Share Your World 13 March 2018

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Cee’s Share Your World

If a distant uncle dies and you were always his favorite and leaves you $50,000 (any currency) in his will, what would you do?

I’ll take the money in American Dollars please.  If the uncle is distant he would definitely be in the USA as some of the Greek side of the family emigrated there from Ithaca.  And the only way I could have been his favourite would be because he kept up with me via this blog!

Anyway – we’re in Share Your World Land so we can have some fun.  So I would use this lovely inheritance to take a Mediterranean Cruise – The Greek Islands, Spain, Italy, France etc.  I’d have a balcony suite which for my hubby and me would cost about $30 000 dollars for three weeks.   The rest I would use for the air fares and still have some spending money left over!   Yes – that would be the perfect way to blow $ 50 000.

What sound or sounds do you love?

The dawn chorus of birds on waking up.   Nothing more cheerful than that.  Children laughing, the school choir singing and the waves breaking on the shore are also rather lovely to hear.

What’s your middle name?  Why?

I think middle names are unnecessary and can be embarrassing if they’re somewhat unusual – or rather they were when I was a kid. Today strange names are the norm and in my experience as a teacher I seldom found kids being teased for having an odd name – first or middle.  I was given two middle names so that neither grandmother felt left out for not having me named after her. In the Greek tradition the first born daughter is supposed to be named after the Paternal Grandmother.  My mother who was not Greek refused to comply so instead of being named Maria – I was given an Anglicized version of the name – Mary – as my second name and Edwina after my Maternal grandmother as a third name.    I found these names cumbersome as a child but now I rather like them.

I did not want to give my child a second name but ended up doing so to placate her father who wanted it as a first.    She doesn’t like her second name but is perfectly happy with her first – so at least that was a good decision.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

Last week was busy and rather fun so I had a lot to smile about.   But the biggest thing that made me smile was the completion of my bedroom extension. Being able to move in after more than two weeks in alternate digs was lovely.


The extension – would it ever be done?!


Yes – At Last!


The original section with new floors



Share Your World 5 March 2018

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Cee’s Share Your World.

What did you or did not like about the first place you lived without your parents?

The first place I lived without my parents was at my college residence.   There were four houses and mine was called Lincoln.  To say that it was Spartan would not be an understatement but I thought it was amazing.   In my first year I had my own little ‘cell’, which was part of a partitioned dormitory which housed five of us.  The only private part about these cells was that you could not see each other but you certainly could hear each other!   My cell had a narrow single bed, a dressing table with three drawers and a curtained off hanging space.   It was tiny!   The bathrooms were also partitioned and there was but one loo per floor. But what fun we had in spite of the very strict rules of the establishment.  Today’s girls would be horrified at what we thought was perfectly normal.

What is your most favorite smell/scent?

I think that would be the sea.  Jasmine comes a close second.

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why?

Snowy winters?  I have not had many of those but when I have been in a snowy environment I have absolutely loved it.  I grew up fantasizing about playing in the snow, building snowmen and skiing down steep mountain slopes and it only became a reality when I was forty years old!  I had only been in snow once before aged nineteen when  on a College educational trip in The Hogsback Mountains of the Eastern Cape. We were all hugely excited to wake to a snowy landscape and we all ran out in inadequate clothing to experience it.   By midday it had all melted.

But then my dream came true when I went on a skiing holiday to Verbier in Switzerland.  It was awesome!


Me on the Alpine Slopes


Not even falling snow will stop South Africans having their braai! – That’s me in pink hat and scarf!

But of course I have never had to deal with constantly clearing driveways of snow, being housebound because it’s too cold to go out without donning layers of furry clothing or braving icy roads in a motor car.   So – Yes – I think I am perfectly happy with the mild climate I am privileged to live in.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I smiled this week when while visiting my friends, I was mobbed by a flock of Cape Sugar-birds.   They know that it’s humans that fill the sugar water feeder and so when they see someone who might be about to do that, they fly toward them in anticipation.   I feed the birds in my garden but have never been quite as warmly welcomed as I was when my friends’ birds came to greet me.





Share Your World – 26 February 2018

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Cee

What are you reading right now?

Mostly blogs and magazines including “go!”, “AFRICAN birdlife”and FAIRLADY.


I have just finished “And Babies Make Seven” by V.J. Keelan.  It is a true story about raising natural quadruplets – 4 little boys born to a couple who already had a little girl aged three.    As a teenager the mother had almost lost her life in a car accident that left six of her friends dead. She had a long hard battle to recovery and was left with some mobility impairments.  Yet she managed to raise five children all of whom did well at school and graduated from College.   It was an inspiring read.

I then started another book, The Letter, by Kathryn Hughes. It is the type of book I have probably outgrown as it is light reading with a predictable story line.  Not really gripping but I will finish it.

