It’s-a not so bad, it’s-a nice place…. shadupyourface!

My time spent in London seemed long and tedious.  I saw some awesome things I had never seen before, but it was without.  It was supposed to be the time of my life, the time I would forever look back on and marvel at my freedom/creativity/agility (and I’m not even that agile).

But it was long, and it was tedious.  Parts of it quite frankly sucked.

You see, leading up to my sojourn, my family and I had experienced some hard-core, life-altering, perception-modifying occurrences.  We were feeling jaded with our lives we seemed to be forced to live in South Africa. We were angry with our government, the state of our roads, the amount of non South Africans living here (the list really did go on and on).  So it was with anticipation that I journeyed to London to search out the perfect lifestyle that would parallel mine, only it would be better because it would be in the bustling city of London.

And off I went.  And so set in my misery.

Firstly, with that romantic notion of hustle and bustle came a heck of a lot of noise.  Not once (not even when I visited an old Anglican church) did I find some sort of peace.  If it was not a human voice (in any language you could think of), then it was massive machinery revamping some other man made thing.  Trains had speaker systems that blurted instructions I never could comprehend.  Noise from headphones from passer’s by offended my ears. A panorama of reverb from road, rail, water and AIR traffic continuously ensconced me.  Kids screamed at birds/squirrels/ each other. It was exhausting.

Another disturbing discovery was that I continually had the feeling that the ground was about to fall from beneath me.  It was macarb because my childhood was on the East Rand which was built on rickety mining tunnels and mine blasts went off every four hours.  Sometimes the windows shuddered so hard you thought they couldn’t possibly bounce back.  And yet, there I was, questioning the stability of the English ground. It was as if I had a seventh sense for the tubes that ran under the city.  It was as if I could feel the shakes and shudders of trains even when I was six floors up.  Edginess indeed.

Theatre in London was also NOT ALL THAT. From the ticketing to the venue to the performance – triple disappointment my friends.  I had to stand in a long queue in order to talk to someone who would phone another vendor, wait in a telephonic queue, and then negotiate my ticket where I had to agree to a seat that I was not really sure of.
Then, onto the theatre where the King’ mezzanine must have been for a play-play king because surely no one would want to sit at such an awkward angle, barely on the fabric of their chair, in order to view a tired performance.

The food seemed bland in comparison to even my mom’s overcooked meals.  My taste buds barely came into fruition during my period there, I think they died of boredom.  Only at the airport on my way home did I realise that our delicious Cadbury’s tasted a hellava more coco-nutty there, than in SA.  Sad state of affairs when a country demands change to a grand recipe.

What you must understand, I was not hanging out in dodgy London, and yet, the only friendly people I met were three Irish men at Heathrow (also on my way home).  The trio were a hoot because they purchased their pints at the bar and then brought them to the coffee shop to be merry with the ‘serious’ coffee drinkers.  Boy, did they cause a stir, it was lovely.

Other than my friend (originally from SA) and her immediate friends, too many people wore an air of anger and impatience.  I realised that Londoners were feeling depro at the state of the economy and due to the Olympics coming to an end.  I heard mutterings that the only way to cheer London up would be for Wills and Kate to conceive, but I mean really.  On the escalators, I saw ladies push other ladies out of the way.  I think I even saw a lady push a man out of her way.  I heard a bus driver sarcastically chirp a tourist for wasting his time.  Surely, anyone in the tourism industry would value a foreigner’s investment into their country and their public transport system, who indirectly paid their wages?  I cringed when an entire carriage of people sighed and moaned because the conductor announced that the train was running four minutes late.  It was obvious that people’s journeys were interrupted but I was unsure as to why people had such a negative response to something that was what it was – the train was stuck and there was no genie that could pop up and fix it.  It required a bit of time, and time, was clearly not what anyone had to spare for the laborers who ensured the system worked 99% of the time.  Talk of ungrateful!

I, on the other hand, started to feel extremely grateful for:

  • The vast and calming spaces we have here in SA.  Even the ever-growing Midrand allows one some sort of space to stretch the intercostal muscles in a big breath.
  • The comfortable theatres with magnificent sight-lines.  Where seats with ‘limited view’ do not exist. Where the stages provide an ample canvas from which our incredibly talented South African actors can flourish.
  • For Pieter Toerien and his endless time and effort that he pours into our culture, and how his efforts are already part of the fibre of SA.
  • The happiness with which South Africans greet each other everyday, where such a simple greeting can acknowledge another’s existence – “I see you and you are worthy.”

If we look from a loving perspective, speak with respect, and react peacefully, it isn’t so bad and it is a nice place.

I love SA!  It has the capability to bring me great ha’pea-ness.

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ART – a busy mind’s ritalin

The countdown to my sojourn to London has accelerated.  In 15 days time I will be heading out to conquer a city that is rather different to the one I was brought up in.  For one, I am looking forward to feeling safe whilst walking along the sidewalk or through the parks.  You see, bad things sometimes happen to good people and unfortunately here in Johannesburg, some of us have become a little bit set in an “us and them” mentality.  Them being people who hurt others and are therefore feared.  The other thing about London I’m excited to explore is English architecture, which is older than that of Johannesburg.  I’ve heard that their newer designs are also phenomenal.

