Packing to leave, beautiful birds and a flying lizard.

Hi again everyone. Yesterday we got out the suitcases which need to be packed for our return to South Africa on the 24th. I have very mixed feelings about leaving here. Undecided

On the one hand, I’m longing to see my family over there. I spoke to my Mom last night, and she’s ‘beyond excited’ at the thought of seeing me again. I’ve missed my sister a lot and also can’t wait to see our daughter and family at Easter. Then of course there’s our home which  is probably wondering where on earth its occupants have disappeared to. I guess I will be excited when our plane flies over the KZN coastline and I see the Indian Ocean twinkling way down there, signalling that we’re almost home again.

On the other side of the coin is the wonderful lifestyle we also have here in Florida, the fantastic friends we’ve made, and the very relaxed lifestyle we’ve become used to, not forgetting our house which we’ve almost finished furnishing and remodelling to our liking. I’ll  miss the lake view just outside our windows and the multitude of bird life which we find fascinating to watch as we sit having our meals. Yesterday we saw several large water birds up close.

Earlier in the day, this Anhinga was sitting drying its wings after a fishing expedition.



Then we spotted a Limpkin standing very statue-like at the water’s edge

-.


Suddenly, a Giant Blue Heron jetted past at great speed, and we almost missed getting the photo.



A white Egret stalked around, foraging for bugs in our neighbour’s jungle.



It was almost dark when I noticed this Cormorant trying his utmost to get a big fish down his gullet. Sorry the picture quality isn’t better, but you can clearly see that poor fish’s tail. Cry

He battled with it for quite a while, shaking his head this way and that and making weird gargling noises, but in the end he gave up, dropped it and flew away without his evening meal.

I’ve been trying to get a shot of the flying lizards we get here, and yesterday, I was successful.

Actually I’m just tricking you, as of course they can’t fly anymore than pigs can. Laughing  They loved to climb up the insect netting around our verandah, and from a certain angle it looked to me like they were flying up in the clouds. This was my last chance to capture this phenomenon, as later in the day the workmen arrived to take down the netting in preparation for enclosing the room with glass and patio doors to create an extra sitting room. I suppose Lizzy has now moved on to the house next door; I’ll miss him, as he’s been with us ever since we moved in.

I guess that every place has interesting things to do and see, and they do say that “a change is as good as a rest,” so I’ll look forward to renewing my acquaintance with our life in Durban soon and will find lots to blog about there too. Wink

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

Thanks to Sonel for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. ;)

I am very happy to accept the “Very Inspiring Blogger” award from my friend Sonel  who is a very inspiring blogger herself.

Thank you so much, Sonel. I just love visiting her blog because you just never know what wonderful photos you are going to see. She lives in such a beautiful part of South Africa, which is also my home country.

The award works like this:

Of course, acknowledge and thank the giver (link it back) and put the award on your page.
list 7 things about yourself
pass the award to 7 bloggers

So I must first share 7 things about myself:

I am English but live 50% of the year in South Africa, and 50% in Florida, USA
I have a son and a daughter, one in New Jersey, and the other in Johannesburg.
I am a proud granny to five precious grandchildren, 2 boys and 3 girls aged from 1 year to 16 years.
I play piano and enjoy entertaining people.
I have the most patient and wonderful husband.
I love to travel and have done a lot of it.
I enjoy going to gym and also a bit of hula hooping at home. 😉

Now for the passing on of the award to 7 other bloggers. That’s a really tough one, as I enjoy so many of your blogs, so I’m going to do as Sonel did. The first 7 people to comment on or like this post, may have the award, as long as they also share 7 things about themselves. Please tell me if you have accepted it, so that I can read more about you.

Have a splendid day everyone. Chat again very soon.

Introducing the neighbours to one another over cheese and wine.

Hi again everyone. Here I am once again talking about food. Sunday afternoon’s cheese and wine invitation, turned into a lovely party, with neighbours from up and down the street attending. Hubby and I had been to Whole Foods to buy some cheeses and dips, and their wonderful stuffed olives. The guy on the cheese counter, when asked what was a really special cheese for guests to enjoy, pointed us to the “Harbison,” saying that it was expensive but so delicious.  He had bought some and in his own words, had used up his “entire cholesterol allowance for the whole year in one sitting.”

