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!

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!