Monday, June 29, 2009

Quick update

My sms roaming on my phone is not working ;-( so I can't update to twitter.

Just wanted to let you guys know that we are having the MOST divine time!

We had all sorts of travel hassles to begin with: Imagine this - we get on the plane at Dbn and you know how I hate planes...... Taxi off to the runway and there is a problem with the plane! Freak out! We had a one and a half hour delay, finally got on another plane and very, very nearly missed our Heathrow flight in JHB... stress. Anyway, we finally made it to London unscathed.

And boy have we been busy since then! We did Tussauds, we shopped (Rox's baggage didn't make it to London with us...) We did the Hop-on hop-off bus. Very, very exciting - I met my first ever real live blogger! Jeanne from Cooksister. She is SUCH a sweetie.

And then yesterday we started our European tour. After meeting our tour group in London we bused down to Dover and then caught the ferry from Dover to Calais where we boarded our tour bus. We drove through Belgium - beautiful green countryside and the fattest, most content-looking cows I have ever seen - and on to Amsterdam. I LOVE Amsterdam! The canals and canalside homes, the houseboats......man it's beautiful. We did a quick soujorn into the red-light district and then had a lovely Chinese dinner. And today we have had a gorgeous brekkie and are now heading off to Germany. yay!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bye-byeeeeee

Paula is packing!!

We are leaving in less than 24 hours, so life Chez Richardson is pretty hectic right now!

We're all really excited, nervous and hyped-up. Rushing around like Duracell Bunnies :-)

I hope to post at least a couple of times while I'm away, but we'll have to see how that works out.
In the meantime, keep well, keep blogging and think of me strutting around Europe LOL!


Oh and if you want to follow along, I will be updating my Twitter daily - look down there on the left :-)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Horrible realisation

This weekend I discovered that I am more like a man than I thought..... and no, I have not discovered any extra body parts.....

I have a head cold, a nasty head cold. You know how you get the "ugly cry" well I get the "ugly cold" equivalent of that. All snotty, red nose, watering red eyes, cracked lips..... you get the picture. It's not pretty. And the worst of it is I am behaving just like a man!

Yesterday I took to my bed and I was pathetic in the extreme. I found myself doing that whimpery, whiny, sick-man kind of thing. You know, the croaky "Please bring me some ginger tea, I feel too sick to get off the bed, sniff, sniff" thing. Stagger to the toilet, clutching my brow.... all that kind of stuff. Too embarrassing for words....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Living in a shade of grey: Part One

Is it just me or do most of you find yourself living permanently in a grey area?

When I was a know-it-all teenager I had this idealistic view of what my life as an adult would be like. In “The World According to Gill”, all was black and white – no grey areas whatsoever. I had rules I was going to live by, I had a plan! When you read the next bit you’ll realise that I also seemed to be harbouring an almighty superiority complex!

For one thing, my marriage was going to be completely perfect for the simple reason that my spouse and I would communicate effectively! I had come to the conclusion, having witnessed first-hand my mother’s numerous and dire attempts at married life, that the problem with marriages on the whole boiled down to a simple lack of communication. So, in my marriage there would be a wealth of communicating going on. This would be achieved by having regular little meetings, where we would each have an opportunity to calmly and clearly air our grievances. Heaven help me, I intended to run my marriage as if it were a business!

This was probably the first colossal illusion to shatter. When I entered into wedlock at the very tender age of 21, I soon realised with shock and horror that in a real life marriage, even one as “perfect” as mine, communication was frequently reduced to grunts…. and sometimes one party (that would be me!) would retreat into sulky silence…. so much for communication. Welcome to the real world girl!

It dawned on me, really slowly and after a dismal period of disappointment and grieving for that “perfect marriage” I had dreamt of, that marriage is pretty much a grey area. It’s not a matter of it being either perfectly wonderful or absolutely dreadful. Good, honest marriage is lived somewhere in the middle of the two. It’s largely made up of those simple, ordinary, everydays, with bits of bliss and bits of misery sprinkled, seemingly randomly, in-between. It’s taken me a while, but now I can happily say that I’m perfectly okay with that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

One week!

We leave for our overseas jaunt exactly one week from today. I can't believe how time has flown!

Right now I am surprisingly cool and calm about the whole thing. I have made an awesome packing list (as you can imagine!) and 1001 to-do lists for myself and various other family members, so I am actually feeling quite on top of things at the mo. Probably because I haven't had much time to think about it!

For those of us lucky enough to wangle Monday off work, last weekend was a 4 day weekend. We got to spend the weekend in Pietermaritzburg of all places. Not that I have anything against PMB as such. During my years in Greytown, 'Martizburg was our nearest city and I spent an awful lot of time there and grew to love "Sleepy Hollow". But it's not the place I'd choose to spend a weekend.

