Happy 2014!

Happy 2014 everyone! Yes, I know the first month of the year is almost over, and I promised to blog more often, but I have a really good excuse for my absence, really. I had some ‘technical difficulties’ which resulted in me having to get my laptop replaced. I still don’t have all the software installed on it, but it’s getting there. We also got a new addition to the family, a beautiful kitten! It took a few days for her to adjust to us and her older fur-sister, but we’re one big happy family now.

Hubby and I also bought our first home late last year (squeeeeeeee!) We spent most of our time off over Christmas and New Year packing and have just moved into our home on the weekend. It has been hectic (and super hot!) but we’re so excited to be in our own place where we can paint and go crazy. So, with all of this going on and work, I haven’t had much time to blog. But my laptop is working again and I’m avoiding unpacking boxes, so I’ll no doubt be blogging quite a bit.

We’ve hit that time of year here in Perth where you absolutely avoid going outside. I swear I can feel myself begin to wither within seconds of stepping outside into the dry, hot, blistering sun. The plus side is the ocean temp should be getting warm enough for me to swim in soon!

We’ve got some plans for 2014. I’ll share my goal list with you in the next post (I refuse to do resolutions, I figured goals are good to work towards and if I don’t achieve them this year, I can also try again next year). Not sure if we’ll be able to do any travelling this year (although I’m hoping for at least a mini break possibly), but we do have some family coming over for a visit, so we’ll get up to all kinds of touristy things around here and of course I’ll share the adventures.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Photo by Michele Reid

Christmas decorations at Meyer.

How is it December already? Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. We’ve been super busy getting ourselves a place to call home (so excited!!!) and preparing for the arrival of our new fur-child, a gorgeous Maine Coon kitten. Hopefully her big Siberian sister will take to her quickly and we can all enjoy Christmas together.

Photo by Michele Reid

Mia playing in her favourite present, a random box, with her Santa toy.

It’s a bit difficult getting into the swing of things and doing all my Christmas crafts with it being 39 degrees Celsius today! Summer has truly arrived. I’m also busy helping with organising our office multi-cultural Happy Holidays party, so have been cutting out photo props and Santa beards to go on some paper straws (will take a photo and hopefully post them here later in the week).

I’ve managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done (that was the one department I’ve been very organised in) complete with stocking treats. I just need to get a few things for my family back home, but that’s easy enough thanks to online shopping (a lifesaver!)

I absolutely love Christmas. I think I have my parents to thank for that. It really was a magical time for me as a child. It all started with an invitation to the Noddy Party (if you’re South African and a child of the ’80s, chances are you went to at least one of these). It was organised by the local Rotary and Noddy was the main character. Ours was hosted on a farm (it’s long been sold off and is now home to lots of new houses). We would be entertained by characters on the stage which included Noddy, fairies and of course right at the end, Santa. Meanwhile, our parents would get stuck in the picnics they’ve packed and catch up with friends. You would wait and strain your ears until you hear Santa call out your name and give you a present. I always thought we were so special to get a present from Santa before Christmas!

Photo by Michele Reid

Antique German Christmas baubles from my childhood.

Another favourite was decorating the Christmas tree. Christmas smelt like tinsel to me. After a while, my grandmother gave us one of their trees (we had fake ones) and my brother and I each got to decorate our own trees! Christmas eve we always spend with my German side of the family where we got to indulge in some German Christmas treats. Naturally that meant Santa came on Christmas eve at their home. After midnight, we would head home and drive through our town’s main road which was completely decorated with Christmas lights.

My brother would usually wake me up early on Christmas morning. He would first report that Santa drank the two cold beers and biltong (cured meat) we left out for him. He would then go on to tell me how many gifts he received, how many I’ve received and what he thinks I got. Together we would rush into the lounge to open our presents before running to my parents room to show us what Santa brought us.

Later as I became part of Hubby’s family, I also got to experience some of their traditions and enjoyed delicious, lazy Christmas lunches under the big tree with their family.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Our Christmas tree.

