Tag Archives: Lauren

The South African trip… part deux

La Famiglia

After the reunion, I flew to East London to meet my mom and my aunt René. For the non-South Africans, East London is actually a South African city… in fact it’s where I was born. Why they decided to name it after EAST London… I do not know. If I was going to name my city after anywhere in London it would probably be Camden. Apparently there is a Camden in Sydney. Every now and then the Aussies do have a good idea.

Anyway… East London is the closest place to where my family lives that has an airport. By chance my cousin, Thys, was also in East London for the night. He’s the lead guitarist in a band called Southern Gypsy Queen and they are permanently on tour. I haven’t seen Thys in a good couple of years so it was awesome to catch up with him. As with any gathering of my mom’s side of the family… we talked music.

My mom and aunt help my other two cousins, Brend and Roy run their Bed & Breakfast, The Black Swan, which is in Queenstown (about 2 hours from East London). Brend is the drummer for about three local bands and Roy is a magician. We’re a creative bunch. We decided that, although there was plenty of space, my mom, René and I should share a room. We’re like kids when the three of us get together and there was much giggling and sharing of cosmetic products and photos of anything and everything.

Being in Queenstown is very much like going back in time. It is still de rigueur for “gentlemen” to wear rugby shorts and hiking boots… even to dinner at the á la carte restaurant that is part of the Black Swan empire. Also it appears that a well-cultivated beer belly is the height of sexiness. Given my taste for skinny, tattooed, indie boys with long hair in tight jeans, I would probably be even unluckier in love than I am in London if I were to relocate.

It felt like way too much of a drive-by visit. I felt like I didn’t see nearly enough of Brend and Roy or their lovely partners Lindy and Anneke. I would particularly have liked to see more of Anneke since she officially becomes family in December when she and Roy get married. Unfortunately I do not have the leave or the money to be at their wedding but I did leave behind a canvas print of my favourite Banksy for them to put in their house and hopefully remember me by. I already miss everyone.

Mes Amis

There really is no rest for the wicked and I went straight from the airport to a dinner arranged by the lovely Bronwyn, who is practically my social secretary. The girl deserves a medal for everything she does! We went to Primi Piatti, where there were an alarming number of birthdays going on around us. They like birthdays at Primi and there were borderline riots going on at each table. It was particularly nice to see my awesome friend, Russell, who has filled out alarmingly since I saw him last year. He has most definitely blossomed. You go, girlfriend *giggles* Bronwyn’s boy, Dave officially gets the “shot monster” award for enticing us into sampling quite a number of different alcoholic concoctions. Beert, La G’s boy gets the lightweight award though… I have no idea how he managed to be that much more sozzled than the rest of us.

Thursday was an even bigger whirlwind. I started out by having coffee with Donna, who is my oldest friend. We lived on the same block from when we were four until we were 23. Don is expecting her second bundle of joy in a month’s time so it was awesome to catch-up and find out all the details about the little girl who is about to enhance her happy family.

From there I went shopping with La G and then had a few vinos with Imogen. Imo and I were chatting like we had never been apart and of course there was much giggling, ranting and smoking. I am glad to report that Imo is as bubbly and full of life as ever.

My final stop was the end of dinner with La G’s diving friends who get the second shot monster award. I am impressed with how much partying was going on for a Thursday night. They were all so much fun but I couldn’t keep up. I take my hat off to La. The two of us reconnected with our teens and shared a room, giggling until 3am. I got to sleep until 9 but she was in the gym at 6.30. Dude, you are DEDICATED!

Dawn arrived on Friday morning and we popped past Kirsty’s house to see her wedding dress and the bridesmaid’s dresses before retiring to Dawn’s house to crash out spectacularly. A special thanks to Colleen, Dawn’s mom, who put on a delicious dinner for the two of us and momming us back into childhood. Sometimes that is exactly what you need.

Stay tuned for the wedding and the return journey tomorrow.

A quick round up from SA so far


I am writing these as I go along and posting them when I can… so here are a couple of entries

The flight

My trip to SA was pretty eventful before I even arrived. I am typing this en route from Madrid to Johannesburg at about 7.30am, a bazillion miles in the air with barely a creature stirring around me… well except for the granny I just put the skrik (fright for the non Saffas) into. My tattoo is still healing so it still requires regular application of Bepanthen until the scab comes off. After a quick trip to the loo, once I had decided to give up trying to sleep (I don’t sleep on planes. I just kinda pretend. I’ve tried everything… including drugging myself), I decided it was time for a reapplication. I pulled up the leg of my jeans and was happily rubbing in the cream when I saw el madre watching me with a look of abject horror. I suppose the tattoo is quite a sight if you’re not expecting it. It’s 12cm long. After she spotted that I had spotted her spotting me, she gave me a little smile… the kind of smile you might give a gang of chavs on a street corner, in the hope that your friendliness means they won’t stab you.

