Posts Tagged ‘Cape Town’


“Over here, this way!”

My hands waved around as I tried to make myself understood. I had heard the din outside and had run out to catch the flighty garden service. They whirl in, do as little as possible and then disappear. It infuriates me!  I am trying to revamp the garden of a newly moved into house in Seattle. It does not help matters that the weather has not lived up to expectation. Seattle is much like Cape Town where one always has an umbrella handy. So much watering has ensued and the new shoots are peeking through the brown crusty surface. The lawn was in dire need of a trim and I was on a mission to make sure it was done!

The Constant Gardener...

The Constant Gardener…


In my haste I grabbed yesterday’s top as I clambered out of the shower. Time was of an essence here and I grabbed whatever clothing I could find.

 As I ran up the basement staircase I looked down.  I realized that I had forgotten to slip on my underwear!
“Oh never mind, I am sure my dress covers all the ‘bits and pieces.'”
I must add that it was not a long one, as I usually wear leggings under it. But morning brain and lack of sleep had resulted in a bit of fog. My other job had been to act as a pair of helping hands to my new grandchildren…a set of twins. So that explains the lack of IQ points. But I had to put modesty aside and stick to the plan: Catch these shirkers!

Many years of teaching foreign children had fine tuned my gesticulations. I could make myself understood in any language you throw at me. It just involves much face pulling and exaggerated hand movements. My shouts and arm flailing were competing against the thunderous drone of the lawnmower. But this did not deter me from my mission and I continued to attempt to get my message across. Suddenly I remembered the fact that I was minus my under clothes and I tugged discreetly to keep my decency.


But very soon my one man act paid off. My dignity was still in tact and the garden looked beautiful!

The 'new nan' explores the Seattle Islands

The ‘new nan’ explores the Seattle Islands

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The curtain let in a bright stream of light. I realised that it must be morning. It had been a disturbed one with the South Easter blowing a gale and the rattling of the apartment windows. The dustbins had crashed into the street and there was a feint howl from a neighbour’s dog. 

My view from the window...

My view from the window…

I drew the curtains and settled back into my bed to enjoy the view. Table Mountain filled my window with all its glory. The soft morning light cast shadows on its giant grey folds.  What a sight! The city was already beginning to bustle with cars racing down the street and the cheerful sound of early risers making their way up to school.
My kettle whistled on the stove. It was time for the morning ritual of a cup of steaming hot tea and a Woolies rusk. I touched and savoured the bunch of proteas and fynbos as I leaned across for the tea caddie. The soft hues of pink and the furry leaves were reminiscent of Boland country walks.





I settled back into bed with Leo at my feet and the gentle purr of my children sleeping upstairs. I contemplated my day……
What is on my agenda today? It could be an amble at Rhodes Memorial, a laté in the sun in a street cafe or a stroll along the seafront. Some window shopping in one of my favourite haunts also touches the spot!
She would say………It’s good to be back!

A favourite haunt.....Rhodes Memorial.

A favourite haunt…..up at Rhodes Memorial.

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I dissolve the last of my homemade rusks into my morning cup of tea. Delicious! I love the crunch of the sunflower seeds and the sweetness of the honey. There is something to be said for a morning ritual. The hot drink glides down my throat and warms me as I look out over the back garden. There is a pile of ice and snow that has built up over the last few months. It looks like a growing mine dump! The temperatures have slipped below zero again. It is time for the fur trimmed coat yet again.

My clothes lie strewn over my bed. The bright colours pop against the backdrop of the snow scene outside my window. Strappy sandals, white shorts and cotton tops…..I deliberate over what to pack. Somehow I just cannot imagine being in warm temperatures again. The bathing costume is a must and also my khaki sunhat. My suitcase awaits like a giant cavernous hole!

The colours must coordinate so that I don’t have to pack too much ‘stuff.’ Then there is all the Canadian memorabilia. Maple toffees, maple syrup and even a bottle of Maple whiskey! I pack things in my case, rethink and pull things out.Oh how I hate all these decisions!


The Waterfront at night

The Waterfront at night


Tonight I will be winging my way back to South Africa…..floods of memories fill my mind as I listen to the Soweto Choir do their tribute to our great Madiba. What will it feel like to see all those loved ones who I have missed so much? Where will we go? A definite will be a trip out to Stellenbosch and the beautiful wine country. My roots are there as well as my family. Then there will be a ride out to Hout Bay to eat fresh fish out of a newspaper next to the sea. I will take in the ‘fishermen talk’ as they discuss their catch for the day and laugh at their humour. The excitement of spending time with my children and being able to be present at the scan of our new arrivals, makes my heart skip a beat!.  Then back up to the big city and just having time with wonderful and dear friends.

