Tag Archives: South Africa

And I’m off…

So tonight I am flying to South Africa to visit my family. I am spending a few days in Somerset West, near Cape Town with my dad, where I will also get to see my brother, his partner Nikki and my furry nephew, Colby. I will also get to see my friends, Emily and Oli get married in Franschoek on New Years Eve.

Then I am heading off to Queenstown for my Ouma’s (grandmother) 90th birthday and to see my mom, aunt and cousins.

And finally four days in Johannesburg with my friends.

While I am very excited to see everyone, I am also feeling a bit apprehensive. Mr O is not coming along as it’s a very busy time at work for him. It’s been quite some time since I did a long trip on my own and since I am flying Kenya Airways I get to stop off in Nairobi both ways… at 14 and then 16 weeks pregnant. I have been feeling quite emotionally fragile over this last part of my first trimester and I’m hoping the travelling won’t set me off.

But anyway… I am going to be using the time to take a little break from social media and the Internet in general. So if you don’t hear from me much or don’t see me popping up on your blog or liking your Facebook posts… I’m not dead. I am just taking a breath.

Happy New Year!

Help South Africa protect equal rights for gay people

As a South African citizen, I’ve always been really proud of the fact that the South African constitution is one of the few in the world that actually protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the only country in Africa that has legalised same sex marriage.

With this in mind I was disgusted to find out that, Patekile Holomisa, the chair of the South African Constitutional Review Committee is backing a proposal from the National House of Traditional Leaders to delete the protection for homosexuality from the constitution.

Surely in a country where most of the population has firsthand experience of the terrible results of removing rights and freedoms from parts of society, this should be unthinkable.

I would love for Holomisa and these supposed traditional “leaders” to explain the reasoning behind wanting to change the constitution. I don’t understand how someone else’s sexuality and their freedom to express that sexuality with other consenting adults can affect anyone else’s existence.

Please, please, please sign this petition to demand that Holomisa retract his statements and that the Committee rejects his proposal. It’s an international petition so you don’t have to be South African to make your voice heard, but if you are it’s that much more important.

This is not about gay rights; this is about human rights and not repeating the very fresh mistakes of the past.

A return… and two weddings

After almost a month Mr Osbiston and I are back on British soil. Despite the fact that it’s rather a lot colder here than it was in South Africa and that we very much miss our friends and family that we left behind, it’s rather nice to be back in our little flat.

There is no way to describe our trip other than awesome… despite the fact that on the way to Johannesburg we got stuck in Frankfurt for 14 hours. Damn you, Lufthansa!

While all the time we spent hanging out in Joburg and exploring Stellenbosch, there were two major highlights to the trip. The first highlight was Lauren and Beert’s amazing wedding at which I got to be a bridesmaid.  The “flame of love” themed ceremony took place at Kaapsehoop near Nelspruit, a stunning small town resort surrounded by wild horses. Although the beautiful bride was impressively zen I can’t help but think that I must have caused some stress since the Lufthansa debacle meant we only arrived three hours before the wedding!

The other highlight was Paul and my second wedding. From my perspective it was quite different from the first wedding. In one way it was much more relaxed but I might have over relaxed since I woke up four days before the wedding and realised that I had done almost nothing. Fortunately I had Maid-Of-Honour Extraordinaire, Bronwyn Costine, at my side… without whom there might not have been a wedding at all.

This time the wedding took place at my old high school, which might sound a bit random, but the building is incredibly beautiful. We exchanged our vows under the trees in the front garden, with Lauren as our chief ceremoniser and then danced the night away in the hall. This time we went the whole hog and had our first dance to the slightly unusual choice of I Got Love by The King Blues. I think the show might have been stolen somewhat by Nolan and his seven month old daughter, Aiden, joining us for the father-daughter/mother-son dance.

I can’t thank everyone who helped us with the preparations enough. It was such a special day. Below are just a few photos from the day… and no you do not want to know what it took to get my hair that big…

A whirlwind review of our adventures in SA

It’s hard to summarise a two and a half week holiday into a blog so I’m going for the approach of photos and bullet points.