I am flying Iberia because it was cheap. Gotta say NOT my favourite airline experience in my travels so far. First off they did not mention that they share routes with British Airwaves. I arrived at terminal 2 yesterday to check-in at the Iberia desks for my Iberia flight only to find out that I was on a BA flight leaving from terminal 1. Grr! Luckily I was hopelessly early. The only thing I am ever early for is flying. My fear of missing a flight borders on irrational.

When I arrived in Madrid, I was the only person on my entire flight who went into the “transit without visa” section… in fact I was the only person in the entire airport in this section. The somewhat bemused immigration agent muttered away to me in Spanish for a while before I managed to get him to understand that I didn’t understand. Eventually he called around two sleepy looking guys to inspect me. These two spoke minimal English so we had some fun with me getting Frank out to be scanned separately. When I went through I beeped (I beeped at Heathrow too… I dunno maybe I swallowed a button or something I don’t remember). They didn’t have a female agent so they couldn’t search me. Lots of back and forth through the scanner until they eventually just shrugged and motioned me through.

From there, I got drawn into a gurning competition with two Spanish boys who I must have been about five or six. They were pretty good but I had more practise. I don’t think their poor mother was particularly thrilled, they were pretty geed up for midnight and the face-pulling just made them more hyper.

The one pro of being so damned early yesterday afternoon was that I got an emergency exit seat… I hadn’t even asked. It makes the pretending to sleep so much easier. What SUCKS about Iberia, is no movies. Well kind of on the central screen but once they had been through a short history of Guatemala and a demonstration on how to make spider crab soup (no joke), I wasn’t in the mood for Get Smart and did some wriggling around pretend to sleep. What also sucks is that we’ve gone through the entire night with no offer of water and very little sign of the cabin crew at all. Thirsty!!!

I have gotten myself a bit banjaxed with the time differences in the transit. We land in two… maybe three and a half hours. I am so over flying already! By the time I post this I may very well already be back in London but I’m going to keep doing them as I go along and put them up whenever I can.

Die reunie

Last night was my ten year high school reunion. I’ve got to say that it was one of the most unusual experiences of my life. Throughout the entire lead up I could not quite figure out how to feel and so I bounced between nerves and excitement for weeks.

I met up with B yesterday morning and went straight into helping with the bits and pieces of set up that still needed doing. This girl is a machine. She had everything so organised you would have thought she had spent 20 years as a wedding planner or something. It was at this point that we started putting up photos that had been dug out from our matric year. Seriously… what a shocker… I can’t believe I wasted the years that I was young and skinny looking like THAT. As La W (our head girl and deputy head girl are both Laurens) pointed out, our teenage photos could be called “when bad clothes happen to good people.”

I fear that the shoes I wore to the reunion were somewhat ill-advised. I bought them for Kirsty’s wedding and thought I should get another night out of them. I forgot that the penchant for skyscraper heels is more of a British thing. I towered over everyone… including a number of the husbands…

My first job of the night was ticking people off as the arrived and making them write name tags. Thank god for the name tags… I did not know who a lot of them were (sorry guys!!!) and if they weren’t writing tags, I wouldn’t have known who to tick off. Of course as soon as I was behind the table with my pen, it started raining. Not a little bit… like the Armageddon was upon us. Eventually I had to relinquish my position of power and stand in front of the table. Very disappointing.

The fact that I was ticking off names made people think I was a lot more in charge than I was. I had no idea what was going on. If I gave anyone bad information… I apologise. I also got the privilege of helping B to MC the event. It started out as a kind of fleeting idea that La G and B had and the next thing I had a mic. It was fun being up there and I think B and I were pretty good. My favourite part of the whole thing was reading out the little “info” slips we had given people to fill in. They had things like “your funniest memory from school” and “one fact you want everyone to know” on them. It seems everyone is happy in their adult lives… married, amazing careers, babies, dating rock stars… taking over the world. I was really proud.

When the official proceedings were finally over… of course completed by speeches from the Laurens and the new headmistress… I could finally mingle. There were so many people to catch up with that I didn’t even get to chat to half of them. It was not awkward as I was expecting, possibly because I was at school with such a wonderful group of girls. Some had changed a lot, some had not changed at all… apparently I had changed the most… everyone had grown up.

I wanted to say a little personal thank-you to all the teachers who came, to B and La G for all the planning. To B’s mum, Wynona for all of the wise insights and extra running around and of course to everyone who came. You guys rock! See you in 2013 for the 15 year reunion!