Now that it’s just the two of us in Australia, I think I try to compensate by the amount of decorating I do. I make a delicious meal and we celebrate on Christmas eve (as that was really Christmas for me growing up), but we open our presents of Christmas day. Santa doesn’t even forget the fur-children! We also get to open our stockings (something I never had as a child but got to experience with Hubby’s side of the family). We might head off to the beach for an early morning swim and smile at the families from places like the UK enjoying the novelty of a summery Christmas. They pose with Santa hats on the beach to send back to their families who haven’t even woken up yet. It’s nice to see people create new traditions in their new home. The rest of the day is usually spent indoors with the air-conditioner on and phoning or Skyping family back home.

So, hope you get to finish all of your Christmas crafting and shopping (do share ideas with me, I love to see what everyone’s making) and get to spend some time with loved ones over the holidays!

Rest well Madiba

Madiba byHans Gedda

Image by Hans Gedda

Thank you Madiba for leaving the world a far better place for having had you in it. You meant so much not just to all South Africans, but inspired people throughout the world. Rest well.

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”
– Mandela documentary interview, 1994

Springtime in Perth

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful tulips

Spring is definitely when Perth is at it’s prettiest. Everything dries out in the blistering summer sun, but during spring the bush is covered with beautiful wild flowers and the grass is still nice and green.

Photo by Michele Reid

Tulips!

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

Love the purple and white ones.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Even the bees love the tulips.

Photo by Michele Reid

More beautiful flowers at Araluen.

Photo by Michele Reid

Spring blossoms.

A must at springtime here is to visit Araluen Botanical Garden. Every spring the garden is home to thousands of beautiful tulips. Last year we went a bit late in the season and while there were still many flowers out and about, a few were starting to look a bit tired. This year I was super organised and made sure to contact them as soon as the weather became more balmy so we could see the flowers as soon as they opened.

Photo by Michele Reid

Wild flowers along the roadside.

Photo by Michele Reid

Fruit tree blossoms at Core Cider House.

Afterwards we went for a drive through the orchards and stopped for a hot chocolate at Core Cider House (the gluten free brownies are delish!) Beautiful flowers and chocolate, what more can a girl ask for?

Back to blogging

Ok, I need to apologise. It’s been ages since my last blog but I haven’t forgotten about any of you. In fact, I’ve been taking lots of photos while going on my local adventures, I just haven’t had much time to put them on my blog. The good thing is, soon you’ll have plenty of new blog posts to look forward to!

Life got a bit in the way of blogging, but no more. Can’t wait to share more adventures will all of you!

South Africa Part 2

Firstly, thanks for your patience while I sorted out some technical difficulties, aka my laptop died and I had to replace it. I’m now back so let the blogging continue without further delay…

Hubby managed to stock up on some much needed work clothes. I was quite impressed with myself and only got two cardigans from Zara (sadly for some silly reason Zara still hasn’t opened a branch in Perth). I must admit having been to Zara in both Melbourne and Sydney, the Cape Town store is so much better.

Naturally we had to visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We used to live really close to it and spent many a sunny weekend munching on picnic treats bought at the local Woolies enjoying the view. I wish I could bring it with me to Perth as I so miss the mountains and the beautiful plants.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Mountains! Oh how I miss mountains! The view from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Photo by Michele Reid

The beautiful shades of green was a welcome sight after the drab olive green and dry landscapes of a hot summer in Perth.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful Kirstenbosch.

Photo by Michele Reid

Guineafowl grazing on one of the lawns.

My brother and sister-in-law were officially doing the legal part of the wedding at a home affairs office on Valentine’s Day. Not the most romantic venues, but that was coming a few days later. I have to admit, I was super impressed with the home affairs office in Paarl. They really tried to make it a special day as it was Valentine’s Day and decorated the room with hearts and flowers and even had a staff member take some photos to email to them later on! Her mom and both my parents were also there so it ended up being quite an event. Afterwards we decided to stop for lunch at one of the nearby wine farms and enjoy some of the sunshine that managed to break through the rainy clouds. In the end in was quite a beautiful day and the newly-weds ended up feeling quite special.

On our way home we decided to stop by Butterfly World as Hubby hasn’t been there yet. They’re now home to a few more critters including parrots, spiders, lizards and some adorable marmoset monkeys. Of course they still have beautiful butterflies fluttering about.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A beautiful butterfly with glass-like wings.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

One of the beautiful feathered friends at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A lizzard comes to say hi. Many of the animals have been rescued from illegal smuggling and have been given a home at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

How cute am I?