Paula was recently chosen to be a member of our district's under 14 hockey team and this was the reason for our soujourn to 'Maritzburg. The provincial hockey tournament took place there over the weekend. Because of Grant's inordinately big mouth, he found himself in the position of Team Manager. So Rox and I got to spend the weekend at a B&B and Grant had the privilege of sleeping in a hostel, with only a handful of other men and a couple of floors full of noisy teenage girls. Geez I felt sorry for him!! Leaving him there all defenceless felt like driving a lamb to slaughter.

That being said, things actually went relatively well until Sunday night. Sunday night was an unadulterated nightmare. After supper Rox and I got back to our (as it turned out, rather dodgy) B&B to discover that the manageress person had gone off and left her sidekick in charge. Said side-kick was socialising with about 6 rather inebriated men in the back-yard.... By 10pm when the noise levels showed no signs of decreasing and the inebriated fellows had taken to walking up and down the passage, Rox and I decided to take our chances with the teenagers in the hostel! We jumped in the car with the bare necessities and arrived on Grant's doorstep. Like dealing with a whole bunch of whiny, exhausted teenagers wasn't enough - the poor thing now had whiny, disgruntled wife and daughter to contend with.....!

So for the first time in our lives, we got to experience hostel life. I can tell you I am extremely glad I never had to live in a hostel!! Non-stop noise, hideous bedrooms, draughty passages and total lack of privacy in the bathrooms.....definitely NOT my style!

And then the gastric flu struck..... By morning Grant and a couple of the other coaches/managers were "man down", our Under 14 goalie had succumed and was crouched over a bucket and was in no state to do anything... A hostel is an unhappy place to be IMO at the best of times, but when gastro steps in.....eish!!!

Thankfully we had only one match left to get through! We played with a goalie who had never been a goalie before, a few girls who were looking exceedingly pale and waif like (you're not actively vomiting girl, of course you can play!), 2 girls (including Paula) who actually limped onto the field and for half of the game we were a player short!!... it was not pretty! And yet those girls played their hearts out! I was so proud of them! We had to play one of the strongest teams in the tournament - who all looked very robust and had reserves aplenty - and the score ended up being 4-2 to them. Brilliant all considered.

So that was our weekend. I am still recovering!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Good grief woman, get a grip!

We finally went and saw "17 Again" last night - Grant included, he would never openly admit it, but I think he actually likes chick-flicks and teeny-bopper movies. Or maybe he has learnt to tolerate them by force of circumstance?

Anyway, the thing is, and I am deeply ashamed to admit it, but I have developed this alarming crush on Zac Efron.... In the words of Katy Perry, "I was disgusted with myself" when I realised I was licking my lips at the mere sight of him on the big screen, having to wipe away a trail of drool from my chin..... Eeuuww there is something very disturbing about a matronly 40-something year old woman having decidedly dirty thoughts about a rather effeminate 20-something year old. But there you have it, I think he is smoking hot!! Yummy!!

Rox is adamant that he is gay. Could be. I have always had a thing for gay guys. I like my men clean, tidy, sensitive, cute......pretty much sums up 99% of the gay population doesn't it? (If you're reading this Charlie, don't be scared of meeting for coffee I won't hit on you I promise!!) The girls laugh at me because if I point out a cute guy to them, nine times out of ten his boy-friend suddenly appears around the corner.... Just as well I'm happily married, I'd be completely hopeless at trying to find a boy-friend!

Which leads me to wonder how on earth I find myself married to a big hunky, untidy (but clean!), not particularly sensitive, alpha-male kind of dude? My friends were all very surprised when I fell head over heels for Grant, but no-one was more surprised than me! He didn't tick one of the boxes I sub-consciously measured all my boy-friends against. The thing is we click. In some weird and unlikely way, we really, really suit each other.

I know for a fact that I could not live happily with one of the clean, sensitive, obsessively tidy guys that I am naturally attracted to; not for 5 minutes - that'd be waaaay too much angst and obsessiveness in one house. Nope. I need Grant to push my boundaries, to challenge me, to not put up with my sh%t, to give me a sharp reality check every now and then. And he'd never admit it but Grant would be lost without me - he needs me to be the one fretting about things, making lists, moaning about the mess, nagging about tasks left undone... Truth be told, every now and again when no-one is around he actually admits this!

