eggs to the yogurt and cream and season with a pinch each of salt and cayenne pepper.
16.Mix well.
17.Pour over the top of the meat.
18.Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes or until the custard sets on top.

Friday, July 06, 2007

5 reasons to love….. living on the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast

It’s not always easy to unconditionally love living in South Africa. We have crime, we have poverty, we have AIDS and apartheid still sticks to our shoes like a chunk of dog poop you can’t get rid of. BUT I love living in South Africa, especially on the KZN South Coast, even though every now and again I have to remind myself why. Which is exactly what I am doing in this post:

  1. Our weather – I don’t believe there is a place in the world that has better weather than we do here on the east coast of South Africa. I look out of my window today, it’s mid-Winter and it is 24 degrees C - balmy, sunny and still. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous
  2. We have braaivleis, biltong, boerewors, biryani and bobotie. We have some seriously good food here! With the blend of cultures in this country, our food is a melting pot of delicious flavours.
  3. Our beaches. I’m not a terribly beachy person but I have to say that our beaches are undeniably beautiful - they are sandy (as opposed to pebbly), clean and perfect for swimming, fishing, whale watching or just lazing about soaking up the sun. At this time of the year, the beach is the place to be for whale watching! Who could ask for more?
  4. Our people. This country and particularly our province, has an incredibly diverse mix of cultures. In the area we live there are people of Zulu, English, German, Dutch and Indian descent. What makes it special is that most of the people are proud of their culture and work at maintaining it. It makes life so interesting. I can remember driving through Durban as a youngster, shortly after we moved there and marvelling at the beautiful people I could see all over the place. I later discovered that these “beautiful people” were of Indian descent. Durban has a large Indian population, mostly descended from people brought here in 1860 as cane cutters.
  5. Our laid back lifestyle. The only time you are likely to see a South Coaster in a hurry is when the sardines are around ;-). We have a notoriously stress-free, no worries kind of lifestyle down here. It suits me just fine!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Facing Forty

As you may have noticed, I have been in a fair sized panic over the fact that in six months time I will turn the big four-oh. I was lying in bed the other night, unable to get to sleep (what’s new!) and began to ponder why it is that I am panicking about, what is effectively, just another birthday. I came to the conclusion that it is because society seems to consider “thirty-somethings” to be in the prime of their lives, so it follows that if you are turning forty you are no longer going to be in the prime of your life.

When you are in your thirties you are generally right up there on the corporate ladder (if that’s your particular thing). You are generally married, planning a wedding, or surfing the social scene with glee and no thoughts of marriage. And all of those options are considered perfectly acceptable when you’re thirtyish.

You either have kids, are busy making kids, or are determinedly anti having kids and, once again, that’s all considered good. Wherever you are in your particular life, if you are “thirty-something”, it’s considered an absolutely splendid place to be.

When you turn forty it’s an entirely different ball-game. If you find yourself still single (even if it’s by choice) you are on the receiving end of those knowing, pitying, “poor girl, she’s on the shelf” type of looks. Work-wise you are viewed as being just over the crest of the wave, as opposed to riding the wave. If you started a family young, you are facing those torrid years of parenting a teen, or watching them leave home; if you embarked on the parenting path a little later, you are the “older parent” at parent-teacher meetings. You just can’t win!

Surprisingly enough, having taken all of the above into consideration, I have decided that I am actually looking forward to turning forty. Seriously, I am.

As I approach forty I feel completely comfortable with who I am for the first time in my life. I have found a degree of self-acceptance that I never thought possible. That’s not to say that I don’t see my weaknesses, trust me, I do. I still consider myself a work in progress, but I am not planning to change who I am, I plan to improve who I am, big difference, huge!

I think when you are fortyish you let go of a lot of the angst and emotional turmoil that you wrestled with in your twenties and thirties. You realise that things aren’t as terrifyingly serious as you once thought. Life isn’t all black and white. If I fall slightly short of my ideals, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not failure.

I have finally accepted that I may not be the best mother, best wife, best housekeeper or best employee; but I am still good, or at the very least adequate, in all of these roles. I make mistakes every single day, but I am learning as I go along and I am enjoying the path I am traveling. I am making memories, building relationships and having fun; growing as a person. And isn’t that what life’s all about?

Bring on that birthday….. cake, candles, the whole bang shoot!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Joie de Vivre

Paula and her friend Hayley, taken while we were in the Midlands this weekend.

This photo really made me smile – it perfectly captures the carefree, “funness” of being twelve. I wish we could bottle that spirit and bring it out whenever the going gets tough!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Prawn Curry

I have decided to close my food blog down and will in future post my recipes here instead. I plan to gradually move the recipes I have posted on my food blog over to this blog. Starting with this recipe, which we enjoyed tonight - yum!

I have one of those truly amazing creatures in my home ...... a husband who loves to cook! Cooking comes very naturally to Grant and he does it with great enthusiasm, when the mood takes him. Unlike me, he doesn't worry about the mess he's making, or how many dishes there are going to be to wash and as for little matters such as measuring out ingredients, that doesn't concern him at all. He prefers not to use a recipe and cooks almost entirely according to taste.

In typical Grant fashion, when making Prawn Curry he tosses in "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" and produces a pot of the most gorgeous, fragrant curry. What follows is a rough outline of his recipe, measurements are approximate!

1 kg peeled prawns
2 large onions, chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
2 1/2 Tbl fish masala (available at most spice shops)
1 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 heaped tsp of crushed garlic and ginger mix
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 Tbl sugar
sprinkle of mixed spice (the kind you would use in a fruit cake)
salt to taste
125 ml fresh cream
1 heaped tsp flour

In a large saucepan, fry onions until translucent, add fish masala, garlic and ginger and garlic mix, fry together until onions are nicely browned. Add fresh and tinned tomatoes, sugar, mixed spice and curry paste, mix well and leave to simmer gently. Boil the prawns in salted water for between 5-10 mins - until they are no longer too "chewy". Add prawns to the tomato gravy and simmer for about 1/2 hour. Thicken sauce with a paste made with flour and water. Just before serving add the fresh cream and stir through.

Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh coriander if desired.

Hello, my name is Gill and I am a blog addict....

75%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

I found this on Cotton-Pickin'Days and thought it was time I 'fessed up to how addicted to blogging I am.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

It's in the stars...

I am a fairly typical Capricorn; which probably makes me one of the least exciting creatures to roam the planet. Us Capricorns are supposed to be hardworking, dependable, down to earth and matter-of-fact. It sounds to me very much as though we are the worker ants of this world. How dull is that?! Our star sign is represented by, of all things, a humble goat….

Why could I not have been born under the sign of Cancer with a “highly emotive nature” – now that sounds rather exciting doesn’t it? I could certainly relate to being a Sagittarian whose sign is represented by the Centaur, half man, half beast - seriously exotic stuff! What about being a Leo who is “a ball of dynamic energy”. Wow! But me, I am destined to plod along, a conscientious, “feet firmly on the ground” type of goat.

For more posts on this subject see Sunday Scribblings

Photo by b.frahm