After a few days hanging out in the city and Rondebosch area we headed to my home town of Somerset West for the all-important wedding. We were staying at a family friend’s place in Gordon’s Bay and in typically the wind was howling (major disappointment for me who had dreams of soaking up some sun on Bikini Beach).

My mom treated me to get my nails done and I had the bonus of catching up with my high school bff’s mom (she did my nails). Dinner was another highlight as I got to sink my teeth into Mike’s calamari and chips. Now we’re not talking normal chips, but proper, delicious, mouth-watering slap chips. No one in Australia seems to make slap (which means limp in Afrikaans) chips so I enjoyed each and every one of them. Probably not the best meal to have the night before your brother’s wedding, but damn they were good!

The wind continued to howl all through the night which didn’t bode well for a good night’s sleep, but we were up bright and early to get ready. I was a bit worried about the wind as the wedding was held outdoors but luckily it was well protected from the elements. It was quite emotional for me as we’re quite close. The ceremony was beautiful, my sister-in-law looked stunning and I got to see my grandparents again for the first time in ages.

Naturally no wedding would be complete without a party. One of my brother’s close friends is a chef so he created the delicious food and we got to toast the new couple with some very good local beer. As the ceremony mostly included immediate family and closets friends, we decided to have an after party later that night at a very good friend’s house for the family and friends who couldn’t attend. It was an exhausting but wonderful day and I think everyone had a great time.

I’ve always wanted to go visit the Cheetahs at Spier and I was delighted to find out they recently moved almost right across from where the mall is (don’t worry, they are located on a large piece of land and get to run around every day). The Cheetah Outreach program really is quite amazing. They’re breeding Cheetahs to help increase their numbers in the wild. At the same time, they’re also trying to educate people and make them realise how few wild Cheetahs we sadly have left. They also breed Anatolian Sheepdogs to place with farmers to protect the herds against Leopards and so ensure the farmers don’t kill the Leopards.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A Cheetah soaking up some sun.

We opted to pay the extra money and have the opportunity to stroke one of the Cheetahs. While we got to stroke him the handler gave us some more information on Cheetahs and the work they do at the Outreach. We found out that the Cheetah we were stroking is actually a celebrity and has appeared in numerous adverts and films. He also goes around to local schools as part of their education programme. He didn’t seem to mind us one bit and just lay back and slept. They really are such beautiful animals and I just can’t comprehend why anyone would a) want to kill them and b) wear their skins as clothing. Trust me, it looks far better on the Cheetah than on any human. (As a side note, if you go expecting it to look like a zoo or a safari park, you’re going to be greatly disappointed. It’s a Cheetah breeding programme and that’s what the emphasis is on, not touristy entertainment. Also, it’s best to visit early when they open as most of the animals are either nocturnal or tend to sleep in their little houses or long grass during the day. I would definitely recommend it as it was an amazing experience and the money goes to a really good cause).

On my to do list in Somerset West was a visit to Vergelegen Manor House. It was a beautiful day and we decided to meet my brother there for some lunch. We got to stroll through the original Cape Dutch manor house and the beautiful gardens before settling down for some lunch overlooking the mountains. Unfortunately we’re not big wine drinkers so didn’t go wine tasting.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Vergelegen Manor House is built in the Cape Dutch style.

Photo by Stephen Reid

At Vergelegen Estate with the beautiful mountains as a backdrop.

We also managed to squeeze in some yummy lunch with a family friend in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing with and it was bucketing down. The window wipers on the car we were borrowing then decided to completely stop working which made driving around a bit scary. But after some delicious lunch the weather cleared and we could safely make our way back to my brothers before they took us out to dinner. It was a bitter sweet dinner, as we had lots of laughs but I also had to say good bye to them as they were heading off on a short romantic honeymoon the next morning, which meant I wouldn’t see them again before our flight.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Cape Dutch styled building in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the day we went to visit it was pouring down with rain.

Photo by Michele Reid

Mooiberge (meaning beautiful mountains in Afrikaans) Strawberry Farm. This little farm played an important role in my life growing up in Somerset West. It meant fresh, deliciously sweet strawberries when it started to get hot. It meant summer for me.