The other night I was lying in bed after Grant had had a particularly alpha-male, butch kind of day and I was pondering these very things; wondering how on earth I find myself happily married to a man who likes to drink beer and sweat and watch violent movies.... shudder.. and then he leant over and kissed me good-night and then he cradled the little kitten that was nestled between our pillows and he kissed her good-night too and suddenly I knew why I married him..... somewhere in amongst all that testosterone there is my sensitive, loving dream come true!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Twas my baby's birthday

Yesterday was my Paula's 14th birthday!  I had planned to do a birthday post for her, but coming so close on the heels of her First Communion, I decided not to.  Rox however did do a birthday post for Paula and I'd love it if you would pop over and have a look at it.  It's really special, especially her very, very special photo of Paula!!  Click here 

Thursday, June 04, 2009

3 Weeks to go!

I had a bit of a wobbly about our overseas holiday at the start of this week. In fact you may have read my post about it, which I later deleted when I realised how totally ridiculous I was being. Anyway, most of my little issues have now been resolved and I am once again feeling quite excited about our holiday. So I thought I would tell you a bit about it.

We're doing the European Experience with Trafalgar Tours and we're also spending some time in Guildford and in London. On the tour we will be spending nights in: Amsterdam, Rhineland, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome (2 nights), Florence, Lucerne (2 nights) and Paris (2 nights).

Once back from the tour we get to spend a few nights with our friends in Guildford. While we're with them the girls are going to spend some time at Thorpe Park and we're also going to Windsor and hopefully we'll squeeze in a trip to one of my favourite places - Burley in the New Forest.

Then we're off to London. We're going to try to cram an awful lot into our time in London! On our itinerary we have: Madame Tussauds, Regents Park, Hop-on hop-off bus (you get to see all the important sights on the bus), the Tower, Greenwich, Little Venice, Camden market, Harrods, Covent Garden, Changing of the Guard, National Gallery, British Museum, Kensington Palace, London Eye, a London Walk and all sorts of exciting bits and pieces in-between. We've pencilled in plenty of shopping time to keep Rox happy as well ;-) And we plan a fair bit of socialising too! Shew!

It's all very exciting and when I am not getting tied up in knots over details, I am actually counting the days. We'll probably have to take a week off to recover when we get back though....I wish!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Who wants to house sit?

I love my parents in law for many reasons, the chief of them being the fact that every time we go away on holiday I hand them the following notes, and they still manage to smile and wave as we drive away. If anyone handed me something like this I would shriek, turn tail and run!!!

NOTES FOR MOM AND DAD:

REMOTES – the white button is gate, green button is garage, red button is a panic button and the blue one is to put the burglar alarm off.

BURGLAR ALARM – If the alarm goes off it can be de-activated by pressing the XXXX button on the gate remote. The password for the alarm (if ADT Security phones they may ask you for it) is XXXXX. The phone number for ADT Security is xxx xxx xxxx

EUNICE – Eunice will be at the house from about 8am until about 4 or 5pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. She has her own remote and will let herself in. She knows exactly what to do and can be left to it.

VIVIENNE – is the gardening lady, Eunice is in charge of her and will pay her and feed her. Eunice does the hiring and firing of the garden people, so don’t be alarmed if a new gardener suddenly appears, it happens quite often.

CHLOE AND NALA – they get fed and watered every morning. The dog food is in the blue bin near the washing machine. They get a bowl of the dry crumbles each, in the silver dishes. Please keep the dishes far apart or Chloe won’t let Nala eat. The water goes in the big blue bowl.

LILO – Lilo lives on the verandah by the lounge and is fed and watered there, her feeding regime is the same as Chloe and Nala. Don’t worry if Lilo and Chloe have a go at each other every now and then, they have a personality clash happening, we are leaving them to work it out. She is inclined to bark at night, but if you yell at her she usually stops. She is also inclined to walk outside when you open the gate to go out. Just keep an eye on her and shout at her and she will wander back inside. I always wait to make sure the gate closes with her inside before I drive off, just in case.

JACKIE – Jackie gets fed inside by the garage door. She gets fed at the same time as the cats and has a small handful of her crumbles (on the floor near the broom cupboard) mixed with Husky morning and evening - (don’t worry if she doesn’t eat, sometimes she just doesn’t and she hasn’t died yet!) Jackie needs to be taken out first thing in the morning, out the kitchen side, you have to stand and watch her for some unknown reason.

ZIP – He gets fed morning and night – a handful of his crumbles (large ones in Tupperware on dishwasher) and in a separate dish ½ a sachet of his cat food (in fridge on right, more in big cupboard) He does not get water because he refuses to drink it, he drinks out of the dirty mugs that are in the sink – I know this is bizarre, but it’s how he likes it!

PEPSI – Pepsi eats on top of the hot tray. She eats morning and night and she has a dish of her crumbles (small ones on top of dishwasher) and a dish of her tinned food – about 2 dessertspoons. She has fresh water, but also likes a little dish with half milk, half water once a day, if she starts squeaking a lot that is what she is asking for. Please don’t be alarmed if Pepsi and Zip look like they are killing each other when they play, Zip sometimes gets Pepsi in a grip and it can look quite scary, but Pepsi goes back for more every time.