Majestic Table Mountain

Majestic Table Mountain

As I swallow that last rusk I am comforted by the fact that the famous Woolworths rusks will be part of my morning routine back in sunny South Africa!

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The familiar images flash past and I take in the different scenes. I recognize many of the places and floods of memories rush in. I allow myself to linger with these thoughts and a tear rolls down my cheek. The rich music soothes me with the smooth rhythms and rich tones. I do miss South Africa and all that goes along with it!

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

I suppose my sentiments have been jogged as I stare at the book cover ‘Scatterlings- A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales by Eve Cummings. A few of my blogs will be included in her book and I realize that I now fall under the heading: Expat!

I must add that I am honoured to be tucked in somewhere in between. There are some prominent South Africans whose writings have been included such as Helene Zille, Clem Sunter and Max du Preez.  So I really don’t mind being included along with that lot!

But I suppose we also have our story to tell. It is the one of how you ‘start again’ in a new country. I have always been grateful that we did not feel pushed to leave South Africa. We were fortunate that we did not have deeper reasons for leaving; it was merely a work opportunity that could not be refused. That being said, it still does not make the whole process any easier. There have been days when I have been so apprehensive. The older brain just struggles to adapt to ‘the newness of all things.’ Fortunately we come from good ‘pioneering stock’ and we face the challenges head on and try not to play ‘the when we’ game. Not too often, that is!

One of my favourite views...the Lonehill Koppie.

One of my favourite views…the Lonehill Koppie.

But today I am just going to allow myself to miss the country and the people we left behind. I glance at the photos again….. It is truly beautiful! I think of the wine lands and scenic Cape Town where I grew up as a child. Then there were all the places that I spent my adult years……… The Karoo got me to ‘put on my big girl panties’ when I first arrived there as a young bride. I could not cook a thing and ‘pannekoekbak’ was a prerequisite of a young country housewife. So the learning curve was initiated! Initially I had perceived the Karoo to be barren but soon grew to love the stillness and the generosity of spirit of the local farmers. Mpumalanga was the complete opposite as it was lush and green and had the added benefit of the proximity to the surrounding game parks. We spent many happy hours in the bush there. The next stop was Johannesburg. I feared I would never settle in this metropolis, but I did. At first I felt like a little Barbarton daisy trying to survive in the middle of Adderley Street. It soon enveloped me with its charm and the warmth of its people.

The Karoo mountains

The Karoo mountains

Then there were the holiday destinations like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How can I possibly sum up the tranquility and beauty in a few words? Camping in the bush, fishing trips, tracking the African Big Five or just lying on a remote beach in the sun…..these memories are all safely filed away.


A view from a special farm near Sabi.

A view from a special farm near Sabi.



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The water glistened as the waves motioned towards the pier. Yachts were tied up with thick yellow rope and deckhands whistled as they polished and repaired. A seal bobbed up and checked if there had been any food debris thrown overboard. No such luck this time! Its sleek silhouette slipped back under the boat. “Come and buy the best bargain ever,” shouted a vendor. “Two for the price of one!” Music floated through the air as buskers beat out their rhythms and melodies. We all just soaked up the warmth of the sun and the reprieve from the gusty south easterly winds.

We had breakfasted at one of my favourite vantage points…..Rhodes Memorial. The bronzed lions still graciously line the steps. They proudly serve as bastions as they look out towards Table Bay. The huge granite steps provide a challenge for Leo, our 8 week old puppy. He shows his tenacity and makes it all the way up the path to the restaurant. It was surprisingly pet friendly and our pup was greeted with a handful of dog treats and a fresh water bowl. We are definitely coming back here again! It was one of those windless, warm clear days that we dream about. We could see right out in the direction of Bloubergstrand. My thoughts went back to when I was a young teacher and we used to stop off there on the way back from work! Back in the days when time and commitment were of no concern!

The view from Rhodes Memorial.
The view from Rhodes Memorial.

So I cannot stop myself from walking down memory lane when I visit this beautiful city. Floods of warm thoughts and connections are made as I tread the streets that were once part of my daily life. I had the added fortune of meeting up with some of my school friends that I had not seen for 40 years! There was much laughter as we visited our school days again. The pranks, the teachers…… It was wonderful to reflect on what we were like all those years ago. Had life changed us? We agreed that our essence was the same and although we were hopefully wiser, the twinkle in our eyes still shone brightly! The school theme prevailed on me and I met up with an ‘old pupil’ of mine as well. She is now a self assured, beautiful young lady who is studying at the University of Cape Town. I could not help seeing the young pigtailed bright little face in front of me still!

