The Queen’s ‘telegram’ arrives, and 100th birthday party.

Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”

Saturday was the day before my MiL’s 100th birthday, and in the morning there was great excitement, as the postman was due to deliver the 100th birthday congratulations card from the Queen. I was waiting at the bedroom window, to snap him as he came down the drive.


None of us had ever seen one before, so of course we couldn’t have breakfast until it was opened.


Family soon started to arrive, as we were all to have lunch at  ‘The Barn @ Alfold’, in the next village. This restaurant is one of my MiL’s favourite places for eating out.

This historic  building dates back to 1590. and the original oak beams are believed to have been fashioned from timber taken from the ships of the Spanish Armada. Ernest Hemingway frequented this establishment in the 1940′s, during the second world war, and is said to have spent many an afternoon enjoying the ‘cream teas’ at ‘Gibbs Hatch’ as it was then called. The party started off in the bar, where we all had a few glasses of excellent French champagne.


The main dining room was filled to capacity with many members of our family.


The food and service were absolutely wonderful, and the lady of the moment was looking absolutely sparkling. Here she is with her eldest granddaughter.


Sunday was the day of her actual birthday  and she looked really stunning for her big party for 140 people at the local Village Hall.


We all had a great time, with lots of chatter and tasty tidbits to munch on.


It was wonderful to meet up again with family, some of whom we hadn’t seen for many years, and also absolutely amazing to see just how many really good friends had come along to congratulate her on this awesome milestone achievement.


She gave a marvellous and very interesting speech, followed by very complimentary ones from my husband and also our son and daughter.


Then it was time to cut the cake and propose a toast.


What a lot of fun we all had, with beautiful weather so that the little children were able to play outside on the grass and jungle-gym.  At the end of the proceedings, our two youngest grandchildren just couldn’t wait to get their hands on some of the balloons.


My dear mom-in-law gave away a few of her secrets for longevity. She said, “Try not to worry, but take each day as it comes, and have a glass of red wine and a couple of chocolates every evening.”  So now I’m thinking to myself, “If this is what 100-years-old looks like, with life still being full of happiness and fun, I’ll not be afraid of old age, but be looking forward to it. ” 🙂

A delicious birthday lunch, and a gorgeous cat.

Yesterday we met family and friends for my early birthday lunch at the nearby Oyster Box Hotel. The Ocean Terrace Restaurant which overlooks the Indian Ocean, is a favourite place of ours for eating out.


There was a display in the foyer to celebrate the birth of baby George. The arrangement of red anthiriums was really gorgeous.


There were seven of us for lunch, and we had a really jolly time. Before deciding on my choice from the menu, I decided to go and check out the traditional curry buffet. Durban has a big Indian population and curries are a speciality. There were about a dozen to choose from and I really would have liked to try each one, but it would have been an impossibility if I still wanted to fit into my skirt, so I only tried about six.  🙂


Here’s my sister and I with the famous Umhlanga lighthouse in the background


This was my choice of dessert, an ice cream sundae with halva, hot fudge chocolate and peppermint crisp. It was sooo YUMMY. The pic is a bit out of focus, but you get the idea. 🙂


After eating all this food,  I suddenly found myself the lucky recipient of two cupcakes, complete with a birthday sparkler. I decided it would be wise to take these home and save them for teatime much later.


All too soon, it was time to say our goodbyes for a whole seven months. I guess time will fly by as it usually does these days, and before we know it, we’ll all be together again.

Outside the front of the hotel is a really old rickshaw. At the beginning of the 20th century there were more than 2,000 rickshaw-pullers operating in Durban, and it was an everyday mode of transport. Today they are just a tourist attraction.


It may look to you as though I am the only occupant here, but you would be quite wrong in that assumption. Having an afternoon nap, was the hotel’s resident cat Skabenga (meaning hooligan or vagabond in Zulu), who has made this luxury hotel his permanent home for the past ten years. It all started when he wandered onto the property as a stray, and was fed tasty and expensive seafood tidbits by the guests. He soon realised he was onto a good thing, and decided to stay. Can you blame him? He has a favourite couch, and takes daily  strolls around the hotel, enjoying the spoils that come with his status as the ‘main cat’ on the block. I was reading that Skabenga is renowned for his impeccable timing, and emerges every time there is a red carpet occasion at the hotel, such as the royal cocktail party held for Prince Rainier and Princess Charlene of Monaco, so I was rather thrilled that he was waiting there for me on my birthday. 😎  He certainly does look well fed, doesn’t he?


I’m going to be rather busy packing and travelling for the next few weeks, but I’ll try and pop in on the blogs occasionally, and I’m sure I’ll do a post on the Centenary birthday celebrations once it’s all over.

What a fun week we all had.