When we took it out of the fridge about an hour before the guests were due to arrive, we were a bit perplexed, as it had this hard brown stuff all around the edge which obviously wasn’t edible, so Hubby carefully stripped it all off, and the whole cheese started to collapse in a heap. I put it on a separate plate and hoped for the best, making a mental note not to buy it again. Well, by the time everyone had had their fill of it, there wasn’t a scrap left, and it was declared the most delicious cheese they’d ever tasted. I looked on the Internet and found out that the brown ‘rind’ is made of tree bark, cut from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands in Texas and is to hold the delicate cheese together, and provide flavor to the creamy paste. It also allows for an ideal presentation as the centerpiece of a cheese plate, which wasn’t the case on Sunday. Embarassed

The pic shows that one serves it with a spoon rather than a knife, so now I know for next time. I wish I’d read this before we took it’s coat off. 😉

We also got a tasty French Camembert and some Kerrygold Irish whiskey cheddar, which went down very well especially with our friend whose favourite tipple is whiskey. We had sundried tomato dip and another one with artichoke and spinach. Hubby had chopped celery sticks to go with the baby carrots and broccoli florets. Then of course there were the olives, chips, mixed nuts, sesame sticks and crackers. If anyone was still peckish after all that, there were these delicious Lindt chocolates. Not many people had room for them fortunately, so hubby and I are having to eat them ourselves. Cry

One things that really amazed me about our little get together, was that although everyone present had been  living within just a few metres of one another, with no fences, walls or gates, they didn’t seem to have met before. We had met them all individually, but they didn’t know one another. One of the husbands thanked us profusely for having the party, and said how delighted he was to have met his neighbours at last.  We all got on so well, and there was non-stop conversation going on, just like they were old friends. The wine and food was highly praised and everyone had a great time. What a pity we have to leave in less than two weeks, after having broken the ice. It took us, the  “exotic South African imports” to bring these neighbours together. How strange is that? They all seem to be looking forward to our return, even though we haven’t left yet.There are promises of more parties when we get back later in the year. I think we may have started a trend. I do hope so.

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

Cakes I have eaten………. Sidey’s weekend challenge

Sidey’s weekend challenge, “Let them eat cake,” made me think of all the cakes I must have eaten in my life. That’s both a scary and a pleasant thought. Long before I started blogging, I enjoyed making desserts, and hubby loved eating them. Since I started recording the more memorable cake-eating occasions for my blog, I’ve become more aware of those little indulgences. My blog friend “The Asian” has all but begged me not to keep posting pictures of food, because I make her feel hungry, whilst Sue Chef sulks if I don’t post pics, so especially for them, and anyone else who enjoys a bit of what they fancy, here are just a few of  the cakes I’ve eaten, or helped to eat over the past couple of years. Fortunately you can’t put on weight just by looking. Laughing

Well, that’s not bad going for someone who in her previous post, said that she prefers savoury to sweet.  I think Queen Marie Antoinette would be proud of me. Wink

I was very interested to read on Wiki, that the quote, “Let them eat cake,” was falsely attributed to Marie Antoinette, and that it’s believed that she never in fact said it at all. It just goes to show that nothing has changed in hundreds of years, for as we all know, you can’t believe everything you read in the Press.

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

 

 

Thanks for my Blog Awards. ;)

My blog friends, Sonel http://sonelscorner.wordpress.com/  and Tandy  http://tandysinclair.com/ have bestowed upon  me, the “Awesome blog content” award on Word Press. Thanks so much to you both for the wonderful compliment.