Places Paul and I visited:

  • Johannesburg
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Queenstown
  • Cape Town
  • Paarl
  • Stellenbosch

Cool things we did together:

  • Visited the Apartheid Museum
  • Had a traditional township lunch at Chaf Pozi in Soweto
  • Made a braai on the side of my gran’s sink
  • Took a road trip through the Eastern Cape
  • Spent a day on the beach
  • Adopted Cubana as our PE local
  • Got roped into an impromptu Neil Diamond and brandy “festival” by my uncle
  • Visited the Two Oceans aquarium
  • Attended the Brampton Wine Studio launch in Stellenbosch and got caricatured.
  • Had lunch at the Dros with a big group of old friends

People who we hung out with:

My dad, Pat, Nan, Stirling, Bron, Dave, Lauren G, Beert, my mom, Peppie, Auntie Rene, Oom Jan, Brend, Nadia, Roy, Anneke, Pete, Nikki, Belinda, Hein, Lauren H, Barb, Kirsten, Kirsty, Donna, Trevor, Megan, Anton M, Anton H, Rus, Ang, Ric, Jules, Noles, KT, Callum, Matthew and Jessica…

Thank-you to everyone who made us feel welcome and especially those who opened their homes to us!

A extra special thank-you to Bron, the Laurens, Barb, Kirsty, Kirsten and Donna for my surprise bachelorette party. From the wedding dress fittings, to the spa to the penis veil and the mountain of shots… I had a blast!

Can’t wait to get back in December!

Highlights from my whistlestop tour of SA

I don’t think that I have ever done more in a visit than I did in my most recent trip to SA… and it was the shortest trip I have ever made. I am not going to bore you with a million details… so think of this as a highlights reel…

 

An appearance in Slaapstad

I spent two out of my first four days in Cape Town catching up with my brother and his lovely girlfriend, Nikki. Although this was the first time I met Nikki, it took me about 10 minutes to fall in love with her and I can completely understand why my brother is crazy about her.  I also managed to have dinner with B, who I have missed desperately since her return to SA and her rugged new man, Heinrich. And if that wasn’t enough I even managed a few beers with my old friend, Rob… who is as funny as ever..

The lovely Nikki

I said smile!

Family times

The first leg of my holiday also afforded me some time to hang out with my mom, aunt, uncle and grandmother… all of whom are real characters. Between my grandmother’s refusal to wear her hearing aid (nothing better than listening to the Afrikaans news at roof lifting volume), her continuous forays into the guava plantation, my uncle’s claims that Bronwyn’s wedding had been called off and could now stay forever and my mother’s continuous foraging for hot water bottles, it was like being wrapped up in a warm blanket. There’s nothing like family.

Would you belief my grandmother is 84... how good are the genes in this family!!

Going to the chapel and we’re going to get married…

My arrival in Johannesburg presented me with the most Zen bride I have ever encountered. If I ever have to mount a military operation I want Bronwyn to be my general… the girl could plan a missile launch and make NASA look bad. There was much bonding and scurrying around, I got motor boated by Lauren’s four month old son, Callum ( who I might kidnap) and found just enough spare time to get manicures and pedicures while drinking champagne.

KIDNAP!!!

The wedding was gorgeous, the bride was beautiful and the shoes stayed on till at least 10pm… and I have never been flung around the dancefloor by so many friends with such abandon… it’s a miracle I had the energy to catch the bouquet*.

The blushing bride

Bron and David really are the perfect couple and I know they’re going to be together forever!

 

Escape to the dadside

I spent my last two days with “teenage excitable superdad” as my colleagues call my father… mostly being lethargic, listening to the endless details of his latest financial investments and eating too much… which is what we do best.

 

Would you know I’m already counting the days till I go back in March, fiancé in tow.

 

*Contrary to popular belief I did not elbow anyone in the head to catch the bouquet it just landed perfectly in my hands… strangely prophetic. Especially when you consider that my horoscope in the Metro said this yesterday:

 

“You seem to be running late with your work and this may well be due to the new and improved air that your love life has taken on of late. Proposals await some of your sign.”

 

Adventures in the motherland

As some of you will know, I am heading off to South Africa on Saturday until 5 October for a very exciting reason. My lovely, lifelong friend, Bronwyn will be getting married on the second and I get to be a bridesmaid. I have never been a bridesmaid before so I am very excited. I have been practising my interpretive dance as well as my opera singing… hopefully though I won’t be as bad as Karen from Outnumbered…

Also very exciting is that I will finally get to see my brother after TWO AND A HALF YEARS. Long-term readers of this blog will know how close we are and how hard it’s been for me to be away from him for so long. I even get to meet his long-term girlfriend, Nikki and then have a big party with my mum, aunt and grandmother.