TRIP SWITCHES – there are two trip boards, one in the cupboards above the fridges and one in the garage, in the corner that backs onto the kitchen. Often if there is rain, the pool filter can make the lights trip – the switch for that is on the garage trip board. If this happens, just leave that switch (the far right one) down and it should then be okay. If you have a problem you can usually phone Grant and he can talk you through it but this time he won’t be much use will he?? (he has to talk me through it frequently!)

THE WATER FILTER needs to be topped up every now and then, just take the lid off the top and pour a jug or two of water in.

POOL PROUD – They come on a Friday afternoon between 4:30 and 5 usually. Just let them in, they will sort the pool out and then hoot when they need to be let out. Sometimes they come twice a week.

RUBBISH DAY – is on Tuesday and Eunice will take the rubbish out.

LOCKING UP AT NIGHT – We lock the doors but don’t faff too much about the windows. Zip likes to go in and out of the various windows during the night. If Jackie goes out before bedtime (you have to go with her and it takes a while!), she is usually okay until morning, but she does sometimes poop in the garage…unfortunately. The keys for the door in the lounge live inside the xxxxxxxxx.

WASHING MACHINE – put the clothes in, push the red button, then the green one – it will do it’s thing, then when the water starts running in you put the Woolies washing liquid (there are two lines on the cap, I fill to the second line) into the dispenser (it works better if you pour it in the powder side for some reason!) no need for fabric softener, close the lid and then push the “rinse” and “spin” buttons at the same time (to stop the cat from messing with the buttons, this is an important step!)

DISH WASHER – load the dishes (the blue plates go in the top, white big plates don’t fit in at all and have to be handwashed, damn!) put the powder into the dispenser which is on the inside of the door, twist knob to No.1 and push on off button. It is normal for the dishwasher to make some very weird noises and it has taken to tripping the lights – I get a sense that my Christmas present is going to be a new dishwasher!

OVEN – the oven is now working perfectly, yay, at last!! I usually give it about ½ hour to warm up.

WATER the stop cock thingy is in the bottom right of our property if you are standing in the driveway with the pool behind you. If by some twist of fate there is a burst pipe (Please, NO!) then the person to phone is Keith Langton Plumbing xxx xxx xxxx

EMERGENCY NUMBERS – all the relevant numbers are on a piece of paper stuck on the side of the computer.

PETE AND GERDA – They said if there is anything at all that you need (sick dogs needing the vet – Pete has a bakkie…. Any dramas… whatever) please give them a ring. There numbers are: Home: xxx xxx xxxx, Gerda: xxx xxxx xxxx and Pete: xxx xxx xxxx

CEILING FAN – I seriously hope you won’t be needing to use the ceiling fan in the lounge. I have tried hard to learn how to use it and from what I can gather, you have to turn it on at the wall and then take the remote and stand under the fan, point the remote at it press some buttons, swear, bang it against your thigh, press some buttons, swear…… I have asked the family numerous times if there isn’t a simpler way and they assure me that this is the only way!!! So I don’t use it.

BUSTER – There is sometimes a big commotion in the bottom corner of our garden – that means that Buster is walking on the wall or has jumped into our yard. He’s a skinny little brown dog that lives in the house at the bottom of our garden. We just ignore him and he usually goes home.

MONKEYS – “Blue Balls” is being starved out of his troop by a new young fellow and has taken to coming into the kitchen and stealing fruit and bread. That is why the fruit bowl now lives in the cupboard. He is a nuisance, but I haven’t quite figured out how to stop him. The windows need to stay open for the cats and he can climb through the windows. What to do??

Monday, June 01, 2009

Paula's First Communion

The concept of First Communion is a relatively new one in the Anglican Church. In my day we were Confirmed at about 12 years of age and were then able to take communion. Nowdays they prefer children to be Confirmed when they are older, at about 16 years of age. If they would like to take communion before then, they can go through a period of preparation at about 12 years of age or older and are then formally Admitted to Communion. Paula and her group of friends have been attending classes every Friday and they were the first group of youngsters to ever be Admitted to Communion in our church.

Please try to look past the fact that Paula is the only girl who is not wearing a dress! The decision that they should wear white was made at the "11th hour" and because of hockey matches we were unable to go shopping for anything more appropriate! I was having a fit about it, but Paula was totally unfazed - she doesn't possess a dress and has no intention of changing that at any time soon ;-)

Camino Portuguese (Coastal Route)

We are planning another Camino walking holiday!  I couldn't be more excited.  The plan is that next year, in June, Grant, Paula and I wi...