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.

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.

Best bookshop in the world…is in Perth?

Photo by Michele Reid

Sign at the entrance of Kaleido Books. Love it!

I am so excited I just can’t help myself. As an avid reader and book nerd, I was so excited when I realised Perth has the best bookshop probably in the world. Perth is slowly but surely casting aside it’s sleepy mining town reputation and becoming a vibrant, multicultural city. I’m so lucky to be living here as things are changing.

Photo by Michele Reid

The horror section

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

One of my favourite signs

The bookstore is called Kaleido Books is located at the train station as you walk from Myer in the city towards the National Art Gallery and the WA Museum. I had a quick browse around and they stock a wide variety of books. If there’s anything you can’t find, the friendly staff will try their best to track it down.

Photo by Michele Reid

The history section

Photo by Michele Reid

Exactly what most of us are thinking

Photo by Michele Reid

The Penguin Classics section

Photo by Michele Reid

I love the policeman

While snapping away at their brilliant signs, I met the incredibly friendly Sarah who told me that the signs are just the beginning. Already a talented Western Australian artist have painted some beautiful signs in the store based on Alice in Wonderland and Terry Pratchett. More artworks are to come which will make this bookstore an even bigger feast for the eyes.  They also have some unique and adorable gifts for the art lover and book nerd in your life.

Photo by Michele Reid

Alice in Wonderland inspired art

Photo by Michele Reid

Terry Pratchett inspired art – I like the kitty

In a world of chain stores, it’s so nice to come across something so unique and quirky like Kaleido Books. So if you’re ever in Perth, pop round to see the latest signs, say hi to the lovely staff and who knows, maybe you’ll find that book you’ve been looking for.

Photo by Michele Reid

The language section

Photo by Michele Reid

You’re bound to find the perfect recipe book here

On a side note, Find Bliss on Earth is now on Facebook!