The only sad thing is that I don’t get to take Paul with me this time. After almost eight months of barely spending any time apart it’s going be kind of odd being off on my own and there is no question that we’re going to miss each other… although I have a sneaking suspicion that he might actually quite enjoy 10 days of leaving up the toilet seat, eating kebabs and not having to make the bed.

It will probably be radio silence for most of the time I’m away but if I do get a chance for a sneaky blog you’ll be the first to know!

Diamonds are forever

I spent the last week of my holiday totally in the family zone. My family is pretty scattered so it’s rare that so many of us get together but I had two of my cousins, their partners, my mum, my aunt and my uncle all in one place. Although very little actually happened, it seemed like endless chaos. We ate way too much and talked ridiculous amounts of rubbish and reconnected. It was wonderful.

I also got a particularly amazing gift from my aunt. She wore my great grandmother’s engagement ring for years and I have always wanted it. It’s a gold and diamond ring in the shape of a flower from the 30’s that my aunt had made into a pinkie ring when my uncle passed away. This year she decided to pass it on and since I’m the only girl in the family, it’s been passed on to me. I haven’t taken it off since. Although I live in the constant terror of losing it since it’s just a little too big.

My trip home was the trip of doom. I will never attempt to fit in so many different legs of journey into one go. On Saturday morning we left Queenstown at 7am and drove two hours to East London, which is the closest airport and coincidentally where I was born. From there I flew to Johannesburg, where I had a good seven hours to fill before the next flight. Fortunately I was not confined to OR Tambo International and got to have lunch with my dad before popping into B and Dave’s housewarming party for a quick strawberry daiquiri and to return everything I had borrowed (from the photos it looks like it got a lot more rowdy after I left).

When I did get to ort (as my late uncle’s brother calls it), I had the fortune of getting to see Taigh who was also en route to London for an internship in Hertfordshire. I haven’t seen her in two years so it was a very noisy and excitable reunion. That was when the good stuff ended.

I got stuck next to a husband and wife and two small children in a four seater, which they’d expected to have to themselves. I managed to move a row forward and leave them to their chaos but I lost my aisle seat and ended up next to whisky boy, who managed to drink solidly for about 6 hours of the flight before snoring like a tank. Not that that mattered since not only the kids behind me but everyone of the about 20 kids on the plane wailed incessantly for the entire flight.

Arriving in Doha I attempted to sleep in a chair and woke up from my light doze to find a man staring at me as if he had never seen a human female in his life before. He did not break contact for a second. I probably should have told him to fuck off but the fight was out of me, so I moved. It was already a five hour layover, which I wasn’t excited about but when the flight was delayed by an hour and a half I briefly considered suicide.

Flight two would probably have been okay if I had slept at all in the last 24 hours but everything hurt and I could not get comfortable at all. By the time I arrived at Heathrow at 7pm, I felt and looked like someone who had been travelling across Eastern Europe by camel for six months. It was not pretty. Needless to say I slept like a corpse last night and spent most of today roaming around my house in my PJ’s and catching up on Doctor Who and Being Human. (Doctor Who… exciting but seriously, Russell one fucking concept at a time, okay? You can’t write everythingthateverhappenedincreation into a two hour special. Being Human… whoa dark! Not sure if George needs to be naked ALL THE TIME though. I mean he has a nice ass but the man must be getting cold!)

It is wonderful being back. Wonderfully cold and dark and London and since the city is pretty much my boyfriend, it’s good to be back in his arms. And I missed my little family here almost as much as I miss my family in SA when I’m away. It really is time for the invention of teleportation so I can be in two places at once.

Tomorrow work. Yay… well kinda. I mean I actually do miss working but somehow when I’m away I panic that I’ve forgotten something important and am returning to a mess. I’m sure this won’t be true… will it?