Our two weeks in South Africa was over way too quickly and before I knew it we were back on the plane heading home. I was happy to sleep in my own bed again and have Ms Mia Shanti Priya snuggling up to us, but it’s always sad saying good bye to family. Thank goodness for modern technology! I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t text or call my family every now and then.

South Africa – Part One

Earlier this year we were lucky to travel back to South Africa to attend my brother’s wedding. It was great seeing family members again after a few years and I was especially grateful to be able to spend a few days hanging out with my brother.

A must for us was to have dinner at our favourite restaurant in the whole world, Kitima. It’s located in the old Kronendal homestead which is a beautiful Cape Dutch farm house. We have been coming years and have never been disappointed. They serve delicious Thai meals and boast an extensive wine list. The atmosphere is perfect for a romantic evening and luckily this time round we could afford to splurge a little bit.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The beautiful manor house. Image from Kitima’s website.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The bar area inside the restaurant. Image from Kitima’s website.

Hubby has always watched the guys paragliding off Lion’s Head when we were enjoying some sundowners at Clifton when we were still living in Cape Town. I’m absolutely terrified of heights, even flying is a traumatic experience for me (and who ever happens to be the poor soul having to travel with me!) I decided that if he’s going to do it, then I will have to do it too. On the proposed day, the weather wasn’t too good so I was quite relieved when the company decided to postpone our trip. Unfortunately for me the following day was a beautiful sunny day. We headed up to Lion’s head but the breeze shifted which meant we had to take off from Signal Hill. There were already quite a few people strapped into their harnesses and taking off with their pilots (we were doing a tandem one as we’re no experts). I could see Hubby getting really excited while I tried to swallow down the lump in my throat and ignore the pit in my stomach.

Photo by Stephen Reid

The view from Signal Hill over Cape Town and Table Mountain.

Hubby disappeared off into one direction with his pilot to get into his harness while my pilot got me to sign the waiver that in case anything happens, I knew it was dangerous and don’t hold them responsible. At this point I was starting to wonder just what exactly I was thinking when I said I would come with. I was busy trying to get into my harness when I saw Hubby and his Pilot getting ready to take off next. Imagine my shock when I realised a) he didn’t even say goodbye and b) I’m about to see my husband jump take off from quite a height and would that flimsy looking parachute be able to keep two grown men afloat in the air. Before I could shout any romantic parting words he was off. He disappeared for a few seconds before reappearing, floating gently above Sea Point.

My turn was next and as you can probably deduct, I survived. It wasn’t actually so bad. My wonderful pilot tried to point out some sights but looking down was not the smartest thing I did, so I focused more on the container ships in the distance. When we were about to land he suggested we do something a bit more adventurous. Not wanting to be called a chicken, I went with it and we did some pretty sharp corkscrew turns. I couldn’t keep it in any longer and let out an almighty scream. My poor pilot thought something was wrong and as we came in to land I could hear the other people who landed just before me laugh. But it really was quite to be floating up in the sky and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone, even if you’re afraid of heights.  Unfortunately the breeze wasn’t very strong that day so we couldn’t be up there for very long (actually, it was a good thing for me because I think I reached my paragliding quota a minute or so before we came in to land). Hubby could have stayed up there all day I think.

We also decided to go have lunch in the city one day and meet up with my brother before the wedding (he works in the city). We strolled through the historic Company Gardens (a great place to escape the summer heat in the city) while keeping an eye out for squirrels. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of coming to the city and visiting the museum (which is situated at the top end of the gardens) and buying a packet of nuts to supposedly feed the squirrels. The poor squirrels often got a raw deal with me stuffing my face with most of the nuts.

Photo by Michele Reid

The Company Gardens in Cape Town.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cape Dutch architecture in the Company Gardens.

We had a quick walk down Long Street and also a stroll through Greenmarket Square. This used to be the best fleamarket in Cape Town, but sadly almost all of the original stall holders have gone and in their place are stalls selling the same African curious as the one next to it. You used to be able to buy great clothes, some real, authentic South African wares, CD’s, homewares and jewellery (I still wear a silver toe ring I bought there 16 years ago! I wear it every day so how’s that for quality?