What was your first adult job?

If this question refers to my first full time employment then it would be my first teaching post as an Itinerant Speech Correction Teacher.  I had three schools on my circuit – two English Medium and One Afrikaans.  I took individual or small groups of children and corrected their lisps and stutters etc.  I also did hearing tests with an audiometer and checked on learners with hearing impairments some of whom needed language enrichment.  I remained in this job for five years and then did a short spell in a school for the deaf before I started class teaching.  My checkered career lasted for forty years.

teacher with kids

However, my first ‘real’ job was at the age of 17 when I worked for a month as a nurse’s aid before I went to college.

nurse 2

I grew up fast that month.  One of my patients was terminally ill and took a shine to me and when I was on duty called for my assistance all the time. She died toward the end of my time at the hospital which had a profound affect on me.  I also watched the birth of a baby which was totally amazing.

 What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

I do not eat high carbohydrate or processed foods so cereals are a No-No.  However, Woolworth’s has a Carb Clever Range of products which includes a type of low carbohydrate cereal called Almond and Cocoa Nib Granola. I have this with Greek Yogurt if I can’t have a cooked breakfast.  It contains sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, linseed, almonds, pumpkin seeds and cocoa nibs.   It is delicious.


What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

It’s has been a struggle trying to get my garden back into shape after our long absence so when the gardener turned up up after we’d given up on ever seeing him again,  I appreciated all the hard work he put into helping it look just lovely again.







Share Your World – 19 February 2018

Here are my answers to this week’s Share your world from Cee

How do you like your eggs?

Breakfast is my favourite meal.  So yes – I love eggs.  Any style will do but I usually go for fried – medium please.  Soft poached on spinach is also delicious.  Hubby cooks brekkie most days. Our standard is medium fried eggs on black mushrooms with banana, bacon and fried tomato. But he also does scrambled with a variety of ingredients – bacon, mushroom, tomato, cheddar, blue cheese – very rich and totally delicious.  Sometimes I do omelettes filled with bacon, feta, tomato and sweet peppers – or whatever comes to hand.

Going out to eat breakfast is also something we do twice or three times a week.

2010-04-17 Kgalagadi 016 Helen Earl Preparing Breakfast

The Earl cooking breakfast in the bush

Have you ever met anyone famous?

I have! I met Charlene Surtie- Richards  and got to know her quite well when we were staying at The High Rustenberg Hydro some years ago.   We had tremendous fun with her. I have a non-digital photo but can’t put my hand on it right now as we have things packed in locked cupboards while the builders are busy with our renovations.   Charlene is a South African actress who I first saw perform on stage in a Pieter Dirk Uys play the name of which I  can’t recall.  She was also in a movie I saw called Fiela’s se kind.  (Fiela’s child) but at the time I met her she was playing the part of Nenna in a South African Soap Opera called Egoli – Place of Gold.

I have also met Pieter-Dirk Uys a South African satirist, author and political activist.  This was after a show I organised for a Cape Bird Club fundraiser.  He was kind enough to come out into the foyer and mix with the patrons.   He is great fun.


Pieter-Dirk and Me

What was the first thing you bought with your own money?

I really don’t remember!   I used to get R 2.00 a month pocket money in my teens and I guess that was “my own money” I know I used it to go to a movie and buy magazines but other than that I simply can’t remember.  My first salary, I think, after paying a minimal amount of board and lodging to my parents went on clothes!

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

There was so much to smile about this past week.  The Two Oceans Marlin Tournament took place here in Stuisbaai and with all those fishermen about who couldn’t smile or even laugh out loud.   The Earl and I were the official photographers and we hosted Andrew who was responsible for radio communication.   (I have blogged about it for those of you who are interested in fishing)



Share Your World 30 October 2017

Here is my contribution to this week’s Share Your World from Cee

Where do you eat breakfast?

Funny you should ask, because this is my favourite meal of the day and it is usually quite an elaborate affair.  I seldom eat breakfast in bed.  I like to be up and dressed and seated at the table.  Usually my darling husband cooks it for me, at least twice weekly we go to our favourite coffee shop where they don’t even ask what we want as the just know, and on rare occasions I am the chef.   Properly brewed coffee is essential and no matter where I am the quality of the breakfast is greatly influenced by the quality of the coffee! If the weather is good I like it al fresco, if it’s in a cold place a roaring fire helps otherwise a lovely ambience indoors will do.


Typical Shipwreck Coffee Shop Breakfast – Fried eggs, bacon, cheese grillers tomato and coffee


Scrambled Eggs Al Fresco at my garden picnic table



Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want have a evening with?