Sometimes I don’t get you

I’m almost two weeks into my holiday and what is occupying my mind? Is it the outrageously drunken New Year’s Eve I spent with B and Dave (and the very unpleasant recovery period)? Is it the constant teasing of my poor father over his advancing years and diminutive size (it’s how I express my love for the old fart and he knows it)? Is it the week B and I spent varnishing her bar and reliving our teens (Wayne’s World is still just as funny as it was fifteen years ago but I can’t imagine why I thought I looked good with a lesbian tow truck driver haircut)? Is it all the lovely dinners, lunches and moments I had with the Jozi crew and all the new and almost arrivals I met (Steve Biko, by this time next year you will be a real boy… watch out Mr and Mrs Hertenberger)? Is it Barb and my epic road trip to and from the Midlands where we sampled everything that South African radio has to offer (East Coast Radio and Radio 2000 – surprisingly good. Pretoria FM and Radio Kakkeranda – not so good)? Is it Ryan and Yvonne’s breathtaking wedding that put all the other weddings I’ve been to to shame?

No, it’s the sudden reappearance of Band Boy. Y’all remember Band Boy, don’t you? I was smitten, he vanished abruptly with no explanation… After 8 months of absolute silence, Band Boy messaged me… to “chat”, dredging up a whole bunch of feelings that I had boxed and forgotten about. I guess no matter how over something you are, having it explode back into your life is like having a scab ripped off an almost healed wound. Following the “chat”, I kind of understand why Band Boy vanished when he did, although attempting to communicate as if nothing happened was very difficult to deal with. I guess I’m just not sure what Band Boy wants from me and there’s also the confusion of his liquid facebook relationship status. One minute he has a girlfriend, one minute he doesn’t… I just wonder if his girlfriend, if there is one, knows he’s contacting me, even if it’s as innocent as I assume it is. Maybe it’s a crisis of conscience. Dude, you’re probably reading this. You’re forgiven. It’s over. I am incapable of bearing a grudge. I’m not mad at you anymore.

Fortunately, I am currently with my mama visiting my grandmother before we head off in the morning with my wonderful aunt (who I didn’t expect to see this holiday) in tow to Queenstown, where I can catch up with my remaining cousins, after seeing Thys today, way too briefly, and also see my uncle who is the final surprise addition to my trip. I can’t wait. With my mum, my aunt and I in close quarters, the hysteria has already set in and it can only get better.

Don’t drink the brown eyed blues

This will probably be my last blog before I head back to South Africa to attempt to avoid blistering myself in the African sun. That’s right kids. I’m heading back to the mother land for almost three weeks to see my lovely friends and family and of course, attend the wedding of the century when Ryan and Yvonne tie the knot on the 9th of January.

Today was very busy. Lyndon, Emily and I went to see Avatar in 3-D. James Cameron’s epic follows disabled marine, Jake Sullivan, as he heads to the Planet Pandora to take over his deceased twin brother’s job as an avatar driver. He is fused with the genetically engineered copy of a NaVi tribesman as humans attempt to convince the native forest people to leave the giant tree they call home in order to mine the priceless metal in the rock beneath it. Torn between his duty to the military and the powerful connection he feels to the tribe, Jake is thrown into turmoil when a bloody war breaks out. Despite a couple of my perceived plot hiccups, the film is visually absolutely mesmerising and delivers a hard moral message about the environment. Must be seen and definitely in 3-D.

From there Em and I headed to Covent Garden for Sarah’s birthday dinner. I believe a good time was had by all, despite Lindsey and I ordering cocktails that were essentially giant shots. Never again. I don’t care if it says it will remind you of the 80’s and it’s full if gin, if it burns out your stomach lining, it’s bad! I gifted Frank my 3-D glasses, which he is apparently still wearing, and left with a feeling that I would miss everyone desperately while I am away.

This time my trip is happening sans Frank (the laptop not the real boy… although the real boy isn’t coming either) as he is very ill. He might be terminal in fact… it looks like a brain tumour. He has been left in the capable hands of Doctor Lyndon, who is attempting to resuscitate him in time for my return. I probably won’t be updating until I get back on the 17th but if any of my Jo’burg buddies want to catch up next week, text or call me on my UK number (I haven’t sorted out a South African one yet and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to) or facebook me and we’ll get together. Everyone else, y’all miss me now, y’hear!

Disappearing penises, flaming tour buses, Satanic Sluts and more

My return to London has made me realise some of the things I missed the most when I was in SA…

–    Psychotically unpredictable weather
–    Soho, with all its insane weirdness
–    Indie boys
–    Music that was not picked by some lame radio station
–    The banter in my office
–    Scurrilous celebrity gossip

I’ll explain…

I knew I was back at work when I handed around the Cadbury’s Top Deck I had brought back from SA in an attempt to prove that SA chocolate is tastier and was swiftly slated by half the team. An argument about chocolate ensued in which it was declared that Galaxy is akin to crack in addictiveness. This was swiftly backed up by the comment, “yes, crack is rather more-ish”. Office banter, a reason for living.