Not that Johannesburg doesn’t have marvelous structures, old and new.  Expeditions throughout Jozi have left me breathless – in a good way. A recent Johannesburg-ian  find of mine is the new Wits Art Museum.  It is situated on University Corner, Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.  The exterior is pristine with darkly glossed tiles and ceiling to floor windows that draw you in.  The gallery has been created by merging three separate buildings.  This conjoined vessel makes for a pleasant canvas on which each piece is allowed to breathe.  The play of light (natural and artificial) is as much a talking point as the works are.  There are a couple of strategically placed ottomans that invite one to contemplate art, life (although some will argue that art is the meaning of life but anyway) and anything else that might be troubling you.  I type this with conviction as we landed on the Wits Art Museum’s doorstep with trouble on our minds.

We had been ‘on edge’ for a full month due to the fact that my partner’s uncle had been tragically murdered at a store in one of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.  In one month our base point for emotional stability had reached rock bottom.  We were weary and insecure.  Being out of our comfort zones seemed to be risky and all strangers had become a threat.  Our nervousness had not deteriorated on this particular afternoon.  We had first attempted to visit the Kingston Frost Park in the heart of Brixton.

Now some people might think that milling around Brixton is probably not a good idea with regards to safety.  Others would see Brixton as a town that is being reclaimed by its residents.  The people of Brixton have become vocal in how they want their town to be run, they are attempting to stamp out crime and vandalism and decay.  It was onto this string of hope that I was clinging and had initiated this experience.

Upon arrival at the Kingston Frost Park, we started the hunt for the community-made wall mosaic.  My partner’s nervousness immediately escalated one, because of our preconceived notions surrounding Brixton and two, because of the sheer amount of people that were present.  In an attempt to break the stereotypical barrier, and trying to overcome our own recent experience with the murder of a close family member, I explained to him that there was no need to be on edge, that in fact we were the outsiders and that the members of this community were probably more wary of us than us of them.

It was too much, too soon, and he was not convinced.  I urged him down the well-kept path, past a beautifully maintained succulent patch, and towards the general, relaxed masses.  The point that made me realise that I had to turn back was when two young boys bolted towards us.  In hindsight, they were young mischievous boys who were going to run up behind their friend (who was walking ahead of us) and give her a fright.  The fright, instead, was placed upon us.  I guided my stumbling and rambling partner (who is actually a hulk of a man) back to the car and just drove and drove until we pulled up to the just-over-a-month-old Wits Art Museum.  I was so anxious that my strong man was hurting and clearly had so much to work through with regards to the trauma of his uncle’s death.  I suggested that we just pop into the gallery in an attempt to quiet our souls.

And the Wits Art Museum did just that.

The curators quietly introduced themselves to us and recommended the best route around the gallery.  We quietly ambled, taking in the magnificent works.

Just a short time in the gallery made a world of difference to our dispositions.  It was one of those gifts that helps you get through a trying minute, and as long as you can survive a minute at a time, you’re going to be ok.

No flash photography is allowed in the gallery, but you are allowed to take pictures.  I have a couple of my favorites to share with you.

Some of the works pictured here are from:

Gerhard Marx, Michael MacGarry, David Goldblatt and Jackson Hlungwane.

For more information http://www.wits.ac.za/witsartmuseum/15930/home.html

Visit the Wits Art Museum, it might just be exactly what your busy mind needs.

Art = Ha’pea-ness

Clarens to Fouriesburg

When we were in Clarens, Free State, we decided to take a drive to Fouriesburg some 34 kms away to simply see the sights.  It was spectacular.  I took some snaps to try and capture the gloriousness.

Cows that go eco-moo

I bought some milk from our Pick ‘n Pay Hyper in Woodmead.  In the milk fridge I found a new (new to me, that is) brand of milk.  Eco Milk.  Well, of course, baby and I agreed that we would support such an initiative seen as it was the right thing to do.  You see, baby and I have this urge to be better behaved when it comes to the environment but we seem to only get so far as collecting toilet roll holders, egg cartons, bakery boxes, and newspapers etc and then we bundle them up in the corner of our kitchen.  So, most of our recyclable goods never get get reused or recycled, but they don’t get thrown away either.

It was fitting that this milk came in a container that we probably would reuse and the milk itself claimed to be better for the environment.

When we got home and made a cup of eco tea, we pondered what made eco milk eco.  Perhaps the cows don’t have huge carbon footprints because they are the non-farting variety?

 

 

It baffled me so much that I googled this Fair Cape Dairies and all was settled.

Check out their products and motto here: http://www.faircape.com/index.php

 

This one got our stamp of approval and Little Champ gave the milk her stamp of approval too!

The Interspecies’ Wonders of Wimbledon

I love watching Wimbledon.  It reminds me of my childhood when I watched tennis in front of the fireplace in the home I grew up in.  I long to watch it live, whilst eating strawberrys and shaking hands with Prince William.