As with most awards, there is the dreaded acceptance speech involved, and this one requires that I share a few things with you about myself, using all the letters of the alphabet in turn. I will do my best to be brief, but unlike Tandy, who did marvellous one word answers, mine may be a bit longer. Laughing

A greeable is what I am most of the time, except when someone annoys me.
B logging takes a big chunk out of my day.
C lever is what my hubby says I am, although I think he’s just biased.
D ull is not how I would ever describe my life.
E nergetic in an elegant sort of way is how I would like to be.
F ine is how hairdressers describe my hair. I do NOTt need them to tell me that.
G randchildren are so precious.
H ealthy is how I would always wish to be. Who wouldn’t?
I nquisitiveness is a natural part of my makeup.
J ohannesburg was my home town for 30 years.
K indness is always appreciated.
L ove is the most important thing in my life.
M achu Picchu is the most awesome place I’ve ever visited.
N arcissistic people try my patience.
O bserving human behaviour is a fascinating hobby of mine.
P iano is an instrument I enjoy playing..
Q uotes: My two favourites are:
“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” ~ Confucius
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Gandhi
R aspberries are my favourite fruit.
S avoury rather than sweet would be my choice.
T iny insects can terrify me.
U nexpected  meetings with friends, make my day.
V ivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” is my best-loved piece of classical music.
W onderful man I married.
X ylophone was something I enjoyed playing at primary school.
Y ellow is a colour that doesn’t really suit me.
Z esty is how I hope the rest of my life will be.

Well that was quite time-consuming. One really has to work hard for these awards. I’m not sure who amongst you has already received one, but I would like to nominate Newsferret and Colonialist for the “Awesome Blog Content” award.

http://newsferret.wordpress.com/

http://colonialist.wordpress.com/

 

Sonel also gave me the “Genuine Blogger” award.

I would like to pass this forward to Jaycee68, Hope the Happy Hugger, View from the side, and Twoilps2. This one fortunately has no strings attached, so relax and enjoy. You are entitled to pass the award on to any blogger of your choice.

http://jaycee68.wordpress.com/

http://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/

http://viewfromtheside.wordpress.com/

http://twolips2.wordpress.com/

Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

A wonderful trip back in time to an era of cocktails and elegance.

Hi everybody. Yesterday’s visit to the Norton Museum, was truly wonderful. The journey there was not uneventful, as the car I was travelling in, got forced right off the highway by a huge camper van as big as a bus, towing a 4×4. He just pulled right in front of us from the left hand lane, and I don’t know if he forgot he was towing, or what, but we suddenly had to swerve over onto the gravel at the side of the road. This friend of mine drives really fast, and also tends to talk with her hands. I think I have to learn to find my own way around next time we come over, so that I can drive myself. Surprised

We got to the museum in double quick time, so had half an hour to wait for our docent, but she was half an hour late, so we had a whole hour to look around the shop and explore a bit on our own. Of course, some of the women spent the whole time in the shop, and my ‘Flea Market’ friend from the other day, was buying up a storm in scarves and costume jewelry. I was very attracted to these gorgeous evening bags, but at between $200-300, I didn’t pull out my credit card. Innocent

The entrance foyer was painted in very bright colours, and was extremely jolly, I thought.

We wandered through to have a look at the glass sculptures, some of which were really stunning, like this huge one called “The Banquet” by Beth Lipman. I wasn’t allowed to photograph it, but got this pic from Google.

The one piece I fell in love with and would have loved to take home with me, was this ” Late Summer cactus,” by Flo Perkins. You’d have to see it in real life, to appreciate its beauty.

We were taken into a small room with seats all around the edge, and sat for a few minutes admiring this amazing glass ceiling made by glass sculptur Dale Chihuly. It weighs 2000lbs and is really colourful, depicting all kinds of sea creatures, including manta rays, sea snakes, sea urchins, shells, etc. I did manage to sneak a photo as we walked out.

The tour of the cocktail culture was so interesting, and had me wishing I’d lived in America through that glamorous era. The beautiful dresses, hats, and accessories were just fabulous. No pics allowed though, but I found one of the dresses on the internet.

The cocktail glasses were so stunning, some with top hats on the stems. The martini glasses were designed with a knob at the top of the stem to prevent the warmth from your hand from travelling up the stem and spoiling the ice cold drink. Quite ingenious. So much Cartier was in those cabinets, cigarette cases and elegant holders in 14kt gold, crystal ashtrays, silver hip flasks and cocktail shakers. No expense was spared when it came to high society’s favourite pastime. There was one rather large solid silver canteen, which was used on Sundays when the liquor stores were closed. It was filled up and hooked up under the coat of one of the men, and then after church, everybody could have a drink to warm themselves up. Wink

We were told that the very first export from America to England, was the cocktail, and there were recipes up on the wall, so I copied down this one for the “Flapper Cocktail”

1 ounce Rum
1 ounce French vermouth
a dash of Angustura bitters
1 quarter tsp sugar

Well shaken of course.