I spent the evening with Josh and Sanna. Josh is giving Sanna her first tattoo as an 18th birthday present and they invited me along to Self Sacrifice as, I guess, a sort of facilitator. Tattoo artists tend to talk to “normal” people as if they are a bit random but since I now have a giant tattoo on my leg, for the first time I was regarded as “one of them” and the tone of conversation completely changed. We even did that thing that tattooed people do where they compare art. Everyone was very impressed with the one on my arm and Maio got a lot of pats on the back for it. Tonight Sanna will be getting some words of wisdom from Bob Dylan inked on her hip and I will be getting my apostrophes that Maio forgot the first time around. We are both swooning at his loveliness.

When we went into the shop it was cold but clear. When we came out it was hailing, like mad. No warning… just hail. The atmosphere was a bit loopy. Everyone was tearing around, the shop owners were trying to lure people into their shops and really it all just looked quite beautiful. We took it as a signal to retire to the Royal George. The George is always packed with weird and wonderful Soho-ites including lovely indie boys. In SA a kind of hyper, rugby-playing, beer swilling masculinity reigns supreme. It completely puts me off. So to be surrounded by lanky boys in skinny jeans with wild hair, crazy scarves and pointy shoes was a return a warm joyous place packed with eye candy.

We ended our evening with a delicious Italian dinner in a hideaway restaurant on Goodge Street. The staff were quite mad. When Josh handed his card over to pay and accidentally keyed in his pin a little early, the waiter declared that he was slowing down the process and would render said waiter with not even enough time to go to the toilet. He finished this off by saying, “by tomorrow I will have no penis.” We giggled all the way to the tube station. By the time I got home it was snowing… in October.

At the moment the talk of the town is Russell Brand’s latest round of dodgy behaviour. During a BBC2 Radio show where he had Jonathon Ross as a guest the two of them rung up Fawlty Towers star, Andrew Sachs, who they were supposed to interview. When he did not answer they left him some naughty little voice mails, including one claiming that Russell had had carnal knowledge of Sach’s granddaughter. This has lead to a national outcry where even Gordon Brown is demanding retribution and Russ has once again been suspended. Personally I don’t know what all the hullabaloo is about. The granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, is outraged… despite the fact that she is currently on tour with a Burlesque group called Satan’s Sluts and actually DID sleep with Russell. She’s not exactly the virgin Mary now, is she? There is a massive financial crisis going on and the Prime Minister is focused on badly behaved radio presenters… I love this country. Find out more here.

And in closing, I am very excited as Barb and I will be going to see Kill Hannah at the Astoria 2 tonight with My Passion opening. It’s both exciting and a relief since the gig almost didn’t happen. While on tour in Switzerland last week, the two bands shared tour bus caught fire and was incinerated. Fortunately everyone is fine but they have lost virtually all their personal possessions and have been reduced to performing in their own merch. You can see actual footage of the bus in flames on singer, Mat Devine’s, blog. I can admit that any casualties or injuries of either of these bands would have left me in a state of disrepair so the fact that all is well is cause for celebration. I will be taking along some fingerless gloves to help the boys ward off the cold! This news of course was passed on to me last week by Jen since no one in South Africa has heard of either band. They’re not as radio friendly as the consistent mindless dance music that Highveld and 5fm pump out, I guess.

Afrique du Sud… finale

Wedded bliss

On Saturday, the event we were all psyching ourselves up for finally came about… Kirsty and Ian’s wedding. Man, was it a non-stop day. I met up with Kirsten in the morning to go to the hairdresser and be beautified. Oddly enough it turned out the wedding party was at the same hairdresser so it turned into a big bonding session with Dawn and I doing our best to harass the bride. We’re not evil at all us two…

I think Kirsten and I set a land speed record getting all the admin that we needed to get done in the morning. It took us only 45 minutes to buy shoes, a wedding gift, party feet, a stick on bra and a card as well as having sushi for lunch. This is possibly because I was the shopping Nazi and kept barking orders at poor Kirst and forcing her to make a series of snap decisions.