Photo by Michele Reid

African masks. Australian quarantine officials will have a field day with these!

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautifully carved wildlife.

Photo by Michele Reid

My favourite, beaded animals!

We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the square and the food was absolutely delicious (complete with local boutique beer). We returned again just before we left to take my mom to lunch there.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Victorian building in Cape Town’s Long Street.

Of course I indulged a little while we were there. You can’t expect me to not enjoy at least some of the delicious foods available. A little ritual Hubby and I had when he was studying for his MBA was to go have some Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt and stroll around in the Waterfront. The Business School is located right in the Waterfront so I would meet him there after his classes and we had a bit of a date munching Old English Toffee (mine covered in Astros and his chocolate chips) while watching the seals playing and the sunburnt tourists. I so wish I can find an equivalent here in Perth but so far every frozen yoghurt I’ve tried have fallen far short. We got to stroll through the waterfront and watch the seals playing about in the harbour with beautiful Table Mountain as the backdrop.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View over Table Mountain and the Rich and Famous’ apartments and yachts in the Waterfront.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ferrymans Taverns is a favourite spot for tourists and locals on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Photo by Michele Reid

Best frozen yoghurt in the world. Oh Marcel’s how I miss you!

Photo by Michele Reid

A seal enjoying the afternoon sun.

Photo by Michele Reid

A giant beaded elephant stands guard in the Waterfront.

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable beaded African dolls.

Part Two will follow shortly.

 

 

Beating the winter blues

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sunset in Cape Town, South Africa

Apologies. I have been very bad at blogging the past few weeks, not because I don’t want to share lots of interesting (ok, interesting to me) things with you, but mainly because I’ve been suffering from a bad case of winter blues. I am convinced humans were designed to hibernate. The constant cold and dark mornings have taken the spring out of my step and add to that a returning back injury which has me wondering if I will be able to compete in my 12km run, it just wasn’t a good few weeks.  It’s also my birthday month which inevitably means I get homesick…I start to miss the mountains, my family, even the annoying guineafowl that used to wake us up at unholy hours of the morning with their loud screeching.

But today the sun is shining, it’s rumoured to be a relatively mild day and I am feeling happier than I have in a while. I’ve also had the first decent night’s sleep as my back is actually feeling a bit better, yay! (doing happy dance!) So it’s happy days and smiles all around!

So as Hubby has set out in the dark hours of this morning to go do a 30+km training run (he really is amazing), I should probably carpe diem and get moving. I’m thinking a nice, super slow, short run / walk just to get the muscles moving again and to get outside and enjoy the beautiful sunshine.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday!

 

New Beginnings

Photo by Stephen Reid

Getting all my ducks in a row.

So sorry for the radio silence, or in this case, blog silence. I haven’t forgotten about you but life doesn’t wait for me to catch up and before I knew it, it was today. Lots of things have been going on and it seems I’m set for a few new beginnings this month.

Firstly, I’m starting a new job on Monday. I’m quite excited but nervous at the same time. I get to meet new people plus this job is so close to home, I can cycle to work. At least I’m going to try to. Guess I have no more excuses not to get back on the bike.

Secondly, my running has improved quite a bit. No longer am I shuffling and walking. I went for a 40 min run on Sunday and managed to run the whole way this time. Same for my shorter runs this week! So there is hope for me that I might be able to run most of the 12km in next month’s run.

I’ve also decided to focus more on my health and fitness levels, so have joined a group exercise class on Saturdays. I figured it’s a great way to meet more people here and get in shape at the same time. Hubby has a few sporting events he’s participating in for the rest of the year and I think that even though I will never be able to compete at the level he’s in, maybe one day I can participate in the shorter distances of some of the events. I’m already cheering him on at the events, I might as well take part.

I’m also dreaming about our dream home. I want to make sure that if we ever get the opportunity to get our own place, it’ll look the way we want to inside. At the moment we’re renting so we’re quite limited with what we can do. But it doesn’t mean I can’t plan ahead for when we get our own place or rent a bigger place. I’ve gone mad on Pintrest pinning anything home related, from plants for a garden (if we ever have one) to tea cups. I’ll share a few of my crazy ideas with you in a future blog post.