My ideal evening is in the bush with friends who enjoy it as much as I do.  There is nothing to beat, sitting outside your caravan, watching the flaming sun sink beneath the horizon,  listening the sounds of the wild, glass of wine in hand exchanging stories about the day’s adventures.  Priceless!

094 Polentswa at the table

My fantasy companion would be Sir David Attenborough because I would love to chat to him about his lifetime of doing wildlife documentaries.  What a fascinating life he has had.  How lucky we are to be able to spend any number of evenings watching said documentaries!

If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be? 

I would choose to be a Baobab Tree.  She is the queen of trees. You cannot miss her standing proud on the African Savannah demanding to be admired.   Not only would I be a wonderful sight to behold I would also be permanently among the wildlife that I love so much and I would be a great asset to their lives. Because the baobab has many useful properties, it is widely known as the Tree of Life.  How wonderful to be a Life-giving Tree.

Baobab products are useful to mankind as among other stuff soap, rubber, glue, traditional medicine and cream of tartar are made from their products.  But best of all it creates it’s own ecosystem and provides food and shelter for animals, birds and insects.

It is a deciduous tree so during the dry winters it has no leaves and its bare branches look like roots  hence it’s nickname – the upside down tree.

2010-10-08 003 Baobab Tree Helen

In Winter it is The Upside Down Tree


In Summer It dons it’s leafy finery



What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

The Earl and I left Struisbaai at 6 am this morning and considering the state of his health one year ago I appreciate how fit and well his is now.   He coped well with the driving and we made sure to stop frequently.  We are overnighting in Middelburg in the Eastern Cape and will do another day’s drive to Kokstad tomorrow.  This is the start of a three month trip away and I will be blogging about our adventures as often as I can during this time.

story teller


Share Your World 23 October 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Cee

Was school easy or difficult for you? How so?

In the beginning school was a challenge.  I was a year younger than my classmates and I believe that’s where the trouble began.  However, after repeating Grade 2 things improved and I coped reasonably well for the rest of my school career – no prizes for brilliance though!

School-vs-Life-400x300 (1).jpg

List some of your favorite types of animals

I love wild birds and animals.   My favourites change from time to time.  Right now I’m preparing for a visit Kruger National Park and these are the animals that always give me a big thrill when I see them.

  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • Wild Dog
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • Honey Badger
  • Martial Eagle
  • Lilac breasted roller
  • Woodland’s Kingfisher
  • And all the others will bring me joy of course

2009-01-14 111 Cheetah Helen Orpen.jpg

What is your favorite large city you have been to? What is the one thing you remember most?

Next to city where I was born – Cape Town – Sydney, Australia is my favourite.   There is nothing I don’t like about it.   The Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Opera House are really stunning landmarks.   Too many memories to single out just one.   Maybe a ride in a beach buggy from our Air B&B to Bondi Beach was an unusual and memorable occasion

370 Sydney Harbour Bridge.jpg

What’s not to love


357 Riding in an open top jeep

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

I realise that my mind is not as sharp as it used to be but I appreciate that I’m still okay!




Share Your World 16 October 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s share your world by Cee

If you had to move to a country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? 

I am perfectly happy living right here is South Africa in spite of its problems. There are plenty of negatives, crime being the one that heads the list. But quite honestly the positives are so amazing that even if  I could I don’t think I would move.

I actually believe that I could be happy anywhere in the world. Every country has it’s pros and cons but if I HAD TO leave my first choice would be Australia. I like the people, the weather and the beaches.  Everything works, there is very little poverty and the people are relatively law abiding.  Also there are a huge number of South Africans living there already so I would feel right at home!

Keep calm and go to Sydney

My next choice would be Greece or Italy because of the weather and the food.  mmm – Yes – Maybe Italy would be my first choice!

Keep Calm and eat Italian.jpg


What color would you like your bedroom to be?

My bedroom will never be the colour that I want it to be.  The Earl is far too practical and likes neutral shades.  I would love to paint at least one wall blue or red.

Keep calm and paint a red wall

Maybe not too practical for a beach house?

What makes you Happy? Make a list of things in your life that bring you joy.

Many, many things make me happy but to be specific the following top the list:-

  • My husband
  • My kids
  • My grandkids
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Travel
  • Eating breakfast outdoorsIMG_1877
  • Holidays in the bush
  • Spotting a leopard in a tree2010-10-12 004 Leopard in tree Helen
  • Birds visiting my feeder
  • Seeing birds in their natural habitat
  • Visiting game reserves.

I am going to be blissfully happy for the next three months because we’re trekking up north to visit the Kokstad Clan, collect our new caravan and visit the Kruger National Park.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

In preparation for the Great Trek I had to go to Cape Town for a week to shop, attend a function and catch up with family and friends.   I really appreciate everyone fitting us into their busy schedules.   We had a fantastic time.


Breakfast at Pastis with the family