From there we met up with Natalie and Tamarin at the lodge they were staying in so we could get dressed. Considering that Kirst and I had already had our hair done, you would think that almost two hours would be plenty of time for us all to get ready. Ha! We were hopelessly late and skidded into the Vaal Rivera with moments to spare. It being Gauteng in summer the sky smiled at us and disgorged a torrent of rain that would have made the Old Testament floods look tame. Kirsty and the bridesmaids had to walk into the church under gold umbrellas. Of course the deluge took nothing away from the charming ceremony or how incredibly beautiful Kirsty looked.

After the wedding we hung around in the bar (where the Currie Cup final was showing) and waited for the bridal couple to return from the photos. This was where we first encountered “Nice Rack Man” (NRM), so named for reasons that will become clear a little later. NRM was chatting to a “friend” of his and congratulating her on her pregnancy (may I point out that we were not eavesdropping, he was very loud). The problem was that the friend was not actually with child and no matter how much she tried to make this clear, he was insistent that this was what he had heard and therefore it must be true. We took one look at his beige suit and thought… twat.

Arriving at our table for dinner and speeches, etc, we discovered that we were the Hawaiian Barbie table. While most of the rest of the guests were dressed in sedate colours, our table included two purple dresses, one cerise pink, one turquoise and Dawn’s yellow bridesmaid’s dress. Sadly it was also the wardrobe malfunction table. I will not go into detail but we were all struggling to stay in our dresses.

The wedding proceedings were lovely. All of the speeches were very touching as well as the first dances. Ian’s look of concentration while he waltzed his way around the room will become the stuff of legend. From there it just turned into a wild party. While I was milling around in the bar NRM cornered me and told me I had “a nice rack”. I was less than encouraging but he followed me around for the rest of the night restating his appreciation for my “rack” and eventually offering to “motorboat” me. I was disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

Finally the stragglers ended up in the bar for a couple of drinks before Dawn and I decided it was time to retire to our hotel room. Except when we did retire, we decided we were hungry and we missed Barb. So we actually ordered toasted sandwiches from room service and called Barb in London. Felt a bit like being in a film.

It really was a beautiful wedding and I am sure Kirsty and Ian are going to have an amazing future together. They are currently on honeymoon in Mauritius. I would rather not know what they are up to.

The return

I was hoping my return flight would be quietly uneventful. In the lingo of Russell Brand (whose autobiography was on my holiday reading list)… T’were a vain hope. The chaos started at OR Tambo International (formerly Johannesburg International) airport. I was briefly offered a direct flight to London on SAA since my flight was overbooked. I rejoiced. It would have meant freedom from the horror that is Iberia and no connection. However this dream was snatched from me since they had already found enough willing participants and I was condemned back to my original fate.

The plane was jam-packed. Fortunately my lack of sleep caught up with me and I managed to doze off for a lot longer than I usually do. This was pretty fortunate since the completely crap movie screens had failed. The Iberia air stewards and stewardesses are pretty interesting. There was one woman whose job it appeared to be to yell at people and another guy who just meandered up and down the aisles drawling. “caaaaaawffee” in a way that made it sound like a sexual proposition.

When I eventually arrived at Madrid airport (which has bathrooms that are more revolting than the Covent Garden public conveniences), I could not find my flight on the departures board. Then commenced a lot of running around like a headless chicken while a series of hopelessly unfriendly Spanish “information” representatives gave me conflicting information, sent me to incorrect desks, joked about me missing my flight and laughed at me. I am not sure customer service is at the forefront of the Spanish mind… but maybe that’s just my experience. I suppose the most bizarre experience was checking through security with about 20 American nuns and priests in head scarves and fedoras… I wonder where on earth they were going.

I finally did make the flight and on the 10 minute bus ride to the actual aeroplane, chatted to another South African girl (in Afrikaans) who had had exactly the same experience of the customer service. Hmph! Once on the plane I realised I was dying of thirst and ravenous… only to discover that they were CHARGING for refreshments. Please note that this was not a SleazyJet flight… it was fricking Iberia. Oh the cheek. I didn’t have any Euros and the principle infuriated me. So I sat there with a dry mouth, muttering under my breath.

When I did eventually get back to my lair, I felt like I had returned to heaven. After 10 days of living out of a suitcase, sleeping in one’s own bed is the height of luxury!

Thank-you to all my friends and family for your wonderful hospitality and for taking the time to hang out/get into trouble with and entertain me. Until next year…

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

17/10/08

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!