My lovely family returned to the cold of New Jersey, yesterday. We had such a great time together, and it was so special to see the three children again and watch them having fun. Much of the time was spent playing in the pool at the club, and Sienna went to the golf and tennis workshops, which were organised for the children. There was live music and also games for the children by the pool. Sienna came joint first in the hula hoop competition, and got ‘$100’ bill, which bought her an ice cream at the restaurant. 🙂 I was so impressed at how she just kept that hula going, even when she had to jump, wave her arms in the air and then go down on one knee a few times. What a granny’s girl! The guy organising the games realised that these two girls could go on ‘ad infinitum’, so decided to award them both. Sienna is the little one on the left.


Three-year-old Taylor was more interested in hogging the microphone, and was given her chance to make announcements, which she did with great gusto.


Here are some pics of the fun times, this past week. Just click on any photo to get a slide show.

This morning, breakfast for two instead of seven, was a very quiet affair, except for the sound of the washing machine working overtime. Hubby and I are now off to the gym, before coming home to tackle the myriads of tiny, sticky hand prints on the glass doors and mirrors. 🙂

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Les Mis and Frosty the Snowman.

Just a quick pop in to say that ‘Les Mis’ was absolutely wonderful. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway gave magnificent performances. It had humour, heartbreak, romance and of course lots of action. I didn’t fall asleep even once, which really tells you that  I was riveted by the whole spectacle. At times, I wished I’d brought a box of tissues with me, so that I could have a good ‘blub’. Anne Hathaway’s performance of  ‘I dreamed a dream’, was absolutely heart-wrenching, and young Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche the street urchin, was so adorable; I just wanted to hug him and take him home with me. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, just get yourself there. It’s three hours long, but an absolute ‘must see’, a classic movie, which embodies, love, war, abject misery, and redemption.The ending is so uplifting, and I walked out of there full of praise. I couldn’t begin to compare it to the stage show; you’d have to do that for yourself, but why would you want to? It stands on its own as a brilliant epic production. The fact that it was a ‘dine-in’ (no, not drive-in) movie, and we watched whilst being waited on, eating and drinking, made the experience even more enjoyable.

Now for something completely different: I thought you might like to see who suddenly appeared in our son’s back yard, yesterday afternoon. He is obviously a keen New York Yankees supporter, and had blueberries for eyes, a carrot for a nose, and small rocks for buttons.


We had about four inches of snow, and the kids were so excited to get out there and build a snowman and also get the sled out. Sienna used her muscle power to pull Taylor and Max around. What fun they had. I watched from the warmth of the family room. 🙂


Here’s the whole family with their frosty friend.


Today we had the most enjoyable few hours at the Natural History Museum, but those pics will have to wait for another post. Hope your weekend has been a good one.

Sharing my world in New Jersey

At last, I can sit down to do a post. I have to take the chance when I can, as there always seems to be something going on here. This morning, I grabbed my laptop and was just about to start wading through my 750 e-mails, when our son called up the stairs, “Mom, are you ready?” “Ready for what?” I asked, fearing the worst. We were apparently expected at a 3rd birthday party, so on with the boots and jacket, into the car and off down the road. I think that parents of small children are so brave to invite all these little people to their house for a few hours. The dad was in one corner of the kitchen, churning out little handmade pizzas, as if his life depended on it. Various moms and dads were trying to control their toddlers, and stop them from destroying the property. Much food had been lovingly prepared, labelled and set on plates, ready to be half eaten, dropped on the floor, or left for the family to consume over the next couple of days. The cake was really lovely, and I did have a piece, against my better judgement. Sugar overload! 😯


It started to snow after we’d been there for about an hour, and looked so pretty out of the window, but it made me wish I’d brought a long sleeved jacket instead of just a fur vest, and had worn my snow boots rather than my fashion boots with heels.


Yesterday, was also quite a cold day, and the family decided to go to the ice rink,


I didn’t try skating, as I figured that I’ve got this far through my life without it, so why do I need to risk a twisted ankle at this late stage. One young woman did fall, and it was a good hour before she was stretchered off, after lying there on the ice whilst someone with a clipboard asked her a whole lot of questions, and made copious notes. I’m sure she must have been quite frozen.

Little Taylor made a valiant effort, helped along by her dad.


After a while, she gave up and came to watch with me, through the glass.


Down in the basement here, I was cajoled into playing hula hoop. Sienna is an absolute star.


We had a competition to see who could hula with the most hoops, and I was the loser. 😦


Whilst little Max was busy ‘cleaning’ the floor with his favourite Christmas present,


I was roped in to sing Christmas carols with Sienna and her cousin.


We also had a visit to the doctor, for Max. The waiting room was so beautifully decorated with murals,



but Max was much more interested in watching the fishies.


Out in the car park, I spotted this rather long limo. We could really fit the whole family in that, no problem.


Tonight we’re going out for dinner and to see the movieLes Misérables. I’m so looking forward to it, and wonder how it will compare to the stage show I saw a few years ago.

We are still here for a few more days, and tomorrow were going into the city to the Natural History Museum. I always love a visit there, as the exhibits are so fascinating. Thanks so much to those of you who have visited my blog over the past few days. I will catch up with you all as best I can, even if it’s only on the long drive back down to Florida. I hope to manage another post before then, children permitting, but now my presence is required elsewhere. 🙂