There was so much costume jewelry which came into fashion in the cocktail era because every outfit had to have a set of matching accessories, so they were just made of paste rather than expensive stones. This was the difference between evening dress and cocktail wear. The jewelry to be worn with evening wear was the real thing, not fake.

We saw a photo of the exclusive celebrity “Stork Club.” Here is pic of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth there, and you can see the famous Stork Club ashtray on the table.

I wish I could show you everything I saw, but that would take me forever, and it’s time for bed. Lunch was really tasty. I had poached salmon, followed by chocolate fudge pieces, and we all got chocolates in a heart shaped box, which must have been left over from Valentines day.

The glass blowing demonstration was by Corning, and was outside in the atrium.

All went well, and the guy was making the most beautifully shaped, tall vase, but just as he was about put the finishing touches to the base, it dropped off the rod and bounced on the floor, so he had to start all over again. My friend sitting next to me couldn’t stop laughing, which was quite embarrassing, as she has a very loud cackle. Embarassed His second attempt, was a much more modest creation, but still really lovely.

Well I’m sorry this has been so long, but I did promise to share my visit with you. Hope you enjoyed. Have a great weekend. Chat again soon.

Huge discount vouchers, shopping malls and museum visit.

Hi again. Yesterday was a bit of a shopping day. Well what would you do if you got four 40% off vouchers from your favourite clothes shop, to be used only on a specific day. We had two for last Wednesday as well, so made good use of them. This country has so many discounts seemingly all the time. I suppose it’s just to encourage you to buy stuff you wouldn’t normally buy at full price. I’ll miss that when we come back to SA. The prospect of a Truworth’s “real sale,” does not fill me with excitement, as I know there’ll be absolutely nothing I want, and the same old stuff gets trundled out time after time. So boring. I want big discounts off the new stock, but that’s never going to happen.

There is one thing which I’m so looking forward to though, and that’s being able to park under cover at the shopping malls. Here, all the parking is outside and there are a myriad spaces for the disabled, which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but why so many? When I went out with my friend on Tuesday, we found a space without too much trouble. She then said to me that if we hadn’t been able to find a space, she had a disabled sticker she could put in the window. Apparently she got it when she had her op a couple of years ago, and just hung onto it to use whenever it was convenient.  I was slightly shocked at that., as I would feel such a fraud. Anyway, rain, hail, wind or shine, abled or disabled, everyone has to brave the elements, and it’s a case of “look what the wind blew in,” when I walk through the door into the store. We are very spoilt in South Africa in that regard, but of course we have to pay for the privilege. There is no pay parking here at all, and no car guards either. I don’t think anyone would ever dream that someone might break into their car to steal anything. It’s a very different way of life.

Today I’m going on an outing with our ladies club to the Norton Museum of Art Review. We are having a docent led tour of the paintings, sculptures and other exhibits. The special exhibition is of the cocktail culture of American high society from the 1920’s and ’30’s to the present day, which I’m sure will be very interesting, and I hope I’m allowed to take some photos. We have lunch laid on at the restaurant too, so it should be a very jolly outing indeed. I’m so looking forward to seeing the elegant fashions of that bygone age when women dressed like ladies,

and men like gentlemen.

No jeans and sneakers for them.

I’ll report back tomorrow. Have a great day everyone.

A lovely weekend and a leisurely stroll.