The point is – I love Wimbledon.

I was a tad aggressive about the fact that I actually had to be productive at work over the last two weeks, instead of spending entire afternoons dedicated to supporting the players.

One afternoon, I did get to watch a match and after a couple of minutes of enjoyment, my little cat LuLu decided she wanted to get a closer look at what all the “haaaa-eeeees” were about.  She jumped right up onto the table that the flat screen rests on.  She was within an inch of the screen and her little face started to follow the path of the ball. Up and down her face went and every time the ball went out, her head continued on the ball’s natural course and she ended up gazing at our lounge floor.  She was stumped as to where the ball was disappearing to.  True as bob, the play would start again and she would be following the course of this new ball.  The ball would go out and she would gaze at the ceiling – where had the ball flown to?

Wimbledon is clearly for the enjoyment of a multitude of species because every time I would fetch LuLu from right in front of the telly, she would slink back to her viewing spot within minutes.

Good sports on telly = Ha’peaness

Clarens Revisited

Here is the sneak peek of our highlight in Clarens. Snow is not a regular sighting in Joburg so we were thrilled when we hit Clarens in the Free State and were welcomed by puffs of cold cottonwool. My friend and I were absolute kids and made snow angels. Reacting like a child has its benefits as we can now say that we got wet bums in a layer of snow that was so thin and yet still gave us maximum pleasure.

Rabbit in the Moon

Now here is a glimpse of a lovely venue – Rabbit in the Moon

Oxford Manor, Shop No. 5
198 Oxford Road
Illovo

The food is devine, the staff are spectacular (the owner even offered to let me sit in his vintage Mercedes-Benz named Morris) and the decor is out of this world.

 

Ha’pea-ness

The Wrath of a Woman to the Power of n

A stern superior business consultant barks: “Why did you slap the client’s logo onto the background like that?” when the sacrifice of the logo was not your doing.

Your boss huffily asks: “Why did you send a quote when they asked for other information?” when your boss had in fact misread the request.

An elderly family member chides: “Who do you think you are rocking up in that outfit, this is high tea not a hag party?!” when all the other young girls are wearing hankies as entire dresses.

 

You’d think you’d need a holiday after that kind of continued, misunderstood questioning. They are all pretty uncomfortable and yet all seem to come out pie when compared to the most awful put down one could ever get – The Cold Shoulder From Your Cat.  I will plead my case.

 

I was in a major car accident a while ago and my car was written off.  No bones were broken or fractured but I was tender in my face and chest from the kick of the air bag.  My eardrum was swollen from a burst passenger airbag.  Shins were bruised from goodness knows what and the spinal column was out of sorts with the surrounding muscles angry with me.

 

Flat on my back for about a week, I was overwhelmed by bouts of emotional waves which rendered me sad, teary and more or less a mess.

 

Throughout my recovery, my little cat knew that something was wrong.  LuLu, our little rescue lapcat, was particularly nurturing and mothering towards me.  Her concern left her whiskers up my nose every two minutes.  It also implied a regular chest pummeling as she kneaded my aches and pains.  Her concern also meant that she sacrificed some of her daily activity to tend to the improvement of my general well being.

 

Unfortunately, in the history of all bad timing, at the end of that long week of suffering, we had a week-end getaway planned.  I slowly packed a small bag and practically lay the way to Sun City.

 

Now, I’m not sure if little LuLu thought my disappearance meant I had died in spite of her best efforts to revive me, or perhaps she thought I was a tad ungrateful of her care for me.  Whatever went on in her mind, she was not impressed with me when I sailed through the front door that next Monday morning.  She outright ignored me in fact.  Unperturbed whether I was a zombie or well, I could go and jump as far as she was concerned.  The extent of her anger was such that whenever I picked her up she would issue forth a pained meeauw.  She swiped at me with claws umpteen times – leaving scabs to form where once she had licked soothingly.

 

The only thing LuLu wanted from me for a good four days was food.  No tickles behind the ears, no paw shaking and definately no dancing with me.  My partner, of course, was in no bad books.  He was allowed such luxuries as scratching the cat without the lady protesting one stitch.  She even looked at him once, while I was left in the shadow of the petite, silky shoulder of dear LuLu.

 

I found myself questioning this notion of taking a short, much needed week-end getaway once in a while.  Was a break from city life really worth it if it upsets the kitty so darn much? Perhaps being scolded for doing something that you didn’t do was worth swallowing and getting on with it without upsetting the apple cart.

 

😉 P

Tip: Whatever you do, don’t make your cat mad.

The Cock

 

I have a wee fascination with signage and logos (I know one day I will create a wine and label just for fun – and to drink of course), so here is a little something that I found inspiring and rather cheeky too.

 

This particular sign post comes from Clarens.  It’s for a restaurant called  ‘Roterbahn’.

I’ve heard that the eisbein there is a real must.

Impressive size, yes?

The 'Roterbahn' proud cock on a pole

See all the little cut outs of German folk of yesteryear lined up along the post.

Pure loveliness makes for a Happy Pea!

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