The Waterfront ......
The Waterfront ……

Cape Town is synonymous with a visit with family, this being my main purpose. I cannot explain the hole that one feels when you are separated from those that our dearest to you. Thank goodness for Skype! We walked, talked, laughed, had picnics and cried together and were reminded about what we cherish in each other. Those memories are precious and I hold onto them as I wing my way back to Canada. There was another part of my family waiting for me there. Although I am sure that my men folk enjoyed the peace and quiet while I was away. Josh would have certainly missed his mistress and the walks each day!

Leo discovers The Gardens.

Leo discovers The Gardens.

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The mountain was clear and there was no rain that day.

The wheels screeched on the tarmac and the aeroplane swayed from side to side. I felt a surge of emotion as I traced the silhouette of Table Mountain with my eyes. It had been a whole year since I had seen that majestic piece of sandstone; I was back on South African soil!

It was a typical Cape Town winter’s evening and I drank in the moist, sea air as I jumped into the car. I tried to pick out the familiar landmarks through the shadows as we caught up on all the news. My soft bed was a welcome sight having spent 24 hours in transit. I could still hear the drone of the engine in my ears. I lay there and was soothed by the soft rain on the tin roof.

 The morning brought more rain but that did not deter the enthusiasm to get out and explore. This was after all, my old stamping ground. I had raced around these very streets in my mini all those years ago……

Waar is daardie dae?

 I looked up at the mountain and was reminded of my student days with the sherry and peanut sundowners, we used to enjoy on the grassy banks. What a combination! But we thought it was grand and of course Old Brown sherry suited our pockets too. These carefree memories all came flooding back and I savoured them. But I was brought back to reality with the surprise that my children had planned for me. I was about to be treated to a grown up version of a similar celebration. It was to be a ‘high tea’ at the Mount Nelson Hotel.

 The vista over the formal gardens was magnificent. It came complete with cascading fountains, white roses, blue plumbago and pink hydrangeas. We sipped on our English Breakfast and tucked into the dainty treats that had been carefully laid out on a tiered white china plate. The stately morning room came complete with the sumptuous furnishings of exquisite brocades and soft velvets. It reminded us of a bygone era and we took in the period paintings, carefully selected cutlery and the strategically placed tassels.

One of the guests appeared as if he had just jumped out of a time machine. He had the hugest handle bar moustache that I had ever seen. The ‘grisly white mouse’ stretched from ear to ear and curled up at the tips. He spoke with an air of authority and can only imagine that he must have had a military background. Major or not, he would still have had to pick that hairy appendage clean each night!

The next hairstyle that I was about to admire was that of a jazz violinist who played foot stomping melodies at a local market. This teased pyramid of hair swayed back and forth as the shoppers poured over the wonderful array of home grown goods. There was everything from honey to home brewed beer. I decided to sip on the latter as the taste of tea had already left my palette.

The mountain, the people and the music…….I was back in Cape Town.

Interesting people abound at the local market.

Here’s to catching up with family and friends in SA!

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As I went speeding down through the back streets of Oakville today listening to the directions of my satellite navigation, I realized once again how fortunate I am to live with a whole house full of men. Oh yes, they drive me crazy with all their idiocentricities and the demands they make, but then they often chant back at me: “Mom, you are no shrinking violet either.”


The wet snow is slushy and I reach for the ‘snow button’ which is another added extra that was a requisition for mom’s car. This prevents skidding in slippery conditions and the knowledgeable men decided that this was a definite for the vehicle that I would be driving.  Anyone would think that I scream around town at break neck speed! Maybe they have an inkling of an idea, as my husband takes great delight in relating a few stories from my youth. I would apparently ‘dice’ him down the main road in Cape Town in my Austin mini. He would watch me out of the corner of his eye from his powerful Alfa Giulietta, knowing full well that he could so easily overtake me. But he always let me shoot in front of him. This race would often include a tight corner with my vehicle on 2 wheels and some screeching of brakes. It was such fun! These are memories that I have chosen not to store but he seems to remember the intricate details!

 Need I say that I am older and wiser and keen to stay on the right side of the law here in Canada. It has taken me considerable effort to acquire my driver’s license and I definitely intend keeping that piece of paper, as tearing around the streets on my bicycle in the snow is not my idea of fun.


 I pull the car back into the garage and notice the garbage bins that have been left on the curb. They are greasy and wet. I reluctantly drag them into their designated position outside the mudroom. The wise old saying comes to mind….what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.


It's a man's life!

Curb duty

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