I had such a lovely weekend. Friday evening we went dinner dancing, but actually had more dinner than dancing. Three of my favourite dishes were on the menu; clam chowder, crab cakes and tiramisu. Oh bliss! I find it so fascinating  to watch other people dance, and was amazed at how much energy some of the older folk have when it comes to the jive, and rock ‘n’ roll. It made me feel dizzy, just watching them. They have so much rhythm and really know how to enjoy themselves. I can only aspire to be like them one day, although if we keep forgetting to go to the ballroom dance class every week, there’s not much chance, is there? Wink

On Sunday afternoon, we were invited to our neighbours’ house for cheese and wine. We spent a very pleasant almost three hours, just chatting about so many things, and I think that by the end of our visit, we had become best friends. The wife has promised to come to the gym with me this morning, as her doctor has advised her to exercise and lose some weight, so I shall take her under my wing. I don’t suppose I’ll get too much of a workout myself, as I expect she will need me to show her how the treadmill and all the machines work. She’s such a sweet person, and used to be a professional singer. She is going to ask her daughter to send some of her song books down from her house in Connecticut, so that when we get back here in October, we can get together and make music. That should be lots of fun. What with me on the piano, my other friend’s husband on the sax, and now a singer, we’ll soon have a group going.

Yesterday, after cleaning the house and washing the car, we decided that as it was such a perfect day, we would go for a long walk around our neighbourhood, something we haven’t done since we moved here. It didn’t seem like such a great idea when we started out, as the “Roof B Kleen” people were out in force, power washing all the pavements, driveways and paths along our street. With the high humidity here, the algae thrives, and turns the paving black. The smell of hydrogen peroxide was quite strong, but it really does the trick, as you can see here.

On our travels, we came upon this Muscovy duck just minding his own business, and no doubt keeping a beady eye out for flying golf balls.

They’re not the most prepossessing of birds, with that bumpy red skin on the face, a knob on top of the bill and lumps all over; quite gross really, but a bit further down the road, we saw a male with two females in tow, so they obviously find one another attractive. I know they say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ”

Our friend was telling us on Sunday, that the golf course here has a reputation for being very challenging, and looking at all the water around, I’m not surprised. Imagine teeing off from here. I bet there are a myriad golf balls lying at the bottom of that little pond.

On the way home, we saw our next door neighbour who was eager to find out if I play Mahjongg. She about the twentieth person to ask me that question. I don’t think I’m going to be able to escape playing some form of table game the next time we visit. It seems that much of the socialising here is done around card tables.  I’ll have to go on line and practise, so that I at least know the rules before I get thrown in at the deep end.

It’s now less than three weeks until we’re on our way home to South Africa. How the last six months has just flown by.

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

 

 

Side View’s challenge “Yuppie.”

Sidey’s challenge this weekend, “Yuppie,” naturally had me looking for a song of course. I found this one on You Tube, by Frank Delaney, and although it’s from the 1980’s when Yuppism was first recognised, it’s still pretty relevant today.

The accepted definition of a Yuppie used to be “A well-paid young middle-class professional who worked in a city job and had a luxurious lifestyle.” The term came into being in the early 1980’s, but according to Wiki, faded from American popular culture after the 1987 stock market crash and the recession which followed in the early 1990’s. These days, it is often used to describe any wealthy person who is not modest about their financial status. I think though that to qualify as a true Yuppie, besides being a very well paid “young, upwardly mobile professional”, one would need to be totally self absorbed, a slave to the expensive designer labels in clothes and cars, and a social climber, always mindful of creating the right impression amongst other Yuppies. Thankfully I was too old to be a Yuppie when they first came into existence, and when I was young enough, I didn’t have the wherewithal to qualify.

It must be quite stressful to always have to strive to keep up with your peers, who in turn, are also doing their utmost to impress you. Quite a vicious circle really. You will know, for example, that any present you buy for a Yuppie or their children, will have the label examined first, before they will be happy to accept it. The wine you serve must also have the correct sticker on the bottle, be expensive, and of the correct vintage.  It’s also ‘de rigueur’ to drive the right make of car, shop at the most expensive boutiques and stores, and be seen at the trendiest restaurants, clubs and coffee shops. Imagine the designer stroller jams outside these places.

Food isn’t merely eaten, it’s researched first, and has to meet all the necessary green and organic Yuppie requirements before it’s allowed past the lips of the little ones. Conversations with other Yuppies predictably revolves around the latest childrens’ boutiques, the best schools and the trendiest vacation destinations. To keep up your Yuppie status, you’d better make sure that you keep earning those big bucks, or your membership will be cancelled forthwith. The pressure’s on. Wink

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Chat again soon.